Release Date: Oct 13, 2020
Heat Level: Sensual
Publisher: Penguin Group
Simmer Down by Sarah Smith follows her debut novel Faker which was released last October. I really loved Faker, which was also an enemies to lovers trope book and I looked forward to this next book by Smith. Simmer Down follows a similar path, an American Filipino girl who has a complicated relationship with a white (British) male lead. I really wanted to love this book: it is an enemies to lovers trope, it is set in Hawaii, it’s all about food! But something just was not working for me to fully fall all in. Maybe it was because of this very similar set-up that I did not enjoy this book as much as I did Faker, but there were some other reasons as well.
Simmer Down follows the point of view of Nikki DiMarco who paused her life and quit her dream job after a traumatic family event, to help out her mother serve Filipino food to beach goers in Maui. Little did she know how fraught with tensions and competition the food truck industry in the sunny town was going to be. Almost as soon as she was starting to get settled into her new life, Callum James arrives in the parking spot next to her and begins to steal her customers. This was a little bit unrealistic for me, a food truck that serves fish and chips is in competition with a truck that serves Filipino food . . . really? Anyways, they decide to let an upcoming food festival determine who will keep the coveted parking spot. In the meantime they slowly get to know each other and slowly start to like each other and begin a steamy affair.
On the whole, this was a good book and is an easy, enjoyable read. There are two main issues that I had with the book. First, Callum and Nikki very obviously got off on the wrong foot and it led to many a tiff between them. But once they actually talked it was clear to see that they had chemistry and were attracted to each other, and all they really needed to do was keep communicating openly. However, they did not do this and it led to a lot of prolonged conflict. The book could have been maybe 30% shorter and sweeter if the conflict was just wrapped up in a realistic way instead of being so stretched out. Secondly, the book is from Nikki’s point of view and she was . . . a lot. She was constantly complaining about her life, but did nothing to try to improve it. That is one of my biggest pet peeves in real life, and when I am reading books – don’t complain about something that you are not willing to even try to change. There was so many things that could have been different for her if she just put a little effort in. And while I think her and Callum have a cute romance story, I almost feel as if there is an imbalance in this relationship with Callum putting more in.
Overall, I recommend this book for those who like an easy and enjoyable romance read. The things that bothered me likely will not bother many other readers.