Author: Vivian Winslow
Genre: New Adult | Romance | Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 29th 2016
Find it At: Goodreads | Goodreads Series Page
Buy it At: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Rosa Cruz, the fiery and ultra-sexy heiress of the Mama Linda Latin foods empire, is determined to create something on her own and not rely solely on her family’s name and legacy.
For her new upscale restaurant in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, she enlists the help of her childhood friend, the hot, young Cuban-American chef, Eliseo Perez, who’s already made a name for himself on the New York culinary scene.
Despite Rosa’s reservations about a forbidden workplace romance with her new employee, not to mention longtime friend, the chemistry between them is undeniable.
When the cooking starts, things quickly heat up in the kitchen and the bedroom. But with Eliseo’s troubled past coming back to haunt him, can Rosa and Eliseo hold onto love and keep the restaurant from going up in flames?
From Forbidden Rose by Vivian Winslow:
Lily clears her throat again. “So, you want to tell me what you have going on with your new chef?”
Rosa can hardly mask her surprise. “Who told you?”
“Your face,” Lily chuckles into her glass. “You look like some lovesick schoolgirl when you look in that direction.”
Rosa shakes her head and in a low voice says, “You are sworn to secrecy.”
Lily makes an X over her heart. “Absolutely.”
“I’m in love.” Rosa immediately purses her lips, hoping to swallow up the words that just fell out of her mouth.
Her sister-in-law hugs her. “I’m so thrilled for you. You deserve to find someone who makes you happy.”
“Yeah, except it won’t work.”
“He works for me.”
“And? If you’re really in love, there has to be more a deal breaker than that,” Lily insists.
“It’s just . . . it’s complicated. In any case, it’s over.”
Lily snaps her fingers. “1, 2, 3. Like that?”
“I don’t believe you. If you really love him, then you have to find a way to make it work. Like I did with your brother.”
“But you two didn’t have so much baggage or family drama.”
Lily tilts her head at Rosa, as if to say, “Look at who you’re talking to.” Between a double-crossing Brazilian ex-lover who nearly ruined their wedding, and an interfering mother, she’d brought plenty of baggage to the relationship.
“But you made it work.”
“Real relationships based on real love always require work. There’s no getting around it.”
“Yeah, but . . . .”
“You’re finding excuses, Rosa, because you’re scared. I turned down your brother at first because I was scared. Consider your life, not as a series of moments, but in a larger context. If you can see yourself with him, experiencing something profoundly satisfying in the long term, I’d say it’s worth the risk. Whatever problems you have in the moment will always resolve themselves in time.”
Rosa leans against the stone pillar, taking a real cocktail off the tray of a passing waiter. She knows Lily’s right. But how to make it work without compromising the restaurant? That’s the question she can’t answer.
Lily kisses her sister-in-law’s cheek. “Unfortunately, I have to go talk to that couple over there.” She nods in the direction of an older gentleman and woman looking admiringly at the sculpture. “Just remember what I said. And keep in mind, a man who could do what he did to your neck may be worth keeping in your life.”
She winks as she walks away. Alejandro separates himself from a conversation as soon as he notices his wife heading toward him. Rosa can’t help but smile at the gesture. That’s commitment.
“If I remember correctly we met somewhere around here,” Juan says approaching Rosa. In his hands are two freshly made doughnuts. The idea that he may break his daily calorie intake by eating one of them makes her grin.
Rosa looks out toward the water and nods. “I think you’re right.” She takes one of the doughnuts out of his hands and takes a bite. The scent and taste of the pastry reminds her of the morning she spent with Eliseo. What she wouldn’t give to relive that time. Maybe when he asks, “Are we?” She’d respond with, “No, we’re not finished.”
“You have a bit of . . . ,” Juan runs a finger over her lip to gather a bit of the guava jelly. He licks his finger.
It’s like a scene from a predictable romantic comedy. The hot leading man standing with a gorgeous woman, who doesn’t realize just how beautiful she is to him, reminiscing over their first flirtation over a warm doughnut. Of course a kiss is expected to follow, maybe a laugh at the memory of how that night was the first of many nights together that led to them falling in love without realizing it—your typical romance trope. It’s all fantasy, Rosa realizes. A very beautiful one, but a fantasy nevertheless.
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*ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review*
Forbidden Rose is a well-written and engaging New Adult romance that I agreed to take a chance on after reading the book’s summary in an emailed review request. Something about the blurb intrigued me and had me wanting to read the book. Since this was my first Vivian Winslow book, I can’t comment on the first book in this series or any of the other books connected to it. What I can say, however, is that I really enjoyed this book.
Winslow is a talented writer and it shows in her characterization and her storylines. I could go into everything plot-wise this book had inside it, which was a lot, but instead, I’d rather tell you how much I enjoyed the overall story.
You see, I discovered over the course of reading Forbidden Rose that I really liked Winslow’s writing style. It’s a little different from my norm, stylistically, and sometimes that doesn’t work so well for me, but it really worked in this case because both the story and the characters swept me away and kept me entertained throughout reading the book. And despite a little bit of head hopping and a few more point of views than the book actually needed, the more I read, the more intrigued I was by Rosa and her interactions with everyone else, especially Eliseo. They had some great chemistry between them and none of it felt forced or overinflated.
Strong-willed heroine who owns her own business? Check. A hot Cuban-American Chef hero? Hell yeah. What’s not to like about that? Nothing that I can tell, for sure.
I do need to say that Rosa is a very sexualized character. She doesn’t want commitment but she is committed to living her personal life exactly as she wants, and why shouldn’t she? It’s her life, right? She can do as she wants with it, and that includes sleeping with whomever she wants, too. To me, it seems as if Rosa sleeps with men to fill some deep void inside of her that she doesn’t know how else to fill, and that made her a very interesting character in my eyes because she wasn’t a cookie-cutter heroine. In fact, the whole psychology behind her thoughts and some of the choices she made intrigued the hell out of me.
As a huge lover of psychology and criminology, I always want to know why people do the things they do, and Rosa made me want to know why more than most. Which is quite a testament to the author’s talent for both characterization and storytelling. Because the more I read in this book, the more I found myself analyzing the choices the characters made and the thought-processes that went on behind them.
If you’re looking for a unique friends-to-lovers romance with a lot of unexpected surprises in a bad-ass, no-holds-barred-heroine kind of way, give Forbidden Rose a shot. It’s a little different from the norm, but in this case, that’s a really good thing.
Overall, I enjoyed Forbidden Rose a lot and am glad I said yes to reading and reviewing it.
Rating: 4 Stars
Blossoming Flower (Wildflowers, #1)
In the wake of the collapse of her father’s business empire, Flor, the gorgeous twenty-one year-old daughter of disgraced former Brazillionaire Gustavo de Lima, is forced to forge her own path in life.
Flor decides that none of it—the private jets, the vacation homes and the luxury cars—were real. Or at least they really didn’t matter. The only thing that’s real for Flor is her love of horses and her desire to go to veterinary school.
Heading into her final year of college, Flor seeks out the help of an unlikely benefactor to secure a summer internship working with horses. Arriving at the secluded Belo Horizonte ranch, Flor is awed not only by the majestic beauty of the place, but also by handsome cowboy and skilled horse trainer, Collin Taylor. Yet nothing is quite as it appears on the surface.
When the hidden past is revealed, will love end up blossoming for Flor?
Vivian Winslow was born and raised in Southern California. Before becoming a writer, she made a career out of moving around the world every couple of years thanks to her husband’s job and her incurable wanderlust. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two elementary school age children, and is grateful to finally have a place to call home for more than two years.
New York is the perfect city to indulge her love of fashion, the arts and especially food. If she’s not at home writing or running around the city with her kids, you’ll most likely find her eating at the newest restaurant in her beloved Lower East Side or having a cocktail at her favorite bar in Alphabet City. That said, she’s still a California girl at heart and would gladly trade in her heels for a pair of flip-flops to catch a sunset on the beach.
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