A delightful contemporary romance, Room Service features Olivia Callender, a dreamer who owns her family’s old hotel, Callender House. It was once a New York institution like the Plaza or St. Regis, but in the past few years it’s become run-down and outdated, which Olivia ignores. She’s nostalgic about the old hotel where she grew up, and doesn’t want to change anything.
One day while in the middle of one of her wistful dreams about days gone by at the old hotel, she is almost hit by a cab and is rescued by Rhys Spencer – a very sexy British chef who is in New York for a month before returning to Los Angeles for the finale of a reality cooking show, which he is favored to win. He’s sick of the piranha-like ferociousness of L.A. women, and is intrigued by Olivia’s shyness after he pulls her out from in front of the taxi. On a whim he checks into the Callender House. He then goes on to rescue her, once again, after a chandelier falls down in the dining room and her sous chef quits…just before her uncle arrives, admonishes her for being a complete and utter failure, and declares that he will have the hotel by the end of the year.
Olivia is floundering, and doesn’t know what to do. Rhys is concerned, and tries to help her realize what needs to be done to reestablish her family’s hotel, while also trying to get her into bed. And, after he succeeds – following a very funny and sexy scene in the kitchen (which reminds the reader just how hot food can be, in more ways than one) – she comes up with an idea to save the hotel by hosting a Monster’s Ball on Halloween.
Over the next month Rhys and Olivia work together to redo the ballroom and lobby and prepare for the Ball, while steadily falling for each other. And yet the cloud of Rhys’s departure hangs over their head. Neither of them has made any promises, and they resign themselves to enjoy it while it lasts, even as they’re caring for the other more and more.
I really enjoyed this book; it was fun, had an interesting plot, and featured likable characters. My mouth watered reading about Rhys’ cooking and his food descriptions. Rhys and Olivia were interesting people. They weren’t necessarily complex, but their characterizations were consistent and solid, as were the secondary characters. There’s a nice side-romance between a shy, slightly nerdy writer in residence at the hotel and one of the members of the staff. It didn’t overpower the central plot, but provided an interesting side dish, if you will.
My problems with this book were fairly minor. A subplot involving some subterfuge on the part of Olivia’s uncle went nowhere. It popped up now and again, and I did like its resolution, but I felt like Garvey didn’t use the conflict to its full potential. There were also a couple of crazy situations – one involved a gorilla suit and another tofurkey – which were equally lacking. I kept waiting for the author to go somewhere with them, which could have been hilarious, but she didn’t. The build-up for each of them was great, but neither was really taken to the next level.
While some aspects of the plot may not have been fully developed, Olivia and Rhys – and their romance – more than made up for it. This sweet and entertaining novel is lots of fun. I recommend it highly.