Layla Reyne’s DINE WITH ME is a contemporary m/m romance following a dying chef on a last tour of his favorite meals, and the travel companion who must convince him he’s more than his taste buds and that the cost of love is worth living for.
Release Date (e-book and audio): September 16, 2019
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 cuppa 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.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
Miller and Clancy's delicious courtship will make foodie romance fans swoon. Readers will be rooting for that HEA from the first page.
– Adriana Herrera, author of the Dreamers series
Breathtakingly emotional and deeply resonant, this foodie trip romance will have you reaching for the
tissues and cheering at the well-earned happily ever after for one of my favorite couples. This one
lingered with me and made me hungry!
– Annabeth Albert, author of the Frozen Hearts series
Exclusive Q&A with Layla Reyne
- Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
LR: It’s not just Miller and Clancy in this story. There’s a supporting cast of characters—family, of the blood and found sort—that I absolutely adored writing. And they support, first and foremost. No one here is trying to foil or divert our main characters, and I love that about this story. They are there to support Miller and Clancy, as best and as full-of-heart as they can.
- Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
LR: Every place Miller and Clancy visited is a place I’ve dined or based on a place I dined. (Sadly, a few of my favorites had closed!) Each place in this book is as special to me, for my own reasons, as it is for Miller and Clancy. For instance, one of the stops is The French Laundry, which is where my husband and I got married, so it holds a special place in my heart too.
- Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
LR: Ohmigod, they both do. This story has been rattling around in my head since 2015. It was on the initial list of project ideas I gave my agent. There’s a lot of me in both Clancy and Miller (more so Clancy, my husband more so Miller), but it’s really a love letter to all the amazing dining experiences I’ve been so lucky to have in my life.
- What is the significance of the title?
LR: It starts as the opening line of the advertisement Miller posts for the tour. It also ends the book in a way that still makes me happy sigh.
- What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?
LR: This is a standalone, so there won’t be a sequel. Though keep your eyes peeled for a special project involving one of the secondary characters.
- If you had to describe character Miller Sykes in three words, what would those three words be?
LR: Loyal, Self-Sacrificing, Stubborn
- If you had to describe character Clancy Rhodes in three words, what would those three words be?
LR: Earnest, Honest, Risk-taker
- If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
LR: Oh, this is easy (since the book has been in my head for YEARS). I’ve always had Clive Standen as my fancast for Miller and Grant Gustin as my fancast for Clancy.
- Was the writing process different and what challenges did you face writing contemporary romance versus romantic suspense?
LR: I couldn’t just throw a car chase or explosion in when I needed to pick up the pace! But seriously, I really did have to dig deep to center this one more on emotions, more on the journey of these two men, individually and potentially together in the future. That’s what’s driving the story, versus my usual twisty plot.
Seventies Santa laid a hand on Clancy’s hip, and the connection between Miller and Clancy snapped, the latter’s attention drawn to the interloper. Miller was off his stool the next instant. If he thought too hard on it, he’d reverse course and walk out the door instead of onto the dance floor. Let Clancy pursue things with the attractive man who was clearly interested in him. Who wouldn’t be? And why shouldn’t it be Santa? It sure as hell shouldn’t be Miller, who had a death sentence hanging over his head.
He had no business making any sort of claim on Clancy. No business getting more involved with him, even if only for the week they had left together. No business shoving his body between Santa’s and Clancy’s, knocking Santa’s hands off him, and grasping Clancy’s hips. No business, when Clancy grinned and stepped forward, coasting his hands over Clancy’s hips and splaying his fingers across the curve of that perfect ass.
Santa ceased to exist, Clancy’s attention totally on him.
“Dancing,” Miller shouted over the music. “Wouldn’t have figured.”
Clancy leaned forward, speaking right into Miller’s ear. “Did you miss the part where I like d*ck and live in WeHo?”
Laughter bubbled out of Miller, and Clancy’s goofy smile made him impossibly sexier. That body, those moves, and still the irrepressible brightness. Miller stepped closer, swiping back Clancy’s damp hair and letting his fingers drift slowly through it. “F*ck, you’re stunning.”
Smile wide, Clancy draped his arms over Miller’s shoulders and brought their bodies into brushing contact. “Dance with me, Chef.”
Miller didn’t even care about the slip, not when it was uttered in that low, sexy voice, seducing him into movement.
Song after song, they swayed and writhed in sync, their bodies like magnets inching closer and closer. Miller couldn’t say how many songs it was before his forehead fell against Clancy’s and the last bit of distance between their bodies vanished. The instinct was there to close the distance between their mouths too, but almost as strong was the profound relief rushing through Miller. He’d needed this release, needed to let go and forget about everything except moving his body in time with the gorgeous man in his arms. Clancy had known that, had recognized it while they’d sat at the bar, and had made it happen. He’d been exactly what and who Miller needed tonight.
“Thank you,” Miller whispered.
“You’re welcome.” Clancy’s warm breath tickled his lips. “But this is ninety-five percent selfish on my part.”
“It’s one hundred percent selfish on mine.”
Clancy looked up with dilated eyes, only a thin ring of dark green visible. He licked his lips, and if he hadn’t spoken, Miller would have claimed them. “I’m more than okay with that.”
Unhooking his arms from behind Miller’s neck, Clancy ran his hands over Miller’s shoulders and down his arms, tracing the ink. They traveled back up, then down his chest, fingers curling in Miller’s T-shirt. Clancy dragged them backward until his back hit the wall. Miller tried to slam on the brakes, not wanting to crush Clancy, not wanting to eat him alive in public, but Clancy kept hauling him forward. Cheek to cheek, chest to chest, Clancy slid a knee between Miller’s legs and pressed his thigh up against Miller’s straining c*ck. Clancy canted his hips, revealing his own need, and Miller couldn’t stop himself from rocking forward. He shoved a hand between the wall and Clancy’s ass and grabbed a handful of cheek, holding Clancy and his d*ck tight to him, chasing after this feeling. Heat, relief, life, desire, all driving him higher. He snuck his other hand under the hem of Clancy’s shirt, dragging his fingertips through the sweat at the small of his back. A shiver raced through Clancy, and Miller thrust his hips again. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this turned on, had felt so wanted while also wanting so much.
Clancy nipped his earlobe. “Be selfish a little longer.” He dragged his lips along the line of Miller’s beard and over his cheek, angling toward his mouth.
Miller wanted to taste him, more than he’d ever wanted to taste anything. Wanted to taste the hot, flushed skin behind Clancy’s ear, the sweat from his back that slicked Miller’s fingers, and the softly curving lips that had tempted Miller every time they’d closed around a damn fork. He wanted to know how the bitter, spicy sweetness of the Vieux Carré mixed with Clancy’s own unique flavor.
Dine With Me is a marked change of pace than what I’ve come to expect from this author. It’s a very slow burn romance with not a touch of suspense in sight, but there are plenty of feelings with the contemplative look into Miller’s life and what’s brought him to this point, as well as Clancy’s own introspective analysis of his own choices in life.
Since I had to set aside my usual expectations for this author with the abrupt change of pace Dine With Me brought to the table compared to her usual intense romantic suspense stories, I approached this story with a more laid-back, reserved attitude. It does move more sedate pace than I’m used to (not just from this author), and Miller and Clancy’s relationship is the very definition of slow burn. Emphasis is placed more on their individual issues, and how their personal choices affect not just them but the other people in their lives.
The story takes a more serious tone, while still allowing for gradual relationship development that still has enough intensity to poke at readers’ feelings. There’s also a lot of food references—after all, Miller and Clancy are on a culinary tour so you’re going to find plenty of descriptions that might make you a bit hungry…especially if you’re a foodie.
Ms. Reyne’s departure from her usual fare worked out well here in Dine With Me, which was a solid 4-star read for me. If you’re already a fan of the author, set aside your preconceived notions about her stories as they won’t apply here. Instead, you’ll find something emotional and touching that may even cause you to tear up (I came close!). This story, while light on the physical intimacy, still has enough going on to make it an 18+ read for adult language and sexual content.
About the Author
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 2019 RWA® RITA® Finalist in Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length) and 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.
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