Lily Black has just moved to New York City to be closer to her best friend Josephine and to boost her career as a food critic. When Josephine mentions that restauranteur Dean Harper might be in need of some assistance, Lily jumps at the chance to apply. Their personalities clash from the moment they meet, but if they want to get Dean’s newest restaurant up and running, they’ll need to find some common ground.
Alright, let’s get right into it. I’ll start with the obvious: this is the first R.S. Grey book ever that I haven’t rated five stars. I liked it. It was okay. But I don’t think it’s on par with the rest of her work – or, at least, the rest of her work that I’ve had the pleasure of reading this far. Is it a perfectly acceptable contemporary romance? Yes. But it is earth-shattering? Absolutely not.
I think that the biggest problem I had with The Allure of Dean Harper was the lack of chemistry between the characters. On her own, Lily was fine. More than fine, really, she was the snarky best friend that I wish I had. On his own in The Allure of Julian Lefray, Dean was a charming, if sometimes gruff, workaholic. In his own book, Dean seems to go out of his way to be a terrible person.
The characters fight and fight and fight – yes, this is firmly in the enemies-to-lovers territory – but there’s not much between the initial “I hate you so much that I want you to die” and the final “I don’t know how I ever lived without you.” It’s just like a switch flips. It’s confusing. Both Lily and Dean are perfectly respectable people when they’re around others. But since they were rarely not at each other’s throat, it’s hard to see what exactly they saw in each other aside from a pretty face.
In addition to that, there’s a lot of angst for no real reason, which is one of my romance novel pet peeves. Both Lily and Dean are determined to keep each other at arm’s length when a single simple conversation could have prevented weeks of turmoil.
As I said before, this isn’t a bad book. It’s just not what I normally expect from this author.
Final rating: ★★★☆☆