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May the best chef win…

After four years at the country’s top culinary school and several years as head chef in her mother’s restaurant, Rowan Townsend has built a notable reputation. Her farm-to-table collard greens have long been bringing everyone to the yard, but limits on the restaurant’s size have led to long waits. Looking to expand the restaurant, she enters a televised chef competition. The problem? Her infuriatingly-talented nemesis from culinary school also enters.

To the culinary world, Knox Everheart is restaurant royalty. As much as Rowan wants to deny it, he’s a gifted chef. Rowan knows her arrogant arch-nemesis is confident he’ll win—he’s certainly given her a run for her money more times than she’d like to admit. But this time, she’s ready to show him who’s boss.

Their rivalry soon sparks fireworks in the kitchen and, as the competition heats up, so does Rowan’s attraction to Knox. And somewhere between pasta and gumbo, they both need to decide what’s worth fighting for.

318 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 8, 2021

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About the author

Kelly Cain is a native Northern Californian but has spent the last couple of decades in Texas, currently residing in the live music capital of the world, Austin. Consequently, most of her books are set somewhere between those two locations.

Kelly writes multicultural romance with determined women directing their own fates, and the swoon-worthy men who adore them. She loves reading most genres but please don’t ask her to pick just one. However, she can pick her favorite book boyfriend – Will Herondale.

When she isn’t reading or writing, Kelly is most likely using a genealogy site to research her extended family, both old and new. Or cooking/baking something delightful.

She has two adult daughters, and a new granddaughter.

Be sure to follow her on BookBub at bookbub.com/authors/kelly-cain or click the big BB below.

She is represented by Amy Brewer at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 108 reviews
Profile Image for kim.
478 reviews42 followers
May 19, 2022
I always love cute yet deceptive cartoon cover, and books that include mouthwatering recipes and food descriptions. This was a quick read but, honestly, its not memorable for me whatsoever. I’m writing this review as I finished the book and can’t tell you much except a Baked Alaska catastrophe. I was mostly skimming it by the end.

I would’ve loved for this book to have been a dual POV for mostly Knox reasons. He felt very one-dimensional to me solely because I was only getting him from Rowan’s POV and she loathed him for some reason. I think this book would’ve been a cooler rivals-to-lovers if it took place during their culinary school year.

The pacing was bad which made the buildup towards their chemistry weird. It felt like I blinked and she suddenly loved him (again, for some reason). Also, I was falling asleep by the ending, whoops.
Profile Image for Sarah Louise.
778 reviews348 followers
June 25, 2021
Centered around a televised cooking competition, this was a romance for a food-loving heart. Rowan and Knox have been rivals since their days in culinary school. In hopes of expanding her family restaurant to benefit their growing customer base, Rowan is determined to outshine Knox in order to win the grand prize of a new location.

Filled with snarky banter, I really enjoyed the heated tension between Rowan and Knox. It's a classic enemies-to-lovers romance that also touched on family pressure and following your dreams. As you can imagine with a food competition setting, there were plenty of delicious descriptions. And as an added bonus, each chapter was separated by a recipe! Migas Tacos, I'll certainly be trying you.

While this was a great slow burn, I did find the actual switch from enemies to lovers abrupt. I would have preferred to see that transition unfold a little more slowly and less out of the blue. But overall, this was a fun read and I'll definitely be picking up book two when it releases!
Profile Image for Kelsey McKnight.
Author 21 books150 followers
June 23, 2021
Rowan has a passion for soul food and wants to see her family restaurant thrive. But she also longs to spread her wings and strike out on her own so she can finally update the menu her mother will never let her alter. She thinks it’s all a pipe dream until she learns about a cooking competition show that offers the prize of a lifetime.

Knox is the one person who knows how to wind Rowan up with just one look, and she hates him for it. Their rivalry began when he was nothing more than the spoiled rich kid at culinary school and only gets worse when he also signs up to be on TV. He’s annoying, headstrong, cocky, and worst of all, ridiculously handsome.

While worrying about her mom’s health, her brother’s engagement, and the course of her own life, Rowan now has to worry about what being in close quarters with Knox will bring. Because she knows what happens when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen.

Never before have I read a romance novel that left me famished in more ways than one. Cain pared a spicy, enemies to lovers slow burn with a collection of recipes that had me looking up the nearest soul food restaurant. Really though, the added touch of a recipe, both real ones and a few a little more tongue in cheek, at the end of each chapter made this book half romance and half cookbook. Now that I’m down the story part, I want to try more than one of Rowan’s recipes.

Rowan and Knox had the sort of deep seeded rivalry that made you feel the tension from the first page. While Rowan can throw the sarcastic zingers, Knox can send them right back. They know how to push each other’s buttons, which adds another layer to their love/hate. Their relationship had a wonderful arc that was just as satisfying as Rowan’s recipes.

Overall, I would recommend this book to all readers who want a side of sarcasm with their romantic main course.
Profile Image for Thelibrarythief.
167 reviews13 followers
June 6, 2022


thank me later

y’all can thank me but as if right now for me i’m going to thank the author

THANK YOU KELLY CAIN! i couldn’t put your book down

5/5 stars

if you follow me/are my friend in here PLEASE read this book! i’d love to hear your thoughts 💓💗💓

tw: mention of slight racist comments, sick (not dying) parent
Profile Image for Barbara Kellyn.
Author 7 books71 followers
February 22, 2021
If you’re a fan of Food Network-style competitions like me, you’ll love Kelly Cain’s delicious new romance An Acquired Taste. Two culinary dynasties led by rival hot shot chefs go head to head on a high stakes TV reality show. The author peppers each chapter with clever recipes (who knew Fried Spaghetti was a thing?) as our heroine, Rowan Townsend, squares off against her cooking school arch-enemy, Knox Everheart, for the big prize: a new restaurant! Family drama and TV show tensions turn up the heat, while the simmering enemies-to-lovers romance will have you hungry for more.
Profile Image for K. Sterling.
Author 87 books369 followers
March 11, 2021
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this! She had me at Recipe For An Asshat Boy which is on page 1 and she didn’t let me down. Kelly Cain kept me drooling throughout the entire book. There are recipes at the start of nearly every chapter and I so appreciate that because Kelly wove food and family tradition into both characters’ backstories and motivations so brilliantly that it was almost torture. I wanted to jump up and see if I had everything to make a shrimp Louie salad or OH MY GOD Sweet Potato Pie. And there’s more! Come for the recipes but stay for the intense cooking competition action and the sexual tension! I really enjoyed following along as Rowan, her mother and her brother, Wyatt, face off against Rowan’s nearly lifelong nemesis, Knox Everheart, in a Food Network type cooking competition. The sparks fly, there’s lots of spice and Rowan’s salty enough to season a whole banquet when she goes toe-to-toe with Knox but it was so sweet when they finally got to cooking. In the bedroom. Kelly kept them simmering through most of the book until I was salivating and yelling at my Kindle but she didn’t leave me disappointed! Rowan and Knox turn up the heat and Kelly will have you swooning as she stirs up the family drama and the rivalry between these two determined chefs. I recommend this so, so yummy love story enthusiastically and I can’t wait to read about the rest of the Everheart Brothers!
Profile Image for Heather Adores Books.
747 reviews216 followers
November 29, 2021
Fun and flirty with a dash of sassafras. I love watching cooking competitions, so I was excited for this one and it did not disappoint. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Lily Mordaunt.
Author 1 book10 followers
June 12, 2021
Just Under 4 Stars

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this book: how much cooking we got to experience, the recipes I’m definitely going to try (and the less serious, person based recipes), the side characters and connection between Rowan and Knox. But there were also aspects to that relationship that I didn’t love.
Rowan and Knox met at culinary school. Their connection seemed to be immediate and mutual until Rowan found out who Knox’s family was.. Attraction quickly soured and turned to hate and competition... well, for Rowan. And Knox’s actions over the years only served to cement the feeling further. Yet, once the characters start to, reluctantly, grow closer, a lot of misconceptions come to light and the book goes from enemies to almost insta-love. There’s something Rowan overheard Knox saying at school that plagued her for years, but is, I felt, too easily swept under the rug once they get together. There is mention of groveling, but it happens off-page, so it was hard for me to believe.
With all of that said though, I did actually enjoy them together. And the back-and-forth once they graduated to actually communicating. I also enjoyed the side characters and am excited to read a book about Weston, one of Knox’s brothers. The other one did not make as great an impression on me.
Rowan’s relationship with her mother was great and frustratingly realistic. But I liked what we saw of her friend Sue and brother Wyatt. Though Wyatt did not always come off as particularly fully fleshed out. He felt realistic but I sometimes felt like we were told more than shown many of his traits. With that said, it seems as though Rowan has a tendency to not look too closely at situations, alternately deciding that her way was the right way or bowing to her mother’s dream. The former could explain why she never tried with Wyatt and his girlfriend, or constantly reminded us of his accounting degree. This was the reality she wanted for herself. Knox’s father was also a piece of work, but he felt realistic in his entitled rich man ways.
Rowan and Knox are also an interracial couple though we get more details about Knox’s family background than I can remember about Rowan, however I really enjoyed reading about her hair prep. It’s so small, but I always appreciate moments like it when I’m reading a book that’s not strictly marketed as black romance. I also enjoyed the moment when Knox, and the other white folk were wearing shorts while Rowan’s wearing long pants. It was a moment that made me chuckle as I could completely relate. The weather conditions weren’t this extreme, as the book takes place in Texas, but I remember a day, when the weather was around 18 degrees, when a friend of mine came to school in shorts. And he wasn’t the only one!
Finally, and least relevant to the book. Even had I not enjoyed this book—despite my criticisms—or Knox’s brother, Weston, I would still plan on giving this author’s work another try as I was pleasantly surprised by her book boyfriend in the “about” section.
I’d recommend this one if you like cooking and food shows. The romantic angst also never felt too over the top. Oh, also, Knox‘s nickname for Rowan was cute.
June 9, 2021
I’m not necessarily a fan of enemies-to-lovers romances. The author has to walk a fine line of making the characters dislike each other. While at the same time, have readers like each character enough to want to see them get together. Kelly Cain did an amazing job of accomplishing both with An Acquired Taste.

An Acquired Taste is the first book in Kelly’s The Everheart Brothers of Texas series. The story is an enemies-to-lovers romance that takes ten years to come to a boil. Rowan Townsend and Knox Everheart have known each other since their very first day in culinary school. Yet, their families go back to when their parents were kids. Knox and Rowan were nice to each other and actually liked each other until they found out who the other was. For four years, they competed against each other and tried to one-up each other in school pranks. While they graduated from one of the top culinary schools in the country, they each now find themselves having spent the past six years working in their parents’ restaurants, doing things their parents’ ways, with no chance to really put their education to use.

Knox is the head chef and heir apparent to his father’s restaurant, Everheart Bar and Fine Dining. Knox is creative and a whiz at pasta, but the restaurant is more of a steakhouse. Knox wants to open his own restaurant, but his father won’t allow it. Rowan hasn’t really had the opportunity to show what she can truly do. She works as a chef at her mother’s restaurant, Smothered in Love, which serves southern comfort soul food. Her mother rules the restaurant with an iron fist, and in six years has only allowed Rowan to change maybe three things. But the restaurant is extremely successful and is always packed, with a line out the door. The restaurant has outgrown its location. Unfortunately, real estate is high, they don’t own the building, and the landlord refuses to allow them to expand. Knox and Rowan both enter to become contestants on Restaurant Family Feud, a reality food competition where families compete for the grand prize of winning a restaurant anywhere in the US. May the best chef win.

I loved An Acquired Taste beyond words. Rowan and Knox are so fun together. They have this witty banter that keeps the other on their toes. When they actually get together, their passion sizzles. I definitely liked the secondary characters of Declan and Weston, Knox’s older brothers. Kelly added some surprises that I didn’t see coming, making the story unpredictable. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the story being told in first person from Rowan’s POV. However, this actually made it easier to put yourself in her shoes and experience all of her highs and lows. I’m definitely looking forward to more Everheart brothers.

~ Favorite Quotes ~

“Everything about you is special.”

**Received a copy from the author and voluntarily reviewed it.**
Profile Image for Bianca M Schwarz.
Author 7 books100 followers
July 12, 2021
When was the last time you read a book that made you laugh, cry, swoon and so mad, you wanted to give the stubborn heroine a good shake? This book is not just romantic and riveting, it is full of believable characters with real life problems and hang-ups. Couple that with the tension and drama of the coooking competition, some very enjoyable banter and a cast of fabulous supporting characters, and you have one great read. Put simply, An Aquired Taste is the best modern romance I have read in a year.
Profile Image for Stacie.
1,969 reviews191 followers
July 3, 2021
3 1/2 " Sweet Competition" Stars!

This was good but it took a while to get going for me. I liked both Knox and Rowen. But really the best part for me was that each chapter had a recipe at the end. Drool. Happy reading
Profile Image for Shannon Stults.
Author 5 books23 followers
December 3, 2021
A classic enemies-to-lovers in which Rowan and Knox are chefs at rival restaurants and each fighting on a TV cooking competition show for the ultimate prize: a new restaurant anywhere in the US. But as things heat up in the kitchen, so does the undeniable attraction between the two head chefs.

Rowan and Knox's chemistry had me counting down the hours until I could go home and curl up in bed with this baby for the rest of the night. The banter between these two is (chef's kiss) perfection! I can already tell I'm going to be a major fan of the Everheart Brothers. Thank God there's three of them!
Profile Image for Rosie.
1,284 reviews35 followers
June 9, 2021
Two former culinary rivals from the same hometown compete on a Reality Cooking Show for a chance to win their own restaurant. It’s like culinary school all over again as Rowan brings her A Game and Knox game is always on point. Rowan finds out that the past isn’t quite as cut and dry as she believed.

When Knox shows her a side of him she’s never seen before, she doesn’t quite believe he’s being authentic. When events from the past come roaring back to the present she is forced to acknowledge that she got it wrong. Will she have the courage to grab happiness with both hands?
Profile Image for Mia Heintzelman.
Author 24 books191 followers
February 7, 2023
I LOVED this book! Knox and Rowan’s story was enemies to lovers at its best. Food competition, family, and so much foreplay before we get the super satisfying happily ever after we crave. Definitely recommend.
Profile Image for Kelly Cain.
Author 12 books154 followers
October 31, 2021
Book 2, A Tasty Dish, is available for preorder at Books2Read.com/ATastyDish or you can add it to your TBR on Goodreads.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of An Acquired Taste

Recipe for an Asshat Boy

2 cups arrogance
1 cup intensity
3 tbsp impulsiveness
1-1/2 tsp aloofness
Dash of petty

Cream together arrogance and intensity. Slowly add impulsiveness. Mix in aloofness and beat until thoroughly combined. Pour into a square pan and sprinkle with petty. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and remove from oven. Allow an hour to cool.

Yield: one giant asshat named Knox Everheart.


Recipe for disaster.

We haven’t even opened yet, and the line is around the corner. Smothered in Love Restaurant? Pbssht, more like smothered in too many people and not enough kitchen space. Maybe Mama will let me rebrand with the more appropriate name. I shouldn’t complain—this is a good problem to have. Mostly.
I back away from the front window. When I stride back into the kitchen, the four people cooking today are bustling around, careful not to bump into each other in the assembly-line designed kitchen. Counters run the length of two of the walls, with appliances lining the others. Adjacent to the kitchen is a walk-in freezer and a storage room. To accommodate our increase in customers and service, we need twice the space.
The cooks are busy chopping onions, bell pepper, and celery, stirring pots of gumbo and étouffée, and measuring flour, butter, peaches, and various other ingredients for desserts such as sweet potato pie and peach cobbler. The air is thick with Southern comfort food.
Everyone’s busy except Wyatt, who’s leaning against a low counter, shaking his head and chomping on an apple. If my brother is eating instead of chopping, he’s stressed, but I need him to focus. We open in fifteen minutes.
I take my earbuds out, the sound of “You Can't Cook Through A Buffalo Herd” still vibrating around my neck. “What’s your deal?”
He walks right up to me, a frown creasing his thick eyebrows, and now I’m breathing his fruity breath. “I don’t think you made enough greens. Did you see how many people are already here? Sundays are the worst. Especially right after church.”
After stepping back a smidge, I stretch to the five-foot nine height I took after Daddy so that I’m a bit taller than him. He got Mama’s height. “Wyatt Townsend, have you ever known me to not cook enough? I’ve been doing this for over six years. I think I know how to plan meals for this restaurant by now.”
He scoffs, and I say, more insistently, forcing a confidence I do not fully feel, “You just need to go over there and get those green onions chopped before Lillie gets in here and realizes she doesn’t have what she needs to finish her étouffée.”
Invoking Mama’s name does the trick every time. If nothing else, my brother is obedient.
Hannah glances at Wyatt, but only when she doesn’t think I’m looking. She’s called me opinionated and overbearing, but she’s also learned a ton from me. She hasn’t been able to afford culinary school, and I’m happy to mentor her, but her mixing business with pleasure—that pleasure being my brother—doesn’t quite work for me. He just graduated from college and needs to figure out his career path before even thinking about being in a serious relationship. She does seem to genuinely care for him, which is why I haven’t sacked her for insubordination. Okay, mostly she’s still here because she’s dependable and a damn good cook.
I peek into the pot of collard greens, biting the inside of my cheek. Is it enough? I thought so before Wyatt came along. Today I made nearly a fourth more than last week when we’d had just enough. It’ll be plenty… I hope.
Mama comes into the kitchen just as I balance the lid half on the pot. “Smells good, Rowan.”
Collard greens cooking never smell good.
“Thanks, Mama.” The swelling at her elbows is noticeable, but I know enough not to mention it.
“Those collards have all those people lined up out there, you know that don’t you?” She reaches up to pat my cheek, a sparkle in her hazel eyes, but the pain is lurking just beneath.
I grab her hand and hold it against my face, closing my eyes. When I open them, she smiles and takes her hand back without another word. She shuffles over to the counter where Wyatt is set on his task, concentrating on his knife movement, but keeping a protective eye on our mother.
Mama pats him on his arm. “You can leave those a little bigger if you want.”
“Okay, Mama.”
She looks around the kitchen and nods at each person in turn. “I better get out front and make sure everything is ready to open. Darlene called in sick earlier, but thankfully Leonard was able to come in. Looks like we’ll need all six waitstaff scheduled today.” Before she walks through the kitchen door into the dining room, she bends to rub her knees. “Wyatt, how’s that new bartender working out?” She’s through the door before he has a chance to answer. I imagine in her mind, her question distracted us enough to not notice what she was trying to cover up.
Wyatt frowns. “Does she think we can’t see she’s in pain?”
I turn back to the stove and stir her étouffée, taking a moment to gather myself. Wyatt’s younger than me by five years, and although technically a grown man, there’s only the two of us. I still have the need to be the stronger one and take care of him. “She must not be taking all her steroids.” Sometimes she cuts them in half. I’ve seen them in the bottle split in two. She’s known others with lupus who’ve had to get knee or hip replacements in their thirties. At almost fifty, that’s got to be on her mind. She only got the diagnosis less than two years ago, and it’s been a difficult adjustment for us all.
Hannah walks her petite self over to Wyatt and rubs his shoulders, her rosy-porcelain hand a contrast to Wyatt’s russet-brown neck. I roll my eyes and turn back to the stove. “He’s fine, Hannah.” She may be a great cook, but I’m still not convinced about this girlfriend business.
She ignores me and continues comforting my brother. Which is fine, but I do know she better wash her hands before she goes back to cooking.


Mondays mean Smothered in Love is closed and I can relax without worrying what’s going on there without me unlike on my scheduled days off. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, there’s no rest for the weary, so I still end up driving to downtown Austin to pick up some new plants for our garden behind the restaurant. I’ve been keeping an eye out at the nursery closer to home in Round Rock, but they haven’t had the okra plants I’ve been looking for.
I’m blasting the latest School of the Eighteen Horse album through my Bluetooth when I turn onto Red River, and the Everheart Bar and Fine Dining sign practically slaps me in the face. God, why did I come this way? Fucking Everhearts. Must I be reminded of their wealth and privilege at every turn?
I zoom past and cross under the freeway, pulling into the nursery parking lot just east of downtown. This place is occupying some prime real estate. I’m surprised they haven’t been gentrified out of this part of town yet. Lord knows people are doing their best out our way.
This time of year has lots of folks out in the balmy days of spring, the smell of fresh flowers flowing freely through the air. I pass some healthy-looking juvenile lemon trees and bend to rub the leaves, inhaling the heady citrus smell. Lillie Townsend would kill me if I brought home another lemon tree. They’re my weakness. When I straighten, a long shadow passes over me and I jump a bit.
“Hey there, Rowan. I thought that was you.”
Ugh, an Everheart. At least it’s the okay one. I fix my face before looking up. He’s the tallest one too, although they’re all vertically blessed. Not the only thing they’ve been blessed with. They’ve got good looks in spades, dirty bastards. Something I can begrudgingly admit while looking at the nice one I haven’t seen in some years. Thank goodness he’s alone. “Hi, Weston. What’s shaking?”
“Oh, nothing much. We’re just looking for some herbs my dad wanted us to pick up.”
We. Us. Crap! “Oh okay. I’m looking for some plants too.” Real sharp, Rowan. You’re in a frickin’ nursery. “I mean there’s some okra plants I want for our garden.” As nonchalantly as I can, I peek around him, looking to see who makes us we. No way am I asking him.
He frowns, pulling his eyebrows together, placing his hands on his hips. “I don’t think I’ve had okra. I’ve definitely never cooked with it?” He puts a question mark on the end of his sentence even though he isn’t actually asking a question. An irritating habit of his I thankfully only had to endure sparingly over the four years I spent with his brother in culinary school. If that was all I’d had to endure from the Everhearts…
“Considering you’re a pastry chef, I wouldn’t imagine you have.” I smirk and glance at my Fitbit for the time, hoping to move along before another less-savory Everheart shows up.
“That’s a good point. Definitely more up Knox’s alley.”
“What’s up my alley?”
And there he is. Knox Asshat Everheart, fresh out of the oven, ready to eat. Fucker.
Why couldn’t it have been obstinate Declan? I would’ve even settled for the old man with his prickly self even though I see enough of him at quarterly culinary school alumni meetings.
Knox looks at his brother and asks again, “What’s up my alley? My ears were burning.” He crumples the bag of potato chips he was eating and pulls out a stick of gum. For such a talented chef, I don’t understand how his palate can tolerate so much junk food. All during college, it was either packaged donuts, candy bars, chips, or whatever else he could get his hands on from the vending machines.
Weston hesitates, placing his hands in the pockets of his chino shorts. “You guys aren’t going to fight, are you?”
I laugh and turn toward the seasonal vegetable plants. “Not even worth my time, Weston. See ya.” Before I walk away, Knox’s eye color doesn’t escape me. Aqua. He’s in a social mood, not angry. Weston needn’t have bothered worrying.
I make it about five steps before Knox’s heavy footfalls mask mine. “I think you dropped something.”
I turn in time to see him pull a star-shaped ornament out of the pocket of his khaki shorts. A Michelin star. My face falls in spite of myself.
He grins. “Oh wait, sorry. This is mine.” His eyes have turned cornflower blue. Knox is petty as fuck.
My icy voice forms a retort. “It’s your dad’s, and if you ever make head chef, he won’t have that for very long.”
He shrugs and puts the symbol back in his pocket. “Come on, Amber, I’m only kidding around.”
Through tight lips, I barely grunt out, “Stop calling me that.”
Knox isn’t usually a close-talker like my brother, but he saunters right up to me and stops, stance wide, and bends his six-foot-two frame over so our faces are aligned. The smell of his gum climbs up my nose.
I don’t even flinch. Or take another breath.
“Let’s be friends. Put everything behind us.”
The sincerity in his voice doesn’t matter to me. “The day I become your friend, Knox Everheart, will be the day I’ve lost the last bit of my mind.” I arch my eyebrows, daring him to come with the snark.
Instead, he stands tall, pushing his sturdy chest out. “That’s a shame, Amber.” He winks and reverses course, heading back to his brother.
And just like that, Knox Everheart has ruined my day off, just like he ruined my entire college career.

I got these babies in the mail this weekend. Personalized and signed, and am so looking forward to the 10 Goodreads winners receiving them.

Profile Image for Sue.
1,122 reviews13 followers
June 10, 2021
I received a copy of An Acquired Taste by Kelly Cain from Tule Publishing Co. in exchange for an honest review. This enemies to friends is the first book in the series about the Everheart brothers. Book one is Knox Everheart’s story. The father of the Everheart family is a Michelin star chef with an upscale restaurant in Austin, Texas. The brothers all work at the restaurant with him. Knox is a graduate of a culinary school in California.

Rowan Townsend is also a graduate of the same culinary school as Knox. The two of them were enemies at school, playing pranks on each other and trying to sabotage each other’s efforts. Rowan has always believed that Knox’s father bought his spot in school and she resented him for beating her out initially. Then he and his friends were mean to her at the school.

Rowan is head chef for her mother’s soul food restaurant, Smothered in Love, also in Austin. Her brother acts as sous chef and his girlfriend and others work with them. Her mom has health issues that have to be watched but she is still in charge. Rowan wants to include some of her recipes but they are not allowed by her mom as they are too gourmet. Their restaurant needs a larger space as things are too cramped and people are starting to complain about the long waits.

Rowan sees an ad about a family competition on a television show to win a restaurant of their design. She talks it over with her mom and brother and they enter. They end up being one of the families chosen. Rowan knows that the new restaurant will be for her mother, to replace the one that is too small. Another time she hopes it will be her turn to open her own restaurant with her style and menu choices. Knox also entered the contest with his brothers to win his own restaurant as he is not getting along working with his dad. The Everhearts are also selected for the competition. Both families go to California to compete on the television show. The book includes descriptions of the other families in the competition and the dishes they are cooking. Rowan and Knox seem to be very competitive in the kitchen and also have lots of chemistry between them. Reading about the way the contest is set up is interesting. Also, the growing feelings between Knox and Rowan and the glimpses of their past history are quite enjoyable to read.

Kelly Cain included recipes for all the mouthwatering dishes Rowan and her family are cooking. It is a nice addition to the story. I loved the character growth seen in both Rowan and Knox as the book progresses. I enjoyed the introduction to the other Everheart brothers as well as Rowan’s family and friends. I gave this book 5 stars and highly recommend it. I look forward to the next books.
Profile Image for Etta (Chonky Books Review).
906 reviews12 followers
June 8, 2021
An Acquired Taste is the first novel in The Everheart Brothers of Texas series. From the very first page, the reader is introduced to the excellent novel that can be experienced throughout the entire reading experience. The story takes one of my favorite tropes, enemies to lovers, and places it in a cooking competition setting!

The story is told from the perspective of Rowan Townsend who met Knox Everheart while in culinary school. The two of them form a rivalry that continues when the two of them find themselves competing in the same cooking competition. Rowan dreams of opening her own bistro, but circumstances mean that she needs to continue working in her mother’s restaurant. Although she loves being a chef, it is not the same as owning your own place. The competition is her best bet to achieve her dream, but with an extremely talented chef, Knox, as a competitor it will not be an easy attempt at victory.

Their fierce competitive spirits leap off the page as each of them is extremely talented. There is also amazing chemistry between them. Even without the romance aspect, I highly related to the rivalry as no matter how good someone becomes there will always be another talented person to take the spotlight, just like you probably take the spotlight from someone else. This brought me back to my university days where we had field projects going and there was insane competitiveness between myself and two others. In this story, Knox and Rowan share witty banter that was very entertaining and kept a nice lightness to the story.

The cooking itself and the family dynamics add depth to the story. There were many recipes at the start of each chapter and delicious food throughout, so it would not be advisable to read this on an empty stomach. I loved the recipes that were added for humor as they fit very well into the narrative! The family dynamic aspect brought some drama and heart as obstacles are overcome. The story was well balanced as there were serious moments, but they are balanced by many light-hearted moments. The pacing was well-done as the relationship between the two characters is not instant and instead has a natural progression from their enemy status to eventual potential couple. The novel was well-done and left me wanting more, so I definitely will check out the next novel in the series!

**I give a special thank you to Book Sprout and the author, Kelly Cain, for a copy of this entertaining novel to read. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**
1,127 reviews
June 8, 2021
Ms. Cain gives us an unique love story set in the world of competitive cooking. Knox and Rowan (Amber) come from cooking families, both families run restaurants. The families share a complicated history. Knox has two brothers and an extremely controlling father who wants his sons to follow in his illustrious footsteps. Rowan and Knox have a relationship filled with tension and longing. She has hated him or at least she says so since they were rivals in culinary school. Knox’s feelings are not readily clear.....this is my only small problem with the book....we only get Rowan’s point of view. But one of the nicest features of this already amazing book is the recipes! Each chapter starts out with a real or whimsical recipe. I can’t wait to read the other stories in this series! Here's hoping it has dual POVs.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Sandi Ramirez.
1,854 reviews13 followers
June 9, 2021
This is one of the most enjoyable fun and yes yummy books I have read this year. Our author has given us a book that keeps us reading from the start to the end, then we open it back up and use the book as a recipe book because yes we get amazing recipes inside it also. This story is based around two restaurants in Austin, Texas, and the families that run them. Knox and Rowan went to chef "school" together and there was a bit of an issue between them on Rowan's side the entire time. When the two families decide to compete against each other on a tv school things come out that are interesting, to say the least. I really enjoyed reading this book to see what goes on behind the in the kitchens and the also awesome recipes are some I grew up with and I loved from my past. The families have so much alike but then again different and the romance that is underlying. OH be still my heart!
Profile Image for Andrea Wenger.
Author 4 books11 followers
June 5, 2021
Rowan has hated Knox ever since his daddy's money got him into culinary school, while she was waitlisted. When these long-time rivals end up competing on a cooking show, Rowan finally gets the chance to show Knox who's the better chef. Except that she begins to see Knox's gentle, caring side, and it almost makes her forget how much she hates him. As old secrets come to light, she realizes she may have been wrong about everything.

This is a nicely balanced enemies-to-lovers romance. Rowan's journey is gradual—it's not the sort of story where a single kiss changes everything. Complicated family issues stand between her and Knox, and they're not easy to overcome. This book has good tension between the hero and heroine, and I also enjoyed the side characters. Although the book sometimes deals with serious issues, the overall tone is fun and light.

Thanks, Booksprout, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
67 reviews3 followers
June 19, 2021
I bought this as soon as it came out, and was not disappointed. This was a great enemies to lovers romance, very well done. Not to give it away, but there were layers to the relationship that could not be undone by a single conversation.
And recipes!! Pro tip – you’ll want the paperback of this, so that you can file it with your cookbooks after you’ve finished it.
Contemporary interracial romance with rival chefs recently out of culinary school.
Also, great family dynamics – both good and bad. Quick example: is Hannah a friend or foe – it’s a question for a good chunk of the book from Rowan’s POV.
As someone who has lived more than a decade in both the San Francisco Bay Area and the Austin TX area, I loved the local touches, too. I can't wait for more Everheart Brothers!
6,152 reviews20 followers
June 8, 2021
This is the perfect combination of a read not only do you have family dynasty drama but tension from the past between Rowan Townsend and Knox Everheart not only do their families hate one another but these two have squared off against one another since they met at culinary school. But what do they say about love and hate as these two compete for the ultimate prize of a new restaurant on the tv show they also start to fall for one another The addition of recipes throughout the book is a wonderful bonus
Profile Image for Ka-Bee Brown.
325 reviews3 followers
June 10, 2021
Knox and Rowan had issues stemming all the way back to their culinary school days, when she had the impression that she couldn’t beat Knox in the kitchen. But doing the competition things begin to change in her view of Knox, and she believed that she and her family could win against his family. But during the competition names take a turn for the better and she finds out how Knox truly feels about her, and her feelings began to change. Her mother and his father got on my last nerve. Overall it was a very good book. I cannot wait for the other brothers books to come out.
3,133 reviews16 followers
June 14, 2021
I'll warn you, if you're going to read a book that involves a cooking competition, make sure you eat before you start reading! If not the recipes being created will make you hungry and tempt you to make them yourself. '

The story captivates you and holds your attention the minute you start reading. The characters are fun, engaging and you find them easy to get to know with every turn of the page. The attraction and chemistry between the main characters is definite and at times can leap off the pages.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

83 reviews
June 8, 2021
This was my first book by this author and I loved her take on an enemies to lovers romance. Rowan and Know were rivals, fiercely competitive, and both great at their craft - cooking. These two had a lot to work through but the pull towards each other and undeniable chemistry was too much for these two to ignore. I loved reading about both of these characters and the recipes the author featured too. This was a great read and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.
Profile Image for Sierra Burrell.
9 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2023
Really enjoyed this one. The pace was interesting. I found some sections lingered a while but left me hanging once we got to the juicy bits. But that didn’t deter me from the overall story. I understand why some portions have more detail than others. I grew to really like the characters and feel for them during the ups and downs. I was hungry whenever I read the book because so you food was described. It actually motivated me to get back to cooking for myself. That brought me some joy. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Everheart series.
1,035 reviews3 followers
June 8, 2021
Rowan and knox are already rivals, but when they end up against each other in a cookery competition on the TV, who will win? As they star to fall for each other, will they realise that there is more at stake than who wins the competition?

A great read - looking forward to the rest of the series.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a voluntary and honest review.
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