Review: ONCE BURNED by Dee Carney

Once Burned
Once Burned by Dee Carney
Close to the Heat, book 1

Format: ebook, 97 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Foodie Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2012, November 13
Source: Received an e-ARC from author for review

My rating: 4,25 of 5 starsGreat Read

Blurb from Goodreads:
Temptation never tasted so good.

With a chance to win a cooking competition that will advance her career, the last thing food truck chef Pepper Joseph needs is a distraction. Except she’s got a heaping helping of it in the form of fellow chef Darien Priest, the man who broke her heart.
It’s been years, and she tells herself she’s over his betrayal, but to her irritation, she finds she still has an appetite for his steel-gray eyes, clean-shaven head, and sleeve tattoos.

Darien regrets the single, juvenile act that ended it with Pepper, but he’s never found the courage to apologize. Now that they’re in close quarters, something’s steaming and it’s not just the saucepots. One toe-curling kiss proves there’s the potential for more than just a guarded friendship, and he sets out to prove he’s grown into an honorable man.
Until he discovers she’s pulled a seasoning switch that could have ruined one of his dishes. Now it’s on. There’s ten thousand dollars on the line, but if they don’t surrender to another chance at love, one – or both – of their wounded hearts could get singed.

Product Warnings:
“Scorching hot” doesn’t refer to the food. Contains two chefs who’ll inspire cravings of the very carnal kind. Includes one delicious recipe guaranteed to blow any diet out of the water.

My Review:
I loved this book! Cooking competition show AND romance, be still my heart. I’ve read a few Dee Carney books and I have to say this was the best one yet for me!

I love her characters and Pepper and Darien are definite favorites. With Darien it was like Dee Carney peeked into my brain and plucked out what I consider a dream hero: a hot, tattooed, bald-headed chef who knows how and when to grovel.

I really don’t want to neglect mentioning Jen and Sol as I loved them as secondary characters and sidekicks to Pepper and Darien. They brought the perfect amount of humor and lightness to counter Darien and Pepper’s intensity.

I loved how the interracial relationship conflict played an important role in the characterization and backstory yet it was kept subtle and worked very well with the romance.

I heard Dee is working on book two. I’ll be there with bells on when it releases because I’ve found another author who gives good foodie romance :)

Fave scene:
– the kiss after the team-up challenge awaiting judging > marked the turning point in the romance and it was hot!

Fave Quotes:

His voice smoothed down Pepper’s skin, licking at her as if it were a warm tongue. She wanted to purr.

Priest gritted his teeth, and Pepper was so struck by the intensity of him in that moment, every womanly part of her anatomy awoke with stark awareness. The man was a living canvas of contrasts, and she responded to his enigma.

“Your idea of an apology was to bring me to a broom closet and then grope me like a drunken prom date.” She rolled her eyes, the tears long since dried up. The Pepper standing before him got started somewhere around sad, picked up speed near annoyed, found her stride at angry and orbited in the vicinity of rage.

In her defense, it wasn’t just a kiss. Not just a let’s-make-up kind of kiss, but a soul-robbing, toe-curling, hallelujah-chorus and hot- damn, blow-your-mind kiss. It was the kind of kiss that begged forgiveness and whispered promises, every single one of them buck naked.

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