Taste (Cloverleigh Farms #7) by Melanie Harlow

I will never miss an opportunity to return to the Cloverleigh Farms world! This second book in the “next generation” series is more Cloverleigh Farms adjacent but I welcomed the chance to return to this world all the same. We met Ellie Fournier and Gianni Lupo in Ignite, Ellie was Winnie’s best friend and Gianni was Ellie’s childhood friend/arch-nemesis who recently returned to town to be head chef at the new restaurant Ellie’s family was opening at their farm/inn/winery. Ellie and Gianni have known each other forever and Gianni never missed a chance to antagonize Ellie. They’re all grown up now but that antagonistic relationship still exists which is why Gianni is the absolute last person Ellie wanted to be stuck with during a blizzard in a motel room. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before the tension between them erupts and they decide to make very good use of that one small bed in their motel room. It was only supposed to be a “blizzard bang” but the two days they spent together are not easily forgotten once they get home and Ellie discovers she’s pregnant. Gianni says he wants to do the right thing but Ellie doesn’t want to feel like he’s settling for her because of the baby. When Gianni starts to show another side of himself, one that Ellie could see herself falling in love with, can she trust that it’s real?

This book was a lot of fun! Gianni was a rascal but in such a fun way, you just had to love him. We didn’t really get any flashbacks to them growing up but we got a lot of their history through the dialogue and it was kind of cute how he always teased/tortured Ellie growing up, it was never malicious but more so like a boy who pulls the girl’s hair on the playground because he likes her. Ellie didn’t see it that way, of course. To her, he was just a nuisance, albeit a very attractive one. But you know what? Gianni was always super supportive and protective of Ellie, even when they were little. It was really quite sweet.

About 60% of the story took place in room 13 of the Pineview Motel, so we got lots of Ellie and Gianni togetherness. It was funny and steamy and very low drama. But that didn’t leave a whole lot of time for the aftermath to play out since we were already well past the halfway mark by the time they returned to Abelard. I would have loved to have had more time to see them actually falling for one another and being a couple. What we did get, though, was really good. Gianni may have seemed immature and only out for a good time, but when it came time for him to step up and grow up, he more than rose to the occasion. He never claimed to know what he was doing, particularly when it came to being a father, but you could tell he genuinely wanted to learn and be there for Ellie. If you didn’t already love Gianni by this point in the story, the last few chapters would definitely seal the deal. His “grand gesture” to try to win Ellie over? Amazing! The last chapter and the epilogue were perfect.

If you’re looking for a steamy, sweet, no-drama enemies-to-lovers story you should check this out! I had a lot of fun reading it and now I’m looking forward to Felicity and Hutton’s story coming next.

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