Title: A Cut Above the Rest (Appetite #1)
Author: Talya Andor
Cover Artist: Aisha Akeju
Buy Link: Publisher, Amazon
Length: 42,000 words
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: A dream come true for me, an exquisite melding of foodie perfection along with an MM romance.
Alex always had it easy growing up, indulged by loving, but busy parents as he flitted from one interest to another without settling. Then he discovered the world of fine dining and became determined to be a chef capable of producing such magnificent meals. Despite the doubts of a father who limited his funds, and the difficulties of leaving Germany to live in the United States, Alex stuck to his new goal and graduated the Culinary Institute of America.
Fresh out of school, he is eager to begin work at the restaurant owned by a good friend of his father’s, a restaurant well known for the beautiful, innovative meals its chefs create. He is primed to join the ranks of those masterful chefs—until the day he starts, and learns that he is nothing more than kitchen lackey, lower in rank than even the dishwashers.
Worse, his boss is none other than Nik, the beautiful, infuriating, highly talented classmate that Alex could never best—or resist.
Everything I ever dreamed of has come to life in one book. I am in love! I have literally been dreaming about this book and craving the next one like you wouldn’t believe.
First of all, you have to understand that I am passionate about food. I also have a slight obsession with the show Top Chef. I’ve seen every episode from every season of both the USA and Canadian versions. When a book comes out which can indulge my love for MM romance, as well as give me culinary porn, it’s a dream come true. I promise you, I’m not using the term culinary porn lightly either. The first chapter is entirely devoted to Alex eating a meal. You get to experience every step of the meal, from the initial feel of the restaurant through each course’s artistic presentation and then delving into its mouth-feel and flavor combination. Admittedly, even I found it a bit strange at first, but it didn’t take long for me to be fully immersed in everything I was reading. I knew I was in for something special.
Alex and Nik have been rivals ever since culinary school. There has always been an underlying attraction, but it has been overshadowed by their constant competition with each other to be the best. The tension between Alex and Nik is tangible. It’s very rare for me to cross the line which separates sympathizing with the characters from actually feeling their emotions. I was way over that line with this book. I felt the angst, humiliation, and confusion Alex experienced as he began his first job as a fine dining chef. The humbling experience of having his pride and confidence stripped away, and then having it slowly rebuilt with each small achievement or nod of approval was utter perfection. I was able to share in every step of the experience, and I loved it.
All the while Alex is striving to prove his worth as a chef, there is a romance brewing under the surface. An initial attraction had been there all along, but their rivalry and derision in culinary school killed any notions of acting upon it. In the professional environment, the underlying attraction increases and the possibility of a romance slowly builds until it hits the point where you know something is finally going to happen. The build up of that anticipation was fantastic. It would have been perfect, if only it hadn’t ended with a “To be continued…” 🙁 I couldn’t be too upset about the cliffhanger ending though, because I loved everything else leading up to that point.
Despite my love for it, I wouldn’t recommend A Cut Above the Rest to everyone. It definitely needs a reader who is more than a touch on the foodie side. If that’s you, then you have got to read this book. It is amazing!