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"A scorching hot, irresistible, sinfully satisfying read."—Book Pleasures.com on Bound to Please
"[M]y fingertips were singed as I read each erotic scene.... This tale is one hot read."—CoffeeTimeRomance.com on Dare to Surrender
"A scorching hot, irresistible, sinfully satisfying read."—BooksPleasures.com on Dare to Surrender
When Phoebe Mayle touched her forehead, it was sticky with blood. She looked at her fingertips and red stains spotted her skin. The front end of her car was smashed into a fallen redwood tree, and steam was rising from under the hood to mingle with the earsplitting downpour of rain that was hitting the roof of her car like a shower of nails. If she’d broken any bones, she couldn’t feel it. She didn’t feel anything except the way her entire body was shaking from the shock of the impact.
The windshield was cracked, but the rearview mirror was intact. Her quivering hands were barely able to tilt the mirror so she could inspect the wound on her forehead. She gasped at her reflection. There was a gash that was dripping blood, and both of her eyes were already turning the shade of an eggplant. Otherwise, she didn’t appear to have any major injuries. No, her current worry was the fact that she had just totaled her car, and now she was stranded miles from help. She might have a concussion, and the temperature was dropping steadily. Who knew how long it would take for a rescue team to navigate the road and find her?
She wasn’t quite sure what had happened. The last thing she remembered was the tree falling directly in front of her car. Luckily she’d been driving slowly because of the weather, or the damage would have been a lot worse. As it was, she’d blacked out when her head hit the steering wheel, and she wasn’t sure how long she’d been out. Now she tried to gather her wits and figure out a plan.
Good luck with that.
From what she could see through the curtain of rain, several trees had fallen, mudslides were coating large portions of the cracked road, and the nearest house was probably a good ten miles away.
This is all your fault. Everyone had told her not to go out to the farm in this weather, but she had insisted on going. Insisted because she was a control freak who was trying to prove a point. And the point was that she could do it all, with or without a certain person named Nick Avalon, who’d left her high and dry when she needed him most.
She should have done so many things differently.
You can’t do everything.
Ah, yes. Finally. Finally, she could admit that to herself. Sitting there, staring at her bloody hand, she didn’t have any choice but to realize that she simply wasn’t able to control every aspect of her life—or those around her.
Great time for such amazing self-realizations. She was caught in a downpour that made it incredibly stupid to start walking anywhere, and—by the looks of the nearest hill—she was fairly certain a mudslide was about to occur in the near future, covering what shelter she had.
And why are you here? Because you couldn’t let Nick Avalon get the better of you. You had to risk your life for some quail eggs just to prove you were as capable as he was?
So here she was. Shivering in a wrecked car deep in a redwood forest, in the middle of what used to be a road, with no food, water, or even rain gear.
This never would have happened before she’d met Nick. She’d started adopting his ways; she’d become just a bit too carefree and she’d started taking risks.
All her life, she’d avoided hazardous situations. So what had she done? Fallen for the charms of the most hazardous situation on the West Coast.
“Nick. Avalon.” She said the words aloud in a bitter tone.
She would bet he was sunning himself in L.A., getting ready for a new job at some fancy restaurant, surrounded by hot young Hollywood starlets. Smoking a cigarette and drinking tequila.
Frustration overwhelmed her, and she screamed. Loud. And screamed again.
Out of all the days in her life, the one day she wished she could take back was the day Nick Avalon drove into her town.
Four Months Earlier
Blowing a frizzy strand of hair out of her eye, Phoebe Mayle looked at the bowl of organic, vegan, carob brownies she was mixing. It looked like brown glue. It was her third attempt that day. And looked like it was going to be her third failure.
You’re making brownies, not Pavlova.
What was she doing wrong? She’d followed the recipe down to the last half teaspoon of vanilla. Glancing at the calendar hanging on the wall, she sighed. The summer bake-off was in a few months, and these brownies had won the contest for ten years running.
Unless a fairy godmother came down and waved a magic spatula over the mixture, there was no way the Green Leaf was going to take first place this summer.
Great. The entire town would know that since Phoebe had taken over the café, one of the oldest establishments in Redbolt, California, everything was going downhill. Customers would dwindle until only “Grandpa Dave”—the town’s oldest resident—would come in for his daily cup of tea (which, Phoebe was convinced, the old man would do until the day he died), the place would close, and her aunt and uncle would be turning in their graves.
Take a deep breath. You can do this! They’re just brownies. Wiping her hands on her apron, Phoebe looked out the café window. Indeed, a monstrous, shiny yellow SUV had pulled up out front, and though she couldn’t see the driver due to the late-afternoon sun reflecting off the windshield, she knew it could be only one person.
“Thanks,” Phoebe said sarcastically.
Jesse said, “Pheebs, I can’t believe you hired some guy from L.A. to come and run the café.”
She’d known the girl since she was born, and had had the pleasure of watching Jesse grow into a young woman. A few years ago her niece had started growing the dreadlocks that were now piled high on her head and wrapped in a colorful scarf. True to the nature of the family’s long-standing belief in personal expression, Phoebe’s brother-in-law had heartily approved when his daughter had quit washing her hair.
Phoebe reached behind her back and untied her apron. “Do I have chocolate on my face?”
“No,” Jesse said innocently.
Rolling her eyes, Phoebe picked up a stainless-steel frying pan and looked at her distorted reflection. She wasn’t surprised to find a brown smudge of chocolate on the bridge of her nose. Using the tip of a towel, she wiped it off. Scraped it off, actually; chocolate crumbs fell off her face and onto the floor.
“And I still don’t understand why you couldn’t have found someone local.”
“I tried. Come on, Jesse. You know there isn’t anyone around here qualified to maintain Sally and Dan’s standards.”
“What about you?”
Phoebe must have looked surprised because Jesse replied, “Well…you could learn, right?”
Phoebe picked up the product of her previous attempt at the organic brownies and tossed it at Jesse, who jumped aside before the lump hit her right in the chest. “Hey! Watch it. I don’t want to die from a fatal brownie wound to the chest!”
The hard square landed across the café with a hard thud. “That’s why. Everything I make turns out like crap. Not to mention, I just don’t have the time. I have a whole other business to run, remember?” A business that had been suffering ever since she’d inherited the Green Leaf Café from her deceased relatives.
“I really thought I could handle it. I mean, I have all the recipes. Why can’t I just make them work?” She glanced at the myriad reviews tacked to the wall. All photocopies from food magazines, travel guides, and newspapers. All praising the simple, organic cuisine produced by the Green Leaf Café. All written before Phoebe had taken over the place.
Luckily, no critic had visited recently. Phoebe really didn’t want to be responsible for denting the café’s stellar reputation as the best gourmet bistro north of San Francisco. A six-hour drive north, to be precise.
“Hey,” Jesse said gently. “It’s okay. I didn’t mean to give you grief. We all know you’re trying really hard.”
Phoebe blew a strand of hair away from her eye. “And the cook-off is right around the corner.”
Jesse smiled, but she was biting her lip as she did so. “Yeah!” she said with enthusiasm. A lot of enthusiasm, way more than any cook-off deserved.
“Are you, um…” Jesse glanced at the plate of rock-hard brownies. “Are you sure you want to enter the brownies this year?”
“Well, what choice do I have?” Phoebe picked up another brown lump of brownie and bounced it on her palm. The rough edges pricked her skin. “Dan and Sally have been winning that cook-off with their brownies for the last ten years. I know it seems silly, but I really want to get the ribbon this year. For them.” And also for herself. She needed to prove that she could do this. That she could run the business as well as the family who entrusted her to do so. Winning the cook-off the first year Dan and Sally weren’t there to enter themselves—well, it all seemed monumentally important.
“Everything is going to be okay,” Jesse said.
She tossed the rest of the brownies into a garbage can. “It’s my own fault. I never should have committed to running this place.” But she had to. Phoebe believed in tradition, in family. In obligation. “I had no idea my organic farming business would become so popular.”
“Hey,” Jesse said, “you rock.”
“I don’t know about that. But so many local markets and restaurants are placing orders. I even got one out of Berkeley yesterday.”
“Wow. So things are booming, then?”
Phoebe nodded slowly. “Yeah. They are.”
“That’s great; it really is. I know that farm is your true passion.”
“Maybe…” But it shouldn’t be. This should be; this café. Her family’s reputation. Making brownies and winning the cook-off and being responsible and successful.
“Is that a freakin’ Hummer?”
Phoebe glanced up at the teenager who’d spoken the words. “That must be our new chef,” Phoebe said. “Thank God.”
Jesse, her eighteen-year-old waitress and niece, leaned against the counter, eyeing the Hummer with a frown.
Jesse turned toward the window and crossed her arms over her chest. “He’s getting out of the monster.”
It was early spring, and now the bright sun reflected off the so-shiny-it-hurt-your-eyes yellow-painted metal of the huge vehicle her newly hired chef had arrived in. The windows were tinted dark, so she couldn’t make out any images from inside the vehicle.
This would be the first time she’d actually meet the person she’d hired to take over the kitchen at the Green Leaf Café.
Her heart sped up a bit and she wiped her damp palms on her apron. She hoped she had chosen wisely. She realized hiring Nick Avalon was a risk. She knew he’d been fired from his last job. She knew he had a bit of a reputation as a bad boy. But she’d also done extensive research of his history as a chef, and he’d had what was definitely the most impressive résumé of any she’d received. Magazines like Bon Appétit had done articles on him and featured his recipes. He’d made a few guest chef appearances on popular Food Network television shows. And he’d worked at restaurants so popular even Phoebe had heard of them.
Still. In essence, she’d hired a stranger to help carry on her family business. Their legacy.
It’s okay. You’re a smart businesswoman. You know what you’re doing.
And she’d spoken with him on the phone. He had a nice voice and seemed friendly enough. And he was British, which she couldn’t help but find a bit engaging. Heck, he could have called her a daft cow, and it probably would have sounded charming.
Had she made a mistake? Well, there was nothing she could do about it now. Only time would tell.
She watched as the Hummer door swung open. Then two shiny black sneakers, the likes of which Redbolt had surely never seen before, hit the pavement. Ascending over said sneakers were the hems of black jeans covering long, long legs. A tight black T-shirt clung to a lean torso.
But it wasn’t his clothing that had “attitude problem” written all over it. No, it was his face—the way his mouth turned down and his nose lifted up, and the way his eyebrows slashed over blue eyes framed by inky lashes.
He had short black hair, and his dark aviator sunglasses didn’t hide the air of disdain that emanated off him as he shut the door of his SUV and glanced up and down the town’s main street.
Phoebe bit her lip. When she’d described the town, she may have slightly exaggerated its attributes. She watched him gazing at the “colorful shops” and “various entertainment options” that she’d portrayed in her ad. The shopping options included an organic baby clothing store, a bead store, a small art gallery, a hookah lounge, a hardware store, and a few other establishments selling an array of tie-dyed clothing. As for entertainment, Redbolt did boast two small bars and one theater. Unfortunately, the movies generally played a month or so later than anywhere else in the country.
Okay, so it wasn’t exactly Hollywood. He’d have to deal with it.
She watched as Nick Avalon shook his head, took a deep breath, and came toward the front door. Phoebe ignored the flutters in her belly. Why should she be nervous? She was the boss, right? He was the one who should be suffering anxiety.
She was a modern, confident woman who ran two businesses, one of which was booming, the other of which was, well…
She narrowed her gaze on the man walking through the door. The man who would be, in large part, responsible for continuing her family’s legacy.
Dear Universe: Please let this man be the right choice; please, pu-lease let me have made the right choice. If the universe cared about her at all, maybe it was listening to her plea. Or Carl Sagan was full of crap, and the universe was some kind of lie that hippies and hipsters used to fulfill their spiritual needs. Either way, she hoped she hadn’t made a mistake.
He pushed through the door and stopped. “So this is what nowhere looks like,” he said as the door quietly closed behind him.
But she still heard the door shut. And that was because the café was entirely silent. Everyone—her staff, her patrons, the flies on the wall—was looking at this man who obviously didn’t belong here. He looked like he belonged in a magazine as a model of what every man in L.A. should aspire to in terms of appearance. (She knew this because sometimes she secretly watched reality television, including the exceedingly popular cooking series Satan’s Pantry.)
Without removing his sunglasses, he glanced around the bistro. His stance was easy, nonchalant, and confident.
He didn’t look impressed.
Oh no. Maybe her love of the television series had influenced her decision to hire Nick Avalon. He definitely had a devilish air about him.
But he was far, far away from the set of Satan’s Pantry. Phoebe held out her hand. “You must be Nick.”
Slowly, he pulled the aviators off his face. When his gaze fell on hers, she nearly gasped. Instead, she bit her lip as she took him in.
Eyes as blue as the morning glories taking over her front yard arrested her. His black hair only emphasized the striking color of his eyes, and the way he was looking at her—staring, really—made those flutters in her belly spread to her chest.
Because that look of disapproval was aimed straight at her.
Phoebe steadied herself. She would not be intimidated by some fancy-pants from Los Angeles. She continued to hold out her hand. “I’m Phoebe. The owner.”
He shook her hand, and she refrained from cringing at his hard grasp. And tried not to jerk away as a shiver of heat rushed up her arm. That would be showing fear, and she had to convey nothing but absolute confidence. Right away, she knew that showing any sign of weakness to this…this…predator could be deadly.
“Pleasure.” He took another long glance around the café.
She’d interviewed him on the phone, so his British accent wasn’t surprising. However, it was a bit shocking how the smooth, relaxed intonation of his tone made her want to get a bit closer to his mouth.
Where had that crazy thought come from? Maybe she was low on blood sugar. Too bad the brownies were the texture of bricks, or she would have popped one into her mouth. But she really didn’t need a broken tooth right now.
He said, “So. Here we are, then. The Green Leaf Café.” He ground the last word out of his mouth; then he nodded, but it was more to himself, as if he was processing the fact that everything was real. That he was there. Here.
Phoebe straightened. “I’m sure it’s not quite like what you’re accustomed to.”
“No. No, not really what I’m used to.”
“But I’m also sure you’ll find things here are more modern than you might imagine. We have a state-of-the-art kitchen that was remodeled just last year. And our wine cellar holds one of the finest selections in the area.”
“Is that so? The whole area of Redbolt?”
He glanced across the counter to the prep area. Okay, compared to those showcased on the TV show Satan’s Pantry, it might be small. But it was efficient, and the appliances were of professional quality.
None of which helped Phoebe make a decent batch of brownies.
“Anyway,” she said, “welcome to the Green Leaf Café. I hope you’ll be happy as our new chef.”
She thought she saw a shudder go through him, but she wasn’t sure.
Then he actually shivered, as if he’d just caught a chill, or seen a ghost.
She raised her chin. How dare he walk in and give her such attitude? He was lucky she’d hired him. Lucky! The café might be small, and rural, and rustic—but that was certainly no reason to give it, or her, disrespect.
“What is that?”
His gaze fell on the brown lump of brownie on the floor in the corner. He glanced at her and cocked a brow. Then he strode over and picked it up. He started juggling the brown lump between his palms.
Darn it to heck. She began to feel her face flush. “It’s, um, er…” She bit her lip and straightened her spine. “A brownie.”
He dropped the nugget into one palm and stared at it. “All right, then.” He glanced up and that brow cocked at her again. There was a little scar on the very edge of his eyebrow, and she wanted to know where it came from.
One of his bosses probably whopped him in the head with a frying pan.
“And it’s here why? Brownie fight?” he said, his accent dissolving the sarcasm she knew cannoned the sentence. “Is that considered a spectator sport, or more participatory?”
He started juggling the brownie again and she marched over and caught it mid-toss. “Just trying out a new recipe.” She wasn’t sure why she lied, but for some reason she didn’t want to seem anything less than one hundred percent capable of doing anything. Including making brownies.
She turned toward Jesse. “So, I think that new organic butter we used must have been bad.”
Jesse looked confused, so Phoebe widened her eyes and tried to convey a secret signal that would get her niece to go along with Phoebe’s ploy.
Finally Jesse nodded. And furrowed her brow. And crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Yes. The butter. Definitely bad. Very, very, um…bad.”
Oh, God. This wasn’t going well. Phoebe threw the brownie into the garbage. Time to change the subject. “Nick, this is my niece, Jesse. She works here.”
“Wow. Isn’t this just a sweet little family endeavor?”
Phoebe looked him straight in the eyes. “Yes. It is.”
He paused, and she barely caught the look of surprise that flashed across his face. Did he think she wouldn’t talk back to him? That she’d put up with his snide remarks?
Well, ha, ha, ha. Boy, was he wrong.
Obviously, she was going to have to establish herself as the boss from the get-go.
Fine. She was fine with that. She could do this.
Even if something about him made her nerves buzz with nervous energy. Even if his direct stare was unnerving. Even if, for some reason, she felt herself responding to Nick as a woman, when she should be reacting like his superior.
Get a grip. You can do this.
“Now. If you’ll come with me, I’ll show you around the café.”
His smile dripped sugar as he made a sweeping hand gesture. “After you, Miss Mayle.”
So what do the kids call this kind of music, anyway? Death by synthesizer?” Phoebe asked.
Pausing, Nick Avalon clenched the wooden spoon in his hand. He was caramelizing onions for a quiche. Not a vegan one, not a vegetarian one. A real quiche, with ham and cheese and eggs and butter. Lots of rich, creamy, calorific butter. Butter he’d procured from a British import store an hour north of where he currently resided. Which was exactly nowhere.
Eleven more months, he told himself. Eleven months, three weeks, and—he glanced at the clock—seven hours until he could return from exile. It was a time frame he’d set for himself, one he’d decided on before he’d accepted this job. Not that he’d ever mentioned to his boss the fact that he didn’t plan on staying in Hippieville longer than one year. If he could last that long.
The decor of the café was hideous. Rustic tables that looked as if they’d been collected at various yard sales made up the dining area. The wooden floor was scratched up and needed a good refinishing. In fact, the floor should be replaced with stained concrete. And the random assortment of chairs needed to be traded for something more modern. And something that actually matched.
“This music is called house trance, and I like it,” he said through gritted teeth. And he did. It had a beat, something he could feel hard and deep in his soul. Unlike that slow, uninspiring, outdated crap that his manager always snuck onto the sound system.
“House trance? Do they play that at the raves you go to?”
Pausing, he closed his eyes. “I wouldn’t call them raves.” In fact, he tended to listen to music alone, so he could be free to feel the beat of something and lose himself, but he wasn’t about to admit that to her.
“Why listen to music without words?”
“It takes me away from distraction.” Hoping she’d get the point, he returned to his onions. He wasn’t about to explain himself; he preferred music without words. Words sidetracked him. He needed a rhythm that blended. He needed to feel the pulse in his soul, his gut. Nick could tenderize a piece of meat to perfection. All he needed was a mallet and a thumping bass line.
Today he’d managed to slip his own CD, burned by a DJ back in West Hollywood, into the stereo. And listening to the music, for just a few minutes, he’d been able to nearly forget he was working in a café in Butt-Fuck, Nowhere.
His boss, Ms. Phoebe Mayle, had actually left him alone long enough to think about what he was doing. Cooking.
Now she put an unpolished fingertip to her lip. “Oh, I’m sure you love this type of music. I hear it’s quite popular with the hip, cool twenty-somethings. How old are you again?”
She knew damn well he was thirty-five. He gave her his best scowl. He was notorious for that look, a look that had been known to make sous-chefs recoil in fear. A look that could send any waitstaffer running to the restroom in tears. Nick’s stare was intimidating, menacing—scary.
Well, it had been back in Los Angeles.
Here in Redbolt, California, a million miles away from civilization, no one seemed to comprehend the fact that he was Nick Avalon, one of the country’s most recognized chefs. Hell, before he’d been “let go,” there’d even been talk about his getting his own TV show.
That seemed a lifetime ago, even though only a few days had passed since he’d moved. Now here he was, working for a woman who was currently gazing at him with a snotty look, as if he were some sort of factory-line cook at a chain restaurant. But he wasn’t about to give her, or anyone else, their own way.
Food was his art. His expression. His love. Anyone who thought otherwise could fuck off.
“Pardon me,” he said after a deep breath. “Go ahead and put on that hippie crap everyone around here seems to prefer.”
She smirked. He hated it when she did that. Her little nose got all scrunched up, and the pale skin around her big green eyes got all crinkly. As if she didn’t give a crap that he actually knew what he was doing. And she didn’t know this music helped him cook. Helped him forget.
She shrugged. “Well, I suppose this music suits you. It’s so…trendy and cool.”
He just stared at her and let the acerbic tone of her voice drip off him like melted butter.
Of course, she went on. “But you’re not in some hip nightclub right now. You’re in the Green Leaf Café. And we have a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than those fancy Los Angeles places you’re used to.”
He clenched the wooden spoon in his hand. Like he could ever forget where he was. He was used to running kitchens that turned out more than two hundred plates per night. Last month, he’d been known for his escargot. Now, a quiche Lorraine was not only some sort of exotic specialty, but also it was practically forbidden, what with the egg and cream and ham and all.
Casually, Phoebe reached into his sauté pan, plucked out an amber-colored onion, and popped it into her mouth. She grimaced.
He shouldn’t care. Why should he be concerned about what she thought? She had inherited a café from her aunt and uncle, and they obviously hadn’t passed on any of their “gourmet” knowledge to their niece. Granted, she appeared to have a decent palate, but she was utterly devoid of skill at actually creating cuisine of any sort.
Basically, the woman couldn’t boil a pot of water if her life depended on it.
Still, he couldn’t deny she knew how to grow some amazingly tasty produce. At least she had that going for her.
And so he waited for her reaction. Hating the fact that he had a flashback to Paris, heartbeat racing, waiting for a response, just like back in culinary school waiting for his instructor’s reaction.
“It’s good,” she said. Finally. After swallowing.
Good? This recipe had been featured on the cover of Gourmet magazine, and all she could say was that it was good?
Tearing his gaze away from her throat, Nick leaned against the counter. “Thanks, love. So glad you liked it.” He heard the sarcasm dripping from his voice. Again, he reminded himself that her opinion didn’t matter to him. He’d gone to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, for fuck’s sake. She’d probably never left Humboldt County.
“Sorry, it was hot. But good. Really good. Different, but good.”
“Good. Yes, you said that. Repeatedly.”
“It’s true.” Her eyes were wide as she said it, and he may have caught a flash of actual appreciation. Okay, so maybe he was being overly sensitive. “You’re a hard woman to please, aren’t you?”
Her green eyes widened in surprise. “No, I don’t think so.” She paused and then said, “Why do you say that?”
He shrugged. “Just an observation.” Whatever.
“Right,” he continued. “Well, you just took it right out of the pan. Things that are cooked at high temperatures tend to be hot.” Why was he going on like a defensive idiot?
She shrugged. “Sorry. It’s just the things you cook smell so…”
“Yeah?” he said nonchalantly. And then, “They smell so what?”
He grunted and looked away. “Well, what did you expect?”
Grinning, she plucked out another onion. “Just because something smells good doesn’t mean it tastes good.”
“Really? You grow broccoli. Broccoli doesn’t exactly smell like roses. It smells like gas.”
“Right! When it’s growing it doesn’t smell very nice. But when you cook it correctly—like the way it should be prepared for our veggie tofu stir-fry—the scent can certainly be lovely.”
Whenever she talked about her farm, her entire demeanor changed. Carrots made her passionate. When she went on about her honeybees, her eyes sparkled. And now she was radiating as she preached about the attributes of broccoli.
As if he didn’t know about vegetables. “I know how to cook broccoli.”
“I’m sure you do.”
Was she humoring him? “I can,” he bit out.
“I said, I believe you. But can you make it without smothering it in some fancy, heavy sauce?”
“Yes.” He quirked his head to the side. “But why would I?”
She made his brain hurt. “Listen. I know what I’m doing.”
Her expression softened, just a bit. “I know you know what you’re doing. I know we are lucky to have you.”
He barked a laugh at her sentiment.
“I mean it. We are lucky to have someone like you in our kitchen. I just think, maybe, you could think about the fact that you’re not in L.A. anymore. This community is a bit more simple.”
“Trust me. That’s one thing I have no doubt about.”
“That doesn’t mean we’re not sophisticated. So maybe you can just learn to change a little. Adapt to what we do here, which is to try to live with a few less complications. I mean, I’ve seen Satan’s Pantry. I know how intense it must be.”
He ground his teeth so hard his inner ear cringed. Satan’s Pantry. He hated that show.
So close. He’d been so close to being chosen as the host of the now insanely popular reality television series that takes place in a restaurant known for its celebrity drop-ins.
So close to having everything he’d wanted.
And he’d fucked it up.
For some unfathomable reason, she reached out and touched his shoulder. Warily, he met her gaze. “What?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. You just looked like you needed…”
“I don’t need anything.” He shook her hand off his shoulder. “I know what I’m doing.” How many times did he need to hammer it into her frizzy little head? He hadn’t been the best chef in London, Chicago, and then Los Angeles for nothing. He’d worked hard. He was good at what he did. He rarely fucked up.
Yeah, you never fuck up. That’s why you’re here, idiot.
Whatever. Being fired from the best restaurant in L.A. had absolutely nothing to do with his skill as a chef. Nope. Getting fired from his job had to do with lame bullshit. How was he supposed to know that chick he’d taken home from some club was actually the daughter of Satan’s Pantry’s producer?
Whatever. He was an amazing chef. And, more important, he knew how to run a kitchen.
And yet this Phoebe person didn’t seem to care. At all. Sure, she could try to pretend to be all open and caring and helpful, but he’d seen that temper of hers enough times to know it was all an act. The woman was a control freak extraordinaire.
She crossed her arms over her chest. He couldn’t help it. His gaze dropped to the two perky mounds of her breasts. Real ones. It wasn’t normal for a woman to have such amazing, natural breasts. And Nick should know. He’d sampled a smorgasbord of silicone back home.
She snapped her fingers in front of his face, and his gaze shot back up.
“All I’m saying is, this isn’t the big city. People around here like simple food.”
Simple. If he heard that bloody word one more time, he thought he’d poke himself in the ear with a metal skewer.
As if he didn’t know everything about this fucking town was simple. In fact, it could just be called Simple Town, and maybe no one would feel the urge to constantly hammer the concept into the head of everyone who happened to pass through.
However, her breasts were anything but simple.
Don’t look down; don’t look down. Anyway, he really didn’t need to. He knew she wore a brownish T-shirt that was not low-cut enough, a long skirt, and practical sandals.
And her body rocked the plain outfit.
He shook his head. “I get it. You can stop saying that now. And you think quiche is so fancy? It’s one of the first things you learn in cooking school.”
“Did I say I thought it was fancy?”
“But what?” She had a wide, annoying mouth that quirked a lot, usually morphing into a smug grin. “You’re the one who keeps going on about quiche. Not me.”
He watched as she leaned closer and lowered her voice. “Do you have some sort of egg fetish I should know about?” She nodded, trying to look dead serious, but he saw her eyes were twinkling. “Because we treat our chicken products with respect around here. Just so you know.”
Nick was rarely speechless, but now—now he just stared at this woman. This woman with her frizzy, kinky deep-brown hair, her clean face, and her freckles. Yes, freckles. She had them. Scattered all over her face, like he might sprinkle shaved chocolate across a meringue tart.
“Are you actually joking with me?”
She pulled back. “Yes. Why?”
“I’ve just never seen it. Your sense of humor, that is.”
She looked affronted. “I have a perfectly good sense of humor.”
“When you’re not telling me off with that temper of yours.”
“I do not have a temper.”
“Right. Of course you don’t. That’s why you threw an onion at me when I accidentally used heavy cream in the vegan mushroom soufflé.”
“Nick Avalon, I do not for one second think that was an accident! You’re smart enough to know exactly what ingredients you’re using!”
After flashing a scowl in his direction, she turned on one sandal and walked away. He watched her walk. If he were to think about it, he’d wonder if she had a nice ass under that long, full skirt. He’d think her waist was sweetly small beneath the orange tank top she wore tucked into that skirt. He’d think that belt made of rope she wore low on her hips accentuated the curve of her waist.
He’d think he’d like to twist his fingers into that obnoxiously out-of-control hair and tug until she gasped—
But he wasn’t going to think or wonder about any of that. He was going to think about the fact that he was here for one year. And in one year, he’d be back in Southern California where he belonged. Where his objective wasn’t satisfying a small community of people who preferred vegan brownies and tofu nut loaf over gâteau chocolat and foi gras en tourrine. He’d think about when he could return from exile, and when he could make real food again. Cuisine he’d spent years perfecting and that had helped him earn a reputation as one of the best in the business.
“I don’t think I can do it.” Phoebe blew a kink of hair out of her eye and leaned against the storage room wall. “I don’t think I can deal with him.” Crossing her arms over her chest, she jerked her head toward the door leading to the kitchen. “He’s just so…”
Jesse heaved a case of canned organic tomatoes onto a pile of wooden crates. They were in the stockroom of the restaurant, prepping inventory for the evening dinner crowd. “So what?” Jesse asked. “He’s so what?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well,” Jesse said with a grin that was much too wicked for any teenager to possess, “at least you picked a hot guy to run the kitchen.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Even if every time she was around Nick Avalon her heart did funny things, it wasn’t because he was hot. It was because he annoyed the living daylights out of her. “Anyway, he’s not my type.”
“Auntie Phoebe, no one is your type.”
“That is not true.” It was just that maybe her niece didn’t know her type.
She shrugged. Logistics. She’d figure it out. She could do anything she set her mind to.
Except, apparently, make brownies.
“When was the last time you, you know…did the clam dip?”
Phoebe gasped. “What?”
Jesse waggled her eyebrows. “You know. Dipped your spoon in the batter? Churned the butter?”
“Jesse!” Phoebe straightened her skirt. “That is most definitely not only a totally inappropriate question, but also none of your business.” Hadn’t she asked herself a similar question just the other night?
“You can’t answer because you probably can’t even remember.”
Phoebe snapped her attention back to reality. “I can, too.”
Jesse hopped up onto the stack of crates and sat back. “Then spill. Was it Bear?”
“No. We’re just friends now.”
“I’m sorry, Pheebs. I shouldn’t have brought Bear up.”
“It’s okay. Really. You know we’re still friends.”
“Okay, then if not Bear, who?”
“Filled the hole in your doughnut.”
“That is none of your business!” Phoebe felt a flush creep up her neck and took a few deep breaths. This was so not an appropriate conversation to be having with her niece. “And it certainly wasn’t Bear.” But she wished it had been. Just the thought of Bear O’Malley made her happy. Tall, strong, and gorgeous. Phoebe had known the man since high school. Although he kept a house here, he was rarely in town because he traveled the world as an agricultural consultant to third-world countries.
The fact that she could be by his side doing all of that never made her sad. Not at all.
Bear. Altruistic, kindhearted, and a bit of a daredevil. He was everything Nick Avalon was not, but Bear never stayed around.
“Are you sure you’re just friends with him? Because every time someone says his name, you get that dreamy look on your face.”
“Believe me, I’m sure. I’m only going to say it one more time. We’re just friends.” And that was true. Even if Bear had shown any interest in her recently, which other than some innocent flirting, he hadn’t—she would never go there. It would hurt too much when he left.
“Anyway, like I said. If I had a type, which I don’t, Nick Avalon would certainly not be it. No way, nohow.”
“Then tell me, aunt of mine. What type of guy is Nick?” Jesse pushed an escaped dreadlock back into the tie-dyed scarf wrapped around her head.
“He’s the kind of guy who thinks he can say whatever he wants, no matter how offensive. He’s the kind of guy who drives an expensive and obnoxious off-road vehicle, but has probably never driven it off the pavement of a city. He’s the kind of guy who has no respect for women. He’s the kind of guy who makes me want to tear my hair out!” Phoebe realized she was breathing as if she’d just sprinted down the street, and she calmed herself down. Jesse was looking at her as though she’d gone off the deep end.
When she was breathing normally again, she said, “And I hate his hair.” She did. She despised his spiky black hair, his blue eyes that shot right through her, and his long, lean body that made her seriously wonder what his skin would feel like touching hers.
She hated that type.
Jesse said, “Okay. I get it. Nick Avalon is not your type. But you know half the girls in this town are in love with him, right?”
“He’s only been here a couple of weeks! How could anyone be in love with him?” Phoebe rolled her eyes. “Anyway, even if that’s true, it’s just because he’s new and different.”
Jessie heaved a smitten sigh. “And that accent. Oh my God, that accent.”
“It’s just a British accent. What’s the big deal?”
Yeah, that’s not what you were thinking when you spoke with him on the phone that first interview, was it?
And darn it to heck. Why did her heart skip whenever he called her something irritating like bumpkin? She shuddered. Bumpkin? Really?
Phoebe retrieved a box of soy milk for the vegan ice cream that had to be made for their lactose-free clients. “Anyway, it’s just the fact that Nick’s not from the area that makes the locals interested.”
Jesse tossed another crate of tomatoes onto the stack. “He’s definitely not like the usual guys you find around here.”
Phoebe yanked out another carton of soy milk. “I’ve never met anyone so arrogant in my entire life. And everything’s a battle with him. I mean, I’m the boss!” She stabbed herself in the chest with her index finger. “He should listen to me instead of trying to turn the Green Leaf into some version of a chic Los Angeles restaurant.”
“I ate his lamb.”
Phoebe blinked. “What?”
“The other night, after everyone had left.” Jesse lowered her voice. “Don’t tell my dad. He’d freak if he knew I ate even one bite of a dead animal. But oh my God, Phoebe. Nick Avalon knows what he’s doing when it comes to cooking meat. Did I tell you I had his duck the other night, too?”
“Stop!” Phoebe raised her hand. “I don’t want to hear any more. You used to confess when you snuck out at night to go down to the river. Why does this seem worse somehow?”
“Because you know my dad’s a militant freak about vegetarian eating?”
“He is not.” Phoebe felt the need to stick up for her brother-in-law, who was one of the sweetest, nicest people she had the pleasure of knowing. “He’s always let you make your own choices about what you consume.”
“Yeah,” Jesse scoffed. “But you know how he’d always look so sad if I ate chicken or something. Like I was disappointing him.”
“You never disappoint your father, Jesse.” Steve wasn’t just Phoebe’s brother-in law; he was her best friend.
Judy, his wife and Phoebe’s sister, had died five years ago. At the time, Phoebe had been living with her aunt and uncle in their huge Victorian house, and Steve and Jesse had eventually moved in as well. Just when Steve seemed to finally be getting past the death of his wife, Phoebe’s aunt had passed away. And then Uncle Dan had followed within a year. Now there was a sadness about Steve that hovered like a dark cloud.
Shaking the thoughts away, she focused on what her niece was saying.
“Pheebs,” Jesse said. “Even you have to admit Nick is really cute.”
Phoebe pushed herself off the wall. “What do you mean, even I?”
“I am not! I’m just…particular.”
“You can’t even remember the last time you had your muffin buttered.”
Phoebe looked away, thinking. “I can too remember when I last had my muffin buttered.” What was she saying? “I’m not going to talk about that with you!”
“Exactly. So what’s wrong with Nick?”
“What?” Phoebe demanded. “W-what are you talking about? Even if I were interested, which I’m not, he hates me.” She shook her head. What was Jesse thinking? “And we work together!”
Jesse shook her head. “He doesn’t hate you.”
“Do you have a dreadlock in your eye? Because you obviously have some clouded vision.”
“I don’t think I’m the one with limited sight here.”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“I may be young, but I”—she tapped her temple—“I see things.”
Phoebe laughed. “Oh, do you now? And I’m supposed to take love advice from a teenager?”
“Yeah. In fact, I smell things, too. Like something burning. Like, now.”
Just then, the distinct scent of something that was indeed burning filtered into Phoebe’s nose. “What’s he done now?” Dropping the cartons of soy milk, she burst through the storage door, ran down the hallway, and headed straight for the kitchen. Where she found Nick Avalon surrounded by a cloud of smoke. Smoke and a group of her staff, who were watching him with expressions of awe.
“What’s going on here?” she demanded.
He took a sip of his ever-present glass of golden liquid. He usually licked a wedge of lime after each sip and, as he did so now, she couldn’t help it. Her gaze drifted to that luscious mouth of his, and she watched him lick the tart fruit.
When she glanced back up, he was watching her with a devilish gleam in his eyes.
Damn. Had he known she’d been distracted by that gorgeous mouth of his? She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and sharpened her gaze. “Nick. I asked what is going on here.”
“Just showing the kids how to flambé bananas.”
She picked up a few bunches of cauliflower from the counter and dropped them into the sink. Then her gaze fell on the three other members of her staff, all teenagers she’d known their entire lives, who were currently staring at Nick as if he were some sort of god.
Well, she supposed in his mind, he was. Even Jesse, who’d followed her out of the storage room, seemed to be enamored with Nick.
“That’s not on the menu,” she said, pointing at the pan.
He took another sip from his small glass. “I know. But it should be.” And licked the lime. His lips were shiny with the tequila.
Shiny and smirky and kissable.
Jeez. She needed a date with her vibrator to kill these urges about Nick.
“Those bananas were for the bread you’re meant to be baking.”
He raised one of his perfectly shaped black eyebrows. “I’m sure you can get more bananas.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Then what is your point?”
She felt everything inside her constrict with irritation. “Why did I hire you again?”
His glance flickered to the far wall and to the montage of reviews. “Because you actually want this place to succeed.” He looked back at her, and she didn’t miss that annoying, troublemaking twinkle in his eyes. “How are those brownies coming along? I hear they’re quite the hit at the bumpkin cook-off.”
Damn him, why did he have to go there? In the privacy of her home kitchen, she’d attempted that damn brownie recipe about ten more times, and it hadn’t improved one bit. In fact, she thought the brownies had actually become progressively worse.
It was then that she noticed every one in the café had gone still. Her staff was watching Nick and her bicker as if it were a tennis match.
She turned and started to walk away. When she noticed he wasn’t following her, she jerked her head. “Come here.” Then she continued stalking, her skirt flowing around her ankles in angry swooshes of gauzy fabric.
After he’d sauntered into the storage room, she kicked the door shut. “Stop that,” she growled.
“What?” He crossed his arms over his chest, causing the short sleeves of his black T-shirt to tighten around biceps that made Phoebe’s mouth water.
She swallowed. Then, pointing a finger at him, she said, “Don’t give me that innocent look. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
“You mean the bananas?”
And it was then that she realized he held a wooden spoon in his hand. With an evil glint in his eye, he uncrossed his arms and held it out to her.
Like some sort of horrible Pavlovian food whore, her mouth began to water. She backed up. “Get that away from me.”
He stepped forward. “Come on. Taste. I promise it’s better than banana bread.”
“That’s not the point.” Then her back hit the wall. Nowhere to go. He was coming at her with his wooden spoonful of mouthwatering, and no doubt delicious, glistening banana slices.
She clenched her clammy hands. “I don’t want to argue with you in front of my staff.”
“What’s there to argue about?” He held the spoon just under her nose. She tried to hold her breath, but she couldn’t help it; she had to breathe, right? And oh my God. The bananas smelled amazing. She licked her lips.
He watched her lick her lips. His blue eyes were dark, unreadable.
“Taste.” When he said the word, his voice was raspy.
“Don’t tempt me with your flambéed bananas!”
His eyes sparkled with humor at her words. She inhaled, realizing it was the first time she’d seen real humor in his eyes. It softened her, just a bit.
“Go on,” he coaxed. “You won’t regret tasting my banana.”
“Stop it.” But her mouth opened. Why did it do that?
He slid the spoon over her lips, and her tongue slipped out to allow him to tilt the sweet caramelized banana into her mouth. Her eyes drifted shut. He kept the spoon in her mouth, too good and too long.
In that second, that moment of silence in which all she could do was taste and listen to their breathing, heat rushed through her body. Her nipples hardened. She could smell the bite of tequila on his breath, he was that close to her.
She pushed him away, ignoring the way his body felt beneath the palms of her hands, warm and solid. She cleared her throat. “That doesn’t taste that bad. But it’s not on the menu.”
“You always stick to the menu, bumpkin? No special orders for you?”
“Shut up.” She wiped her hands on her skirt. “Go make the bread. And stop trying to show me up in front of my staff.” Then she walked out of the storage room, slamming the door behind her.
Later that night, Nick sat on his front porch, staring at…
Nothing. Because that was pretty much all he was surrounded by. Trees, trees, and more trees. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. And certainly no one to go anywhere with.
He took a deep drag from his cigarette and sipped his tequila. His leg bounced restlessly, the heel of his trainer tapping a fast beat on the wooden porch. All this quietness drove him crazy. Normally he’d be in the kitchen until at least 1:00 a.m., or he’d be at a club. Back at home, he was very rarely alone, and this wasn’t something he was adjusting to well. Not well at all.
The cabin wasn’t helping. It was nice, he supposed, by cabin standards. Fortunately, he didn’t know much about cabin standards. This one was small but functional, with a decent kitchen. A living room with an overstuffed sofa and matching chairs. A nice TV and even a decent stereo.
He looked through the tree branches to where a small light glistened in the distance. She was there. It was Phoebe’s house. Part of the deal in coming here included residing in her guesthouse. Although at least an acre separated the residences, he somehow always felt her presence. And on the other side of her house was her “farm.” Which consisted of about ten acres of seasonal produce. She was, after all, a farmer. She smelled like the earth. It shouldn’t smell good to him.
Why did it?
Stop thinking! He picked up his cell phone and dialed.
“Nick?” a female voice answered.
“Hey, Sherry. What’s up?”
“Just trying to explain to my son why he can’t combine cabernet with sushi.” Nick heard some shuffling, the low voice of her son in the background, and then Sherry’s screech. He yanked the phone away from his ear as she yelled, “I don’t care if it’s considered avant-garde! It’s just bad taste.” More phone shuffling and then a deep sigh came through the phone. When she spoke, her voice was overly calm. “Sorry, Nick. Shawn is driving me nuts. If you ever have a child, pray he doesn’t go into the food or wine industry.”
Nick shuddered. “I don’t think you have to worry about that.”
“Right, right,” Sherry said. “Nick Avalon. Perpetual bachelor and ladies’ man.”
“You got it, sweetheart.”
“One day, Avalon. One day.”
“Some girl is gonna crack that stone heart of yours.”
“Not likely.” He took another sip of tequila. He would have preferred to chase it with a lime, but he was too lazy to get up and get one.
“Anyway. How are things going up there in the center of clean living?”
“Bloody horrid. Can you tell me again how I ended up here?”
“Let’s see. You drank too much at work. Showed up late far too many times. Tortured your staff, and what was that last thing? Oh, right. You publicly humiliated a Hollywood legend over a crème brûlée.”
“He sent it back!”
“It was perfect.”
“Right. Because everything Nick Avalon does is perfection.”
“Damn near.” It was true.
Excerpted from Deliciously Sinful by Feisty, Lilli Copyright © 2011 by Feisty, Lilli. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 17, 2011
I Also Recommend:
Phoebe has taken on the family restaurant knowing it was going to push her over the limit of her capabilities. She makes a great decision to sign on Nick even though he is a hotshot chef from Los Angeles. He may not fit in but he is a great chef so maybe he can blend in and no one will notice. After Phoebe meets him, she knows that his British accent is the least of her problems.
These two argue over menus, conduct screaming matches over the proper use of butter, and the best use of a kitchen whisk. This is Phoebe's future at stake and she wants Nick to respect her wishes for organic and natural, which is not the same as au natural.
The longer Nick spends in this tiny town the more contented he becomes which scares him more than Phoebe. He is use to long nights, fast women, and too much partying. The sound of crickets should make him nervous not relaxed. Nick wonders if this is a phase that will pass. But he worries that his attraction to Phoebe may go away as well even though it feels like it is just growing stronger every day. Phoebe is struggling with her feelings for Nick as well because he is not what she needs or wants and there is no way he will stay put long enough to help her cultivate a relationship. Phoebe is also trying to manage her brother's life while he starts to move away from the grief that losing his wife created. Phoebe has her hands full in more ways than one.
So while Nick is bright lights and big city whereas Phoebe is down to earth and boring. Can these two polar opposites click and come up with the perfect recipe for love and brownies, you never know until you read the book.
I am a fan of Lilli Feisty's books because they have a romantic edginess to them you do not find just anywhere. She keeps the story moving and the character engaging without too much of this and not enough of that!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 12, 2011
After the passing of her aunt and uncle, Phoebe Mayle takes of the family business; an organic café, which has received the best reviews and even won first place ribbons for their brownies at the local festival ten years running. Determined to carry on the tradition while running her own organic farming business at the same time, Phoebe hires a talented chef with a bad-boy reputation. But when her new chef pulls into her nature loving small town in a gas-guzzling eye-catching yellow Hummer, she instantly regrets her decision and coming face-to-face with the arrogant Brit they immediately butt heads while the sparks start to fly. Taking a job at a local dinner in the hippy small town of Redbolt, California is not something that Nick Avalon wants to do but after being fired, again, as chef at a high profile L.A. restaurant and being turned down for a reality television show Nick needs to get out of the city to reevaluate and get his life back on track. Frustrating his feisty new boss is easy to do and seems to be the only entertainment in this town full of bumpkins, but when things start to heat up in the kitchen and frustration turns to attraction will Nick stick around long enough for it to lead anywhere? You know what they say, there¿s a fine line between love and hate... This is my first read from author Lilli Feisty and I will definitely be looking into her other works now. The title of this novel says it all because the story of Phoebe and Nick was sinfully delicious! The romance was edgy, thrilling, and I will never be able to use a whisk or see chocolate pudding without thinking about the erotic uses they can be put to. Deliciously Sinful moved at a nice clip while the engaging characters kept me turning the pages. Nick is the swoon worthy bad boy with a whole other hidden side to his personality that is rarely, if ever, seen. But the more time he spends with Phoebe the more that softer side comes out, which is what Phoebe clings to throughout their hot and cold running relationship. The back and forth between these two will tug on your heartstrings as they fight their undeniable attraction for each other and slowly start to lower the walls built around each of their hearts. A wonderful romance of opposites attracting, not to mention the sizzling cooking and scorching sex that lit up the pages! Sexy, humorous, heart pounding; Sinfully Delicious also had a wonderful sub plot of Phoebe¿s eighteen year old niece and widowed brother in law that was moving and I thoroughly enjoyed. 4 Wine Glasses: A satisfying contemporary erotic romance, I loved every minute of Deliciously Sinful! Adult Content: Deliciously Sinful is chuck full of appetizing erotic love scenes, edgy romance, light bondage, frequent adult language full of snark and so much more! Definitely heats up the kitchen and the pages, you will need a bath full of ice cubes after this read!
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 7, 2012
Posted June 7, 2012
Overall the book was great. It was realistic which is something you don't always get in romance. The main characters had passion. All the intimate scenes were definetly heated. The smaller story of other characters were interesting too. I just felt as though it could have EXTENDED THE ENDING! I really like this book though. I gave it 4 stars
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Posted January 4, 2012
Posted December 10, 2011
Phoebe cannot cook for the life of her, so imagine her dismay when she inherits her aunt and uncle¿s small award-winning café after their deaths. In lieu of her culinary shortcomings, she makes the executive decision to hire Nick Avalon to rescue the café from failure. Phoebe braces herself for arguing with the hotshot LA chef on menu offerings, but she fails to shield her heart against the absolute hotness of her latest employee. Will Phoebe be able to endure the sizzle of Nick¿s eyes, or will she burn to a crisp with no hope of saving this dish?
Lately I have been finding books that start at one point and then go a very different direction that sometimes does not make sense. In this case, we begin with the first line ¿ and it braces me for a possible ¿foul play¿ storyline. SO not the case! Why does it start here? I think the story would still work out fine without this beginning. Did Deliciously Sinful satisfy this reader¿s appetite? Well¿ it does okay as a snack, but it is far from being a full-course meal. I expected more actual resistance, but it seemed that Phoebe bent to Nick's bad boy charms way too easily. If Phoebe and Nick had resisted each other a little bit longer and added more kindling to the fire, the story may have reached the necessary heat to bring my tea to a boil.
Posted November 4, 2011
Fill your tub up with ice cubes, sit in it and read this book! Good gracious, holy 9 1/2 Weeks spoon feeding scene Batman! Wow, wow, wow! Jamie from For the Love of Romance was not kidding about Lilli Feisty being a must read author. Where can I get my own Nick Avalon? Heck, I'd settle for any gorgeous yellow Hummer driving, the Le Cordon Bleu graduate, chocolate pudding making, banana flambeing, oyster gathering, orange peeling, dark haired, blue eyed chef with magical hands and mouth and has a tendency for whisking. Throw in a tattoo and I think my knees just turned into jello. The relationship between Nick and Phoebe is hot and cold. Yes, the intimacy is HOT, HOT, HOT! Yet, their feelings towards each other run a little tepid. Nick wants to go back to his life in Los Angeles, Phoebe knows he's not going to stay. Nick's constant voicing of his dislike of the town grates Phoebe but his touch puts fire in her veins and he's panty dropping good looking to boot. At every turn she thinks Nick is trying to one up her: teaching her niece to cook, changing the menu to be a little fancier and even entering brownies in the bake off, of which her families recipe has won for the past 10 years. Since the passing of her parents and sister, Phoebe has thrown herself into organic farming and running the cafe owned by her late aunt and uncle. She is determined to show the community that she can carry on the tradition of baking the best brownies and has the ability to run the cafe with the help of her niece and that guy, Nick Avalon. At first, she doesn't know what to do with Nick but after getting to know him a little better, she finds that there is something simmering under his cocky bad boy image. Nick is just there to re-assess and get his life back together. He's not there to find love or comfort in the arms of an uptight cafe owner. Between taking snark from Phoebe, teaching her niece to cook, showing her how to loosen up behind closed doors and letting the little town and its people grow on him, he's bound to lose his heart along the way. Bad boy, meet good girl and get ready to rock her world with all sorts of foodstuffs. Dear Lilli Feisty, where have you been all my romance book reading life? This book is (I'm borrowing from the title) deliciously sinful, wayyy better than chocolate pudding. It's a sexy, laugh out loud, book gripping, thigh clenching, 'oh my god did I just moan out loud in public?', pupil dilating, heart pounding read with a side of whisking. Sheesh! Who knew whisking could be so hot? I was waiting for the book to go up in flames after reading. Again, where can I get a man like Nick Avalon? Those chefs on the Food Network have nothing on Nick Avalon, nothing I tell you! Oh god, now I'm going to be looking at the likes of Bobby Flay and wonder if he too practices whisking outside of the kitchen. Ahh!!! ***review copy provided by Jihan Antoine at Hatchette Books***Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2011
Phoebe Mayle took over her family owned Green Leaf café in Redbolt, California, but her cooking incompetence has her fearing she will put the restaurant out of business soon. She desperately needs a chef so she hires British expatriate Nick Avalon currently of Los Angeles in spite of his unsavory reputation.
Over the next couple of months, the pair argue over the menu as he loves butter and she prefers organic cuisines that the café is known for. Nick muses how much he feels like he belongs in the small town, but also fears his attraction to his employer; as relationships end. Phoebe also struggles with her needing her chef, but expects him to ride his hummer into the sunset sooner than later while also trying to be there for her grieving brother whose wife recently died.
With a nod to the movie No Reservations, Deliciously Sinful is an entertaining culinary romance starring two seemingly opposites falling in love in the middle of nowhere. The amusing lighthearted is fun to read as love appears to not be enough to keep the big city Brit and the small town Californian together.
Posted November 7, 2011
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Posted July 8, 2012
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Posted March 15, 2012
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Posted December 11, 2011
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