Sunday, June 29, 2014

DINNER AT HOME by Rick R. Reed

Publisher:               Dreamspinner Press
Published:              May 9, 2014
ISBN:                     978 1 62798 836 0
Genre:                   Contemporary Romance M/M
Book Format:          E-book
Obtained via:          Publisher
Reviewed by:          Helena Stone,

Rating:                  3.5

Ollie D’Angelo’s life is turned upside down over the course of only a few days. It starts when the boyfriend he wanted to present with a ring on their one year anniversary tells him he’s fallen for somebody else and only appears to get worse when he loses his job as well. On his own in an unfurnished apartment Ollie tries to work out what he wants to do with his life now that the universe has presented him with an apparently blank slate. It takes him a little while but he once he realises that he could make a living through his big passion cooking, he’s found his path.

Hank Mellinger’s life has never been easy and hit rock bottom when a meth addiction landed him in prison. Out in the world again he’s clean and learning to cook in a shelter. In cooking he finds something he can get excited about and he can see tiny glimpses of hope as far as his future is concerned when he finds himself stranded with his four year old niece.

When Ollie catches Hank breaking into his car he should call the cops. Instead he brings the younger man into his house and feeds him while listening to his story. Before he knows what he’s doing Ollie has not only fed both Hank and his niece but he’s also offered Hank a job in his quickly growing catering business.

Life for both men is looking up but surprises still lie in wait. They may share a love of food, but could they also share a love for each other?

This was a sweet love story and that was both its selling point and its weakness. For me this book was a bit too sweet, Ollie a bit too nice and trusting, Hank a bit too comfortable despite his shitty past and solutions to problems a bit too easily achieved.

This is going to sound funny from somebody who up until recently claimed not to like angst, but I really feel this book could have done with more of it. Ollie seemed to suffer very little after the boyfriend he’d bought a ring for breaks up with him. Losing his job just a day later doesn’t seem to bother him either. By the same token, while we get the details of Hank’s horrible past, I never really felt his pain or the trouble he might still be having dealing with it. And when tragedy does strike it doesn’t come as a surprise and, once again, seems to be accepted by the characters almost before the reader realises what exactly has happened. For me the shifts from pain to happiness were too abrupt. A chapter filled with inner turmoil would be followed with a chapter filled with bliss. It was too black and white, the changes in feelings too extreme. Shouldn’t doubts linger, pain ease only slowly and solutions come gradually?

I constantly found myself wanting to like the story more than I actually did. The storyline felt like something that should work perfectly for me and yet it didn’t, which made this a somewhat frustrating reading experience.

I did like the obvious love of food and its preparation in this book. Every chapter starts with a recipe and every single one of them was enticing and at least one or two may have to be tried out at some point in the future. Having said that, I almost wish I had a paper copy of this book available. On my Kindle the recipes seemed to take up a lot of – dare I say it, too much - room. I’ve got a feeling though it wouldn’t feel that way if the pages had been bigger.

Even now, after I’ve finished the book and have written most of my review I still find myself wanting to say I liked the story more than I actually did. The characters managed to charm me, the story line had an almost fairytale-like quality and it was a smooth read.  If I had to describe this book in one sentence I’d say this was a feel good book that could and should have been a feel great book.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


No comments: