I’ve sworn off men.
Famous last words, right? You’re expecting some epic tale of reluctant love and my dramatic change of heart? Well, you’re not going to get it.
I’m stubborn. And headstrong. And I’ve just survived the worst three years of my life. After escaping an abusive boyfriend to live in hostels and cheap hotels while I worked my way across Europe, I’ve come to two conclusions.
The first? Now that I’m back home, I’m going to squander my expensive culinary degree on a food truck that caters to the late night drunk crowd.
The second? I’m going to prove to the bastard across the plaza that my street food is better than his fussy five course monstrosities.
Killian Quinn might be Food and Wine’s Chef to Watch Out For. He might have a Michelin Star. He might have every food critic in the city wrapped around his too-large fingers. But he’s also pretentious and unbearably arrogant and the very opposite of me.
So he can keep his unsolicited advice and his late night visits and his cocky smiles. I want none of it. Or him.
I want the opposite.
4.95 stars — I got to beta read this book!!! And I was seriously just floored, I have SO MUCH LOVE for it, I can’t even tell you. My hubby would come home from work to find me in my reading chair, with the biggest grin on my face. Like seriously you guys, I could have highlighted all of the dialogue in this book…it was just everything I love about a Rachel Higginson book.
And the thing is, it’s not just the smart witty banter. (but I will come back and rave about that in more detail in a second) Ms. Higginson also writes some of the most beautiful lines I have ever read…even just a sentence that captures my imagination and really brings home whatever she’s trying to convey about how Vera is feeling and seeing the world and herself. Because while I would say the predominant emotion I felt in this book was snortfully gleeful happiness and so much giddiness, there is a darker undertone to the story that addresses an important topic that face so many people (often women) — mental/emotional abuse in a relationship (that can bleed into domestic violence on occasion). I think it’s something that is hard for people who don’t experience it to understand, and even harder for the victims to understand and make sense of. And I really believe that Ms. Higginson gives it a voice in Vera. While I don’t personally have experience with this, I felt like Vera’s journey was an authentic one. It was hard at times to be in Vera’s head, and see how she felt about herself, but I thought it felt realistic. As with any story dealing with hard topics, it won’t be everyone’s journey, but one possible journey.
So that was long. ANYWAYS…what I think I was trying to say is that the story had a really nice balance between heavy topics and glorious light and sassy interactions. They blended perfectly, giving us a story that GIVES SO MUCH. And don’t even get me started on the romance!! Seriously, I was gleeful. I’m neither here nor there on “enemies to lovers” type stories, but this one just…seriously, I can’t even…it was just…LIKE SO MUCH tension and laughter and sass and adorableness and did I mention tension?? AHHHH!!!!
I wasn’t sure what to think of Killian when we first met him, b/c wow…first impressions were not strong with this boy. But OMG, when you start to figure out as a reader what is going on with him, and where his heart is at, it’s just so swoony! Especially b/c Vera is kind of oblivious (but it fits with her history and where her self esteem is at). But I so wanted to hug the crap out of that boy so many times. He’s not my typical book boyfriend, but I’m seriously in love. What an odd, stoic, somewhat closed off, but capable of so much feeling guy….
It’s funny, b/c I am a die hard lover of dual POV stories, but Ms. Higginson somehow manages to make me love a story with just one POV. I think a lot of that is because Vera has such a journey to go on, and so we needed to see her take that journey. But the other major part is that she’s able to convey to me enough of what Killian is feeling that I don’t feel like I missed too much not being in his head. Does that mean I don’t want bonus scenes from his POV? Heck no! I DO. I REALLY REALLY DO. But they weren’t necessary for me to fall in love and get where he was coming from.
And if you couldn’t guess from all of the above, the star really is Vera. She made me laugh. She made me ache. She made me want to high five her all over the place. She made me want to hit my head against a wall. She made me love her.
The supporting cast in this story really helped in Vera’s growth too, it wasn’t just Killian. Her family is amazeballs, you could just feel the love. And Vera and Vann were such perfect siblings (again, so much laughing). And then there’s Molly, the BFF. Oh Molly, you are da bomb. I am so intrigued where your own story will go, but I loved what you added to this story. And then there’s Wyatt. Oh Wyatt, you freaking killed me. <3 <3 <3
So why not full 5 stars? Just a tiny personal preference. I’m super greedy and impatient about wanting to know everything IMMEDIATELY. And the details of her previous relationship were given in tiny bits as the story went along. Which is a valid storytelling choice, just not my personal preference.
(Oh, and this book had one of the best descriptions of how hard reviews are for the creator, regardless of whether they know that reviews are subjective and affected by the consumer’s personal experiences/preferences).
And damn! The food! I don’t even like peppers and I wanted those tacos (though she had me at grilled cheese). I know that makes no sense, but I totally believed the foodie stuff in this book. And at this point I’m just talking about everything.
So yeah, I know, gushy review. It’s my right, I am a mega fan. But I’m an honest mega fan, and I can honestly say that this is everything I love about Rachel Higginson. And….mic drop.