I was really hung up on the idea of a New Orleans Thanksgiving…until I read this post. Now I’m only going to dine where the pie-to-person ratio is 1:1. Let’s give a Hungry Hearts welcome to Kate Meader on release day for her brand new Hot in The Kitchen romance ALL FIRED UP!
Not having grown up in the States, I wasn’t familiar with Thanksgiving when I landed in Chicago in the summer of 1993, ready to make my way in the world. From the movies I’d seen, my abiding impressions were that a parade might be involved (Miracle on 34th Street) and getting home to loved ones invariably involved risks to life and limb (Planes, Trains, and Automobiles). I had a vague notion that turkey was the main food group and that this holiday was preferred over Christmas because everyone celebrated it regardless of faith and there weren’t any expectations to exchange gifts. I’m from Ireland where Yuletide rules to the extent that people save up their vacation time to take those twelve days of Christmas off and the country shuts down to the point of paralysis. Across the pond, The Great Escape is considered a Christmas movie (I’ll tell that one another time) and Doctor Who is the highest-rated TV show, not just on Christmas Day but all year. We do Christmas, people, and we do it well. So what’s the deal with Thanksgiving?
Twenty years ago, I was working at Starbucks and had made lots of friends, but as the week of Thanksgiving rolled around, the exodus from the city began. Most of my Starbucks crew were transplants from the East Coast, slinging lattes in between auditions and improv sets at the Second City, and a lot of them were heading home for the holidays. All except a couple of Bostonians who couldn’t afford the airfare. And so I was introduced to my first Orphan Thanksgiving.
None of us were orphans in the truest sense, but we banded together around a fold-out card table and a couple of thrift store pieces. We had golden turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and rich gravy. I tried yams with marshmallows for the first time and neither liked it nor understood how anyone could (still don’t). My future husband was there but he was dating someone else at the time and it would be five more months before we got together. On our first Thanksgiving, he made a pie for every person—an entire pie—a tradition he maintains to this day. This was indeed a banner event!
No one held hands and announced what they were grateful for—these Boston smart mouths were too jaded for that—but I know what I would have said if asked. That I was glad to be included, even though I had brought no food or wine (my invitation was too last minute) and that I now understood what Thanksgiving was all about. Not parades or life-threatening journeys. Not even the best turkey I’ve probably ever tasted. Just reaching out to bring a non-believer into the fold, though I insisted I wouldn’t have cared about being alone on a Thursday that meant little to a foreigner. I didn’t know I was lonely, but after that day, I knew I had friends.
ALL FIRED UP
Hot in the Kitchen, Book 2
Her sweetest mistake . . .
Cool as a Chicago winter, private events planner Cara DeLuca is a model of self-control . . . until she meets the one temptation she can’t resist: Shane Doyle. The sexy, Irish pastry chef is too hot, too sure, too young, and after a crazy night in Vegas-her new husband. While at first Cara wants nothing more than a way out of her sham marriage to Shane, she soon finds that beneath his farm boy demeanor lies a man who can match her drive, both in and out of the bedroom. How can the wrong guy feel so deliciously right?
. . . Tastes so, so good
Shane has carefully structured his career and life around one goal: connecting with the family that doesn’t know he exists. Marrying a woman with more issues than a magazine stand wasn’t part of the plan, but melting Cara’s icy exterior is so worth the detour. Now as the annulment date nears and long-buried secrets are revealed, Shane will have to fight for the one thing guaranteeing the perfect life he craves . . . the current Mrs. Shane Doyle.
Excerpt from ALL FIRED UP:
Irish chef, Shane and private events planner, Cara are getting to know each other after their drunken marriage in Vegas has forced them into close quarters. Marriages under the influence for the win! Here, our intrepid duo gets busy in the kitchen with a spot of sexy scrambled eggs.
He put her to work whisking the eggs, handing off the ingredients she needed: a splash of milk, a pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of pepper. Meanwhile, he sautéed the morels in butter and cracked pepper until the honeycomb surface browned up to a golden caramel color. The rich, muddy scent filled the air around them.
Looking over, he found her paused midbeat over the eggs. She caught his stare.
“I’ll mess it up if I cook them.”
“You? You couldn’t mess up anything if you tried.”
“You don’t know me very well.”
But God, he wanted to. So much for keeping it separate. He removed the morels from the heat and transferred them to a plate. “Just put the eggs in here.”
She poured them in carefully, as though she were dealing with molten gold, then stood awkwardly, almost childlike. The slender column of her throat bulged on a swallow. He’d never met anyone so nervous in a kitchen, not even Dennis-the-extern.
“You know,” he said, moving closer, “cooking is as much about confidence as it is about skill.” She tilted her big eyes up to his. “Sometimes you just have to play the part.”
“The part of a cook?”
“The part of a confident, sexy cook. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and you probably won’t.” He pulled on the knot of her hair and enjoyed the sensuous unfurl from its constraint.
“There’s nothing sexier than a confident woman in the kitchen. You’re confident everywhere else, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be here, either.”
“Okay,” she said suspiciously, shaking out her hair.
He put a hand on her waist and felt a deep breath rack her body. “Do you mind if I…”
Without waiting for her answer, he undid the top button of her blouse and revealed that beautiful shadow in the valley of her cleavage. He let his knuckles graze the plump swell of her breasts while another unbutton produced a glimpse of the laced edge of her bra. Pink, sheer, devilishly designed to turn him to granite in zero point zero seconds. Pink was her favorite color and it was getting up there on his list as well.
“This is supposed to make me better at cooking eggs?” Her voice rasped a little, and it thrilled him more than he could have thought possible.
“A sexy cook makes sexy food.” He trailed his hands down her sides and over the flare of her hips. “Your skirt’s not short enough.” It fell a couple of inches above her knees, and while her calves were amazing, her thighs were spectacular. He wanted more thigh.
The snugness of her skirt was no match for his hands. Eyes never leaving hers, he pulled it up at her waist and folded it over so it revealed more skin than it covered. She made a breathy noise in her throat and his dick jumped.
“How are those shoes feeling?”
“What?” Voice in a tremble, she looked down, bending forward enough to give him another healthy glimpse of her gorgeous breasts.
“I’ve been wearing them for close to sixteen hours. How do you think they feel?”
“Take them off.”
She stared at him like he wasn’t the full shilling. “That’s against health codes—isn’t it?”
“I won’t tell if you don’t.”
Her eyes had been bright before but now they sparkled like stars. Something about what he had said appealed to a deep part of her, either the rule-breaking or the secrecy. Maybe both. Leaning her palm on his shoulder, she kicked them off, and they hit the metal-bottomed counter with a satisfying thud. Her toes shone a shimmery pink, like sanding sugar. He liked the toes.
“So now you’ve got me half naked and barefoot. You planning to knock me up next?”
“Patience, young padawan. Let’s see how you do with the eggs first.”
He spun her around and turned the knob on the stove, sparking the blue flame to life. Resting one hand on her hip, he passed her a wooden spoon with the other. “Now stir.”
He kept one eye on the eggs and the other on her mouth as she broke up the glossy mixture with jerky strokes.
“It’s not that hard,” she said, catching her fleshy bottom lip by her teeth.
If you say so. All his blood had pooled in his erection and only sheer willpower prevented him from rubbing his body against hers. Unknotting her hair had released fragrant herbals that now filled his nostrils. Without her heels, she was several inches shorter than him so he would have to lift her up to get her to notch right in to the spoon of his crotch. While he pondered the logistics of that, he looked over her shoulder at the eggs that were cooking up quickly. They were eggs, and they had no clue that he needed more time breathing her in.
A little bit about Kate:
Kate Meader writes contemporary romance that serves up delicious food, to-die-for heroes, and heroines with a dash of sass. Originally from Ireland, she cut her romance reader teeth on Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boons thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, and she’s there. When not writing about men who cook and the women who drool over them, she works in an academic library. Her stories are set in her adopted home town of Chicago, a city made for food, romance, and laughter – and where she met her own sexy hero.
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