For What It's Worth

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review: Dine with Me by Layla Reyne

Life never tasted so good.

Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.

But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s sick.

Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cup of joe.
As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless. ~

Source: e-arc provided by A Novel Take Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Dine with Me is a big departure from Reyne’s romantic suspense (heavy on the cliffhangers!) series and you can tell that this was a book written from a place of joy for the author, despite the heavy subject matter.

Award winning chef, Miller Sykes is given a diagnoses of cancer. There is a treatment that will save his life but it comes with a cost. He would most likely lose his taste buds. As a chef, Miller isn’t willing to make that kind of compromise and instead, chooses to go without treatment, knowing it means his death.

He decides to make one last coast to coast trip of all his favorite foods. Michelin star restaurants, home cooked meals – foods that brought back memories or held a special place in his heart.

He needs help financing the endeavor and that’s where oncologist, Dr. Clancy Rhodes, comes in. His parents finance the trip in exchange for sending Clancy on the tour with Miller (not knowing about his diagnosis) as a gift before Clancy needs to give up oncology to join his father’s plastic surgery practice.

This takes place over a short period of time but works as Miller finds Clancy more than just a pretty rich boy he had to drag along to finance the trip. He may not be a chef but he understands food and flavors and is the perfect companion for what Miller has in mind.

Is it sad? Kind of. I mean the hero wants to, and is dying. It takes a while before Clancy figures things out and the mission becomes more about convincing Miller of all the things he has to live for.

But at it’s core, this is a foodie book. This is a passion project and it shows. The details were spot on and the food descriptions drool worthy. I’m a huge fan of those chef focused shows, like A Chef’s Table, Mind of a Chef, and I picked up on so many details from episodes I’d seen or even from restaurants I’ve visited in NYC. This story almost felt like a behind the scenes peek at those shows.

The romance was sweet. A little coincidental – an oncologist and foodie! just happens to be your companion but this is a novella and it makes the story go in all the right directions it needs to. They make a great pair. Clancy is just as changed from the experience as Miller is. There’s also a well rounded supporting cast, including Miller’s ex-wife and Clancy’s parents.

If you you aren't a hardcore foodie or haven’t seen those chef focused shows or aren’t that into food descriptions, you might have a harder time with this one. They are VERY detailed and almost technical. If you just like foodie romances – heavy on the romance – this isn’t it. But if it is your jam then definitely pick this one up!

Does Clancy convince Miller to get the surgery and live? Well, this is a Carina Press book and they promise a HEA/HFN so I’ll leave it at that. 

*This is a random thought I had, that most people who don’t watch all these chef shows might not even notice. The illness that may take away Miller's taste buds is very similar to that of Alinea chef Grant Achatz. Like I said, this is very insider, but to stick so close to reality (names/places/food) with other chefs and restaurants as the backdrop to Dine with Me and even mention Alinea and Achatz in passing, without mentioning his illness, as if this wasn't inspired by his story in some way seemed weird.

Giveaway: Signed limited edition paperback + swag (equivalent value for international)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About Layla Reyne:

RITA Finalist Layla Reyne is the author of the Agents Irish and Whiskey, Fog City, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. Layla is a 2019 RWA® RITA® Finalist in Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length) and 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

Connect with Layla:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday

Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging.

Question: How do you handle writing books for books that you didn’t love?

I know a lot of bloggers agonize over this - but to me it’s the same as any other review.

My one rule is to keep the review about the book and not make it personal about the author.

I think most of us blog to promote authors and books we love but I read reviews to help me choose my next book. I like to read pros and cons for a book before I decide and that’s what I try to do with my reviews.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with readers loving a book and screaming from the rooftops READ THIS!!! But without other reviewers, who feel like they can’t knock a popular book out there, I don’t know about the things that would have helped me steer clear of something that wouldn’t work for me.

Not every book can be a winner and I find negative reviews to be invaluable. And not AT ALL a deterrent to reading or buying a book.

I actually have a MUCH harder time writing reviews for books I love. It’s pretty easy for me to point out pros and cons for a book – I figure the reader can decide from there if the book is for them. When I LOVE a book though, I’m an incoherent mess of love and don’t want to look at the book more closely and potentially ruin the experience for me. And I try to get to every single thing that I loved. Without spoilers. lol

Possible controversial opinion ahead.

I beta read for authors, I understand the hard work that goes into writing, how emotional it can be and why negative reviews can be devastating – especially if tweeted directly to the author (& especially while writing their next book) (don't do this) but a book is not a baby (as it is often referred to) I get that it is in a way for the author – but it’s not literally a baby.  It’s a product that people buy and I deserve to have honest information out there to help me decide my next purchase. I also understand that other readers might not love the book that I did. It doesn’t bother me at all.

I have also seen authors who don’t think there should be negative reviews & advocate Be Kind on Twitter then rip TV shows, movies and games a new one without any sense of irony. Is that not a creative process? Isn’t there a face behind that? People who invested years and sweat and tears into the finished product? Yet they felt they deserved better writing, a better ending…all the things that get us riled about books.

I also don’t buy into the *constrictive criticism for the author* review. Sure, it might be helpful if the author is interested (maybe a new author or if the criticism is a common one) but the book is done and can’t be fixed. Besides what you hate might be what appeals to someone else. No one book can be catered to every reader. Nor should it try. 

I try to be fair about it – not unnecessarily cruel, definitely not personal, and try to point out the type of reader it might appeal to.

That got a little ranty lol but what are your thoughts on this , sometimes controversial, topic?

Monday, September 16, 2019

My Monday Musings...

I’m doing better, mentally, this week than last. It’s been raining, which you would think would be depressing, but it kicked the season into fall so I don’t feel like I’m caught in some weird seasonal limbo anymore.

I have an appointment with my new primary care Dr this week. I dropped off  the form to have my FL records transferred but they seem to have lost it so that bodes well. lol

We’re in the last few weeks of the farmers market and that’s the one thing I’m really going to miss over the winter. They have the most amazing fresh fruit and veggies out here. We had a pretty good market in FL but this market blows it away.

Look at these adorable mini kiwis they had this week! You eat them whole – no fuzzy skin to peel first.

Fonzi had his 2 week re-check for his dental extractions and his mouth looks great. He’s back to normal food and treats. We still have to deal with his wonky bloodwork/urinalysis though. We’re retesting everything in 2 weeks to see if maybe his periodontal disease caused it. If not then we’re off to a specialist and ultrasounds. 😟


I’m still not in a reading mood lately but I finished the Penryn & the End of Days trilogy (Goodreads). SO trippy and weird!

Book #1, Angelfall, was good. It’s the apocalypse and angels are hunting humans. Very cool world – kind of different take on angels, Penryn and Raffe (a fallen angel who has his wings brutally stripped from him) have a cool chemistry. It’s not your typical swoony YA deal – more of a grudging respect over time and I was digging it. It’s an ultra violent world though with experimentation on humans (including children) and it’s not for the squeamish reader.

Book #2, World After, is not as great as Angelfall but still pretty good, especially if you are into non stop action and gore. This is surprisingly graphic and dark for YA. But this is also where some of Ee’s complex story arc’s (the angels history & relationships/dynamics – Penryrn’s mentally ill mother) kind of get pushed back in favor of yet another fight. The Penryn and Raffe relationship is also sidelined a bit since he isn't in this one as much but I like how this focuses more on Penryn’s relationship with her sister (who has survived a gruesome experiment) and other survivors.

Book #3, End of Days was disappointing. A fairly complex world and slow building romance developed over the last 2 books turns into – waaa – why doesn’t Raffe want me and all the angel conflict is resolved through hasty flashbacks and and Raffe dropping some knowledge – that if he just said it in book #1 would have fixed all of this.

I was told this was supposed to have been a 5 book series. In some ways, that could have fleshed out the angel characters better because that ended poorly. And maybe there was more to Penryrn’s mom’s behavior? But we’ll never know. On the other hand – so much of this could have been cut and better told in a duology. It felt like Ee wanted to include any cool thing she came up with and it was A LOT.
So….glad I read it. It was a wacky ride that I mostly enjoyed but wish it had a stronger ending.
The entire series is available on KU if you have it and want to give it a try at no (additional) cost to you.


I didn’t get to anything else that was on my planned TBR list from last week but I did pick up Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (Goodreads) and I’m really enjoying it! The couple is at the *I hate you* stage right now but the sparks are starting to fly.


2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Karen has read 68 books toward her goal of 80 books.

I’m doing ok but my reading is slowing down again. I’m feeling good about raising my goal to 80 instead of 100 lol

TBR pile # update – do you remember the picture of my cart filed with what remains of my books to read? It was at 50 and is now down to …..drumroll please… 37!!


Tall Girl on Netflix (skip it), Ferdinand (the newer Disney movie) – I thought this was really sad most of the time but I guess kind of cute in the end, Mortal Engines – cool concept – an only ok movie. I’m planning on trying HBO’s Succession this week.

So what should I be reading or watching this week??