Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards

Backlog review. Originally read/reviewed October 2011.

Title: On the Steamy Side
Author: Louisa Edwards
Published: March 2010 (St. Martin's)
Rating: 3 stars
Summary: 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.
My Review: Okay, bad cooking puns and typical back cover clich├ęs aside, I thought it sounded good. I absolutely loved Can't Stand the Heat, so I was excited for this one. I also tend to adore any romances where food plays a large part (baking, cooking, etc.); besides dance, that may be my favorite contemporary storyline. But I digress. The book was, in the end, good, but it fell short of my expectations.

It did live up to its "steamy" promise, but the characters simply felt a little...off. Flat, maybe. I never connected with either one fully, and I didn't quite believe that they fell in love. I didn't see the process happen, either gradually, or suddenly. Sure, the words were there, but I failed to see the reasons behind them.

I also think that chicken livers are one of the Ten Most Disgusting Foods in the Universe, so the fact that it was the first dish Lilah cooked that was supposed to be ~so amazing~ and wound up making a significant appearance later did not exactly get my foodie reflexes going. There is plenty of Southern food to pick from, and the only one I actually personally enjoy that she chose was biscuits. That's it.

Another major problem was that I had absolutely no interest at all in the Frankie/Jess storyline. I adored them last book. I don't know why the change happened -- if it was because they were already in an established relationship, and thus I was bored with them. Maybe it was because it had been so long since I read Can't Stand the Heat that I no longer connected to the characters. Maybe it was simply because any time it switched to them, it was just talking about Frankie's issues with commitment and responsibility. That's it. Over and over. I simply felt no connection to them whatsoever. (Plus, I would much rather have had a story about what was up with the whole Grant/Christian story; I was much more intrigued by them. I really hope that appears in the next book. Because it is not fair to create that much of a build-up and mystery just to leave us hanging.)

I feel like this review is coming off very negatively. The book wasn't bad. But it easier to talk about the things you did not enjoy than the things you did, I guess. There were a lot of parts I liked a lot, particularly those having to do with Devon's interaction with Tucker (his son). I enjoyed the book enough that I don't feel like I wasted my time reading it; it was fairly mediocre, overall.

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