After reading and enjoying Can't Stand the Heat, Louisa Edwards debut novel, I had high expectations for On the Steamy Side. Unfortunately, although tAfter reading and enjoying Can't Stand the Heat, Louisa Edwards debut novel, I had high expectations for On the Steamy Side. Unfortunately, although there were many good aspects to this novel, including the hero, there were aspects that weren't... like the heroine.
The hero in On the Steamy Side is Devon, a self-made millionaire who's a celebrity TV chef with his own show. His TV personality is not unlike our very own Gordon Ramsey - he shouts, he swears and he definitely plays up to the camera! But underneath there's conflict bubbling, inner torment and self-doubt. Devon is not who he seems to be on the outside and most of who he has become is down to his father and their very strained relationship.
At the beginning of the novel we are given a prologue which shows Devon at a much younger age having to deal with an uncaring, unloving father who lavishes his pride on his brother, Connor. This reveals to me all the reasons for Devon's issues of needing to be in control, perfectionism and 'has to be the best' attitude. It was hard for me not to be drawn to Devon.
However, the same can't be said for Lilah Jane, the heroine. Lilah is an over zealous, interfering busy-body. I can completely understand Devon's rage at her meddling with his family's problems, especially only after knowing each other for just a day! Some of the decisions Lilah makes are ludicrous, especially with Tucker, Devon's son, and she comes across as very self-righteous, complaining to Devon about his decisions in life and disagreeing with most of them.
I agree Devon has made some pretty bad choices, but it takes time to build bridges. Lilah's naivety in these matters were quite irritating and I had to grit my teeth through quite a few passages. It seems Lilah's only fault is not taking enough risks in life, which is why she moved to New York City from Virginia. At their first meeting I really liked Lilah's fiery side, but it turned into either that of a petulant, spoilt child or a strict school mistress telling off a child - either way none were particularly appealing or attractive.
The actual romance between Devon and Lilah was somewhat tainted by my constant eye-rolling at Lilah's holier-than-thou attitude, but there were moments of tenderness and moments of heat. The love scenes were fairly tame, with only one being fairly graphic early on in the book, but as usual they were written well. Over time Devon learns to trust Lilah and begins to show his true self.
Apart from Lilah, there are many great characters. Some we meet again, having first meet them in Can't Stand the Heat. My favourite has to be Frankie. Edwards has really captured the Britishness of his character and I always knew it was him when the view point changed. His foul-mouthed use of the English language is exactly how I imagine a London chef to be like. I also enjoyed his relationship with Jess. Being in a gay relationship is no different than a heterosexual one, there's just as much self-doubt and insecurity going on and Frankie just melts my heart. I hope his character continues in future books as I would love to find out what happens to him.
Notable Quotes: "The corn had a caramelised flavour from the grill, and the tender, firm kernels popped in her mouth. Swathed in tangy, spicy mayo with a good citrus kick, one of Lilah's most familiar flavours of summer, sweet corn, turned into her newest addiction."
"She closed her eyes, the better to savour the way the cool, buttery avocado cut the smoky spice of the moist chicken, and when she opened them, Devon was gazing directly at her, a heat that had nothing to do with the spicy food in his stare." Verdict:
Louisa Edwards is very talented at bringing her characters to life. She's also fantastic at describing food and recipes that have your mouth watering and making you wish that some gorgeous man would come and make you dinner right there and then!
Although there were aspects to On the Steamy Side that just didn't gel with me, it was, for the most part, a fun read and certainly hasn't put me off trying Edwards next novel in the 'Recipe for Love' series, Just One Taste. It's just a shame I couldn't connect with the heroine this time round. ...more