Just like that, I was exposed and helpless and being blown apart by the man I apparently couldn’t resist. The man I disliked to the point of not doing my job properly.
― Sophia Soames, Taste
Finn is the rule-following, hardass hotel manager of the Clouds Westminster Hotel. He is good at his job and expects nothing less than perfection from himself or the rest of his staff. Mark Quinton is the new head of food and beverage at the hotel, and he is everything that Finn is not. With his shoulder-length hair, a huge smile, friends in every department, and a penchant for brightly colored clothing and black leather, he is the chaos-inducing element to Finn’s structured routine. Mark loves riling Finn up, especially in the weekly staff meeting where he regularly pitches his new culinary ideas and dining promotions in front of a rapt audience. When Finn tries putting him in his place, Mark twists his words, making Finn the butt of his jokes.
Despite publicly feuding on a weekly basis, the two men cannot seem to steer clear of one another. Finn resents Mark’s easy friendships and the hero worship he engenders among his staff. Mark wants stuffy Finn to relax and bend the rules, if only just to prove he is human.
Their mutual dislike explodes into sudden, uncontrolled acts of physical attraction. Afterwards, they avoid one another, too afraid of what will happen next since the only way they can communicate verbally is by openly tormenting one another.
Everything comes to a head when a massive storm hits the city and all staff must stay overnight, forcing Mark and Finn into an uneasy truce.
“You’ll share with me, room 217. It’s the room that’s been out of service since last week – the one with no carpet and the toilet that won’t stop flushing.”
“You and me. In the same room.”
“Yeah, I know,” I sighed. “It’s like the worst romcom of nightmares and all that, but there will be none of that shit going on. Your virtue will be perfectly intact by tomorrow morning, I can guarantee that.”
The room has one bed and a comfortable chair –”
“Only. One. Bed.” He snorted a giggle.
― Sophia Soames, Taste
Of course, this ceasefire is only temporary because it is still less than 50% of the way through the novel.
I expected this book to be a typical “enemies-to-lovers” story. But it was so much more than that. These characters are So. Goddamned. Messy. I gave up trying to predict what would happen next. I loved the story and how it completely surprised me.
The behind-the-scenes at a major hotel is fascinating to me. The author worked in the hospitality sector for years, and the level of detail about how the hotel and its food and beverage operations work is incredibly detailed but not overwhelmingly so.
This is the second Sophia Soames book I’ve read, the first being The Naked Cleaner. I highly recommend reading both of them. While this one tackled more serious topics, the Naked Cleaner is much lighter in both mood and number of pages.
If you are a fan of Alexis Hall’s contemporary London romances, you may see some similarities, especially when it comes to messy, selfish, and complicated characters.
Content warnings abound, including descriptions of chronic depression, references to child abuse and spousal abuse, a scene with dubious consent in the opening chapter, and a high-level description of kitchen injuries incurred during the dinner rush.
I got this as part of Stuff Your Kindle Day from Romance Bookworms.