Title: Prep Work
Author: P.D. Singer
Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 50 PDF pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Review Summary: A well written short story with two characters who were opposites but found common ground in food.
Celebrity chef Jude Marshall’s ditched his camera crew for the first time in a month—he’s been eating his way through local cuisines on several continents for his television show. No spider-on-a-stick this trip, thank God. Jude’s exhausted; all he wants on his London layover is a pint of beer and some comfort food. Stumbling into a gastro-pub, Jude instead finds haute cuisine, his grumbles bring him face to face with chef—and fan—Tommy Bell.
When Jude steps into the kitchen to autograph Tommy’s copy of his cookbook, he finds himself lending a hand, and discovers it’s possible to tenderize a hardened heart.
Jude had a job most people would kill for. He had his own show as a chef on television with all of the supposed perks, except it wasn’t exactly the kind of job most t.v. chefs would take. He was on a second rate show, and the food he ate for the sake of ratings was stomach churning local “delicacies” all over the world that would make anyone give up food for good. He used to have his own restaurant but that closed three years ago, and he even wrote a cookbook, but everything turned sour and here he was, on a low budget show that depended on gimmicks to bring in viewers.
Jude and his small crew were in London for a one night layover until they could make their connections to return to the US. All he wanted was some plain food he could recognize and a beer, which was how he found Tommy’s pub. But the food did not look plain enough to him and at first he was disappointed …. until he tasted it. The chef, Tommy, showed up to ask what the problem was – one look at Tommy and Jude was no longer thinking about the food. As for Tommy he recognized Jude and he was a bit star struck, and not surprisingly Jude ended up in the kitchen helping himself to the chef in addition to helping out with the day’s specials.
Tommy and Jude were complete opposites and that worked here. Jude was the world weary has-been restaurateur/writer now television “celebrity,” and Tommy was the local chef/owner of a pub for 4 years who had never been anywhere, was in awe of Jude and a fan of his cooking expertise. He loved Jude’s recipes and his cook book was a much prized treasure but he had to learn to differentiate between Jude the celebrity and the person, before he lost his fanboi awe and gave himself the credit he deserved.
At 42 Jude was very aware of his own flaws and shortcomings and didn’t take his minor celebrity status seriously. He downplayed all the b.s. in the publicity material sent out by his handlers, (this endeared him to me) as evidenced by the way he let his crew push him around. I loved his personality and acerbic tongue but I warn you that his character could turn you off if you love protagonists who are “sweet.”
There’s a lot in the book about dishes and menus and if you love food, as apparently P.D. Singer does, this book will appeal to your culinary appetites and taste buds. Cooking with Jude and Tommy was very funny as they poked fun at soups and different items on the menu and Jude showed Tommy, who was self taught, a few short cuts to a well prepared dish. They felt each other out while working up to the next stage of their attraction, their own main course.
I like the writing which was fresh in addition to being funny and I loved the food metaphors relating to sex. 🙂 For example:
“I’m a small, round candy with a hole in the middle?” Did they have those candies here?
He looked confused, but went with the words, not the sense. “Oh, I’m sure there’s a hole on you somewhere.” He leaned his shoulder against me.
My rate of washing dropped to zero. “It’s even been licked once or twice.” I leaned back. “I’m not at all cherry-flavored.”
“I had to give myself a little appetizer, taking him in my arms for the first kiss of the night.
Stiff at first, he relaxed against me, melting like butter too close to the stove …”
The butter and herbs that had glazed the filet clung to his hair, faint traces of the spicy tomato-based sauce for the eggplant wafted from his skin, and I tried to devour them all.
The terminology was very British e.g. “wellies” instead of condoms and a lot of the references throughout the book were not US based, which gave the story authenticity.
Marcie and Sam, Jude’s sex crazed bossy crew members, probably personified the usual cocky television or music roadies and played him every which way they could all the way to the airport until he grew a pair and showed how snarky he could be.
Prep Work was great fun and there was a lot of content for such a short book, in terms of both prose and dialogue. The characters were three dimensional and the story was well plotted even though it took place in just 24 hours. I hope you will like it as much as I did.