A sizzling blend of food, passion—and searing romance—the Rising Star Chef competition brings together the world’s hottest chefs for an all-star cook-off that’s sure to stir up excitement…and melt some hearts.
HE’S FEELING THE HEAT
Sexy, single, and even sweeter than the treats he bakes, New York pastry chef Danny Lunden is trying to stay focused on food—not females. With the Rising Star Chef competition approaching, he doesn’t have time to get all steamed up over the gorgeous woman he encounters on the plane to Chicago. Even if she is Eva Jansen—the billionaire heiress in charge of the contest…
SHE TAKES THE CAKE
Danny assumes that “Eva the Diva” is a spoiled rich girl who doesn’t share his passion for food. But when the two meet up again in an elevator—alone—they share more than just passion. They share a kiss hot enough to start a kitchen fire—and they’re hungry for more. To indulge their new secret craving, Eva and Danny have to break every rule in the cookbook. But—like chocolate and caramel—some ingredients are are so sinfully good together, one scrumptious bite is never enough.
Favorite Quote: Danny slipped into the stool next to her, careful to keep his legs and arms from brushing against hers. He wasn’t sure what would happen if they touched, but he was pretty sure it would get them thrown out of this bar and arrested for public indecency.
Danny Lunden takes care of people. He sees it as his responsibility to take care of those around him, make sure they have the kind of things they need, calm them down when they’re anxious or upset. It’s just the way he is. So when he sees his teammate and co-worker, Beck, is having a hard time on the airplane they’re waiting to take off in to go to the RSC, he confronts the flight attendent and comes face to face with the reason for the hold up, Ms. Eva Jansen. Sparks fly, but Danny denies any attraction because he sees Eva as a spoiled princess.
Eva, on the contrary, is not really the diva she is known for being, but lets people think she is for appearance sake because her reputation in the restaurant community is essential to her and the Jansen image and empire. She takes one look and Danny and thinks, “Dessert!” She sets her sights on him just because she can and thinks a little mutual itch-scratching would be fun and entertaining. But Danny, despite his attraction to her, initially wants nothing to do with it because of her afore-mentioned reputation. But then they kiss and, damn, she’s persistent. He doesn’t stand a chance. And when she realizes how genuine Danny is, it’s only a matter of time for Eva, too.
I am loving this series. I cannot lie that I was not all that interested in Danny’s story initially. Maybe because he’s not really an Alpha Man like I like, those take charge types that wear a girl down, but he seemed really laid back (aside from the constant fights he had with Max, his brother, in the first book of the series Too Hot to Touch) and he seemed like he would be the prey to Eva’s predator. But that wasn’t really the case after that first kiss.
I really liked Danny, he wasn’t as docile as I thought he would be. He didn’t just sit back and let things happen to him, he grabbed the reins a lot (wrestled them out of Eva’s hands, actually). Danny showed vulnerability, but he wasn’t a doormat. He was used to being the person who took care of things and that put him in a frame of mind that that’s what people expect from him and made him somewhat resentful, but it was really more of a corner that he painted himself into.
Eva was another surprise. Really, that’s always the case with people you think you know. Their behavior or demeanor shows one side, the side they think you want them to be, but inside they’re full of contradictions and insecurities, even if it seems to be the opposite of their public face. Eva’s relationship with her father was hard to witness. Their obvious love for each other belied expectations and disappointments on his part. She was very good at her job, which she made sure came first, but it never seemed to be enough for Theo Jansen. Every time he’d sigh and say, “so dramatic,” I wanted to punch him…in the face…with a chair. Her behavior during the contest stemmed from trying to please him. So when Danny showed up, not really expecting anything, but willing to be there for her, take care of her, it made an impact on her. Eva expected her “relationship” with Danny to be limited, but they met each other at the most opportune time.
The auxiliary romance in this series is between Kane Slater, the twenty-something rock star, and Claire Durand, the forty-something French editor of a food magazine, both of them, along with Mr. Jansen, judges for the RSC. We were introduced to them in Too Hot to Touch and I loved their story.
All of the sudden, that look on her face made more sense. It was the same look he saw in the mirror every morning since he’d met her three months ago in New York.
It was hope.
And fear, too, with a little bit of impatience thrown in, because it was Claire, but still. Mostly hope.
They are very nearly complete opposites, but they are obviously made for each other. Again, it’s all about perceptions. There is a lot of waffling on Claire’s side because of the age difference and her need for privacy and their obvious lifestyle differences, but there is something about Kane that makes Claire not turn him away. We will get their resolution in the next book of the series, Beck’s story, Hot Under Pressure. We do get a few peeks into Beck’s mysterious background in this one and I liked it and cannot wait to read more about him.
I’ve kind of been in a reading funk lately, but I tore through this book. I think I liked this one better than it’s predecessor. The main characters had more depth to them than I was expecting and I liked them more than I thought I would. And the competition itself was very well done, I enjoyed reading those parts of it. Eva and Danny burned the pages up, they were surprisingly made for each other.