Recipe For Temptation
by Maureen Smith, contemporary (2010)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86167-5

Recipe For Temptation has an interesting premise, but the actual execution is as flat as a landing strip.

Dr Reese St James, our heroine, takes a two-month sabbatical from her job when the patient whose child she was delivering cocked up her toes and went bye-bye. A long break is what she needed to get a hold of herself, and she decides to housesit a friend's place in Atlanta in order to recharge her batteries. Our hero Michael Wolf's famous restaurant Wolf's Soul happens to be located in her new neighborhood, so Reese just has to drop by. She has never eaten his food before, but because he's so gorgeous, she can't resist buying his cookbooks while hoping that he'd take a big bite out of her. (Before you ask, no, Michael is not a werewolf.)

Alas, the happy evening is ruined by a series of very contrived misunderstanding on Michael's part. Just when Reese decides to ditch Michael for Bobby Flay, she receives news that she's selected to be one of the contestants in Michael's reality TV show Howlin' Good With Michael Wolf. There's no getting away from each other now, ho, ho, ho!

The romance is a dud because the author has her characters getting attracted to each other at first sight and that's pretty much it. They just want each other, and there is no believable development of their emotions beyond lust at first sight. The author has Michael's family members milling around the couple to ordain them the Best Couple Ever since Brangelina, but that's just Ms Smith telling me that Michael and Reese are meant to be. I'd prefer to be shown as much as I'm told. It doesn't help that the few conflicts to break the monotony of relentless lusting are of the big misunderstanding nature.

The reality TV angle is just ridiculous. A contestant sleeping with the judge is a development that leaves the organizers open to all kinds of legal problems should some disgruntled contestant decides to sue, but here, the romance is treated like something to celebrate. I don't even know why the whole show needs to be a reality TV competition - Michael apparently takes on a female contestant as his apprentice during a cooking session in front of a TV. There is no "reality TV competition" element to the set up - that set-up is as contrived as the big misunderstanding conflicts in this story.

Recipe For Temptation is just not interesting, at the end of the day. The romance likes spices, the character development lacks flavor, and the whole concoction is just... sigh.

Rating: 49

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