When Dominican chef Lumi Santana’s unconventional restaurant fails, she takes a job as sous chef at traditional French outpost DAX, owned by the acerbic Julien Dax. To her surprise Lumi begins to feel an intense attraction to Julien, which is heightened by her ability to discern his emotions through the food he cooks.
Included throughout the story are the actual Dominican-French fusion recipes that Lumi and Julien create. This sweet and spicy tale will bring out the romantic epicurean in all who pull it off the shelves.
...though Julien ejects a customer who deigns to ask for ketchup and fires a cook who ruins some expensive dried meat, Santos never fully captures either his bark or his bite. And although Lumi is a more fully realized character, she still suffers from lack of a strong plot to support her ... Most disappointing, the romance between Lumi and Julien is completely unearned. The two spend a minimal amount of time together before falling head over heels, so when both claim an intense and life-altering attraction, there is little evidence to support it. Several underdeveloped and unnecessary side plots ...take needed time away from cultivating a real romantic connection between the main characters. It’s clear that Santos is as proud of her Dominican heritage as she is passionate about food—when she shares the beauty of her culture...and lushly describes Lumi’s culinary creations, the passages shine. But these brief moments are not enough to save the uneven writing and thin plot.
Santo cooks up a disappointingly bland debut romance between chefs ... plods along toward its happy ending with few surprises for the protagonists and little to no character development for Santos’s supporting cast of largely indistinguishable colleagues and friends. Santos’s creativity and humor, however, shine through occasionally in the recipes that accompany many chapters ... Unfortunately, her recipe for romance is not equally inspired.