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Simmer Down

by Sarah Smith

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473431,535 (3.21)None

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2.5 Stars. While this does spend a little time at the beach and the food truck is key to the plot, I was disappointed that overall I didn’t have a greater sense of the Hawaiian setting and I definitely would have liked more scenes actually working in the food truck. It seemed unnecessary to have the story take detours to London and to a restaurant when the main appeal of this book, what sets it apart from other contemporary romance options are Hawaii and the competing food trucks.

Callum and Nikki had decent chemistry and I was pleasantly surprised that even though there was kind of an overabundance of sex scenes the author still managed to convey that their relationship was deeper than just the physical.

I liked the characters, in particular the family dynamics, the way Callum is there for his brother, and even more so I liked Nikki and her mom, with her mom downplaying her health for Nikki and Nikki feeling like she needed to take over where her dad left off in caring for her mother and the food truck, it felt like an authentic parent/child bond.

What didn’t feel so authentic, where this book lost me time and again was how frequently the storytelling relied on coincidence and/or contrivances. In a romance, there’s a certain amount of happenstance I’m willing to chalk up to “fate” but this pushed the limits having Callum and Nikki cross paths practically everywhere they went, a beach, when her car breaks down, a veterinary clinic, an airplane, etc. Then there’s Callum who for story reasons somehow has time to volunteer at a veterinary clinic even though you’d think he’d be too busy helping his brother with the food truck and even though the brother is the one with chef aspirations, Callum who’s actual career is in finance somehow gleaned enough chef knowledge from working in a pub in his younger years that he can just fill in as a chef at a fine dining restaurant at the last minute all because the story wanted him to be in a kitchen with Nikki (and without sous chefs even?). Then there’s a cooking contest with a particular rule that seemingly had no reason for existing other than it required Callum and Nikki to keep their relationship a secret. Or how about this close mother and daughter having lost their husband/father sort of recently yet the mom goes to a friend’s house for Easter instead of spending it with her daughter all because the story needed Nikki to be free that night?

Throughout this book, situations and characters were forced in a certain direction even though with Callum and Nikki working in food trucks across a parking lot from one another there should have been ample opportunities for them to interact without having to manipulate it into happening. The characters, the basics of the story were solid, it just unfortunately didn’t play out as naturally as it could have. ( )
  SJGirl | Jul 12, 2021 |
A light and fairly predictable romance with some enjoyable moments but an aggravating ending and romantic relationship dynamic. As much as I wanted to like this story in general, Callum's behavior towards Nikki's wishes and experiences with love was frustrating by the end of the book. In a key moment at the climax of the story, when she clearly (and reasonably) states why she doesn't want a public confrontation with Callum, he pushes her into one anyway (dismissing her concerns by man-splaining that she's simply afraid of letting herself love, and himself as being caught up in his own feelings) with predictable consequences (which she was understandably trying to avoid). His aggravating and insulting attitude and behavior towards Nikki in that moment, and her eventual acceptance of it DESPITE HER OWN FEELINGS made the end of the book and the resolution of their relationship journey a big disappointment. Honestly, if these were real people I'd worry for their uneven dynamic, in which she clearly expresses her reasonable concerns and he ignores them in favor of his (obviously more important) own wants and perceived needs. Argh! ( )
  bethbordenk | Feb 6, 2021 |
It took me a while to get into this book, but it was a good distraction during this turbulent time. ( )
  littlemuls | Nov 5, 2020 |
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