Review: Taste on my Tongue by Beth Bolden

Almost pop-star Landon Patton has just turned a corner on the worst two years of his life: dropped by his label and dumped by his ungrateful ex-boyfriend. However, his new agent's brilliant plan for Landon's superstardom doesn’t have anything to do with his music – it’s called Kitchen Wars, and it’s the hottest new reality show on TV.

Landon wishes he could have nothing to do with it.

Since the first morning he mixed flour and water, Quentin Maxwell knew he wanted to be a baker. After becoming the pastry chef at a popular LA bakery, anyone else might be satisfied. But Quen wants to call his own shots. Going on Kitchen Wars to win the money for his own bakery seems like a huge risk, but maybe it's worth it.

They’re an unlikely pair. Landon can’t even figure out how to turn an oven on, while Quentin makes his living with one. But with each passing week on Kitchen Wars, they discover what a great team they make – on set, off set, and between the sheets.

Winning should be everything, but what happens when the tastiest pairing is their own?

I came for the cookery. So singleminded in my purpose that I was willing to overlook the musician in my cookery. I will be retreating back to my no musicians or rockstars bunker now. Taste on my Tongue is suuuuuuuuuuper sweet. Landon and Quentin are sweet. There's virtually no conflict in their sweet relationship. Everything goes swimmingly for them resulting in a perfectly perfect HEA. If this is the sort of thing you look for in your romance reads stop reading here. This book is for you. If you're a foodie you might have some quibbles but otherwise it should be love at first sugar.

I tend to gravitate towards characters with some grit and for them to have to fight for their relationship. Landon does angst quite a bit which I believe was Bolden's effort to infuse the narrative with some gravitas by making him insecure, but it read one note to me: sweet. They have chemistry both on and off camera and their relationship moves swiftly. I do applaud an author who doesn't make me wait for the good times until the last 40+% of the book and some of the times were pretty hot. Honorable Mention to the Rory's desk scene.

Landon is the narrator of this story and exhausting high maintenance. He's a musician who's trying to kickstart his floundering career. His agent encourages him to go on Kitchen Wars, a mishmash of Cutthroat Kitchen and Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition. Since he's already been on The Voice, outted himself and suffered the career repercussions of that decision, he considers himself a reality TV and Hollywood veteran and as such a mentor to Quentin. I really would've liked Quentin's POV to maybe cut some of the sweetness, but I think he's just as bitten by the love bug as Landon so maybe it wouldn't've made a difference.

I have very little interest in celebrity so the Hollywood machinations were too much for me. At one point it even crossed my mind that Landon was using Quentin to achieve his ultimate goal of superstardom, but even though I found him to be vapid, histrionic, in need of constant reassurance, boy crazy with some serious heart eyes and a mean case of the instaloves, his feelings for Quentin appear to be genuine. Quentin is in the reality show gig for the cash prize so he can start his own bakery. Quentin comes across as unpretentious and pragmatic. What I know of him I like, but buying him as a professional chef was... a big ask. How many professional chefs do you know who regularly order takeout?

As a foodie, lover of cooking shows and chefs this book failed in delivering the level of chefery I craved. The cooking was uninspired. Kitchen Wars is boring and not well executed. I've never watched a competitive cooking show wherein the contestants didn't progress in their abilities by leaps and bounds by the end. If the best you can do after 7 weeks of tutoring from a professional chef is grilled cheese... what was the point? I've also never seen a competition wherein there was only one challenge per show either. I had many nitpicks including washing their own vegetables, not having the water boiling already and the logistics of them working as a team within the confines of 30 mins of cook time. Didn't add up. Literally. I wish more focus would've been put into the show and the other characters interacting with Landon and Quentin but... was not to be.

Taste on my Tongue could've used a final proof and edit to address the added/missing words and general filler. The story arc itself is fine but there was an excessive amount of descriptors, some repetitive that I found unnecessary. The dialogue is organic and some of the secondary characters added to the story positively with the potential for successive stories. Overall Bolden's writing style is easy to read and she convincingly wrote a sweet love story that showed their connection. Even though this was to saccharine for me I can objectively see the appeal of a story without a lot of dramatics contrived or otherwise, so I'm somewhere between 2.5-3 Hearts but I'll just round up to 3. If you like your romance with extra sweetness this will be a winner for you.

A review copy was provided.

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