Regan Braxton is a prep cook at The Salt Cellar, an up-and-coming restaurant in Las Vegas. She has aspirations to make line cook and actually thought it was a done deal—before Chef Malachi Abrams took over the kitchen.
He’s gorgeous, arrogant, and infuriating and seems to take a singular interest in criticizing her—with scant approval and encouragement. Regan has a second job that she loves equally, working as a flash dancer in a nearby club, but she needs both incomes. So she won’t let him chop her.
Chef Malachi is determined to make The Salt Cellar Vegas’s best restaurant. All is going according to plan despite the attitude of his feisty prep cook. He might be inexplicitly drawn to her, but that won’t get in the way of his work ethic. They have chemistry, but is it palatable, or, like revenge, a dish better served cold?
Malachi and Regan had butted heads ever since Malachi had very suddenly taken over as Chef. While they each maintained a purely professional persona, the conflict was nevertheless heated and ran deeply on both sides. When Regan discovers someone has been hired to fill the role she had hoped to be promoted to, she gives her two week resignation notice. Will Malachi and Regan be able to find common ground in the short time they have left working together?
I found this to be a conflict heavy short story. Readers who like a bunch of tension and head-butting between the two main characters should enjoy this story. Personally I found much of the logic and sense in Regan’s problems with Malachi were lacking, and I didn’t enjoy the jealous assumptions she made about some of Malachi’s professional decisions. Regan admitted she didn’t react well to authority – and this was given as being the root of some of her issues with Malachi as Chef and her boss. I didn’t find that very solid as a reason, especially when Regan tended to convince herself he was being arrogant or purposefully rude when I just personally didn’t see it from their interactions.
I absolutely found Malachi and some of his comments blunt – but not once did I see his actions or words as being purposely needling or meant to give offense. This made it pretty hard for me to empathize with Regan in the beginning, particularly when I felt she over-reacted (like when she gave her verbal notice) to mostly justified comments and constructive criticism made by Malachi when he was honest in his opinions. I enjoy conflict and tension in a story – but I strongly feel there needs to be not enough clashing to make me question whether the pairing is possible at all. I felt this story walked a fine line between these two positions.
In the second half of the story much of the conflict eases and this led the way quite smoothly for the sexual chemistry between Regan and Malachi to bubble over. Readers who enjoy a lot of steamy sexiness to their stories should find this really satisfies. With modern and strong willed characters along with a bunch of chemistry and tons of conflict and tension between the hero and heroine, this short story is a decent, quick read.