New Yorker hotshot chef Drew Davis has a clear professional goal to become a restaurant head chef as soon as possible. She gets the opportunity she was waiting for in a farm-to-table establishment in upstate New York. Apart from the inconvenience of having to leave her beloved city life to move to a rural area, Drew has to deal with local farmer Hannah Little who is as beautiful as obstinate and isn’t impressed by the fancy city chef. As they are forced to work together to make the restaurant a success, they both discover many things in common and a brewing mutual attraction. But Drew is only in upstate New York temporarily and will be back to NYC at the first opportunity to advance her professional career, or is she?
This is a slow-burn romance which will be appreciated especially by gourmet readers. Food is at the forefront of the story, with a particular focus on farm-produced ingredients. A farm-to-table restaurant aims to source most of the ingredients from local food producers, an apparently simple concept which presents a few challenges. Ms. Rey describes thoroughly the hard work involved in farming, the diverse types of products and the different nature cycles. As these descriptions take a big part of the book, people interested in farming, food produce and sustainability will enjoy the story much better than the rest. I personally found that there was too much detail in these aspects that distracted me from the main story.
In this novel, Ms. Rey uses contrasts expertly: femme-butch, white-biracial, countryside-city, and even including a feminine farmer character, which seems contradictory in itself. But beyond these disparities, there is an ample common ground; the appreciation of good food, the importance of family and the search of long-lasting love. The romance part of the plot is well written, and the characters’ relationship is built slowly from a strong initial antagonism that eventually changes into attraction. The author gets the butch-femme dynamic spot-on, especially in the sex scenes which, nevertheless, present a hot role reversal. My main criticism is that the characters’ main conflict could have been solved much easier with better communication.
Overall, a good butch-femme romance which will be appreciated especially by gourmet readers. 3.5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.