Guest Post Article Hmm – maybe talk about darts.
When I first began writing Cooking Up Love I used a working title of Sweet Taste of Love. I thought it was a great descriptive for what I wanted to build the story into. I wanted a large close family to be the foundation for a series based on the five senses. Sweet Taste was the first one, featuring Jack Kerrigan, the second oldest of four siblings. Jack’s book would be about the sense of taste, so Jemima George had to be a chef. The setup worked great for me, because I love to cook.
I also love to watch the Real Housewives franchise. It doesn’t matter what city; those women are all kooky. I think spending a week with any of them would be a hoot. So why not give Jem a job as a personal chef and assistant to a reality star. It made sense. But, like me, Jem realized that working in that capacity couldn’t be a lifelong ambition.
I wanted my books to have a cause as well. And there are plenty to choose from. I picked some that are near and dear to my heart. My cause for Cooking Up Love is the environment, or more specifically, eco-terrorism. I’ve also identified three of the other four I’ll use. Hate groups for Hearts in Harmony, the second release in the series, bullying, which is the theme for my current work in progress and autism for the fourth book. I haven’t decided on the cause for the final novel in the series but I do have options galore. Those stories are itching to get out, I only hope I can do them justice.
Jemima George leads a charmed life as a personal chef and assistant to reality television’s latest darling. But that changes in a New York minute when her Aunt Caro dies under odd circumstances, bequeathing her a small restaurant. Jem plans to sell the café and continue her life in NYC, until a dramatic phone call from her cheating boyfriend convinces her to experiment with the ingredients for happiness and accept her Aunt’s legacy. Throwing herself into remodeling the restaurant with the help of the town’s delicious contractor, Jem revamps the menu and renews her faith in herself.
Jack Kerrigan considered Caro a surrogate mother and hates the idea that the café could be sold. He doesn’t need the remodeling project, but if it means Caro’s beautiful, fascinating niece will stay to run the restaurant, he’s all in. He wouldn’t mind being savory to Jem’s sweet.
Jack’s brassy ex-wife is cooking up a scheme of her own, where Jack tosses Jem like a salad and comes back to her. Fold in a creepy attorney hiding secrets of environmental mayhem, add Jem’s claustrophobia, half-pint niece and nephew twins, one mysterious lockbox, and bring to a boil–a recipe for romance.
A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance
Excerpt From Cooking Up Love
When he’d heard the ominous click of the lock, he’d known they had a problem.
Jack continued massaging her hand, but didn’t attempt to close the distance between them, processing her words. Her chest heaved as she struggled to control her breathing. “Humor me here. I’m trying to help. Let’s say you find yourself unexpectedly in a close space, like now. Do you have…I don’t know…coping behaviors or mechanisms you can pull out of your claustrophobia bag of tricks to help you?”
“Imagining a wide-open space sometimes helps,” she muttered through clenched teeth. She sucked in a ragged breath. “Picturing a beach works best. I vacationed once at Blue Bay Beach, on Mauritius. It was lovely there, peaceful and serene.”
“Alright, you take a trip to the beach in your mind while I see if I can get the door off the hinges. That’s right,” he whispered soothingly. “Just close your eyes and picture the clear blue sea and endless sky.”
Jack gently stroked Jem’s cheek and released her cold hand.
She wrapped her freed arm over the other clutched against her middle. Long, silky eyelashes swept downward, toward the pale skin under her eyes. He sensed, rather than saw her mental attempt to sketch a calming beach scene behind closed eyelids. Her effort to control the panic–drawing shallow, shuddering breaths in and raggedly releasing them–moved him. He didn’t suffer with claustrophobia, but even a blind man could recognize a huge source of anxiety for Jem.
He recognized the refrain to Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Great choice. The sight of Jem swaying to the music entranced him. Oh, yeah. Every little thing was gonna be alright. Her breath still hitched, she was extremely pale and her long, slender fingers clenched convulsively in the folds of the soft gray dress. But she was trying.
He turned toward the door to study the hinges, fishing in his jeans for a utility knife. Dammit, he’d taken it out this morning at a job site and stuck it in his jacket with his cell phone. The one he’d left on the table on the other side of the locked door. Frustrated, he slapped his hand against the sturdy wooden door.
Jem stopped humming at the sharp noise and her breathing sped up again. She clutched the neckline of her dress, pulling it away from her throat, each short gasp labored. The agony in her creased brow made him move to her side, frantically thinking of a way to help her.
She jumped as he grasped her shoulders and pulled her toward his chest.
“Making it worse here,” she gritted out between tense lips.
Jem’s breath stopped. With her eyes riveted to his, she wrestled to break free of the constriction. Her soft breasts rose and fell against his chest, spearing heat down his spine. God, he felt like a dog. This woman was struggling to work through a reaction to a small space and he was turned on by her body rubbing against his.
Desperate to distract her from the panic gripping her, he lowered his mouth.
The first tentative brush against her lips confirmed his suspicion about how kissable she was. His eyes nearly rolled back in his head as he caressed the soft sweetness. The tension gripping her shoulders eased as his mouth moved on hers.
Other than the rapid rise of her chest, she stilled in his arms.
He deepened the kiss, licking along the lush seam. Her sunny, citrusy scent teased his nose. He breathed deeply and gathered her closer.
The moment his arms tightened, she stiffened and jerked away.
About Gemma Brocato
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a fortune from a fortune cookie that said she was a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to ‘Dear Author’, were gratifying.
After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.
Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.
Connect with Gemma on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gemma.brocato, Twitter, @gemmabrocato or on the web at www.Gemmabrocato.com
**GIVEAWAY – Gemma is giving away one e-copy of Cooking Up Love to a random commentor here today – don’t forget to leave a way for me to find you if you win. Open internationally until 11-19-13 @ 11:59pm EST with winner announced shortly after**