Archive for the ‘Hazel’ Category
For sharp-tongued 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 chefdown to size once she learns what really goes on at his trendy Manhattan restaurant. The trouble is, she never expected Adam to find out her most embarrassing secret: this critic has no idea how to cook.
As for Adam, well, he’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 Miranda what it means to cook with passion.
Louisa Edward’s debut novel Can’t Stand the Heat is an amazing book for an author’s first publication. I have recently discovered romance novels that are centered on sexy chefs to be really good. Head chefs tend to be egocentric, physically strong and very alpha men, and Adam is no exception.
When restaurant critic Miranda has a little too much of a fancy cocktail she throws down a challenge to Adam that neither one is really prepared to defend. With the aggressive encouragement of Adam’s financial backer and Miranda’s editor Miranda finds herself working in Adam’s kitchen to research a magazine article that turns into a tell-all book. A bitter, dissatisfied employee feeds her all the gossip she wants to hear about Adam and his team. When Miranda falls in love with Adam and he with her, she rethinks writing the book but a falling out with him leads to the situation quickly spiraling out of the control of either of them.
There is a secondary m/m love story involving Miranda’s younger brother whom she has raised since the death of their parents. Plenty of tension arises from the difference in age and experience between Jess and Adam’s grill chef, Frankie, as well as the fact that Jess has not come out to his sister. She has somewhat inflexible dreams for Jess’ future that do not include him being gay, working as a waiter, being in love with a bisexual man of dubious character, or dropping out of college.
There is an exciting sub-plot that turns into an attempted murder. While this was an unexpected twist it was thrilling and fit into the overall storyline perfectly. The ending takes a while to play out and had me turning pages trying to see how Miranda was going to fix all of the problems she had caused. It was an ingenious plan that at first appeared was not going to work but the book does end with HEAs for all, thanks to another extremely arrogant celebrity chef stepping in to help Miranda. The next book in the series will be Devon’s story and I hope he is less condescending and more loveable because he is not endearing in this book at all.
I loved Miranda, who is a heroine that is organized to the nth degree but that is also her biggest flaw. I loved sexy in-charge Adam who knows what he wants. He is ready to drop it in a heartbeat if he gets a whiff of betrayal or disappointment but expects Miranda to doggedly go after what she wants no matter what, especially if what she wants is Adam.
Ms. Edwards has written a romance novel that is hot, hot, hot in the bedroom as well as in the kitchen. If Can’t Stand the Heat is what she produces in her first shot out of the gate, I can hardly wait to tap into her growing list of books.
Rated 4 Gold Crowns by Hazel!
Joanna returns to a small Missouri town for her high school reunion and comes face to face with Pete, the love of her life. A college professor in Tennessee, she has never married and Pete, a prosperous farmer, is now a widower with five children. Their attraction is as strong as it was on graduation night when Pete was leaving for boot camp. He never knew that Joanna had his child and gave her up for adoption. And Joanna doesn’t know that her baby girl, Beth, is now married and has begun a search for her birth parents. Will Beth find what she is looking for? And will Pete and Joanna, despite their diverse lives, rediscover a love that has come full circle?
Linda Swift’s Circle of Love is a novel about never giving up on finding love, even if love is right where you left it many years ago. Forced by her parents to hide in shame and ultimately give up her child for adoption, teenaged Joanna never told high school sweetheart Pete that they had a baby.
I love sweet romances, especially if they seem like this could really happen, but unfortunately, there were just too many coincidences in this novel to allow me to suspend belief and become attached to the story or the characters. Joanna finds Pete, now a grandfather, at an elementary school reunion. Pete’s wife has died in an accident. Pete and Joanna’s love rekindles. Pete’s children don’t accept Joanna, then do. Joanna gets sick, has surgery, is nursed back to health by the daughter she gave up for adoption thirty years ago and who recognizes that Joanna is her mother because of the crochet pattern of the afghan Joanna has in her hospital room. Joanna recognizes that Beth is her daughter because of Beth’s eyes. Beth immediately begins calling Joanna and Pete Mom and Dad and she becomes the big sister to Pete’s five adult children. Joanna’s mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, upon meeting Beth miraculously remembers that Joanna had a baby. Meanwhile, there are jealousies and mini-dramas with Joanna’s friends that conveniently wrap up with other friends.
This book has HEAs for everyone. If you love a book with guaranteed feel-good happily ever afters for every single character in the book, I guarantee that you will love Circle of Love. Ms. Swift is a talented writer who is capable of keeping track of multiple story lines and allowing diverging plots to merge back together by the end of the book. I’m sorry to say, it probably just wasn’t the book for me.
Rated 3.5 Gold Crowns by Hazel!
Photographer Seren Takahashi wants to heal her woundedsoul by embarking on a personal adventure to Tokyo. What she hadn’t expectedwas finding closure and rediscovering herself. When she gives into destiny’spull, her journey awakens a need to live in the moment, embrace her fears, andopen her heart to love. *All author proceeds from the sale of this story willbe donated to charity.
Jax Cassidy’s Shibuya Moment is a multi-layered story of discovery. Serendipity Takahashi has let many opportunities to visit Japan slip through her fingers, always thinking she would get around to it later. When she finally does visit Tokyo it is with a heavy heart, missing the one person who always wanted to show her his Japan.
Seren discovers a love for Japan, for Tokyo, and an unexpected ability to love another person. She has been career driven for so long she didn’t think there was room in her life or her heart for another person. She is finally able to forgive herself for not fulfilling her father’s dream of showing her “his” Tokyo. When she meets Max she is unwilling to even get to know him, let alone love him. A very special twist in the story allows Seren to realize that her father has led her to Japan, to Max, and into her own heart.
Ms. Cassidy’s very sweet story is deftly nuanced with elegant detail and color. The view from the top of a building is breathtakingly described. I was able to put myself in Seren’s place and revel in not only the location but also in her feelings for Max. This is the first book I have read by Jax Cassidy but I will be looking for more. I recommend this story to anyone who loves romance, travel, culture, or a well written piece about a woman who is trying to find herself.
Rated 5 Gold Crowns by Hazel!
Abandoned by his wife and left to raise a child alone, Caleb Reed falls short of the ideal work-from-home dad. He needs a woman to help him, in every sense of the word. At the suggestion of a friend, Caleb agrees to hire Ariel Lauren on a trial basis.
As an orphan, Ariel has more issues than just how to make it on her on. Yes, she needs the money that Caleb offers her, but more than anything she finds she desires his love. One calamity after another befalls her and jeopardizes her new job and her chance at having a family. But through it all, Caleb is by her side, his gruff exterior threatening to melt in the face of their shared attraction. Will they decide to continue life alone or will the magic of Valentine’s Day bring them together?
Felicia Rogers’ The Perfect Rose is a sweet romance that pairs a single dad with a young woman he has hired as a nanny for his son. Joshua is a brilliant child who is home schooled by his very protective father, Caleb.
The first half of the book is a nice romance novel with Caleb and Ariel learning about each other and discovering an attraction for one another. There is one funny bit when Joshua shrieks upon meeting the new nanny and says she can’t be Ariel because she isn’t a mermaid.
The book takes a sudden turn half-way through with the abrupt appearance of an unexpected character. I had difficulty accepting that Caleb would allow this person to just move right in. Ms. Rogers really needed to provide some rational explanation for this development and the continued presence in the house of this person. The last half of the book was full of angst and tension, as you might expect. Even if conflict is needed as a plotline, there has to be some kind of justification to make it a reasonable development.
Plot transition problems aside, the characters were well developed, including those with minor roles in the story. In fact, I would say Ms. Rogers’ strong suit is character development and that is something that I find very important in any book. I loved the very sweet HEA at the end, which explained the title of the book.
Rated 3 Gold Crowns by Hazel!