Friday, June 22, 2018

The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum

The Art Of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum
Release Date - June 5, 2018
Publisher Website - Sky Pony Press
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  256 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane has wanted to be a chef since she was old enough to ignore her mom's warnings to stay away from the hot stove. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: a prestigious scholarship competition in Savannah, where students compete all summer in Chopped style challenges for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. The only impossible challenge ingredient in her basket: Reid Yamada.

After Reid, her cute but unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to screw her over on day one, Carter vows revenge, and soon they're involved in a full-fledged culinary war. Just as the tension between them reaches its boiling point, Carter and Reid are forced to work together if they want to win, and Carter begins to wonder if Reid's constant presence in her brain is about more than rivalry. And if maybe her desire to smack his mouth doesn't necessarily cancel out her desire to kiss it.
Enemies to lovers is a favourite trope of mine. When it works it is pretty much irresistible. It is also really hard to execute well. The Art of French Kissing has some elements that really worked for me, and other that just didn't quite hit the mark for me. It does, however, offer up an enjoyable romance read with a unique setting.

Foodies will rejoice that there are plenty of delicious sounding descriptions of food within these pages. The descriptions are mouth watering and I will pretty much guarantee that this book will make you hungry at some point while reading it. The cooking competition is also well written. The stakes are perfect for a young adult setting and it has just the right amount of tension woven throughout the competition. I think people who especially like the food competition angle will enjoy this book.

Carter is a headstrong girl who can often be insecure. The feeling of not belong or being looked upon as not worthy of something is something that her character grapples with. It reaches out into all of the other elements of that plot that worked for me. The decisions she made are not always the same ones that I would have made, but I can respect that they felt within character for her to do so.

I had two slight issues that kept me from loving this novel. The first is the 'culinary war' that is mentioned in the synopsis. I was expecting more mild high jinks than meanness. It gets nasty at some points and I found it hard to ship them together at times because of it. I appreciated it more when it was more reigned in and fun. There are moments where it really works though and those shining moments are great. The other is that there isn't a lot of transition time. The competition isn't that long and their progression from enemies to lovers is more rapid than I expected, particularly when you factor in how cutthroat it gets at some points. There are some things that counter act this and the author is good at giving the characters scenes where we see that they are bonding, but it felt a little rushed to me.

The romance did have it's good points. Brianna Shrum can capture the feeling anticipation so accurately. Her make out scenes are really more about the anticipation and that feeling that you get as a reader right before the couple is about to kiss. That moment where the character is clearly displaying how much they want to kiss the other person, if done right, can be really powerful and Brianna gets that. It's one of the strongest elements of the book and the romantic relationship within it.

The ending was another strong point for me. There were a couple of ways in which the plot went into different directions that I expected it to. The relationship aspect of the novel, in particular, ends on a rather realistic note. I felt more realistic overall with just enough wish fulfillment thrown in for good measure.

I recommend this one for those who love competition shows that feature cooking, some great banter and make out scenes. While there are a few little issues I had with the book, I mostly enjoyed it overall. I liked the romance scenes and for those alone I would read another romance written by the same author. 

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