Hot Mess by Emily Belden Review and Blog Tour

Imagine if your recovering boyfriend relapses on you a week after you put $30,000 down to help make his chef dreams come true. What would you do?

This story explores passions, career goals, being thrust in a difficult situation, and a whole lot of food.

Here’s more about the book

9781525811418.inddTwenty-something Allie Simon never imagined she’d fall for a recovering drug addict—but that was before she met Benji Zane, Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming chef, who’s known as much for his hard partying ways as for his unparalleled culinary skills. Six months into their relationship, the food and chemistry are out of this world, but the reality of living with a cooking wunderkind hasn’t exactly been all hearts and flowers. 

Still, Allie’s convinced that her love is the key to fixing this talented man’s broken soul—so when Benji is offered his dream job as chef de cuisine for a new restaurant opening on Randolph Street, Chicago’s foodie hot spot, Allie agrees to invest her life savings in his future. But less than a month after she goes all in, Allie learns a heartbreaking lesson: addicts lie. Benji cracks under the pressure, relapses and disappears, bagging out not only on the restaurant, but on her, too.

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.

This was an incredibly fun book to read. Even though there are some darker themes to the book like having your boyfriend relapse on you and leave you with 10% ownership of his restaurant, it was still cute. The writing is pretty easy and since it’s in the first person, you’re reading it from Allie’s point of view. While Allie doesn’t seem like the most literary person in the world, the writing keeps the story breezy and allows you to continue reading to find out what happens next. It doesn’t get too caught up in the whole drug life of Benji (and honestly, you hold your breath waiting for him to appear again), but in Allie’s actions after Benji leaves.

You follow Allie as she takes this difficult situation of helping open her now ex-boyfriend’s restaurant without him there. What do you do with a situation like that?

I would have probably broken down and ran away from the restaurant as fast as my feet could take me, but Allie luckily has business partners who weren’t willing to give up. They push her to quit her full-time job and start thinking of this abandoned restaurant as her new passion and new career.

I think the most appealing part of this story is how Allie is able to continue to push herself forward even though she’s heartbroken and broke. She could have easily cried about her boyfriend relapsing and disappearing all of a sudden. She could have cried about losing all that money. Instead she picks herself up, puts herself into creating a great restaurant and all while nursing the wounds her boyfriend left. It feels to me like this is what the story is real about.

I think the only disappointing thing about this book is the way chefs are portrayed. While some chefs are recovering from one thing or another, a majority of chefs worked hard to where they got without the help of mind-altering substances. I think this whole bad boy chef trope is a little cliched.

However without the chef, this book wouldn’t have a conflict presented to Allie.

The story is about a woman who is thrust down a path she had never thought to take herself, with absolutely no experience, and she came out on top. Of course there’s a lot of pain and anger when it comes to Benji, but Allie kept just pushing herself through it. That’s a strength that not many of us can muster and Allie did. It’s not about her boyfriend and it’s not about drugs and what it does to people, but it’s about the ability to see the “hot mess” in front of you and just make it your own. It’s about kicking your own butt and worry about the details later.

It also helps that there’s a lot of food.

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

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