Friday, February 27, 2015

ARC Review: Souffles at Sunrise (Just Desserts 2) by M.J. O'Shea and Anna Martin


"Welcome to a new season of Burned, where we find fresh new cooking talent… and a few culinary disasters! Every season we do something a little different, and this time it’s all about the sweet things in life. Get ready in week one as twenty pastry chef hopefuls and dessert connoisseurs compete for the thirteen coveted workspaces in our Burned kitchen. With stakes this big, we ask the one question on everyone’s mind: Do these chefs have what it takes to rise to the top? Or will they get Burned?"

Burned contestants Chase and Kai are attracted from the start and can’t wait to spend more time getting to know each other… until they see the first episode treatment and realize the producers intend to portray them as bitter enemies. At first it’s fun to pretend to bicker—enemies on film, lovers when the cameras stop rolling—but soon it’s hard not to take the faux rivalry seriously. It’s only when their choice is to band together and bake their way to the final or get burned that they find where their real loyalties lie.

Dani's rating:

I was so ready to love this book.


What's not to love, right?

I've been hooked on Bravo's Top Chef since season 1, so I sort of hate to believe this book's rather jaded take on cooking reality shows: It's not the talent but the looks; it's all rigged; contestants are forced to play up an image; and conflicts are encouraged for drama.

Kai, an exotic, self-assured pastry chef originally from Hawaii, and Chase, a blonde farm boy from Wisconsin who owns an artisanal ice cream shop, are competitors, but they soon become lovers.

I loved the competition aspect of this book, the description of the various desserts, the highs and lows.

And I liked both MCs. Kai has a total arrogant, poor-me asshole moment that almost ruins everything, and Chase sure as hell knows how to hold a grudge. But they both felt real to me.

What was really missing here (at least for me) was the romance. Maybe it's because nearly the entire book takes places on a television set? *shrugs* I just wasn't feeling the chemistry.

Also this: Where is the steam? The steam, people, THE STEAM. There is ONE singular smexy scene here. The rest are off page or truncated, fade to black.

There are hints at domination/submission, but none of it plays out long enough to be believable. The men tip-toe around their needs and wants. They hedge about sex. They talk round and round the future. It's all so damn tentative.

The ending felt more definitive than the barely there HFN that happened in book 1. I would consider it a HEA, not a sparkly one, but enough.

The writing was spot on and polished. This was a FUN, easy read. I LIKED this book. I did. But I wanted more depth in Kai and Chase's relationship; more SEX, fewer soufflés.

An extra half-star because I'm a sucker for those beautiful, golden Island boys.

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