From the BLURB:
When Lilah Jane Tunkle fled her dull life in Virginia for the bright lights of New York City, she didn't expect to wind up a nanny to a gorgeous celebrity chef's ten-year-old son. Working for the delectable Devon Sparks is a sure-fire recipe for disaster, especially after Lilah gets a tantalizing taste of his perfectly seasoned kisses .
Devon's not sure he can handle one more surprise ingredient in his life - he quit his popular TV show, his culinary reputation is on the line, and now the son he barely knows is back for seconds. Lilah's Southern sass is supposed to keep the boy in line, but soon enough she's teaching Devon a thing or two about homespun food and turning up the heat.
This is the second book in Louisa Edward’s ‘A Recipe for Love’ series. The first book was 'Can't Stand the Heat'.
I loved this book. Straight-up, pure and simple – I loved it!
The characters are so much fun in this second installment. Devon Sparks is a celebrity chef –a Gordon Ramsay type reality-TV chef snob – except that Devon Sparks isn’t British, he’s got Adonis-like good looks and he’s secretly lacking in self-confidence. My one complaint about Devon is that while other characters built him up to be an egocentric, womanizing blow-hard the moment he meets Lilah he’s sort of on his best behavior (showing glimpse of the famous ego) and I never really bought his ‘jerk’ reputation. When Devon’s ten-year-old son, Tucker, is unexpectedly left in his care, Devon’s world slowly unwinds and he is forced to examine his life. I genuinely enjoyed reading Devon’s struggles and his transformation – especially because it wasn’t easy, and the biggest obstacle to Devon’s changes was Devon himself. It always makes for fascinating development and reading when readers can see the flaws in a character that they cannot recognize in themselves.
I love, love, loved Lilah ‘Lolly’ Tunkle. She’s from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and talks like it. At first I rolled my eyes at all her colloquialisms – i.e. “Oh my Stars and Stripes!” but then they started to help form this lovely, energetic, nurturing character and I found her speech-patterns to be one of my favorite things in the book. It helps that Charlaine Harris and Anna Paquin (on ‘True Blood’) gave me some sort of reference and idea about how such phrases would actually sound.
Lilah is an absolute hoot. She may act like a Southern-belle, but when push comes to shove she doesn’t mind going toe-to-toe with Devon or her little charge, Tucker. Some of my favorite scenes involved Lilah shedding her ‘Southern hospitality’ and showing her true feisty self. One such scene that had me laughing out loud was between Lilah and Devon’s son, Tucker when they first meet;
“Look, kiddo. Everything I know about nannying comes from movies like ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ – I realize it’s your job to start out surly and untrusting and I’m supposed to win you over with my charm and warm heart and incomparable singing voice, but unfortunately for both of us, Tuck, I am so not Julie Andrews. So what do you say we skip that part and head straight for being buds?”
Tucker looked at her blankly. Dear sweet Lord in Heaven, was it possible the child didn’t know what she was talking about?
While she was struggling with the horror of a kid who didn’t know who Mary Poppins was, Tucker opened his mouth and dispelled any worries she’d had about his ability to speak.
“You talk weird, Lolly.”
His ability to speak politely, however, was still in question.
“I’m from the South,” Lilah said. “As I think I already mentioned.” She struggled for a moment against the hated nickname, then reluctantly added, “And that’s ‘Miss Lolly’ to you.”
Tucker stared at her challengingly. “Does everyone down there take so long to say stuff? You sound like the big chicken in the cartoons.”
Oh, he did not just compare her to Foghorn Leghorn.
The above except is also an example of Ms. Edward’s infectiously funny writing. I love the fact that at times she is quite aware of the fact that she is writing a ‘romance’, and she’ll become cleverly self-deprecating of the genre. It makes for an entertaining romance read when the author is clearly aware of her audience, and can sort of have an ‘in’ joke with them about the schmaltziness of the genre.
One thing I really loved about first book was the M/M subplot between sous chef, Frankie, and NYU student (and part-time waiter), Jess. Jess had just recently come out of the closet, and in ‘Can’t Stand the Heat’ he was experiencing his first love with Frankie. Jess is young and bright-eyed, about to start his arts degree in the fall. Frankie is British, in a punk band, smokes like a chimney and is a few years older than Jess. Frankie also has a less-than-savory romantic history, and Jess is his first *real* relationship.
They were so sweet in ‘Can’t Stand the Heat’, and I remember wishing that Jess and Frankie had had a bigger role in that first book. Well, Ms. Edwards clearly anticipated fans reaction to Frankie/Jess – because it becomes clear in ‘On the Steamy Side’ that their relationship and progress will be a constant in future ‘Recipe’ books. Whereas book #1’s protagonist, Adam, makes a small cameo in ‘Steamy’, his ladylove Miranda is only referred to. So I am really glad that Frankie/Jess didn’t get the same treatment – because in ‘Steamy’ Edwards delves deeper into their relationship and creates some future conflict for them. Sucks that there are speed-humps ahead, but *yay!* for Ms. Edwards intending them to be regular’s of the series!
One of the best things about the whole premise of the ‘Recipe for Love’ series is the setting – a trendy, busy up-scale New York restaurant. There’s so much room for drama, hook-up’s, break-up’s, gossip and bitchiness. Louisa Edwards beautifully captures all the mayhem and intrigue of the kitchens – but she also shows the camaraderie, the ‘family’ feel working in such a competitive and close environment creates.
I love this series, two-books in and I know that Ms. Edwards has me for the long haul. Book #3 is called ‘Just One Taste’ and comes out August 31st this year. I can’t wait!
Coming 31 August 2010