Review: Devil’s Food by Heather Cleveland

Devil’s Food by Heather Cleveland
Release Date: December 11, 2013
Publisher: self-Published
Pages: 268
Source: book provided by the author for review

 

 

One impulse, one decision, one gamble can change your life forever. A stranger opens your door. You exchange a glance across a busy room. You answer a wrong number. And suddenly your life is entwined with someone else’s. Your paths have crossed, and you are connected to another human being. What if that person stays in your life? What if that relationship is still important to you in ten, twenty, fifty years? You could meet that person today.

Luckily for Patrick Dunne, he takes a chance, and for once, it pays off.

Life hasn’t been easy for Patrick. After years of destructive behavior, he finally pulls himself together only to have his world destroyed again. Now he’s dealing with the anxiety. The anger. The guilt. Only his passion for cooking is keeping him from drowning.

With his supportive younger brother, Colin, the Irish natives own Ristorante Fratelli, a chic Italian bistro. It has the makings of one of Denver’s best restaurants—or so says local blogger and critic, Greta Levine—as long as head chef, Patrick Dunne, can control his temper. After an insulting and patronizing encounter, Greta writes a review admonishing his behavior, sending Patrick into a final spiral.

But a wrong number saves him. Fueled by the anonymity, they begin texting, deliberately avoiding details of their “real” lives. A deep bond grows, and against all odds, they become each other’s saving grace. Until he discovers his mystery lady’s true identity…

Rounded out by a cast of lovable—and delightfully flawed—supporting characters, Devil’s Food chronicles the connections we, as humans, crave and sometimes overlook.

 

Review:  This was a fun story – two people who start texting based on a wrong number and find out later they know each other. The premise is a little familiar but the characters have their quirks which make it fun. There is also a rich cast of characters all interacting with each other in one way or another that adds to the pleasure of reading.

Patrick is dealing with personal demons left over from a car accident that left him physically and mentally wounded. He has anger issues, stress issues, pain issues, alcohol issues – just lots of issues. Patrick is an old-school Irishman – men don’t show their feelings unless it’s anger – and everyone at his restaurant tiptoes around him, afraid to say or do the wrong thing.

Greta, on the right end of the wrong number, first meets Patrick when she reviews his restaurant and he explodes when she sends a dish back. But Greta holds her own and doesn’t back down. She writes an honest review praising the food but she’s also honest about the chef’s temper. Greta is a warm-hearted woman who drives all over town to find a missing man she doesn’t know. At the same time, she tells it like it is. If someone asks for her opinion, she gives a straightforward answer.

Colin does most of the pussyfooting around Patrick, coddling him and not wanting to risk his ire. This makes Colin come off as a bit of a coward, afraid to stand up to his own brother. I understand his reasoning – not wanting to upset the apple cart, so to speak – but sometimes I felt Patrick was walking all over Colin and Colin just took it. I know it was out of love but it was not an aspect of the character I liked.

I think my favorite character of the story was Neil, a gay college student waiting on tables at the restaurant. He doesn’t shout out that he’s gay and he’s a bit embarrassed when others figure it out, but he doesn’t hide it either. My heart just went out to him as Neil developed an infatuation with a man at the coffee shop where he stops every morning but was too embarrassed to speak to him.

It’s the characters that really make this story and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. I found myself getting involved in Neil and Bridgette’s friendship, watching Trevor’s interest in Caroline grow (and how cute was he at the nursing home?), and, of course, how Greta and Patrick evolve and conquer their issues.