Lingering difficulties from the past simmer throughout Sugar and Salt, a compassionate and poignant work of domestic fiction by Susan Wiggs. Through a staggered timeline, Wiggs (The Lost and Found Bookshop; Return to Willow Lake) builds a romance between two characters who come from vastly different backgrounds. Margot Salton, a white woman from Texas, traveled a long, hard road to become an award-winning chef. As a teenager, she forged her own way in the world after her single mother, a talented cook, died. Margot, tough, street-smart and self-reliant, was taken in and mentored by a kind, hardworking Black couple, owners of an authentic Texas barbecue restaurant, until a second tragedy upended Margot's life.
Determined to cut her losses and start anew, budding barbecue master Margot changes her identity and sets off, leaving Texas behind and winding up in San Francisco, Calif.. There she meets Jerome Sugar, a Black baker who learned everything he knows from his grandmother Ida, a self-made chef. The single father of two operates Sugar, Ida's well-established, popular bakery. Margot and Jerome work out a deal to share kitchen space and she opens her own restaurant next door called Salt. The two form a professional bond that leads to romance. However, the couple's relationship is tested when complications from Margot's former Texas life resurface. Can love in the present survive far-reaching tentacles from a sordid past?
Hot-button issues from real-life events inspired Wiggs to write this complex, thought-provoking novel that depicts how the power of friendship and love can overcome heart-wrenching challenges. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines