Hot Mess

Hot MessTwentysomething Allie Simon is used to playing by the rules—until Chicago’s most sought-after, up-and-coming culinary genius, Benji Zane, walks into her world and pulls her into his. The only thing more renowned than Benji’s mouthwatering masterpieces and equally luscious good looks? His struggle with addiction and his reckless tendency to live life on the edge, no matter the havoc he wreaks along the way. But loving someone means supporting him no matter what, or so Allie tells herself. That’s why, when Benji’s offered the chance to light up foodie hot spot Randolph Street with a high-profile new restaurant, Allie takes the ultimate risk and invests her life savings in his dream.

Then one day Benji disappears, relapsing to a place where Allie can’t reach him. Left with nothing but a massive withdrawal slip and a restaurant that absolutely must open in a matter of weeks, Allie finds herself thrust into a world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.



I loved Hot Mess by Emily Belden.  Well-developed characters, clever plotline, and intelligent writing captured my attention immediately.  I read a lot of romance novels that are fun, fast paced reads.  I call them my Hallmark movie books because they are light and entertaining.  Hot Mess, on the other hand, is a romance with depth.

I have to admit, I fell for Benji and found myself pulling for him, until I didn’t.  Benji is a well-known, up and coming chef.  He is followed by thousands due to his clever use of social media, not to mention his mad cooking skills and his hotness.  Unfortunately, Benji struggles with addiction, and although he is loved by his following, they eagerly await his fall.

Allie Simon is in love with Benji.  She knows about his addictions (who doesn’t) but is willing to take a chance on him.  So, when Benji asks Allie to invest her savings in a new restaurant for him, she goes against her better judgement and jumps in.  What Allie doesn’t realize is that Benji is relapsing, and then, he disappears.

Angela is Allie’s only hope.  She’s tough as nails, brutally honest and realistic; she quickly became my favorite character.  Angela gives Allie a choice:  quit your job and work with me to open this restaurant or lose your investment.  Really there is no choice, Allie accepts.

This book is spot on.  It’s fast paced, funny and the story is so fitting for our world today.   I love the restaurant lingo and social media tags and tweets.  This is definitely a book I will recommend to my friends and family.

4.5/5 stars

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