We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Review: A parody on many of the chef shows on food networks, this story involves the men and women who are competing on Burned for a chance to win a hundred thousand dollars and a year’s training at a prestigious chef’s academy in France. Principally, the story revolves around Chase Christiansen from Wisconsin and Kai Chin, originally from Hawaii—two men who are attracted to each other right from the start, despite the fact that they signed contracts stating that there'd be no fraternization among players. To top that off, they’re informed by the producers that they will need to appear to be enemies, sniping at each other, and in general, making each other’s lives difficult.
The story started out very slowly and didn’t really engage my interest until nearly the halfway point. However, once it did, I found it difficult to put down. Though their attraction was evident from the beginning, Chase and Kai definitely had a very slow buildup of sexual tension in their relationship. They certainly couldn’t have sex in the condo they shared with the other contestants, especially since there were four men in their room. They respected each other enough to decide not to engage in any risky behavior in non-traditional locations so they bided their time and finally got together when they had a break of several days and they drove to Kai’s apartment in LA. What I liked about these early segments was the slow buildup of the romance with a concentration on kissing and snuggling and getting to know each other well.
When they finally did have sex, Chase seemed to have gained a very dominant side to his personality and Kai, contrary to all other areas of his life, was content to give up control and allow Chase to lead and take care of the two of them. There was some indication that they might eventually explore more about a D/s lifestyle in the future but neither really knew enough about it at this point in their lives.
Concurrent with the development of their romance, each chapter of the book focuses on one week of the show, the stresses on and off camera, the desserts each contestant made, and of course, which chef was “burned”.
When Kai’s ego and fear take over his mouth during a particularly stressful week and he hurts Chase badly, their supposed rivalry on screen becomes real and the two battle toward the finish. A surprise twist at the end of the story resolves the sticky question of who will be left behind, and it was a fun and interesting story right up to the last page.
Because of the fact that I wasn’t engaged early, I have to keep the rating at 3.5. I just can’t equate it with books I’ve rated as 4 stars, but many readers will enjoy this as the light-hearted and sweet romance that it is. It is a fun spoof of food challenge shows and provides a few hours of entertainment along with a nice helping of sexy guys in love.