Review: “Taste” by Melanie Harlow

Series: Cloverleigh Farms #7

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨

Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: March 7th, 2022

Add to Goodreads | Amazon.in (Available on KU)

The last person on earth I want to be stranded with is Gianni Lupo.

But thanks to the blizzard of the century, I’m trapped in a roadside motel room with that cocky bastard for two straight days.

With one small bed.

Some women might thank Mother Nature for delivering a polar vortex that maroons them with six feet of solid muscle, those deep blue eyes, that sexy grin–but not me. I’ve known Gianni Lupo all my life, and he’s never brought me anything but bad luck and trouble.

So when the tension between us explodes with enough fiery heat to melt my icy defenses, I should have known what the disastrous end result would be–

A big fat plus sign.

After the snow melts, I’m left with more than just memories of the night we spent keeping each other warm. And he might be a rising star on the culinary scene, but he’s got no idea how to handle this bun in the oven.

He says he wants to do the right thing, but I’m not about to spend the rest of my life feeling like someone settled for me.

But just when I think I’ve got Gianni Lupo all figured out, he gives me a taste of the man he could be, of the family we could become, of the way he could love me if I let him.

I’m terrified of falling for him.

But one taste might be all it takes.

 

This book, like all of the Cloverleigh Farms books, had me completely drowning in my feels from start to finish. Melanie Harlow knows how to write stories that tug at your heartstrings and destroy you emotionally before building you back up. And with Ellie and Gianni’s story, she did that and more. Even though I read the blurb when the book was announced, I didn’t relook at it before I started reading and I am so glad, because everything that happened surprised me and I am so grateful for it. While these books don’t need to be read in order, it’s important to note that Ignite and Taste feature the next generation of characters from Melanie’s books. So if you don’t want spoilers for the original series, I would suggest you read those first. But Taste can be enjoyed as a complete standalone anyway.

When we first saw Ellie and Gianni’s relationship unfold in Ignite, I knew that I was going to absolutely love everything about their story. Thanks to their mothers being best friends and growing up together, Ellie and Gianni have been around each other a lot. Enough that they’ve driven each other crazy with childish pranks and antics, teenage hormones and feelings and basically a life of wanting to kill the other person. It’s more of a frenemies to lovers than anything else and I liked that, because I could tell from the first chapter that Gianni’s got big feelings for Ellie, even if he’s really good at ignoring them. I loved their banter, the constant poking at each other and I really enjoyed seeing how they could rile each other up. On their own, these characters are fantastic. But together? Explosive.

“You’ve always been the unattainable girl of my dreams, Ellie.”

Ellie is such an incredible character—driven, passionate, focused and serious about her job. But she also leans on her friends and her family often, even though she feels like she can never live up to the expectations her parents have of her. I loved her sass, her sarcasm and attitude in general. She made every scene interesting because of how well-rounded a character she is. I also felt her struggles with trusting Gianni and trying not to hold all of his faults against him. Speaking of Gianni….wooie. Melanie Harlow knows how to write swoony, charismatic heroes. I like that even though he’s got all these positive attributes, his cocky and smug side is sort of frustrating? Like as a reader, you love Gianni, but you also want to smack him for being Gianni. One of my favourite things about him was how in every thing he did, he put Ellie first, even when he didn’t realise he was doing it and even when she kept pushing him away. 

Their relationship is beautiful! With a snowstorm trapping them in a motel with only one bed, you know that it’s going to get hot really fast. But I liked that having one bed wasn’t an invitation to get naked right away. If anything, the way they built up to that really added a layer to their relationship. They have incredible chemistry and with every truth that’s revealed, you can see just how much that increases! For all his brashness and cockiness, I loved how soft Gianni was with Ellie. I appreciated how much attention he paid to her and how Ellie returned the favour. Their physical relationship was the right amount of hot. I do love all of the steam in my romances, but unlike with Ignite (which was CRAZY HOT), this one was the right temperature. I loved that every single time they were together was deepening their feelings for each other, because I loved these two so much.

I think my only grouse with the story was that the conflict dragged on a little longer than I would have liked. I know that it was all about building trust and for Gianni to prove himself, but I think I would have liked everything to come to head a little earlier. But I do love the grovelling, I love just how independent and strong Ellie is in the face of something so new and terrifying. I loved seeing Winnie again and getting so excited for Felicity’s book. Just…everything else worked for me and I would totally read this book again, because it made me happy in so many different ways.

Thanks to Melanie Harlow and Social Butterfly PR for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

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