Too Hot To Touch - Louisa Edwards A star is given purely for the fact that Edwards has obviously done research in the culinary field and uses the proper terms and such. I also like how her metaphors and similes are culinary-related as well. And I really like how she provides recipes for the dishes described in the book. Being a culinary student myself, I would have had to flounce if this were an author who used the Food Network as her primary source material.

I do like how Jules is shown to be capable as a leader in the kitchen, considering that the field is still male-dominated, and doesn't completely go weak when Max returns. Max has been gone from NYC and his family's Greenwich Village staple restaurant for the past six years traveling the world and mastering different cuisines (jealous!). He's just been given a lucrative offer to go to Italy and train with a charcuterie master (after two years of effort) when he is asked to come home to help his family's restaurant, Lunden's, get through the gatekeeper challenges of the Rising Star Chef competition to be the East Coast representative team. After they get through that, he's free to go back abroad.

Jules is mainly motivated by how the Lunden's gave her a home, no questions asked, after she's essentially kicked out after her stepfather attempts to assault her and her mother takes the stepfather's side. She worked her way to a sous chef position and essentially takes an executive chef position once Gus' health starts to fail.

I didn't like how Max acted as a petulant brat about his perception of Jules taking his place in the family. As if he didn't leave willingly after having yet another argument with his father about how the restaurant is run and barely keep in contact. As soon as he arrives back to NYC, all he can think and talk about his getting away again to go to Italy. Given his attitude, no wonder nobody told him about his father's declining health because nobody wanted to carry the guilt of keeping Max in NYC (when he would have felt obliged to stay) when it was obvious he wanted to be in Europe.

I liked the balance between the competition and the culinary world and the romance between Max and Jules. Since this is a romance novel and the first in a series, you know the outcome of the preliminary competition and Jules and Max relationship. Since this is a trilogy, I'm assuming the next two books are between Danny/Eva and Claire/Kane.

However, this book does hit on a romance genre pet peeve of mine. When one half of your alpha couple is presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is relevant to their career and passion, fucking write it so they take it. I HATE when characters give it up for the sake of the person they've been with for only a very short period of time. Max spent two years hounding this Italian chef to take him on as an apprentice and finally gets it. The default plan for the team was to continue on with the competition after Max leaves anyway. If you make it so he really can't leave without negative repercussions (like pissing off his family again, losing Jules, and not being there to help with the rest of the competition) then don't write in a lucrative opportunity that he must give up. I just really hate that.