Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my review or rating.
Well the book started off promising and then faltered for me pretty early on. And even when the book tries to right-side itself it goes back down again due to the actions of the main character (Carter Lane). I did read the book synopsis so the author/publisher is up front about the fact that Carter is going to get revenge on a boy that screwed her over in a culinary competition she is competing in. The issue is for me, what the boy did was minor, he apologized repeatedly, and the actions that Carter took could have gotten him sent home so I was not on her side. But the words he used when talking to her were sexist so they pretty much cancelled each other out. There was also very little discussion of food to be had. I didn't get a sense the author was a cook. I wanted more descriptions of what the food they were making was and the ingredients they were using.
"The Art of French Kissing" has 17 year old Carter Lane going to Savannah, Georgia to compete in a culinary competition. Carter wants the win so bad she can taste it (pun intended). However, the first day of the competition, a rival, Reid Yamada lies about cheese she needs for a grilled cheese sandwich and she vows to get revenge on him. The revenge consists of Carter tripping the guy in a kitchen and I was not down for that. All I could think of was how he could have been hurt and injured someone else.
So most of this book is Carter hating Reid and doing things to get back at him and bah. It was not that interesting to me. Besides the big issue I really had is that they both like each other and you are supposed to be rooting for two people who acted like a couple of assholes towards each other when they first met and afterwards.
The competition is mentioned, but the author doesn't even bother describing the secondary characters beyond a few. And for me, I was more interested in two secondary characters (Will and Riya) than I was in Carter and Reid. I wish we had gotten a chance to know more than just four characters. We also have a bigoted ass in the competition which I think we are supposed to be happy gets taken down a peg by Carter, but she actually shoves this guy at one point and I just rolled my eyes. She goes around shoving and grabbing to the point I wanted to say "just because you are a teen girl does not mean you don't respect others spaces."
The writing is just okay. I wanted more description of the food, the recipes, I wanted to see why Carter was supposedly so good at cooking cause I didn't get that at all. I said in one of my updates, that a good idea would have been to end each chapter with a recipe of the food that Carter was cooking in the competition or something she mentions so that way there is a nice linkage there.
I also had a huge issue with most of the story reading about Carter's feelings of doubt, insecurity, and immaturity. I just was over it by the end of this book. You find out she's lashing out at Reid because even though he never said anything, she feels inadequate and like she shouldn't be at the competition. This comes out of nowhere by the way. I think it was just a justification for once again why Carter is an ass to Reid. It also doesn't work for me that it would be Reid making her feel this way since bigoted ass character flat out tells her repeatedly she's not good enough to be there, so her ire should really be focused on him.
The flow was not great. I thought things got better once Carter and Reid came to their "truce" and actually seemed to be working together and were not being jerks. Of course that all comes to an end due to Carter being an ass again. I was so happy to be done with this book.
This takes place in Savannah, but besides the author talking about how hot and humid it is, she didn't work a lot of the city in this book which is disappointing. Savannah is a great place to eat some Low Country food. I would have thought a culinary competition taking place in the south would have at least thrown a soul food or country challenge at the teens. Also speaking of the competition, it was not interesting at all. Probably because we only follow four (well five if you count bigot and okay six because the author does mention another female competitor by name) and you don't get a chance to really hear how others cook. I love Top Chef and other food shows like that so I was thinking this book would be up my alley. Instead I was just bored and really annoyed you had people hiding food and sabotaging recipes and the "judges" not saying anything about it.
The ending was okay, I just was glad to be done with this book when I finished.