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Serving up passion, family, love and hate, with a side order of arson.
Set in the small cathedral city of Salisbury, Master Chef Lewis Mandineau no longer owns the Laurels, the restaurant that had been in his family for generations. Betrayed and robbed by an ex-lover, he’s had to sell to Carnegie Enterprises, an American corporation. That isn’t all Lewis has to contend with. Rachel, his beloved younger sister has been left severely hurt by the car crash that killed their parents, and taking care of her has to be his priority.
Enter Devon Trelawney III, sent to assess the viability of the restaurant and its staff. Devon knows all about family tradition. But he also knows sentiment has no place in business matters, and the Laurels’ potential is swamped by the debts it has accrued. Devon is a hardheaded businessman, first and foremost, but Lewis and Rachel test his resolve in different ways. Soon Devon is forced to admit that what seems like an impossible love can sometimes become something very real.
Well, let me start with the ‘positives’, or things I liked from this book.
LEWIS. Yes, Lewis Mandineau … what a sweet character he is!! I loved him straight from the beginning. Despite being down on his luck because his ex-lover betrayed him, which forces Lewis to sell his restaurant, Lewis makes sure that he does the right thing for the people who depended on him. Even if that means he must practically sell everything else and live at the restaurant. Lewis is also very caring towards his sister. He is responsible and fighting through it all. He’s a trooper, that Lewis! I absolutely loved reading about him.
His love interest, Devon Trelawney, on the other hand, did not charm me right off the bat. What could I say, he was a rigid ass-hole in the beginning. Man, I wanted to give him MY two cents about his view of doing professional business without calculating heart and passion. Which of course, shows everyone how I would not be suitable for the cutthroat world of business *laugh*. It took me a long time to warm up to Devon. Heck, even until the very end, I still loved Lewis and his sister way more than I did Devon.
However, characters aside, I thought my issue would be on the relationship front. The thing is, I did not quite believe in Devon’s change of heart. I knew that he was supposed to feel sympathetic about Lewis and realized what a great staff the restaurant had, and that he learned about it by connecting with them, including through Lewis’s sister Rachel … but to me it just happened a bit too fast for my liking. Like suddenly Devon kissed Lewis and he got a personality transplant, one that wanted to become Lewis’s knight in shining armor. I would prefer a gradual change of heart so I could see how Devon reanalyzes his way of thinking. I want to read more of his connecting with the staff, maybe learn more about the ins and outs of the restaurant through the eyes of the passionate people working there.
This story also introduced a little mystery, someone targeting restaurants and setting them on fire. So the authors were trying to balance the romance and the mystery. Unfortunately, I thought the mystery was also weak. I could see the perpetrator from million miles away. I just knew right away, it was so predictable.
All in all, Lewis won the ratings from me and sometimes my liking a character can influence the whole perception of the story, even if I am not impressed with the storyline. It’s nice story and I’m glad Lewis got his happy ending.