Title: Striking Sparks (The Walker Boys #1)
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: 15th Dec, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary, Enemies to lovers, Dreamspun Desires Series
Page Count : 214
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The stakes are high and the heat is on.
Beau Walker, owner of the Barbecue Shack, needs the help of Jake Parnell, his one-time rival and secret crush, in a televised barbecue competition. Beau is a proud man, but the stakes are high, and smart, sexy Jake is his only hope, even if being around Jake reawakens the attraction he’s fought for years.
Jake left his hometown, determined to build a life somewhere his sexuality wouldn’t hurt his family’s restaurant business—and far away from hunky, obstinate Beau Walker. Then his twin, Josh, is killed, and Jake returns to support his brother’s wife and children. Despite his reservations, he agrees to go head-to-head against Beau on national television. Between stress and grief, as well as pride and determination, only one thing is certain—the heat between Beau and Jake extends well beyond the kitchen.
“Striking Sparks” is based on the “enemies-to-lovers” trope with a backdrop of a cooking competition in the barbecue loving state of Texas.
After a tragic accident which took his twin brother’s life, Jake Parnell is forced to abandon his life in California to come back home and take over the reins of his family restaurant. He now has huge responsibility to support and care for his pregnant sister-in-law and his brother’s two kids. When his teenage crush, long time high-school rival and business rival, Beau Walker approaches him for participating in a televised cooking competition, Jake accepts. Beau and Jake has never seen eye to eye on anything despite of their hidden crushes on each other but when the competition starts, their desires for one another sizzles and burns. Finally after years of resentment and hate, Jake and Beau will find a love that they have been searching for all along.
Jake and Beau’s relationship start very late in the story. Both had resentments due to some harsh words they exchanged a long time ago. Beau thinks himself as a hick, not worthy of Jake whereas Jake thinks that Beau does not like him at all. These misunderstandings slowly resolve as both men spend more time together due to the competition. Beau helps Jake out with his family and even with the competition and Jake realizes that Beau is an honest and honorable man and far more than the angry teenager he had a crush on. They acknowledge their attraction and gradually start a relationship which both had wanted but never hoped for.
On the emotional front this story is very well-written. Jake’s fears, his longings along with his grief were described very nicely and I could really sympathize with him. The story has both Beau and Jake’s POV and it was nice in showing how both felt about each other.
The only thing that I found lacking was the very dry and non-existent chemistry between the MCs. They both had crushes on each other but I didn’t feel any spark between them. Their journey from friends to lovers was not passionate enough to express such a long-awaited crush. This story would have been so much better if the romance front had more heat and if it was initiated earlier in the story.
All in all, this is an ok read with nice and well developed characters. Except for the passion, I enjoyed the plotline.