Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.
But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s sick.
Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cup of joe.
As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless.
I have to get it out there right away that the foodie parts of this book were outstanding to read. As an aficionado of Food Network, Cooking Channel, Check Please, and so on, I love to hear about amazing food. The fact that I have absolutely no palate makes the reading and watching all the more for me. We definitely get that here but that isn’t the whole of the story.
This was a rough read for me because I’ve lived through the cancer hell with my husband (who is nearly five years cancer-free, thankfully). I can’t imagine what I would do if he had decided he would have no treatment, which is what Miller does. His year has been horrific. He and his best friend wife, Sloan, are divorcing – a good thing but a painful change nonetheless; his first solo restaurant has just closed due to lack of customers and he has been diagnosed with throat cancer, the treatment of which has only a 50% chance of success and could very well rob him of his sense of taste. Since Miller lives and breathes food art, this is unacceptable for him. “He swept his hand over their plate, then gestured at the table. “I can’t imagine a life where I can’t taste any of it, which is a very real possibility if I get the treatment.” He wants to go out as is and he also doesn’t want his friends or family to have to go through that with him with no guarantee of a positive outcome. It is heartbreaking.
The book begins with the ad – “Dine with me – the culinary experience of a lifetime.” For the bankroll of the tour, someone will get to go along with Miller (who remains unnamed) for a two week, eight meal foodie heaven of Miller’s favorite places, the ones he wants to say goodbye too. Of course Clancy, who is gifted this trip by his parents as a gift before beginning practice with his dad as a plastic surgeon, doesn’t know why Miller is doing this, just that he gets to do it.
Clancy has his own issues – he wants to work oncology and not plastic surgery but he loves his dad and doesn’t want to disappoint him. “He didn’t want to disappoint his father; he looked forward to working with him too. Who wouldn’t want to work with their best friend? Even if the work wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do, Clancy was good at it.”
The tour destinations are not disclosed, although Sloane knows and Clancy’s mother knows (as she is a travel expert, she books the hotels and travel to the destinations) but Miller won’t tell Clancy until they arrive at each place. Clancy is unaware of the health issues of Miller, but of course he studied oncology, so he does eventually figure it out.
I did think it was unfair of him to make Sloan promise not to tell anyone, including their other best friend, Greg. Greg and Sloan are having a double wedding in the summer, a wedding that Miller won’t be alive for without treatment. The moment when Greg asks Miller to be his best person and Miller says no, I wanted to just hug Greg. Miller won’t tell him why and what kind of best friend does that? He’s so worried about people knowing, but as Sloan says, “If you don’t get treatment, you’re going to be dead in six months. Everyone’s going to know anyway.”
The whole Sloan aspect shows what a loyal, caring person Miller is and it makes it even harder to watch as he gets sicker. It adds such an air of sorrow to the story as Miller faces his death, gracefully but so stubborn you want to shake him. The more he and Clancy fall for each other, the harder it gets. “You’ll be an amazing oncologist. You made the end of my life more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. Thank you.” Yep, cue the crying.
Both men have soul-searching to do, though only one has a time bomb ticking in his body. The connection between Clancy and Miller was absolutely believable and I loved that Dr. Clancy Rhodes usually wore t-shirts and hoodies and was a crabby when hungover. Adorable. And that Miller, the award-winning, Michelin rated chef, loves simple, comfort food most of all.
I would recommend this for the characters, the writing and the food!
Cover art, showing an elegant table, fits perfectly.
Expected publication: September 16th 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 148805391X (ISBN13: 9781488053917)
Edition Language English