August 2011, Contemporary Romance
St. Martin's, $7.99, 352 pages, Amazon ASIN 031235648X Part of a series
Yowza! There’s nothing like romance in the kitchen to get juices pumping and hearts pounding, especially when the writing sizzles like it does in Edwards’ latest.
When his mother phones black sheep Max Lunden and asks him to come home to the family’s Greenwich Village steak house, he’s in Tokyo, having just been accepted as an apprentice by the premier Italian sausage maker who rarely takes students. After walking out of the family business six years before, Max has been around the world studying under the best chefs he could cajole. The Italian will be the most prestigious one of all.
Back in New York, however, the steak house has been steadily going downhill. True, Max’s family hired Jules Cavanaugh after her mother kicked her out of the house. And Jules, a childhood best friend to Max’s brother Danny, has become like a daughter to Gus and Nina Lunden, as well as a great cook herself.
Gus has decided that what the restaurant needs is to win a big award, so he enters them in the Rising Star Chef competition sponsored by a food magazine. The competition has two parts: a Jeopardy! type quiz and a timed cooking demonstration. Since Gus has recently been diagnosed with a heart problem, they need Max to fill in for him.
Stepping back into the family, however, is like stepping into a basket of live lobsters. Danny resents that Max ran away without saying goodbye, and Jules has always lusted after Danny’s big brother. Not that Max minds Jules’ regard. Cocky Max sees Jules as just another tryst on his world weary palate.
Meanwhile, as the Lunden group prepares for the competition, magazine editor and competition planner Claire Durand learns who her co-judges will be: Chef Devon Sparks and rock star Kane Slater who Claire sees as a food wanna be. When she meets him, however, her 40-something hormones react wildly to his 20-something good looks and sex appeal.
Throughout the book, Edwards simmers and stirs the ingredients to her gastronomic treat: Max and Jules dance around each other while sparks fly, and Claire finds her French roots in Kane’s bad-boy essence. What could be standard fare is changed up with enough unexpected but plausible twists to make this a special delight.
Having never read an Edwards book before, I for one am primed and ready to glom her backlist and order up future releases. She’s nothing if not a yummy author.
This book comes complete with recipes for Max’s Miso-Glazed Tenderloin of Beef, Beck’s New York Style Gravlax, and The Famous Lunden’s Tavern Brussels Sprouts.
-- Pat Henshaw
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