Tag: 1.0 Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Trying to Score by Toni Aleo

Posted June 28, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Trying to Score by Toni AleoReviewer: Holly
Trying to Score by Toni Aleo
Series: Assassins #2
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 576
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
one-star

In a captivating novel of second chances and healing hearts, the newest member of the Nashville Assassins pulls a power play to make things right with the one that got away.  Fallon Parker’s dream has always been to turn her family’s wine company into a runaway success and eventually start a cellar of her own. Since graduating from college, she has worked relentlessly to make that dream a reality, especially after taking a chance on love—and losing. By the time Fallon becomes an official sponsor of the Nashville Assassins, she feels like all her hard work is finally paying off. And then the man who broke her heart skates back into her life.   On the ice, Lucas Brooks is the NHL’s leading scorer—at least when he’s not in the box. Off the ice, he’s a mess, with all his anger and misery bottled up inside. He threw away the most important person in his life and has regretted it ever since. But when Lucas returns to Nashville in a trade, he’s determined to convince Fallon that he’s a changed man. The attraction is still there. The tension is electrifying. But the odds are stacked against them—especially after Lucas finds out that Fallon has been keeping a devastating secret.  Praise for Toni Aleo’s Nashville Assassins romances  “Aleo melts the ice and hits it into the net with her Assassins series.”—Award-winning author Jami Davenport   “Taking Shots is really the whole package. You get romance, humor, steamy sex, drama, and then it all wraps up with a great conclusion. I am amazed that this is Toni’s first book. She has come out in a huge way. I can’t wait to read more from her. Don’t hesitate for a moment to grab this book.”—Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews   “A little steamy, a little heartbreaking, and a whole lot of fanning yourself are in order this time around, readers. Are your cheeks feeling a little pink yet? Get used to the feeling.”—Dreaming in the Pages, on Trying to Score   “Empty Net is an honest, heartwarming, endearing story. . . . Toni Aleo doesn’t just write a story. She gives you the ability to experience the journey of her characters right along with them. Her stories are enveloped with passion, emotion, humor, love; and let me tell you, that girl knows how to write a sex scene that just makes you sweat!”—Guilty Pleasures Book Review   “Sexy and riveting . . . the perfect combination of love and lust.”—USA Today bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, on Blue Lines

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review/rant was originally posted on November 29, 2011.

Warning: This review contains spoilers!! and bad words!!!

I downloaded this because the cover is hot and it features hockey players. Sadly it was a disappointing read. Had I realized it was a secret baby plot, I probably wouldn’t have requested it. I hate secret baby plots unless the heroine has a very good reason for keeping the kid a secret. Like, she tried to tell him but couldn’t find him. Or the kid is a week old and she lost touch, but tries to find him. When the kid is 6 and she’s refusing to tell daddy because she’s all wrapped up in how she feels? That doesn’t work for me.

Sadly, that was the case here. Fallon met Lucas when she was in college. They spent two blissful years together, until the day she walked in on him in bed with her roommate. Heartbroken, she leaves college and heads home. The problem? She’s pregnant. And she knows it. She decides she isn’t going to tell Lucas because he’s a cheating bastard and he’d probably just leave his kid like he left her.

Lucas is heartbroken when he realizes he cheated on Fallon. He was a mess, constantly drinking and using prescription drugs. After she left he got his life together, but it took some time. When he sees her 7 years later, he knows it’s his chance to get her back. Except he discovers Fallon’s secret – she’s been hiding his kid from him.

When Lucas confronts Fallon, she shows zero remorse for keeping his kid from him. She doesn’t apologize or offer to make amends. Instead she throws out wild accusations about the type of father she knows he’s going to be – the type who leaves and doesn’t support his kid – refuses to take child support and in general acts like a raging bitch.

To make matters worse, Lucas was a total doormat. At some point you have to say to yourself “this chick is a crazy bitch and I’m wasting my time”. He should have reached that point around page 15. He never did. Not in 350 pages.

Fallon was a bitch. In a complete role reversal, the hero was the doormat and the heroine was an Alpha-Bitch. She was wishy-washy in her feelings and actions, except her bitterness and anger. Those stayed consistent throughout the book. Right up until the very last page as a matter of fact. Why was Lucas so determined to be with her? It made no sense to me. She kept his kid from him, treated him like crap and in general needed to take a long walk off a short pier. I mean, I get her not wanting to be wit him. He cheated on her. But to keep his kid from him and say he’d be a shitty father because he cheated on her? That doesn’t work for me. Especially since her kid was the one who was suffering because of her hurt feelings.

Added to that, the writing was filled with inconsistent dialogue and characterizations. One minute she was broke, the next she was refusing help because she didn’t need help from no one or nothing. Today she’s sorry she’s hurting her son and wants him to know his dad, yesterday she wanted nothing more than to keep them apart to protect her heart.The dialogue was strange, too. As the novel wore on, the speech went from refined southern bell to crazy southern redneck. “you ain’t gonna” and etc. It took me out of the story.

As if that weren’t enough, there was a weird sub-plot with her sister. The sister seemed pretty kickass until she hooked up with a guy who told her she was fat and hurt her in the bedroom. She refused to tell Fallon or Lucas who it was. Unfortunately Lucas figured it out. She begged him not to tell Fallon until she could do it herself – she had every intention of staying with the abusive guy, which makes absolutely no sense at all – and of course she doesn’t, so the whole thing was used to bring about the final big confrontation between Lucas and Fallon. I have no idea where that came from or why we had to read about it. It was silly and made no sense.

Normally I can overlook small typos or little idiosyncrasies in the plot. But when the story isn’t holding my attention I tend to focus on all the negative. That’s what happened here. The story was way too long and bogged down with constant repetition. At around 2 in the morning, I realized I still had something like 200 pages to go, so I opened the contents and skipped from chapter 16 to 28. I didn’t skim at all. I just jumped from chapter 16 to 28. I felt like I missed nothing. It was like I hadn’t even skipped a page. That doesn’t say good things about the story.

I did like the sister enough (weird abusive guy thing aside) to start her book. Sadly a few chapters in it already seems to be more of the same (minus the secret baby plot). I’m going to stick with it a big longer, but I’m wary now.

I’m totally bummed. I had such high hopes.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Assassins

one-star


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Throwback Thursday Review: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Posted March 15, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 12 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude DeverauxReviewer: Holly and Rowena
A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
Series: Montgomery/Taggert #15
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 27th 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 416
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Goodreads

Once upon a time . . . as a fair maiden lay weeping upon a cold tombstone, her heartfelt desire was suddenly made real before her: tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, her knight in shining armor had come to rescue his damsel in distress. . . .
A Knight in Shining Armor
Hailed worldwide as one of the most romantic novels of all time, Jude Deveraux’s dazzling bestseller “will capture your heart—and hold it” (Daily Herald, Chicago) with its breathtaking tale of lovely Dougless Montgomery; her savior knight, Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck; and the timeless adventure of passion and memory, danger and desire that sweeps them into each other’s arms.

Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

Holly: Rowena and I got into a discussion about this book on Twitter (caution, thread contains spoilers for this book and others) this week along with some other long-time romance readers. We all agree this is one of the few books that can still fill us with rage even all these years later. I’ll never be over that ending. Never.

This review was originally published on June 7, 2008.

I saw a review for this one online a couple of days ago and got mad all over again so I’m going to resurrect this review Holly and I did over at our old blog, Sanctuary’s Finest.

Enjoy!

Rowena says:

Jude Deveraux did such a wonderful job sucking me in with Dougless Montgomery and Nicholas Stafford. I mean, Dougless wanted nothing more than a man, a good man to love and care for her enough to marry her, she strived to have a family of her own with a man who wouldn’t make her look like the insipid younger sister to her family, she didn’t want to be the laughingstock of her family which is understandable and I thought it was so sweet that she asked for a Knight in Shining Armor and got it…in the form of Elizabethan Knight, Nicholas Stafford.

Nicholas Stafford was a rascal of a hero who died long ago and WAS the laughingstock of not only his family but of England. He wanted so much to be remembered for his learning and for his architecture, but instead was remembered as a traitor to his Queen and a sexual exploit of his youth on a table. What a way to be remembered and back in the day, well in Nicholas’ day, all you had to live for was your honor.

Honor made men out of boys and Nicholas’ wanted to be remembered by his mind. He wasn’t perfect by any means (I mean come on now, you slept with a married woman for goodness sakes but still) but he did work hard to supply for his family and he did have a heart, a very big one.

I really loved Nicholas Stafford and I loved the whole story between him and Dougless, they were perfect for eachother, so bloody perfect. The ice cream scene in the kitchen? YUM! I mean, there wasn’t much to love about Dougless and Nicholas because they were both just so loveable. You wanted someone like Dougless as your friend because she cared a whole lot about those around her and she was loyal and just an all around good hearted young woman. Nicholas on the other hand, you wanted Nicholas in your bed, he was hot, he was funny and he was caring. He really was though, just a regular guy with the same goofiness as all of those guys that you can’t help but love.

I can’t tell you guys how great Jude Deveraux did with the telling of this story. The entire time you were rootin’ these two on because you wanted them to have their happy ending. Dougless was a good strong heroine who was soft hearted but worked hard for those around her and then Nicholas, you couldn’t help but fall in love with him, he was just too cute. He too, worked so hard to right the wrongs that were done to him and you really wanted him to find his happy ending…..with Dougless.

Now, JD did a wonderful job with the secondary characters too, you either loved them or you hated them. I mean, with Kit and Lady Margaret, you fell in absolute love with their characters because there was a wealth of love between these two and Nicholas. It was more than aparent that Kit had Nicholas’ back and that he loved his brother with everything, same thing with Lady Margaret, she was a great mother to the two men and she showed that love by fighting for the truth about Nicholas to save him, she was a smart cookie and the bad guys seriously underestimated her abilities to dig out the truth, she was an amazing mother and she was gracious to Dougless for saving both of her sons, I thought that was great.

Now on the flip side of the coin, we have characters like Arabella Sydney who I hated just because she was a little slut that cheated on her husband with Nicholas, stupid chit needed to keep her damn legs closed and work on her marriage to her husband, since that man was one evil ass man. Then you have Robert and Gloria, Dougless’ insufferable boyfriend and his evil spawn of a daughter. Never in my life have I wanted to hurt people more than I wanted to hurt these two, I’m serious because I wanted to stab Robert and keep stabbing him until he had more holes in him than a piece of Swiss Cheese and then I wanted to hang him by his balls and let him bleed out, ever so slowly. You don’t want to know what I wanted to do to his good for nothing little shit of a daughter.

Grrr…

So as you can see, JD did a great job with this book because she got this kind of reaction out of me, always looking on the bright side Rowena, that’s me. If a book is bad, I’ll overlook it if I enjoyed the story as a whole, oh but not this time around. Not with this book, this book infuriated me so much that I am going to burn this shit in the Burn Book pile, oh wait…I already did that, but this time I’m going to keep it in the burn pile.

You see, as much as I loved the story, I hated the ending, the ending is what burned the book, ruined it for me, but aside from that horrendous ending, the book was FABULOUS!

Holly says:

I couldn’t agree with Rowena more. When we first meet Douglass she’s on her way to England for a vacation with her stupid cad boyfriend and his stupid, spoiled daughter, and as a reader, you want so much for her to find true love and happiness, because she’s the type that deserves it.

As a member of the overachieving Montgomery clan, Douglass has always felt inferior to the rest of her family and she truly just wants to be loved and accepted for who she is, and not reminded of the mistakes she’s made. As a woman, a sister and a mother, I totally identified with her.

When she was weeping on the steps of the church because her jerkass boyfriend had abandoned her in a foreign country, I wept with her. And when Nicholas Stafford was brought forward through time as her Knight in Shining Armor, I cried harder and wanted so much for them to be together. I cried again when Nicholas was sent back home and I prayed Douglass would find a way to be with him again.

I cheered when Douglass went back to Nicholas’ time and I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation, waiting to see how the story would unfold. Would Nicholas remember Douglass from when he was in the future? Would his family come to accuse her of being a witch? Would Nicholas fall in love with the Douglass in his time, or remember he loved her in her time? Would he still marry the psycho that got him into trouble before?

The scenes Rowena mentioned, like the ice cream scene, were amazingly told. I was completely wrapped up in this story, breathless with anticipation and almost sick to my stomach wondering how JD was going to keep these two amazing characters together. I just wanted them to have their HEA….together.

Conclusion: With Spoilers…you were warned!

View Spoiler »

Dammit. And Double Dammit. There’s no redeeming this book at all. No matter how I look at it, it sucked ass, plain and simple.

Stupid ass book!

Story: 4 Ending: 1

This book is available from Simon & Schuster . You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: A Scandal by Any Other Name by Kimberly Bell

Posted February 1, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: A Scandal by Any Other Name by Kimberly BellReviewer: Tracy
A Scandal By Any Other Name (A Tale of Two Sisters #2) by Kimberly Bell
Series: A Tale of Two Sisters #2
Published by Entangled, Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 306
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
one-star

Julia Bishop has led a very sheltered life. Protected by her family from those who might ridicule her for her secrets, she stays hidden away in the country. But she longs for more, if only for an evening. To kiss a rake in full view of the stable boy. Unchaperoned picnics. Romance. But she knows she’ll never experience any of those things.

That is, until a handsome duke with a mysterious past of his own arrives…

Duke Jasper DeVere left London to grieve his grandfather’s death privately, away from the prying eyes and gossips of the ton. Seeking solitude at a friend’s country manor, he’s surprised he finds himself drawn to the company of the shy beauty determined to present the epitome of proper behavior.

That is, until the mysterious woman makes an indecent proposal…

Julia can’t believe what she’s suggested to the duke. Nor that he agrees a distraction is what they both need. But what will happen when Jasper must return to his duties and leave Julia behind? Will the memories of their time together be enough for a lifetime of solitude for either of them?

Because Julia can never leave her country haven and a duke can never stay…

Jasper is distraught over the death of his grandfather – the man who raised him. He feels that he can’t live up to his grandfather’s legacy and right before the ceremony (with the Queen) that will officially make him the Duke of Abermarle, he does a runner. He decides to head to his friend Nicholas’s house in the country – not realizing that Nicholas isn’t back from his honeymoon. He runs into Nicholas’s new sister-in-law, Julia, but she tells him that she’s a cousin and her name is Juniper. Jasper is instantly attracted to Juniper and wants nothing more than to bed her.

Julia has never had adventure. She’s got spina bifida and has been sheltered her whole life. When Jasper shows up and doesn’t know who she is she sees it as her opportunity to be someone else and live an adventure.

This book. I’m not even sure how to state my feelings on it. First of all, the blurb led me to believe that Jasper couldn’t avoid his grandfather, who was alive. I mean it says “it’s difficult to avoid your own grandfather” in the blurb. More like it’s hard to avoid his legacy, cuz the man is dead!  Anyway, when Jasper runs from his own ceremony I lost some serious respect for the man. Then he shows up and acts the complete rake and fool with Julia. I found it annoying.

Julia, I could understand, wanted to live a little. Ok, I get that, but she acted so incredibly immaturely that I couldn’t help but yell at my kindle for her to get her act together! LOL  Her sister let her just do whatever, even after being caught in a compromising position and I couldn’t understand that.

Later in the book Jasper finally completes the ceremony and becomes the Duke but by that time I truly didn’t care whether Julia and Jasper were ever together. I guess I felt these two immature beings were perfect for each other but frankly, I wasn’t interested in their HEA.

When you put the book down when you’ve only read 13% of it, it’s a sign I should have see with red flashing lights. I had to force myself to go back to it and then barely got through it. I wish I could say good things about this one but it did nothing for me.

A Tale of Two Sisters Series

Rating: 1 out of 5

one-star


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Retro-Review/Rant: Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle

Posted September 6, 2017 by Holly in Features | 17 Comments

Retro-Review/Rant: Away from the Spotlight by Tamara CarlisleReviewer: Holly
Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: June 3, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 481
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
one-star

In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship. Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?

Tamara Carlisle takes you on a romantic ride that explores the consequences of fame and a love that endures all.

As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: I recently came across this review while doing some site maintenance. I’d forgotten all about this book. I think I must have blocked it out, because wow. What a bunch of WTFery.

This review was originally posted on August 29, 2013.
Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle

Warning: This is more a rant than a review and it is FILLED WITH SPOILERS and DIRTY WORDS!

I planned to stop this at around 150 pages. Then I read some spoilers for the end. I decided I needed to read it myself to see if it was as bad as the reviews claimed. This book is 56 chapters. That’s a lot of chapters. And trust me, I felt every.single.one.

Let me sum up the first 5 chapters for you: Law School Student meets sexy boy in bar. He seems way into her but skirts around what he does for a living, even when she asks directly. Turns out boy is a Movie Star. He wanted her to love him for him, so he kept it a secret. For 3 weeks. Until she saw his picture in a tabloid with his current leading lady. She confronts him. He swears he was going to tell her! Probably. Maybe. Someday..

After no groveling on his part, she takes him back. Then he tells her he loves her. 3 weeks in. There’s a guy at work she was sort of crushing on but he had a girlfriend. Movie Star is jealous of work dude even though she tells him not to be.

From there it’s 45 chapters of:
Heroine: I’m not good enough for you! You’re a movie star and you’re surrounded by beautiful women!
Hero: I’m not good enough for you! You’re all smart and educated and stuff. I didn’t even go to university. Besides, you’re gorgeous.
Heroine: No I’m not.
Hero: Yes you are.
Heroine: No I’m not. You are.
Hero: No I’m not. You are!
Heroine: No, you.
Hero: No you. I love you!
Heroine: I love you more!

Lather.Rinse.Repeat.

Then the paparazzi find out they’re dating and start stalking her. They call her work and harass her and almost run her off the road. He breaks up with her because he’s ruining her life. Never mind that she says she loves him and is willing to deal because it’s his life.  He did this BY PHONE then REFUSED TO SEE HER FOR MONTHS. She sees him in a bar with TWO GIRLS on his lap. TWO. The next day he shows up at her place. He says “I thought I could live without you but I can’t. Lets go get married. Right now.”  and she says “ok!”

$&#?#/%+# OMFGWTF.

So they go get married. Like, the day after they get back together. Which made their total time together – including breakup – like, three month. Or something.

Also? There are no sex scenes in this book. None. 56 chapters in 400+ pages and not even a slap and tickle to distract me from the WTF. I’m not saying I need sex scenes in every book I read. But at least give me a little tickle if I’m going to get the slap. Yannow?

So anyway…

..they all lived Happily Ever After….

….except they didn’t live Happily Ever After for very long, because 6 years after they get married the Movie Star dies in a car accident. No shit. That actually happened. I spent HOURS of my life slogging through 52 CHAPTERS of CRAPPY EMO ANGST for him to DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT.

But wait. There’s more.

Throughout the book there was the guy at her work who crushed on her. Much relationship angst was had because of him. Guess what? He shows up two years after the funeral and…dun dun dun.. he’s getting a divorce! And…dun dun dun..he’s still in love with her! And! It just so happens he has a son just the same age as hers. This is, like, kismet!

She’s been dreaming of dead guy for years. Vivid sexy-times dreams. 1st time she sleeps with new guy, she dreams of dead guy again. Yes. You read that right. She has dream-sex every night with one guy while going to bed with another. Alrighty then.

She feels guilty for betraying dead guy by being with alive guy. Dead guy says not to. They can still be together in dreams.

“From then on I would fall asleep in John’s arms and wake up in Will’s.”

Did I take the blue pill? Because I feel like I took the blue pill.

But wait, we’re not done yet!

The new husband? He dies, too! Which, you know, makes sense.. in the alternate universe this author lives in. That night when she falls asleep the first dead husband is there. She asks if she gets to see second dead husband in her dreams, too? First dead guy says “just this once”.

 

Second dead husband says,

“I want you to be with Will because I know he’s your soul mate.”

What the fuck is even happening? I THOUGHT WILL WAS DEAD?!?! How can she be with him if HE’S DEAD?!?!

They (her and 2nd dead guy) make love. Then 2nd dead guy gets dressed and leaves to find his soul mate. 1st dead guy shows up and snuggles her. Because they’re soul mates and meant to be together. Forever. So, it’s like totally ok that she’s still full of semen from the other guy, right? Right.

She continues to dream of Will, the first dead husband, for like the next 50 years.

Then she dies (when she’s 80-something) and yep, he’s waiting for her. He tells her they’re now going to be together forever and they walk off into the sunset..or ether..or whatever.

“Are you ready for forever now?”

“With you?”

“Of course.”

“Then, yes. Let’s go.”

He took my hand. “I’ll love you forever.”

The end.

People. Seriously. That’s what happened. I could not make this shit up.

Honestly? I’m at a loss for words. I don’t even know how to process what happened there at the end. I admit I felt a little like Alice must have after she fell down the rabbit hole. I kept wondering if someone had slipped something into my tea. The WTF factor with this book is huge.

I wish I could say I laughed it off in the end, but honestly I feel a little traumatized. Like I witnessed a trainwreck and the images won’t leave my head. I might need vodka. Or a hug-yourself jacket. Or both.

The next time I read a spoiler and feel like I need to investigate for myself, remind me of this book, will you? Obviously I  need someone to save me from myself.

1 out of 5

This book is self-published. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

*I read this book back in April and wrote the review then. I just forgot to post it. I live-tweeted as I was reading and saved the tweets here. You’re welcome to share my pain read them if you want to be tortured like.

one-star


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Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards

Posted April 12, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Can't Stand The Heat by Louisa Edwards
Series: Recipe for Love #1
Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: September 1st 2009
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 368
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
one-star

For sharp-tongued food critic Miranda Wake, the chance to spend a month in Adam Temple's kitchen to write an exposé is a journalistic dream come true. Surely Miranda can find a way to cut the hotshot chef down to size once she learns what really goes on at his trendy Manhattan restaurant. But she never expected Adam to find out her most embarrassing secret: she has no idea how to cook.

Adam's not about to have his reputation burned by a critic who doesn't even know the difference between poaching and paring. He'll just have to give the tempting redhead a few private lessons of his own—teaching her what it means to cook with passion...and doing more with his hands than simply preparing sumptuous food.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review/rant was originally posted on October 29, 2009.

WARNING: This review contains a major rant about the heroine. It will contain strong language and spoilers for the story. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve mentioned before that I generally have a dislike for heroines who are journalists. I’ve made some exceptions, but generally I try to stay away from novels featuring them, because I know I have a personal bias and I don’t want that to color my reading experience. I chose to pick this one up anyway because Miranda Wake is a food critic, rather than an investigative journalist (the type I generally have the biggest issues with). Also? It’s a foodie book and I’m a huge foodie.

I went into this expecting one thing, and got something else entirely.

Miranda Wake is a bitter food critic who desperately wants a book deal. On the pre-opening night of a new restaurant, Market, she gets blitzed and has it out with the Exec Chef and Owner, Adam Temple. She hasn’t even had his food yet, but she’s already spouting off about how he’s pretentious and his food sucks. So he challenges her to spend just one night in his kitchen, thinking to shut her up. Only she accepts.

Then his investor gets together with her editor and they decide she’ll stay for a month. Which is when she gets a book deal; she’s to write a book “dishing” about Adam Temple and what really goes on in his kitchen. While Miranda is busy digging up dirt on Adam and the entire staff, she finds herself falling in love with him. Which I completely understood, because I adored Adam.

He was sweet and adorable, with a strong sense of right and wrong. He was probably the best part about this book. I loved that even though he had preconceived notions about Miranda he set them aside and judged her on his own observations. I loved that he was tough but fair in the kitchen. I loved that he hired chefs based on their merits as cooks, rather than their diplomas or schooling. He had a somewhat gruff exterior, but inside he was kind and loving.

I absolutely adored the secondary characters. The entire kitchen staff came alive for me. I really felt like I was right there with them, laughing and joking and cooking fabulous food. They were a rag-tag bunch, but they really brought flavor and spice to the story.

As a side story, Miranda’s younger brother, Jesse, turns up from college (somewhere in the Midwest) saying he’s not going back. He gets a job at Market working as a server. As it turns out, he’s gay and falls in love with one of the sou chefs, Frankie, which Miranda hates. She thinks Frankie corrupted and tempted her poor straight brother into being gay.

I thought the story with the brother was cute, though I did struggle with his age quite a bit. He’s only 19. The problem is I wasn’t as bothered by that as I felt I should have been. Especially since Frankie is quite a bit older than him. Why is it that I’m willing to forgive a 19yo hero when he’s gay, but wouldn’t forgive a 19yo heroine (in a contemp) regardless? Once I got past that, though, I really enjoyed his part of the story.

So at this point in the book Miranda comes off as bitter, cynical and jaded. She’s also a complete control freak. Which is fine. I could have dealt with that if it had been one of the centerpieces of the story – how Miranda grew up. Unfortunately I didn’t find that to be the case.

Because at the end? She SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND STILL SUBMITS THE FUCKING BOOK.

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!

Her reason for doing so? She needs the money so she can pay for her brother to go to NYU. The problem? She only wants to pay for it to get him away from Frankie so he’ll go back to being “normal” instead of “gay”. Not only that, but he specifically told her he didn’t want her paying for his tuition. He said he wanted to be a responsible adult and contribute something himself. I understand that she wanted to help him as much as she could, but she SOLD OUT THE MAN SHE LOVED AND ALL HIS FRIENDS/EMPLOYEES to do it.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

And the best part? The only person she has to rely on and go to for support during this whole thing with her brother is Adam. She leans on him and lets him support her and SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND THEN SELLS HIM OUT IN A CHEAP FUCKING BOOK!

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

The thing is, I loved everything else about the book. The kitchen setting, the secondary characters, the hero. I even loved that the author included some of the recipes she used in the book (I’m sooo going to try them). I’m trying to decide if the heroine ruined the book for me, or if I can move past what she did. Right now I’d probably grade it:

3 out of 5 for the overall story, setting and characters
Bold
1 out of 5 for the heroine (maybe even a -1)

I did enjoy parts of it enough to want to read the next book in the series, On the Steamy Side, which will be available March, 2010.

Book CoverBook Cover

This book is available from St. Martin’s. You can buy it here or here (I’m not including a link to buy in e-format b/c I think St. Martin’s has terrible e-pricing. The paperback is $6.99 but the e-book is $14. WTF St. Martin’s? W.T.F?).

one-star


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