“Great food is like great sex. The more you have, the more you want.” – Gael Greene
What do you get when you combine a savory, melt in your mouth steak with a sexy, spicy chef who loves to cook as much as make love? Answer: All the tastiness of Too Hot To Touch by Louisa Edwards. This is Ms. Edwards’ first book in the Rising Star Chef trilogy and I am licking my lips for the next installment!
I must admit the cover alone grabbed me. I mean a hot shirtless man cooking up something sumptuous in a pan. Then I read the blurb and I’m the first to say, I love New York! It’s my favorite city to visit and it has a magic and aura like no other. Ms. Edwards has captured the nostalgia as well as the current vibe of the city with a written a love letter to New York in this culinary series and I was more than ready to dig in with fork and knife in hand!
Six years ago, Juliet Cavanaugh and Max Lunden’s lives changed in the span of one night. Max, the oldest son of Gus Lunden is a progressive chef. Both Max and his brother Danny have grown up learning the family culinary secrets in the famous kitchen of Lunden’s Tavern. The restaurant is a Manhattan institution that is known for grilling the best steaks in the city and has served some of the most famous Broadway stars and politicians for decades. While Max respects the tradition of his father’s tavern, he also believes that a restaurant can only survive if it continues to evolve with the times. Gus believes otherwise and is strong-minded in keeping tradition. After a major blow-up with his dad, Max leaves New York to venture overseas to learn hands on skills from some of the best cultures abroad. The night of Max’s departure, seventeen year old Juliet “Jules” (Danny’s best friend) arrives at Lunden’s Tavern looking for Danny after being kicked out of her home by her mother. Instead of finding Danny, she finds his dad who offers her Max’s old room for the night. What starts as one night results in a permanent arrangement both in the family business and the hearts of both Gus and his wife, Nina. Six years have passed and the restaurant is failing. The family and staff believe that the answer to their problems is winning the Rising Star Chef Challenge competition and in order to win, they need Max to come home and be a part of the challenge. Max reluctantly agrees to return home and help the staff through the qualifying round before embarking on his own adventure studying in Italy with the best Italian chef in the world. When Max arrives home, he expects tension with the family, what he doesn’t expect is the immediate attraction he feels when he sets his eyes on grown up Jules who is now a master chef and a force to be reckoned with. Jules has had a crush on Max since high school so naturally she is vulnerable to his charm and flirtatious nature, but she knows she cannot allow her feelings to flourish, because Max never stays in one place for anything or anyone.
Ms. Edwards has what it takes to pen an engaging, sexy contemporary romance that leaves your taste buds begging for more. Combining the succulent and descriptive dishes the chef’s prepare with the sizzling personalities of each character results in a fun and enticing contemporary read. There are a lot of characters in the story, but Ms. Edwards incorporates each one into the overall setting so that you are not overwhelmed. Each character has individuality, humor and an engaging presence in the storyline that is intriguing and vital to the overall outcome of the competition as well as the series. Ms. Edwards also provides plenty of passionate encounters between Max and Jules. One scene in particular takes place in the main kitchen and let me say that something was burning, but it wasn’t the food! Finally, Ms. Edwards hits the issues that both Max and Jules need to face from their past. Relaying strong elements of forgiveness and acceptance in turn allows both characters to become free to love their family and each other. Too Hot To Touch provides a delicious dish to what I believe will be a savory series any food and romance lover will not want to pass up!
“Dangerous, she thought again. Because maybe Max didn’t look at all the places where she was cracked and broken, and pick up a hammer to finish the job—but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to shatter her, all the same. But here, now, in this moment, with him panting and writhing under her mouth and this deep, glowing connection arcing back and forth between them like a current of electricity, Jules couldn’t make herself care. It was official. She was fucked.”
Too Hot To Touch by Louisa Edwards
August 2nd 2011 by St. Martin’s Press