REVIEW: Taste by Melanie Harlow



* * * * * * * * * *


The last person on earth I want to be stranded with is Gianni Lupo.

But thanks to the blizzard of the century, I’m trapped in a roadside motel room with that cocky bastard for two straight days.

With one small bed.

Some women might thank Mother Nature for delivering a polar vortex that maroons them with six feet of solid muscle, those deep blue eyes, that sexy grin–but not me. I’ve known Gianni Lupo all my life, and he’s never brought me anything but bad luck and trouble.

So when the tension between us explodes with enough fiery heat to melt my icy defenses, I should have known what the disastrous end result would be–

A big fat plus sign.

After the snow melts, I’m left with more than just memories of the night we spent keeping each other warm. And he might be a rising star on the culinary scene, but he’s got no idea how to handle this bun in the oven.

He says he wants to do the right thing, but I’m not about to spend the rest of my life feeling like someone settled for me.

But just when I think I’ve got Gianni Lupo all figured out, he gives me a taste of the man he could be, of the family we could become, of the way he could love me if I let him.

I’m terrified of falling for him.

But one taste might be all it takes.

* * * * * * * * * *


I really love small town romances. The combination of a sweet, sexy romance with the vibe of those in-your-business characters and the everybody-knows-everybody small towns is my drug of choice. As someone who’s married to their high school sweet heart, when these romances employ a childhood friends- or enemies-to-lovers trope, it’s simply magical for me. There’s just something about that history, the setting and the antics of the lovingly nosey members of the community really does it for me. Harlow writes some wonderful small town romances, and she’s one of my suppliers of choice to feed this particular need of mine. Her Cloverleigh Farms series is set in a charming Michigan small town, and she’s moving the series forward with some second generation characters’ stories.

Taste is a childhood enemies-to-lovers romance between childhood nemeses, Ellie and Gianni. Their mothers are best friends, and they grew up together. Their families spent a tremendous amount of time together, but Ellie and Gianni didn’t actually get along all that well—mostly due to Gianni’s pranks and incessant teasing. Fast forward to present day, and Gianni’s career is on fire thanks to his participation in a reality cooking show. He’s always chasing the next exciting opportunity, and he’s all about the playboy lifestyle and the rush of a new adventure. While he loves his home town, he’s not interested in putting down roots there, a family or even a relationship. Ellie is done with Gianni’s nonsense, she had enough of it growing up with him, and she’s focused on her career and her family’s vineyard. Her parents are on an extended trip to France, and Gianni is home and filling in at the vineyard’s restaurant while they’re gone. While they hid behind a bit of an antagonistic relationship growing up, things were always simmering between Ellie and Gianni. It isn’t until they end up in stranded in a quirky roadside motel courtesy of an historic blizzard that the heat cranks up on all that’s simmering between them and starts to a boil.

They may have agreed to leave everything that happened between them back in that motel room, but fate apparently didn’t agree to those terms. As they’re both trying to bury the feelings they’re secretly harboring for each other, fate steps in to throw yet another wrench in their plans in the form of a surprise pregnancy. Ellie is adamant that she doesn’t want to be something or someone Gianni settled for out of obligation, and Gianni is struggling to figure what exactly it is that he’s feeling because he’s never actually felt like this before. It takes a little while for him to achieve that clarity, but the question is can he convince her that this is what he wants or is it too little too late?

Taste was everything that I love about small town romances. Gianni’s struggle with new emotion was a bit frustrating at times, but ultimately it was his growth as a man and the determination to show Ellie she was what he wanted that endeared him to me. I loved the push and pull of Ellie and Gianni’s romance, the will they or won’t they turmoil as they both fought to figure it all out. It was a hard-fought battle of heart, history and hope, and I positively devoured their entertaining and addictive romance. Taste by Melanie Harlow gets 4.5 smooches from me!

~Danielle Palumbo




Amazon US  |  Amazon Worldwide  |  Paperback  |  Audio