Cover Image: A Delicious Dilemma

A Delicious Dilemma

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Member Reviews

A Delicious Dilemma is a fantastic contemporary romance, where chef Val Navarro has a full plate cooking in her family’s Puerto Rican restaurant, fighting back by heading a community group against the company that is buying up their neighborhood piece by piece only to rebuild and modernize it so it’s over priced for those that have lived there for years, and nursing her publicly broken heart from her last relationship. She doesn’t intend on falling for a handsome yet shy man named Phillip on a rare night out with her cousin, and she certainly didn’t intend to fall for him from the start. After a fantastic yet chaste couple of nights getting to know him, it’s finally revealed that Phillip is Phillip Wagner of Wagner Industries fame–the company that is rebuilding her neighborhood in the name of progress, so their relationship is doomed before it even had a chance to begin.

Even though Phillip is the lead designer of his father’s company and definitely not on board with how his father sweeps into communities and takes them over, not caring what’s left behind, Val isn’t willing to give him a chance since he didn’t tell her who he was when they first met.  As Phillip works together with Val and her group to compromise on the sweeping changes in her neighborhood, can he prove to her that he’s not his company and he’s not the man she fears he is?

Val guards her heart so tightly that she won’t let anyone new in, but she’s fiercely protective of those she loves–both family and acquaintances–and no one dares cross her. Phillip has his own share of crosses to bare, and his father is his biggest hurdle. While Val and Phillip have many things in common, the wealth divide between the two is a big hurdle along with Val’s misconceptions about Phillip’s career being his own opinions. Val’s reluctance to trust is her biggest issue while Phillip isn’t an alpha male that asserts his dominance, so these two circle widely around each other with neither making a move.

I give A DELICIOUS DILEMMA a 4.5 out of 5. A Delicious Dilemma is full of light hearted banter, drama, realistic family dynamics, Star Wars references, and above all else–heart. The characters were fleshed out nicely, and the neighborhood was a lovely and unique character all of its own. I really enjoyed Val and Phillips journey, and I liked seeing both Phillip and Val grow and come into their own so they could be together.
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Val was not thinking about men - or love. Yet, when she agreed to go out dancing, she could not resist the instant attraction that hit her when she locked eyes with Phillip Wagner. She is not sure why he continues to pursue her but that he does. However, when she finds out that his last name is Wagner, she is furious that it is his company that is trying to shut down her business and that of her family and friends.

Her Puerto Rican neighborhood has thrived for years under difficult circumstances. Will they allow this corporation to buy all of them out or will they fight? Speaking of fighting, how is Val going to fight her growing feelings? Shouldn't Phillip be the enemy?

What a great enemies to love story! I loved Val and Phillip and how they worked hard to find common ground. This was a wonderful story that had a happy ending.

Many thanks to Harlequin Special Edition and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
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I've been really enjoying the titles I've read from Harlequin Special Edition lately and this one was no exception. It was a great example of an enemies to lovers that was done exceptionally well. I especially liked that Philip chose to be honest about who he was rather than lie about it.

If you like books that include food, then you should pick up this one. I loved the Val's restaurant and the talk about food throughout the book. I felt like all the characters were really well rounded as well, with actual personalities and unique traits that make them stand apart.

I really enjoyed this book even though there were some moments where the pace was inconsistent, the relationships and story made up for those moments and pushed the story on.
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This is a quick easy read that I just read in one sitting.

I loved the characters and I found the story very well written.

I am giving this a 4 out of 5 stars.
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These Harlequin Special Editions have been great for giving me stories to get lost in and even leaving me with a smile, which is a definite plus in these crazy times. Delicious Dilemma is one more example of that, and it is certainly well titled. This is a foodie romance if ever there was one, and I'll warn you - if you're on a diet, prepare to have it blown.
Food aside, Sera Taino's debut is an enemies to lovers romance, which is one of my favorite tropes. There's sure to be some sparks when the characters butt heads, and it's even better when the couple has chemistry as good as Val and Philip. Both characters are likable and they're easy to root for. Even the secondary characters are developed and they contribute to the story. In fact, I'd be interested to see a series with the many characters in this one.
The story slowed down a bit here and there but not to the point of distraction and those parts didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of the book. All in all, this is a solid debut from a promising new author, and I'll be interested to see what she does next.
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I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I really enjoyed this book. I liked all the characters and the plot was wonderful!
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A sweet and charming story, A Delicious Dilemma is a fantastic debut from Sera Taino. Full of great characters and chemistry, this is a wonderful enemies to lovers romance. 
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title. All opinions and mistakes are my own.
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Val is a chef who runs her family's legacy restaurant. She's a beautiful, smart, hard-working young woman who was recently dumped publicly by a two-timing jerk. He wrecked her sense of trust and optimism, but her friend pulls her back into the club, finally, where it happened. Val isn't having a great time but happens to meet Phillip, and the chemistry is immediate and overwhelming. As the attraction grows, Phillip fesses up: he's the son of the rapacious developer who is gentrifying the inner city Val and her family, friends, and community love and treasure. But rents are going up and the future looks horrible for them. But Phillip is the new young face of the company, and he can see an ethical path forward. Will he be able to change his father's ways, and take the company in a new direction such that Val's world isn't destroyed? Will Val be able to trust again? This is a classic enemies-to-lovers romance, but with the lush richness of a Puerto Rican cultural setting, including a big, loving family, exquisite dishes, and the language and customs. Val and Phillip are mains to root for. I enjoyed this story. Thanks to NetGalley for this advance review copy..
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A Delicious Dilemma by Sera Taíno

Debut novel that brings a taste of Puerto Rico, a bit of French, and some American to the table in this romance that takes place in a small community faced with potentially huge changes…if a compromise is not found. 

What I liked: 
* Val: chef, sister, daughter, friend, community leader, has trust issues, loves deeply
* Phillip: developer, designer, wealthy, friend, son, focused , good hearted, honest…mostly
* The family aspect of the story – how family impacts both of the main characters
* The food…sounded scrumptious
* The tour of Val’s neighborhood
* The chemistry between Val and Phillip
* Etienne: wondering if he will end up in a story
* Val’s family and friends – will they have books of their own or is this a standalone story?
* The community Val grew up in
* The idea of roots and history within community as well as the people who are willing to look out for one another
* That there was a HEA

What I didn’t like: 
* That Phillip’s father had become so focused on success, winning, and money that he had lost sight of community
* Val’s inability to “see” as clearly as she could have

Did I like this book? Yes
Would I read more by this author? Yes

Thank you to NetGalley and HQN for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

4 Stars
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A Delicious Dilemma is a triumphant debut for Sera Taíno. It’s a sumptuous celebration of food, culture, family, friendship, and love. I devoured this tasty offering in one sitting, its themes so familiar and dear to me.

I find myself relating closely with Val. The eldest of three, close to her dad, loves dancing and cooking and takes the responsibility for her family’s well-being upon her shoulders. She’s a truly admirable heroine.

Sera’s writing of Philip was impressive as well. I loved the way he handled his inadvertent deception. I cheered his coming into his own against his father. His gentle wooing of Val put a smile on my face. 

I loved that the romance was sweet and slow-burn. The tension in the story was just enough that Val and Philip still had to work for their happy ending. Their conflict was authentic but not too heavy drama and was resolved in a satisfactory manner.

Overall, a start that’s more than promising. It already shows Sera Taíno’s immense talent. I want more stories from her. Soon, please.
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Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Sera Taíno, Netgalley, and Harlequin Special Edition for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.

What a beautiful love letter to Puerto Rico! This story may not take place on Puerto Rico, but it’s all things boriqua as we get to see Val and her family interact throughout the novel. Not to mention the family restaurant that Val and her father co-own and its amazing food? Sold.

Reggaetón was a gift to someone like her – US born but every bit as Puerto Rican as a transplant could be without having lived on the island. It was the soundtrack of the vaivén, or the back-and-forth movement that characterized the migration of people going from the mainland to the island and back again.

Ahhh if you don’t know Reggaetón, you are missing out. Just FYI.

I am so glad that Taino was able to get this novel out into the world, and thank you to Harlequin for publishing it. I enjoyed Taino’s writing so much, and really felt the passion that she had telling this story. Val is our main character dealing with the aftermath of a very terrible relationship and breakup, finally trying to get out of this depression and getting back into the world. Things aren’t perfect though, since the area that her and her family live in and work in is being gentrified and taken over by some hot shot development company trying to build a light rail thing. All of their neighbors are either being bought out by the company, or are having to move out because they can’t afford the skyrocketing rent. It’s a devastating tactic that’s geared to get everyone out so they can modernize this area. The soul of the place will be gone if this company has anything to say about it.

And yet, we meet Philip, who just so happens to work for this company since it’s his father’s company. He knows exactly what’s going on, and he knows what Val is talking about but can’t tell her when they first meet who exactly he is. The attraction is almost immediate between the two of them that fateful night, and even though neither of them are looking for anything serious yet, there’s just something about them that could lead to something… just something. Whether it’s a romance, a friendship, or what, there’s no doubt that they will be a part of each other’s lives in a big way.

I personally didn’t feel like there was instalove in this one, there was just instant attraction. You can find someone super attractive when you first meet them, but that doesn’t mean you love them. It could mean you don’t mind jumping their bones right away, but that’s not automatically love. Don’t we all know that lol. So I enjoyed their initial interaction and felt like everything that happened that night was totally intriguing. I could see it happening, and hey I’ve been in the same situation. Although I’m not an amazing chef so there was no cooking for me but boy I wish I was meeting Val and having her make me food!

I liked this story! I thought that it was cute but also talks about some really important things about gentrification and how corporations and development companies don’t see the true, real life human ramifications of totally changing the dynamics of a well loved neighborhood. Money can influence a lot of people to do a lot of things, but when those people think about all of the consequences and all of those that will be affected, it opens up a lot of things to consider. Will Philip be able to make the right decision, and will that right decision be the one that won’t devastate both parties? Will Val be able to deal with who Philip is and who his family is, or will she be able to separate her feelings for him from her feelings of his company? Can she even do that?

Definitely read this one. You won’t be disappointed.
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This is a romance. Val and Philip is the main characters in this book, and this book is told in the point of view of Val. Both of the main characters work and part of their families company. Philip's father company is taking over small business, and Val's neighbor/family business is on their next take over list. This book is cute and has a lot of drama. I love the characters, and they bring out the best in each other. I found the pacing to be a little to slow in parts of this book, but it did not take much away for the story. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Harlequin Special Edition) or author (Sera Taino) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.
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Good book. Lina is a paramedic and a nurse. She occasionally pulls a nursing shift at a local hospital. As the book opens, Lina starts one of those shifts and is nearly late for the staff meeting. One of the first people she sees is Garth, an ER doctor she's never worked with before. There's something about him that immediately draws her and also flusters her. Garth is new at the hospital. After working several years in temporary positions, he feels ready to put down some roots. He notices Lina right away and feels an unexpected attraction to her.
I liked watching the relationship between Lina and Garth develop. They clashed a little that first night they worked together, but it opened up the opportunity for Garth to take Lina to breakfast to apologize. I loved how they connected so quickly and how easy they found it to talk to each other. Not only that, the sparks between them led to some intense kisses and the promise of a date before they parted ways. I laughed at their date, as Garth is a jazz fan, and Lina is not, but she handled it well. Getting caught in a downpour led to a stop at Garth's apartment and sparks that no amount of rain could douse.
Since she met him, Lina felt she'd met Garth before, but she couldn't figure out where. Laying in bed beside him that night and catching his profile lit by moonlight, she finally remembered. Horrified by the memory and feeling guilty about the things she knows because of it, Lina pulls away. She's not sure how to tell him or what his reaction will be. I ached for them both when she 'fessed up. The memories stirred up old pain for Garth, and he needed time to deal with it. Lina ached at what she saw as the end of a promising relationship.
Both Garth and Lina had to face their pasts before they could hope to have a future together. Garth had been running from his by taking temporary positions and keeping people at a distance. Lina was the first person to break through those walls in six years, and the feelings she stirred up scared him a bit. But the thought of losing her in his life made him want to change. Lina's past unsuccessful relationships made it hard for her to believe that this would be any different. She also had some trust issues because of her father's actions and needed to let go of that past before she could trust in the future.
I loved the ending. Garth unexpectedly showing up on Lina's vacation was a terrific idea. I love how he opened up about what happened, the effect on him, and how he's changed. Likewise, Lina shared her past. I loved their honesty and determination that no more secrets would come between them. I loved their big moment and the surprise that waited for them afterward. The epilogue was also terrific, with a peek into their lives a year down the road.
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Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin for access to this arc. 

I was interested in reading “A Delicious Dilemma” because of the Puerto Rican representation and food as well as the fact that the book would also tackle the issue of gentrification. Plus it’s got a lovely cover and I’m weak like that.

Val’s family have owned and worked in the family restaurant since her Puerto Rican immigrant parents started it years ago. Philip has worked in the family property business that his grandfather started after he brought over his entire family from Slovakia. Both Val and Philip are hard working, honest, and after meeting at a local night club, interested in each other. Philip quickly realizes that the building that houses the Navarro restaurant is one of the properties that Wagner Developments is interested in acquiring so he doesn’t tell Val who he is the first night that they meet. But he’s honorable enough to avoid taking their relationship much deeper until their next date when he tells her who he is. Wow, one Big Misunderstanding avoided.

Val is understandably not happy but when Philip is the one willing to meet with her community group to address their concerns about the development of their neighborhood and potential eviction of tenants, she’ll work with him. There are surprisingly few speed bumps on the road to them coming up with some compromises that will see both sides getting much of what they want. Plus as the two of them meet and go out on dates, Philip is considerate and careful of Val’s pride due to the difference in their styles of living (once Philip’s Haitian immigrant friend Etienne reminds Philip of his privilege). Val’s family mainly approves of Philip though true to their close knit nature they endlessly tease Val about him.
So all those conflicts are fairly easily smoothed out with only an occasional reference to Val still being aware of how Philip “lied” to her about who he was.

Things were slowly floating along towards the conclusion. Philip’s family isn’t the horror I thought it would be turned into. Instead his mother is delightful and welcoming while his father is focused on business but ultimately willing to listen to the community proposals as they make good business sense. Val’s family are supportive of each other and her even if her younger sister and brother turn up the teasing once Val and Philip do the “next morning walk of shame” after they finally! make their relationship physical. And I’m thinking that by avoiding the misunderstandings and conflict this book is turning out to be fairly … bland.

Turns out I actually need a little friction in a story after all. With only about 40 pages left to go, I’m mentally humming Peggy Lee’s song “Is That All There Is?” Hmmm, I hummed too soon as suddenly a book’s worth of conflict and angst got dumped in the narrative. Things that I thought had been settled became unsettled in unsettling ways that flipped characterizations on their heads. This person did this and that person did that and it all seemed too scripted rather than real. So I got the conflict I found I wanted but in a forced way that all of a sudden gets resolved too easily. The “year later” epilogue helps me be sure that the romance really will stick in the long run – something very much in doubt earlier on – but what had been a solid B book slipped down due to the uneven resolution that I hope is only due to this being a debut book. C+
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This book was super cute. It’s like an Insta love mixed with one sided enemies to lovers. Val and Phillip meet one night and click instantly. Val shares with Philip her dislike of the companies buying out buildings in her community and gentrifying it and of course Philip is the son of this company! 

I really enjoyed that Philip didn’t mislead her for too long. He knew it was wrong and didn’t let things get far between them before telling her the truth. I loved Val’s love and dedication to her family and restaurant. While I didn’t fully feel the Insta love between these two, by the end I was swooning over their relationship! 

This book only has one open door steamy scene that’s not super descriptive, so I think you will enjoy this if you enjoy closed door romances.
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What a treat this book is! Immensely readable and well-paced, but also really thoughtful in exploring trust in relationships. I loved Val's sassy brother and sister, Rafi and Nati, and I'm really hoping they get their own books. And the food sounded great -- honestly, I could've gone for quite a bit more food. I'll definitely be talking this up on the podcast and requesting to have it added to the library's collection! 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review.
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Val Navarro and her family own a Puerto Rican Restaurant. Phillip's family is looking for small businesses to take over...

Val has just had a messy breakup. Is Phillip who she needs to get her love life back on track or will trying to save her restaurant from falling into his family's hands leave no time for love? 

This is an amazing book. It's full of delicious-sounding food (I have never tried Puerto Rican food, and this makes me want to). 

There's dancing too. The conflicts are realistic and I was really wanting to find out what would happen between Val and Phillip.

4 stars
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Oh Val and Philip! I loved their romance so much. Val is the chef at her family's Puerto Rican restaurant in a town called East Ward which I imagine is across the river from Manhattan. She and Philip meet one night at a get together, hit it off and shortly after, Philip realizes the neighborhood is family business is planning to swoop in-buy-and change, is where Val resides, works and is important to her. 
I adored the romance between these two so much. I had the opportunity to read it early and chat with the author about it. She is an incredible writer and I'm so excited for more from her. This book felt like any Special Edition I've yet to read (a week later I read the new Roan Parrish also!) and I'm excited to see what other surprises the series has in store. This book was very diverse and inclusive and I hope some of our side characters receive books of their own!
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This was fantastic! It was a wonderful and sweet story about grief, guilt, and forgiveness. I adored Philip and Val and thought their story was so wonderful. I am hoping there will be more stories by this author with some of the side characters in this book.

It was a delight.
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It’s been a little while since I’ve started and finished a book in the same day! A Delicious Dilemma is a sweet, delectable story that follows Val Navarro, a chef who’s determined to save her family’s Puerto Rican restaurant and neighborhood from a threatening development company who wants to remodel local businesses and apartments, kicking out tenants in the process. Things get a little more complicated when she learns that the handsome Philip Wagner she met by chance on a night out is actually part of Wagner Developments, the company putting everything she cares about at risk.

There are serious factors at play, such as gentrification, class difference/privilege, and the dreams of a hardworking immigrant family. None of it feels like an afterthought to the story, or underdeveloped in any way - it’s always there, even in the background of the central romance. It felt like a very nice tonal balance. 

In addition to those very real topics, I particularly enjoyed reading about Val’s passion for food, and how it ties in to her family, culture, and personal desires. It was clear the first time she made food for Philip that it was done with intention and care, even if she hardly knew him. That’s just how she cooks, and what makes her an apparently wonderful chef. There were also a number of scenes that detailed Val’s enjoyment of food itself, reveling in the pleasure of expensive wine, cheesy pastries, and piragua. It’s not often that women in books (or movies or tv for that matter) are shown experiencing pure enjoyment from food without shame or any mention of their diets or bodies.

I obviously found this book to be quite lovely, and very much enjoyed the romance between Val and Philip. They encouraged each other to work through insecurities due to past experiences, and learned just how importance trust is if you want to be open to having your life changed by a person or opportunity.
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