“The stomach carries the heart, and not the heart the stomach.” ~ Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author (1547-1616)
Wyatt Parker, of 'Wyatt's Recipes for Wooing Rock Stars' by Clancy Nacht and Thursday Euclid, loves to cook, even if it is mostly for himself. Wyatt has never considered entering a cooking competition; he's always thought of it as an enjoyable hobby. But when one comes along with the grand prize of living in rock star Tully Randolph's mansion and becoming his personal chef for a year, Wyatt quickly enters. At the least, he will get to meet Tully and cook for him.
Anyone who has ever watched any kind of reality TV has an idea of the surrealistic atmosphere surrounding such a program. There's a script, whether or not the contestants are aware of it. It's all about the drama and ratings, not about the skill of the people in the contest. Usually the winner has already been chosen before the contest even starts. Wyatt comes into the competition with an open mind and heart, and a knack for working under pressure. Wyatt wants to please Tully with his cooking more than just competing, but with his honesty and talent, he appeals to Tully in other ways as well. Cooking for someone can be a very intimate experience. It invokes past memories of good times and comfort. In Tully's case, Wyatt's dishes remind him of his mother who recently died and was also a chef. Wyatt's food warms not only Tully's stomach but also his heart.
As the competition goes on, the craziness increases, pitting the contestants against each other with each food challenge they are required to make. There are all kinds of conspiracy and backstabbing and the producer is right in the middle of it, trying to derail everyone's efforts except for Pierre, the chef chosen to win. As things go on, Tully regrets ever having promised to do the show, which has turned into a huge mess. He's very attracted to Wyatt, not just because he makes the best food, or because they come from the same sort of backgrounds, or even because he is exactly the kind of man Tully likes. Wyatt is real and honest, someone who makes Tully feel just that much less alone. The feeling is entirely mutual.
Now that Wyatt has actually gotten to know Tully, he realizes that his instincts about the man are correct. Tully is a great guy who Wyatt would love to share time with. He's also realistic enough to know that the only time they may have together is the week of the competition. He doesn't even dream of anything else. Tully and Wyatt find some time to be together and act on their feelings. They think they are being discrete, but apparently they are fooling themselves. The show host, Baker, confronts them coming out of Tully's room and tells Wyatt that because he is involved with Tully, he is in breach of contract and therefore, disqualified. There is nothing Tully can do about it. Heartbroken, Wyatt is escorted out of the mansion and sent home.
There's one thing this story did for me - all the talk about food made my stomach growl. As crazy as the contest was, it was interesting to see what Wyatt did with the limited ingredients he had. It was delightful to see Tully's reaction to Wyatt's creations. Wyatt didn't have a fake bone in his body and Tully was drawn to that like a flame, especially considering that almost everyone around him was usually there for what they could get out of it. Wyatt was so refreshing, no wonder Tully fell in love with him and when they finally get together, their trysts were steaming hot! If you enjoy a story about food, rock stars, food competitions, and the real way to a man's heart besides food, you may like this novel.