Cooking Up Love (Heartsong Presents Series #1054)

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Overview

Tabitha is in search of adventure

Tabitha McClelland knows accepting a job as a Harvey House waitress can be risky. Traveling alone to the rough-and-tumble West just isn't done by young ladies of good breeding. But far more dangerous is her powerful attraction to Adam Foster. Family means everything to the widowed chef, but the self-sufficient Tabitha cherishes her freedom above all else.

Adam is captivated by the fiercely independent Tabitha. ...

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Cooking Up Love (Heartsong Presents Series #1054)

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Overview

Tabitha is in search of adventure

Tabitha McClelland knows accepting a job as a Harvey House waitress can be risky. Traveling alone to the rough-and-tumble West just isn't done by young ladies of good breeding. But far more dangerous is her powerful attraction to Adam Foster. Family means everything to the widowed chef, but the self-sufficient Tabitha cherishes her freedom above all else.

Adam is captivated by the fiercely independent Tabitha. Fraternizing with the female employees is strictly forbidden, but the Harvey Girl awakens feelings too compelling to ignore. Can Adam convince Tabby to share his dream of a future in California—together?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373486656
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/1/2013
  • Series: Heartsong Presents Series , #1054
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Cynthia Hickey is the author of several cozy mysteries and five Heartsong Presents historicals. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and two cats. Cynthia has five grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com.
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Read an Excerpt

1876
St. Louis, Missouri

Tabitha McClelland twisted her apron, the fabric so soiled she believed it could stand up on its own. She straightened her shoulders as the first train of the day screeched to a halt, and wished for something nicer to wear. The least her new employer could do was to give her something clean on her first day. Obviously, a previous employee left in a hurry and no one thought to do laundry.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped forward to open the door. Her heart leaped into her throat. Black smoke belched from the engine and drifted inside the dining room, mixing with the odor of burned bacon and sour grease. Within minutes a crowd of passengers surged inside.

On the first morning at her new job, she'd expected more than the dirty eatery with a scuffed wooden floor and the soiled aprons she and the other woman wore over their equally stained gray uniforms. She needed to look past the filth and muddle through because she sorely needed the work. Aprons could be washed.

"Step aside, Tabby," Alice, her coworker, barked. Sweat stained the bodice of her blouse. Dark hair streaked with silver escaped from her bun. "Seat the customers, then join me in the kitchen."

Tabby dashed among the passengers, handing out tattered menus printed on newsprint before she rushed to join Alice. "Now what?" Tabby glanced at the plates of runny eggs and greasy beans that lined the counter. Her stomach churned.

"We wait until it's almost time for the customers to board. Then we serve them."

"What about taking their orders?"

The waitress laughed. "Those are just for show. The only difference is what the person wants to drink. Relax."

"But the food's waiting and growing cold." Not to mention getting more unappetizing by the minute. As the words left her lips, Tabby wanted them back. She knew better than to question her superiors but her mouth ran like a racehorse most of the time, crashing over the line at the end without warning.

"Hush, girl. You don't want Mr. Beeker to hear you asking questions." Alice frowned and lowered her voice. "If you value your job, you'll be quiet and do as you're told."

Tabby eyed the pudgy, balding man reading a newspaper in the corner. Her flesh crawled at remembrance of the leer on his face when he'd granted her the waitress job. She shuddered. Other than picking up her pay, she hoped her interview with Mr. Beeker would be all the contact she had with the man. Since the age of sixteen, Tabby had made do on her own. She didn't need a man to take care of her. Especially one old enough to be her grandpa.

Voices rose from the dining room. Tabby glanced at the clock. The train would leave in ten minutes. Mr. Beeker strolled past, the newspaper folded under his arm.

"Go collect their money," Alice said.

Tabby scrambled to do her bidding. Why were they taking the money before serving the food? Was that right? What kind of business had she gotten herself into here?

"Miss?" A gentleman in a suit raised his hand as she finished the task. "Will we be eating soon? The train will be leaving shortly."

"Yeah! And why do we have to pay before we get our food?" A bearded man scowled.

Tabby swallowed past the lump in her throat and tried to smile, failing miserably. "I'll check on that right now, sir." She pocketed the fistful of half-dollars and rushed back to Alice. "The customers are asking about their food."

Alice glanced at the clock. "We can serve now. Make it snappy. We've got to get a plate in front of each customer before the whistle blows."

Tabby bit the inside of her lip. She might not be experienced in such matters, but it seemed as if they were doing things backward. She'd no sooner set the last plate in front of an elderly woman when the train's whistle blew. Pandemonium broke out as the people shoved back chairs, grabbed children's hands and bustled outside. All without eating a bite. One man scurried back, grabbed a piece of toast from his plate, and nodded before following the others.

"Help me clear the tables, then set the plates back on the counter for the next crowd," Alice said as she began collecting plates. "And replace that piece of toast."

Tabby planted her fists on her hips. "Are we reusing the food?" Unbelievable. "This is unethical! We take the people's money and serve the food too late for them to eat. People do this every day?"

"Hush. Mr. Beeker will hear you. The walls aren't that thick in here." Alice pushed past her. "It's the way things are done."

"It's wrong." Tabby glanced out the window. A girl in pigtails looked over her shoulder before stepping on board. "Those people left here hungry."

"And unless they packed a lunch, they'll most likely be hungry at the next stop, too. Railroad diners have to make a living too, you know. There aren't many job opportunities out there for women, so hush." Alice slammed the plates down. Her lined face reddened. "We get enough bad attention being waitresses without frequenting less respectable places. A girl has to make do where she can. If you don't like it, you can move on. There'll be somebody to take your place soon enough."

Tabby pulled the money from her pocket, counted out a day's pay, and then handed the rest to Alice. "I quit."

"Wait a minute!" Mr. Beeker reentered the room. "There'll be another train in an hour."

"I apologize for inconveniencing you." Tabby untied her apron and let it drop to the floor. Jutting her chin, she marched to the changing room and donned her navy skirt and white shirtwaist, ignoring Mr. Beeker's heated words.

Unemployed again, but she had a few coins in her pocket. She'd manage somehow. With a skip in her step, she hurried outside. Spring sunshine and a gentle breeze caressed her face, reminding her the day was too lovely to be spent inside a dark dining room anyway.

Buggies lined the road and passengers awaiting the arrival of the next train crowded the sidewalk. Tabby wanted to warn them to box food to take along. If she ever got the opportunity to ride a train west, she'd never be caught off guard like those poor souls who left the station as hungry as when they arrived. A girl was wise to keep her wits about her. She stepped off the sidewalk and dodged people and horses until she reached Main Street.

A wooden bench beckoned from beneath a towering oak tree. Tabby accepted its invitation and sat, trying desperately to ignore her rumbling stomach. From unemployed to employed and back to unemployed in a matter of a couple hours. Sighing, she slumped forward and rested her elbows on her knees. With no time for the luxury of looking for new employment, and no more than a few coins in her pocket, she would have to take the first thing to come along. Her gaze traveled the street, searching for a potential place to apply.

A little help here, God. She snorted. Like He'd been much help in the past. Still, it never hurt to ask.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 29, 2014

    Cooking Up Love was wonderful. Cynthia brought the Harvey Girl

    Cooking Up Love was wonderful. Cynthia brought the Harvey Girl to life for me in this story, and the idea of the cook was great too. It was unique to see how the Harvey House was run from the waitress point of view and the cooks view. A sweet love story... Highly recommend this...

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  • Posted August 3, 2013

    Cooking Up Love by Cynthia Hickey is a most delightful book. Tab

    Cooking Up Love by Cynthia Hickey is a most delightful book. Tabitha McClelland has just taken a job as a Harvey House waitress and to reach the job she has to travel across the country but at least she gets to ride on a train and does not have to endure the trip via stagecoach. At this time in America, well bred young ladies did not work outside the home but Tabitha has no choice for she is on her own and has to support herself. When she reaches Topeka, Kansas, she meets Adam Foster who is the chef at the restaurant where she will do her training. He is a widower and Tabby is drawn to him but family is everything to him and she only wants freedom and to be on her own. Fraternizing between the male and female employees is strictly forbidden by the Harvey House owner but the feelings that Tabby and Adam have for each other are just too strong to ignore. Adam’s dream is to open a restaurant in California with his family and he prays that he can convince Tabby to join him as his wife and to share his dream.




    The author did an excellent job with the development of the characters. Everyone of them came alive on the pages of the book and I felt as if I knew each of them personally. Scene descriptions were so realistic that I could feel the sway of the train as I traveled with Tabby to her new job. The author made Tabby’s training so real that I was feeling her pain and all her other emotions that were attached to the training. I especially liked the way that the author kept God’s love and forgiveness prominent in the book as Tabby dealt with her memories and grief and as Adam trusted God for guidance. The author also did a good job of educating me about the Harvey Girls. I had a passing knowledge of them but this book gave me a look into the outs and ins of the job. I had no idea that the training was so intense and that there were so many strict rules and regulations. Not only was this a great romance story but it also presented a bit of American history in a most enjoyable way.




    I recommend this book highly to everyone that likes a great Christian historical romance with a happy ending and that also teaches a small history lesson.




    Thanks to the author, Cynthia Hickey, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted July 18, 2013

    Delightful, fun read! A charming tale of a strong woman. Tabit

    Delightful, fun read! A charming tale of a strong woman.


    Tabitha McClelland is a very lonely and emotionally anxious girl, yet contrary to her cautious nature, her greatest desire is for adventure. Distrustful of men, all men, she vacillates between friendship and a possible future with handsome chef Adam Foster, a man who leaps to her rescue many times. Adam is an anomaly, physically strong and heroic by nature, yet sensitive and gentle. His signature dish is a stew, and Adam figuratively puts Tabby, as he calls her, in one. The romance in Cooking Up Love is sometimes sad, sometimes explosive, but always engaging the reader, often in frustration. Can’t Tabby see what’s right in front of her, love that’s so obvious in the good man Adam? Why does she cry so much? One minute she’s a tough cookie, a strong woman; the next she’s a sobbing mess.
    The fascinating setting of one of the Harvey House Restaurants, gives an absorbing glimpse into the past era of the Santa Fe Railroad and the eateries that sprung up next to the stations. Author Cynthia Hickey’s masterfully described characters, from Miss O’Connor (dubbed The Wagon Boss) who supervises the Harvey Girls with a heavy hand, to Adam’s perceptive mother Mary, to the lecherous Mr. Hastings, jump from the pages. Even minor characters like the coy and catty Merrilee are intriguing.
    But, the story is really Tabby’s. Her fluctuating emotions, her strength of character, her unwavering moral convictions and determined work effort portray a woman who is independent and wise before women were wholly accepted in the workforce. Even though the story takes place in the late nineteenth century, it is truly timeless. Tabby’s story could take place today, and that’s what makes it so charming.

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  • Posted July 15, 2013

    Tabitha McClelland wants adventure in her life. Even more than

    Tabitha McClelland wants adventure in her life. Even more than that, she longs to escape her past. Accepting a job as a Harvey House waitress in Kansas seems to be a positive first step in her quest. If she works hard, she just may be able to work her way west at various Harvey House restaurants along the way. What Tabitha didn't plan on was meeting Adam Foster, Harvey House chef, with a dream of his own. His dream includes Tabby by his side.

    Will Tabby be able to accept Adam as more than a friend? Will she be able to put her troubled childhood and her mistrust of men behind her? Will she be able to give and receive love?

    Cynthia Hickey realistically portrays a time when opportunities are opening up for women and they are beginning to be employed outside of the home. Her characters are believable and likable. The reader is instanataly drawn into Tabby's life and struggles right along with her as she works through issues of independence, trust, and faith.

    I highly recommend Cooking Up Love to anyone who enjoys a good inspirational romance with a touch of history thrown in.

    Susan Simpson, author (Ginger and the Bully)

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