Ha! This series is Top Chef meets steamy-romance! It's fun, sweet, spicy, and whimsical with just enough to whet the appetite of foodies, cooking show fans, and romance fans.Max and Jules (Julie) are quite a bit alike - each craves independence, each needs to show that he/she can stand on her/his own two feet, each is ambitious and creative. But Max is the messy, Zen, travel-the-world kind of guy, while Jules is the studious, driven, make-it-work, loyal, need-a-family kinda gal. Their encounters are full of sparks, both good and bad. Each has to learn it's OK to lean on someone else... that it's OK to apologize... that it's OK to have dreams and want to fulfill them.From the outset, it seems as if the story will be sappy, and there's some of that. But in a good way. But I think I'll bash Danny over the head if he makes Max apologize one more time for taking off 4 years ago! Danny, the younger brother, needs a serious chill pill; Max needed to wander, and while it might have been selfish, it was who he was. Danny could use a bit of wandering to get a taste of life outside the Lunden restaurant and family.The book centers on the Rising Star Chef (RSC) competition, which is really about a rising star restaurant, because the competition is about TEAMS of chefs from a restaurant competing to see who's the best in their region and then the nation. The Lunden family steakhouse is a cornerstone of New York, but it's so steeped in tradition that it's about to close it's doors. Max and his father had a knock-down-drag-out fight about making some changes and being more creative when Max completed chef school. So Max took off 4 years ago to travel and apprentice in various cuisines around the world with various masters.Jules is Danny's best friend from forever. Her mother is a single mom with lots of boyfriends to help pay the rent and make expenses; her mom has always been into outer appearances, so when her latest boyfriend puts the moves on her daughter, she takes the sterotypical stance and blames Jules. So Jules flees, just after being nearly raped, to Danny; instead, she runs into Danny's dad, who convinces Jules to stay with them. Max is gone, so there's a vacant bedroom.Fast-forward 4 years. The Lunden's have a shot at the East Coast competition for RSC, which will put their restaurant front-and-center again, hopefully saving it. But Max's and Danny's dad has a health condition, so they're down a chef. Somehow, they get Max home without telling him about his dad's condition, telling him that he's needed for the competition.Max walks in to find Jules now a trained chef, living with his family for the past 4 years - perhaps taking his place in the family? Danny, his younger brother, is now a trained pastry chef, and just as stuck in tradition for the restaurant as their father. The talented fish chef Beck, who's stoic and mysterious. And the garrulous, gay Win, who's the sous chef and go-to-guy. The five of them try to come together as a team to win the East Coast title and go on to the national RSC competition. And it takes a lot of work, communication, and compromise... of which the team seems to only do the 1st well. There's a lot of baggage, secrets, and chemistry getting in the way.Of course, this is a romance! And the secondary characters, including Eva Jansen the RSC producer and the 3 judges are entangled in the scene, adding their own flavor and spice.Enjoyable... somewhat predictable... but very tasty!