Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Louisa Edwards - Just One Taste

Bad-boy chef Wes Murphy dreads his final semester cooking class—Food Chemistry 101—until he meets the new substitute teacher. Dr. Rosemary Wilkins is a feast for the eyes, though her approach to food is strictly academic. So Wes decides to rattle her Bunsen burner by asking for her hands-on advice—on aphrodisiacs . . .
Rosemary is a little wary about working with Wes, whose casual flirtations leave her hot under the collar. But once they begin testing the love-enhancing power of chocolate, oysters, and strawberries, it becomes scientifically evident that the brainy science nerd and the boyish chef have some major chemistry together—and it’s delicious . . .

Comment: This is the third installment in the Recipe for Love series by author Louisa Edwards. I thought the first book was quite good, the story was balanced and interesting but in the second things weren't as well done, the romance in particular. I wasn't expecting much about this one, to be honest and I admit I was more focused on the secondary storyline with Jesse and Frankie which, by the way, finally got to its HEA.
I see there are three more books in the series although they don't seem to be focused in the same core of characters (and that makes me wonder why they are part of the series in the first place) while at the same time they can be considered a different trilogy. I will admit I'm not very curious about it but maybe one day in the distant future...

In this story we have Wes and Rosemary's romance. Wes is one of the chefs working at The Market, the restaurant owned by Adam Temple, the hero from book #1.
Wes is still at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to the chef's hierarchy in the kitchen so he hasn't been a key character until now. We get to know about Wes since he first met Rosemary in the Academy for Culinary Arts, where he studied and Rosemary was a teacher for a while, as someone's replacement. Although they started seeing each other randomly because of school and a project on aphrodisiacs food, they only became intimate after classes were over and she was no longer his teacher. Let's not forget Wes is older than most students and Rosemary younger than most teachers.
Wes leaves Rosemary however, because he feels he needs to protect her after an attempt blackmail. This obviously leads to some misunderstandings which only are solved months later when they meet again at the Market for Rosemary has some project issues to discuss with Wes... and will they be able to put aside the connection they established before?

The book was not a bad one but I wasn't overly confidant on getting something tremendously amazing. I was still hopeful, however to be able to have something more similar to the first book which was a quite balanced story and not the second which felt a bit more silly and unlikely to believe in.

The plot can sort of be divided into two parts, the first months when Wes was at the Academy and Rosemary replaced a teacher and then some time after when they are brought together after a separation. Putting aside the fact the separation itself was caused by one of those silly misunderstandings that could have been easily fixed, there is a definite separation when we think about behaviors. In the first part, both Wes and Rosemary are giving in to attraction and their relationship seems easy and natural. It felt so to me. In the second part it seems more obviously portrayed for plot purposes. I just think that the separation was silly (one could accept one or two minor mitigating details) and then the coming together, although as cleverly explained as Rosemary's IQ, it still felt like a tactic to force them to interact. Of course this is necessary but...

The romance is a key part of the book of course and this time it kind of worked out well. Rosemary is a genius and her part in the dialogue always feels funny and clever. Wes is not a bad hero per se but for me he lacks appeal because of his father. I've read some readers like the "con parent" trope in books but I personally don't. I understand it can allow for interesting elements in terms of behavior and patterns of choices in life and so on but the interactions with the con element just make the story feel sleazy and it annoys me a bit. Then Rosemary's background is also one of some neglect because she is so intelligent her parents have also seen her a tool and not as a child. We then have two people from not perfect childhoods who now find happiness: this is a romantic notion but not as easy to accomplish and I felt that lacking in structure.
Happily, we have the secondary romance about Frankie and Jesse finally being worked and sorted out and that is probably what most readers liked the best in the whole book.

All in all, an interesting book, some interesting details but I kind of expected more from this. In the end, however, it's ok, my expectations weren't very high but yes, of course I'd have loved to be more positively surprised.
Grade: 6/10

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