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Book Review: An Acquired Taste (The Everheart Brothers of Texas #1) (ARC)

Expected publication: June 8th 2021

Author: Kelly Cain

May the best chef win…

After four years at the country’s top culinary school and several years as head chef in her mother’s restaurant, Rowan Townsend has built a notable reputation. Her farm-to-table collard greens have long been bringing everyone to the yard, but limits on the restaurant’s size have led to long waits. Looking to expand the restaurant, she enters a televised chef competition. The problem? Her infuriatingly-talented nemesis from culinary school also enters.

To the culinary world, Knox Everheart is restaurant royalty. As much as Rowan wants to deny it, he’s a gifted chef. Rowan knows her arrogant arch-nemesis is confident he’ll win—he’s certainly given her a run for her money more times than she’d like to admit. But this time, she’s ready to show him who’s boss.

Their rivalry soon sparks fireworks in the kitchen and, as the competition heats up, so does Rowan’s attraction to Knox. And somewhere between pasta and gumbo, they both need to decide what’s worth fighting for.

An Acquired Taste is the first novel in The Everheart Brothers of Texas series. From the very first page, the reader is introduced to the excellent novel that can be experienced throughout the entire reading experience. The story takes one of my favorite tropes, enemies to lovers, and places it in a cooking competition setting!

The story is told from the perspective of Rowan Townsend who met Knox Everheart while in culinary school. The two of them form a rivalry that continues when the two of them find themselves competing in the same cooking competition. Rowan dreams of opening her own bistro, but circumstances mean that she needs to continue working in her mother’s restaurant. Although she loves being a chef, it is not the same as owning your own place. The competition is her best bet to achieve her dream, but with an extremely talented chef, Knox, as a competitor it will not be an easy attempt at victory.

Their fierce competitive spirits leap off the page as each of them is extremely talented. There is also amazing chemistry between them. Even without the romance aspect, I highly related to the rivalry as no matter how good someone becomes there will always be another talented person to take the spotlight, just like you probably take the spotlight from someone else. This brought me back to my university days where we had field projects going and there was insane competitiveness between myself and two others. In this story, Knox and Rowan share witty banter that was very entertaining and kept a nice lightness to the story.

The cooking itself and the family dynamics add depth to the story. There were many recipes at the start of each chapter and delicious food throughout, so it would not be advisable to read this on an empty stomach. I loved the recipes that were added for humor as they fit very well into the narrative! The family dynamic aspect brought some drama and heart as obstacles are overcome. The story was well balanced as there were serious moments, but they are balanced by many light-hearted moments.  The pacing was well-done as the relationship between the two characters is not instant and instead has a natural progression from their enemy status to eventual potential couple. The novel was well-done and left me wanting more, so I definitely will check out the next novel in the series!

**I give a special thank you to Book Sprout and the author, Kelly Cain, for a copy of this entertaining novel to read. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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