Cooking Up Trouble
This Duets novel promises two romantic comedies about the “good ol’ Cook Brothers” introduced in Molly O’Keefe’s Too Many Cooks (Duets #62). When I began this book, I hadn’t a clue as to who these Cook people were, but soon discovered they’re a warm-hearted and somewhat meddling bunch of nice folks. Unfortunately, neither of these recent Cook escapades into love gave me the overwhelming urge to run out and track down the prequel that started it all.
Cooking Up Trouble features Alyssa Halloway, a young woman who became an honorary member of the Cook family when she befriended Mark Cook at the age of five. The pair quickly became fast friends and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Alyssa, now 26, has been in love with Mark since the day they met, but has never revealed her true feelings because she fears they won’t be returned. Mark has truly been oblivious to Alyssa’s feelings and has never looked at her as more than his best friend but all of that is about to change when a hunky movie star enters the picture….
Dirk, the movie star, is researching his next big role as a cowboy and is staying with the Cooks to learn how life is lived on a modern day ranch. Mark is disgusted by the way his family, and particularly Alyssa, is fawning all over the pampered actor. When Dirk begins making goo-goo eyes at Alyssa, who has forsaken her jeans for sexy short skirts, Mark begins to lose his composure. Who would have guessed his best friend Alyssa had legs for miles?!
Mark is so stunned by the revelation of Alyssa’s “natural beauty” and by the sight of her drop-dead legs (that he’s apparently never noticed after all these years) that he doesn’t know how to react and begins behaving like a jealous adolescent. He makes easygoing Dirk do the dirtiest jobs on the ranch, he spies on the couple during their dates and he loses his temper with Alyssa for almost no reason at all. Alyssa doesn’t fare much better. She enjoys making Mark squirm and has several juvenile moments herself. When she dumps a plate of tofu over Mark’s head and he retaliates by doing the same, I felt like screaming “time out.” Moments like these made it hard to believe these characters were anywhere remotely near my age. Call me grumpy but I just didn’t find any of this nonsense comical.
They continue hiding their feelings and acting like children with lustful urges throughout the majority of the book. Eventually (and far too late) they begin to deal with their feelings, have an adult conversation and put to rest all of the assumptions and insecurities. Though there are some slightly amusing moments, and a few touching ones too, the irritation factor is too high if you don’t have a fondness for this sort of “funny” antagonistic friends-turned-lovers relationship.