What a difference eight years make. When ‘In the Raw’ the first book in the ‘In the Kitchen’ trilogy ended we left our two boys deeply in love. Sure, Jamie was on his way to Paris to further his cooking career, but they would only be separated for six months. Surely the deep connection and love between them would survive the relatively short separation?
Apparently not. When ‘In the Fire’ starts Ethan and Jamie have been living separate lives for eight years. Over the course of Jamie’s six months in Paris they drifted apart for reasons neither is completely sure about. When Jamie returned to America he moved to New York rather than back to Seattle and the rest, as they say is history. Jamie has become a famous television chef over the years while Ethan is tantalizingly close to buying the restaurant he’s been dreaming about for so long. When circumstances force Ethan and Jamie to meet again it soon becomes clear that eight years were not enough to kill the feelings they have for each other. They may not trust each other completely and may be filled with doubts about the wisdom of their actions, the heat and love burning between them won’t be denied.
Still, it takes the thread of Ethan almost losing his dream for the two of them to turn back into the solid and immovable unit they once were.
I have fallen more than a little bit in love with Ethan and Jamie over the course of ‘In the Raw’ and ‘In the Fire’. They both have their own distinct voice in these books and are fully fleshed out characters, easy to recognise and even easier to fall for. When I first saw there was an eight year gap in the story-line between books one and two I had my doubts about how well that might work. I should have known better. I think giving Ethan and Jamie those years to grow from boys into grown men was nothing less than a stroke of genius. ‘In the Fire’ tells us enough about what happened during those eight years to make the reader understand how they turned into the men they are now, without us having to be present for every single minute. When we reconnect with our two heroes one of them is on the brink of realizing his dream while the other has discovered that what appeared to be a dream has turned into a chore; a wonderful time for both of them to re-evaluate their lives.
Griffin and Michaels have a wonderful writing style. They create characters with real personalities and make them shine. Their descriptions are vivid (don’t read these books while hungry) and their dialogue sparkle and occasionally leads to laugh out loud moments. The easy flow of the narrative combined with two characters who are extremely hot together, ensures a wonderful and captivating reading experience.
If I have an issue with this book it is that it took almost 70% of the story before Jamie and Ethan spend some real time together. What I love most about these books is the interaction between them and with them being apart I did miss those sparks. But, I understand why the separation was necessary in the story and I’m convinced my impatience with prolonged angst had a lot to do with my reaction. Since I’m well aware my issues with angst are a-typical for readers of this genre, I’m convinced others may love those parts I wished had been a bit shorter.
Where ‘In the Raw’ ended a bit ambiguously, ‘In the Fire’ has no such issues. In fact the ending in this book is such that I have absolutely no idea where Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels might be taking us with book three. If I didn’t know for a fact they were already writing it I might doubt it was to come at all. To say I’m curious and looking forward to that third book would be a serious understatement. These two authors have once again confirmed their status among my must read writers.