Thursday, December 15, 2016

Release Day Review ~ Striking Sparks by Ari McKay

Release Day Review ~ Striking Sparks by Ari McKay

Title: Striking Sparks

Author: Ari McKay
Release Date: December 15, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 214

The stakes are high and the heat is on.
Beau Walker, owner of the Barbecue Shack, needs the help of Jake Parnell, his one-time rival and secret crush, in a televised barbecue competition. Beau is a proud man, but the stakes are high, and smart, sexy Jake is his only hope, even if being around Jake reawakens the attraction he’s fought for years.

Jake left his hometown, determined to build a life somewhere his sexuality wouldn’t hurt his family’s restaurant business—and far away from hunky, obstinate Beau Walker. Then his twin, Josh, is killed, and Jake returns to support his brother’s wife and children. Despite his reservations, he agrees to go head-to-head against Beau on national television. Between stress and grief, as well as pride and determination, only one thing is certain—the heat between Beau and Jake extends well beyond the kitchen.

Jake has returned to his small hometown after his twin brother Josh dies, leaving behind two young children and a pregnant wife. Josh had been running the family restaurant but now it is up to Jake, who had made a life for himself teaching. 

The last thing he expects is to have his high school crush and rival, Beau, ask him for help by competing in a televised BBQ competition. Knowing that it was something Josh had agreed to before dying, Jake doesn't want to go back on the decision. Now he will have to put his cooking skills to the test and see if he can hold his own against the one guy that gets under his skin like no one else. 

Jake and Beau seem to be fighting the obvious and inevitable. Personally, I thought it was pretty apparent how each man felt about each other but they just couldn't seem to see it. They were too busy thinking the other person disliked them or was trying to be a jerk. They pretty much bristled as soon as the other opened their mouth. But under it all it seemed as if it was their insecurities and the fact that they were attracted to one another. 

Luckily, they actually use their big boy words and start to communicate. There isn't an immediate romance, it simmers for a bit first. These men are both small town guys at heart and they take things slow. When they do finally bring on the heat, though, it's perfect timing. 

While the blurb led me to believe that the story would really center around the BBQ competition, it really didn't. Yes, it's a big part of the story but there is also a lot more focus on the men and their relationship. From enemies to rivals to friends and finally to lovers. This is really a sweet love story. 

4.5 Stars! 

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

Jake Parnell worked hard to leave his hometown behind so he could live his life out of the closet but when tragedy strikes, he returns to his hometown to take care of his family. Jake never wanted to run his family's restaurant or cook but that's exactly what he finds himself doing with the death of his brother. He's run ragged from taking care of his family, the restaurant and his grief. When going through paperwork, he finds information on a televised barbecue competition that his brother had agreed to against Beau Walker. Beau and Jake have a long, negative history of miscommunication and grievances between them and a hidden mutual crush.

Beau finds himself just as attracted to the adult Jake as he did the teenage one, but he knows he's not smart enough to ever have a relationship with someone like Jake. He wants to do the competition against Jake so he can bring in more business for his family's restaurant and hire a business manager to handle the books for the finances. Beau notices that Jake is overloaded and does what he can to lift the load, forcing the two men to let go of past issues.

Striking Sparks is an enemies to lovers story which I really enjoyed! Jake's character was heartbreaking and you could feel how close he was to the edge with all the stress he was under and I loved when Beau stepped in to help lighten some of Jake's load. Once both men were able to move past their teenage angst, their relationship moved quickly (good thing cause we were running out of pages!). There was a lot of focus on the barbecue competition, cooking and restaurants but that was totally expected! I actually enjoyed reading about their business and the competition. I also enjoyed all the supporting characters who were well written and fit seamlessly into the story.

I would have loved more story of Jake and Beau's relationship, but overall, I thought this was a really good read!

Rating 4.5 stars

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