Review – Once Burned by Dee Carney

Once BurnedPublisher: Samhain

Publish Date: Out Now

How I got this book: from author


With a chance to win a cooking competition that will advance her career, the last thing food truck chef Pepper Joseph needs is a distraction. Except she’s got a heaping helping of it in the form of fellow chef Darien Priest, the man who broke her heart.

It’s been years, and she tells herself she’s over his betrayal, but to her irritation, she finds she still has an appetite for his steel-gray eyes, clean-shaven head, and sleeve tattoos.

Darien regrets the single, juvenile act that ended it with Pepper, but he’s never found the courage to apologize. Now that they’re in close quarters, something’s steaming and it’s not just the saucepots. One toe-curling kiss proves there’s the potential for more than just a guarded friendship, and he sets out to prove he’s grown into an honorable man.

Until he discovers she’s pulled a seasoning switch that could have ruined one of his dishes. Now it’s on. There’s ten thousand dollars on the line, but if they don’t surrender to another chance at love, one – or both – of their wounded hearts could get singed.

Product Warnings

“Scorching hot” doesn’t refer to the food. Contains two chefs who’ll inspire cravings of the very carnal kind. Includes one delicious recipe guaranteed to blow any diet out of the water.

*Blurb from Goodreads*


One day on Twitter I was talking about my desire for a “Kitchen Nightmares” like romance book, and Carney and I got to talking about her foodie series. When she asked if I was willing to review the first book, I jumped at the chance. Afterall, who doesn’t love a good foodie romance?

This book was short, almost too short. I loved the setup, and think the blurb does a great job of laying out the general plot line. However, I would have liked more. I wish that Carney would have gone into their past more, especially since they had so much history between them. I always love a good frenemies story, and I know Carney could have blown me away with more backstory and more tension throughout.

That being said, I did enjoy the book. I thought Pepper and Darien were great together, and I loved the fierce competition they had going on, all while dancing around the sexual tension. I liked the way they were forced to not only work together on the competition, but also forced to deal with their past. Darien had to practically corner Pepper in the kitchen to get her to hear him out. And despite the way that Darien treated her as kids, I loved that Pepper was able to take a step back and look at what she really wanted, how she really felt, and make a decision from there.

I also thought Carney did a great job with the secondary characters, Pepper and Darien’s sous chefs. I thought it was great that they were a couple, and their relationship was a fun juxtaposition to the animosity of Pepper and Darien in the beginning. I would have liked to see more with them as well, as I thought they were great.

I thought the food truck competition was fun! I would have liked to see it stretch the story more. (this seems to be a theme throughout this review, huh?) I was a little bummed that Darien would think that Pepper would purposefully sabotage him, but glad to see that his groveling paid off in the end. I really loved the scene where they announced the winner of the competition. It reminded me of the movie Forces of Nature; at the end when Ben’s character is standing in the hurricane with his future wife. I loved how both the book and the movie seemed to have life happen around them while they were focused some completely on one another. So great.

All in all I really liked this story. It was short, and I really did want more, but I enjoyed what I got. I liked Pepper and Darien and was glad to see they finally got their second chance at love. I hope we get to see more of them in future books.

I give Once Burned a B-

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