Series: Romance With Recipes 01
Author: Rick R. Reed
Length: Novel (206pgs)
Publisher: JMS Books (20th November 2019)
Heat Level: Low – Moderate
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4 ½ Hearts
Blurb: It only takes a few days for Ollie D’Angelo to lose his boyfriend, his job, and his home. Instead of mourning what he doesn’t have, Ollie celebrates what he does: the freedom to pursue his real passion—cooking. He begins Dinner at Home, a home-catering business, and it takes off.
Late one night, Ollie catches Hank Mellinger, a streetwise hood down on his luck, about to rob his car. Ollie soon discovers that appearances aren’t necessarily what they seem. Hank isn’t a criminal caught red-handed, but a hungry young man trying to make a life for himself and the four-year-old niece he’s trying desperately to take care of.
Instead of calling the cops, Ollie offers Hank a job and a way to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Together, they discover they can really cook… and that their shared passion for food just might lead to a passion for each other.
Review: Ollie wakes up one weekend thinking everything is perfect, he has a loving boyfriend, a wonderful home and a great job and then reality strikes as his boyfriend dumps him, he has to find a new place to live and he gets laid off from work. Ollie moves his focus to his freedom to do what he now wants: cooking. Hank fell in with drugs but after a stint in jail is trying to get back on his feet, when he finds himself having to take care of his niece, Addison, it becomes a struggle just to earn enough to buy food. Starving he goes looking for some quick cash but is surprised and ends up finding his saviour, Ollie, who offers him a job and a safe environment for his niece. Both Ollie and Hank discovered more on that dark night, they discover a shared passion for food and each other.
This is an amazing story of a man with a huge heart who, instead of wallowing in self-pity, embraced the opportunity to change his life and invited others to do the same. Ollie is an incredible character, he suffered the blow of being dumped by his boyfriend followed quickly by losing his job and he began to move forward with his life instead of stewing on what had happened. Hank is, amazingly, a character that you come to admire; he dabbled with drugs but cleaned himself up and genuinely wants to make something of his life and he keeps trying no matter what obstacles are thrown in his way. They might both come from different walks of life but their core is very similar, a love of food and the need to help and share with others.
While it might seem that food has a lot to do with this story (just wait till you get a load of the amazing recipes at the beginning of some chapters) it’s the love and comfort that is represented by the food that really shines through, a quite meal for two in the comfort of their own home, a lonely man needing a meal for one and a bit of company or even a family meal where the entire family attends and can relax, and for Ollie and Hank it’s the comfort of working together to make those meals that draw them together. It isn’t a rushed ‘oh my god he’s hot, lets jump into bed’ relationship, it’s one that is built up between them without them really realizing it and which is pushed into the forefront of their minds by a sudden burst of jealousy.
The entire story is wonderful; you have Hank and Ollie building a family unit with Addison and Rosa (another young person in need), then you have the sudden loss of a member which rocks the boat and nearly tears them all apart but they work to accept the changes. Hank and Ollie are beautiful together, they make a great couple for all that they seem so different and their love will get them through anything that life might throw at them.
I recommend this to those who love stories of dragging yourself up from the cesspit and making a new life for yourself, who love men with huge hearts who will hold a hand out and offer help, finding love when you least expect it, building your own family to love and getting your happy ever after through sheer hard work.