Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: "Ready to Burn" by Tracey Alvarez

Love small-town romance with an unforgettable cast of characters? The Due South series will transport you to an unspoilt, wild island of the coast of New Zealand. Meet Shaye and Del...

Take one sassy Harland girl…

Shaye Harland, sous chef de-awesome, desperately wants the role of Due South’s head chef. Though a little out of her depth, she can totally cope with the extra demands if she can resist her future brother-in-law when he muscles in on her kitchen. The Hollywood wannabe is nothing but a troublesome distraction and he fries her sexometer to a crisp. But as far as romance? Forget it. Love, when she finds Mr. Perfect, will be as sweet as her to-die-for cookies.

Add a bad-boy from LA…

Del Westlake swore he’d never again set foot on the island he calls the “ass end of New Zealand.” With his reputation as a sous chef in one of LA’s hottest restaurants trashed, and his estranged father’s restaurant needing a head chef, Del wants nothing more than to go in, get the job done, and get out. Except his feisty second-in-command carves herself a spot in his heart and completely incinerates his plans.

Watch the sparks fly as they burn it up in the kitchen… 

Winning a spot on a TV reality show is just what Del needs to jumpstart his career back in the States. Nothing can get in the way of him winning—not even the woman whose trust he’d destroy if she discovers his secrets. But with a film crew capturing the explosive kitchen chemistry between them, will his bad-boy ways rear up and ruin his shot at becoming Shaye’s Mr. Perfect?

Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Review:
What a wonderful visit back to Stewart Island and a chance to catch up with old friends, and make some new ones. We first meet Del as a brooding man who is clearly unhappy with the direction his life has taken, and is contemplative about his past, and his future. Throughout the book, we see many complexities to Del but at the root of it, we see a little boy who is yearning for acceptance from his father. Everything he has done in his life, from being a chef, to seeking love and acceptance but not commitment, can be tied back to his need for acceptance and love from his father. He feelings of isolation run deep and he is continually reminded of his feelings of rejection each time he sees his childhood friends as adult, in the places he longed to feel belonging in. He was a wonderfully-endearing character and despite his broodiness and often boorish behavior, you can't help but root for him to get the love and acceptance he needs in his life - from his father, and from a good woman.

Shaye feels the need to take care of everyone and everything. Her caring nature is often translated into her relationships, and her feelings of desire for Del become intermingled with her need to help him through his troubles with his father and his issues with previous relationships. A broken man and a nurturing woman - what could be more perfect! And you would think so, but of course, love is never that easy. Shaye's deep held feelings for her home on Stewart Island are constantly offended by Del's immense need to protect himself from continued hurt at home by expressing disdain for the island and everything about it. His need to leave and her need to stay create a conflict you aren't sure, as the reader, they will be able to overcome. We aren't just talking about leaving a small town for the big city here - we're talking about one of them needing to be halfway around the world!  The twists and turns the author produces with that conflict (and it's SO not what you would have expected) creates a situation where you the reader can't predict whether these two will get the happily-ever-after you know they both deserve.

The book is well written and I appreciated the balance of dialogue and narrative presented by the author. There are sex scenes but they do not overwhelm the story and are included in such a way that they contribute to and enhance the story. And, as an American, I love the taste of New Zealand that I get each time I read a book by this author, who even includes some fun pokes at Americans with her jabs at Del's adoption of American words and pronounciation of words over their New Zealand counterparts. Its a fun visit back to Stewart Island and I enjoyed catching up with old friends such as West and Piper and Kezia and Ben, and seeing what's been happening since we last saw them!


About the Author:
I live in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand) where I’ve yet to be buried under my to-be-read book pile by our infamous wind—my Kindle’s a lifesaver! Married to a wonderfully supportive IT guy (who doesn’t mind cooking dinner while his wife mutters to herself and hammers away at the keyboard), we have two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices.

As a teenager I devoured novel after novel in my maths class, which explains why I still don’t understand using the alphabet in equations. I discovered a stack of tattered paperbacks hidden in my mother’s wardrobe featuring scantily clad women wrapped around bare-chested hunks. Who needs a pimply-faced teenage boyfriend when you can have book boyfriends, right? So as a child I got my first taste of Happily Ever After in fairy-tales, but after reading romance—I was hooked.

Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, I’m now the author of contemporary romantic fiction set predominantly in New Zealand. Small-towns, close communities, and families are a big part of the heart-warming stories I love to write. Oh, and hot, down-to-earth heroes—real Kiwi men, in other words.

When I’m not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, I can be found reading sexy books of all romance genres and nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars. What? You were expecting me to say free-dive training, hiking the world-famous Rakiura track on Stewart Island, and restoring classic cars? Nope, sorry. I’ll leave such excitement to my characters as they explore their worlds and find the love of their lives.

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