Adam de Leon walked away from his life as a TV celebrity chef and cookbook author when his lover, Jason, spiraled out of control with his drug addiction. For the last five years, Adam has struggled with the knowledge that he left his best friend/lover to die while he has been making a name for himself in the Sierra Nevada Foothills where his bistro is a wedding destination. Now, on the eve of opening his new restaurant in historic Old Town, where he has been butting heads with the conservative leaders of Stone Acres as they try to keep him from opening, Jason walks back into Adam’s life.
Jason, who goes by the name David these days, wants Adam to give him a second chance. Claiming to be clean, he wants Adam to give him the chance to prove himself by giving him the job as manager of the front end of the restaurant operations. With the help of his friends, Adam decides to follow his heart.
This is the fourth book in the Foothills Pride series, and while it could be read as a standalone, I think readers will appreciate the book more if they have read the previous stories as those characters make appearances in this story as Adam’s support network.
Adam is a different kind of character than I am used to reading in most of my M/M romance stories. He classifies himself as a thug chef – complete with a scarred cheek. Despite his tough guy appearance, he is sensitive to the core. It nearly killed him to walk away from Jason, but after repeated attempts to help Jason get clean, he knew that he couldn’t do it anymore if Jason didn’t want to do it for himself. Packing up, he retreated back to where he and Jason had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where in recent years the population has seen a change from being strict conservatives to one where there is a sharp divide as the area has seen a spike in their gay population. With the help of his friends, some he grew up with, and others he’s met along the way, Adam has pieced his life slowly back together and is ready to take the next big step of opening a restaurant in town.
Jason needed Adam to walk out on him in order to start putting his life back together and conquering his addictions once and for all. Known as Adam’s “Pretty Boy,” Jason’s always felt like he was in Adam’s shadow and failing to live up to his expectations. When his invention made him millions, Jason created a new life for himself, complete with a new name, and waited until he knew he could be the person Adam needed. Now he’s back and looking for a second chance.
Typical of all of these stories in the Foothills Pride series, the emphasis of the story is on romance rather than sex. This means there isn’t really any on page sex. Instead, we get a build up of what is to come and then someone shuts the lights off and shuts the bedroom door.
Unlike the previous books, this one does have quite a bit of the story focusing on the struggles the gay community faces with the conservative leaders. I actually enjoyed this part of the storyline since in previous books it was alluded to, but we never really got all that much about how it was happening to the characters.
I was bothered that when Jason/David returned, he was criticizing Adam for his use of endearments that are actual belittlements of people he claims to care for. For instance, he claims that Adam calling him “Pretty Boy” helped to lead to his addiction. For me, I didn’t care for the way this topic was brought up and thought it was more of laying blame than it was constructive criticism. This may have just been me and my own baggage with dealing with people with addiction, and others may see it differently.
Overall, this was a nice addition to a great series. While not my favorite of the series, I got a chance to meet back up with some of my old favorites. If you are a fan of this series, you don’t want to miss this one.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.