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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Just a Taste (The O'Leary's #5) by Shannyn Schroeder

A Review by Wendy
4 Discovering Yourself
 * * * *

Things in life do not always follow the path we thought they would and when that happens... we sometimes lose ourselves in the taking care of others... This is the theme of this book. We have Carmen who has been helping her family for years... first when her sweet mother passed. Then she assisted her father on the venture of his food truck; he sold his successful restaurant to his brother and carried the business out to the streets... Carmen had gone to school for business and refused to work the truck or cook... the memories of cooking together with her mother was too much to bear. We meet Carmen trying to recover from another devastating loss, the death of her dad....Carmen is overwhelmed...she is alone and must take a look at her life...see a path she wants for once...and she has no idea...

Liam is at a turning point, as well. He has been working as a chef at an upscale establishment after years of paying his dues... dues he started with Carmen's dad at his Mexican restaurant by washing dishes. There he knew he wanted to be a chef and he took every moment... every chance he could to learn from Gus. It didn't matter he was the only "white boy"... it didn't matter his hands turned into prunes every night... he was going to culinary school and learning... he had goals and Gus saw the desire and talent. Together they would work... Liam watching, absorbing all things food... while also watching and seeing Carmen be a teenager.... off limits to all.

Liam finds out about the funeral through the voice mail Carmen made to all who meant something to Gus. He goes and then follows back to the home...and there in the kitchen he sees Carmen... hiding from all of the family... who wanting to direct her as to what to do next... it is too much... Liam comes to the sink... takes over and allows Carmen to sit... and just be...they have much in common as he lost his dad...and he is remembering what all the aftermath was like...

People leave; he cleans up and then over a few days... he looks in on her... she is a wreck...He cleans up the house, takes her for a walk and a bonding starts...It brings back feelings they had but never acted on from the past... but without either discussing it. 

The interesting part of all of this is the will...Gus left the food truck to both of them, 50/50 for one year. After that they can sell or do whatever...At first Liam wants to just give his half to Carmen... as he doesn't believe he should have it but she will not allow it. He thinks this over; makes the jump and takes it on, leaving his chef position.

The relationship of Liam and Carmen grows as they work towards this common goal and sparks are not just flying of the grill....No, there is real Heat there and Liam is just as surprised as she is... we get to watch and experience all the banter... the push pull of strong minded people and how they come together... it is spicy/sweet and I am all for it.

There are a couple of things in this story which made it interesting beyond the romance element... Food is a way we experience so much... it can be a labor of love and family... it is tied to us as we need to eat to live... but when it becomes an enemy to our bodies and self image... it can become a never ending battle. Carmen has these issues from childhood and unfortunately it robbed her of experiences it shouldn't. This was handled so well... I appreciated the arc of this concern and those of us who may have a love/hate relationship with food and weight will too.

The other issue addressed was figuring out what we want out of important it is to not lose sight of yourself while assisting others... to not hide away and forge through tough times... to make time to experience all what life has to offer... and it doesn't have to be big trips or journeys... it can be in moments... but to recognize and be present.

Now this is part of a series... and I came to it there were references of couples and family... and long established ways...and I was fine with it. In fact, so fine, I will probably go back and start the series. You have an established Irish family with a pub, many brothers and sisters... and a Mother who runs the show... so it came into play in this book with some possible conflict and affection. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the read and if you have any interest in food, food trucks and hunky hot chefs... then I think this is a great pick off the menu.

A gifted copy was provided by author/publisher for an honest review.

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