“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child
BLURB: After the success of his two Gourmet Network specials, outspoken Executive Chef Stephen Pierce is offered a sweetheart deal for his own regular show. Everyone believes Stephen has a lot of self-confidence, but he is aware of his own shortcomings and refuses to sign on unless his loyal PA, Robert Logan, agrees to stay with him. Stephen knows Robert is the one person who can keep him in line, but Stephen has always hidden his more personal interest, fearing that if he knew, Robert would be disgusted and leave him.
Robert has been in love with his boss for almost six years, but he’s begun to believe Stephen will never see him as more than an efficient assistant. Resigning himself to never having the man he truly wants, Robert begins to date other men, hoping that one of them will strike the same sparks for him that Stephen does without even knowing it.
Can the efforts of their friends finally get Stephen and Robert together, or will Stephen’s hidden insecurities keep them apart forever?
REVIEW: This is the 4th book in the Recipe for Romance series by Ari McKay. I have been waiting for Stephen and Robert to tell their story since the first book. From the beginning of the series, it has been pretty obvious that not only was Robert completely smitten with Stephen but that Stephen was completely oblivious to Robert’s feelings.
At the start of the story, Stephen and Robert are called to attend a meeting in which Stephen is offered a full series of “The Mouth of the South”. Stephen doesn’t hate the idea of doing the show full time, but he made it clear that he won’t do anything unless Robert is by his side. He is thrown when Robert tells him that he may not be interested in staying on as his PA if Stephen does the show.
Six years of loving a man that only sees him as an assistant has Robert at the end of his rope. He has decided that if he can’t have Stephen, then he needs to find someone he can spend his life with. He gets the support of Rhys & Clay and Darius & Max, the couples he helped get together in two of the previous books. The men plan a BBQ and invite some wonderful single men for Robert to meet. Robert sets up a few dates and tries to put Stephen out of his mind.
Stephen is confused when Robert starts taking time off, and he is completely shocked when he cancels on their plans for dinner, a dinner that they have had every week for years. Stephen believes that Robert is looking for another job and goes to Rhys to find out what is going on. What Rhys tells Stephen sends his world into upheaval. He has to get away, and what better place than his brother’s house.
When Stephen finally has a very frank conversation with his brother, some of his deepest fears and beliefs are revealed. Not only does Stephen feel he isn’t attractive, but he feels that he isn’t worthy of anyone’s love, let alone someone as wonderful as Robert. See, Stephen HAS noticed Robert, he just knows that he won’t be able to survive it if Robert were to turn him down.
The conclusion of this story seemed very fitting to me. After everything Stephen has done to help out his friends he finally gets a little help for himself, and it was so fun to witness. I loved the way Stephen let down some of his very carefully constructed walls and let his friends and his brother get closer to him. This book feels like a conclusion to the series, and I think if it is then the series was totally fulfilled. There were visits with each of the couples from the previous stories and a HEA for the irascible Stephen. Who could ask for more?