Tag: St. Martin’s Press

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, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 368
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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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Retro Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Posted March 1, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 9 Comments

Retro Review: Bet Me by Jennifer CrusieReviewer: Casee
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 31st 2004
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 391
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five-stars

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.
But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

******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 was originally posted on June 2, 2008.

This wasn’t my first Crusie book. Years ago I read Charlie Something-or-Other. I didn’t really care for it. In fact, I had no idea why everyone was so crazy about this author. Yes, the book I read was an early Crusie novel. That’s why I wasn’t in any hurry to give her another try. Look at Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught…all authors whose earlier works are more loved than their more recent books. That’s my excuse for waiting so long to read Bet Me. I guess I have to thank Holly b/c I would have most likely not tried to read it again if she wouldn’t have coerced pressured bullied suggested it in such a wonderful way. (Holly: Am I good like that, or what? It’s ok, you don’t have to bow down to my greatness..we know. We know. LOL)

That being said, I’m so glad that she persevered b/c I loved this book.

Min Dobbs decides to teach Cal Morrisey a lesson when she overhears him making a bet that he can get her into bed. Deciding that she will string him along for three weeks until her sister’s wedding, Min accepts his invitation for dinner. It only takes one dinner for Min to admit that she doesn’t have it in her to string someone like Cal along. At the end of the night, they part ways, both satisfied that they will never see the other again.

Fate definitely had a way of laughing in their faces. Again and again Min and Cal ran into each other. Yet each time they parted, that was it. They were never going to see each other again.

There is really no easy way to review this book other than to say if you haven’t read it, you’re missing out. Crusie has some of the best dialogue that I’ve ever read. The relationship between Min and Cal was far from an easy one. Though they both had admitted to themselves that the other is “the one”, they both had hangups that wouldn’t let them admit it out loud. Add in Min’s jealous ex-boyfriend and Cal’s rational ex-girlfriend and you have a book that you can’t put down.

I loved everything about this book from how it began, to the continuing conflict, to both Min and Cal’s parents, to the ending. Everything about it just hooked me from page 1.

5 out of 5.

five-stars

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Review: The Hero by Donna Grant

Posted December 28, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Hero by Donna GrantReviewer: Rowena
The Hero by Donna Grant
Series: Sons of Texas #1
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 320
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two-stars

THE HERO’S HOMECOMING

Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget – his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After over a decade away, Owen is returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that puts him face-to-face with Natalie and an outside menace that threatens everything he holds dear. He’ll risk it all to keep Natalie safe – and win her heart. . . .

Natalie Dixon has had a lifetime of heartache since Owen was deployed. Fourteen years and one bad marriage later, she finds herself mixed up with the Loughman’s again. With her life on the line against an enemy she can’t fight alone, it’s Owen’s strong shoulders, smoldering eyes, and sensuous smile that she turns to. When danger closes in, she holds close to the only man she’s ever loved…

The Hero is the first book in the Sons of Texas series and it’s the first book by Donna Grant that I’ve ever read. I just finished watching 13 Hours when I requested this book for review on Netgalley so I went into this book, not really knowing what to expect but hoping for a good story. The story started out great. Owen Loughman’s a Navy SEAL who gets taken off a job and flown home, where he finds his Aunt and Uncle were murdered and his Dad is missing. He also finds his ex-girlfriend on the premises and has a whole bunch of questions.

Natalie works at the Russian Embassy. She is thrown into the mix when she was approached by Owen’s father for information on a super secret project that Natalie has no idea about but when the code word comes across her desk at work, later on, she’s really thrown into the thick of things and seeing Owen again after all of these years, doesn’t help matters.

There have been a lot of years that separated Owen and Natalie. They’re not the same people they were when they were in high school but that doesn’t seem to stop them from wanting the hell out of each other and while that would have been fine and dandy, this book suffered from the inappropriate lusting. I’ve spoken about it before after reviewing some other romantic suspense books and I just can’t get on board with danger being a turn on because I don’t understand it. The last thing on my mind is sex when I’m covered in blood but hey, that’s just me. There was a lot of stuff that didn’t make sense to me as I continued on with the book and in the end, I just don’t know if I’ll be continuing this series because shock of all shockers, this book ended on a cliffhanger. Ehh. I’m not a fan of that either so while the book started off well, it didn’t really end well and too much happened that had me rolling my eyes down the street so I’m giving this one a 2. That’s a bummer.

Grade: 2 out of 5

two-stars

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Guest Review: One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison

Posted November 23, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: One Less Problem Without You by Beth HarbisonReviewer: Tina
One Less Problem without You by Beth Harbison
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Pages: 336
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two-half-stars

Meet Prinny, Chelsea and Diana. Prinny is the owner of Cosmos, a shop that sells crystals, potions, candles, and hope. It’s also a place where no one turns down a little extra-special cocktail that can work as a romance potion or heal a broken heart. But Prinny is in love with her married lawyer and she’ll need nothing short of magic to forget about him.

Chelsea works as a living statue at tourist sites around Washington, DC. It's a thankless job, but it helps pay the rent. That, and her part-time job at Cosmos. As her dream of becoming a successful actress starts to seem more remote and the possibility of being a permanently struggling one seems more realistic, Chelsea begins to wonder: at one point do you give up on your dreams? And will love ever be in the cards for her?

Diana Tiesman is married to Leif, a charismatic man who isn’t faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana just can't let him go. She knows the only way she can truly breakaway is if she leaves and goes where he will never think to follow. So she ends up at Cosmos with Leif’s stepsister, where she makes her homemade teas and tinctures as she figures out whether she'd rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.

In Beth Harbison's One Less Problem Without You, three women suddenly find themselves together at their own very different crossroads. It will take hope, love, strength and a little bit of magic for them to find their way together.

When I see books by Beth Harbison the first thing I think of is chick-lit. I am not saying this as a bad thing at all, but that is just what most of her books are, in my humble opinion. I was spending an early weekend morning checking out the new books at the local library. I found One Less Problem Without You and of course I read the blurb on the back of the cover, and thought “hmm, this is a little out of the norm for this author”, but then I figured that maybe it was just the way I was interpreting it so I plopped it in the old trusty book bag and foraged on through the rest of the rows.

When I got home later, I grabbed the book and started reading. After a few chapters, I noticed this book was nothing like what I had expected. It was a more “weighty” (is that even a word??) type of story that I didn’t really expect from Beth Harbison. But then, maybe that is exactly the point. Perhaps the author wanted to shake her readers up a bit. I really couldn’t say. But this book was a little hard for me to get through and I actually kept laying it down. I did a load of laundry, I wiped down the kitchen counters….you know the drill. There just seemed to be a lot going on with a lot of different characters. At one point I got pretty lost in all the back and forth. I totally get wanting to give some background and explain some things, but I think it was a little overdone at times.

I guess from the cover of the book AND the fact that the author is Beth Harbison, I expected a light-hearted, borderline cutesy kinda read. And yes, I DID read the synopsis, but I figured if anyone could make it all better it would be Beth. The abusive scenes in the book really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting rape to be part of it.. I also could not stand the main male character and I was annoyed with his wife and all the crap she kept putting up with. I personally do not have any knowledge about abusive relationships, but I can honestly say that my butt would’ve been gone a LONG time before she finally decided to do something about it.

So there you have it. One Less Problem Without You will not be one that I brag about or tell my friends they need to read. I struggled with this one and even considered not finishing. But hey……I’m NOT a quitter! Okay, I am sometimes, but I saw this one to the end.

Now just because I wasn’t thrilled with this one doesn’t mean that you won’t be. I absolutely HATED 50 Shades of Grey and look how popular that was! Just remember that this one is not all sweet and wrapped it a bow. It deals with some pretty heavy things at times. There are tons of people that rated it highly, so read some other reviews, or just go to the library like I did. You won’t be losing anything either way, and you might just like it.

two-half-stars

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Guest Review: When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison

Posted October 5, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth HarbisonReviewer: Tina
When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 17th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Pages: 338
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three-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Shoe Addicts Anonymous and Always Something There to Remind Me comes a delicious new novel about the search for true love and all the ingredients that go into it.

As far as Gemma is concerned, her days of dating are over. In fact, it's her job to cater other peoples' dates, and that's just fine by her. At thirty-seven, she has her own business, working as a private chef, and her life feels full and secure. She's got six steady clients that keep her hands full.

There's Lex, the fussy but fabulous department store owner who loves Oysters Rockefeller and 1950s comfort food; Willa, who needs to lose weight under doctor's orders but still believes butter makes everything better; a colorful family who may or may not be part of the Russian mob; an überwealthy Georgetown family; the picture-perfect Van Houghtens, whose matriarch is "allergic to everything"; and finally, a man she calls "Mr. Tuesday," whom she has never met but who she is strangely drawn to.

For Gemma, cooking is predictable. Recipes are certain. Use good ingredients, follow the directions, and you are assured success. Life, on the other hand, is full of variables. So when Gemma's takes an unexpected turn on a road she always thought was straight and narrow, she must face her past and move on in ways she never would have imagined. Because sometimes in life, all you need is a little hope, a lot of courage, and---oh yes---butter.

I have been in a kind of “fluff’ read sort of mood lately. I went to the bookstore and the library quickly scanning the shelves for books that gave me the impression that they would be quick, easy and uncomplicated. Well, I found several. I just finished one by Beth Kendrick and then picked this one up thinking it was the same author. I guess since both of them were together and had that sort of “cutesy” cover going on I just assumed..

Anyway, another reason I chose the book was because I love to bake. And any book that has cupcakes on the front of it will at least make me pick it up and check out the blurb on the back. Since this one was about a girl who was a personal chef, my mind said “Heck yeah” and into my basket it went.

When I picked up When in Doubt, Add Butter , I pretty much had an idea that I was getting a cute little story that I could read quickly before bed without doing a lot of thinking or one that I could read a couple chapters during my lunch break at work. It was a quick read and I can say that I enjoyed the story, although it was VERY predictable and had ending that I wasn’t that keen about. (Which I will not talk about….no need to spoil it for the rest of you all). I also think I would’ve rated this 3.5 starts had it included some recipes in it as well.

So, if you are looking for something thought-provoking and deep, you will need to keep on looking. But then, my question to you would be “Why would you pick a book titled When in Doubt, Add Butter, if you wanted something profound?” I did think this was an enjoyable read for what it is, which I would personally call a “rainy day book”.

I will most likely keep my eye out for a couple more books by Beth Harbison. I found her writing to be catchy, and it did make me smile in places.

three-stars

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