To start, I will say that this book, Small Change by Roan Parrish is the kind of romance novel I’ve been waiting for since I started reading this genre as a teen. Finally, I got to read a heroine who didn’t mold her womanhood to the social constructs girls and women are expected to assume. Those things that we are told we need to be, in order to be deserving of love. Feminine, nice, thin, proper… Ginger has been fighting all those paradigms fiercely her entire life, and she’s pissed. She demands that the world see and listen to her on her terms, and all of this comes at a cost to her. She is a woman though, one with desires and who like all of us wouldn’t mind falling in love, for a person that deserves the person she has become, and in Chris she finds a man who not only sees her for exactly who she is, he loves her for it, he RESPECTS her for it.
I know a book has impacted me deeply when I finish it and immediately ask myself what it would have meant for a teenage me to have read it. I think the teenage me would have felt deeply connected to Ginger and more importantly validated, like she was not alone. For me Roan Parrish with Ginger has delivered a heroine that feels closer to the woman I am than any other one I’ve read in a romance, maybe ever. After thousands of romance novels read, being able to feel like I have a connection to a heroine on the page, is not just nice, it’s monumental. This book worked for me in pretty much every way. The characters where amazing, the romance was well developed and sexy as hell. The universe holds lots of promise and if that is not enough, there is a whole part of the book which is essentially an ode to sisterhood and women and empowering women. I mean I KNOW Roan didn’t write the book just for me, but totally feels mine. 🙂
Before I get further into my review, let’s talk food. For this book I had troubles! I was not sure what to make, because Chris made Ginger so many delicious things! There is one recipe that he literally created for her and even though I don’t really eat meat any more I wanted to recreate part of it with a vegetarian adaptation. So in lieu of chopped liver, I made a Wild Mushroom Pate that I used to make delicious open faced sandwiches. The taste is not chopped per se, but it is earthy and delicious spread over toasted rye with some chopped eggs and pickled onions. Eat this with a glass of rosé to sip and you will be loving life. The rosé I picked is from from a French winery Chateau Montaud in Provence and it’s from their table wine line. This wine is CHEAP, like $8.99 a bottle or $19.99 for a 3L box (WHAT?!) yes, that cheap, and it is DELICIOUS. I just got one box last weekend since I had visitors and man that thing went very rapido. So, give it a try if you see it!
So more on the book. Like I said, I love me some Ginger, she is essentially a Jewish version of me if I was a tattoo artist and lived in Philly. I also mentioned that the book worked for me not just because of my love for Ginger, the romance is solid. Chris as a hero is so appealing, because he is such a regular dude in so many ways, and yet his heart and his openness make him so unconventional. Chris is pure sunshine and smiles, he wants Ginger and he tells her, shows her, and when that doesn’t work he just keeps trying until it does, because he is certain she is everything he wants.
Ginger is at a loss and a bit annoyed with all the interest from this guy who is beautiful, seemingly perfect, and worse, with a what appears to be a functional family. None of these things are in Ginger’s wheelhouse. She is not sure she can relate to someone that wholesome. She makes assumptions of course, but Ginger has her reasons to be skeptical. She’s not sure she can relate to someone with all the privilege that Chris walks around with, even though he does seem like a nice man. To someone like her who has had to be fierce and a little scary to be able to get just a fraction of the respect men are given everyday without question, it seems unlikely she’ll be able to be with someone like him. But every interaction with him, every conversation, reveals to Ginger a person that is not only interesting and sexy, but a man who carries his own pain and battle scars.
The big conflict in this romance is all within Ginger, and the road she has to travel to learn to let herself be vulnerable with someone and for someone. The process of seeing her let Chris in is beautiful and in the end delivers a truly satisfying happy ending. Along with the romance though we get so much that one rarely gets to experience when reading romance.
For one, Ginger takes on the toxic masculinity and misogynist culture of the tattooing world and it is glorious. There are hard moments too, Ginger’s family is hard, and so is Chris’ in a different way. Living in this world while trying to be a decent human being can leave one bruise and battered, but Ginger is a warrior and she gets hers, oh yes SHE DOES.
This universe promises more love stories, there are some budding pairings there that I would love to see unfold. I already know which I one I want to read next! 🙂 I am looking forward to all of them.
Now the recipe:
Wild Mushroom Pâté (adapted from Smitten Kitchen Blog)
1 ounce dried oyster or porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 diced yellow onion
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms, any tough stems discarded and roughly chopped ( I used a mix of shitake, oyster and crimini
2 Portobello caps
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (use half if dry)
1/2 cup white wine
Combine dried mushrooms and boiling water in a small bowl and let soak for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms, finely chop and set aside. Strain soaking liquid through a paper towel or coffee filter to remove any grit and set it aside.
Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, if using, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until they brown at the edges. Raise heat to high and add fresh mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, sauteing, until mushrooms brown further and release their liquid. Cook until all of the liquid has evaporated then wine and do the same. Add re-hydrated mushrooms and their soaking liquid, and cook this almost completely off. No liquid should run into the center if you drag your spoon through the mushrooms, clearing a path. Adjust seasonings to taste, seasoning is key here, then stir in last of the butter.
Let mixture cool to lukewarm, then blend in a food processor or blender until desired consistency. Mine was not totally smooth, as I wanted consistency that was more like chopped lover. Let chill in fridge for a few hours before serving, giving the flavors a chance to settle. Pâté keeps in fridge for 5 days, in an airtight container. A suggestion for leftover pâté , warm up and served tossed with some cooked papardelle pasta and little bit of olive oil, topped with lots of freshly grated parmesan for a delicious quick dinner.
Serve on slices of toasted rye bread, topped with chopped boiled eggs, pickled read onions and minced parsley. To pickle red onions, combine 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup cold water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in a jar. Add thinly sliced onion or shallot and cover with lid; let pickle in fridge ideally for at least an hour. Pickled onions will keep for two weeks in the fridge.
Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoy this amazing book and the yummy recipe.
You can purchase Small Change by Roan Parrish HERE.
You can learn more about Roan Parrish and her other work HERE.
Cheers and Happy Reading!