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This is a gorgeous little gem of an audiobook. And the performance gave it a very cinematic feel... i could really imagine it at as a movie in my mind. Silver spoon raised Henry loves to cook and is torn between taking the law firm internship set up by his father or a dishwashing gig at a homey Italian restaurant. The chef, Vito, happens to be a brooding, mysterious hunk of Italian hotness (with a crazy sexy accent) who keeps Henry at a distance. There is a lot simmering beneath the surface and Reed does an amazing job developing the relationship and the damaged personalities of both lead characters. You find yourself rooting so much for these too and really invested. It's a beautiful story - and I loved how the story developed to make this relationship something much deeper than just two hot dudes hooking up.
Leslie's performance, as usual, is excellent. His characterization as Vito is wonderful and handles the dialect beautifully - earthy and so sexy. I loved the matriarchs in the story - Vito's mom, the restaurant owner and Henry's housekeeper.
I'm certainly going to look out for more from Reed... this was a fabulous story and a great performance.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
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Henry Appleby is eighteen and basically has his life laid out for him: he'll intern at his father's Chicago law firm, go to NYU in the fall, and eventually become a lawyer just like his father. However, Henry doesn't want that life. He dreams of being a chef, and is at his happiest around food. While struggling with the possibility of disappointing his parent's expectations, he's also dealing with the betrayal of a friend, and finding out his parent's are fallible as well.
Vito Carelli lost everything one night over a year ago. He draws his grief around himself like a cloak and keeps everyone at arms length. He lives for three things, his mother, his two beloved dogs, and his job as Executive Chef at Fiorello's.
When Henry takes a summer job working as a dishwasher/busboy and sometimes sous chef at Fiorello's, it's not just his resemblance to Vito's lost love, but his persistent pursuit that begin to melt away the ice around Vito's heart.
There were two things I loved about the story: first, is the vivid imagery Reed uses in creating this world. Chicago is like another character, and the food is so lovingly detailed that I was hungry through most of Joel Leslie's narration. Which brings me to the second thing I loved, which is Leslie's narration. He drew me in and kept me captivated. I could practically smell the foods, or feel the 'L' train rumbling.
As for the story itself, I was confused as to whether it was a new adult contemporary novel or a romance. From the blurb I thought it was a romance, but it doesn't play out that way for more than 78% of the story. Then, in the end, it's a rushed romance that felt inauthentic and not organic to the story that was being told.
Also, the story contains two things that generally annoy me. First, when there's a, to me, unnecessary build up of a "terrible thing from the past" that's alluded to over and over again, without letting the reader in on it until late in the story. That just drives me nuts. Second, when the "romance" comes out of left field with no previous groundwork built.
In this case Henry has some trouble with boundaries, following Vito home, standing outside his apartment for hours, snooping in the apartment once he's invited in, stripping naked and getting into Vito's bed uninvited...they were troubling things to me that are glossed over in the story. There's also a lot of telling, and almost lyrically so, but not so much with the showing. The two men barely have a few conversations before suddenly they're moving towards a relationship. It was jarring for me, and I didn't believe the romance that did suddenly pop up only in the final chapters and weak epilogue with a nebulous HFN.
All in all, the writing is lovely, with wonderful descriptions of places, and people, and food. The narration is well done, with great character voices and accents. However, the romance of the story left me cold and disappointed.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful