Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Alex Koch loves food. He can appreciate every aspect of it, from the raw stages, to preparation, to cooking, and to savoring. He’s excited to take this next step in his life – starting as a chef at Schulze, one of New York City’s fine dining establishments. But it isn’t everything he thought it would be. Starting out as the lowest man on the totem pole, Alex is delegated to doing grunt work, and he’s not happy about it. His class mate and biggest rival, Nik Schulze, is the head chef’s nephew. And Nik holds a higher position as substitute sous chef. Alex doesn’t understand it.
As the temperatures outside rise, the tension between Alex and Nik rise in the kitchen. Alex has never quite gotten over the attraction he’s had for Nik since their first meeting, but Nik’s hot and cold attitude is confusing and frustrating. But one thing Alex can do is prove that he is good in the kitchen. As the summer comes to a close, his attraction to Nik gets stronger and rumors circulate in the kitchen. But in order to find out the truth and make a move for what he really wants, Alex will have to approach the unapproachable Nik to find the answers he so desperately seeks.
A Cut Above the Rest is a sweet story. This installment of the story is more of an intro to a romance, an intro to the characters and their personalities. Romance doesn’t play a large role in this book. I can see it playing a larger role in later installments, but this book is more of a story of growth and pining. Alex is learning to live in the real world and pining over the man he’s sure he can never have. And even though it’s not really a romance…yet, the story is so endearing. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.
This story is entirely in Alex’s third person point of view, so we learn the most about him. He’s a little more insecure than I expected, still learning his place in the world, and wanting desperately to fit in. In the beginning he’s a little entitled, not really wanting to work for his place in the kitchen but to have it handed to him. But his journey of maturity throughout the story makes him into a better man. Nik is more of a secondary character in this story than he is main. I’m hoping in the next book there will be more of him, maybe some of Nik’s point of view as well.
I can definitely see the author’s knowledge of food, its preparation, and the inner workings of a kitchen. Whether Andor achieved this by means of personal experience or research, I’m unsure, but whatever she’s doing, it’s working. I do wish there would have been more description of the city. New York City is such a big, boisterous place, so full of life; I would have liked some of that added to this world, but maybe in the following books.
My only real complaint is more of a personal issue. When I’m reading, I like physical descriptions of the characters, especially main characters. I like to be able to put a face to the character in my head, see the man the way the author sees him. But that is lacking from this story. There was a tiny amount of physical description, but not really any for Alex and very little for Nik. Again, it’s a personal issue, but I can’t help but hope that there will be more description in the next book.
In the end, this story worked for me. All of the characters are good, the story is written and paced nicely, and the inner workings of a kitchen staff are brought to life. I wanted more description of the city and the characters. Overall, A Cut Above the Rest is sweet and endearing story. I look forward to what this author has in store for Alex and Nik next. Recommended.