TAKE ONE NEWLY SINGLE WOMAN: At thirty-one, Amber is being bombarded with wedding invitations just as she's collecting her divorce papers - and her bossy best friend has gone one step further and made her chief bridesmaid. It's high time Amber regained control of her life. ADD A PASSIONATE AND FIERY CELEBRITY COOK: Amber's joy at landing herself a coveted role in Oscar Retford's kitchen soon fades as she discovers Oscar is as famous for his furious temper and addiction to firing people as he is for the legendary meals he creates. TURN UP THE HEAT: But as passions start to run high, and her past catches up with her, it looks like Amber's cooked up a recipe for disaster ...
I have to admit this is a book that wasn't on my radar for a while, I had read Eleanor Moran's debut novel Stick or Twist and enjoyed it, but didn't get around to reading her second book which Leah did do and enjoyed it. When I saw the book cover, I thought it was lovely with the blue and black shadows, yet I actually loved the proof copy even more, and I'm not sure why the publishers didn't go for that. It was bright pink as opposed to the blue, and it just looked far more eye-catching and attractive to me. Ah well, I'm sure a lot of decision went into the blue, so that's what we are left with! I've only previously read one book set in a kitchen, Miriam Morrison's Recipe for Disaster, so I was looking forward to seeing if this one would be a good read too.
I have to say it took me a good while to get into the book. I didn't find the character of Amber very likeable at first, it's not that she was horrible or anything like that, I just couldn't relate to her and I just didn't like her so much. Amber is a talented chef who is working in a bit of a dead end job but desperate to get a job working for a big time chef. She's just getting divorced from her husband after she found out he was cheating on her, so she's a bit of an emotional wreck as well. When she does get a job working for Oscar Retford, she's thrilled but realises what hard work it is going to be. Soon, the inevitable happens and Amber finds herself falling for Oscar, despite not wanting to get involved with her boss. I felt it was a bit of a cliché but was willing to give it a go.
The character of Oscar was horrible, I completely disliked him from the start and couldn't understand for the life of me why understand why Amber fell for him. Moran writes him a bit like Gordon Ramsay in real life - arrogant, rude, horrible to staff but ultimately very good at what he does. However, I was kind of egging Amber on to get back in contact with her ex, I felt like things were unfinished and thought she was rushing into things with Oscar because of lust. Moran has really done her research with the cooking side of things, there is a good amount of technical detail about cooking, life in a bustling and busy kitchen and other things food related too. There were a few scenes that actually grossed me out, pigs heads being one of them, I actually was nearly sick, it was that disgusting and a bit unnecessary as well I felt. Most things are more tolerable, but I just felt that particular bit was out of place and over the top for my liking.
I've read a few things about this book, saying it's a hilarious and a gag a minute but I have to be honest and say I didn't really laugh out loud at all. I didn't think it was funny at all, if you want laugh out loud comedy I'd go for someone like Jane Costello or Jemma Forte, this certainly doesn't deliver on the laughs at all. The story was a bit of a cliché for me, things went as I predicted but I did like ending if I am honest, it seemed right to end the way it did. I didn't really like many of the characters, they weren't likeable people and I didn't like how Amber and Oscar's relationship carried on, she couldn't see him for what he really was. It was a good enough read but I can't say I was especially taken by it. The writing style was good and moved the book along at a good pace, but there was just something about it that didn't click for me personally.