A little klutzy and a tad awkward, Lia wiggled her way into my heart.
by Amabel Daniels
Published July 8, 2016
You can’t always get what you want.
Shy and sweet Lia Gardella has only wished to make her father proud. Dropping plates, spilling drinks, and missing orders, she’s never fit in at the family business. And after nearly incinerating the whole building, she ran from the stressful environment.
As head chef of one of the city’s best eateries, Finn Newland seems to have it all. He enjoyed a youthful career in the MMA. Women worship him. After years of hard work, he finally has an opportunity to take over the restaurant he’s always considered his own.
Be careful what you wish for.
When Lia’s father summons her to supervise Gardella’s, instead of handing the reins to Finn, no one is happy. They don’t know how to collaborate on running the restaurant. Nor are they confident they can continue to deny their attraction to one another. But before they can attempt a partnership of any kind, they’ll need to find the culprit behind a trend of spiteful sabotage aimed at Gardella’s.
Finn nodded. “See. She knows she can’t handle it.” He held his hand up in a truce. “Give me a chance, Rico. Take some time off and let’s see how I handle it. All right? There’s no need to be rash. I already run the cook’s line. I’ll step up and watch over the servers on the floor. I’ll contract a bookkeeper. I told you I’d work extra. I’ll handle it all.”
“You can’t handle yourself! You can’t stop whoring around enough to even think about this place no more!” Enrico flared up in his face.
Working his jaw, Finn eyed the little man. That damn critic. “Maybe I’ll just sleep with Lia and have her give it to me, huh, Rico?” He smirked. “What’s one more woman in my way?” It was a dirty hit, but Rico’s decision was ridiculous.
Enrico waved. “Ha! Not with her.” He grunted. “Won’t work.”
Finn crossed his arms, enjoying the blush on Lia’s cheeks. “I think it could.”
She slapped him.
Are you kidding me? His glared at her. Well, he deserved it, but hell, he was just joking. He’d never seriously—
“I’m not a, a pawn!”
“See?” Rico ceased his chuckle. “She doesn’t fawn over pretty boys like you.”
Finn rubbed his cheek and faced his boss. “Rico, she’s got no business being here. I do. I’ve worked for this, Rico. I’ve been here for years. She’s never even bothered to come back here. Not even once!”
Enrico hardly batted an eye. Actually, he smiled. “I never asked her to.”
“Why are you asking me now?” she said.
“Because I am.”
I really enjoyed the suspense element of this story. Daniels does a really good job of keeping you guessing who is behind all of the “accidents” and mishaps at the restaurant. She gives just enough hings to have your brain working as you work to figure out what is malicious, what is bad luck, and what might be something really dangerous. I was surprised at the ending (which is always a bonus) but it worked really well with the rest of the story.
I also enjoyed Finn and Lia working their way into a HEA. They are absolutely HORRIBLE about communicating and both do a lot of jumping to conclusions but they eventually figure things out. They’ve got a lot of history and assumptions to overcome but Daniels does a good job of getting them there.
I was all that much of a fan of the rest of the characters. They seemed like the cast of a really bad (fake) reality show. They are awful to Lea, disrespectful to those in authority, and snipe among themselves when they aren’t trying to get in each other’s pants. There is not a single redeeming one in the group, except for the dishwasher who keeps his head down and stays out of the way. Even he has a moment though – although I totally get where he is coming from.
The writing style is also a bit awkward, but if you push through it (and the horrid people) you end up with a enjoyable romance and a good mystery to keep you turning pages. Daniels is a pretty new author so I’m looking forward to seeing her talent blossom and will be on the lookout for new stories from her.
Amabel Daniels lives in Northwest Ohio with her patient husband, adventurous toddlers, smiley baby, and a collection of too many cats and dogs. Although she holds a Master’s degree in Ecology, her true love is finding a good book. When she isn’t spending time outdoors, or wondering how to negotiate with her mightily independent two-year-old daughter, she’s busy brewing up her next novel, usually as she lets her mind run off with the addictive words of “what if…”
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