Jackson Calabrese has a lot of nerve. He beat Lila Grant in the Culinary Academy competition using her recipes. Now, he’s opening a restaurant and wants her help? Fine, she’ll fix his menu, but it’s going to cost him.
Heir to the Calabrese restaurant empire, Jackson can buy anything he wants, except creativity, so he buys Lila’s instead. He can craft perfect paella, but to take New York by storm he needs her innovative spark.
Skillets aren’t the only things hot in the kitchen, and an uneasy truce ignites into passion. They’re great in bed, but Jackson doesn’t trust her, and Lila is contemplating revenge. The restaurant opening approaches, the menu is completed, and the tables are set for one final act of betrayal. How can love bloom in the midst of such a hot mess?
Oh my, Into The Fire made me hungry – for more of the characters we meet in the book and the food. I love a romance set in the culinary world – particularly when you can tell the author knows their business. Amanda Usen has created a delicious environment in this story where food and the passion that goes into creating it becomes a real part of the action.
Lila is a risk-taker with food, she combines items in ways that are different and make the dish ‘pop’. Jack is a traditionalist – someone who uses classic techniques to bring his food to life. Lila has had to struggle to get through, Jack has had things handed to him on a platter. On the surface, they are like oil and water, however Lila and Jack are both deeply passionate about their chosen field, and boy, do they have chemistry. Food is what brings them together and takes them apart, and the way Ms Usen has woven this into their relationship is really great.
As I said earlier, there is some fantastic chemistry between Lila and Jack. They crackle and sizzle like steaks on a hotplate when they come together. Lila does hold a genuine grudge against Jack, and starts off wanting revenge against him, but she can’t control her reaction to him. This leads to some very hot moments (the dry storage room, for example). Neither is expecting to fall in love, but fate has other ideas for them. I won’t go all spoilerish on you, because I think you should read it. However, it was lovely to watch these two characters grow as people and go through the full gamut of emotions before reaching their happy ending.
This was a really smart, funny, sexy book. I am really looking forward to the next instalments in the series – the supporting characters in Into The Fire were fantastic. I was super impressed to see a Roz in there too – love it!
My rating: 4 out of 5
Release Date: 10 June 2013
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Entangled Publishing, LLC in return for an honest review.