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Jackson Calabrese has a lot of nerve. He beat Lila Grant in the Culinary Academy competition using her recipes. Now, he’s opening a restaurant and wants her help? Fine, she'll fix his menu, but it's going to cost him.
Heir to the Calabrese restaurant empire, Jackson can buy anything he wants, except creativity, so he buys Lila's instead. He can craft perfect paella, but to take New York by storm he needs her innovative spark.
Skillets aren't the only things hot in the kitchen, and an uneasy truce ignites into passion. They’re great in bed, but Jackson doesn't trust her, and Lila is contemplating revenge. The restaurant opening approaches, the menu is completed, and the tables are set for one final act of betrayal. How can love bloom in the midst of such a hot mess?
I have to say this was a steamy quick read with a main pair that sizzle when they are near one another and a hero that really needs to learn his own true value.
Lila just wants to win this last competition in culinary school so she can pay off some student loans and have a better starting point post-graduation. The night before the final round she’s at a party and ends up spending time with the school’s resident golden boy who she’s secretly crushed on for years. They’ve been jockeying back and forth for supremacy of their class but the sparks that are flying tonight are of a sexual nature and not a competitive one. They have a hot interlude in which they share their plans for the competition tomorrow but Lila ducks out in the morning before he’s even woken up and then falls apart the next day as they compete. She’s angry at him for stealing her idea but she struggles on as a caterer and still works to pursue her dream of making it as a chef one day. She’s strong but doubts her own worth at times just because of the money struggle and I liked how once she realized what was going on between her and the hero she really did fight for what was right even at what seemed to be the expense of her happiness. She’s a bit hard on him at first but you can understand why and when the truth really comes out about why he took her idea and ran with it I wanted to cheer because this is a couple who really do balance one another and dear lord the chemistry was off the charts.
Jackson has always seemed to live a charmed life. I mean he is the heir apparent to a restaurant family that seems to have the golden touch. He’s shocked when he runs in to Lila at a party and ends up spending a rather steamy night with her. In the morning when she disappears before he even wakes up he’s shocked but when she shows up for the competition and doesn’t prepare what he expected her to he gets angry. He tries to find her again but she doesn’t show up for graduation and he has to do a bit of sleuthing to find the woman that intrigues him more than she should. When he finally finds her at a catering company he talks his buddy in to hiring the firm just so he can try to see what happened but what he doesn’t count on is the incredible spark that flies between them. He does a lot of stupid things to push this connection away and not fully explore it but as he comes up with a deal that will help him maybe finally find something for his father to be proud of he has to give in. He’s a very misunderstood person who reacts out of hurt and lets his past experiences with his father and others cloud his judgement of Lila but she does the same at every turn as well. They both have such mountains of hurt to overcome and learn to trust one another but when push comes to shove at the climactic scene near the end you wonder has he truly learned anything at all or will he let his own self-doubts and past hurts drive away the one person who really understands him?
Very hot read with some incredible descriptions of food that will make you want to run to the nearest restaurant to have some incredible food. I found myself wanting to indulge many times as I was reading this so make sure to read it on a full stomach. Thanks to NetGalley.com and Entangled Publishing for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.