Series: Rising Star Chef #1
Published by Macmillan on 2011-08-02
Reviewed by Shayna
When it comes to competitive cooking, Max Lunden is no stranger to winning…though he’s never been great at working with a team. A master chef—and major hunk—he’s traveled the world, picking up new cooking techniques as well as beautiful women. But when the prodigal chef returns home to his family’s Greenwich Village restaurant, he discovers one too many cooks in the kitchen—and she’s every bit as passionate as he is…Juliet Cavanaugh used to have a crush on Max when she was just a teenager, hanging out at Lunden & Sons Tavern, hoping to catch a glimpse of the owner’s oldest, and hottest, son. Now a chef herself—competing in the biggest culinary contest in the country—Juliet will be cooking side by side with the one man she’s always admired…and desired. But despite their simmering attraction, Juliet is determined to keep her cool—no matter how hot it gets…
For the past six years, Max Lunden has wandered the globe, learning cooking techniques from the best of the best. Max thinks he’s gotten what he’s always wanted a chance to study under a master Italian butcher but his life takes an unexpected turn when his mother calls him home. His family’s restaurant is in need of help, and to generate business they’re participating in the famous Rising Star Chef competition. Max comes home to help the team get through qualifiers, but Lunden & Sons Tavern isn’t the same place he left. And one of the new additions is Chef Juliet Cavanaugh, his brother’s best friend from childhood. Jules is all grown up, and irritated with Max’s presence to boot. Max has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, but Jules is different. She tempts him, challenges him, and makes him yearn for something he never thought he’d find: a home. But can he convince Jules that there’s room enough in the kitchen and her heart for him?
Too Hot to Touch is délicieux! Just like the food her characters create, author Louisa Edwards takes a classic in this case the storyline of a heroine in love with her best friend’s brother and elevates it, giving the trope her own spin to deliver something fresh and new. Too Hot to Touch shines with genuine warmth, humor, and affection.
Jules is a wonderful, hardworking heroine who you have to respect. She’s easy to like, but what really captured my interest was how her past had scarred her. Jules never feels completely like she belongs, even though it’s clear the Lunden family loves her. One of the great parts of Too Hot to Touch was watching Jules really see how much she’s loved by the Lundens, Max most of all. And man, oh man, who wouldn’t want to have Max fall in love with them? He has been a wanderer for the past six years, but while he travels the globe, backpack and wok in hand, picking up new techniques right and left, what he really needs is a place to call home. Though he returns to New York in the beginning of the story, Max feels almost like an outsider in the city, in his parents’ restaurant, and in his own family. I loved watching Max’s emotional growth over the course of the story. Seeing his vulnerability makes him a well-rounded character. Without it, he’d still be a fun, charming, hunky hero, but I’m a greedy reader and want realistic characters, which Ms. Edwards provides. And speaking of Max’s charm Ms. Edwards’s writing had me calling a friend to read portions of Too Hot to Touch aloud that’s how funny Max could be. The humor in Too Hot to Touch sends this sparkling romance over the top, from great to excellent. Ms. Edwards never overdoes it, and (thankfully) never lets the book slide into slapstick. Rather, the humorous moments of Too Hot to Touch stem from quick wit and grin-inducing banter.
I loved Jules and Max, but it’s the cast of characters as a whole in Too Hot to Touch that make the book what it is. Max’s family is sure to charm readers, particularly his brother, Daniel, who catches the eye of the RSC organizer and will have fans clamoring for their book, Some Like it Hot. And I can’t forget either the last two members of the Lunden team, the adorably chipper Win and the mysterious, handsome Beck. As a whole, this group is a makeshift family and Ms. Edwards makes readers feel like they’re a part of it.
It would also be a crime to talk about Too Hot to Touch without mentioning the RSC judges, particularly when there’s such a fabulous subplot involving rock star judge Kane Slater and head judge Claire Durand. Plus fans of Ms. Edwards’s Recipe for Love series will undoubtedly be excited to see Devon Sparks, from On the Steamy Side, as the third RSC judge. I definitely have the Recipe for Love series on my “to be bought” list after reading Too Hot to Touch.
Too Hot to Touch will delight foodies and romance fans alike. Jules and Max’s story is a tasty treat of a book that is simply too good to miss!