Title: In The Raw
Author: Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels
My Rating: A-
Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: In The Kitchen #1
Main Characters: Jamie and Ethan
Release Date: October 2014
Publisher: Carina Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot
James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.
Ethan doesn't mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he's secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn't want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he's done fine on his own. Except that he can't get his cake to rise.
Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan's been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn't about to settle for what he needs.
I really enjoyed this book. This story is about two men in their junior year of culinary school. Ethan is in the school with his sister Claire and they are struggling to make it all work financially. Jamie is the son of a millionaire restauranteur trying to fit the mold his parents have designed while also chasing his own passions...which doesn't work. All three of them are in the pastry section of the course. For Ethan who's a natural cook that can throw anything together, pastries are awful. He doesn't cook with recipes...he cooks with intuition...something that doesn't work when baking.
Claire and Jamie are partners in the course and come up with a plan to help Ethan to keep him from failing out...whether he wants it or not...and he really doesn't. And they all become friends which ultimately leads to more for Jamie and Ethan.
This is a book about two men on the cusp of really starting their lives. For Jamie especially, he's discovering who he is and who he can become. Both men are extremely talented and their romance was beautiful to read. But it's not without it's trauma. Jamie's parents don't know he's gay and in the end, both men really need the scholarship that they are competing for. And regardless of who wins it, it means 6 months in Paris for the winner...apart. So really...no one wins.
There is a lot of drama and a lot of ups and downs, but the book was a great read and very entertaining. Ethan is tattooed, brash, and in your face. Jamie is more refined and reserved, but the two of them are magic together. I also really enjoyed the addition of Claire to the story. She gives them both an in-your-face honest perspective when they get too caught up in their own emotional drama to see what is really going on between them. I just really liked it. The culinary school setting was great and interesting. I enjoy foodie books and this one excelled at that side of it. The fact that the men are having to work together while at the same time, compete, made for really good drama.
Stop reading here if you don't want a slight spoiler...
The epilogue was heartbreaking. Even more so because book #2 comes out next month and the story description gives a huge spoiler for what happens in the time period between the two books. I shed tears at the end and hope for happier days to come between Ethan and Jamie. I love them!
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.