by Lisa Plumley
Published: December 3, 2013, Zebra Books
My rating: 4 of 5 ⭐️
Gabriella Grimani grew up steeped in Italian tradition, which included her family owned pizzeria chain in Portland that was passed down through generations of pizzaiolos. After a brief falling out with her father over visions for the pizzeria's future, Gabby has returned to attempt to rescue the family business from a forced corporate buy-out, but in order to do that, she will have to make sure to get the creditors of their backs. And she will, just as soon as she can get her employees to cooperate!
Sent in by his father as a 'fixer', to infiltrate and glean information on the pizzeria chain to facilitate an easy take-over, Shane Maresca is eager to get the job done, and done well, although he finds himself oddly distracted here in Portland. In order to get himself back on track and into his 'no prisoners' frame of mind before he zooms in on his target, he decides to take the night before to completely relax and let loose. The feisty and funny woman he encounters at the bar he ends up at, provides him with that, and a whole lot more.
What are the odds that that woman, turns out to be the daughter of the pizzeria owner. Of course Shane only knows her as Gabby, and Gabby couldn't be more surprised to see Shane standing in the alley behind her kitchen. Doing some quick thinking, Shane manages to come up with a credible story justifying his presence and allowing him to follow Gabby around the restaurant. Although he is not quite clear as to his motivations anymore, business or pleasure??
Gabby doesn't know whether to be happy or irritated with the unexpected intrusion of Shane into her life. She needs her focus in order to stay on top of things, which is imperative if she wants the business to come out of this mess intact. But after Shane proves himself hardworking and very helpful when they were dealing with an onslaught of crises, Gabby slowly starts appreciating him as an asset. Yet something is off, there are too many coincidental mishaps.
Despite early misgivings, the two can't keep their hands off each other for long, but it means a blurring of lines and loyalties. Ultimately choices have to be made, especially when lives are at stake....
An incredibly fun read!!
I enjoyed the writing style, the banter in the kitchen between the 'pizzeria family', between Shane and his assistant, and Shane and Gabby. There is a lot of edgy, sarcastic humour there that really appeals to me.
Gabby is raised and trained very traditionally, yet longs to put her own signature somewhere, on something. She believes in the values that were handed down to her, but wants to grow with them, not have them restrict her. She doesn't quite know how to make that work for herself yet. Shane is actually able to add a slightly different view on things, that might have the same focus, only with a better or easier outcome. Being both stubborn and passionate, it takes some heated discussions, foot stomping and even hotter make up sessions, for Gabby to slowly find her way.
The issues Shane is dealing with also centre around family but in another form. He is looking for affirmation, something he has never had or known. He thinks that by proving himself professionally he can get the respect and perhaps even the love he craves, but that of course never works. He also doesn't quite know how to be himself, having spent most of his life being what he thought others expected of him. Gabby never expected anything of him, at first because they were supposed to be a one night hook up, and she cared for him even after he had dropped all pretences.
Lisa Plumley also writes in a way that feels almost like a compliment to her readers' intelligence. I'm not quite sure how else to explain. She doesn't feel the need to write out every minute detail, but safely assumes that there are certain things her reader can piece together. The story doesn't need to be fed to us, bite by bite. I think that's awesome!
Although a familiar enough trope, the vibrancy and variety of the characters and the full context for both the protagonists, along with the added twists and turns to add elements of surprise til the very end, made for an entirely fresh feel. And there is something so wickedly delicious about the sex and food combination, again in this book, that makes the steam rise off my Kindle!!
✨Sharp, spunky and sinfully tasty!!✨
**ARC provided by NetGalley and Zebra Books in return for an honest review.**