This one sits solidly between 2 and 3 stars for me. It definitely had potential and there was nothing explicitly “wrong” with it, but there just wasn’t enough to compel me to keep reading. It’s got some great food descriptions that will make you hungry, characters who are interesting but share no real chemistry, and a setup that seems like it should be intriguing but just kind of falls flat. There’s certainly an audience for it, but it didn’t really work for me as a whole.
Essentially, the story follows Lumi, a chef whose restaurant is forced to close. She takes a job working as a sous chef for a temperamental French restauranteur, Julien, who likes things done in a certain way. The two share a love of food and a mutual attraction, but their working relationship is volatile and sometimes tense. When feelings come out into the open, it complicates a relationship that’s already strained.
There was actually a lot that I liked about this, which is why I feel bad rating it so low. I don’t mind a lovable jerk hero, so I didn’t really have a problem with Julien. I also love enemies to lovers romance so that worked for me to a certain extent. The author did a great job talking about food and giving this an authentic feel in regards to that. Unfortunately, most of my problems lie with the relationship itself. The writing style is not my favorite, giving this a subdued, detached feel when all I really wanted was to feel the tension between these two. There aren’t any real sparks of chemistry to speak of, and I think that would’ve gone a long way to making this read better. I was still planning on rating this as 3 stars until an incident in the back half, which seemed like an unnecessary obstacle to a relationship that was just starting to develop. All in all, the book definitely has potential but I think it could’ve used further development to enhance the story. I received an ARC via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review of this foodie romance.
From talented new writer, Yaffa S. Santos, comes this unforgettable, heartwarming, and hilarious rom-com about chefs, cooking, love, and self-discovery that is a cross between The Hating Game and Sweetbitter.
Lumi Santana is a chef with the gift of synesthesia—she can perceive a person’s emotions just by tasting their cooking. Despite being raised by a single mother who taught her that dreams and true love were silly fairy tales, she decides to take a chance and puts her heart and savings into opening a fusion restaurant in Inwood, Manhattan. The restaurant offers a mix of the Dominican cuisine she grew up with and other world cuisines that have been a source of culinary inspiration to her.
When Lumi’s eclectic venture fails, she is forced to take a position as a sous chef at a staid, traditional French restaurant in midtown owned by Julien Dax, a celebrated chef known for his acid tongue as well as his brilliant smile. Lumi and Julien don’t get along in the kitchen–to say Lumi is irritated by Julien’s smug attitude is an understatement, and she secretly vows never to taste his cooking. Little does she know that her resolve doesn’t stand a chance against Julien’s culinary prowess.
As Julien produces one delectable dish after another, each one tempting Lumi with its overwhelming aromas and gorgeous presentations, she can no longer resist and samples one of his creations. She isn’t prepared for the feelings that follow as she’s overcome with intense emotions. She begins to crave his cooking throughout the day, which throws a curveball in her plan to save up enough money and move on as soon as possible. Plus, there’s also the matter of Esme, Julien’s receptionist who seems to always be near and watching. As the attraction between Lumi and Julien simmers, Lumi experiences a tragedy that not only complicates her professional plans, but her love life as well…
Clever, witty, and romantic, A Taste of Sage is sure to delight and entertain readers until the very last page.