Rating: 4 stars out of 5
After a critic’s review attacks both Chef Liam Walker’s culinary skills and his personal life, Liam can no longer take the heat of the cutthroat New York City restaurant scene. He needs to get out of the kitchen—at least long enough to cool down and regroup.
At the Overlook Resort in North Carolina, Liam meets owner Carter Galloway. Carter has a passion for the hospitality business to rival Liam’s own, and it’s not hard to see where their shared interests—and attraction—could lead. But Carter has no interest in a fling, and Liam has no intention of walking away from the career he fought so hard for. If they want a taste of happiness together, they’ll have to find the courage to break the bonds threatening to pull them apart.
Breaking Bonds by Ari McKay is the second in The Walker Boys series and my favorite so far. For me, Breaking Bonds has everything the first one, Striking Sparks, didn’t. From the gorgeous setting in the Smokies (a favorite location of mine) near Asheville to the mouthwatering food descriptions and finally to the great chemistry between two layered MCs, Breaking Bonds has exactly what I look for in a sweet contemporary romance.
Breaking Bonds is about the ties that bind us, in this case it’s Carter to his family’s expectations of him and their future for him which run counter to his dreams. Its also about their lack of acceptance of his homosexuality, thinking it “phase” or action to get back at them. Torn between trying to be a “good son” and himself, it’s cost him financially and emotionally everything as he chose his own path. Carter is so open a character, so vulnerable that it’s easy to feel for him at this moment where he could lose everything. That McKay surrounds with a staff every bit as charming and easy to connect with is a plus. Rocky, the young chef, is especially appealing.
Chef Liam Walker also has many ties around him, some he acutely aware of that’s pushing him in directions he’s not even sure he wants. He’s too busy to think about directions any more, consumed by the restaurant and his mentor’s and owner Marco’s demands. Primed for the ultimate success in NYC, one bad review and rash action because of anger issues sees Liam needing a vacation from the stress and demands of the restaurant. That first night at the Overlook does not go well for either man. It’s so realistically written that you both cringe and laugh at the same time, then as it plays out the humor turns to sadness for all involved.
The romance here is balanced by the needs of the men to figure out their futures, their businesses and how to break the ties, the bonds holding them back. As they do so, we also get wonderful recipes, a lush location and a great cast of secondary character (yes, I’m talking about Rocky…I adore that boy).
I have really come to love the Dreamspun Desires line from Dreamspinner Press and this story is a great example why. Its sweet, romantic and you can read it as a standalone without having read the first one. I wonder what the Walker Boys have in store for us next. Bring it on, Ari McKay!
Cover Artist: Bree Archer gets the backdrop just right and the character too. Very inviting.
ebook, Dreamspun Desires #35, 190 pages
Expected publication: June 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleBreaking Bonds
ISBN 163533151X (ISBN13: 9781635331516)
Series The Walker Boys #2