Dine With Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

DNF. Got bored 20% into the book unfortunately. It's usually a hit or a miss with the author but I hoped it wouldn't be this case.
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I cried when I read this book. Laya Reyne is known for her brilliant and action-packed romantic suspense, but it turns out she can write emotional and contemporary just as well. 
Miller and Clancy are amazing characters. They're so different, but they have their love of food in common and that's what brings them together. 
Miller's life hasn't been easy and he believes that this is his last chance to experience what he loves. In order to make his dreams come true, he has to bring Clancy around, not knowing that this trip will change his life in more ways than one. 
Clancy is going to put his dreams on hold in order to make his family happy, but when his parents gift him with the trip of a lifetime and he meets Miller, he begins to challenge his previous way of thinking. 
Watching these two fall in love was so sweet. Watching them hurt was hard. I cried and I am not ashamed to say that. 
With this book, Layla Reyne showed that she can write about anything. Miller and Clancy don't have an easy love story, but they have a loving one.
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I’ve read quite a few books by Layla Reyne at this point, and I’ve really enjoyed them all. Dine with Me is quite a departure from what she normally writes, but I still really liked it! This book is about a final tour to taste all of Chef Miller Sykes’s favorite foods. He has cancer, and he’s decided to let himself die instead of trying to fight it – since the odds aren’t great, and he might lose his sense of taste in the process. He needs someone to help finance the trip though, and that’s where Dr. Clancy Rhodes comes in – his family pays for the trip as a medical school graduation gift.

As the two travel together, and try many fantastic foods, they start to learn more about each other and eventually fall for one another. Miller still doesn’t want to get treatment, and Clancy eventually figures out his secret, causing a rift between the two of them. How do you let yourself fall in love if one half of the relationship is willing to let himself die without a fight? It’s an emotional read at times, but it’s also a love letter to amazing food. If you don’t like food descriptions, you might not really enjoy this book – there is a LOT about food. I’m not the biggest foodie, but I still found it intriguing!
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It may just be a total preference thing, because frankly, I could see a lot of people loving this book! That said, despite how excited for it I was and how convinced I was that I'd enjoy it, this did not work for me at all. It was an absolute chore because I was so miserably bored.

These characters feel tremendously one-dimensional, I'm having the worst time trying to actually believe anything about this entire situation (and normally I'm pretty good at suspending disbelief!), I don't sense any genuine chemistry between the characters besides "wow, he's so hot!", and most of all... y'all, I love food, I can spend entire days lost in cooking shows and competitions, I adore cooking, the whole works... but clearly I don't like the right kind of food for this book, because I seriously had to force myself not to start skipping entire paragraphs every time Miller and Clancy sat down for a meal. It just felt so forced and like it was trying so hard to make up for the total lack of depth in the characters and their actual romance.

Sigh. I feel horrible writing this review. I wanted so badly to love this book and I know there's a better audience out there for it than me, but I just really couldn't find anything redeeming here.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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I absolutely adore Layla Reyne, so I was excited to read this story.  I will admit I'm not much of a foodie, so it took me a bit to get into the story.  But after reading this story I am so much more intrigued with food, the way Clancy experienced his tasting and the way Miller explained the nuances of food.  

However, from the beginning I was hooked into the emotions of Miller Sykes & Dr. Clancy Rhodes.  I was on board for the emotional roller coaster of Miller's journey to his truth and future.  I loved Clancy's ability to see the good in everything and his ability to love. 

This emotional story was very raw and heartfelt.  Both had their burdens to bare but found strength in each other.  They fell for each other quick but you never doubted their connection nor did it feel rushed the way the story was written.  

This was such a sweet story about love and hope.  Can't wait to read more from this author. 

3.5 Stars!
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Ummmm, a book with food as a starring theme. Yes please!
A good read. I would've liked a bit more from the characters but overall quite enjoyable.
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If you read the blurb, you can probably guess that Dine with Me is not a good read if you’re looking for a light, sweet romance. Both Miller and Clancy have made some serious life changing decisions. Neither one of them realized that spending time together would make them second guess them.

I loved Miller and I could sort of understand his decision, but the more I got to know him the more frustrated I got with him. Especially the closer he got to Clancy. *sigh*

Other than the heartbreak and frustration, I loved the story and that their travels centered around Miller’s favorite food experiences. It made for an interesting journey. Hoping that Clancy would somehow get through to Miller so they had a chance at their HEA kept the pages turning.

Even though Dine with Me was a definite departure from Layla Reyne’s other books/series, I still enjoyed it. I have to admit, it didn’t quite measure up to Irish and Whiskey or Trouble Brewing, but few series I’ve read in the past couple of years do.
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I received a copy of this book ahead of its release for review to be shared on Love in Panels. You can read the full review with content warnings here: http://www.loveinpanels.com/prose/dine-with-me

Dine with Me is filled with light, love and hope. It's heartwarming, heartbreaking, and it made me cry. Actually cry! —from joy, then sadness, then joy again. It’s a bright yet realistic story about shattering expectations. It's Netflix's Chef's Table come to life as a passionate, mouth-watering, queer Romance. It's my favourite Romance read of the year.

And I'm not even interested in food! I'm completely bored by food shows and Instagram meal pics, but hoped to love the book despite lacking the foodie connection. I did not anticipate enjoying the story so much that I'd be researching ingredients and wine pairings.

You know what I do like and care about, though? PEOPLE. People are brilliant, tenacious, fascinating when they're in love, and even more so when their worlds fall apart. The way cooking and eating intertwines with the stories of people in this book is just... woah. Clancy's curiosity, Miller's passion, the genuine peace that sharing good food —be it gourmet, flame grilled or home-baked— brings them, was magnetic and tangible. Miller takes us on a journey that reveals more of himself to Clancy than even their intimate conversations can, and they fall in love with each other, unraveling until they can't hide their truths and don't want to.

All intentions of reading Dine with Me between my very organized weekend work plans to meet a Monday deadline.. hardcore failed. I got so invested in Miller, Clancy and the people they love fiercely, that I could not put the book down. With every "Okay, finish the chapter, then START THIS WORK" I was pulled in deeper. Then suddenly it was Sunday night; my heart was SO FULL AND ALSO WRECKED, and I had actual tears pouring down my face. All I wanted to do was sit with my feelings and bask in the warmth of their glorious HEA, so I reread all my favourite parts. And had to produce my full monthly report on the day it was due. But by the power of Layla Reyne, everything turned out fine! and I wouldn't change a thing about that weekend.

Reyne captures the reality of life-threatening illness and watching someone you love give up on themselves and give in to hopelessness without the story feeling heavy or dragging the reader's mood down. At its core, Dine with Me is a beacon of hope for anyone feeling stuck in their life, job, or past decisions; A neon 'Open 24' sign pointing to the possibility of a second chance. It surprised me in many ways: by captivating my entire weekend and my heart, inspiring an interest in types of food I never knew existed, and for the first time in a life resigned to my family history and the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis, I thought... that maybe I'd want to stay and fight. 10,000% recommend this book if you're ready for your heart to grow three sizes, to suddenly want to keep breathing, and crave some good food in the process.
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DINE WITH ME is a change of direction from the Romantic Suspense novels I have read by Layla Reyne. And I don't mean in a bad way, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

Miller is a chef, who has just closed down a restaurant, is getting a divorce from his best-friend/wife, oh, and by the way, has throat cancer too. There are many trials and tribulations he goes through, most of which are completely understandable, and you will certainly empathise with him as a character.

As for Clancy, he is a foodie and also a doctor. He has just agreed to work at his dad's plastic surgery clinic, although he has major doubts about that. His calling is for oncology, but he doesn't know how to let his dad down.

You travel with these two as they go from one special place to another, with Miller sharing his love of food. The attraction between these two simmers all the way through, overflowing at points.

With a fantastic supporting cast of characters, I thoroughly enjoyed the story as it panned out. I loved Miller's thought processes, and how Clancy worked.

There were no editing or grammatical errors that disrupted my reading, and I found the pacing to be perfect for the story.

Although we had an epilogue, I would still love to hear more from this couple! Absolutely recommended by me.
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If nothing else, the foodie portion of this book is done right! The descriptions are so mouthwatering it makes even foods I know I wouldn't like sound like the most delicious things in the world. The characters were both down to earth and interesting, but the romance felt a bit rushed to me. I know that there's really no way to get around that considering the premise of the book, but it felt a bit much just the same. I'm not a big fan of epilogues personally, so that was a negative point to me. Sometimes they have a purpose but I find that a lot of the time it's things I wish they would just mention might happen and then not show. That's just a personal preference, though.
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I loved this book SO much that I had to get the audio and listen to it right after I read it. The characters are wonderful. Not just the two main ones, but the supporting ones as well. The book is well written and an incredible love story. This is a book I will be rereading. A LOT. 

I urge everyone to go buy it. Read it. Listen to it and enjoy.

It has one of my favorite types of characters... a chef. And the food described in the book makes me so hungry. The second character is a foodie, but also a doctor. 

Dine with Me has a bit of everything. I laughed. I cried and I had a happy sigh at the end. Just the way I like it.
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I probably should not have read this while emotional because I'm sure that's why I cried so much and wanted to eat everything in the house....  Or, just maybe, it was because Layla just wrote a really great book. 

Either way, I really enjoyed this one. Yes, I loved the food and all the descriptions of it. But what I mostly loved was how much the connection between Clancy and Miller won me over. I loved how they started to as strangers, start4ed to become friends, and then more. Yes, it happened in basically less than two weeks, but I'm a total believer in finding your person exactly when you're meant to find them. This did not feel like insta love, not to me. I loved their playfulness, their connection to shared loves of food and family, and how they both could see beyond the food they were sharing to the heart of it all.  

And of course, it was a difficult book to read, especially towards the end because OMG... but I knew Layla would give me a happy ending. I just needed to tough it out. I was not disappointed.
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dine with me finds grumpy chef miller sykes closing his restaurant and giving up on his dreams, he's been diagnosed with throat cancer and refuses treatment given the risk of losing his sense of taste. what's the point of life if he loses the one sense he can't live without.

to celebrate the end of his life he decides to take a farewell tour of his favorite restaurants and invites a fellow foodie to join him on the adventure. well invites is kind of an exaggeration, he needs a financial backer for the journey and it just so happens dr. clancy rhodes's mother runs a very exclusive travel agency. and given clancy just having completed his residency, he's been gifted the trip of his dreams, joining miller on his adventure. but he isn't informed that miller is sick. miller intends to keep it a secret from everyone.

of course, in a fortuitious coincidence, clancy just happens to have an interest in oncology. so it's only a matter of time before he susses out something is wrong. and it's only a matter of time before the chemistry between miller and clancy burns too hot to resist.

**dine with me will publish on october 16, 2019. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review.
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3 star

I've loved every book I've read of Layla's and I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately I'm being generous when I give it a 3 star. I had a difficult time getting into the story.  One thing I will say is this book makes you hungry and want to try alot of different options. I thought it was a nice touch that although he was in plastic surgery Clancy was in the medical field. 

I do love that the supporting characters in Laylas books play big roles in the story lines. 

Now just because I wasn't in love with this book doesnt mean I wont continue to read her books. I just love her action books a little more :)
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When I read this book’s synopsis, I immediately thought of chef Grant Achatz. Was this somehow based on his story? Even though I tend to stay far away from books about cancer because of my former career as a hospice social worker, I could not resist this premise.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Achatz is a Chicago chef most known for his restaurant Alinea. In 2007, he was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. I still lived in the Chicago suburbs at the time and paid close attention to the coverage. Like Miller, there was concern about how this would affect Achatz’s career as a chef and whether his ability to taste would be affected. He went through treatment and was declared cancer-free and while he did lose his sense of taste, it did return. Reading Dine With Me reminded me I still need to read Achatz’s memoir On The Line.

I tell you all of this for reasons. When I started reading, I wondered if Achatz would be acknowledged at all or if Miller was a fictionalized version of Achatz or if perhaps this took place in an alternate universe. But if not for the latter options, I was sure Achatz’s cancer experience would be acknowledged. But it wasn’t and this became a huge sticking point for me.

Miller is adamant that he does not want treatment for his advanced stage throat cancer. (The exact stage is never specified.) He’s told the treatment has less than a 50% chance of working, and if it does work, there’s more than 50% chance it will take away his ability to taste. If they need to do surgery, he could lose part of his tongue and throat. As a chef, he feels this is too big of a risk to take and does not know who he is if he isn’t a chef so he’s opting out and going on a tour of his favorite restaurants, from The French Laundry in Napa to a burger joint in New Orleans—in one last hurrah.

 Without treatment, Miller has a prognosis of six months or less. His restaurant has just closed and his divorce has just been finalized. There’s nothing holding him back from touring the country for two weeks. He’s joined by Clancy, who just finished his residency and is about to join his dad’s plastic surgery practice even though his heart isn’t in it.

The strongest part of this book was the food. The descriptions are guaranteed to make you hungry and it was a nice way to vicariously experience some restaurants I’m less likely to ever go to. For instance, as much as I’d love to eat at The French Laundry someday, I’m priced out so I loved reading about their tasting menu. I also appreciated that there was a mix of high and low restaurants because good food is good food regardless of price and location. There’s still a lot of privilege in this book between the high end restaurants and the private plane, which might be hard for some people to take. On a personal note, while I give the author bonus points for mentioning Lou Malnati’s pizza while they’re in Chicago, Clancy mentions wanting a hot beef sandwich from Portillo’s and I have never in my life heard of such a thing. Portillo’s is known for their Italian beef and that’s what you’d order.

But beyond this, there were a number of things in this story that simply didn’t make sense to me, in part because of my background. Your mileage may vary. First, Miller married Sloan when she was 16 and he was 18 right after he graduated so she could get away from abusive stepfather. He’s now 40 and has always known he’s gay. He and Sloan have had discreet dalliances but they don’t get divorced until now when she’s engaged to someone else and pregnant with their child. They’re best friends, which is great, but I could not understand why they didn’t divorce once she was of age or at least once she started dating Ty. Twenty-two years of marriage to someone you don’t love romantically! Or backing it up even further, why no one in the town, including Miller’s school teacher mother who is a mandatory reporter, reported Sloan’s stepfather for abuse so she wouldn’t have had to marry anyone to be safe.

Then there’s the Achatz aspect. Miller and Clancy specifically discuss Grant and Alinea but not his cancer. It seems like Miller and Achatz might know each other. How could he not think of discussing cancer treatment with Achatz? He literally went through the exact same thing. It’s not until later in the book that someone tells Miller he isn’t the first chef to be diagnosed with cancer or to lose their taste buds and that there are ways of working around it. Even that acknowledgment felt too little, too late.

Lest you think my confusion only extended to Miller, have no fear. When Clancy and Miller are making out at a club, Clancy brushes his hand over Miller’s throat and feels the tumor. (This understandably puts a damper on things.) He magically remembers the statistics. But would he know any of that from doing reconstructive surgery? How would he remember anything from a medical school rotation he did 5+ years ago? “Depending on the exact size and location of Miller’s tumor, and how far it’d spread, he could have less than twenty-five percent survival chance.” I just don’t buy it.

Then there’s Clancy’s angst about his career. His dad’s plastic surgery practice is the safe route and even if he specializes in reconstruction, Clancy recognizes he wants to be an oncologist. When we finally learn why Clancy withdrew his oncology residency applications, I could not believe no one in med school or on his oncology rotation wouldn’t have given him the counsel he needed then and talked him through his decision. This part of the story made me so angry and I don’t think it’s any indication that Clancy would be a good oncologist, despite the author intending it that way. For Clancy to change lanes now, he’d have to do a brand new residency. It’s a major deal and not one to be taken lightly. For the sake of the story, I can see why it went that way—it really ups the stakes between Miller and Clancy. But for the sake of reality, it drove me batty.

Lastly, at the end, Miller is hospitalized and Clancy comes into his room dressed in scrubs with a stethoscope hanging around his neck and a badge on his shirt pocket. However, there is no way this could happen. He no longer works at this hospital, plus he’s on vacation, and more importantly he should not be treating Miller. Let me emphasize this again: Clancy should not be involved in Miller’s medical care. He can talk to him about pursuing treatment but he cannot in any way be involved in determining what that treatment should be. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Clancy being the one who gets Miller to even consider starting treatment and that’s only because of love. Miller had so many reasons to live beyond Clancy and I wish that had figured in more prominently. 

Now do I think Miller and Clancy are good together? Yes. It was a little too insta-love for me, especially given the life or death stakes. But there’s great chemistry and more importantly, they bring out the best in one another. We do get an epilogue three years later and things do seem to be on the upswing for them. They married two months after they met (which holy fast track) and then Miller started treatment the next day. He’s been in remission for 18 months and he’s opening his new restaurant. They’re even talking about adoption. Miller can’t be declared cancer-free until 5 years post-treatment so this is an HFN but things feel promising and I’m certainly rooting for them.

I’ve read this Reyne’s romantic suspense and loved it. This one didn’t work nearly as well but as mentioned, I did enjoy the foodie aspect. It made me think about what kind of food tour I’d want to go on, should I ever have the opportunity.

CW: throat cancer, hospitalization, reference to cancer treatment and side effects, past divorce, fatalistic reasoning
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CW: cancer, MC preparing to die, medical procedures, graphic descriptions of results of the medical conditions and advanced stage cancer, mentions of an abusive homelife 

Ho boy, this book was one tough pill to swallow. I have to admit it didn’t automatically click for me that one of the MCs was going to have cancer and is refusing treatment. For personal reasons that hit me so incredibly hard, but also had me reading the whole book in one go because I knew I wouldn’t be able to pick it up a second time.

I think for foodie romance readers this might be the perfect book. I couldn’t follow all of the talk about food and drink and taste, but the passion and joy both men felt for it and expressed were lovely to read. The romance was a slooow slow burn that I found to be exquisite and really believable. Maybe it will also be a little too fast for some with the time frame being so small, but it really worked very well for me, from the conversations to the hidden pining to the outright “I CAN'T HAVE FEELINGS FOR YOU, NOPE”. 

The solution was heart-wrenching and lovely, a great payoff for the emotional hardship and labor we did to get there. Really, the book does not pull any punches in the angst department and it is heavy in some places, but never too overwhelming. 

What killed it a little bit for me was the epilogue. There is HEA, and then there is heteronormativity slammed in your face with a brick that is covered in saccharine chocolate sauce. I know some readers will crave that and love it to pieces. I just… didn’t. It was a little too much for me, although it was good to see an epilogue set farther in the future than just a couple of weeks.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, me not enjoying the end the way others will was absolutely my very own personal preferences getting in the way.
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I'm a foodie, so really...even with my suspension of disbelief, I couldn't get into the fiction of Dine With Me.  I didn't find much to connect with for the characters, and DNF at less than 20%.
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This romance is thoughtful and serious. Miller's cancer is all prevailing even when Clancy seems oblivious to it, and because we initially only get Miller's very one-sided pessimistic view of his condition, readers are worried that it might not all turn out well for him.

The trip through restaurants and wine country is a very strong and visual element of the book. This author is clearly as much of a foodie as Clancy is. The feasting and the appreciation of sublime recipes is a wonderful thing to read. Almost as wonderful as the growing attraction between the main characters.

It's definitely a slow burn. Miller fights the attraction and the flirting as much as he can. Clancy's enthusiasm and persistence is fun to observe, and we long for them to finally get it together!

I enjoyed all aspects of this novel. It was full of topics that I have rarely seen in mm before, and even though, ultimately, it stays true to the romantic tropes and formulas, along the way, it's a different and engaging journey.

Thanks to Netgalley and Carina Press for advanced copy, which came out on September 16th.
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I had a very hard time getting into this book.  All of the “foodie” terms took me entirely too much time to look up before I gave up on figuring them out.  I soon after lost interest when Clancy talked like a teenager and not like the educated doctor that he was supposed to be.
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Dine With Me is a terrific read, particularly if you like the hurt/comfort trope.

Although I’ve heard great things about Layla Reyne, I’d never read one of her books before. Most of them are romantic suspense, which isn’t generally my thing. So, when I saw she had a contemporary romance coming out, I knew I had to give it a try.

I’m so glad I did! I totally get the praise from other readers, because this novel is a wonderful hurt/comfort story. Miller is a famous chef with an illness that could cost him his sense of taste or even his life—pretty much the ultimate in hurt. Clancy is a doctor, the kind of guy who, as Miller thinks to himself, “knew how to care for people. It’s what he did best.” That’s a match made in hurt/comfort heaven, for sure.

I liked both Miller and Clancy as individuals and as a couple. Clancy is a doll; he’s not just caring but open and enthusiastic about everything. (Really, I could use a Clancy in my life.) Miller is also a kind and considerate person, even if his initial choice of how to handle his disease is sort of selfish, based on his fears more than anything else. The connection that grows between Miller and Clancy seemed realistic based on their warmhearted personalities and shared sense of humor. When their mutual attraction tips them into romance, they felt right together to me.

Miller and Clancy fall in love quickly, which sometimes bothers me, but it felt plausible here. After all, the two of them are spending almost every waking moment together as they travel across the country on their culinary tour of Miller’s favorite places to eat. Add to that the heightened emotions surrounding Miller’s illness, and it seems reasonable that they could fall hard and fast for each other.

The descriptions of the meals that Miller and Clancy share on their trip are positively lush. It’s obvious that the author loves food and cooking! I’m not a foodie myself, but reading this made me hungry. Foodies are absolutely going to drool, I think.

I’m not sure whether this book will appeal to all of Reyne’s romantic suspense fans, because the story here has a very different feel. I loved it, though, and if she writes another similar novel in the future, I am there for it.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
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