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Delicious Destiny (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #335)by Yahrah St. John
It has been almost five years since Shari Drayson graduated collegealmost five years since she had her heart broken. Now the only man in her life is her cherished son, Andre. But her life is full, and her family's bakery is about to appear in a baking competition on national TV. Who needs love when you've got/em>
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It has been almost five years since Shari Drayson graduated collegealmost five years since she had her heart broken. Now the only man in her life is her cherished son, Andre. But her life is full, and her family's bakery is about to appear in a baking competition on national TV. Who needs love when you've got pastries?
When Grant Robinson finally tracks Shari down in Chicago, he expects she will still be beautiful. He expects she will still be smart. What he doesn't expect is her four-year-old sonwho looks exactly like him. The wealthy restaurateur is stunned, and his anger wars with passion for the woman he has never truly forgotten. Determined to claim what is his, Grant insists they marry at once. But his bride soon realizes she's at risk for another heartbreak. Can Grant's skillful form of persuasion change her mind and convince her that his love is all she really needs?
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Read an Excerpt
"Our cake is a visual masterpiece," Shari told her cousin, Carter Drayson, the artisan cake maker for Lillian's Bakery, and the black sheep of the family. They stood in a large studio kitchen with cameras in front of them. "It's by far the best cake. We are going to win this."
Shari glanced behind her to look at the four-tier champagne cake before finally setting her eyes on her nemesis Dina English's cake from Brown Sugar Bakery.
Dina was standing there, looking poised and sophisticated in designer duds, making Shari feel dowdy in her jeans and Lillian's Bakery T-shirt. But that was okay, because Lillian's was the better bakery. Not only had Dina stolen Grant Robinson, Shari's first love, and run off with him to get married, but she'd stolen Lillian's recipes for her own bakery. And Shari felt responsible.
When Shari and Dina had attended Ledgeman University together, Grandma Lillian had taken a liking to Dina almost immediately and offered her a summer job after freshman year. While in college, Dina had continued to work at Lillian's during the summers. Shari had hoped that she and Dina would work side by side at the bakery after graduation. They'd been a great team. With Shari's background in business and Dina's finesse, they would have been unstoppable. Shari would have finally risen to the top in her family instead of always feeling like a dimly lit planet among her confident, smart cousins, the real stars of the Drayson clan. But life had thrown her a curveball when Dina had left to create her own bakery.
Five years later and Shari had never truly recovered from the betrayal. How could she when Dina had married her son's father and prevented them from ever being a real family?
"We got this," Carter said confidently. He had an arrogant swag about him that Shari sometimes envied.
You Take the Cake's host came over and stood between the two bakeries and said, "And the winner is Brown Sugar Bakery!" Applause erupted from the live audience, and Shari's heart deflated.
How can this be? Shari looked over at Brown Sugar's creation. The cake was at best ordinary.
Dina came over and laughed. "That's right, Shari. I win again."
Shari rushed over to the host of the show and grabbed his arm. "There has to be a mistake. She should be disqualified."
"Why? What's wrong?" the host asked.
"The whole world should know what kind of person Dina English is." Shari turned and glared at Dina. "She traded on our nearly four-year friendship, turned her back on my family's bakery and then stole the man I loved. You can't let her win!"
Dina smirked and gave Shari a pitiful look as she walked toward her. "You're so pathetic. Can't you see? I've already won."
Shari looked down, but not before seeing, to her horror, Dina holding her son, Andre, in her arms and carrying him away. "Noooo!"
Shari woke up with a start and her eyes popped open. She was surprised to find her four-year-old son, Andre, peering down at her. He was wearing his favorite Spi-derman pajamas and was holding his stuffed animal, Wiggles. "Mama, are you okay? Were you having a bad dream? You were yelling awfully loud."
"I must've been, baby." Shari sat upright, throwing the down comforter back off and pulling Andre into a bear hug. "I'm sorry if Mommy scared you." She glanced at herself in the mirror. The wrap she'd been wearing on her hair had come off, and her hair was a tangled mess. Add the old tank top and pajama bottoms she was wearing and it was no wonder she couldn't find a man.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Andre's expressive green eyes looked into her brown ones, eager for reassurance.
"I'm fine, I'm fine." Shari scooped him up in her arms, slid on her slippers and padded off into the kitchen to make him some breakfast.
"Can I have Cocoa Puffs?" Andre asked when they reached her large, country-style eat-in kitchen.
It might be modest to some, but her two-bedroom bungalow in Chicago's Glenville Heights was just perfect for her and Andre. Since she loved to cook, she had added modern white cabinets and appliances, including a flat-top stove, double-sided refrigerator and a dishwasher.
"Are you sure?" Shari inquired. "Because I was going to make chocolate chip pancakes, but if you'd rather cereal " She shrugged her shoulders and waited for the response she knew was coming.
Andre shook his head. "No, I want pancakes! With lots of syrup."
Shari smiled. "Sure thing." She lowered him into a chair at the pedestal table.
She pulled the pancake mix and chocolate chip morsels out of the pantry and the milk and eggs out of the fridge. Usually, she would make them from scratch, but she needed to get to the bakery.
A couple of months ago, her grandmother, Lillian Reynolds-Drayson, had informed her children and grandchildren that she'd signed the bakery up to participate in a reality TV Show called You Take the Cake. On the show, bakeries were asked to perform culinary feats, and at stake was a $100,000 prize. Last year's winners had become overnight sensations and their bakery had gained national prominence. For two months, the entire Drayson clan had been looking at recipes and cake designs in the show's "Around the World" theme to blow the competition away.
Her grandmother had made quite a speech about how they had to stop all the backbiting and work together as a family. She indicated she would soon be passing the business to one of her grandchildren. The decision wasn't going to be an easy one. They were all qualified to run Lillian's. They'd all started learning the business from the bottom up, delivering cakes, working the dock and cleaning the store.
Shari knew she had tough competition from her cousins for the position. Shari, Drake, Belinda and Carter all considered themselves the best bakers in the shop. No wonder Grandma Lillian couldn't decide among them.
Her cousin Belinda, Aunt Daisy's daughter, excelled at everything she did whether it was school or baking. Somehow, she made it all look effortless. Belinda always dressed smartly in designer clothes and didn't go out of the house without her full makeup and her long black hair ironed bone straight. Now, she'd hooked one-time basketball pro and Lillian's baker, Malik Anthony. Belinda was now set to be the first of her cousins to marry.
Then there was Belinda's brother Drake. He knew marketing and social media better than any of them. Drake, Malik and Carter had started a blog called "Brothers Who Bake" that offered recipes and advice and was attracting a wide audience. The success of the blog had inspired them to write a cookbook that was now under contract with a major publishing house.
Last but not least, there was Carter Drayson, Lillian's artisan cake maker and a real charmer. Up until recently, her cousin had been a true ladies' man just like his father, Uncle Devon, who'd never married. But then her tall, handsome cousin had gotten hit by the love bug last month. And on top of that, Carter was the most sought-after cake designer at Lillian's. Shari couldn't help but be a little resentful of her older cousin. She, too, was an equally skilled baker and designer, but she had to admit no one could create artistry on cakes quite like him.
Shari knew she was good, but in a family of stars, it was hard carving out her piece of the pie. She was not as confident as Belinda, as technically savvy as Drake or as skilled as Carter, but she deserved a shot to run Lillian's. Her business degree was evidence of that and she had come up with the idea to package Lillian's cake mixes. But somehow her baby sister, Monica, had taken over running the cake mix business; she just had to prove to Grandma Lillian that she had what it took to be a leader.
Two hours later, Shari and Andre walked from the parking garage where she had a reserved spot to the front of Lillian's on North Michigan Avenue. Shari smiled as she always did when she saw the marble facade standing out from the other Magnificent Mile designer boutiques. Her grandparents owned the entire sixteen-story building, which included a slew of offices on floors two through sixteen, while Lillian's Bakery spanned the entire first floor.
Lillian's was written in large, gold, script lettering on the storefront windows through which passersby gazed at ornate wedding cakes and lavish cake designs. Some might say the cakes, cookies and other sumptuous desserts looked like fancy pieces of jewelry or handbags, but the best part was that they were edible.
Lillian's had been a Chicago staple since the 1960s when her grandparents had opened their first storefront in Hyde Park. Their love story was one Shari would never forget. Her grandmother, Lillian Reynolds-Drayson, was a widowed single mother whose husband, Jack Reynolds, died of a heart attack. Shari's father, Dwight, had only been a year old at the time. Grandpa Henry had arrived a few years later and patiently wooed her grandmother until she'd finally let her guard down. They were married soon after and Grandpa Henry adopted her father. As for the business, the rest, as they say, was history.
Shari couldn't help but think of that story every time she entered Lillian's. Today was no exception, even as she rushed inside because she was a few minutes late. Andre had lost his favorite toy, and they'd been unable to leave the house until he'd found it.
The store always brought a smile to her face. Her grandparents had spared no expense with the decor. It screamed opulence and elegance. Rich mahogany woodwork shined throughout the store while the crystal chandeliers sparkled like brilliant diamonds. Ribbons of copper and gold were inlaid in the glistening marble countertops and matched the ambiance of the various boutiques on the Magnificent Mile, where only the rich and famous shopped.
Grandpa Henry was working the front counter and retail area when she arrived. His hair was shock full of gray and he was dressed in a Tommy Bahama shirt and trousers. "You're late, Shari," he said. "Everyone's already here."
"I know, Grandpa," Shari responded. "Can you watch Andre while I go into the meeting?"
"Of course, darling." Grandpa Henry smiled down at his great-grandson. "Come with great-grandpa." He held out his hand and Andre took it.
Shari rushed down the hallway past the framed photographs of Lillian's through the years. Her grandmother had been a real looker in her heyday. Even now, she was tall and slim with caramel skin, and her face held nary a wrinkle even though she was approaching eighty. There was a picture of Grandma Lillian holding Shari's father, Dwight, in front of the first storefront in Hyde Park, another of the grand opening of the Mag Mile location, but Shari's favorite was the Drayson family picture when Lillian's was featured in a local magazine a year ago.
She walked past the kitchen to the adjacent executive office area, which included a conference room, and found the entire Drayson family already gathered around a large square table with high-backed chairs.
"Hello, hello." Shari gave a quick smile to her grandmother, who was sitting at the head of the table, while Aunt Daisy and Uncle Devon, her cousins and Belinda's fiance, Malik, sat flanking each other. Shari nodded at her father and her sister Monica before sliding into an open chair.
"So happy you could join us," Grandma Lillian said reproachfully.
Shari shrugged. "Andre was a handful this morning."
"When isn't Andre a handful?" Carter said fondly from across the table.
Shari knew Carter adored his little cousin and the feeling was mutual. Andre looked up to his "uncle" Carter. She supposed Andre had a special place in his heart because he was a little bit mischievous and probably reminded Carter of himself.
Shari's sister Monica laughed. "This is true." Watching Andre was not an easy task, Shari knew, and because Monica was so short at five foot three, and Andre was really tall for his age, Monica found him to be a handful.
"Well, as you know, the You Take the Cake competition is almost upon us," Lillian said. "I'd like to know what recipes and plans you've come up with to ensure Lillian's the win."
Everyone started talking all at once, eager to impress Grandma Lillian with their recipes. "One at a time, please," she admonished, holding up her hand.
As usual, Drake was the first to speak. Adjusting his gold-rimmed glasses, he explained, "Carter, Malik and I have come up with a number of great recipes."
Her cousin Drake had a medium build that was always dressed in trendy clothes. Today he wore a military jacket, jeans, an oxford shirt and Timberland boots. He looked like perfection. And he always thought he was right.
Belinda spoke next. "And I've been collaborating with Malik here" she turned to give her fiance a wink "on a couple of wedding cake designs."
Grandma Lillian turned to Shari. "Shari, how about you?"
All eyes in the room turned to Shari and she swallowed hard.
"I have some ideas, too," she offered, "using unconventional ingredients in the cakes. You know, the show is known for its mystery ingredients."
"That sounds great, dear," Grandma Lillian said. "Sounds like everyone's come to the table with something."
"I think we should do a dry run of the recipes," her father added. "We should start today."
His booming baritone voice, not to mention the touch of gray at his temples, lent him an air of dominance. Everyone quickly nodded their assent to his suggestion.
"Good. If there's nothing else " Grandma Lillian began, but Carter interrupted her.
"Well, actually there is," Carter said.
"Oh, please, Carter," Grandma Lillian said. "Please tell me you haven't broken that young girl's heart."
Carter had been dating socialite Lorraine Hawthorne-Hayes for about five weeks. They'd even made the paper a couple of times. Lorraine was not Carter's typical woman. Yes, she was beautiful, but she dressed in classic fashions unlike the flashier women he usually dated. Lorraine was the daughter of Arnold and Abigail Hawthorne-Hayes of Hawthorne-Hayes Jewelers. The Hawthorne-Hayes family was Chicago royalty and easily outranked the Draysons. Everyone in the family was waiting for Carter to say he'd tired of Lorraine and moved on to the next woman.
Shari hoped not. She'd warned Carter about breaking Lorraine's heart.
"Actually quite the opposite," Carter responded, smiling from ear to ear. "Lorraine and I are engaged."
"Get out!" Devon jumped up out of his chair and faced his son. "You! Engaged?"
"That's right, Dad." Carter laughed. "I'm not going to be a perennial bachelor like you."
"Congratulations, Carter." Shari leaned over and gave him a playful punch while Malik and Drake reached across the table and shook his hand affectionately.
"That's wonderful news," Grandma Lillian replied. "Two grandchildren engaged this year!" She glanced at Belinda and Carter, and then at Shari. "I hope everyone will follow your example."
Shari lowered her head. She knew that comment was directed at her. Her family had been disappointed when she'd had Andre out of wedlock. She'd tarnished the Drayson family name, but Shari didn't care. She would do it again a thousand times over. She loved Andre and wouldn't trade him for anything in the world.
"Don't worry, kid," Carter whispered in Shari's ear. "She's only using you as a whipping boy because I'm finally out of the doghouse. Keep your head up."
"Oh, I don't regret having my son for a second," Shari replied. It was the one decision she'd been clear on from the moment she'd discovered she was pregnant.
Carter motioned with his hands for everyone to quiet down. "I'm not finished yet. I have other news."
"As if your engagement isn't news enough," his best friend, Malik, replied laughing.
Carter rolled his eyes. "You all know that I was approached by a New York restaurateur who offered me the job of executive baker for his operation, but have decided to stay."
"No, I didn't know. Who's this restaurateur who tried to steal you away from us?" Shari asked. Despite his playboy ways, Shari knew that Andre was attached to his "uncle" Carter and she was glad he wasn't leaving Chicago.
Carter turned to Shari. "Does the name Grant Robinson ring a bell?"
All color rushed out of Shari's face at hearing Grant's name again after all this time, and her eyes widened in alarm. "Uh, I think I remember him," she finally managed to eke out. "Did he say anything about me?"
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Meet the Author
Yahrah St. John is the author of seventeen published books and won the 2013 Best Kimani Romance from RT Book Reviews for A CHANCE WITH YOU. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Northwestern University. St. John is a member of Romance Writers of America, is an avid reader, enjoys the arts, cooking, traveling and adventure sports, but her true passion is writing. Visit: www.yahrahstjohn.com
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A great love story with lots of erotic scenes and conflict/friendship between family and friends. I loved the characterization and plot. The author was new to me, but I am now a fan of her style of writing. The three authors who collaborated on this series, of which this book is a part, did an excellent job. I look forward to more of their works and I am hopeful that Drake and Monica stories are told later. LA-TXN
One thing i hate about romance novels is the dumb story plot where the male character insists the femalr character marry him just cause she has his baby. This is not the old days
A nice read.
In Delicious Destiny, Shari Drayson has been the disappointment of her family, not professionally, but because she had a baby out of wedlock. What her family doesn’t know is that her friend and roommate not only stole recipes from them, she also stole the father of her child and married him. And that is a secret that she wanted to keep as long as she could. Grant Robinson never forgot Shari, he wanted to date her and have a relationship with her, but after their one-night together her reaction that it was only a hookup was not something that he expected. Hurt and feeling used he let himself be taken by Shari’s friend and ended up marrying her, his worst mistake ever. Now almost five years later he tracks her down via her brother, and he wants to see if something new can develop. To Grant’s shock, Shari has been hiding his son from him, he has lost 4 years of his son’s life and he will not loose one more minute. So he will marry Shari, even if cannot trust her anymore. Shari never stopped loving Grant and she knows that her son, Andre, needs a father, so faced with a court battle and the possibility of loosing her son or marrying Grant she picks marriage. But they must keep the real reason secret from her family. But when their grandmother signs them up for a TV competition things will get hard to keep under wraps, for not only are Grant and Shari still on their honeymoon, they will also be facing the woman who drove them apart and face the truth of their own actions that kept them apart for so long. Shari is part of a big family and has always felt that she was not always fit in or was appreciated for what she could do. So now she will try to show her family what she is really made of, but with her so many challenges during the competition and a marriage of convenience that she wishes was real she will have her work cut out for her. If you like a sweet romance with a second chance at love and a close family that will fight for what they want and believe you will like Delicious Destiny by Yahrah St. John.
I loved this series and hated to see it end. Woulod love to read drake, monica and devon's stories
Love this series!!! Shari's story was worth the wait, such a good read.