Review of Order Up by Declan Rhodes
After being kicked off a reality TV cooking show for lack of an interesting personal life, chef Anthony returns home to continue on with his passion. His pride and joy, ‘The Pampered Prawn’ is the food truck he runs with a friend. Excited for a new location to sell his creations, Anthony’s love for his food brings good things his way.
Bryan is an overworked and underappreciated member of the team at Smithview. When he is passed over for a promotion because the company wants a more family-oriented image, Bryan is frustrated and determined to find someone for himself. A quick stop for lunch at one of the new food trucks near his job may provide the end of his search.
When both men see an opportunity to help themselves by forming a fake relationship, they are both on board. But the more time they spend together, the more the word ‘fake’ doesn’t seem to apply. Will both men get the change they were looking for in their careers?
** I would give this story 3 stars. I was really looking forward to another Declan Rhodes novel, but this was just a bit lacking for me. I realized this was written in 2016, so it was a much earlier work for Rhodes. The Winter Sports books I liked so much, were written in 2018 and I would love to say I can see a great deal of improvement in Rhodes’ writing from then to now. The stories are much more full and detailed.
I did like the story and getting booted off the reality show was a really great premise for the novel. Anthony seemed to be a very likable character who truly had a vision and love for his craft. Bryan felt a little flat for my tastes. He had a winning smile and was very supportive of Anthony, but otherwise not much there. I felt both men could have used some secondary character support, maybe a bit of family or some history about their personal lives. They seemed to have just been dropped into our laps with little to help us empathize with them or give us a reason to cheer them on.
My one other beef with this story was Leo. He seemed like a really great friend of Anthony’s and was actually someone from his past that gave us a little insight into who Anthony was. I understand that Leo was jealous of all the success Anthony was getting, but I just didn’t like the way he stormed out and we never heard from him again (Though I did appreciate the scene because later we learn that that’s when Bryan finally falls in love with Anthony). I felt that if Anthony and Leo were that good of friends to start a business together, they would be expected to have a row or two, every now and then. Not something that would end their friendship and ruin their business relationship. What would have happened to their friendship/business if Anthony were to have won the TV show? Would Leo have been jealous of that too? Just seemed like maybe a bad character trait for Leo if he couldn’t handle the accolades.