Title: Raw Cut
Author: K.T. Forbes
Publisher: Amber Allure
Characters: Cabell Scott, David Regent, Moreau Givan
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
The kitchen behind a prestigious New York City restaurant can be a brutal place for a brilliant young chef to learn the ropes. But Cabell Scott is tough and talented…more than up to the task. After all, he has a dream to own a fine establishment some day. And he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
It’s not long before the gorgeous line cook attracts the attention of the legendary chef, Moreau Givan, who is more than willing to teach Cabell the fine points of culinary technique. When the relationship between the two men moves from the kitchen to the bedroom, Cabell finds himself on a path of discovery that encompasses far more than his cooking skill.
As Cabell works his way up the ranks in professional kitchens, his tumultuous love life nearly topples his career. And when his newly opened restaurant is threatened by his past, Cabell is forced to take his own measure as he wrestles with a decision that will set the course for the rest of his life.
We get this story only from Cabell’s point of view since this is first and foremost his journey of self-discovery. In the beginning Cabell is young and naïve, and as a chef starting out, he forms a passionate bond with a famous chef, Moreau. Unfortunately, Moreau’s main obsession is cooking, and Cabell has to shed some delusions of his own. When returning to his home town, he meets David, a history bookshop owner, who is vastly different from Moreau. Cabell begins to see his social life in a different light. Yet, he chooses his career over any man—and as a result he becomes the cold, obsessive person he fears. He knows he has to change his life, or have a breakdown, but easier said than done.
This story spans over several years. Cabell changes a lot in the course of the story arc. In fact, his inner musings are covered very well here. His personality comes through loud and clear, fragile and idealistic at first as a virgin, and later as an obsessive man who goes through a baptism of fire, and finally as the grown man who sees himself realistically and finds a balance in his life.
The cooking industry is shown in realistic light. Some kitchens do well with calm, competent leadership and thrive, while others suffer under cruel, tyrannical, greedy bosses and flicker off for various reasons. Cabell comes to see both sides, which strengthens his view of what a perfect restaurant would be. This gives the story a firm backdrop which fuels Cabell’s own obsession with furthering his career. In fact, this kind of constant pursuit of a better career is shown very well, a stark depiction of a character facet that can crush a person’s soul—if they let it. Cabell get awfully close to that edge.
Moreau and David represent opposite sides of the personality pole. Moreau is manipulative, career-oriented, cold, and extremely selfish. David is optimistic, kind, forgiving, an all around good person. Though we don’t get their points of view, we get in their heads with every look, every gesture, every word spoken and unspoken. The characterization here was done exceedingly well.
The writing is solid, if a bit dragging with the erotic scenes. In fact, the beginning of the book, depicting Cabell and Moreau’s relationship, is filled with sex scenes to the point I just wanted to get on with the story already. I understood the reasoning behind it, to show the kind of emotionally hollow relationship the two men had. Still, I felt like the story actually started when Cabell returned to his hometown. At that point the pace of the plot quickened, and I was glad about that. There are a couple of plot twists along the way. What happens to Moreau, especially, is shown with a sort of blatant subtlety, if you get my drift. You’ll see. About the erotic scenes: There’s quite a few of them, and at some situations they felt off, blocking the continuation of the plot. They weren’t bad, just… unnecessary.
Nonetheless, this a good story with strong, realistic characters, well-developed plot, and a glimpse into an industry I’m glad I’m not a part of. Recommended.
Reviewed By: Susan