Title: Stirring Up Trouble
Author: ZA Maxfield
Publisher: MLR Press
Characters: Toby Andrews, Evan Blankenship
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Toby Andrews is cooking up more than a little trouble for Evan Blankenship. Because of pranks, indiscretions, and plain bad timing, his ability to work in New York’s temples of haute cuisine is a thing of the past. When Toby’s sister tells him he should look up an acquaintance whose restaurant — Le Potiron –is failing, he doesn’t have much choice.
Pretty soon he’s in bed, literally, with a cook who hates people, trying to save a restaurant that only the neighborhood mothers seem to love, and on the verge of another –possibly painful — lesson or two about what it means to be successful.
Evan hates everyone but Toby. Toby likes to stir things up. See what’s on the menu at Le Potiron, in Stirring Up Trouble.
Trouble seems to follow Toby around. Although he’s had jobs as a chef at elite restaurants he always seems to lose his job in one way or the other. On his last job a famous critic told him he needed to find a different profession while another told him he’d make sure he never worked in the restaurant business again. As a last resort his sister sets him up to meet the owner and cook at a little known place called Le Potiron. Knowing he has nowhere else to go, Toby arrives at Le Potiron and immediately causes chaos and gains the attention of Evan Blankenship, the restaurant’s owner. Toby manages to get hired and what follows is a fun, sexy romance with plenty of laugh out loud moments that kept this reader smiling throughout the story.
Toby is a likeable, but somewhat reckless young man. He’s a very talented chef, but through one mishap after another, he’s somehow managed to sabotage his rise in the culinary world. Once he meets Evan and starts working at Evan’s restaurant, Le Potiron, his impulsive nature continues to cause craziness and conflicts in Toby’s life. The one thing I really liked about Toby was his zest for life as well as his determination to make something of himself. His passion is food and he dreams of one day having a restaurant of his own, but once he meets and begins to work for Evan, he realizes that he wants a great love/partnership in his life too. I liked Toby’s take charge attitude, and although it gets him into trouble, (sometimes it’s well deserved) I enjoyed watching him transform Le Potiron into a cash cow. I also really liked his relationship with Evan. Although they have very different personalities, the chemistry they had together steamed up my computer screen.
Evan is a strong, likeable character as well. He’s definitely more surly and doesn’t apologize for his lack of people skills OR the fact that he hates dealing with the public, period. I enjoyed watching him transform from a grouch to well…less of a grouch and thought he and Toby really had a good thing together both personally and professionally. The banter between Evan and Toby kept my attention and I enjoyed watching these two men fall in love.
There were times I wanted to strangle Toby by his apron strings. Toby’s take charge attitude sometimes blinds him when it comes to what other people may want. I didn’t care for Toby taking over Evan’s business without talking to Evan first. This kind of rubbed me wrong in a way, but in the end, I forgave him just as Evan did. I really enjoyed watching these two men both grow as people. Evan lightens up and Toby matures over the course of the story.
Funny, sexy and downright delightful, Stirring up Trouble is definitely not a book to miss! Ms. Maxfield’s sense of humor really shines in this book as well as her knack of telling a romantic story that I really ended up loving. Recommended!
Reviewed By: Gabbi