Rowena’s review of Too Hot to Touch (Rising Star Chef, Book 1) by Louisa Edwards
Hero: Max Lunden
Heroine: Jules Cavanaugh
When it comes to competitive cooking, Max Lunden is no stranger to winning…though he’s never been great at working with a team. A master chef—and major hunk—he’s traveled the world, picking up new cooking techniques as well as beautiful women. But when the prodigal chef returns home to his family’s Greenwich Village restaurant, he discovers one too many cooks in the kitchen—and she’s every bit as passionate as he is…
Juliet Cavanaugh used to have a crush on Max when she was just a teenager, hanging out at Lunden & Sons Tavern, hoping to catch a glimpse of the owner’s oldest, and hottest, son. Now a chef herself—competing in the biggest culinary contest in the country—Juliet will be cooking side by side with the one man she’s always admired…and desired. But despite their simmering attraction, Juliet is determined to keep her cool—no matter how hot it gets…
This is the first book by Louisa Edwards that I’ve read. I was a bit resistant to try an Edwards book since reading Holly’s review of one of Edwards earlier books. I have been a total chicken until now. This is the first of her Hot books and I enjoyed it. This book follows Max Lunden, the oldest of the Lunden boys who left their hometown of New York City and the family restaurant to travel the world and build his culinary knowledge.
He travels from place to place, learning from the best of the best all around the world and he’s just landed an opportunity to work with the very best Italian cook in the world, in Italy and he’s called home to help his family’s team compete in the Rising Chef’s competition. The restaurant can use the money and his Mom really wants him home so after he gets his Mom to agree to a month long visit home to help out, he goes home.
When he gets there, his Mom is happy to see him as is his Dad (with some resentment) but his brother is most unhappy to see him. Max knew that things would be a little tense when he came back but he wasn’t expecting it to be as tense as it actually was. He has his work cut out for him if he wants to bridge the gap that has grown between him and his brother.
Jules Cavanaugh had some trouble with her Mom when she was younger and the Lunden’s took her in when Max left home. She’s been with them ever since and they gave her the family she always wanted and there isn’s a thing she wouldn’t do for them. When she finds out that the eldest Lunden son is returning to the restaurant, her old crush comes back to mind and she finds herself wondering how time and experience has changed the Max Lunden she knew. She’s more excited to see him than anything, not that she’d admit that to anyone…especially her best friend Danny, Max’s younger brother.
They’ve got a good team heading into the Rising Chef’s competition and she’s determined to win the entire thing for Gus Lunden. He’s been the very best role model for her and nothing is going to stand in her way of helping her team win it all. Not even her fiery attraction to Max Lunden.
The romance between Max and Jules was pretty straight forward. Jules wanted to avoid any messy attachments with Max and Max just wanted Jules. It was definitely inevitable and I enjoyed the ride.
Max wasn’t one of those heroes that is too serious all the time and takes himself too seriously. He wasn’t this alpha male that had to have the last word and I loved his flirty spice attitude toward Jules. The way that he kept coming at her with his charm and wit, wearing her down was sexy.
Jules was another great character but some of her resistance toward Max got to be a bit much and when she ran away? I wanted to smack some sense into her but overall, she wasn’t the worst kind of heroine and she didn’t drive me crazy enough that I hated the book or anything. On top of the hero and the heroine, the other characters in this book definitely round out my favorite things about this book.
I adored Beck and wanted to know more about him. I loved his loyalty to the Lundens and to the restaurant and I loved Win. His bubbly personality totally won me over. I also really enjoyed getting to know Danny. Meeting him in this book definitely had me anxious to read his book and find out who his heroine was going to be. I had my thoughts about who it would be and was pleasantly surprised that I was right. I loved Max and Danny’s parents and I even enjoyed getting to know the judges. I understand that one of the judges was the hero in one of Edwards earlier books but I didn’t read that book so I didn’t know him though I do plan on going back and reading his book sometime in the near future.
This book is filled with lots of foodie facts and I enjoyed the behind the scene kitchen action that this book provided. I love me some foodie themed stories and this is definitely one. I’m more of a baker than a cook so I was really looking forward to reading Danny’s book since he’s the pastry chef. I couldn’t wait to see what that man had planned for chocolate, haha.
Overall, this book was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. The characters were lively and charming and the story wasn’t complicated or anything. There was a balanced mix of everything and I’m glad that I read it. I definitely recommend this book.
Grade: 4.25 out of 5.
This book is available from St. Martin’s Paperbacks. You can buy it here or here in e-format.