Author: Dyann Love Barr
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 334
Published: Entangled Publishing, November 19, 2014
Eat. Love. Murder.
Sparks and insults fly when Celebrity Chef Tilly Danes matches wits with the annoyingly sexy Jordan Kelly. As members of the judging panel for the Culinary Channel’s Personal Chef Showdown, they agree on only one thing: Maxwell Etheridge, the third judge on their panel is an arrogant pain in the butt. Neither one would mind seeing him strung up like a ham hock. When their nemesis shows up not only dead but also missing an important body part, Tilly and Jordan are thrust smack in the middle of TV’s most shocking homicide…
Everyone is a suspect: the show’s host, the contestants, and even the victim’s lover. When Tilly and Jordan are pulled deeper into the investigation, those pesky sparks of antagonism transform into undeniable, incredibly inconvenient, red-hot attraction. And if they thought the sparks were hot while fighting, the heat between the sheets is an inferno. As the bodies start piling up, Tilly and Jordan must find the killer—and a recipe for love—before they become the murderer’s next course!
As sister of a gastronomy graduate and a lover of murder mystery, I had to read this book. Not only the cover looks delicious, but the idea of two chefs trying to solve a murder was most compelling.
Restaurant owners, celebrity chefs Jordan Kelly and Tilly Danes are called to be judges for a cooking competition. They’ve known-and competed with- each other for years, so by the time we’re involved in the story, they already had a relationship albeit a contentious one. Things get more complicated when the third and final judge on their panel is killed and the evidence suggests that someone from the inside is responsible.
I really really liked the plot of this book. Like I said, the gourmet murder theme interested me from the start, but what I was also attracted to was the bickering between Jordan and Tilly. Anyone who follows me knows how much I love that kind of relationship between my heroes and heroines. It’s usually the way to seduce me when it comes to stories, but it’s not as easy to write as it is to read, I’m sure. In this book though, it worked well. Since Jordan and Tilly knew each other, their sarcastic comments flew one after another from the start and kept going until what they felt went from frenemies to lovers. I liked that pace, and I even liked the fact that when they became lovers, they still didn’t lose their sense of competition. And the sexy was good too, but maybe not as spicy as I expected.
Since the hero and the heroines were both chefs and the setting was what it was, including a few side characters from the business, I can’t lie, I expected to spend more time in the kitchen. Or at least more food related breadcrumbs to lead us to the killer. When we finally found out, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being deflated by what was revealed. I know this was a romance, but the murder plot was a major part of the story and the main setting for Jordan and Tilly’s romance so I’d have preferred it more detailed and better investigated. Now, Jordan and Tilly are not detectives but they did have a detective working with them, who asked for their expertise on the matter, so more foodie clues could’ve been found out. In fact, it would’ve been more enjoyable because this book reminded me a lot of the tv show Castle. Anyone know that show? It’s a murder mystery but it’s light and fun, with goofy characters. This book was much similar to that show, except the writer hero and the cop heroine are both chefs in this one.
The dialogue took me a while to get used to. At times I had a hard time following the tone of their voices-I like to speak the words in my head if it makes sense- and so I stumbled while reading which affected the flow of the story. And some of the details were left out. For example we know Tilly has a daughter and a foster mother but we never got a chance to read them interact except for a single phone call. Right before that scene I was wondering if Tilly had her daughter living with her or if she’s given her away. I know the main plot revolves around Jordan and Tilly and the murder but I’d expect something like family to be a part of the story too.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how to rate this story. While I did like the plot and the background and the idea of bickering characters, I thought the mystery side fell a bit short in the end and though the romance was good, it wasn’t as mind blowing as I wished, nor did it have the high level of sexual tension I would’ve preferred. I did like Jordan and Tilly’s interactions, Jordan’s childish grouchiness and jealousy, and Tilly’s lively southern character, but I couldn’t help but feel their romance was maybe a bit rushed.
I think those who love the show Castle would enjoy this story. And those who like a little murder mystery thrown in the mix with their romance, something fun and light.
I’m adding a smack in the middle three spoonfuls of this fun whodunit into my hodgepodge. I know they say revenge is a dish best served cold, but looks like murder is one hot dish.
Other titles by Dyann Love Barr:
- A Perfect Bride for Christmas