Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Con Riley - His Horizon

Jude’s drowning in guilt when he can’t save his family business single-handed. The last person he expects to throw a lifeline is Rob, a rival chef who once beat him to first place in a cooking contest.
Almost a year later, two chefs working so closely together won’t be easy. Not when Rob is everything Jude isn’t—popular, extroverted, and almost one-time hook-up. What’s worse is that Rob wears his heart on his sleeve while Jude’s still in the closet.
Jude’s dilemma doesn’t end there. Rob’s rescue package comes with conditions that mean sharing everything from the profits to Jude’s sleeping quarters. Falling for Rob again will either be a disaster, or signal a much brighter future, but only if Jude can meet Rob’s final condition and love him in the open.

Comment: I've picked this book because I saw some very positive reviews about it and I thought it would be something I'd enjoy as well. Although this was a fascinating story, it didn't end up being as amazing as I imagined...

In this book we meet Jude, he was participating on a cooking contest, he was good enough to be considered as a possible winner, he had a sort of clash with another contestant, which made them both try to do better than the other. However, all crashed down when news of his parents disappearance at sea made him leave everything and everyone in an apparent lost cause effort to find them. When Jude finally returns, just as the story begins, his family business is close to be shut down but an unexpected help is there, having joined forces with Jude's sister and Jude couldn't be more surprised. Rob, his nemesis on the show and someone he had a crush on, is simply there, cooking and managing a new business Jude can't fully understand how it happened. As they clash once more, will Jude be able to get past all the sadness and loss and face a new future?

Like many other readers have said in their reviews, I will also add the blurb is a little misleading. Actually the blurb is relatively minimizing to the serious tone of the novel and its content. The wording makes one think this will be an opposites attract romance and how they are antagonists and it's most about the business but this story is a lot more focused on the business and Jude's personal experience and how what happened affected him.

This to say, the romance isn't the focus of this book and, sadly for me, it wasn't even as special as the antagonism idea might suggest. In fact, to me the romance was quite boring to watch develop because Rob is too accepting at times and the supposed spark between him and Jude, alluded in the blurb, feels nonexistent on the page, even when they are talking about it. I confess it took me some will to keep reading and I skimmed many pages here and there, looking for to see if something more exciting would happen next.

A lot of their relationship's hurdles is because of Jude's fears of coming out. But as soon as this issue is dealt with, they just...mutually accept they are it for one another. Where's the antagonism, where's the sparkle and tension of seeing them want one another? Why were they so attracted during the contest even viewers caught on it? I just didn't have this on the page and it felt a huge loss to enjoy the book.

The plot is already a little confusing, with the business talks, the way this is presented to us, first the almost losing of the family business, then the nemesis taking over, then the working together, then the change of it being something simple to something special and gaining interest.... added to the slow and boring romance and Jude's inner monologues of what he lost, his guilt and such... I mean, all these things can be important and certainly would have helped to make us see Jude as someone going through a tough moment, would have added stress to his emotions too, but the execution wasn't very appealing to me.

The author's style is easy, yes, but something about it didn't make me eager to keep reading. There are many details which help the story feel more solid and give the impression the characters had to deal with those things in order to evolve, but often I felt confused about the change of sequences and why this, why that... Closer to the end, something important for the whole story happens and while I don't mind suspending disbelief, I feel it was quite a...miss for the author. She could have created the same need and urgency to Jude's actions, regarding the same situation, but in a different, more believable scenario. I don't think the whole idea was the most suitable one.

All in all, this was interesting enough but unfortunately, the appeal didn't last long. I'm now unsure if I want to continue with the series... the next blurbs are intriguing too but now...
Grade: 5/10

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