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Twentysomething Allie Simon is used to playing by the rules—until Chicago’s most sought-after, up-and-coming culinary genius, Benji Zane, walks into her world and pulls her into his. The only thing more renowned than Benji’s mouthwatering masterpieces and equally luscious good looks? His struggle with addiction and his reckless tendency to live life on the edge, no matter the havoc he wreaks along the way. But loving someone means supporting him no matter what, or so Allie tells herself. That’s why, when Benji’s offered the chance to light up foodie hot spot Randolph Street with a high-profile new restaurant, Allie takes the ultimate risk and invests her life savings in his dream.
Then one day Benji disappears, relapsing to a place where Allie can’t reach him. Left with nothing but a massive withdrawal slip and a restaurant that absolutely must open in a matter of weeks, Allie finds herself thrust into a world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.
With razor-sharp wit and searing insight, Emily Belden serves up a deliciously dishy look behind the kitchen doors of a hot foodie town, perfect for fans of Sweetbitter and The Devil Wears Prada.
Library Journal STARRED review (Nov 15): “Belden’s excellent tell-it-like-it-is read is perfect for foodies and entrepreneurs alike.”
Booklist: “Combining the wit and insight of Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter (2016) with the drama of Jessica Tom’s Food Whore (2015), Belden’s first novel is a glimpse into the fast-paced fine-dining industry. She highlights the late nights, early mornings, and (literal) highs and lows so common in the restaurant world.… the core of Belden’s story is entirely enjoyable. Full of heart, heat, and passion, this restaurant rom-com in novel form is an exhilarating debut.”
The Bookly Club: "Belden has written a story that's more complicated (and feminist) that I ever suspected. Without giving too much away, I will say that HOT MESS far exceeded my expectations."
Abby Stern, author of According to a Source: "Emily Belden serves the decadence and drama a la mode in Hot Mess. The full-bodied novel takes the resilient Allie Simon on a journey of sex, love, secrets, and the high-end culinary world. You'll savor every word of this provocative story."
RT Book Reviews: "This is an engrossing, slow-burn read that yields a very satisfying emotional payoff.... Rich with perfect details, balanced between the various different relationships and presented in a well-crafted narrative, this novel is meant to be savored."
Agresti knows Washington D.C. Especially in a presidential election year, where
primary parties are hotter than Oscar parties, the journalists are ruthless,
the candidates unpredictable and a trail of campaign widows are left home while
their significant others are hot on the chase. But as she shows us through a
compelling cast of characters, the most delicious drama happens right in the
District." -Karin Tanabe, author of The List and The Diplomat's
"With a keen eye and razor-sharp wit, Aimee Agresti depicts the presidential campaign trail from a new and refreshing angle: the spouses left holding down the home fort in Washington, DC. Fun and fast-paced, populated with a lovable cast of characters--and peppered with undeniably dishy details--Campaign Widows will keep you turning the pages."
-Ann Mah, author ofMastering the Art of French Eating and The Lost Vintage
"Fun, dishy, and (yikes) all-too-real...Twenty-first century politics might be an unmitigated disaster, but I adored my time with this collection of vibrant, compelling characters. My vote is an enthusiastic 'yes' for Campaign Widows."
-Shari Goldhagen, author ofIn Some Other World, Maybe