Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The third in what has been a delicious series (food pun intended), this story did not live up to its promise. Jake Casey is a snarky, nasty character in the first two books—a brilliant chef but with an abrasive personality and a huge ego. He’s responsible for booting Baldwin from his prestigious job at the restaurant in New York and he’s Bobby’s nemesis as well. This story opens as book two ended with Jake accepting the position of head chef at the new Hearth & Oak restaurant opening at the Empress in Las Vegas. But that’s where the similarity to the previous books ends.
We meet a Jake in this book who is lonely and decides to be the kind of guy people like. He wants friends and he wants a harmonious workplace. This is a complete 180 from the Jake we know. I was looking forward to seeing the feisty chef meet his match in a romantic push and pull sort of relationship. I hoped for a guy who wouldn’t take his backtalk and would give as good as he gets. And then there’d be a situation that would make Jake realize he needed to soften. But no, not in this book. There was no catalyst for Jake’s change, no major catastrophe or loss of family or friends. He just grew introspective and decided to change. To be honest, it was unbelievable. As my mother always said: tigers don’t change their stripes, but in this case, Jake became a cuddly kitten.
We also meet Ty, a really great character who has worked for the Food TV crew from Baldwin’s show and has training in both management and as a chef. He’s assigned to be the restaurant manager in Vegas until the place is up and running. Do the two clash? No. Do the two fall in love? Not really. They do become friends and eventually Jake offers to be Ty’s fake boyfriend when his former fiancé shows up as the sommelier for the hotel. Love comes much later—at the very end of the book.
The first half is all about setting up a restaurant and Jake’s acclimation to his home and to life in Las Vegas and reads somewhat like a travelogue of the Vegas area and a restaurant handbook. There’s not even a short kiss between the two characters until 50% in. And, in fact, there’s never really more than that. There is a big Misunderstanding just before Ty leaves to go back to New York and then… The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying. I won’t say what happens or doesn’t happen. I’m not sure if a chapter is missing or if that’s how the book was to end. Honestly? I’m surprised at how this was left, especially given that this is the third book, and possibly the last of the series.
So, no. This one is not on my recommended reads list.
Cover Design: LC Chase. That is an adorable cover. Too bad the book didn’t measure up.
Universal LInk: https://books2read.com/ChefOnTop
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2JqUfcv
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2S5S3Kb
Published July 10th 2019 (first published June 10th 2019)
Edition Language English
Series Sizzling in the Kitchen #3