Book Reviews

The Missing Ingredient (Dreamspun Desires) by Brian Lancaster at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 07-August-2018

Book Blurb

It can take losing everything to realize what you had all along.


Up-and-coming London chef Marcus Vine is poised on the edge of success, but the only men courting him are investors. That leaves Marcus with some free time—which is fortunate, because his godchildren need him.  


A year ago, a horrible accident killed Marcus’s best friend, Raine, leaving her children without a mother and her husband, Tom, without a partner. Consumed by grief, Tom has been going it alone, refusing help, but when Marcus sees him out with the children, it’s obvious that Tom and his two daughters need someone. His persistent caring finally wears Tom down, allowing him to accept the comfort Marcus offers. Soon Marcus is up to his elbows in homework, home-cooked meals, and after-school activities. Over time he helps them rebuild their world, until soon their lives are approaching normal.


Then the unexpected happens: Tom confesses he has romantic feelings for Marcus, and nothing can ever be the same.


Book Review

“I believe forgiveness is the best form of love in any relationship. It takes a strong person to say they're sorry and an even stronger person to forgive.” ~ Yolanda Hadid

When Marcus Vine, of 'A Missing Ingredient' by Brian Lancaster, loses his best friend, Raine, in a fatal car crash, he, in essence, loses his two godchildren. Before the accident, he was deeply involved in the little girls' lives. Marcus was more like their uncle than their mother's good friend. At the funeral, their father, Tom, makes it clear that Marcus is no longer welcome in their lives. As much as it hurts, Marcus respects Tom's wishes and stays away A chance meeting makes it apparent that Tom is not able to manage his grief, as well as the childrens' care. Although Marcus is unbelievable busy, he knows that he has to step in before something unfortunate happens.

Although Tom said he didn't want help, he's relieved to have someone to share the burden with. Marcus, Tom, and the girls become like a well-oiled family unit, managing schedules, appointments, and basic care for the girls. They have no idea why he stopped coming around, but they are extremely happy to have “Uncle Marcus” back with them. Marcus has missed the girls dreadfully and is more than happy to have them back. Tom's gratitude and affection slowly but surely morphs into feelings he's afraid to admit even to himself. He has been straight all his life, or so he thought, but emotional and physical feelings are growing and he's not sure what to do about it. After a confusing, frustrating amount of time for both of them, Tom admits his feelings to Marcus who is totally taken back with surprise. Tom takes this to mean that Marcus is disgusted by the entire idea, but Marcus explains that this is so out of the blue that he has to take a while to absorb it. Marcus admits that he often joked with Raine about wishing Tom had a gay twin. Marcus also confessed that he has had a crush on Tom for a long time but it was so improbable that Marcus never seriously considered the possibility of Tom being attracted to him.

Things between them are strained for a while, but the attraction becomes so strong that Tom feels compelled to act upon it and kisses Marcus who quickly takes over the kiss. After some serious discussions, Tom convinces Marcus this is what he wants. Their sexual encounter is a mind-blowing experience, both physically and emotionally. Marcus tries to take it easy, but Tom is eager to do just about everything he has read and seen.  The tricky thing is that they have to make time for each other. That amounts to sneaking around because they are concerned about the children's reaction and Tom is not ready to come out. Marcus is happy when Moria, Tom's mother, invites him to her fiftieth wedding anniversary dinner, until Moria announces that Tom is bringing someone. Marcus tries not to show his hurt and confusion, deciding he will wait and see what happens. At the dinner, Marcus meets Jeanette, the woman that Tom has been dating. The more talk there is about Jeanette and Tom's date', the more nauseated Marcus becomes. Broken-hearted, Marcus graciously says his goodbyes and leaves. He's in love with Tom and is not willing to be his dirty little secret.

'The Missing Ingredient' was a great ride on an emotional roller coaster invoking feelings from happiness to anger for me. Marcus is a wonderful character who epitomizes the kind of friend everyone needs; loving, compassionate, talented, and most of all forgiving. I'm still not completely happy with Tom, although I understand his predicament. He needed time for his brain to catch up with his heart. Thank you, Brian for reminding me that listening to my heart is as important as listening to my head.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 220 pages/53593 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 07-August-2018
Price $4.99 ebook, $9.99 paperback, $9.99 bundle, $10.47 audiobook
Buy Link