Once Burned by Dee Carney

ONCE

Once Burned by Dee Carney
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (107 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Temptation never tasted so good.

Close to the Heat, Book 1

With a chance to win a cooking competition that will advance her career, the last thing food truck chef Pepper Joseph needs is a distraction. Except she’s got a heaping helping of it in the form of fellow chef Darien Priest, the man who broke her heart.

It’s been years, and she tells herself she’s over his betrayal, but to her irritation, she finds she still has an appetite for his steel-gray eyes, clean-shaven head, and sleeve tattoos.

Darien regrets the single, juvenile act that ended it with Pepper, but he’s never found the courage to apologize. Now that they’re in close quarters, something’s steaming and it’s not just the saucepots. One toe-curling kiss proves there’s the potential for more than just a guarded friendship, and he sets out to prove he’s grown into an honorable man.

Until he discovers she’s pulled a seasoning switch that could have ruined one of his dishes. Now it’s on. There’s ten thousand dollars on the line, but if they don’t surrender to another chance at love, one—or both—of their wounded hearts could get singed.

Darien Priest was the competition. He continuously set up his food truck right near Pepper’s and they were competing against each other in a race for a big cash prize – ten thousand dollars worth of it. Having already been burned by the sexy man in the past, Pepper is determined not to place her heart – or trust – in him again. Despite their rocky, complicated past, she’d struck an uneasy, if fiercely contested, truce and beginnings of a friendship. If only the tattooed man wasn’t such a hunk, Pepper could keep her mind on track and not be so distracted by his smoking hot physique. Both Pepper and Darien are determined, stubborn people, the sensual antagonism in and out of the kitchen smolders in this book.

A spicy, enticing romance, this book will appeal to a large crowd. Those who like masterchef, competition cooking shows or just enjoy puttering around the kitchen will find plenty of laughs and enjoyment in watching both Pepper and Darien clash in this cooking-heavy romance. There are mix-ups and retaliations, plenty of conflict and plot to keep the pages burning along at a fast pace. I liked how even though they were both fiercely determined to win the competition, the sexual tension and obvious attraction they both had simmered lightly under the surface until they both reached boiling point. Sparks and tempers both fly – neither character is a shrinking violet – but they could still come together and finally melt like the most decadent of chocolate. Ending the story on a wonderful positive note was just the icing on the cake.

I’d definitely recommend this book and found it a great way to add a bit of heat into an otherwise rainy weekend.

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