Wendy reviews Wrapped with Love by Beth Bolden. Self published November 14, 2017, 219 pages.
A FIVE POINTS NOVEL
RELEASE DATE: 11.14.17
A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
NFL player Jordan Christensen walks into Reed Ryan’s restaurant without a reservation. It isn’t the most serendipitous of meet-cute’s and they certainly aren’t the likeliest of romances, but over venison steaks and crème brûlée, they fall in love anyway.
Flash forward two years . . .
Jordan isn’t a football player anymore.
Reed sold his restaurant.
But even more drastically, they’ve lost each other.
When Reed moves to Los Angeles take a new job, he doesn’t realize Jordan now works at the same company. But Jordan definitely realizes how precious the second chance fate has bestowed on them is. He’s determined to make up for everything that fell apart the first time around, and it turns out he’s not the only one scheming to right old wrongs.
Starting a new career is always difficult but sharing office space—and big projects—with an old lover is particularly rough. Between impromptu Secret Santa exchanges, Christmas light viewings, and more tacos than even Reed can eat, the two former lovers have an eventful holiday season to navigate.
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“So,” Rory continued, still shoving hummus into his face at an alarming rate, “how did you two meet? Because I gotta say, Reed barely sticks his head out of the kitchen for more than five minutes at a time.”
“We actually met at Garnet,” Jordan said, all gooey affection, like the first night they’d met, Reed hadn’t accidentally insulted him.
“Oh?” Rory asked, all creamy innocence because he knew how much Reed hated being summoned to the dining room.
“It’s actually really embarrassing. My agent knew how much I’d been wanting to visit Garnet, and just barged in, no reservation. And Reed,” Jordan glanced over, “was kind enough to give us the private dining room. Picked our menu for us and everything. I had to meet him, after all that trouble he went to.”
Rory burst out laughing and Reed shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He had a bad feeling about where this was going.
“You realize why he actually came out of the kitchen, right? Why he picked your menu?”
Jordan shook his head, a baffled expression on his handsome face.
Rory leaned forward. “Let me educate you about the ego of a chef, Christensen. Reed didn’t give you his best table and his best food out of the kindness of his heart. He did it because he wanted to put you in your place with his awesomeness.”
“I’m trying to remember why I invited you out,” Reed interrupted before Rory’s education could continue. But Jordan, intrigued, ignored him, and Rory was never going to stop now that he’d started. Reed flopped back in his chair, somewhat resigned to the inevitable embarrassment to come.
“Reed doesn’t have an ego.”
Rory’s head actually whipped back as he cackled loudly. “Oh, honey. All chefs do, at least the best ones. It’s how we get to the top. We’re insufferably certain of our own perfection. At least in the kitchen, anyway. Garnet is Reed’s castle, and he’s the king.”
Jordan turned to Reed, who could only hold his breath and pray that Rory’s comments hadn’t completely changed his opinion.
“Is that true?” he asked.
“I mean, you can’t be that surprised,” Reed said awkwardly. “Especially after what I said when we met.”
“I thought you were trying to hit on me!” Jordan exclaimed in mock outrage.
“I hate to say it,” Rory said, which was a complete lie because he looked like he was enjoying every second of this, “but Reed doesn’t have that kind of game.”
“So, how did you two meet?” Jordan asked, and Reed wasn’t dumb enough not to know he was changing the subject. He told himself it would be okay. Jordan couldn’t be angry about how they’d met, so many months later.
“A butchering class,” Reed said.
“No, not even close,” Rory said, taking another drink from his beer. “You aren’t going to get off this easy, Reed.”
Reed made a disgruntled sound. Of course Rory felt obligated to tell the whole story.
“Yes, it was a butchering class,” Rory said, gesturing with the bottle in his hand. “And you know, I’m formally trained. I mostly took it for fun. But here’s Reed, a newbie who’s read at least fifteen books on his own at this point. He spent at least half the class telling the instructor everything he was doing wrong.”
Reed couldn’t help but frown. Jordan glanced over, ever-attuned to Reed, and reached under the table to squeeze his knee.
“Was the instructor wrong?” Jordan asked loyally, even though if he knew Reed at all, he already knew the answer to his question.
Rory laughed and nodded. “Oh, he was insanely wrong. The rest of us were just ready to write this whole class off as a bad afternoon and go have some drinks later and laugh about it, but Reed was burning with the injustice of wasting an afternoon being taught what he knew was the wrong thing.”
“So he tried to teach the class.” Jordan glanced over, eyes brimming with affection. As if this story, which definitely wasn’t one of the greatest moments of Reed’s life, actually endeared him further.
“It was a power struggle, from beginning to end, but,” Rory said, tipping the bottle in a mock toast Reed’s direction, “you already know who came out on top.”
“He was wrong,” Reed felt justified in adding again.
Jordan’s hand settled warm and firm back on Reed’s knee. Reed jumped, nearly upsetting his own beer. “I wouldn’t expect any less, sweetheart,” he said quietly.
Why I read this book: We were given the opportunity to be part of Beth’s Release Day Blitz and was intrigued by the blurb and the beautiful cover. Congratulations Beth Bolden on the release of your book!
I’ve come to have a large collection of books. Some are angst filled, some are thrilling or full of suspense and others are sweet and romantic. Of all those books (and I have thousands of them), I keep some of them close to re-read. This is definitely going on the re-read list.
Cooking tropes are one of my favorites because I connect with characters that express their love through food very deeply. So this one sent me right to my happy place because that’s exactly what Reed does… he puts his heart and soul into everything that he makes. His character has achieved a huge degree of success from that very quality and it brings home to me the saying that you get what you put into everything you do. He is terrible at expressing himself in social settings though and I can relate to that too. This painfully shy man just crept his way right into my heart. It was a joy to see him and Jordan through their journey to reconnect.
Jordan is just one of those characters that makes you feel good. He’s laid back and his good nature put me in a happy space. His professional football life is behind him and it seems that he’s even better at his new job writing scripts than he was at catching footballs. I’m always happy when I read a story that portrays athletes as people that have careers and lives past that of their chosen sport. Jordan is smart and there’s more to him than being a jock. He’s not afraid to go after what he wants either and that’s Reed.
I liked that neither of these guys shied away from the fact that they messed up the first time around and were determined to take their time to get it right with this second chance. The back and forth between the present and their past was well done and the zany cast of secondary characters was light-hearted and funny enough to take some of the sting away from the light angst that happens in this story. It’s a sweet holiday story that I think anyone who likes second chance stories will enjoy.
Beth Bolden lives in Portland, Oregon with her supportive husband and their beloved cat. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. She’s a fan of fandoms, and spends too much of her free time on tumblr.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published three novels and two short stories, with her next novel, The Rainbow Clause, releasing in April 2017.