Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Match Made on Main Street (Briar Creek #2) by Olivia Miles

*** ½

This kitchen isn’t big enough for both of them…

If there’s anything Anna Madison knows, it’s how to turn life’s lemons into a lemonade cocktail served in a vintage glass. So when her beloved Briar Creek café burns down, she sees it as an opportunity to start fresh. But the only kitchen available to her is in the diner down the street—owned by her sinfully sexy ex.

If Anna thinks she can take over his greasy-spoon kitchen with her high-end cuisine, Mark Hastings is about to set her straight fast. Their breakup is his biggest regret—not that he’ll ever admit it to her. Nope, he’d rather show her exactly what she’s been missing. With desire set on a high simmer, their menu is about to get a whole lot spicier… 


If you had the opportunity to read Olivia Miles’ Christmas romance, Mistletoe on Main Street, you may have sensed more than a little bit of sexual tension between Anna Madison and Mark Hastings.  With all that steam rising off the pages, I couldn’t wait to read their story.

Anna and Mark have a history that they have carefully hidden from the rest of people in Briar Creek.  While they were both in culinary school, their longstanding friendship morphed into a summer romance that shook them both.  Anna was all in.  But Mark?  Not so much.  He knew that loving each other that much would only spell disaster for their personal and professional lives.  His father walking out on his family when Mark was a kid proves that he’s right.  So he ended their relationship in a cruel manner that would ensure Anna wouldn’t fight for them.

Fast forward six years.  Mark has taken over his mother’s diner and Anna is running a successful café with a second location attached to her sister’s bookshop.  I the years since their whirlwind romance, Mark and Anna have managed to avoid each other as much as possible without alerting the town about their previous relationship.

When Anna’s café is seriously damaged and temporarily closed due to a fire, she finds herself in a financial situation that could mean the loss of her sister’s bookshop.   A possible solution?  Winning the cash prize in a nearby culinary competition.  The catch?  She needs to enter with a partner.

Mark began running his mom’s diner right out culinary school.   His mother was going through chemo and he felt it was his responsibility to keep it running.  But everything has been going well for his mother and he thinks it might be time to pursue his dream of owning his own restaurant.  And what better way to fund his dream than by winning a culinary contest.  Now he just needs to convince Anna Madison to forgive him long enough to become his partner so they can win a prize that they both desperately want and need.

Much like Grace in Mistletoe on Main Street, Anna is a strong independent heroine that is determined to be a success at everything she does.   I loved that, even though she was still hurt and still pining over Mark, she was not going to let those feelings get in the way of achieving the rest of her dreams.  Mark was an interesting hero.  Although he is struggling with a lot indecision in regards to his career and Anna, I never once wanted to tell him to man up. His struggles, while frustrating, were realistic and understandable.

My only complaint (and this definitely a personal preference than a critique) with this story was consistent reminders of Anna and Mark’s previous relationship.  Anna’s inner monologues, in particular, seemed to have a lot of repetition in regards to how badly Mark hurt her when they were in culinary school together.  The repetition does a great job of enhancing the angst in the story line.  There were just times when it didn’t work for me personally.  

Other than that, I enjoyed this story a lot.  I’m always a sucker for angst and I’m equally a sucker for a book that features chefs and/or food.  Although that does sometimes work against me.  There is one point in this story where Anna and Mark are FINALLY about to air their dirty laundry.  They are in Mark’s kitchen and the conversation is becoming emotionally intense.  But…I was distracted.  Because Mark was cooking delicious scallops and they were ruined by the time their conversation ended.  No!!!  Seriously.  I need help.  I also need a plate of deliciously broiled scallops. 

Needless to say, A Match Made on Main Street is an emotional and sweet foodie romance that will please lovers everywhere.


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