Dear Ms. Rai:
This is the first book of yours that I have read. I picked it because it featured a non caucasion protagonist; it had to do with cooking; and there were two hot guys in the story. I had mixed emotions at the end of the story. On the one hand I loved that the heroine, Devi Malik, read like an authentic person of color. I appreciated the committed threesome. I felt, though, that there wasn’t as much character and relationship building as was needed to completely sell me on the romance.
Devi Malik is the chef at her family restaurant that she runs with her two older sisters. Every Tuesday night for a month, one customer has come in and ordered her special, “a special twist on a thick lamb curry.” Devi’s curiosity at who Mr. Tuesday Special was fanned by her sister, the front of the house, gushing about Mr. Tuesday Special’s good looks, great tipping habits, and “overall perfection.” Devi peeked at him one night and agreed that her sister, Rana, was absolutely right in her assessment of him as perfection.
Mr. Tuesday Special came in on a Saturday and asked to meet the chef. In the ensuing panic, Devi burns herself, ruins a dish, and becomes generally discombobulated but she does want to meet him and so pulls herself together.
Jace Callahan stopped in one day to The Palace, got drunk off the food and then caught sight of the chef, Devi, and was determined to have her. And having her meant getting his brother on board because Jace and Marcus weren’t just twins. They shared women on a frequent basis because it was physically satisfying, but more importantly, emotionally necessary. Jace believes for some reason not fully articulated that Devi could be the one for them and brings Marcus to meet her. (This part is a bit elusive for me. I didn’t know if Devi had some special pheremone she released that signalled she was made for two men or whether she plated the lamb in such a way that Jace had an inkling she was accepting of that kind of relationship or what).
Devi has no idea that Jace is a) attracted to her or b) interested in a menage. Her sister, Rana, practically has to draw diagrams with stick figures and maps to explain that Jace wants her bad and that Jace and Marcus are known to share women. It wasn’t Rana’s idea that Jace and Marcus would jump Devi’s bones, but she isn’t opposed to seeing her sister spread her wings sexually after Devi’s been so withdrawn since the end of Devi’s last relationship.
Devi isn’t traumatized by her last breakup like Rani believes. Instead she’s just disillusioned. She wants the grand passion but can’t seem to find it and the idea of hooking up with two men ready to lavish their attention on her is enticing and worth the risk.
Marcus isn’t the relationship type. He believes he’s content with the random and casual hookups but he has sensed Jace’s impatience and dissatisfaction with that lifestyle. The truth is that Jace is tired of casual relationships. He’s determined to woo Devi for both Marcus and himself and by the time she’s won, Marcus will not be able to let her go. Or so Jace hopes.
The setup, while slightly unbelievable, worked for me. Where the story stumbled was in the execution of the plot. Devi, Marcus, and Jace immediately embark on a physical relationship. There’s little that the three know about each other but that doesn’t stop the hookup. I think the instant physical connection was emblematic for most of the story which revolved primarily around the sex.
Then there’s the exaggerated characters of Jace and Marcus. Jace is the neat one who likes clothes, cuddling, and cute things. Marcus is the one who has the harder edge; hates shopping, domesticity, and the even the mention of love. At times, Jace seems to be almost effeminate. Marcus and Jace come from a horrific childhood and of course, this is their excuse for having to have one woman to complete the threesome.
The initial chapters of the book showed detailed cooking by Devi and I wish more of that had been carried throughout the book. Perhaps it could have been metaphorical for her growing feelings for the two men or maybe symbolic of their relationship but after the first scene, cooking and food became more of a sexual prop than anything else.
What was wonderful were the descriptions of Devi, told mostly through the eyes of Jace and Marcus, that were wholly in keeping with her ethnicity. Her flesh was golden and her nipples were brown. (as opposed to the rosy nipples and the pale white skin we are so often reading about). Jace and Marcus’ view of Devi was that she was this lush goddess, pillowy and full and perfect for them in her round, brown beauty. It was easy to understand their attraction for her and vice versa. The sex scenes were spicy and well done. I just wished that more attention was spent to fleshing out the three as individuals instead of characters in a menage. C+
This book can be purchased in ebook format from Samhain.