Heir to the Calabrese restaurant empire, Jackson Calabrese can buy whatever he wants—except creativity. He can craft perfect paella, but if his new restaurant is going to take New York by storm, he'll need help. And there's only one chef with the culinary creativity to reinvent their menu: former rival—and lover—Lila Grant. The one woman with all the right ingredients to drive Jackson wild. And damned if he doesn't want another taste.
During their time at the culinary academy, Lila brought the heat in the kitchen and between Jackson's sheets. Seducing her back into his bed—and his kitchen—should be easy. But after the way things ended between them, Lila isn't giving anything away for free. Jackson may have made her an offer she can't refuse, but she wants revenge, and she'll take it served hot...one delicious bite at a time.
Each book in the Hot Nights series is STANDALONE:
* Into the Fire
* Seducing the Playboy
* Make Me, Take Me
About the Author
Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast, and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. She married him after graduation in a lovely French Quarter restaurant in New Orleans, and they spent a few years enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy. Now they live in Western New York with their three children, one hamster, two guinea pigs, a tortoise, and a new-to-them beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn't baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own hot chef husband.
Want chimichurri, chocolate cake or Chicken Alighieri?
Read an Excerpt
Into the Fire
A Hot Nights Novel
By Amanda Usen, Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Lewis Pollak, Liz Pelletier
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Amanda Usen
All rights reserved.
Lila slipped away from the crowded graduation party, carrying her glass of wine out to the empty back porch. She felt ridiculous in her too-small, borrowed cocktail dress and couldn't wait to kick off her uncomfortable heels. How much longer did she have to stay to justify all the work Jenna and Betsy had put into her hair and makeup?
Getting dressed up had sounded like fun, but she couldn't take a deep breath without risking indecent exposure, and her feet were killing her. Unlike her vivacious friends, she was never going to be the life of the party. She was happiest in the kitchen, making the party happen behind the scenes. Or in her dorm room, going over her game plan for the culinary competition tomorrow.
The door opened behind her. Please, God, no more small talk. Pasting a polite grin on her lips, she turned. When Jackson Calabrese smiled back at her, her heart hammered. A blush burned at the roots of her hair and blazed its way down to the ground — just as it did each time she saw him.
He raised a bottle of wine toward her glass. "I brought reinforcements."
"How on earth did you get a bottle of the Margaux?" she stammered.
He shrugged, giving her a wicked grin that made her feel faint. Of course. It was good to be a Calabrese at the Culinary Academy. The president of the school would probably put a case of the priceless wine in Jack's car if he asked.
She took a sip to wet her dry mouth. "Are you ready for the big competition tomorrow?" she asked, figuring she might as well mention the elephant standing on the porch with them.
He grimaced, running a hand through his short dark hair. "I guess."
She had expected him to boast and try to psych her out with trash talk. They were frenemies competing against each other, after all, and most of their class was betting one of them would take the top prize of twenty-five thousand dollars. The last thing she expected was for Jackson Calabrese, golden boy of the Culinary Academy, to sound uncertain. Or was he playing with her? She cocked her head to the side and watched him take a large gulp of wine.
She had no idea.
He tipped his head toward the house and shrugged. "It's hard to be in there pretending I'm not nervous as hell. I'm already having nightmares."
"Why are you nervous? It's not like you need the money. I know that's a tacky thing to say, but I can't imagine you've got student loans to repay." Winning the competition would put a big enough dent in her loans that she might only be in debt for half her life, instead of the whole thing.
He scowled. "No loans, as my father loves to remind me. Just the honor of the entire Calabrese family. The old man doesn't think I'm going to win. In fact, he's sure of it."
"You've got to be kidding me." She rolled her eyes. "Even I think you're going to win."
She raised the glass to her lips, trying to act normal while every nerve tightened with awareness of him. It wasn't easy. Her skin felt taut and tingly, and her mouth watered even after she swallowed. Damn, he was hot — tall, dark, and built like an underwear model. Whereas she was ... not. Every time she passed the pub on her way to one of her part-time jobs, he was in there surrounded by an adoring crowd well stocked with beautiful women from neighboring universities. To top off his lucky lot in life, he was rich, too. Could two people be more opposite? For goodness sake, her father had mortgaged the house to pay for her abandoned art degree, but Jack was so loaded there were buildings on campus named after his family.
He smiled, not the charming grin she'd seen him use on the instructors during class when he was being, well, Jack. This smile was real, and it made her heart beat faster. Snap out of it! Her crush on Jack had been instant, epic, and excruciating, but she couldn't afford to let him distract her tonight. "Oh no, you don't. You're not going to throw me off my game tomorrow by playing on my sympathies. You're not going to get me drunk, either." She set her glass on the porch railing and crossed her arms, glaring at him. "Unlike you, I do have loans to repay. Big ones. You'll have to forgive me for kicking your ass tomorrow."
He didn't react. Actually, he didn't appear to have heard a word she said. His eyes roved over her body, finally settling on her breasts.
"Hey! Up here." She pointed at her eyes. "I'm talking to you."
His gaze snapped to meet hers, and time stopped. His pale green eyes were mesmerizing, and she saw something in them she had never imagined — desire. She stared at him, feeling dizzy.
He stepped closer. "Sorry, did you say something? I was trying to figure out how we could have been in class together for so long without me noticing how beautiful you are. Have you been hiding from me?"
He didn't know the half of it. When she saw him coming, she ducked behind whatever was available, no mean feat considering her curves. Better to hide than to face him, flushed with desire and breathless. In class, it was easier to act normal. She was wearing her uniform, had a game plan, and knew all the right answers.
He set his wine glass next to hers. "Now that I think about it, you always seem to be going the other direction every time I see you. I don't think we've ever had a conversation outside of class before tonight. Why is that?"
Because my panties would start fires around campus. "Absolutely nothing in common?"
"I don't buy it. We've traded the top spot back and forth for two years now. We're both nervous about tomorrow. Obviously, we both love food. We have tons in common. Don't you like me?"
Was he joking? "Seriously? Everybody likes you."
"That's not an answer."
Their eyes locked, and her heart beat so fast she thought it might lunge out of her chest. Her knees weakened, and she leaned back to brace herself against the railing, feeling her cheeks burn. A triumphant grin spread across his face. "You do like me."
"It's not a crime."
He stepped forward, trapping her. "No, but giving me the impression you didn't want anything to do with me is."
"So sue me." She looked away into the darkness, grateful for the early spring breeze that cooled her fiery cheeks. "I'm not your type, Jack. I never had any illusions about something happening between us."
He made a dismissive sound. "You gave off the not interested vibe so hard, I didn't even think about it. Now I'm remembering how much fun it was to square off with you in the kitchen and imagining how we might match up in other ways."
She jerked her gaze back to his. She'd imagined how they might match up a thousand times but had never thought it would happen. He leaned forward. "Want to find out?"
Heat soared through her, and she was certain she would catch fire when he kissed her.
His lips touched hers.
She melted and then turned into pure flame as he wrapped his arms around her, welcoming the instant and all-consuming fire between them. When she felt the flick of his tongue against her upper lip, she opened her mouth, inviting him deeper. For long moments they explored each other, and she exhilarated in his touch, loving the firm caress of his fingers on her aching breasts and delighting in the impatient grasp of his hands on her ass as he pulled her closer. "A perfect fit. So damn hot, and right under my nose all this time. No more hiding."
His teeth grazed her throat, and the sharp sting thrilled her. Would any of the other party guests see them making out on the porch? She didn't care. She had wanted this for so long, and it was actually happening.
"This is silly," he muttered.
She froze, eyes shut tight. She should have known it was too good to be true. Guys like Jack didn't need girls like her.
He lifted his head. "I don't suppose you want to get out of here?"
She opened her eyes and found his cool green gaze just as hot as it had been before he kissed her. He wanted her, really and truly. Unmistakable evidence of his desire was cradled against her belly, but it was hard to shake off her doubts. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea. We're competing against each other tomorrow, and we have to be up really early."
He cocked an eyebrow. "I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight, are you?"
"Probably not," she admitted. Even if she hadn't been nervous about the competition, now she'd be lying awake thinking of him.
"I can think of many pleasurable ways to not sleep ... together. And I may have been slow to notice your killer body and beautiful smile, but I've always been aware of your mad cooking skills. I bet your game plan for tomorrow is mapped out minute by minute, isn't it?"
She nodded slowly. "Is yours?"
"Of course." He bent to nibble her neck. "We're both prepared, and I think working off some nervous energy will be good for us." His lips cruised south. When the tip of his tongue dipped between her breasts, her reservations disintegrated, no match for the need igniting in her core. She didn't care about tomorrow; she wanted tonight. "Your place or mine?"
"Do you have a roommate?"
She nodded. It was cheaper to share dorm costs.
"My place then. I want you all to myself."
* * *
Anticipation shot through her, and she grabbed her purse and followed him around the side of the house to his car. The ride to his apartment was short but seemed to take forever. His hand clasped hers, caressing her fingers until she felt his touch everywhere. When they got inside, he locked the door and pulled her into his arms. His hands molded her curves while his lips slanted over her mouth. The bold thrust of his tongue against hers made her feel equally brave, and she loosened the knot on his tie, eager to uncover the body she'd fantasized about touching. He walked her backward down the hall, never losing contact with her mouth, as she swiftly unbuttoned his shirt.
They went through an open door, and he flicked on a light. "Turnabout's fair play." She tensed as he turned her around. That light was bright and would highlight every flaw. She clutched the fabric to her chest as he eased the zipper of her dress down to her waist and nudged the straps off her shoulders. "Any chance we can turn the light off?"
"Why would you want to do that?"
She glanced over her shoulder and gave him an eye roll. He grinned and tugged at her dress. She held on. "Some of us don't spend as much time at the gym as other people."
"Some of us don't care." He turned her to face him, trapping her dress between them. The neckline gaped, and the way he looked at her breasts made her nipples tighten. "Your curves are hot. I want to see them, touch them ... taste them. If I have to turn the light off, I will, but I'd much rather leave it on."
The sincerity in his voice was unmistakable and empowering, giving her the courage to let the dress fall slowly to her waist. His gaze grew fierce, and color swept over his cheeks. Her breath caught in her throat as he bent to kiss his way down her body. He kneeled to tug her dress over her hips. "Gorgeous," he whispered, caressing her bare thighs, and she believed him.
"Lights on." She stepped out of her heels and left the dress on the floor.
"Good decision." He stood and lowered her to the bed. They both sighed as he settled on top of her, the weight of him sending a hot burst of pleasure through her. He shifted to the side. She clutched at his shoulders, not wanting any space between them, but he caught her hands and pressed them to the bed, brushing a soft kiss across her lips. "Let me enjoy this amazing body. I've got plans for you."
How could she say no to that? She grew boneless as he kissed her again, this time lingering, tasting every corner of her mouth. Her breath came in pants as she imagined what else he might do with his tongue. His hands were busy stroking her breasts, belly, and hips. He thrust one knee between her thighs, easing the ache and making her sob from relief until he began to lick his way across her tender breasts. When he teased her nipple through her lace bra, she whimpered, wordlessly begging him to suck harder and give her more of the intense sensations that were making her simultaneously want to climb the walls and lie still so he wouldn't stop. His fingers hovered over the front clasp of her bra, and she nodded.
He popped the catch and helped her struggle out of it, leaving her in her panties. She forgot her half-formed desire to reach for cover when he shrugged out of his shirt and tie. Her mouth watered, and her fingers tingled. She stared greedily at his broad chest, the sleek muscles of his arms, and his rock-hard abs while he made short work of his pants, shoes, and socks. Definitely a good decision. The man was a god, and if they'd turned out the light, she wouldn't have been able to see all the places she wanted to touch and taste, either. She held her breath as he shucked his boxers, revealing hot, hard flesh.
Then he was on her again, and he felt even better than he looked. He bent his head to her breasts, tormenting her nipples with his tongue, moving from one to the other, while his hands stroked and squeezed her. The sensations shot straight to her clit, and she groaned, pulling his mouth tighter against her breast. With a soft chuckle, he stretched out beside her, propping his head on one arm and smiling down at her as he traced the top edge of her panties with one finger. She sucked in a harsh breath as his hand slipped beneath the fabric to circle the center of her, making her desperate and needy. Slowly, he pressed one finger inside, capturing her whimper with his lips as she clenched around him, and then he moved lower, scattering kisses across her belly. When he tugged her panties down, she lifted her hips, her modesty long gone. At the first touch of his tongue, she screamed, shamelessly thrusting her hips toward his mouth. Pleasure flowed over her, a hot cascade, and she surrendered, climaxing so hard her legs closed around him, and she felt the rough scrape of his five o'clock shadow against her inner thighs. His movements slowed, but didn't stop, an intimate kiss that urged her to seek more pleasure.
Her pulse was a drumbeat as she tugged him up over her. The heat in his gaze seared her, and his urgency filled her with greed. More — she wanted more of him.
"Hang on." He reached into the bedside drawer to get a condom. He swiftly rolled it into place. As he entered her, she stroked her hands over his back and wrapped her legs around his waist, pulling him close. His harsh gasp filled her with satisfaction. She gripped him tight, pulling him down for a kiss and tasting herself on his lips. He cradled her shoulders with his forearms, holding her in place, making her feel utterly secure as he rocked her higher and harder with his hips. Over and over he thrust into her, a rainbow of fire bursting in her center and spreading outward. He shouted, clutching her impossibly closer and burying his face in her neck as they shuddered together.
Gradually she came back to earth and eased her hold on him. He lifted his head, and the tender intensity in his gaze sent aftershocks rippling through her. "Hold that thought." He slid away from her and headed toward the bathroom. She watched him go, marveling at his muscled back and his truly perfect ass. While he was gone, she indulged in a long stretch, resisting the urge to pinch herself. Quickly, she crawled under the covers, not wanting to put her dress back on but also not wanting to be quite so naked when he returned. Would he want her to stay?
Her question was answered when he slid into bed and spooned her. His hand cupped her breast, and his lips brushed the back of her neck. She shivered in delight. It was hard to believe she was with Jack, who used to make her so nervous. Cocooned in his incredibly soft sheets, with his strong arms wrapped around her, she was more comfortable than she'd ever been in her life.
"God, I feel great," he said echoing her thoughts. "I wish we could start cooking right now. My food would be awesome."
She cast a teasing glance over her shoulder. "You'd certainly get high marks from the judges if you served it naked."
Excerpted from Into the Fire by Amanda Usen, Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Lewis Pollak, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2014 Amanda Usen. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had never heard of Amanda Usen so I was leery to read this book, but the blurb really sounded good so I had to try. Into the Fire is a superb example of a cooking romance. These two heat up the sheets and the kitchen. I loved that it wasn’t all sweet and hot. Don’t get me wrong, when you are reading the thoughts of each of the main characters, it’s very sweet, but boy they sure couldn’t get their stuff together. Each thought the worst of themselves and each other. Jack is the heir to the Calabrese restaurant empire. When he beats Lila in the Culinary Academy competition using her recipes, he doesn’t feel any guilt at all. She shouldn’t have lied about what he was cooking. He can’t believe she left his bed without a goodbye or that she lied after he opened up to her. Lila can’t believe she trusted Jack. How could she have told him what she was cooking for the competition? Now she has to come up with something better, he would beat her with his dish anyway. These two are so insecure with themselves. I love that she proves to him that he should trust himself and that her best friends tell her exactly what her problem is. The conflicts in this book are all because the hero and heroine don’t trust themselves or each other. Once they realize they were wrong and that they can trust each other, its gravy. I can’t wait to read Marie and Ned’s or maybe even Zane’s story. Both of these two sure deserve it. I love when a book has me panting for the next one in the series. I can’t wait!
Find this review and more at Lusty Penguin Reviews! Into the Fire is an enticing culinary creation by Amanda Usen. Jackson (Jack) Calabrese and Lila Grant are competing in the final culinary competition before graduation. Jack wins the competition because he used Lila’s recipes, which he talked out of her while seducing her. Now that Jackson is getting ready to open his own restaurant, he is gun shy about his ability to create an original menu. Although he has strong feelings for Lila and wants her help, he doesn’t trust her, so he bribes Lila into help him. Jack and Lila have a strong sexual chemistry that is smokin’ hot between the sheets. Their bedroom antics are as sexy and passionate as they food they create. But, Jack’s lack of trust and his need to take advantage of Lila over and over again is a bit disheartening, making his character difficult to like. Lila wants nothing more than to get back at Jack but has a change of heart when she realizes that she is falling in love him. When she figures out why Jack behaves the way he does, Lila does her level best to help Jack see what others see—a talented chef in his own right. At the end when Jack finally comes to his senses and recognizes how wrong he was, his apology and proposal are heartwarming. I did love the author’s writing style and found the restaurant business part of the story enjoyable; unfortunately, I never felt fully connected to this couple. Nevertheless with its interesting plot, Into the Fire captivates and entertains. I received an eBook copy from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Good Book! Wow, what a unconventional story! Into the Fire by Amanda Usen is original, fresh and romantic. It combines two of my favorite themes, romance and gourmet food. The plot moves along effortlessly at a quick pace and the writing is superb. It has just the right balance of steaminess, angst and love. To begin with, the cover is sexy and hot. The two main characters, Lila and Jack are real, likeable and interesting. Their chemistry is felt from the very beginning and it gradually evolves into true love. Through the help of the secondary characters, Lila and Jack are able to let go of their emotional baggage and create a future together. If you enjoy a well written romance, get this book!
My initial intention when I started reading this book was to read a few pages, then put it down and go to bed. A couple of hours later, I put the book down after I finished it - and I wanted more! Amanda Usen has managed to incorporate food as a third highly charged sensualized element that both explains the characters and fuels their attraction and connection. Both Culinary Academy graduates, Lila is known for her unusual combinations that elevate a dish to ‘more’, where her chief competition Jack is a master of the classical combinations and techniques that create the perfect bite. The characters were very well created: Lila is a fighter, struggling with debt and her inherent need to run away when the going gets tough. Jack is struggling against his undemonstrative father, never feeling quite ‘enough’ to fill his dreams of a culinary empire. Together their chemistry is smoking hot, they are perfect together as long as they don’t speak: or stick to discussions about food. While both have disparate intentions for their collaboration in the kitchen, their attraction is the overwhelming force that both try to ignore, and fail miserably. It’s no surprise that their tempers and baggage lead them to believe the worst of one another despite the magic they make in the bedroom. This story runs from one delicious moment of interaction to the next: food becomes the third character in the sexy connection between Jack and Lila: described with sensuality that has your mouth watering. Their interactions are steamy and loaded with sexual tension, but their connection runs far deeper as both share bits of their life and pain you see their connection deepening and becoming more solidly defined. Demanding you read on- this is one culinary romance that is not to be missed. I received a galley copy from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I really enjoyed Jack and Lila's story. It started hot and stayed strong. Two great chefs who find love with someone that completely understands them. I really enjoyed this book and can not wait for more of the series.
FOOD AND LOVE: Usen is a master at having her characters make both so damn well. From the moment Jack Calabrese sleeps with Lila Grant and steals her recipes to win their culinary academy competition, we know there’s going to be hell to pay. He breaks her heart and shakes her confidence…but not her spirit. Six months later, hard-working Lila finds herself serving up hors d’oeuvres – and her cleavage, courtesy of a French maid’s costume – to Jack at a bachelor party. If the cocky, poor little rich boy thinks he’s going to pop back into her life as easily as popping one of her decadent salmon scones between his lips, he’s got another thing coming. Hell, no – as Lila loves to say. I loved Lila’s work ethic (starting with setting the alarm to make sure her sleeping lover/fellow competitor didn’t oversleep the morning of the competition) and her feisty passion. She’s talented and creative, but when she realizes her inspiration to cook comes from the wants and needs of those around her, Lila really shines. Jack is no slouch; he is powerfully driven and passionate as well. Whether he is trying to please his father in the kitchen or Lila in the bedroom, he’s a tempest of talent and determination. At the same time, he was balanced with a vulnerability that I found irresistible. FOOD IS LOVE: Usen demonstrates how both can be delicate and complicated, yet bold and simple. Beautiful and satisfying. Putting both out there – whether it’s putting your heart and soul into a dish, or opening your heart and soul to someone – is scary as well. Revenge, passion, and betrayal – Usen serves it up in a tightly woven story with all the mouth-watering garnishes, leaving readers’ palates and emotions satisfied.
This was a fabulous read from start to finish. Amanda Usen has given us a book that has romance, sexiness, humour, wonderful realistic characters a great storyline and food. And for someone who loves all of the above, it was a perfect read. Lila and Jackson were wonderful easy to love characters. Both chefs, they studied together and at their graduation party, before competing in the Culinary Academy competition, engaged is some hot extra curricular activities. Foody secrets are shared and fallout ensues. Lila is feisty, witty, kind, creative and struggling financially. Jackson is sexy, moody, charming, bossy and out of her league; from a wealthy family he is following in his Dad's footsteps and has been gifted a restaurant. Lacking creativity and desperate to be a success and make his Dad proud, he hunts Lila down. With opposite agenda's, for her 3 weeks to make him suffer for the past, for him 3 weeks to win her heart, what is it they say, if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen? And is revenge really a dish best served cold... Together, the sparks flew and their chemistry was perfect. With Jack's determination up against Lila's stubbornness, it was passionate and tender with moments that were heartwarming and others that tugged on the heartstrings. An inferno in the kitchen and most definitely in the bedroom, I laughed, I swooned and I made those sighs of appreciation we romantic women are prone to. The only thing that was missing for me was an epilogue, which would have finished their story off perfectly, nevertheless this most definitely a book that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend and is well worth every star. Question is, will we be treated to more, because with so many great secondary characters there must be other stories to tell... I received this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest and unbiased opinion.
I have to say first that this is a 4 star book. If I hadn’t said I would review this book, I would have not finished it before I even finished the first chapter. It starts off with them at the end of school and they just jump right into bed. Sorry, I feel no connection when a book starts off like that, it actually turns me off! I love to feel romance grow and two people getting to know each other. Then after they have sex, they are talking and because they aren’t really letting each other in or trusting each other and not really talking things through, they misunderstand each other. And Lila begins a habit of running away after anything happens that she might have to expose her inner self. Ugh, that annoyed me too! Sometimes, I just wanted to slap both of them. It’s a lot of sex and not a lot of real talking or moving past misunderstandings. It doesn’t stay that way though. So, I kept reading. Lila has some friends from school and she confides in them with what she believes is going on. Which is- that Jack stole ideas from her. They had just had sex and she felt like she was used to get info on her final cook-off with him. Funny thing is he feels the same way about her. They both changed their cook off menus at the last minute because, well it doesn’t really matter why- they get into that in the story and I don’t want to take all that away, but they both hold on to their misunderstandings and don’t really clear the air about it. These friends think revenge is a good idea. Lila wants to do that and tries to but she really likes Jack. Jack really likes Lila but they just go around like they hate each other, have sex and don’t really give each other all the info. Jack and his dad have issues. Jack adores his dad but his dad really doesn’t give him the love that he wants or needs. This is a key part to the story and one that was really tender for me. I loved watching their relationship through the story. Anyway, the story gets really good when Lila ends up in his kitchen before his restaurant opens to help him. They really start to clear some misunderstandings and then I wanted to slap both of them for not continuing to make the same mistakes. They get sidetracked with sex. Then she runs away after. Rinse and repeat. (Side note- I read how people want to throw their books at the wall sometimes and well I threw my kindle on the table when she made the same mistakes and walked away. I was frustrated with her! I did come back to it and pick it back up much later!!) Don’t get me wrong. I gave it 4 stars because in the end, they both get really hurt and figure things out the hard way that they really love each other. I felt that romance grow that I wanted in a book and because they had to learn the hard way, I liked it even more. But as I thought about it, I realized in real life we don’t really talk about things sometimes because we are afraid of getting hurt. And just because I read the book doesn’t make me an expert in real life on how stupid they were. I probably (OK, I do) make mistakes in life all the time! That’s what I liked most about this book is that they did keep going back and trying to talk again and again then when they lose it all, they realized what wonderful people they each were and how they complimented each other and mostly they realized their own mistakes! Another side note. The food described in this book made my mouth water. I woke up today dreaming about chocolate. I had to go to the store and get something that that would satisfy my craving for chocolate. It didn’t help. I can’t cook like Jack or Lila! Favorite Quote- “Her feelings about Jack reminded her all the time she had waded into the edge of the sand and stood firm. Every wave that hit her shins had washed a little sand from beneath her feet until she lost balance. She felt as if every minute spent with Jack washed away a little more of her resolve. She needed time to make a decision. Step forward or race back to firm ground?”
Hot in the kitchen. Loved the chemistry between Lila and Jackson. Enjoyed how the love grew between them in the book. You will be drooling over the sex and the food. What more in life do you need.
I really liked this one. I liked how strong, composed and talented Lila was, but I felt like it kind of made her void of emotions and there just wasn't a lot of depth with her character. The ending was rushed and lackluster. I wanted more of a reaction (more emotions) from Lila in that moment and you don't get it. Other than that it is a good read, Lila and Jack are great together and the dishes they make sound delicious.
Too much sex, not enough story.
Incredibly good book. Lila and Jackson are the top two students at Culinary school and polar opposites .Jackson comes from a wealthy family who already own multiple award winning restaurants across the city, winning this last competition in school and the prize money is of no consequence to him. Lila needs the money, she's in debt in loans, she's working a couple jobs and this is her second time around in school, dropping out of college as an art major and finding herself truly as a chef. She's good. The good she is, makes up for Jackson's lack of confidence. The night before the final cook off the two spend the night together and share their recipes as part of the pillow talk. Lila leaves Jackson in his bed, nervous about the test the next day and whether or not her recipe is going to be good enough, she decides at the last minute to change it. Jackson sees what she's doing as thinks she's lied to him and so decides to steal her recipe winning the final. Lila doesn't even show up for graduation. Jackson is sure he's been betrayed and I spent most of the book hating this jack hat for the way he manipulated and treated Lila. The other half he allowed himself to be bullied by his father. When he basically blackmails Lila into working for him knowing his grand opening of his restaurant is coming soon and doesn't have the confidence in his own menu, he offers her a big fat check, buys the business she's working for and essentially forces her to work for him. She finally agrees. Oh but it's conditional. She gets nothing if he doesn't get good reviews by the NY Times. Kind of a heavy burden to put on someones shoulders. Lila and Jack definitely put out some steam and Jack doesn't care where they are. He takes when he feels like it. Lila finds herself getting in deeper and deeper with Jack, when things go wrong he blames Lila. Jacks father goes away and leaving Jack in charge of the other places he owns, Jack's running around putting out fires instead of spending time with Lila going over the menu. There is a huge gap in communication between these two and Jack is always second guessing Lila, still angry about what he perceived what her betrayal at school... when the reality is he screwed her. Along with himself. He's pretty much a prick throughout the book. He's got his tender moments that give Lila some hope when she realizes her feelings go a little further than the kitchen. When she finally meets Jacks father and rips him a new one, she finds herself privy to some info that Jack isn't aware of, she tries to encourage Jack to talk to his father, he refuses. Opening night is coming all too quickly and Jack has something to prove. Lila has revamped the whole menu from Jack's original menu which was really good. The last part of the book hit me hard, I choked at the one scene. Nope, I kid you not. I told myself to suck it up and took a two minute time out I was so blindsided by what happened. Dumbfounded as Lila, I wandered through the rest of the book. Jack's cruelty knows no bounds. Lila is a lovely, creative likable character and what a fantastic story. I read this book back when it came out but am happy for the opportunity to read it again and to review it. Giving it the props it deserves. Amanda Usen writes a great story and this is no exception. This is one you won't want to miss. *advanced copy from NetGalley and Entangled for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* 2nd look
Thlis was my first read of amanda usen!!! loved This quick well written hot chef romance that sizzled from the start!!!I loved the way she made cooking so natural to visualize & all the food ! I adore food,chef stories with twists!! I look forward to plenty more from her especially since meeting her at RAGT15! Traci westling south FL
Good plot, complex characters & good steam- one of my go-to authors:-)
This was the best story so far from this author. I am enjoying the twist on the romance novel by adding the kitchen and chef angle. You get sucked into the story and it doesn't slow down or let go. I highly reccommend!