Intercepting the Chef

Intercepting the Chef

by Rachel Goodman

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Overview

Intercepting the Chef by Rachel Goodman

“Smart, sexy, and funny” (Publishers Weekly) contemporary romance writer Rachel Goodman is back with a brand new series about a quarterback trying to score in the most important game of his life—the game of love.

Gwen Lalonde is a rising star in the eyes of the elite restaurateurs of the world. But when her celebrity chef boss and now ex-boyfriend fires her, she finds herself playing a different game. Forced to flee San Francisco and return home to Denver, Gwen lands a spot as the executive chef at Stonestreet’s, a new restaurant owned by NFL golden boy and Colorado Blizzards quarterback Logan Stonestreet. When Logan starts pursuing Gwen romantically, she pulls a classic duck and weave and avoids any advances by throwing herself into reestablishing her reputation in Denver.

But Logan Stonestreet is persistent—he didn’t become one of the best football players in the league by throwing in the towel at the first rejection. Something about Logan’s unwavering determination—and amazing body—keeps Gwen around, and soon there’s more that’s sizzling than just the steak on the grill. Things are getting more serious than either side cares to admit, and when Logan suffers a severe injury in the playoffs, they’re both forced to make game-time decisions. The perfect romance for football fans and foodies alike, Intercepting the Chef is a delicious read that’ll have you hooked until the very last play.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501158926
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication date: 05/01/2017
Series: How to Score , #1
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 19,058
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Rachel Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of the Blue Plate series. She was raised in Colorado on Roald Dahl books and her mother’s award-worthy cooking. Now an engineering professor at her alma mater, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, she has not lost her passion for culinary discovery or a well-told story. A member of RWA, she continues to hone her craft through the Writer’s Path at SMU while seeking to create the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe.

Read an Excerpt

Intercepting the Chef

CHAPTER ONE

Gwen

ten months later

The heady, smoky aroma of sizzling steaks enveloped Stonestreet’s kitchen. Opening night and my first shift as an executive chef and I had my choice of preparing a special of bacon-wrapped meat loaf, coconut-crusted shrimp, or spaghetti and meatballs. Plus a whole slew of uninspired, run-of-the-mill offerings. Not exactly what I’d trained for at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. And not exactly what would make my chef and restaurateur father beam with joy.

I topped a seared filet mignon with butter and slid the finished plate across the pickup window into a server’s awaiting hands. He exited through the swinging door, the jazz tune being played by the live pianist filtering in from the packed dining room. Humming tunelessly along to the music, I dipped a teaspoon into the newest batch of béarnaise sauce warming on the stovetop.

Stephen would no doubt have a hearty laugh if he could see me now. But then what had I expected from a stereotypical athlete-owned restaurant? At least it was a job, one Chris had secured for me in my desperation, and in my hometown no less. And at least my name wasn’t on the signage to further smear my reputation. I only had to survive one year, maybe two, before the situation in San Francisco would be forgotten and I could start over somewhere better.

“Two wedge salads,” I called to the line cook at the cold prep station, a little piece of my soul dying. I’m classically trained, for heaven’s sake! Yet here I was, reduced to parroting dishes that’d been around since the midtier steakhouse boom of the 1990s. Somehow in the blink of an eye, I’d become the culinary equivalent of acid-washed jeans. All because Stephen had thought my talent blunted his knife.

“Yes, Chef,” the line cook shouted back, smothering half a head of iceberg lettuce with enough blue cheese dressing to render it soup with a side of waterlogged, flavorless greens.

“Here’s the kitchen. Think the locker room of the restaurant.” I recognized the voice—deep and commanding, the kind that only ever projected absolute confidence—before Logan Stonestreet waltzed into my domain, part of the Colorado Blizzards offense lumbering behind him. Logan looked like he strolled straight out of central casting for a Disney football flick and into the NFL. As quarterback of one of the hottest teams, he was tall, muscular, and athletic, capable of taking hits, breaking tackles, and torquing his body to deliver the ball with accuracy and velocity.

Logan led the group behind the counter, crowding the already-tight space. As if orchestrated, two rows of white-capped heads peered up, the entire staff scowling at the intruders before silently returning to their duties. Amazing how a bunch of life-sized sports figurines could suck the momentum out of a room.

“And here’s a serrated knife.” The high-carbon, stainless steel blade shined under the bright LED lights. “Touch anything and lose a finger.” I smiled sweetly at Logan, though I meant every word. He might be one of the best to ever wear the uniform and technically the owner of this establishment, but in my kitchen, Logan didn’t rank above dishwasher.

I needed him out. Immediately. A well-run kitchen was an organized machine. Precise, efficient, and entirely predictable. Life might be messy, but the kitchen never surprised me, never betrayed me. Logan’s mere presence threatened that.

“Dang, Logan,” Tony said, whistling. “Your chef’s a sassy one. It’s hot.”

Tony played right guard and was the size of the commercial refrigerator in the prep area. From everything Chris had shared and the media had confirmed, Tony was as powerful as a jet engine, more stealthy than a shadow, and the only guy a player needed to protect his blind side. And from what I had observed from television press conferences, he also seemed eternally upbeat, no matter the circumstances. I wondered how he balanced it all.

“Might want to watch what you say about my sister, dude, especially when she’s wielding a sharp object,” Chris cut in, shooting him a warning look. “Gwen’s known to get a little riled up.”

My sous chef, Amy, squeezed past them, the sauté pan of seafood risotto grazing his striped dress shirt, and I swore Tony was milliseconds away from dipping a pinkie into the creamy rice. My hand twitched, prepared to remove an appendage if necessary.

“You’re one to talk, Christopher. Your temper is as short as a matchstick,” I said, placing a steaming plate of roasted leg of lamb with pomegranate glaze on a tray. It was that temper, coupled with his explosive speed off the snap, that made Chris such an effective and irreplaceable wide receiver. “And I only get riled up when people infringe on my workspace. Now, unless you’d all like me to take this jagged edge to your soft spots, I suggest you get back in the dining room.”

“Aw, come on, Gwen, I thought we were friends.” Logan flashed that charming grin, the one that seemed to mesmerize every girl who crossed his path. Normally he was one part blond, blue-eyed wonder boy, one part relaxed casual—if he wasn’t such a damn good football player, he’d have raked in a killing modeling for the Gap. But tonight, he exuded sexual charisma in an expertly tailored Armani navy suit with a white-collared shirt partially unbuttoned and wingtip oxfords. The clean-cut side part and hair still long enough to comb fingers through certainly didn’t hurt his Adonis-like image.

“No, you and doofus over there are friends,” I said, gesturing to where my brother and Tony were examining the stability of an ahi tuna tower. Logan and Chris had been attached at the hip since peewee football. Back then, they’d both been scrawny runts pretending to be hotshot professionals. Who would’ve predicted that years later they’d be on the same team both gunning for a Super Bowl ring? “We”—I pointed the business end of my knife back and forth between us—“are acquaintances.”

Acquaintances. The universal definition for the awkward relationship born out of too much cheap beer, a high school party my senior year, and a clichéd teenage crush on my brother’s best friend. Acquaintances meant we’d made out in a pool house during the football team’s end-of-season gathering, moved past it—and we had moved past it, I reminded myself—and didn’t need to discuss it again.

Frankly I wished I could forget the whole him-touching-my-boob thing had ever happened, how exposed and vulnerable he’d made me feel. Too bad it was never that simple. Not when it came to Logan Stonestreet.

There’d always been something magnetic that drew me to him. The way his smile, almost perfect in its crookedness, lingered on his face, suggesting devilish possibilities. The crinkles that formed around his eyes when he laughed, lending a sort of boyish playfulness to his vibrant, and often cocky, personality. The helmet tan line that was like a tattoo on the back of his neck, the one I’d pretended not to notice when he’d sauntered down the halls in school, students and teachers alike transfixed by his every move.

Even now, standing in the last place he belonged, I couldn’t rip my gaze away from the sharp cut of his jaw, the honey-blond fleck of five o’clock shadow that should look sloppy rather than handsome. I couldn’t help but picture how it’d feel if those huge, capable hands grabbed my waist and set me on the countertop. I blamed the sudden swell of heat coursing through me on the Viking range behind me—and definitely not on the eight different ways I wanted to violate the health code.

But engaging with Logan outside the restaurant owner/executive chef partnership was out of the question. Until tonight, we’d been communicating via email and voice messages, since he was busy with training camp and preseason, but with the main season about to start, I feared he’d be around more frequently. Something I wasn’t sure my heart could afford.

“Move along, Wonder Bread. Certainly there are guests waiting to be schmoozed, napkins primed for autographing, press writers to pander to.” I attempted to bump Logan out of the way with my hip but managed only to nudge him a little.

Leaning against the counter, he crossed his arms and his legs at the ankle, one side of his mouth quirking up. “Gwenie, remember how you agreed to stop using that nickname if I bought you the industrial mixer you wanted?”

“I said I’d try to quit calling you Wonder Bread. Not my fault it’s so appropriate.”

“Why, ’cause I need more UV rays?” he asked. “You should speak for yourself. I bet if you styled your hair in two braids instead of that low bun, you’d be a dead ringer for Wednesday Addams.”

“Clever,” I said as my eyes raked over the sun-kissed skin peeking out from under his shirt. Even in the harsh kitchen lights, he glowed golden perfection. Jerk. “But no. It’s because you’re All-American, boring, and as usual, full of crap.”

At my response, Tony burst out laughing. “Ain’t that the truth,” he said, slapping my shoulder with enough strength it threatened to knock the toque off my head.

“You should probably take Gwen at her word, Logan,” Chris chimed in, stepping to the side so Amy could pass me the crab cakes still bubbling from the broiler. I transferred them to a white platter, added the rémoulade sauce, then popped the finished dish into the pickup window.

“Why are there green bits in the crab cakes?” Logan asked, scrutinizing the appetizer with more attention than something so basic deserved.

“From the diced jalapeños,” I said, studying several plates ready to head out onto the floor. “Your version was bland, so I modified it.”

Logan raised an eyebrow. “You changed my mom’s signature dish?”

Guilt twisted my chest at the realization. Kind, stoic, and charming, Jane had been the bedrock of the Stonestreet family with a soothing melodic voice and Jackie Kennedy beauty. Ovarian cancer had claimed her life too soon, only weeks after Logan had been drafted to the Blizzards. Sports analysts and critics alike had thought the loss would affect Logan’s game, but instead it had seemed to push him to play harder, better, echoing his legendary NFL quarterback father who’d won three Super Bowl championships and had a mall in Seattle named after him.

“I just spruced it up a bit,” I said. “Gave it a little personality.”

“The recipe was fine—”

“Yes, yes. Chock-full of crabmeat, mayo, bread crumbs, and overinflated seduction,” I said. “I can only imagine how many times you’ve used it on a girl to round third base on your way to home. Though how something with so little flavor ever did you any favors, I’ll never know.”

“That’s what the sauce is for,” Logan said, the tips of his ears turning pink.

“The what?” I asked, annoyed that in order to work around him, I kept brushing up against him. Definitely no participation trophies where he was concerned.

“Fred’s Five Pepper Insanity.”

For the first time that evening, I came to a complete and total standstill. Hot sauce from a bottle? Oh, hell no.

“It tastes great on anything,” Logan continued. “It’s written right on the label.”

I ground my teeth. “Get. Out. Now.”

“Sassy chef’s about to gut you worse than you did to Detroit’s defense last week,” Tony hollered, still happy as ever even though in his most recent preseason performance, he’d uncharacteristically given up three quarterback sacks.

“What’d I do?” Logan asked, his expression pure bewilderment.

Chris grabbed Logan by the back of the neck and marched him toward the swinging door. “Bottled sauce? You idiot.” He patted Logan on the cheek, shaking his head in bafflement. “I know you two haven’t spent much time together recently, but it’s like you’ve never met Gwen.”

The minute they were out of sight, the familiar rush of a busy kitchen flooded back, and I could breathe again. Damn Logan. So many years away from him and he still had the ability to steal the oxygen from the room until my emotional intelligence dropped to the level of cheerleader wannabe heading up the bake sale.

I needed to remember why I was in Denver and what had landed me here.

And above all, I needed to remember what happened when I let personal and professional collide.

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Intercepting the Chef 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
kahea46 More than 1 year ago
***3 Stars*** The combination of food and football, two of my favorite things outside of rugby, reading and music, was what grabbed my attention and had me wanting to see how things would play out for Gwen and Logan. And though I found their journey, both as couple and separately, interesting I didn’t become as emotionally invested in it all as much as I thought I would. Logan is the NFL’s golden boy who has brought an ailing team back to life. He’s been groomed for it since he was born and is determined to achieve the ultimate prize. What I liked about Logan was that he viewed his celebrity as part of his job as the QB and not as a right. He acknowledged that it did garner him certain perks, but he didn’t abuse it. Gwen has spent her entire life with one goal in mind. Becoming a chef and running her own restaurant, but after the rug is unexpectedly pulled out from under her, that goal appears almost impossible. I’m of two minds when it comes to Gwen in that I admired her, but didn’t always like her. I admired her passion for food and cooking and her drive to be an acclaimed chef since that road is extremely rough, but I didn’t care for how she looked down on anything she deemed ‘pedestrian’. Her tendency to keep her emotions contained was understandable, but it made her feel cold and distant and I had a hard time truly connecting with her, even in the end. With my tepid feelings towards Logan and Gwen separately, it should come as no surprise that I didn’t become fully invested in their romance, but there were some facets of it that I enjoyed. I actually loved their more playful interactions because it at least gave me a glimpse into who they could be if they allowed their walls to fully drop. I also liked how they forced each other to take a long hard look at where they were currently at and what they wanted their future to be. Although this book didn’t give me the emotional gut punch I wanted, I still found it to be an interesting read. Each step in Logan and Gwen’s personal journey’s were well thought out and I liked seeing how they dealt with everything tossed in their way. The descriptions of the food made me hungry and the details of all things football made it easy to envision all that was happening on and off the field. ~ Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley ~
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
Intercepting the Chef is a story for foodies and sports enthusiasts alike. Rachel Goodman pairs the hot quarterback with the brainy, passionate chef and easily takes readers from the field into the kitchen. When talented chef Gwen Lalonde loses a prominent position, along with a relationship she thought was stronger, she heads back to Denver to lick her wounds and rise again. As the executive chef at Logan Stonestreet's new restaurant she plans to add her signature touch to the dishes created in memory of his mother. Even though Gwen refuses to be thrown into the spotlight as an opportunist using her feminine wiles to get to the top, Logan is determined to explore the chemistry between them. Gwen and Logan are like opposite sides of the same coin. While Logan throws his health to the wind in order to put everything he has into leading his team to a Super Bowl victory, Gwen is scared to risk everything for her dreams. Rachel Goodman takes readers through their simmering passion as they learn to find happiness and more than just satisfying futures. Banter between the sassy chef and suave footballer lends the story a humorous edge that breaks up the detailed football language peppered regularly through the story. The How to Score series is just ramping up and I can't wait to see what's next. Hopefully food will still be intertwined within the plot! *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review*
ljtljtljt More than 1 year ago
The combination of culinary deliciousness, football, and romance creates Intercepting the Chef, by new to me author Rachel Goodman. The riveting prologue drew me into this entertaining read, as the plot and personalities are unveiled with each chapter. This is the first book from the author's How to Score series and it can be enjoyed as a standalone. Chef Gwen Lalonde, and NFL quarterback Logan Stonestreet, have known each other since third grade. They both grew up in Denver, and Gwen's twin brother Chris is Logan's best friend. So when Gwen's boyfriend, who also happens to be her boss, unjustly fires her, it is Chris that gets Gwen the position of executive chef at Logan's brand new sports-themed restaurant. Now Gwen is back in Denver, trying to save her culinary reputation and figure out her future, while Logan is working through his injuries in order to fulfill his dream of winning the Superbowl. Gwen and Logan shared a kiss back in high school, which they still remember fondly. As they get to know each other again, their old feelings begin to resurface and they begin a friends with benefits relationship. Both of them want more from each other, but their professional needs and wants take complete precedence over their personal lives. I liked this novel. Ms. Goodman writes with a lot of passion, and I felt the professional pressures that both main characters experienced deep within my soul. The combination of interesting plot, steam and angst is wonderfully executed. The plot builds and advances effortlessly, with lots of interesting discoveries and revelations. If you like football, food and a hot couple, then this book is for you. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
PennieM More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this one but, of course, it was about football and cooking, two of my favorite things! Logan Stonestreet is the quarterback for the Denver Blizzards and owner of a new restaurant in need of an executive chef. Gwen Lalonde is in need of a job and her twin Chris has set her up at Stonestreet's which is really not much of a stretch since they have all been friends since childhood and Chris is best friends with Logan, and a receiver for the Blizzards. Both Logan and Gwen have their issues and insecurities to overcome and watching them come together was so much fun. I recommend this one and I am looking forward to more to come. **Received this ARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Rachel's other books, so I was pretty eager to get to this one. I loved Gwen and Logan. She's sassy and stubborn and standoffish. He's charming and personable and can I say charming again? Together they're fun and the banter and button pushing was fantastic. I also adored Gwen's BFF, Missy {and I'm secretly hoping we see more of her.} Of course there were secrets and slight miscommunications and the eventual break up. Thankfully, the separation doesn't last long and the last couple of chapters and epilogue more than make up for it. My only complaint is that some of the passages of Logan footballing and Gwen cooking got a bit dense. Sure, they're necessary, but still took me out of the story a bit. Overall, a cute and quick read. I really hope there will be more to these characters. **Huge thanks to Pocket Stat for providing the arc free of charge**
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one! Rachel Goodman is a new to me author and I am delighted to have found her. This is the first book in what should be a fun series to read. I loved her writing style and how she develops her characters. There is a nice easy flow to the story with very little angst, a touch of humor, and a good amount of heat. Logan is just about perfect. Athlete, sweet, and sexy. Gwen is a little harder to warm up to but in the end I did enjoy her. Overall it's a great story that kept me very entertained. I would definitely recommend this one.
MBurton More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars! I have not read this author before, but the title and cover of this book snagged my attention. I'm a sucker for a sports romance and I love that cover! Gwen is an up and coming chef who gets caught up in the glam of her celebrity boss. She is blindsided when he fires her. He accuses her of using him for her own career, suspiciously after she helps his restaurant receive a coveted 3 star Michelin rating. In the process, he tries to ruin her reputation. Not knowing what else to do, Gwen goes back home to Denver and takes a job as executive chef for Logan's new restaurant. Logan, best friends and fellow NFL player to Gwen's twin brother, has always been drawn to Gwen, but Gwen has been too focused on reaching her career goals. Now that she is back in town, he tries to reconnect with her. Unfortunately, Gwen is too fresh from the scandal with her previous boss. What I loved about this book was Logan. He MADE this book. He's described as a serial monogamist. For a sports player, that's not an easy find in books and his character was very appealing. He did need to stand up to a few people, but otherwise no complaints. Gwen was not as appealing to me. She seemed a bit selfish in the beginning but as her character grew, I did like her more towards the end. I was also not a fan of most of the side characters. Everyone seemed overly critical and not supportive to Gwen or Logan. Unfortunately, that just dulled some of my excitement for this book. The writing was very mature and the storyline was good. Just because I wasn't a fan of some of the characters, it won't stop me from reading more from this author. ARC provided by Netgalley.