She wasn't his dish-until someone turned up the heat....
Celebrity chef and infamous ladies man Bryce Ryder can't believe the thoughts he's having about his old friend Jenna McCabe. She's always been the shy girl-next-door, but when some bad publicity threatens everything he's built, Jenna gets down to business-and shows a side of herself that is take-charge and totally irresistible.
Soon things are heating up in and out of the kitchen-and all of Jenna's secret fantasies about Bryce start coming true. But will she be the one to tame his heart, or is the sexy chef just indulging another one of his cravings?
This was a story that I heard about from a favorite blogger, Barbara, and couldn't wait to read it, so when the opportunity presented itself, I snapped it up. The author was kind enough to send me an ebook for review, but I must have deleted it :( However someone I knew had an actual copy of the book, so I brought it with me to the Lori Foster event, which was good and bad. Good because I had it in my hot little hands, bad because I so badly wanted to leave the event and go back to my room and read it! But then I would have missed out on all the fun and seeing my friends, so I stayed strong.
Jenna has been in love with Bryce since she was 17. They became good friends back then, when he was the gorgeous guy who was always nice to her. But he doesn't really see her, not as a woman. It's years later, and Jenna and Bryce are best friends, but Bryce has a problem: he's a famous chef, but he's gotten a bit of a bad rap that could damage his reputation and cost him to lose his viewership of mostly working mothers. Jenna steps in for damage control, and instead of the meek, quiet woman he's used to, he sees an assertive, confident woman who knows her business, and this intrigues him. The more she butts heads with him, the more attracted he becomes.
Jenna is tired of only being Bryce's friend. Yes he really is a good guy underneath the gorgeous looks and sexy body, and he's gotten a little sidetracked by his popularity, but Jenna knows Bryce, knows that he is not the jerk the media is making him out to be. So she offers to help him fix his image. But Bryce doesn't necessarily want to go along with Jenna's ideas. He needs to turn things around, and he needs to do it fast. He can't wait weeks or even months for public opinion to once again swing in his favor. His attitude gets on her nerves, and instead of agreeing with him, she lets him know. Who knew it would have such a startling affect on him...
Bryce can't stand to see her walk away. Goaded by his brother who wants to ask Jenna out, Bryce becomes all territorial and possessive over his best friend. At first he's not sure where these lustful thoughts for Jenna are coming from, but as time goes on, he recalls moments in their history where he has noticed her as a woman, but always pushed those thoughts aside in the name of friendship. And Jenna is not his usual high-maintenance woman who will only eat salad and drink water. Bryce loves cooking for Jenna, watching her savor his edible creations. Her obvious enjoyment turns him on, and now he can't stop thinking about what else might turn her on. But will burning up the sheets together ruin their friendship, or end up being the best thing that's ever happened to him?
One of my favorite themes is friends to lovers, though I'm more partial to the hero being in love with the heroine first. However that being said, this angle still works really well for me.
I always love a heroine who doesn't seem so overly concerned with her weight. Jenna is not one to obsess over being curvy, and I liked that about her. She loves to eat and it actually ends up being a turn-on for Bryce. She appears to be proud of her body and dresses to enhance her assets, but in a tasteful manner. And it's also obvious that other men do find her attractive. But Jenna's thing is that she still only sees Bryce. Sure she's had other lovers, but no man has ever been able to erase him from her heart. And once he does notice her, she has a problem believing all the suggestive comments and heated looks.
Once Bryce realizes he wants Jenna, he wastes no time in trying to get her. He prepares a birthday dessert she won't soon forget, and they end up having explosive sex (whew! fanning self), but in the morning, Jenna decides to play it cool and let Bryce think she's just having a great time instead of looking for anything serious. This confuses him because this is not the Jenna he knows. He loves her sexy side, but wants his friend too, the one that wouldn't treat sex with him so casually. Soon Bryce is remembering other times when he's noticed her as a woman but always pushed those thoughts away, not wanting to muddy their friendship. But now he can't help but recall that there have been instances when he's found her very attractive, but files it away as a glitch in the system. Maybe all those moments were trying to tell him something.
Bryce had let his celebrity go to his head a little. It isn't until some ugly gossip started going around that he realizes it, and how it's put some distance between him and Jenna. I liked how he gets back to basics, and tries to bring Jenna back to a time when life was simpler, what was important was friends and family, not fortune and fame. He let Jenna see how much she's meant to him over the years, and I think this was a big step on his part. His feelings for her were way beyond physical, and once he realizes this, he doesn't hesitate to show her how he feels.
Of course there must be some type of obstacle keeping them apart, so there was a little big of the plotting with the best of intentions going on, but nothing too unforgivable. I couldn't blame Jenna for being upset with Bryce, or even for not fully trusting him.
This was a very sexy, likable about two good friends who end up realizing that they could have so much more as lovers. I think readers will really enjoy it, especially since the focus is on the relationship, without the need to throw in a suspenseful subplot to keep things interesting. I don't think it was necessary to add that element to keep me reading. I was absorbed in Bryce's and Jenna's love story. Will I read another Sophie Renwick book? You betcha! In fact, I can't wait to find out more about those intriguing Ryder brothers ;)
Labels: Sophie Renwick