I don’t often review books, to be honest. Partly because of time, partly because I’m wary of reading too much in the genre I write in so I can avoid being too influenced by other people’s work. But every now and again I love a book so much that I can’t resist putting fingers to keyboard to try and share why I like it so much.
I also have to declare an interest here. I’ve watched the evolution of this book from the beginning since P R is a member of my online crit group. I’ve been with it throughout, and I’ve loved it and the characters from day 1. So yeah. This one I want to share.
Drew Montgomery is a trust-fund baby who decides to launch a food magazine in the age of online publications. Hank is a gifted chef who has taken over San Francisco’s cooking scene, but who struggles with a serious addiction problem. The suspicious death of Hank’s father demands that these two rivals look beyond their initial mutual antipathy. This is a story of fathers and sons. Part romance, part mystery, this is a paean to foodies everywhere.
Word Count: c89,000
Published: December 2017
I like food, and I have a very unhealthy relationship with desserts. This book–set in a San Francisco foodie world of sharp magazines and award-winning chefs that is so well realised that you can almost smell and taste the glorious food and wine (and get some of those unhealthy dessert cravings I mention)–is my **jam**.
This book is beautifully written, the dialogue as crisp as a twice-baked biscotti, the characterisation as rich as a chocolate torte. A chocolate torte with whipped thick cream. And meringue. You get the idea. Hope so, because there’s only so many baking analogies I can manage since I’m far more skilled at eating them than making them.
Having got the stellar worldbuilding out the way, let’s look at those characters. Now then, I like my characters to be complicated, complex, and a wee bit fucked up and messy. PR Fancier writes my kind of characters. Drew is from a rich family, running an amazing print magazine on the aforementioned SF food scene. More financially dependent on his distant, emotionally abusive father than he likes, he is making a bid for independence knowing that his beloved magazine is in real danger of collapse. Hank is a top vegetarian chef with a *very* unhealthy relationship with the bottle and in a relationship with an emotional incubus. They’ve been enemies since cookery school, and now they’re thrown together trying to solve the mystery of a tragic death. They fight, they snark, they comfort each other, they show sides of their personalities the other never suspected and can only admire. They are wonderfully dysfunctional. I like Hank, I want to be Rose Passey when I grow up, but I love Drew fiercely. His prickles and insecurities are lovingly shown and his growth as a person is, well, just sweet to watch.
No more, otherwise I’ll have to put in spoiler alerts. This is an engaging book: great world, great characters, great writing. I really do recommend you read it.