Chef’s Special by Susan X Meagher is a foodie romance like no other. If you’re as big a fan of the show Mind of a Chef as I am, you’ll love this book because it’s talks about why they cook just as much as what they cook (oh yeah, and has a beautiful romance too).
Emily Desjardins has a goal: some day she’s going to be the executive chef at her own restaurant. In the meantime, she’s excited for the chance to become sous chef at Blake, working for the exacting and well-respected Blake Chadwick. She’s already been a sous chef at a great restaurant for two years, and she knows working at Blake will give her exactly the kind of experience she needs to get to where she wants to be.
Working for Blake Chadwick is more difficult and rewarding than Emily could have imagined. Blake is inflexible and demanding to the point of looking heartless at times, but she loves food with a passion typically saved for soul mates and she isn’t afraid to jump in and get her hands dirty alongside anyone in the kitchen. Emily just wants to focus on her career, and finds it’s a little hard to focus when Blake is so hot and also a lesbian. Blake isn’t prone to attachments, however, so maybe they can mix a little business with pleasure.
Emily is really easy to like. Although she’s driven by her career goal and works hard to reach it, she’s also friendly, creative and genuinely cares for the people in her life, whether they’re friends, family, or colleagues. When life throws Emily a curveball, she’s forced to get creative and go far out of her comfort zone in a way we don’t often see in lesfic. She has to make some difficult choices and her growing feelings for Blake complicate that, teaching Emily that sometimes the most important thing you can do is get out from behind yourself and be real with the person in front of you.
Because the story is told entirely from Emily’s perspective, everything we learn about Blake is through her. Blake is the perfect balance of pragmatism and sensuality, which is why she’s as good a businesswoman as she is a chef. I mentioned above that she seems heartless at times because her exacting standards in the workplace means she makes tough decisions where others would let things slide, yet she actually has an incredibly tender heart. She’s long been a player with no experience in relationships, and I kind of wanted to shake Emily for not understanding all the little ways that Blake tried to show her true feelings even when she didn’t know how to articulate them. From an emotional perspective, Blake probably had the strongest character arc as she slowly grew from being married to her work to having room in her heart and absolute devotion to Emily.
The Writing Style
The writing in Chef’s Special is gorgeous, evoking the sights and sounds of high-end food. At around 500 pages, this is one of those books that delivers a lot of bang for your buck because it’s not only twice the length of a typical lesbian romance, it also allows the story and romance room to grow organically. That means the book doesn’t necessarily conform to what you might expect in a romance, and I was a believer in Blake and Emily’s relationship every step of the way from that initial mutual respect to sparkling attraction to their eventual happy ending.
Oh goodness. I liked just about everything. The writing is fabulous, the foodie stuff fascinating, the romance beautiful, and I loved seeing Blake grow to who she is by the end of the book.
I don’t know if this is actually a con, but I wish Emily would have put her big girl pants on and just talked to Blake about her feelings more. Especially given how much Blake was going out on a limb with her.
Chef’s Special is a wonderful romance and I totally recommend it. Just make sure you have some amazing food on hand when you’re reading it, because this book will make you want to eat!
Excerpt from Chef’s Special by Susan X Meagher
“I’m surprised it doesn’t bother you to have a woman make a move.”
Emily cocked her head. “Why would it bother me? How else am I going to find women to sleep with?”
Those eyebrows shot up again, along with Blake’s body. Now she sat in her normal position, centered in her chair, back straight. “You sleep with women? Your boyfriend’s cool with that?”
“The guy you introduced me to.”
Now Emily threw her head back and laughed. “Oh, god. Chase isn’t my boyfriend. He’s a dude.” She extended her index fingers and crossed them. “No go.”
“You like women.” Her big brown eyes were wide open. Staring.
“I do. A lot.”
A bright smile settled onto Blake’s face, but she didn’t say another word.
The question didn’t need to be asked at this point, but Emily posed it anyway. “Do you like women?”
“Hell, yeah. You didn’t know that?”
“No. I mean… I’ve heard rumors, but people label every powerful woman gay. I didn’t think about it much.”
“Well, in my case, they’re right. Not that I’m very powerful. But I’m really gay.”
Emily gave her a sly smile. She was stunned they were flirting with each other, but didn’t consider stopping.
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- ISBN number: 9780996677479
- Publisher: Brisk Press