A Taste of Love (Taste of Love #1)

Title: A Taste of Love (Taste of Love #1)
Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel (187 PDF pages)
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn

One Sentence Review: Though not without a few issues for me, a nice read involving family and food.

THE BLURB

The lunch rush at Darryl Hansen’s restaurant, Café Belgie, is getting to be too much for one man to handle, and Billy Weaver is a young man in search of a job—any job—to support his family. Billy gains Darryl’s respect with his earnest nature and willingness to work hard, but Billy’s admiring looks resurrect pain and shame from Darryl’s past.

Until Darryl stumbles across Billy’s secret, Billy is suffering in silence: his father died a few months earlier, leaving him struggling to raise his twin five-year-old brothers. Darryl takes Billy and the boys to the restaurant, where they’ll stand together to face the smorgasbord of troubles in their future…while Davey, Donnie, and Billy all worm their way into Darryl’s heart.

THE REVIEW

I’m a sucker for stories with kids in them, and as a foodie, tales set in a restaurant will draw me every time. A Taste of Love should have been a winner for me, then, and while I did like the story overall, a few issues prevented it from being such.

Darryl lives alone and owns a thriving restaurant in the small town of Carlisle in south-central Pennsylvania. As the lunch business grows, so does his need for wait staff. Darryl hires the desperate-for-a-job Billy on the spot, and soon learns that his newest server is struggling to support himself and his five-year-old twin brothers after his father has died. Darryl does everything he can to help out and the entire staff at Café Belgie pitches in as well. The men have mutual attraction, and Darryl falls for the kids in addition to beautiful, young Billy, but a situation and its repercussions in Darryl’s past as well as concern over his and Billy’s age difference have him hesitating to make a move. Both taking a chance, they decide to give it a try for making a family. When a crisis arises with the boys that threatens all of their futures together, they must unite and be strong to get through it.

What worked for me:

My favorite parts were, not surprising, at the restaurant. I loved reading about making food, trying new dishes, providing late lunches for the entire staff (which is really family) and so on. It fondly reminded me of when I worked as a server in a small, family-run Chinese restaurant, and at the end of the day, all sitting down for a late supper after the last customer had gone.

I thought all of the characters were likeable and believable, if not slightly under-developed. I really liked watching Darryl take control of the situation and the generosity he showed with Billy and the kids, welcoming them into the restaurant, his home, his life and heart. I enjoyed watching the scenes with the kids, and while at times I thought they came across as younger than five-years-old, I thought they were really the central part of the story.

I liked that Grey did not take the easy way out when the situation with the twins came up, and, while a teensy bit saccharine at the end, I thought it was all handled very well. I even shed a tear or two. And despite the nature of the situation, it never fell into over-the-top angsty melodrama, which I really appreciated.

What didn’t:

My biggest issue was that I didn’t feel Darryl and Billy as a romantic, passionate couple. I could see them as parents — as I said above, I loved how they were with the kids — but that’s it. Much of the time, they felt a bit stiff to me. I think part of that is we see a lot of interaction with the kids, but not between Billy and Darryl on their own outside of the smexxin and as such there was telling instead of showing of them together. Regarding the smexxin, I thought there were a touch too many in the second half, and found myself skimming them.

The thing with Darryl and the traumatic event from his past seemed to resolve itself unrealistically for me. Here is someone who we’re told has been emotionally effected for over a decade because of what happened, and with one strange phone conversation with his parents, it’s over and instantaneously all is better. Plus, their reaction and the scene itself were just odd to me: (paraphrasing here) his mom cries and says “We should never have listened to them and they were wrong, the bastards,” and his dad says “Yeah, and since no one talked about it for a long time we thought you forgot about it” and Darryl is like “Really? So everything’s cool? That’s great!” and moves on.

Billy seemed younger than his twenty-one years, and had I not known, I would have guessed he was in his mid- to late-teens. In addition to being innocent and naïve, he seemed to lack the maturity I would have expected at that age, especially for someone who has essentially raised his brothers for the last five years.

OVERALL

Though not without a few issues for me, A Taste of Love is a nice read involving family and food. Fans of the author as well as those who like kids and/or food in your stories will probably like it fine.

9 comments

  • I really loved this story, and only now that you mention some of the resolutions do I remember them, and see that you’re correct (at least, the only one that bothers me is how Darryl’s past was resolved, the other things you mentioned didn’t bother me). I read this as a reader without the critical eye of a reviewer, since it was before I started reviewing, so all of what you said makes a lot of sense. I’m glad, though, that these things didn’t bother me at the time 🙂

    Reply
  • Personally, I really liked this story, in general.

    I can only hope Andrew isn’t reading this because I don’t want to upset him, but I thought the resolution with the kids was a little too… facile, maybe?

    Still, I enjoyed the read, overall (I was a chef for 20 years, off and on), and I wouldn’t mind reading more about this pair and their life after the end of this story. 🙂

    ~Tis

    Reply
  • Hi Lynn
    I’m sorry this didn’t work for you as well as the Table for 2 series is working for me. I really hoped that you would like A Taste of Love because I know how much you love everything to do with food and food prep. It’s too bad about the characters. Also, those two situatiuons that seemed to resolve themselves like magic? That would make me mad.

    I can understand your issues with this story even though I haven’t read it but I’ll put it on the TBR because, like you I love stories that have to do with food. 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi Lynn! Well written review.

    I had a different take on the book. Darryl and Billy worked for me. I didn’t find Billy immature at all! I am around this age group quite a bit, in my home and as co-workers. At work they are professional and self-contained. In a social setting where they feel comfortable and accepted, I find they are more emotional and erratic. Based on my experience I assumed that Billy was exhibitting trust in his relationship with Darryl when he allowed his insecurities to show. He certainly showed his maturity at the end of the book through his self sacrifice.

    I found the pace and tone of the book similar to the author’s other books. They are not adrenaline driven stories, but well written stories of hope and life.

    I loved the glimpse into restaurant life!

    Thanks for the review and how clearly you are able to express the how’s and why’s.
    🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Reggie. Thanks for chiming in. I knew my issue with them as a couple would not be for others, as you state with such clarity. I love how all of us readers are so different, and works for one will not for another.

      Reply
  • I found it and enjoyable reading even if sometimes it felt something was missing, maybe the spark between them you point out. Reading your views I think I will actually re-read it.
    Thank you for your review 🙂

    Reply
    • Good morning Helena. I thought it was enjoyable overall as well. Let us know after you re-read it if you feel differently in any way.

      Reply
  • Great review Aunt Lynn.
    I agree with you on the Darryl past issue. I did seem strange, especially when the other party involved showed up and we find out what actually happened. I did expect a bit some conflict or a big confrontation but that never happened.
    But I have to say that, for me at least Darryl and Billy did work. I see what you mean them being sometimes awkward as a couple but I chalked that up to Darryl’s past issues so it didn’t bother me.
    What bothered me the most was when the thing with Billy’s brothers happened. (Don’t want to give a spoiler but those who’ve read the book know what I’m referring to.) Especially since the family theme prompted me to buy the book in the first place.
    As you’ve said in the review both Darryl and Billy were great with the kids so that part was sad and I wish it didn’t happen. On the other hand it did end in the best way possible with regards to Darryl and Billy considering the situation, so that redeemed the ending to a happy one.
    Overall though I enjoyed reading the book. It was a nice and not overly angsty story.

    Reply
    • Hi Eva, and thanks for commenting. I knew there would be those for which Billy and Darryl worked, so I am not surprised you say that.

      Regarding the situation with the twins, I admit being surprised it went the way it did, but like you, I think it ended as well as possible. I also understand there will be a sequel sometime this spring, so we can see where it goes from there.

      Reply

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