Beck and Duncan are culinary royalty as they have been rising stars in the culinary world for years. They each have family in the business and the press follows their every move. However, their styles and approach to food couldn’t be more different. Beck is the charmer as he cooks traditional food as a co-host on his uncle’s cooking show. Duncan is hailed as the bad boy in the culinary world as he has a non-traditional approach to food and continuously turns downs offers to work in one of his father’s restaurants.
Even traveling in the same circles, Beck and Duncan have only crossed paths once under less than ideal circumstances. Beck’s uncle and Duncan’s father have lived a food rivalry for years and the men get caught in the crossfire. When they’re photographed having a heated argument at a public event, the speculation is out of control. Damage control is first on the menu as the men are tasked with bromance style outings to put the rumors to bed. But that’s not the only thing the men would like to put to bed.
When Duncan joins Beck for co-hosting duties, the strain of Beck’s uncle’s demands and Duncan’s crumbling relationship with his homophobic father have the men struggling to maintain balance. But Duncan may finally see something he wants to commit to…Beck.
Professional and famous chefs, cooking shows, test kitchens, and restaurants are all areas I am familiar with and you will find all of that here. You will also find two men caught in the middle of a rivalry while navigating their own personal and professional lives. This book had so many areas that I was drawn to, but ultimately it never quite hit any of the marks for me.
This is an opposites attract story with a side order of enemies to lovers. We have Beck, with his classic and refined style, completely under his uncle’s watch and he works non-stop between his uncle’s restaurant empire and his weekly cooking show. The author realistically portrays the long hours involved in the restaurant business and how difficult it is to even think about a personal life. Beck’s professional life is clear, but his personal life isn’t all that clear. He has worked for his uncle for years and his uncle paid for culinary school, yet we never are told where his own parents figure into his life.
Duncan is given more of a bad boy persona with the press. He works freelance filling in at restaurants and uses chemistry to take his food to new heights. He can’t commit to a steady job and he certainly can’t commit to one man.
The book offers a look behind the scenes and, while their dedication to the culinary arts does come through, the show they were hosting and the food they were cooking had a dated feel. While a lot of detail was offered, some of it was repetitive. We are privy to the discussions off camera and then the same information is reiterated on camera. Beck is supposed to be all cool and charismatic against Duncan’s witty, spontaneous nature, but it didn’t come off the page. The chemistry we are constantly told the men have also stayed on page and they spend more time either pretending to be friends or avoiding each other and it had the feeling that they tripped into some sort of relationship that was yet to be discovered. For me, there were also secondary storylines that were not tied up and then the ending…well…it just ended and did not feel finished.
The book started out with a realistic story arc but the lack of chemistry between the MCs didn’t help sustain it. If you want a behind the scenes look at both restaurants and cooking shows with a more introductory feel, this could be one to try, but the relationship here is on the side.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.