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)

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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:


  1. Oh wow. Definitely a take off from the author's work. But a labour of love, nonetheless.

    1. She usually writes pretty high octane suspense but there's always a bit of food or drink in them so I bet it was fun for her to just let go and write about what she clearly loves.

  2. Wow, what a choice Miller made. One that’s hard to understand. I get that he’s a chef and that is his passion and his livelihood, but even so... we’re talking about the rest of your life. Maybe the book explains in a way that is more palatable (see what I did there? Lol) but I think I would have a hard time accepting that someone should actually make that choice.

    1. This was actually the second book I read with this premise. The other was an artist that would go blind with the surgery.
      Spoiler alert! He chooses to live.

  3. This books has been getting great reviews. I love those cooking shows and this sounds interesting.

    1. I'm curious to see how people who haven't watched all the cooking shows relate to this one.

      It seemed very insider to me and I caught a lot of references but I wonder how it feels if you don't lol

  4. I am so not foodie or show watcher, alas

  5. I'm not much of a foodie so I don't think this one would work for me... I'm glad it tied into something you enjoy though! I'm one of those ones who flips the channel if a cooking show comes on. I don't even watch the Great British Bake Off which is basically a crime where I live, lol.

    1. Lol Traitor!

      I don't watch cooking shows or any of the competition type shows but I watch the documentary style ones about chefs.

  6. I prefer the baking shows rather than shows like Masterchef but I love to cook and create myself as well. I love books that are out of the ordinary and that the main focus isn't the romance. This sounds like a great read Karen, so glad you enjoyed it!

    1. I haven't watched many baking shows. The Chef's Table did one season about pastry chefs but I haven't seen that one yet. My thing is that I don't like the competition/reality type cooking shows.
      The Chef's Table can be quite pretentious - especially the early seasons. They become much more inclusive but The Mind of Chef is wonderful even if you don't like those kinds of shows. It has celebrity chefs but shows their inspiration and how to make homemade versions of their food.

  7. You lost me as soon as you said the series was heavy on the cliffhangers -- hate them. I also don't really like stories where one person is trying to convince another of the reasons they need to live. It just isn't for me. It makes me feel sad and also a little slimy. Like, I don't know this person, what they're thinking or feeling, and it feels wrong to push my opinions about life onto them. However, I do like a good foodie book... ;)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    1. Whoops! Misread that first sentence! This one doesn't have the cliffhanger, but the author's other series? Right? I blame my sick brain!

    2. Ha! Yeah, I was just going to say... this one doesn't have a cliffhanger. Her series usually do. This is a stand alone.
      I agree with you about imposing your views too. It wasn't too bad in this one but I just read another book where they were harassing the poor girl endlessly.

  8. I do love food shows. I have this one to read/review soon, and I'm excited. I like that it's a bit of a departure from Layla's other books!