On the Steamy Side: A Recipe for Love Novel

On the Steamy Side: A Recipe for Love Novel

by Louisa Edwards

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429939003
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/02/2010
Series: Recipe for Love , #2
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 707,814
File size: 361 KB

About the Author

Louisa Edwards is the author of Can't Stand the Heat and Just One Taste. She grew up in Virginia, where at the age of 11, she was already sneaking Harlequin romances from her grandmother's suitcase, much to her parents' horror. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College before moving to Manhattan to work in book publishing—a dream job that allowed her to earn a living by reading romance novels. She later moved to Ohio, where she worked as a restaurant reviewer. The Recipe for Love series combines her love of food and romance. When she's not writing, Louisa eats at as many wonderful restaurants as possible—purely for research, of course.


Louisa Edwards is the author of Can’t Stand the Heat, On the Steamy Side, and Just One Taste. She grew up in Virginia, where at the age of 11, she was already sneaking Harlequin romances from her grandmother’s suitcase, much to her parents’ horror. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College before moving to Manhattan to work in book publishing—a dream job that allowed her to earn a living by reading romance novels. She later moved to Ohio, where she worked as a restaurant reviewer. The Recipe for Love series combines her love of food and romance. When she’s not writing, Louisa eats at as many wonderful restaurants as possible—purely for research, of course.

Read an Excerpt

On the Steamy Side


By Louisa Edwards

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 Louisa Edwards
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-3900-3


CHAPTER 1

Lower East Side, Manhattan

September 2010


"I've got fantastic news! Prepare to congratulate yourself, yet again, on having the intelligence, and the money, to hire me."

Devon Sparks squinted through the dark miasma of illegal cigarette smoke and the humid press of sweaty, raucous bar patrons to see his publicist, Simon Woolf, wrinkle his nose and give the stool beside Devon's a swipe with a cocktail napkin before perching on it.

"You look uncomfortable, Si," Devon drawled, amused. "You disapprove of my taste in dive bars?"

Devon caught Simon's derisive sneer as he looked around Chapel and the dingy, smoke-filled underground room they were in. Propping his elbows on the scarred oak bar, Devon cocked his head and watched his personal publicity shark move his ever-present PDA fussily out of the way of a few crumbs scattered around the bowls of bar mix, popcorn, and wasabi peas.

Simon ought to see the place when the real after-hours crowd came out — kitchen crews coming off service, off-duty cops, and ER docs mixed with punk musicians and the avant-garde theater crowd.

Holding himself rigid to keep from brushing elbows with any of his fellow bar patrons, many of them pierced and tattooed and leathered up, Simon didn't appear to appreciate the democratic nature of the scene.

"I don't see why we couldn't have met at your place." Simon's aggrieved tone had Devon rolling his eyes and holding up a hand to the bartender. Christian was an old friend; ex-employee, actually. He'd know what to fix Simon.

"Order something," Devon told him. "You look like you could use it. And you know exactly why we're meeting here." Devon had just finished a grueling season of the show, culminating in a week-long shoot at a chain fondue restaurant where no fewer than seven idiot servers had spilled molten cheese or chocolate on him. "I'm fucking exhausted, and I wanted a drink."

A silky note of malicious amusement threaded through Devon's tone as he continued, "And you agreed because it's your job to do whatever the hell I say."

After the week he'd had, it was a balm to Devon's soul to be back in the position of dealing with underlings who could be relied upon to twist themselves into pretzels to avoid pissing him off.

The premise of Devon's show was that he went into unfamiliar professional kitchens for a single night and cooked any type of food, for any size restaurant, with tools and a staff he'd never worked with before. The tag line of the show was Anything you can do, I can do better.

The producers had sent him all over the place, from banquet halls serving shrimp cocktail to hundreds of guests, to tiny, hole-in-the-wall corner joints. It was the Cooking Channel's top-rated program, watched by millions across the country. It was big enough to have spawned a series of spoof sketches on Saturday Night Live.

The fact that Devon was sick to death of it was his dirty little secret.

"No, it's my job to keep you in the superstar stratosphere to which you've become accustomed," Simon corrected, peering suspiciously at the martini glass Christian set before him. "What is this?" he asked, taking a tiny sip. Which turned into a longer guzzle. "Hey, it's actually not bad."

"Not bad," Devon snorted. "Hey, Chris, you hear that?"

The bartender cut his dark gaze to Devon, straight, hippie-length brown hair swinging against his shoulders.

"I sure did, and boy, do I ever thank him for the kind words," Christian drawled, tipping an imaginary cowboy hat to Simon. Devon wasn't sure his publicist caught the sardonic edge Chris gave to the gesture.

Simon took another sip, brows drawn in concentration. "It's clear like a martini, but it has a more complicated flavor, something I can't place."

Devon sat back on his barstool. This ought to be good.

"White peppercorn-infused vodka, junipero gin, dry vermouth, ouzo, and a dash of white crème de menthe. I call it a Fuck Off & Die." Christian smiled, wide and insincere, before moving off down the bar to take another order.

Simon gaped after him for a moment, then shrugged and took another drink. Devon sniggered into his glass of straight Kentucky bourbon — yeah, it was that kind of night — and Simon gave him a cross look. "What? It tastes better than it sounds."

"It would have to," Devon said. "Come on, spill. What's so important you braved the perils of the Lower East Side to come and meet me? I know you're not here for Adam's going-away party."

If there were anyone Devon considered a friend, it was his former executive chef, Adam Temple. The other reason Devon had chosen Chapel for his post-shoot decompression was that Adam and his one true love were about to leave the country for an extended vacation. Tonight was Adam's big sendoff. There was an outside chance it would be amusing.

Simon shook his head. "Right, my news. Are you ready?"

Devon raised a sardonic brow. "This better be the fabulous news you think it is, Si."

In the past, they hadn't always been in complete agreement on what constituted a wonderful career move for Devon. But then, Simon's single-minded intensity of purpose was his biggest recommendation as a PR guy, so Devon supposed he shouldn't complain.

Looking a little apprehensive — and why wouldn't he? Devon had more than earned his reputation for intolerance of incompetence both in and out of the kitchen — Simon cleared his throat. "Well. We should've asked that rude bartender if he stocks champagne behind the bar. Although, really, what are the odds? We'll have to celebrate without the champers. You'll love this! Here, take a look." With a flourish, he produced a copy of Restaurant USA, a magazine that reported on news and trends in the food industry.

Devon took it and flipped idly through the first few pages. "What? Looks like the standard stats and stories to me. Fewer Families Dining Out.Spain is the New France. What do I care about that?"

Simon grabbed the magazine back and turned to a dog-eared page Devon hadn't noticed.

"There," he said, pointing a triumphant finger at the headline.

Devon squinted at the page and felt his blood congeal to the consistency and temperature of gelato.

Cooking Channel Superstar Named #1 Chain Restaurant Operator.

"No."

Was that weak bleat Devon's voice?

"You bet," Simon beamed. "The Sparks brand beat out every fast-food chain in the country. They graded on profitability and name recognition, and you won!"

"Oh, God, there's art with it," Devon moaned, snatching the magazine out of Simon's hand. There beside the article was one of Devon's publicity stills. Devon stared at his intense blue eyes, his artfully tousled dark brown hair, the seductive expression on the face that had landed him at #23 on that big list of Top Fifty Hottest Men.

Then his gaze drifted to the right and fell on the maniacally grinning white-painted face of the beloved red-haired, yellow-jumpsuit-clad icon.

"You don't look happy, Dev."

Was that a hint of nerves Devon detected in his publicist's voice?

It sure as shit better be.

"Not happy? I'm sharing the limelight with a fucking clown. I beat out the king, the colonel, and the little girl with the red braids. Wait till everyone I know sees this. They're going to laugh their asses off! Simon. Christ. You're supposed to be the best publicist in the city — that's why I hired you. How could you let this happen?"

"This is a good thing," Simon, ever the Spin Master, protested. He snatched the magazine back and snapped it shut, as if by covering up the evidence he'd dissipate the head of steam Devon was building up. "When people visit New York, or Miami, or Vegas, they want to eat at a Devon Sparks restaurant! You're the go-to guy. This survey proves your effectiveness as a brand."

"What if I don't want to be a goddamn brand?" Devon shouted, uncaring of the heads that turned or the voices that began whispering.

Shouting felt good. He hadn't let loose in a while. "I'm a serious chef, or at least I used to be. A real chef would be humiliated by this so-called honor. My restaurants serve haute cuisine, for Christ's sake, not burgers and chicken nuggets! I'm going to be a laughingstock."

"Now, Dev," Simon said in the soothing tones reserved for lunatics and hysterical children. "You're making too much of this. It's not like this story is going to get picked up by the news media or anything. Restaurant USA is a trade pub; no one even reads it. Do you read it? I never read it."

Devon gritted his teeth against the urge to reach across the bar for a bottle to bean Simon with.

Just then the bar door opened, distracting Devon from his homicidal thoughts and admitting a swirl of laughing, shouting people. Giving them a quick glance, Devon stiffened. He knew them. Christ, he'd employed half of them at one point or another. The New York culinary world was not unlike major league baseball — there was a finite number of talented players, and the biggest managers traded them back and forth.

"Hey, Sparks," one of them called out. "Congratulations on the chain, man. Should we start calling you Ronald?" And the crowd erupted in laughter.

"You know who reads trade publications, Simon? People in the fucking trade. That's who. My peers. My friends. My goddamn employees." Devon gestured at the crowd and lowered his voice. "This so-called 'honor' will be proof to them that I've sold out, lost myself, ransomed my soul to the capitalist gods."

That I'm not a real chef, and never will be again.

The worst part? Devon was starting to think they might be right.

"Whoa, enough with the drama," Simon protested, nerves pitching his voice high and grating. "That Restaurant USA piece isn't worth all this, Dev, come on."

Devon stared at his PR manager. "Shit. You pitched the magazine, didn't you? The whole thing was your idea."

As soon as he said it, Devon knew he was right. It was exactly Simon's style, aggressive and bold, heedless of the cost.

"Who, me?" Something in Devon's face must have registered how much he wasn't buying what Simon was selling, because the guy held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay! Maybe I did pitch them the chain thing. I thought it would be cool, show how successful you are! Success breeds success, Dev, you know that. I definitely never thought you'd get this bent out of shape about it."

"You never think," Devon said, his throat so full of hot anger he could hardly force the words out. "You just push and push, and you don't fucking think about what kind of shit you're pushing me into. Because I'm the one that has to swim in it, not you. Well, no more. I'm done eating what you shovel, Simon. You're fired."

Horror flashed in Simon's eyes, and the denials and cajoling started at once, but Devon had zero trouble tuning them out. All he felt was a bone-deep sense of relief.

It wouldn't fix everything, but it was a start.

"You can't do that," Simon protested, aghast.

Devon bared his teeth in a parody of a smile. "Haven't you heard the hype? I can do anything."

"I wrote that hype!" Now Simon was shouting, too, his purple cheeks clashing with the deep brown of his Zegna suit and the artful highlights in his dirty-blond hair.

"What are you going to do," Devon asked, grinning, "sue me for copyright infringement? Give it up, Si, it's over."

"We'll see about that," Simon said, clambering down from the barstool. "I've worked hard for you, Dev, you know I have. And now that things are finally coming together, now that you're finally living the life you said you wanted, you're going to throw it all away? And for what? No, I refuse to accept it. I'm leaving now. I'm going to give you some time to think about this before one of us says something he'll regret."

"Don't hold your breath expecting me to change my mind."

Spittle flew from Simon's mouth. "I'm Simon Woolf. I don't sit around hoping for things to happen, I make them happen. I made you!"

Simon threw his arms wide, forgetting about the cocktail still sitting on the bar. The drama of his exit was heightened considerably by the shattering martini glass and spray of Fuck Off & Die all over the woman standing behind him.

The woman, unsurprisingly, squawked in unhappy surprise as several ounces of chilled liquor cascaded over the back of her head.

"What on God's green earth?" the woman sputtered, the words thick and smoky with the cadence of the South. Her brown ringlets dripped with Simon's cocktail.

Devon got a brief glimpse of bright green eyes and round, pink cheeks before she turned on Simon, hands on curvy hips, sneaker-clad toe tapping.

"Do you mind?" Simon snarled. "We were in the middle of a private discussion."

Even viewing her face in partial profile, Devon was impressed by the expression of affronted shock that came over it. Holy shit, Devon thought, Simon better run.

A fizzy feeling of intoxication better than anything he'd ever found at the bottom of a bottle was still coursing through Devon's veins. He was riding high on life, grooving on the idea of having his life back, not being indentured to the producers and DPs and makeup artists, and oh, yes, publicists required by the show, for three months of glorious hiatus while the producers set the next season. He was nearly perfectly happy right now to sit back and watch the bonus surprise floor show.

"I most certainly do mind," the woman informed Simon with icy civility. "Maybe you didn't notice, sir, but you just doused me with your drink."

Vibrating with anger, Simon looked around and pointed to a stack of cocktail napkins halfway down the bar. "There. You're closer to them than I am. Now, Dev, as I was saying ..."

The woman interrupted Simon once more by tapping him on the shoulder.

"Excuse me," she said to Devon. "I hate to interrupt, but I need to speak with your friend here."

Simon glared at him in an angry appeal for help, but Devon spread his hands wide and said, "How can I deny such a polite request?"

The woman turned those glowing green eyes on Devon for the first time. One white, long-fingered hand swept the dark brown curls off her forehead and revealed a fresh-scrubbed, pink-cheeked face. The face wasn't so much beautiful as it was interesting. Her chin was too pointed, her dark brows a touch too heavy for her face, and her skin was too pale, making her brilliant green eyes appear almost startling. This woman spent zero time at the spa getting buffed, plucked, and tanned. She looked nothing like the perfect, sophisticated women he usually dated, models and socialites and actresses. But there was something compelling about her, some mysterious allure in her sweet, wide-eyed gaze that kept Devon's attention.

Even when he knew, instinctively and immediately, that she was way too nice for him.

"Thank you," she said in that husky voice that somehow carried over all the combined chatter and hubbub of the crowded bar. "You've restored my faith in Yankee mothers — I was starting to think none of you boys up here had any home training whatsoever."

Too nice, maybe, Devon amended silently, but she's no fragile flower.

An opinion confirmed when she poked one stiff finger into Simon's chest and faced him down like a scrappy terrier. "You, however, ought to be ashamed. What would your momma think if she saw you treating a woman this way? Hmm? Throwing a tantrum like a little baby and soaking my shirt, which is probably ruined now, and all you can do is point out some napkins? Which is about as useful as a pogo stick in quicksand."

Simon smoothed back his sandy hair, tightened his tie, and tried for a charming smile. He fished out one of his embossed ecru business cards.

"Please feel free to send the dry cleaning bill to my secretary."

"No, thank you, that won't be necessary," she said with a disdainful sniff.

"Then what do you want?"

The woman gave Simon a look that bordered on pitying. "Merciful heavens, you really don't know, do you? An apology."

Devon leaned one elbow on the bar, getting a certain amount of perverse pleasure out of watching the slippery bastard wriggle.

Finally, through white lips and gritted teeth, Simon gathered enough of his customary sangfroid to choke out an unconvincing, "I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience. I'd just received a shock," here Devon got another glower, "and wasn't as careful as I might have been.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards. Copyright © 2010 Louisa Edwards. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

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On the Steamy Side 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
BookPimp More than 1 year ago
Country bumpkin and one time High School drama teacher Lilah Jane (Lolly for short and yes I kept thinking of a lollipop every time someone called her that) leaves the comfort of her small town life in rural Virginia and heads to the Big Apple looking to shake up her safe, staid, boring life and do the opposite of everything her Aunt Bertie has always taught her to do. Devon Sparks is a world renowned celebrity chef, star of his own successful TV show, egomaniac, narcissist and all around bad boy. He is so far out of Lolly's league they may as well have been from different planets. This book started out with a banging...I mean a bang...ok, no I really mean a banging. Devon and Lilah Jane cross paths one night in a dive bar and before you say "fry me up some catfish" they are headed off to his penthouse for a hot, sweaty bout of anonymous sex. The "sparks" were literally flying off the pages during a very steamy, very hot shower scene *fans self*. Fast forward to the next morning and we return to the familiar stomping grounds of "Market" and all the familiar faces (Frankie, Jess, Adam) we met in Edwards first book Can't Stand the Heat. Lilah has just landed a job there bussing tables thanks to her good childhood friend Grant and guess who's going to be the guest Chef at Market for the next 2 weeks - yes you guessed it...Devon Sparks! So much for one night of anonymous sex. Things are really going to start cookin' in the kitchen at Market now that Devon and Lilah are going to be working together..or maybe not. Let me just say at this point I really did not like Devon - he may have looked like Curtis Stone (but with sable hair and without the accent, but hey that's who I envisioned while reading), but his attitude reminded me that obnoxious Gordon Ramsey from Kitchen Nightmares. Devon acted like a spoiled brat Prima Dona, yelling, swearing and screaming like a trucker and treating all the employees at Market like second class citizens including Lilah Jane. When Devon is unexpectedly thrust into the parent role (yes he's been an absentee father), one he's so ill-prepared to handle when his nine year old son Tucker is suddenly without a mom (she's headed off to drug rehab), we get some insight into Devon's insecurities. Boy has some major daddy issues and to this day has a tempestuous relationship with his father. Like father, like son...1st class A-hole. Watching Devon discover the joys of fatherhood and embrace his relationship with his own son I started to like him more. He was still a tool, but at least he was trying. Since Devon has no idea what to do with Tucker, he fires Lilah Jane from her job at the restaurant on the spot, only to rehire her as a nanny, but she's no Mary Poppins. And she's also not interested in being Devon's playmate at least not at first -but her resolve didn't last long and really who can blame her because really... he made her girl parts tingle. On the Steamy Side is about relationships, new ones, old messed up ones, disappointing family ones, but most importantly that the best relationships are attainable if you're just brave enough to reach out and hold on for dear life before it's too late. If you are in the "Market" for a good "foodie" book with memorable characters who will tug at your heartstrings, then On the Steamy Side should be on your TBR pile.
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What a complete ass. How can anyone fall for him? Ugh.
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