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Because the way to a man’s heart…
Eight years ago, the world was their oyster. Until, that is, competing chefs Ethan Martin and James Lassiter’s hot and heavy relationship fizzled after Jamie left for an internship in Paris. Even though Jamie’s career has taken off since his return to the States, with his own television show and a lot of fame, his feelings for Ethan have never quite gone away.
Ethan’s culinary career has developed more slowly, but he’s almost saved enough to buy the restaurant where he works and re-open it as his dream spot, Bistro 30. If only he could get the sexy chef who loved him and left him out of his mind.
But when someone starts sabotaging the restaurant and a fire threatens to take away everything Ethan holds dear, his only option is to rely on Jamie for help. Back in close quarters, the two men will have to find a way to work through their past if they hope to save the restaurant—and their future.
The first book in this series – In the Raw – which covered how young Ethan and Jamie (they were in their 20’s) met and first becoming boyfriend ended with neither HFN nor HEA. It influenced my reading and rating experience. When I saw this book being offered by Netgalley, I immediately requested it. I wanted my HEA damn it! So yes, I came to this book with expectation.
I was slightly surprised when I first read the blurb that eight years had passed since book 1. It also gave us clues that the long distance relationship didn’t work. I was slightly giddy with this fact, actually. What can I say “the one that got away / second chances” is (and always be) my favorite romance trope. And this one fell into that situation.
Now, because I could nitpicky (apologize to the authors), I had few critiques about this story. Several things in here were so predictable … from the outside factor that helped Ethan and Jamie separated (Ethan and I agreed about that, by the way, I could see the real reason MILLIONS miles away) to the culprit behind the problems that happened at Sharpe’s on Fifth (Really, no twist about it at all? None?). Nothing wrong with that but predictability could be less satisfying.
And one major pet peeve of mine? The solo-shower jerk-off Ethan did while imagining Jamie … yeah, he did that too in the first book. See, I’ve read THOUSANDS of MM stories over the past 5-6 years. Yes, THOUSANDS. Novel, novella, short stories … So let’s just say that particular scene, for me, was overdone. No matter how short the scene is, like only three paragraphs, I just don’t see the point, okay? It’s not like the scene is a mandatory thing in MM romance, right?
Anyway, personal niggles done … in overall, I definitely enjoyed this second book BETTER. One thing, it had the HEA I wanted. I felt that both Ethan and Jamie matured up compared to their young self. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Ethan still had TEMPER and man, he could be a REAL jackass – he still acted like so few times in this book – but at the same time, Ethan showed his kindness (like taking Tyler, a young man who was thrown out by his family, under his wing) and leadership when it came to his crews.
I could understand his fear because the break up was really bad and deep down, I felt that Ethan still saw Jamie as the Golden Boy, who was out of his league. Eight years had passed and Jamie was still running in different circle, a very famous chef with his own cookbooks, being invited on TV shows and such. So when pushed, he attacked and becoming sarcastic, because that was Ethan’s way. But Ethan also learned from his years of separation with Jamie, that he loved the man still, and he needed to change things, like listened to reasons and not running away all the time.
Meanwhile Jamie, whom I admired better in the first book compared to Ethan, still impressed me here. Sure, Jamie made a mistake that first time for not sharing his loneliness feeling to his boyfriend and trusting his best friend better over Ethan, but hey, they were young, and not like Ethan fought harder for it as well. I liked that this time Jamie was more determined than ever to confront his ex-lover. That he refused to let Ethan ran away again from the possibility of them being together. I really liked him for that. I also liked how Jamie dealt with his best friend, Trevor.
I had few other things to say about the secondary characters … Claire was still as supportive sister as ever though sometimes she barged in at wrong times (LOL), Tyler was an excellent additional character; his back-story might be one of the most commonly used in MM romance too but there is a reason why hurt/comfort trope IS popular. I hoped Tyler would get his own story and happy ending. Then there was Trevor … he was … interesting. At first I thought he would be portrayed as straight-up “villain” but then he wasn’t. I loved (and approved) what the authors did to Trevor as character. I always enjoy characters with shades of grey. And I‘d love to see Trevor in his own story too …
The ending was sweet and it made me smile. I know for sure that despite Ethan and Jamie competing in the kitchen, or despite arguments that they might still have, the two of them are solid. That Ethan and Jamie have learned the pain of breaking up, so this time they will tackle anything come their way better this time.
Title: In the Fire (In the Kitchen #2)
Author: Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: N/A (93,000 words)
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon