Confession Time: I’m a Food Network Junkie. I have been a huge fan of cooking shows since I was young–growing up watching The Frugal Gourmet, and Julia Child’s Kitchen on PBS. Then Dessert Circus and Jaques Pepin…into Mario Batali and Bobby Flay and the list goes on.
I am also totally into food competition shows, and restaurant makeovers…which led me to Gordon Ramsay. Which led me to ROMANCE IMPOSSIBLE. This contemporary romance is a love story for foodies, like me.
Here’s what happens:
Jillian Brown is a chef. She has worked many kitchens around Boston, but is currently out of work due to so many restaurants failing in the depressed economy. Her bank account is nearly empty, and she’s desperate.
Chef Maxwell Dylan (undoubtedly inspired by Chef Gordon Ramsay) is a demanding prick. He’s brash and abrupt and honest. He is unflinchingly critical when it comes to cooking and has built a fortune through his hard work and exacting standards. He is opening a new restaurant. And he wants Jillian to be his sous chef.
Jill knows Chef Dylan, by reputation and by introduction. A few years ago he demanded to meet the chef who had prepared a meal he found lackluster. Jill never forgot that humiliation, and she’d rather eat her chef jacket that work for the notorious Chef Dylan, but that would likely be her last meal as broke and she is, so she accepts his job offer.
In the ramp up to opening the restaurant, Jill and Dylan develop a decent working relationship. She is submissive, as is to be expected, and he is steadfast in his resolve to not get involved with any woman–especially not Jill. He wants to stay focused on the restaurant, but doesn’t miss the quiet confidence Jill exudes. Her patience and attention to detail are just as attractive as her trim physique and pleasant face.
Jill is enamored with Dylan, after a time she is able to get over that horrifying initial meeting. She sees the man behind the frosty rep, and begins to appreciate his confidence and companionship. Over the course of the year there are aborted forays into romance. A kiss here, an embrace there, but each time Dylan pulls back–unsure of so many things. He’s never had a long-term relationship and won’t risk his stable work environment for what he’s sure will be a brief fling. Also, having amassed a fortune, he’s never sure if a woman is interested in him personally, or financially. This is a real fear, because Dylan’s personality is generally disagreeable.
Dylan seems to make extra effort to include Jill in his other endeavors, each time elevating her status and career. This includes recommending she be a part of a reality TV show to help ‘soften’ Dylan’s brash appeal. While on location in LA, Jill’s ex-fiance turns up. She and Eric had been together for 5 years and three weeks before their wedding she discovered he was dating another woman. Yet another humiliation, and one she had confessed to Dylan some months ago. With Eric trying to woo her back, Jill can only recognize how little she cares for him. He’s a cheater who hides all his treachery behind a nice demeanor, unlike Dylan. She’s about to tell all this to Eric, but another shoe had yet to drop, and Jill’s shattered once more.
Not long after, Dylan’s attempt to comfort Jill turns physical. Real physical. And Dylan panics. He’s not confident enough to risk his heart and tries to strike the best balance he can–to Jill’s great disappointment. She turns in her resignation and finds a new job as head chef in a prestigious restaurant. But fate isn’t finished with Jill. And one chance encounter leads these two to the place that were meant to be.
It’s a slow simmer of a romance, realistic in size and scope. Throughout there are tiny vignettes, excerpts of one of Dylan’s ‘cookbooks’, to illustrate his passion for food and cooking. The passion he contains for Jill is just as potent–and magnifies his fear of rejection by ten-fold. Then he sees how gracefully Jill accepts continued rejections and finally casts his whole heart on the line. It’s a joyful ending, and I really enjoyed the book. It’s told from alternating point of view so we can wallow deliciously in the tension between these two strong characters.
Melanie Marchande is the author of the “I Married a Billionaire” trilogy.
In her own words:
“I’ve always been fascinated by that feeling, that little spark – that tingle – the way your stomach can flip-flop at just hearing someone’s name. We all remember what it’s like. With my books, I hope to make you remember that feeling, to experience that thrill one more time. And the best part is, you can always come back and experience it again, and again, and again…”
She’s hosting a GOURMET GIVEAWAY for the next five days on her website and Facebook. Click this link for your chance to enter.
Up for grabs: TWO bulbs of indulgent black garlic, ONE package of gourmet squid ink pasta, ONE Dylan’s Trattoria logo apron, and ONE $25 Amazon.com gift card
One can probably make quite a tasty meal with all those fixin’s.
Best of luck and keep reading my friends! 🙂