Can't Stand the Heat

On the Steamy Side
by Louisa Edwards
(St. Martin’s, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0-312-35646-0
Here I go again.  Yes, another of my quizzes for Romance Readers. 

Q: Do I watch cooking shows on TV?  

A: Yes.  Sometimes 

Q: Do you watch cooking shoes on TV?  

A: Probably.  At least sometimes. 

Q: Do authors watch cooking shows on TV?   

A: Duh. 

Q: So what happens when authors watch cooking shows on TV?   

A: They chalk it up to research and then write a book like this. 

  Main characters: 

1 hero. Devon Sparks is the chef of the #1 top-rated Cooking Channel program “One Night Stand” where the hero goes into a failing restaurant and magically produces a great dinner and all is saved.  (Think Gordon Ramsey with the same winning personality and potty mouth only a lot better looking.)  He’s got father issues because he never fit into the macho, blue-collar New Jersey environment where he grew up.  He’s starting to show symptoms of burn-out from all the fast and easy living that came with success. 

1 heroine. Lilah Jane Tunkle (sometimes nicknamed “Lolly”) is a former Virginia school drama teacher who lost her job because of budget cuts.  She has come to New York to start a new life.  She’s rooming with a long-time friend from back home who’s gotten her a job as a busgirl in the restaurant where he works, the Market.  (She’s cute and has great curly hair and is a little on the “curvy” side.)  She’s got family issues because her parents took a powder when she was born and she was raised by her aunt and uncle who stepped into the void and really loved her but she still never felt completely part of the whole family group.  She’s a pretty pathetic busgirl and drops two trays of dishes her first night on the job. 

Secondary characters: 

1 cute kid. Tucker is Devon’s illegitimate son who has a drunken, drug-using mom who just happens to finally get arrested and sent to rehab leaving the kid needing a parent to take him in--or at least somewhere he can crash until Mommy-not-so-dearest gets out of rehab. He’s had practically no contact with his dad but is a big fan of One Night Stand for the obvious reason. Poor cute kid. (What are the chances Devon will be thrilled to take sonny-boy home with him? What are the chances Lilah will let Devon send the cute kid to foster care?) 

1  angsty hanging-on character from the previous book.  (Did I mention On the Steamy Side is a sequel to Can’t Stand the Heat?)   Frankie Boyd is the brother of the heroine in Can’t Stand the Heat. He’s still struggling with his issues and the younger guy he really loves but doesn’t think he deserves. (What are the chances Frankie will come to terms with all his issues and love will Triumph in the End when there’s another sequel yet to come? What are the chances that this subplot will consume way too many pages?) 

10 or 12 or more restaurant workers who aren’t too happy that the hero has stepped into the role as top chef at the popular New York restaurant when he doesn’t really seem all that comfortable with the day-to-day operation of a restaurant and insists on changing things. 


Mix the hero and heroine together quickly in a separate pot and bring to a fast, steamy boil. Put them into a sexy shower in the hero’s glamorous apartment. Remove from heat and add the restaurant workers. Put mixture into a chaotic restaurant kitchen. Immediately put pot into a cold water bath. Add the cute kid in one quick motion. Cue the sympathy tears. Give the heroine a job as a nanny to the cute kid. Add additional cold water while trying to maintain tepid heat.  Warning: this takes way too long.)  Two hundred pages later turn up heat to a simmer. 

Garnish with three complimentary recipes at the end of the book.   

Yield: acceptable lukewarm servings. Leftovers may be recycled in yet another sequel. 

--Lesley Dunlap 

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