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Hot Mess by Emily Belden – Book Review

Happy (almost) Pub Day, Emily Belden! (In stores tomorrow, March 20!)

I was first introduced to this book via the elusive Goodreads giveaway.  You know, the ones where you go through and enter to win the books that you’re dying to read, but literally never win.  Well guess what….I WON!  Yes, boys and girls, dreams do come true.

Goodreads blurb:
Twenty-something Allie Simon never imagined she’d fall for a recovering drug addict—but that was before she met Benji Zane, Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming chef, who’s known as much for his hard partying ways as for his unparalleled culinary skills. Six months into their relationship, the food and chemistry are out of this world, but the reality of living with a cooking wunderkind hasn’t exactly been all hearts and flowers.
Still, Allie’s convinced that her love is the key to fixing this talented man’s broken soul—so when Benji is offered his dream job as chef de cuisine for a new restaurant opening on Randolph Street, Chicago’s foodie hot spot, Allie agrees to invest her life savings in his future. But less than a month after she goes all in, Allie learns a heartbreaking lesson: addicts lie. Benji cracks under the pressure, relapses and disappears, bagging out not only on the restaurant, but on her, too.
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.

First things first, I’m not going to lie, but before this book, I had no idea that Chicago was a foodie place to visit!  If the food is anything like the food described in the book, I’m booking my flight right now and will be back when I try every dish that Allie mentions.  Seriously, even the descriptions had me drooling…YUM.  You could really see Emily Belden’s expertise in this field (according to her bio, she’s a food journalist!  BRB, trying to figure out how I get that job).

Allie was a very difficult character for me because I couldn’t tell if I wanted to smack her or give her a big “bless your heart” hug.  For the half of the book, I was cursing her because she was being such a stereotypical millennial.    The other half, I was seriously wondering how someone could be so naïve.  I’ve heard that love is blind, but a true millennial keeps receipts and would have called Benji on his…awfulness.  Lucky for her, her mom was literally the greatest woman of all time and I would love to go shopping at Nordstrom Rack with her.

I also felt that the book was a bit longer and slower paced than I would have expected.  It was 440 pages and I believe we don’t get to the portion where Allie is forced to step up and take on the world of opening a restaurant (as described in the blurb, so technically not a spoiler!) until around page 250.  I wish we could have seen more growth and development in our narrator because seeing the millennial grow up was a fun, and at times even inspiring, story!

Overall, this was a fun, lighthearted read (if you take out the fact that the narrator is involved with an addict when he relapses) that gives a millennial a chance at redemption.  Thank you so much to Goodreads and the publisher for sending me this advanced copy.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. Get your own copy here.



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