Simmer Down by Sarah Smith
Publisher: Berkley (Oct 13, 2020)
With Berkley being consistent in publishing some of the best romance titles in the past two years, especially my absolute favourites by Helen Hoang and recently, Beach Read by Emily Henry, it is no surprise that I said yes to joining the blog tour for Sarah Smith’s Simmer Down. Despite not reading her debut novel, Faker which I’ve seen it appearing on my feeds when it first came out, I wanted to get a slice of her books and what better way to start, than with her book about finding love in a battlefield of food trucks?
Before we dive into my review of Simmer Down, I’d like to thank Penguin Random House for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour!
Right from the start, #OwnVoices novel Simmer Down combines the promise of a sizzling romance and tantalising descriptions of food. The book follows foodie and owner of a food truck, Nikki DiMarco who quit her job to move back to Maui after the tragic death of her father and to be with her mother. Aside from juggling a food truck where the competition is cutthroat and caring for her mother, romance is definitely not on Nikki’s mind. Enter Callum James, tall, British and utterly irresistible but all romantic thoughts fly out the window when he sets up shop right next to her.
The book’s main premise is the enemies-to-lovers trope which I literally ate it up since it’s my absolute favourite. The tension between Nikki and Callum was delicious and palpable and it only made me want to read more, especially when they were sabotaging each other and the snarky banter between them was really entertaining. But that’s probably all that I liked about Sarah Smith’s sophomore novel, assuming if you take things lightly and enjoy it was good fun.
That aside, I felt like the miscommunication trope was unbearably frustrating and it really marred my enjoyment of Simmer Down. I did appreciate that there were some parts of the novel that were employed to create tension between Nikki and Callum but other I was a bit niggled by the fact that the lead up to the happy ending was drawn a bit too long for my liking. But maybe that was just me?
As much as I liked Simmer Down as a quick, light-hearted read, I was quite miffed by how bland Callum was as a character. I get that he’s British and naturally very attractive but uttering the word “bloody” one too many times doesn’t maketh a character English, sadly. Adding on to that, it was rather unfortunate that the characters lacked depth. Everything, from the characters’ backstories to their motivations were glossed over and yes, I am looking at Callum who somehow reminds me of most cupcakes I’ve had. Lovely to look at, but severely lacking in flavour. However, I did understand Nikki’s reasons, such as her decision to drop everything in Portland and move back to Maui to be with her mother, working together to make a living with the food truck.
Alas, Simmer Down was pretty enjoyable for me and I did like the elements of the food trucks and the characters’ shared love and passion for food. The saving grace in the book was probably the brief trip to London where Nikki and Callum called a truce to their fatwa and got to know each other, which was a welcome reprieve from all the ridiculous antics. At times sassy and entertaining, Simmer Down had its moments. If you’re looking for a feel-good romantic comedy, look no further.
Blurb from Goodreads:
Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten—or the competition to be so smoking hot.
But Tiva’s Filipina Kusina has faced bigger road bumps than the arrival of Callum James. Nikki doesn’t care how delectable the British food truck owner is—he rudely set up shop next to her coveted beach parking spot. He’s stealing her customers and fanning the flames of a public feud that makes her see sparks.
The solution? Let the upcoming Maui Food Festival decide their fate. Winner keeps the spot. Loser pounds sand. But the longer their rivalry simmers, the more Nikki starts to see a different side of Callum…a sweet, protective side. Is she brave enough to call a truce? Or will trusting Callum with her heart mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire?