Author: Amanda Usen
Genre: Contemporary Romances
Number of Pages: 368
Sparks between love 'em and leave 'em pastry chef and poker sharp Marlene Bennet and traveling chef-for-hire Joe Rafferty when the two culinary perfectionists are forced to share a kitchen. But several suspicious accidents at the restaurant convince Marlene and Joe to work together to uncover the saboteur. Maybe a little intrigue and high-stakes poker will be the perfect ingredients for these commitment-phobic foodies to whip up a happily ever after. (goodreads)
Scrumptious caught my eye because it sounded like it would be a light, fun yet hot read. It was all of the above, but Marlene's love interest Joe and her best friend Olivia drove me to distraction. Marlene was such a great character. I loved that she liked Joe, but didn't want anything too serious with him because she had issues from her moms multiple marriages and the fact that her dad left when she was in high school.
I wish that that there were more contemporary romance heroines like Marlene. She had a social life and wasn't afraid to admit it. What bothered me was that everyone else in the book had a problem with it. What's wrong with a girl in her 20s dating? Nothing, that's what. Then why is it that the love interest for Marlene and Marelene's best friend had problems with it? I still can't answer that question.
It bothered me that the reason Joe was fighting his attraction with her is because he promised his dying mother that he would settle down with a nice girl, and he thinks Marlene is a bit of a player.
That drove me crazy, because he admits to being a player himself before making that promise to his mother. This didn't make me stop reading it...I plugged away to discover he wasn't the only one with double standards in this book. Olivia, her best friend also had them. She told her that the reason Marly couldn't be head chef was because "she had too much of a social life and didn't want to hear it when she didn't get laid." This from a women who hired Joe knowing he was a player?? However, I still didn't stop reading it then...I plugged away.
One thing that bothered me were that there were a lot of screw ups in the restaurant, and even Olivia's ex who was dumped and fired was the obvious suspect Marlene kept being blamed for them. It bothered me that they didn't even ask anyone if they'd seen anything suspicious or talked to Olivia's ex. Still, I kept reading..even though these mishaps kept happening. There was a cute plot device to have the dog Marlene was dog sitting steal the vibrator she was about to use when Joe came over, and they had a good laugh over that, I plugged along.
The thing that finally made me stop reading was when Joe invited Marlene to Kentucky to visit his dad with him. He tells her that there will be a pig roast and she makes a comment about going there and the term hillbillies was used to describe the group going to the pig roast. I'll be honest. I've been to a pig roast or two or three. They are fairly common around where I live, and I don't consider myself a hillbilly. I'm still not sure why that line put me over the top with this book, but it did.
When I stopped reading at 52% I just found myself feeling so frustrated that I had to put it down. Marlene truly was a great heroine, and maybe things changed in the second half of the book, but for me it was just too late to hang around and see if things got better. Even though I had problems with this book, I think that most contemporary romance readers will love it. I'm just extra hard sometimes on this genre and I'm still trying to figure out why.