Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago's affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he's being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello's, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.
Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello's quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more - something real, something true - to separate the good from the bad and find the love - and the hope - that just might be their salvation.
©2015 Rick R. Reed (P)2016 Dreamspinner Press
This is a gorgeous little gem of an audiobook. And the performance gave it a very cinematic feel... i could really imagine it at as a movie in my mind. Silver spoon raised Henry loves to cook and is torn between taking the law firm internship set up by his father or a dishwashing gig at a homey Italian restaurant. The chef, Vito, happens to be a brooding, mysterious hunk of Italian hotness (with a crazy sexy accent) who keeps Henry at a distance. There is a lot simmering beneath the surface and Reed does an amazing job developing the relationship and the damaged personalities of both lead characters. You find yourself rooting so much for these too and really invested. It's a beautiful story - and I loved how the story developed to make this relationship something much deeper than just two hot dudes hooking up.
Leslie's performance, as usual, is excellent. His characterization as Vito is wonderful and handles the dialect beautifully - earthy and so sexy. I loved the matriarchs in the story - Vito's mom, the restaurant owner and Henry's housekeeper.
I'm certainly going to look out for more from Reed... this was a fabulous story and a great performance.
I'm an unabashed fiction fan: mostly M/M, Romance, Erotica, Suspense, Thrillers, Action, NA/YA genres.
Henry Appleby is eighteen and basically has his life laid out for him: he'll intern at his father's Chicago law firm, go to NYU in the fall, and eventually become a lawyer just like his father. However, Henry doesn't want that life. He dreams of being a chef, and is at his happiest around food. While struggling with the possibility of disappointing his parent's expectations, he's also dealing with the betrayal of a friend, and finding out his parent's are fallible as well.
Vito Carelli lost everything one night over a year ago. He draws his grief around himself like a cloak and keeps everyone at arms length. He lives for three things, his mother, his two beloved dogs, and his job as Executive Chef at Fiorello's.
When Henry takes a summer job working as a dishwasher/busboy and sometimes sous chef at Fiorello's, it's not just his resemblance to Vito's lost love, but his persistent pursuit that begin to melt away the ice around Vito's heart.
There were two things I loved about the story: first, is the vivid imagery Reed uses in creating this world. Chicago is like another character, and the food is so lovingly detailed that I was hungry through most of Joel Leslie's narration. Which brings me to the second thing I loved, which is Leslie's narration. He drew me in and kept me captivated. I could practically smell the foods, or feel the 'L' train rumbling.
As for the story itself, I was confused as to whether it was a new adult contemporary novel or a romance. From the blurb I thought it was a romance, but it doesn't play out that way for more than 78% of the story. Then, in the end, it's a rushed romance that felt inauthentic and not organic to the story that was being told.
Also, the story contains two things that generally annoy me. First, when there's a, to me, unnecessary build up of a "terrible thing from the past" that's alluded to over and over again, without letting the reader in on it until late in the story. That just drives me nuts. Second, when the "romance" comes out of left field with no previous groundwork built.
In this case Henry has some trouble with boundaries, following Vito home, standing outside his apartment for hours, snooping in the apartment once he's invited in, stripping naked and getting into Vito's bed uninvited...they were troubling things to me that are glossed over in the story. There's also a lot of telling, and almost lyrically so, but not so much with the showing. The two men barely have a few conversations before suddenly they're moving towards a relationship. It was jarring for me, and I didn't believe the romance that did suddenly pop up only in the final chapters and weak epilogue with a nebulous HFN.
All in all, the writing is lovely, with wonderful descriptions of places, and people, and food. The narration is well done, with great character voices and accents. However, the romance of the story left me cold and disappointed.
This was another great performance by Joel Leslie. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the story. This book started out great. Henry is a rich 18 year olf kid from the North Shore of Chicago. He has a desire to cook food, but that does not mesh with his father's expectations. So he secretly applies for a job at Fiorello's as a dishwasher. Vito is the executive chef at the restaurant and has closed himself off to love due to the loss of his family. As the story progresses there is much family drama on Henry's side that cumulates in secrets being revealed and Henry suffering the consequences. Meanwhile, Vito is fighting his attraction to Henry and coming to grips with his grief. So on the surface that is all good. My issue had to do with the development of the relationship between Henry and Vito. It mainly manifested itself with Henry doing stupid, stalker stuff and Vito running hot and cold and acting like a dick to Henry. The result was, I didn't really like either of them. What finally secured the three star rating was that the HFN ending was in the epilogue and all the conflicts were addressed in a few sentences at the end. That just felt rushed and way too simple for the complex situations the MCs were dealing with.
The only saving grace was Joel Leslie's performance. He does a great range of voices, along with a great Italian accent. His pacing is spot on and he conveys the emotions of the story really well. That said, I don't think this story really did justice to his performance. Even though the story is told from both MCs POV, there is not much dialogue. There is a lot of "telling" of the story and not much experiencing the story from the MCs POV.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this book, but I'm not surprised because I have enjoyed every Rick Reed story I've gotten my hands on. He just has such a way with words that it really is special.
There is some angst in this story as both our main men are dealing with a great deal of baggage. Vito has loved and lost.. and that pain is still very real and haunting while Henry is young and still learning who he is. We see him go through his first heartbreak and then some family crisis moments that are really hard for him to deal with. However, the pain within is what draws the men together and what also make this a good story.
Vito's story broke my heart and it made me happy to follow along as he works through it. While I felt for Henry and all that he was dealing with, I got annoyed with his childish look on things at times. But, in the end, I really liked both main characters and the story as a whole.
The narrator did a great job, especially bouncing between Vito's accent and other non-accented narration. It was an added extra that was really neat to have in the book and emphasized Vito's heritage.
Overall, a great story, a great audiobook.
I received a free copy of this book to read for Inked Rainbow Reads in exchange for an honest review.
First I think the writing was great, and I love how the author really lets you get to know the two individual character. With that being said I think that's where the author got lost. The majority of the book was about getting to know the characters individually then right at the last minute he wrapped it up they got together and It was over. Their was no romance, there was no courtship, there is nothing about the kid learning to cook. Seriously you go through the whole book then right at the very end the author pretty much says four months later everything just works it would make more sense if you left it on the cliffhanger and then there was a book two which would've been great.
If it wasn't for the narrator I don't know if I would like this book, but then again it was good all way up to the end and how the author wrote the last two chapters it kind of ruined the whole book for me I didn't ever feel that connection because he didn't give me at
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