REVIEW: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards
Dear Ms. Edwards:
Thank you for sending me this book. I confess I tried to read this book many times, never making it out of the first few chapters. The heroine, Miranda Wake, a food critic, gets drunk at a restauraent premiere and makes some very loud and rude remarks. She then insults the chef, accepts a dare to be in his kitchen for one month, and sells a tell all memoir based on her experiences, which she has not yet had.
But then the book was released and positive reviews popped by readers who had actually finished the book. Finally, Sarah convinced me that it was worth powering through. Yes, she told me, Miranda gets in her own way, repeatedly, but Adam Temple is a “happy alpha” and his motley crew of chefs make it all worthwhile. It’s true. In the end, I did like the book and was glad to have read it.
Miranda Wake is an esteemed food critic in New York. Her restaurant reviews can be scathing and she is followed avidly by the New York food cognoscenti. Unfortunately, Miranda’s quest to become a published author is shot down, again, and her beloved brother, Jess, has left his college scholarship in the Midwest to attend NYU.
Miranda has been Jess’ guardian since they lost their parents when Miranda was 18 and Jess was 10. She has worked hard to provide Jess with everything that she thinks her parents would have provided, including a college education. Not wanting Jess to have to work while studying, she manages to sell a book idea about the kitchen staff of Adam Temple’s new restaurant, Market.
Unfortunately for Miranda she not only gets the dirty goods on each and every sous chef, prep chef and even dishwasher in the Market’s kitchen but she also falls in love with Adam Temple and comes to appreciate the kitchen staff of Market when she works with them for a couple of weeks. But her love for Jess and her guilt at his not having parents drives her to make difficult (and unlikeable decisions).
Adam Temple is finally opening his own restaurant based on the idea of sustainable food. He buys everything local, from his produce to his poultry, and creates food to which he hopes his customers will have a connection. The rendering of Adam is done in large passionate strokes. He is a man of quick temper, but of big heart. His joy for life, his passion for his craft imbued every page. He had an eye for talent and could see potential in the demeanor of the lowest food worker on his crew.
His crew of chefs also had distinct identities even though we were only given small glimpses. Even the food and the cooking were so well done that these elements were almost characters by themselves. I wanted to book a table at Market by the half way mark of the story.
In the end, all the positives of the book: the happy alpha Adam who was an uncomplicated lover of life and of people; the tender and uncertain secondary romance; and the kitchen, food, and cooking negated the not so positive reaction I had toward Miranda.
I understood Miranda’s motivations but I wasn’t convinced by them. Part of this is due to the publication of the book itself. Miranda was writing the book because she needed the money to pay for Jess’ tuition at NYU. But tuition at NYU for four years would be close to six figures. It was unlikely that Miranda’s book would have netted a huge advance. Further, the idea that Miranda could take private cooking classes with Adam, work full time in the Market kitchen and write a 150 page memoir in two weeks seemed beyond improbable. It’s possible that this could have all happened but my credulity was strained and that made it hard for me to see Miranda in a sympathetic light.
I was convinced that Adam loved Miranda and wanted her with a passion that he normally reserved for food and for this reason, I closed the book satisfied. I’ll take a second serving of happy alpha. B-