I’m excited to welcome Layla Reyne on Queer Books Unbound to celebrate her latest release Dine With Me – which is out today with Carina Press! This is a must read for anyone who loves foodie romances!
Dine With Me – Unique Families
While Michelin-starred chef, Miller Sykes, and unabashed foodie, Clancy Rhodes, are the stars of Dine With Me—and the food of course—one of my other favorite parts of this book are the main character’s relationships with friends and their families. Each secondary character and their relationship with the leads is unique, honest, and most importantly, supportive, especially when Miller and Clancy need them most.
Miller, Sloan, and Greg
As one of their former bosses calls them, the “three musketeers.” Always up for trouble! This trio started as a duo, Miller and Sloan having met in high school. Their backstory is both heartbreaking and sweet (I won’t give it away!), and for the past twenty-plus years, they’ve been best friends… and until recently, married. Before meeting Clancy, Sloan was the most important person in Miller’s life, and even after meeting Clancy, Sloan remains Miller’s confidant. They trust each other implicitly—at forty, they’ve spent half their lives together—and Sloan does not take any of Miller’s shit. But most of all, she loves her boys unconditionally.
Which brings me to Greg, a New Orleans native who befriended Miller and Sloan when they were all living and working in NYC. Greg wears his heart on his sleeve and is also a hilarious counterpoint to fellow chef Miller, especially with it comes to sauces—Miller is a master at them, Greg a disaster. Greg eventually went back to NOLA, and when Miller and Clancy visit the Big Easy, Greg is quick to notice something going on between them, and something amiss with his best friend. He doesn’t let up until he gets the truth, and when Miller nears him, and Sloan most, they are right there by his side. (Stay tuned for more of Greg next month in the Heart 2 Heart charity anthology!)
Clancy and Miller and their Families
One thing I set out to do in this book was to portray each main characters’ parents and family as supportive. They are not there to lead the characters astray or create obstacles. Miller and Clancy have enough of those to deal with. And I needed a break from writing meddling families.
Clancy’s family is successful, and Clancy feels a certain amount of pressure to live up to that success. He worries about shifting his career goals—from following his dad into private practice, as expected, to oncology instead, where his doctor’s heart really lies—but his experience with Miller pushes him to follow his heart (on both counts!). He’s nervous to tell his family, but they are wholly supportive, recognizing their son’s passion and compassion as decides to take on one of medicine’s greatest challenges. I wish every parent was this understanding and supportive.
Clancy’s family is also unique in that his parents, who were once in love, remain best friends even after their divorce and his mother finding the second love of her life. Yes, it’s an admittedly idealized version of the aftermath of divorce, but it made sense for these two people who were young and in love but who grew apart and fell out of love later in life. They still love each other, are best friends, and have a child they adore—they can’t not be connection. It’s a mature approach to moving on, and it is a shining example for their son that comes in hand when he meets Miller and Sloan. He’s able to understand their relationship better than most, not judge it, and accept the place Sloan will always have in Miller’s life without feeling threatened by it.
Miller’s family is also a bedrock of support. Growing up in a small coastal Carolina town, his parents worked hard to give Miller and his three sisters everything they could. It wasn’t always a lot, but they made it work, with love, support, humor, and good pie. And when Miller and Sloan needed a little extra help, they sacrificed for them. They are the ultimate in selflessness, in sacrifice, and they teach Miller a valuable lesson he carries with him in life going forward. And they prove it again in the present when they throw all of their support behind Miller and Clancy in a venture for their future.
Life never tasted so good.
Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.
But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s sick.
Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cup of joe.
As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless.
RITA Finalist Layla Reyne is the author of the Agents Irish and Whiskey, Fog City, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. Layla is a RWA® RITA® Finalist in Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length) and Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.
Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Age-Gap Tag: Food Tag: Guest Post Tag: Hurt/Comfort Tag: Opposites Attract Tag: Slow Burn Dine With Me Layla Reyne