Monday, June 01, 2009

Hot in Here by Sophie Renwick

She wasn't his dish-until someone turned up the heat.

Celebrity chef and infamous ladies man Bryce Ryder can't believe the thoughts he's having about his old friend Jenna McCabe. She's always been the shy girl-next-door, but when some bad publicity threatens everything he's built, Jenna gets down to business-and shows a side of herself that is take-charge and totally irresistible.

Soon things are heating up in and out of the kitchen-and all of Jenna's secret fantasies about Bryce start coming true. But will she be the one to tame his heart, or is the sexy chef just indulging another one of his cravings?

This contemporary by Sophie Renwick (aka historical author Charlotte Featherstone) was really enjoyable. It's a friends to lovers story - one of my favorite themes. Jenna and Bryce have been best friends for 10 years. She's a PR/marketing wizard and he's a renowned chef. Jenna's been in love with Bryce for years. Via dialogue and Jenna's inner thoughts, we get the impression that Bryce is a man-slut. In a dinner meeting together designed to come up with a strategy to clean up Bryce's image, all of a sudden he notices Jenna in a completely different light. The rest of the book is their love story. Their very hot love story.

I liked a lot of things about this book. First, Jenna is portrayed as a "regular" woman. Not skinny, but not fat. She has a few rolls that she'd rather not have (don't we all?). Bryce, when seeing her in this new light, only sees how wonderful it is that she loves and enjoys the meals and treats that he cooks for her. A man after my own heart :) Jenna's weight was not an issue in this book. I forget who blogged about this (was it Wendy?), but she wanted to see a regular woman (ok, she said plus size, but still) where that wasn't the source of the conflict. This is it.

There was plenty of hot, creative, inventive sex in this book - much of it revolving around food. I do have to admit to it feeding some fantasies, LOL. But I never truly felt like the sex was gratuitous. It felt as if it forwarded the relationship.

I liked Bryce a bit better than Jenna only in that once he recognized his feelings, he went with them whole hog. Jenna, afraid to believe that Bryce would commit, seemed to commit and then backed away at the slightest misunderstanding. And that was where I felt the book had its biggest flaw.

The first big misunderstanding, the misunderstood email, was handled well. Jenna made Bryce work at winning her back. My heart broke for them both as they struggled to find a way back together. However, once that was resolved, there were more misunderstandings, and each time, Jenna was filled with mistrust for the man who had been her best friend for years and years. I felt like #1 - there were too many misunderstandings, and #2 - Bryce should have gotten pissed off at Jenna for not trusting in him, rather than begging her to take him back each time.

There was also a secondary storyline between Jenna's sister and Bryce's brother (they all grew up together).

I did want to throw it against the wall at the end with all the misunderstandings. Lots of people have posted about the "Misunderstanding", and it's the one area that I think many authors could improve. Please do not overdo the misunderstanding. Once it's resolved, don't continually wring pages out of your book by throwing in more misunderstandings. This book would have been better served, IMO, by having Sophie and Bryce work together to save her parents farm at the end than to have more misunderstandings and mistrust between the two of them. I felt enough was enough. /rant

It sounds as if I didn't like thebook, when in fact, I really enjoyed most of it. It's the last 30 or 40 pages that are frought with misunderstanding could have been better done, but the rest of it was very well written, and the love story, particularly their interlude in Italy, was beautifully told.

I would recommend this book, as long as you are forewarned that the end is not quite as tightly written and well done as the rest. However, hot sex, hot hero, big love, and great food. Yup. Me like.

Oh, and Sophie Renwick also has a Highlander holiday anthology coming out with Cindy Miles and Dawn Halliday in November. Yum. I love Cindy Miles' highlanders, and I've read one book by Dawn Halliday and really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to that!


  1. Great review Lori. I have this one for review as well. I love the best friends to lovers, but it does make me wonder how you can be so mistrusting of someone you called your best friend. Shouldn't there be some benefit of the doubt here? Still, I can't wait to read it :)

  2. Hi Lori :) LOL, you seem to be on a roll, reviewing books!

    This one does sound great though! :) I think I'm going to buy it, even with all the misunderstandings ^_^;

    It's been a while though since I last read friends to lovers theme book :) So looking forward to it! :)

  3. Yay! The review blog lives, LMAO.

    I liked the one and only Charlotte Featherstone title I read, so I will definitely go for this one.

    Nick - sigh and yup! Thanks to you! for originally bringing me to him and Kleypas. :-)


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