Title: In the Raw by Nikka Michaels & Eileen Griffin
In the Kitchen Miniseries Book One
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance, New Adult
Word Count: 83,000
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
If you can’t take the heat…
James Lassiter has had a crush on fellow culinary student Ethan Martin for three years, but has never had the guts to make a move. Putting himself out there is hard, especially when under the thumb–and wallet–of his overbearing parents. Now that bad boy chef Ethan–who is always vying with Jamie for best in class–is struggling with the pastry course, Jamie suddenly has a reason to reach out.
Ethan doesn’t mean to be an ass–okay, so mostly he does–but even though he’s secretly hot for Jamie, he sure as hell doesn’t want help with pastry. Ever since his dad walked out, Ethan has been the one to hold things together and he’s done fine on his own. Except that he can’t get his cake to rise.
Jamie could be the answer to what Ethan’s been missing his whole life–someone to depend on. But with the two competing for the same scholarship, things suddenly get too hot to handle. And if Jamie finds the strength to go for what he wants, he isn’t about to settle for what he needs.
In the Raw by Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin is a wonderful first installment in their In the Kitchen miniseries. This first novel in the series introduces culinary students Ethan Martin and James “Jamie” Lassiter and the rather tumultuous beginning of their romance. It is a sweet, sexy and sometimes exasperating read, but the growth of the characters makes all of the frustration worthwhile.
Jamie and Ethan are locked in a fierce battle for a cooking scholarship but this does not lessen their attraction to one another. Ethan has the edge when it comes to regular cooking but baking is definitely not his forte. Jamie is good at both cooking and baking, but he does not have the creative flair that makes Ethan stand out from the other chefs-in-training. When Ethan reluctantly accepts Jamie’s offer to help tutor him in baking, the two are quickly cooking up more than just éclairs but will their insecurities derail their fledgling romance?
Jamie and Ethan are from completely different backgrounds which is more of a problem for Ethan than Jamie. Ethan is working class and he is working hard to pay for not only his tuition, but his sister Claire’s as well. He is used to taking care of others and he is proud of all that he has accomplished. He is confident of his cooking abilities, but he is also temperamental and a tad judgmental. But Ethan’s biggest weaknesses are his stubbornness and his inability to ask for or accept help.
Since Jamie’s family is wealthy, he does not have any financial worries. Unfortunately, his parents are very conservative, quite controlling and they have his future all mapped out for him. Jamie is under increasing pressure to abandon his degree, join the family business and settle down with a woman of their choosing. When Jamie is forced to admit his sexuality, his parents issue him an ultimatum but will Jamie follow his heart and his dreams?
In the Raw is a rollercoaster of emotions as Jamie and Ethan work through their respective baggage. They are quick to make assumptions about one another and lack of communication is one of their biggest obstacles. Ethan finds it easier to avoid problems than face them head on, but thankfully his sister Claire calls him on it. Ethan and Jamie’s road to happily ever after takes a lot of detours and Nikka Michaels and Eileen Griffin throw yet another roadblock in their path with a cliffhanger-y ending that will leave readers very anxious for the next book in the In the Kitchen miniseries.