If You Can’t Stand The Heat by Taryn Kincaid

If You Can’t Stand The Heat by Taryn Kincaid
Publisher: Fated Desires Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Derek Dunne is a Cordon Bleu-trained food critic for the prestigious New York Monitor, whose scathing review of a popular Italian bistro has driven away all but the most loyal neighborhood patrons.

Lucrezia Serafina DiCicco is a clumsy business school drop-out, working as a chef and scrambling to keep her family’s restaurant afloat, after her father develops diabetes and is banned from his kitchen for his own good.

Now, with The Monitor folding, Derek is searching for his next career path and longing to get back to his first love—cooking—while Lu is desperate for an influx of cash to save the struggling restaurant even as her father puts his foot down regarding non-family employees.

Derek and Lu embark on a marriage of inconvenience to save the restaurant. But can Lu ever really trust the man who nearly destroyed her family and once noted her initials spelled “LSD” and her food was like a “bad trip?”

Or will it be their hearts on the chopping block?

Lucrezia is having a very rough go since her restaurant received a scathing review from critic Derek Dunne. The family restaurant is nose-diving, dying a slow, painful death after their customers dried up from the now-infamous review. When Derek hears that the newspaper he’s always worked for is closing up in six months, he has an epiphany. This is the perfect time for him to make a change in his career. No longer will he be on the outside looking in, tasting other people’s work and writing from the sidelines. He decides it’s time for him to create his own food, his own way. He recalls one specific restaurant, with a homey, local feel and he decides to try his luck. Only Lu has zero interest of listening to him and his slick speech attempting to get work in the kitchen. The heat between them is about to reach intense levels.

This is a light-hearted, fun novel about a family owned business and the passionate people working to keep it alive. I really loved how Derek swept into Lu’s kitchen, and in a strong, but reasonable manner just plain took over. Lu is a business woman at heart, not a chef, and while Derek might have been writing for a living for many years, he trained as a chef and his passion has always been food. In the kitchen, they’re a match made in heaven. I was really pleased that Lu could see this and didn’t remain stubborn. Yes, her anger is justified and her reaction when confronted with Derek the first time after his column was hysterical. But she didn’t let her anger and resentment detract from her family restaurant.

While there is a definite thread of comedy through the story, I found it to be a sweet, funny story full of vivid family characters and strong secondary presences. I found myself laughing a few times while reading and enjoyed that warmth a feel-good type of story gives you. My only disappointment was Lu’s panic mid-way through the book, which I didn’t really feel was properly justified. It felt a bit too much to me like a “lets create conflict here” instead of a natural suspicion and concern. That fakeness was my only real problem though, the rest of the story – the characters in particular – were lively and wonderful.

Fun, sexy and very lighthearted, I found this to be a wonderful book sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. With brilliant characters, crazy and cool and that special pinch of something only an oddball family can give you I really enjoyed this story. Recommended.

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