Series: Taste of Love #2
Release Date: July 26th, 2022
CW: mentions of the foster system, cancer
But she’s not the only one with a recipe and a plan: chef Finn Rimes from nearby Springfield has a similar vision. To jump-start his dream of opening a culinary school, he shows up at the local farmers’ market with his own barbecue sauce.
When Simone’s plan to outsell Finn falls flat, she auditions for a reality show to pitch her brand. But she’s horrified to discover Finn’s had the same idea. As Simone and Finn wage barbecue war on television, their feud turns into an undeniable attraction.
With their livelihoods on the line, it may not be so much about making the best sauce—but finding their way to each other.
This book was so wonderful! I might have struggled a little with Digging Up Love, but everything about this book won me over. There were so many great things and tropes and just the most amazing characters, it made me feel so much by the end. I can’t wait to see what else Chandra Blumberg has up her sleeve!
In Stirring Up Love you’ll find:
✨ an epic road trip
✨ rivals to lovers
✨ closed door romance
✨ but steamy kisses!
✨ forced proximity
✨ she takes care of him when he’s sick
✨ a whole lot of food
✨ a stubborn, passionate woman
✨ a charming, food obsessed man
✨ one hell of a romance
Simone and Finn were the perfectly matched opposites in this book. I loved their rivals to lovers relationship so much I almost never wanted that to end. Between the banter, the flirting and all of that sexual tension building, it was impossile not to love them together. I found myself laughing and tearing up and snorting at everything that they did and went through. While at times I felt like things were dragging, I found myself enjoying the book anyway. There was just so much ground to cover, so much to build up and such a great story to tell, it was all worth it.
“His real complaint was why the universe kept throwing him together with this sexy thunderstorm of a woman.”
These characters were also so well crafted, with depth and deeper personalities than I expected. By the end of the book, it felt like I knew Simone and Finn personally and were so deeply invested in their lives. Simone’s always out to prove something, because she feels like by leaving her hometown of Hawksburg, everyone forgot about her and moved on. Now that she’s back and is running her grandfather’s barbecue joint, she’s trying to make her mark in the town. I loved how determined she was and even when she was being difficult, I respected her for the choices she made and the reasons behind those choices. Simone wants to be more than just Wayne Blake’s granddaughter, she wants to be known for her job and taking over the barbecue restaurant, she wants to make a mark and she’ll do anything to get there. Unlike Simone, Finn doesn’t have a lot. He has his two friends—Darius and Bella—and he’s always on the move, with no steady roof over his head. Finn’s created a brand of delicious barbecue sauces that could make him a lot of money to pursue the one dream that he has. Finn was such a soft cinnamon roll hero. His heart, his soul and his humour totally won me over. I loved how he just said whatever was on his mind and didn’t hide the way he felt about Simone. Much like her, he also wants to make a mark after not having done much growing up. But it’s harder than he realised and Finn’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
When they end up on the same Shark Tank-esque show to find investors, the last thing they expect is to be put together on a life altering deal. They both have big dreams and by sharing the profits, they’re not really going to get where they want to go. Toss in a road trip from California to Illinois and you have the entire course of their relationship. I admired how insistent Simone was that she would not like Finn or even care for him or even give him any bit of the money, because she’s got to follow her dreams and be more. I loved that Finn didn’t care what Simone’s plans were, he derailed them unintentionally anyway. Their banter was so brilliant and Chandra did such a good job building that tension and frustration in both of them. I really enjoyed seeing Simone unravelled, because she was definitely the harder one to crack. Their connection and bond was palpable through the entire book and I found myself giggling quite a few times because it was so enjoyable.
“When their lips collided, it was a gale meeting a hurricane. A whirlwind consumed her—Finn’s kiss, custom made to sweep her off her feet.”
But on the other side, their romance was so beautifully written too! I loved the way their kisses were described, how the desire and need they have for each other was presented. I loved how Finn saw Simone and vice versa and I admired their restraint even though every minute alone together seemed to almost tip them both into dangerous territories. There’s so many cute moments in this book that just made it so great and I can’t wait for more people to read and enjoy this story!
Thanks to Montlake and NetGalley for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.