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[Book Review] In The Fire By Eileen Griffin And Nikka Michaels & Van Houtte Crème Brulee Light Roast

In The Fire By Eileen Griffin And Nikka MichaelsTitle: In The Fire
Series/Universe: In The Kitchen #2
Author: Eileen GriffinNikka Michaels
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: November 3rd 2014
Page Count: approx. 235 pages
Age Rating: Adult (explicit sexual scenes)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: In The Fire

Because the way to a man’s heart…

Eight years ago, the world was their oyster. Until, that is, competing chefs Ethan Martin and James Lassiter’s hot and heavy relationship fizzled after Jamie left for an internship in Paris. Even though Jamie’s career has taken off since his return to the States, with his own television show and a lot of fame, his feelings for Ethan have never quite gone away.

Ethan’s culinary career has developed more slowly, but he’s almost saved enough to buy the restaurant where he works and re-open it as his dream spot, Bistro 30. If only he could get the sexy chef who loved him and left him out of his mind.

But when someone starts sabotaging the restaurant and a fire threatens to take away everything Ethan holds dear, his only option is to rely on Jamie for help. Back in close quarters, the two men will have to find a way to work through their past if they hope to save the restaurant and their future.

My Review

Not going to lie, when I first read the description of this book I was more than a little surprised and thrown off. When we last left Ethan and Jamie at the end of In The Raw, the two up-and-coming chefs were very much in love and facing their six month separation with so much hope for the future – to find out they had broken up not too long after and have been apart for eight (eight!) years was startling and upsetting. I almost didn’t want to even read this book, worried that it would break my heart as I really loved these two guys together, but I had to know what had happened. So I bit the bullet and read In The Fire – and I’m glad I did, because this sequel is even better than the first!

First, the big question: Why were these two men, who were so obviously in love, not together anymore? It pretty much boiled down to miscommunication and lingering feelings of self-doubt, helped along by distance and one meddlesome roommate/best friend.

Now, eight years later, Jamie and Ethan are no longer simply culinary students, but established chefs in the culinary world – and the gulf between them has never been wider. Jamie is a famous celebrity chef, authoring best-selling cookbooks and starring in his own tv cooking show. He’s fallen back into old habits of letting others dictate the direction he takes, he’s overworked and lonely and he wants nothing more than to take a break and find his way back to the simple joys of cooking – nothing more, that is, until he sees Ethan again. When the two men finally see each other again after their long separation, it’s clear that under a veneer of old resentments and anger, they still harbor some strong feelings for each other. Ethan is still the embodiment of everything Jamie wants – someone so raw and brash, who couldn’t care less what others wanted him to do or what they thought about him. Ethan’s experiencing some problems of his own, the restaurant that he’s made his whole life, which he’s so close to buying from the owner, is being hit with some majorly expensive setbacks and possible sabotage. And while he should be focusing on that, he can’t stop thinking about his ex-lover and his re-emergence in his life.

Loved. Loved. Loved.

The pacing is fantastic, the emotions are higher, and the relationship being rebuilt between Ethan and Jamie felt more real and lasting. It really was a great read and I can now honestly say that the authors knew what they were doing by going in this direction.  The added angst only made the connection between Ethan and Jamie seem stronger and the separate ways their lives had gone only showed how much better off they would both be with each other in their lives.

Don’t be scared off by the time jump and the seemingly out of nowhere break-up, this book was an absolutely needed step in the journey of these two chefs to become the men they needed to be, both for themselves and for each other.  If the idea of a break-up and long-term separation in the middle of a romantic series isn’t for you, even though the break-up and separation are off the page, no worries as In The Fire can be read as a standalone, or even before In The Raw, essentially treating the first book as a prequel.

And to set your mind at ease, while the first book ended with a Happy For Now ending (which obviously didn’t last), In The Fire ends in a much, much more solid Happily Ever After. There’s a third book planned for the In The Kitchen series and I will eagerly await its release with total confidence in whatever direction the authors take these characters.

Similar to the first book in the series, In The Fire features some really delicious descriptions of gourmet food. One of these dishes is a Crème Brulee dessert served by Ethan to Jamie in a pivotal scene in the story.  As a lover of Crème Brulee I recommend Van Houtte Crème Brulee Light Roast – a soft and subtle coffee delicately flavored with sweet vanilla and caramelized sugar.

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