Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jen's Review: Seared

Seared by Suleikha Snyder
Publisher: Suleikha Snyder (December 12, 2017)
Series: Master Chefs, 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
1st POV and 3rd POV

It’s been 10 years since Naya saw her stepbrother, Lachlan Christie. In that time, he’s become a famous chef, complete with his own hip and trendy Manhattan restaurant…and she’s become the woman who can give him everything — especially her body and soul. But the past doesn’t always stay dead, and you can’t escape it, no matter how far you fly or how hot you burn.

Naya’s determined to win Lachlan and secure them a happily ever after, no matter what it takes — but is love enough to save her master chef?

In the first book in the Master Chefs series, the forbidden meets the possible — and passion cooks up a storm. 

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Jen's Review:

I’m not even going to lie to you, I asked for this ARC sight unseen and knowing nothing about it just because I think Suleikha Synder is a BAMF on Twitter. As soon as I started reading, I wondered if perhaps I was not the intended audience. It’s a stepbrother romance, which isn’t my favorite; Lachlan and Naya are in a dominant/submissive relationship, which is sometimes just too much for me personally; but most damning, Lachlan is a celebrity chef, and I really hate cooking. Like. A lot. (I especially hate people who tell me to watch cooking shows when they hear I don’t like cooking. This is not helpful advice, by the way, and I’d sooner watch a show about cooking as I would about doing laundry.) But not to worry, this book is freaking great and all of my doubts were quickly swept away by this amazing writer and her utterly fantastic characters.

Naya and Lachlan are step-siblings, but their parents married when she was 16 and he was 20. Although there was a flirtation, feelings of connected-ness, and the beginnings of a nebulous something between them, Naya was sent off to boarding school and now it’s 10 years later and Lachlan’s father is dead. There are not more impediments to them finally getting together, which is what they both desperately crave. I could probably go on and on about all the things that work for me in this book, but I’m going to restrict myself to talking about three things I think Seared does superbly well.

First, Suleikha Snyder builds fascinating, well-rounded, believable characters. I wouldn’t call this a second chance at love romance, because their relationship was platonic when they were younger,  although there was chemistry and closeness. One of my biggest problems with the second chance at love trope is when one of the characters gets put on ice after the separation--and let’s be honest, it’s usually the heroine. People grow and change and experience new things, and it just seems cheap when the author implies that a character’s emotional life ends after a failed romance. Yes, I’m sure it happens for some folks, but I’m not particularly interested in reading it. So imagine my delight at Naya’s description of her last 10 years. She thinks

I wasn’t one of those girls--those women, I should say--who withered away without their man or turned into a blank page. My pages were all full, with scribbles in the margins. And now that I was back in Lachlan’s world, I knew we had entire books to fill together.

Thank you, Suleikha Snyder! When characters have a gap in their relationship, I expect their time apart to be more formative than the time they spent together. Otherwise, why bother separating them? Both Lachlan and Naya have lived full, meaningful lives. When they reunite, it’s not just that they are more interesting to each other, but they are more interesting to me as a reader.

Second, although there is a ton of dramatic plot in this book, it never overshadows the romance. As it turns out, it was Lachlan’s father that separated them, and he did it in the worst possible way. Lachlan thinks

[...] the cruel bastard had known how much they adored one another. First he’d made it ugly. Then he’d taken it away.

Even from the grave, he’s determined to keep them apart. There’s some lawyerly blackmail in the will, and Lachlan is furious that his father is still trying to manipulate him from the grave. By the way, I loved the Iago-like nature of these machinations. There’s no real satisfying reason for Lachlan’s father to be such a dick, he just is. The question isn’t why, but instead it’s how: how will Lachlan and Naya move forward given these new constraints?

Finally, let’s talk about the care and handling of the male ego. Lachlan isn’t entirely honest about Naya regarding the contents of the will, but Naya knows damn well something happened with it. Lachlan decides he should follow the terms of the will, not because he cares about the money, but because of the threats towards Naya and her mother. Naya knows full well that he is trying to push her away. This is where we get the payoff from those 10 years apart: she was sent away once before, she’s not going to let that happen again. Suleikha Snyder shows Naya to be both heartbroken and also determined to fight for him---and I loved that. Women can be sad and pissed and crying and determined to fight for their happiness all at the same time.

One last thing, the book is super hot and sexy. On Goodreads, Tiffany Reisz said,  “It's fan-fucking-tastic with the emphasis on the "fucking." OMG so hot.” It would be downright churlish to question Tiffany Reisz on a heat rating, right? I also want to address my initial worry that the BDSM scenes would be too intense for me, but it was fine. The kink they are exploring is what worked for them, and I could see how the scenes built intimacy between them.

Even an anti-foodie like me thought this one was a delicious treat. And trust me, I’ve been trying like hell to avoid all food-related metaphors for this entire review. Just read this delightful book!


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Jen received an e-ARC of this book from the author.

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Thanks for the review, Jen! There's nothing better than having an amazing author write a book that wouldn't normally work for you but instead TOTALLY WORKS. :)

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on December 28th for a chance to win an ecopy of your own!

Have you read Suleikha Snyder?


Until Next Time,

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