Review: A Taste of You by Irene Preston

Hell’s Kitchen has nothing on the flames Giancarlo and Garrett ignite at Restaurant Ransom...

Garrett Ransom is America’s hot chef du jour. He has a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, a hit reality TV show, and a new man in his bed every week. Yes, he secretly thinks his business partner, Giancarlo “Carlo” Rotolo, is hotter than a ghost pepper, but he would never jeopardize their friendship with a fling. Then Garrett overhears some juicy gossip among the crew and realizes he’ll have to break Giancarlo’s cardinal rule, no banging the staff - for Carlo’s own good, of course. Just a taste of Carlo should be plenty. Long-term relationships aren’t on Garrett’s menu.

Giancarlo’s been in love with Garrett forever. He’s sure Garrett will eventually realize they are destined to be more than business partners. But when Garrett installs his latest boyfriend as their new chef d’cuisine and announces plans to leave Carlo in New York while he opens a second restaurant on the west coast, Carlo is forced to re-evaluate his life. 

Can a high-strung British chef and a nice Italian boy from Brooklyn find the perfect fusion of fine-dining and family-style?

LOVED the food!

I'm still thinking about Nonna's tortellini and the scallops and the braised lamb shanks… 

The romance, though, feels a little underdone. 

Garrett is a high-profile, celebrity chef who has to be based upon Gordan Ramsay, who I don't like. I was never able to bridge that gap. Garrett is a diva in the kitchen, goes through men like Kleenex, never connecting with any of them and all of whom are short term, essentially fuck buddies. But it's not just the fuck buddies he doesn't connect with it's everyone. He is completely out of touch with his emotions thereby rendering him aloof, callous and difficult to connect with as a character. 

What I really took issue with regarding Garrett was the way in which his intensity as a chef who strives for perfection was pathologized. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I speak chef. I study and follow them and Garrett is a chef. A diva chef, but all great chefs are flighty, intensely perfectionistic and insecure. I will concede that he, when faced with intense emotions, takes solace in the kitchen to the extreme, but I disagree with the message that being passionate about something equates to a mental illness. 

*stepping off my soapbox now*

Garrett and Carlo have been business partners for years and a misunderstanding/partial deception motivates Garrett to take action. Action which Carlo has been holding out hope for for years. As much as I was happy for them to come together and get their groove on, I never invested in them as a couple. I don't understand what Carlo sees in Garrett nor do I understand why he puts up with being repeatedly taken for granted and oftentimes dismissed out of hand. Like I said, I understand the chef mentality/personality, but you have to pair that with heat, steam or passion none of which was on the page, despite the biting.

The secondary characters didn't add much. The cousin felt like a Brooklyn caricature and the whole Italian-American family of Carlos' didn't pack the punch I was looking for either, but they did make some good food. You start talking mortadella to me and I'll melt like butter. The writing is slightly repetitive at times and I quickly tired of the endearment "sweets", but Preston did a good job with the dual perspectives. I think this was a case of me not being able to connect to a character rather than it being the writing. I found the ending abrupt and the evolution of their romance unbelievable given the history of Garrett and his "relationships" suddenly transforming into the monogamous "non-boyfriend". It was too much telling, not enough showing for me.

But the food was so good as was the restaurant biz stuff. 

I just wish there was a recipe appendix in the back. 

Recommend for foodies.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

  1. What? You don't like Gordon Ramsay....shame on you, he's a British icon here! Went to the Savoy Grill last summer and had the most amazing dinner - I'm sure it was personally cooked by him! Back to the book - hmmmm only three stars and as not a great lover of foodie books may have to pass on this one