Gina Foxton has it all–a top-rated regional cooking show call Fresh Start; a handsome, driven boyfriend; and a beautiful home that’s all her own–or so she thinks. Suddenly her show is cancelled when the major sponsor pulls support. Turns out Gina’s loving boyfriend Scott, who is also the show’s producer, has been cheating on her with the wife of their sponsor. When the sponsor finds out, he pulls the plug on the show. Gina is suddenly without a show, a job, or a boyfriend. Then a huge opportunity knocks on her door. She has a chance to host her show for the national station, The Cooking Channel. The only catch is that she is not the only show the network is considering. Gina’s competition is Tate Moody and his show called Vittles. Tate hunts and fishes and cooks his southern-inspired meals in the great outdoors, which attracts the male viewers, while his rugged good looks draw the female viewers to the show (and to Tate) in droves. As Gina and Tate go head-to-head in a reality TV cooking showdown, things begin to heat up between the two in more places the just the kitchen. What will Gina do when she must decide between personal and professional happiness?
Gut Feeling: Eh. That about sums it up but if you want more… Gina bugged me. Her emotions were all over the place and she seemed overly dramatic. For example, she was so sure that just because her show was canceled that automatically meant she lost everything and would have to move home to live with her parents. If she’s truly good at what she does then there will be other opportunities. Also, she fluctuated between being weak and needy to “I am woman here me roar.” Sometimes I liked her, sometimes I disliked her, and often I just didn’t understand her. Also, I didn’t believe the chemistry between Gina and Tate. It took 300 pages for them to kind of get together and even with 300 pages of build up my thought was “where did that come from?” I ended up skimming the last 80 or so pages after their get-together. Speaking of pages, the book was too long with the emphasis in the wrong place. I would have loved more time spent on the actual challenge part of the book, which was the meat of the story, but it didn’t start until around pages 160-170. This is where the author could have shown Gina and Tate really getting to know one another and (hopefully) making their romance more believable. I could go on but I won’t.
Conclusion: I’m picky so many people will still enjoy this novel and I do believe it is probably better than a lot of what is out there in the same genre. If you’re looking for a light but long summer beach read that has a bit more substance than your average romance, this may be the book for you. Though if you haven’t read Mary Kay Andrews before, I would definitely recommend trying some of her earlier works over this title, such as Hissy Fit or Savannah Blues.
Read-a-like: If you like the southern setting and sassy heroines, I recommend Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (another three name women’s fiction author). It has a bit more traditional romantic elements (i.e. it’s a bit steamier) but there is more character development and definitely more relationship build-up between the main characters. Plus, I just love Sugar Beth and Mr. Byrne.