Dine with Me is filled with light, love and hope. It's heartwarming, heartbreaking, and it made me cry. Actually cry! —from joy, then sadness, then joy again. It’s a bright yet realistic story about shattering expectations. It's Netflix's Chef's Table come to life as a passionate, mouth-watering, queer Romance. It's my favourite Romance read of the year.
And I'm not even interested in food! I'm completely bored by food shows and Instagram meal pics, but hoped to love the book despite lacking the foodie connection. I did not anticipate enjoying the story so much that I'd be researching ingredients and wine pairings.
You know what I do like and care about, though? PEOPLE. People are brilliant, tenacious, fascinating when they're in love, and even more so when their worlds fall apart. The way cooking and eating intertwines with the stories of people in this book is just... woah. Clancy's curiosity, Miller's passion, the genuine peace that sharing good food —be it gourmet, flame grilled or home-baked— brings them, was magnetic and tangible. Miller takes us on a journey that reveals more of himself to Clancy than even their intimate conversations can, and they fall in love with each other, unraveling until they can't hide their truths and don't want to.
All intentions of reading Dine with Me between my very organized weekend work plans to meet a Monday deadline.. hardcore failed. I got so invested in Miller, Clancy and the people they love fiercely, that I could not put the book down. With every "Okay, finish the chapter, then START THIS WORK" I was pulled in deeper. Then suddenly it was Sunday night; my heart was SO FULL AND ALSO WRECKED, and I had actual tears pouring down my face. All I wanted to do was sit with my feelings and bask in the warmth of their glorious HEA, so I reread all my favourite parts. And had to produce my full monthly report on the day it was due. But by the power of Layla Reyne, everything turned out fine! and I wouldn't change a thing about that weekend.
Reyne captures the reality of life-threatening illness and watching someone you love give up on themselves and give in to hopelessness without the story feeling heavy or dragging the reader's mood down. At its core, Dine with Me is a beacon of hope for anyone feeling stuck in their life, job, or past decisions; A neon 'Open 24' sign pointing to the possibility of a second chance. It surprised me in many ways: by captivating my entire weekend and my heart, inspiring an interest in types of food I never knew existed, and for the first time in a life resigned to my family history and the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis, I thought... that maybe I'd want to stay and fight. 10,000% recommend this book if you're ready for your heart to grow three sizes, to suddenly want to keep breathing, and crave some good food in the process.
Content warnings: use of pain pills, flashbacks to a friend's history of abuse, death of a mentor.
From the Publisher: descriptions and evaluations of treatment (and nontreatment) of a life-threatening disease.
Andrea received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.