Monday Book Review: Yes, Chef by Alex Cohen

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Today I’m reviewing Yes, Chef by Alex Cohen. Release date is set at January 27th, 2016. I received this book from NetGalley for review. This is the first time I’ve done that, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, really, but the process wasn’t exceptionally arduous. Yes, Chef is a short story at about 92 pages. Warnings for the book include: lots of angst, some blood (from an accident), and that’s about it as far as I can see.

Let’s take a look at the blurb.

Nothing is more important to Diego than his kitchen. He’s dedicated to his job running one of the top restaurants in town and doesn’t have time for relationships. Then the boss, building on the restaurant’s success, brings in Ben. He’s young, hot, and not nearly as unlikeable as Diego wishes.

But between the distance of age and the old wounds both men are still nursing, it may be easier if Diego gives up on making something other than his kitchen the center of his world.

At the time of this review the book is not yet available on Amazon. Find the sample here on the publisher’s website.

The Good:

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I am a food slut. I loved all the food talk in this book. It reached down inside me and satisfied that part of me that thrives on Iron Chef and Restaurant Impossible reruns. I loved the glorious descriptions of Ben’s pastries and Diego’s risotto. I even giggled about the risotto. I wonder if Alex Cohen watches Chopped: It’s always when people try to do risotto that they fuck up, and honestly, I hate making risotto. My significant other, who has probably had every job there is to have in a restaurant over the years, makes fantastic, on point, risotto and doesn’t mind futzing around with it to make it right.

The character building in this book was good. I liked that each character was believable, every character had a story they could tell. The characters all had a depth that made them sparkle.

I also liked the age gap between Ben and Diego. It’s one of my favorite types of tropes. Is that a trope? I don’t know, but it’s something I always like to see. Also, I love Ben’s tattoos. Yay, tats!

The Okay:

It was only mentioned in passing, but I really liked that fact that Jess was female to male. They talked about when he started T, and that was it (as it should be) because it wasn’t a central element to the book, but it’s so rare to see a person who transitioned in a story that I stopped and whooped when I read it. Someone who isn’t familiar with the process might not have even realized what they were reading.

The Meh:

So, I have a couple of complaints about this book. First of all, Diego is supposed to be Puerto Rican, but aside from a few flairs of Spanish here and there and a few reminders about his skin tone (He looks like a “telenova star” according to his best friend Amelia…which, honestly came off a little cheesy for some reason, I’m just not sure why. Something to do with the delivery.) he’s very run of the mill American. I expected to see, perhaps, some Spanish fusion in his cooking, or something else that would speak back to his birth culture in a more concrete way, and that was just lacking. Diego is a transplant, has been in Minneapolis for about 15 years, so at 42 that means he spent ALL of his formative years (if my math is right 27) in Puerto Rico. I would expect perhaps some stories about the good old days, or just MORE.

De nada.

Also, I didn’t get a good sense of space with these characters. I found myself wondering constantly how they fit together physically. Their physicality was only really mentioned once, in the beginning, and I’m far too lazy to keep flipping back to remind myself. Was Deigo taller? Was Ben? I just don’t remember. While I got a great sense of scenery and space in the kitchen of the restaurant, it just didn’t translate well to the character building.

While I’m here, mulling over things that were a let down…the big intimate pay off. It just wasn’t there. The chemistry just didn’t gel with the characters for me at any points. I was left thinking Ben was a little bit churlish and Diego was a little bit of an ass. The work never happened to get me over that hump where their physical attraction panned out into a mental attraction as well. I’m left with the feeling that their relationship is going to fall apart rather than this is a happily ever after because there isn’t really much talking going on between Ben and Diego. The sex scene was okay. It wasn’t bad. It was even hot, but without the emotional build up coming (Ha!) together for me, I was left feeling a little disappointed.

It seems like there was all this great potential for the book to take off, it had all these wonderful characters, but then it kind of fizzled a bit. It’s almost like the book needed another chapter or two.

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Final Thoughts:

This book was cute. It was okay. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. If you want to lose yourself for a few hours in a kitchen with cute guys making eyes at each other, by all means give it a go. If it ever makes it onto my re-read list it will be strictly because of the food talk (which was excellent). It was a little too angst heavy and resolution free for me.


 

Check out my book The Shape of Honey!

ShapeofHoney[The]

Available on Amazon , Dreamspinner Press, and other retailers.

Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.

Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.

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