Trying to win a competition for best chef is cut-throat business.
Kiara Sands has just won the opportunity of a lifetime. After working her way through high-school and her first two years at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, she is awarded the chance to compete with two other culinary students for a coveted apprenticeship at one of Austin’s most popular restaurants.
When she arrives at Fission, she has no idea just how much her life is going to change. She is immediately introduced to Jenny Foster and Robbs Martin, her competitors in the cut-throat competition. The only thing Kiara finds more distracting than Robbs’ hateful attitude is the handsome executive chef, Paul Weston. It doesn’t help matters that Paul is quite taken by Kiara, and showers her with more attention than he gives her competitors.
Mixing the highly charged hormones of a young woman with a handsome and sexy master chef is a sure fire recipe for disaster. Will Kiara be able to focus on her work and achieve her dream? Or will the drama unfolding around her turn that dream into a nightmare?
A copy of this book was received in exchange for an honest review.
Kiara Sands is on the precipice of a budding culinary career. As a second-year student at Le Cordon Blue, she is awarded the opportunity to vie for an apprenticeship at local Austin hotspot, Fission. Unfortunately, she has two fiercely competitive opponents from neighboring schools with their sights set on the same prize, and a chance to work under esteemed Chef Paul Weston would boost each of their careers immensely.
Soon after the start of the competition, fellow participants, Robbs and Jenny, begin to take offense to Chef Paul’s growing interest in Kiara. Working in cahoots, they formulate a plan to sabotage Kiara’s chance of winning by eliminating her from the competition. When an emotionally-guarded Kiara begins to break down her protective walls and trust Paul, Robbs and Jenny drop a bomb forcing her to reevaluate whether she is cut out for this competition, and simultaneously destroy her opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with Paul.
Author Carla Coxwell’s writing is clean and straightforward, which I very much enjoy. She takes you on a food journey that will have your stomach grumbling at midnight as you read Kiara’s story. The details of their culinary world place you directly in the kitchen as if you are watching a reputable cooking competition. Because I am a lover of food, I held onto every description, envisioning the plate right in front of me. I have to give the author well-deserved kudos for that.
When I read the legal disclaimer at the start of this book, which states, “Do not try any new sexual practice that you find in this book. It is fiction and not to be confused with reality”, I thought to myself, Man, I’m going to come out of this with a brand new appreciation for ladles and green olives. Regrettably, the steamy scenes are short-lived and the only real risk when reenacting them is the potential to be slapped with a minor health code violation (sex on the bar top). Brief sex scenes are fine as long as the romance is there, but sadly this book fell short of the components I crave in a true love story. There is zero sexual tension, and visceral descriptions (racing hearts, shivers, longing looks) that reinforce a connection do not make an appearance until the last 10% of the story. When they are revealed, they are lackluster and it was already far too late for me to buy into the idea Paul and Kiara had been pining over one another from the moment they met.
It’s evident the author is talented, and her descriptions plant you in the moment, however, for me, the romance lacks personal warmth and is too forced to believable. That being said, the second installment of this series will most certainly start off interesting and perhaps the reader will be offered a more in-depth view of Kiara and Paul’s love for each other.