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Friday, February 19, 2010

On The Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards

On The Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (376 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

When Lilah Jane Tunkle fled her dull life in Virginia for the bright lights of New York City, she didn’t expect to wind up a nanny to a gorgeous celebrity chef’s ten-year-old son. Working for the delectable Devon Sparks is a sure-fire recipe for disaster, especially after Lilah gets a tantalizing taste of his perfectly seasoned kisses.

Devon’s not sure he can handle one more surprise ingredient in his life—he quit his popular TV show, his culinary reputation is on the line, and now the son he barely knows is back for seconds. Lilah’s Southern sass is supposed to keep the boy in line, but soon enough she’s teaching Devon a thing or two about homespun food…and turning up the heat.

This story is brought to an instant boil, making it almost too hot to handle, then the heat is turned down and the distinct flavor of the mixture of characters emerges making On The Steamy Side a delectable dish full of love, needs, growing self-awareness, and hope. It is flavored with humor, memories, and the intriguing atmosphere of Manhattan.

Lilah (Lolly) Jane Tunkle, jarred out of her comfort zone with the loss of her teaching job in her small hometown, goes to Manhattan to remake herself. She rather likes her new self most of the time. However, that new self also scares her silly occasionally. Though not sophisticated, Lilah is scrappy as a terrier with a strong awareness of human nature. She jumps into a world she knows nothing about, determined to rebuild her life. The elite restaurant world and the people that make it elite become a part of her new life.

Devon Sparks, “The Man” in the chefs’ world, is wealthy, lonely, intolerant, and caustic, but he is “Masculine Perfection” in his looks. He rejects before he can be rejected—a lesson learned long ago. Somewhat out of touch with reality, Devon’s professional ego takes a hit when he goes from TV celebrity to being the executive chef in an elite restaurant for a few weeks. His personal ego is wounded when his son shows up and Devon doesn’t know what to do until Lilah steps in.

The combination of the sophisticated Devon with homespun Lilah, and a desperate little boy creates a love that none of them knows how to handle because of past disappointments that make each of them afraid of being hurt again.

The secondary characters not only enhance the plot about Devon, Lilah, and Tucker, but also add a sub-plot that delves into the emotional uncertainty of a gay relationship.

Louisa Edwards’ fast-paced, sparkling On The Steamy Side has sizzling sex scenes, complicated relationships, and unique settings, with an undercurrent of humor. Her character development makes the story come to life. In spite of rejections that left deep scars, the characters strive to fulfill their hopes and dreams. They grow emotionally and gain a sense of self-worth that captivates and satisfies.