f you can’t take the heat...
Chef Emily Ford has the talent and ambition to make it in the cutthroat culinary world—which is why she refuses to accept her demotion at the hands of Knox Briscoe, the new CEO of Briscoe Ranch Resort. He has grand plans that include bringing in a celebrity chef to helm an exciting new restaurant at the resort, but Emily has plans of her own—to do whatever it takes to change his mind…
ONE MORE TASTE
Cut out of the Briscoe fortune by an old feud that left his family in ruins, Knox grew up dreaming of revenge. Out-maneuvering his uncle for control of Briscoe Ranch is merely the first step in a grand plan that doesn’t include the brazen and beautiful Emily Ford…or the attraction that sizzles between them. With both their futures on the line, can they keep their desires on simmer—or are they headed from the frying pan straight into the fire?
Return to Brisoce Ranch Resort in the second book in Melissa Cutler's One and Only Texas series!
About the Author
Melissa Cutler is the author of The Mistletoe Effect and the One and Only Texas series. She knows she has the best job in the world writing sexy contemporary romances and romantic suspense. She was struck at an early age by an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she's not globetrotting, she's enjoying Southern California's flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids.
Read an Excerpt
One More Taste
By Melissa Cutler
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Melissa Cutler
All rights reserved.
Not everyone was lucky enough to drive a haunted truck. Then again, lucky wasn't a word Knox Briscoe would use to describe his current predicament. On a prayer, he turned the key in the ignition, but the Chevy offered him nothing but a dull click in response.
"I don't believe in ghosts," he said, although if anyone had actually heard his declaration, it'd have to be ghosts, or perhaps some unseen wildlife. Because there was nothing or nobody in this stretch of backcountry other than him and his truck, a roadside sign proclaiming Briscoe Ranch Resort straight ahead in three miles, and a wide, calm lake nestled in the Texas hills.
He tried the key again. Nothing but that maddening click.
He tapped a finger on the steering wheel, denying himself any more grandiose a reaction because Knox was nothing if not a man in command of his emotions.
He popped the truck door open to the crisp October day. His freshly buffed black dress shoes hit the gravel with a crunch. Given the statement he'd planned to make on this, his first day as part-owner of Briscoe Ranch, it wouldn't do to soil his suit with engine grease. He shrugged out of his sports coat, hung it on a hanger he kept in the back seat for just such a purpose, tucked the ends of his blue silk tie into his shirt, and rolled his shirtsleeves to the elbows before pulling the truck's hood up.
He'd never considered himself much of a car guy until he'd inherited this one through his dad's will three years earlier. It'd taken a lot of YouTube videos and conversations with his mechanic for him to get up to speed on maintaining the thirty-year-old truck, but it'd been worth every hour and dollar spent. None of that new knowledge was going to help him today, though. Nothing obvious was broken or out of place, and the engine had plenty of oil and other fluids.
Knox patted the truck's side. "Okay, Dad. Message received. You don't want your truck on Briscoe Ranch property. I get it. But don't you want to be there to see poetic justice done, even if it's just in spirit, with your truck?"
God, he felt like a moron, talking to his dead father, but what other explanation was there for the '85 Chevy Half-Ton's mystifying quirks or the neck-prickling sensation that he wasn't alone every time Knox got into the cab? Even in death, it seemed, his dad had decided to stubbornly hold his ground against the father and brother — Knox's grandfather, Tyson, and his uncle Ty — who'd excommunicated him from the family before Knox's birth. Even in death, his dad refused to let his prized truck lay one spec of rubber down on Briscoe Ranch property. Which sucked, to be honest. It would've been icing on the cake to have his dad's spirit there, watching Knox take control of the very business his dad had been robbed of.
Behind the wheel again, he gripped the key in the ignition and closed his eyes. Please work. Please.
Click. Click. Click.
"Okay. But this sucks. I didn't want to show up for the meeting in a Town Car with a driver like a mobster goon who's there to shake everybody down. Would you at least let me get to the entrance of the resort before stalling the truck again?"
Wow. Bargaining with a ghost. Knox's freak flag was really flying this morning. "Never mind. I don't believe in ghosts."
After another futile turn of the key, Knox grabbed his messenger bag and stepped out of the truck, then rummaged around the copies of the Briscoe Ranch shareholder contract his lawyers had prepared until he found his cell phone.
As the phone rang with his office in Dallas, he spotted a for sale sign ahead of him, demarcating a gated driveway a few yards from the lake. He walked along the road to it, the phone to his ear. Was there a house at the end of that twisty, tree-lined driveway? Did the property border the resort? Looked like it might. Perhaps he'd buy it and expand the resort even more than he'd originally planned.
Shayla, his younger sister, who also worked as Briscoe Equity Group's office manager, picked up on the fourth ring. "Don't tell me Ty Briscoe's giving you shit already. I told you that you should've brought Yamaguchi and Crawford with you."
Maybe another boss would've bristled at such insubordination, even by a blood relative, but Knox had developed a deep mistrust of kiss-asses over his years as an entrepreneur, which was why he valued Shayla's loyalty and honesty so much. And, in this case, she was absolutely correct. Linda Yamaguchi and Diane Crawford were his firm's lawyers, who Knox should have brought along today as he usually did for business acquisitions. But Knox wanted to close this deal on his own, eye-to-eye with the uncle he'd never met before they'd started this negotiation — the uncle whom Knox was going to ruin, just as Ty had ruined Knox's family.
"You can tell me 'I told you so' later, but that's not why I called. My truck broke down three miles from Briscoe Ranch. I need a driver, and I need him to get here in —" He lifted the flap of a clear plastic box affixed to the for sale sign and pulled out a flier.
The photograph gracing the center of the flier drew his eye. A grand, modern house sitting on a hill overlooking the lake. It was exactly the kind of dwelling Knox was hoping to move into somewhere in the vicinity of Briscoe Ranch since he couldn't very well run the show from his home base of Dallas, five hours away.
"Hello? Are you still there?" Shayla asked.
"Sorry. Something caught my eye. If you could have the driver here in less than an hour, that would be great. Can you find me someone?" His meeting with Ty Briscoe wasn't for another two hours, but he wanted to take one last walk around the resort without any of the employees knowing who he was or why he was there.
"I can't imagine that being a problem." He heard the fast click-clack of keyboard typing. "And ... let's see ... Nope, no problem. Your car will be there within the half hour."
"You bet. And Knox? I'm proud of you. Dad would be proud, too. You know that right?"
Knox eyed his broken-down truck. He had to believe Dad would be proud of him for taking ownership of the family business, despite this hiccup. Otherwise, what would be the point of Knox putting himself through all this? "Thanks, Shay. I'll talk to you soon."
As the call ended, the crackle of tires on gravel snagged Knox's attention. He pivoted around, expecting to see a Good Samaritan pulling to the shoulder to see if Knox needed help, but his truck was the only vehicle in sight — and it was rolling backwards, straight toward the lake.
Dropping the flier, his messenger bag, and his phone, he took off at a sprint. "No! No, no, no. Shit!"
This couldn't be happening. He'd engaged the emergency brakes — hadn't he?
The truck was picking up speed as it backed towards the lake. Knox lunged toward the door handle. He was dragged along a few feet before finding his footing again. He dug his heels into the ground and yanked. The door swung open. He staggered and hit his back against the side of the hood, but managed to rebound in time to throw himself in the cab.
He stomped on the parking brake. It activated with a groan, but the truck wouldn't stop. He pumped the manual brake. Nothing happened. The truck bounced over rocks hard enough to make Knox's teeth rattle. He turned the key. Again, nothing. Nothing except a splash as the back of the truck hit the water.
"Jesus, Dad! Help me out, here!" he shouted.
The truck slammed violently to a stop, pitching Knox forward. He bit his tongue hard. The burst of pain and taste of blood was nothing compared to his relief that the truck, with him in it, hadn't submerged any deeper in the water. His pulse pounded in his ears, even as his labored breathing turned from panicked to annoyed. "I don't get it. What are you trying to tell me? I thought this was what you wanted."
With a hard swallow, he thumped a fist against the steering wheel, jolting himself back into composure. All this talking to ghosts was getting out of hand. Today, of all days, he could not afford to be off his A-game. He fixed his Stetson more firmly on his head and gave himself a stern mental lecture to get a grip.
All business again, he assessed the situation. Not knowing what had caused the truck to stop or if any sudden movements would jostle it back into motion, he rolled the driver-side window down and peered over the edge to stare at the brown-green water, thick with silt and mud that roiled through the liquid like thunderstorm clouds. The water lapped at the bottom of the door, not too deep, but the back tire and back bumper were fully submerged. If the truck had rolled only a few more feet into the lake, Knox would've been in real trouble.
As things stood now, though, Knox's main problem was that there was no way for him to avoid getting wet on his walk back to shore. Carefully, so as not to jar the truck back into motion, he unlatched his belt then opened the zipper of his pants. Shoes off, socks off, then pants. If he got to his first day at Briscoe Ranch on time, in one piece, and dry, it would be a miracle.
Clutching his pants, socks, and shoes to his chest, and dressed in only his shirt, a pair of boxers, and his black hat, he opened the door and stepped into the water, sinking knee deep. Silt and muck oozed between his toes. The cold ripped up his bare legs, making his leg hairs stand on end and his balls tighten painfully. Grunting through the discomfort, he shuffled away from the door until he could close it.
A series of exuberant splashes sounded from farther in the lake. It sounded like two fish were having a wrestling match right up on the water's surface. He turned, but only saw ripples. Setting his mind back on the task at hand, he pulled his foot off the lake bottom, muscles working to overcome the suction, and took a carefully placed step toward shore.
From seemingly out of nowhere, something blunt and slimy smashed into his calf. The surprise of the hit knocked Knox off balance. With a yelp totally unbefitting a thirty-three-year-old Texan and former rodeo star, he danced sideways, fighting for his footing and clutching the clothes in his arms even tighter.
He desperately scanned the water around him, but the swirling silt had reduced the visibility to almost nothing. He held still another moment, listening, watching.
"Holy shit, are you okay?"
The man's voice startled Knox. He looked up and saw a young guy of maybe twenty-two standing on the bank of the lake, dressed in a suit and with a panicked expression on his face. Behind him, a black sedan idled on the shoulder of the road.
"I'm fine. I think. Are you my driver?"
"Yeah, Ralph with the Cab'd driving service app. Shayla at Briscoe Equity Group ordered a premium lift for Knox Briscoe. I'm guessing that's you since your truck's underwater."
And observant, too. "Yep. You see a cell phone and messenger bag somewhere up there, Ralph?"
"Hold up. Is that an '85 Chevy Silverado? That's a hell of a truck."
"It is." Except when said truck was haunted and decided all on its own to take a swim despite its owner's better judgment.
"You're lucky the tire got snagged on that rock."
Knox took a look at the front of the truck. Sure enough, the passenger side tire was stopped by a boulder, though he wasn't entirely sure luck had anything to do with it. "About that cell phone and messenger bag, Ralph. Would you mind?"
"Oh. Yeah. On it."
With Ralph in search of Knox's stuff, Knox chanced another step toward shore, keeping his head on a swivel, looking for whatever the hell it was that had slammed into him. An attack beaver? Did hill country even have beavers?
Despite his vigilance, he still startled at the sight of a massive, charcoal gray-green fish swishing through the water, coming straight at him. It had to be longer than his arm. It turned on a dime and surged at him. Knox's curse echoed off the hills surrounding the lake.
Time to scram.
He made it two more steps before his foot snagged on a rock and pitched him forward. Desperate for balance, he reached out to grab on to his truck, but the fish had other ideas and head-butted his leg again. Knox splashed down, nearly dunking all the way underwater.
The bite of cold stole his breath all over again. He exploded back out of the water and onto his feet, spluttering and gasping.
"Fuck!" he shouted, loud enough that even if his father were in Heaven and not haunting the truck, he would've heard him just fine. He held himself back from adding, Thanks for nothing, Dad.
Sloughing water from his face and breathing hard through flared nostrils, Knox shifted his attention to the water in search of the piranha on steroids that had put his ability to keep a cool head to the test. The fish was long gone. Though his pants floated around his knees like dark seaweed swishing in waves, and his shoes bobbed like little black boats only a few feet away, his hat had drifted into deeper water. Terrific. Just terrific.
He was sopping wet from head to toe and standing next to his equally waterlogged truck on the most important day of his life.
"What was that thing?" Ralph asked.
"I was hoping you'd gotten a clear view of it."
"Naw, but I did find your cell phone and bag."
That was something, at least. Knox fished his soggy pants from the water, removed his wallet and set it on the roof of the truck, then tossed the pants in the truck bed. Next, he grabbed his shoes and tossed them onto the shore. Maybe they wouldn't squish too loudly when he walked.
With that taken care of, it was time to get the inevitable over with. He loosened his tie, then unbuttoned his shirt and peeled it off.
"Uh, sir? Are you stripping? I mean, uh, why don't you get out of the water first?"
"Going after my hat." It wasn't until he'd spoken that he realized his teeth were chattering. The sooner he was out of the frigid water, the better. He added his shirt and tie to his pants in the truck bed, then drew a fortifying breath and pushed into the water for a freestyle swim across the lake.
Technically, the hat was replaceable, but this particular one had been the first he'd bought with his own money, back when he was fifteen and working his first real job outside of the local junior rodeo circuit. Over the years, it'd become a habit to wear it to new jobs or when he needed a little extra boost for a negotiation. He believed in good luck charms like he believed in ghosts — which meant surreptitiously and despite his better judgment — but there was no denying the slight edge that the black Stetson with the cattleman's crease and the rodeo brim provided him.
He was a solid fifty yards into the water when he reached the hat. Grabbing on to it tightly, he ignored the fact that his legs were going numb and made short work of returning to shore. He shook the water off the hat and placed it firmly on his head again, then took his phone from Ralph and dialed his office again.
Shayla answered on the first ring this time. "Hey, Knox. If you're calling about a tow truck, one's already on its way. I forgot to mention that before."
Ladies and gentlemen, Shayla Briscoe, World's Best Office Manager. "Thanks. You're awesome, sis."
"Figured you'd need one for that awful truck. It always was unreliable, even when it was brand new."
Knox glanced again at the Chevy. It might be a pain in the ass, but some of the best memories of his life involved that truck. "It has its moments."
"Is the Cab'd driver there yet?" Shayla said. "Should be, any minute."
"He's here. One more thing. I need you to email me with some information on a property." He rattled off the address of the lakefront home from memory and thanked her again. When the call ended, Knox turned to Ralph and sized him up. The two of them were roughly the same height and build. "You're, what, six-one? One-eighty?"
Ralph gave him the side-eye, apparently on to Knox's plan. "Six even and one-ninety," he said hesitantly.
Close enough. Knox took out three, soggy one hundred dollar bills from his wallet. "Ralph, I'm going to need to buy your suit."
* * *
It wasn't the first time Emily Ford had spied on a VIP guest at Briscoe Ranch Resort. In fact, she considered it a mandatory part of her research as the resort's Executive Special Event Chef. Wowing elite guests with personalized, gastronomic marvels was her specialty. As long as the guests never checked her internet search history or spotted her peering at them through binoculars, she was golden.
Excerpted from One More Taste by Melissa Cutler. Copyright © 2016 Melissa Cutler. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One More Taste by Melissa Cutler is a fantastic read. Ms Cutler has delivered a well written, awesome book. Knox and Emily's story is loaded with tension. It's packed with drama, humor and spice. And the spice isn't from Emily's cooking. Ms Cutler has crafted amazing characters that make this book a pleasure to read. From the main characters to secondary characters right down to the truck and the fish with an attitude, they're all fabulous. I enjoyed One More Taste and look forward to reading more from Melissa Cutler in the future. One More Taste is book 2 in the One And Only Texas Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley.
Emily Ford has worked at Briscoe Ranch Resort for 10 years. Over the years, she has risen in the ranks and is now the Special Event Catering Chef. Her dream is to open her own restaurant at the resort. That dream is put in jeopardy with the arrival of Knox Briscoe, who has his own set of plans for the resort. Knox wants to get the resort back in the black and then sell the resort out from under his uncle Ty’s nose, to exact revenge on him and his grandfather for kicking his father out of the family and the family business. Knox and Emily get off to a messy start when he challenges her ability to run the upscale restaurant he’s envisioning. The two strike a deal for Emily to cook dinner for him for a month so that he can actually get a feel for her cooking ability. They’re equally surprised when the romantic magic of Briscoe Ranch strikes them. Over the course of the book, the two will have a battle of wills and unsuccessfully fight the attraction they feel for each other. In the end, they not only learn to trust and rely on each other, but also fall in love. I should say that One More Taste is a standalone read. With that said, I’ve read all the books in this series. None of them come close to One More Taste. I loved this book from beginning to end and the characters of Emily and Knox were the best. There’s a lot going on with this story. Melissa Cutler has managed to write this incredible story that’s filled with love and humor. She’s thrown in quite a few surprises, revolving around secrets, betrayal, revenge, and abuse. Not since her Bomb Squad series has Melissa put so much emotion into a book. **I received an early copy of this book and have voluntarily reviewed it.**
I am a huge fan of foodie romances. There is something about a chef heroine feeding the hero. Melissa Cutler takes full advantage of the connection between food and love in her new book One More Taste. The latest installment in the Briscoe Ranch series, this novel features Emily Ford a chef heroine who is a master of the double entendre without even trying. Knox Briscoe, the new CEO of Briscoe Ranch, views food as nothing more than fuel. Not surprisingly, there are sparks. It probably doesn’t hurt that Emily throws soup on him at their first meeting. Oh, and did I mention there’s a ghost? One of the things that I love about Melissa Cutler’s writing is that she takes on serious subjects; though she does it in such a way that you don’t realize she’s doing it. Domestic abuse is a huge undercurrent in this story, as is letting go of the past in order to make your way forward. However, the story is told in such a way as to never become overwhelming or depressing. You genuinely root for the heroine, as well as the secondary characters, and applaud when she makes the right choices for her. Emily and Knox are the focus, but all the familiar Briscoe Ranch characters make an appearance. Granny June, of course, makes her presence known. Fans of the series will love the latest visit. Those new to the series will find a comfortable chair on the porch to settle in. Copy receive from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Emily Ford is a women without a past, and a women with a past filled with too much pain to ever be repeated. She has finally found a home over the last 10 years on the Briscoe ranch as the events chef. Emily excels at staying invisible and yet always knowing what is going on. After all if she wants to remain hidden then she has to stay anonymous. But when that ambiguity is threatened by the long lost cousin of the Briscoe's shows back up on the ranch in order to help keep the ranch open her easily maintained life is threatened by way to many things. Knox Briscoe has been hell bent on revenge for quite some time, ever since his father started to tell him of the absolute hatred between him and the rest of the family. Now that Knox is finally in a position to help his deceased father and his revenge plot would finally reach its pinnacle. And yet even as he starts to close in on his revenge plot his mind/priorities starts to change thanks in large part to the women who made the decree that she will change his ideals that "food is fuel" and nothing else. This was an exciting read about how another person can impact your life so fully. There was so much deception in this story that it made reading it so much juicier. From the secret rift, to Emily's forgotten past there is so much to be found out in this story. And throughout all of the twists and turns it is impossible to pull your mind out of the story. Miss Cutler managed to write yet another masterful story full of plot twists, intrigue, romance, new beginnings, and the closing of numerous circles. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who is a Cutler lover, as well as a any contemporary romance lovers. ~ A Book Obsessed Chicks Review Team Selection.
I truly enjoy this series and I can't wait for the next book. The world Melissa Cutler built at the Briscoe Ranch steeped in family tradition and the magic of romance sucks you in and truly makes you a believer. Ms. Cutler has written characters that are fun, unique and hilarious and the use of unstable creatures will make you laugh out load. In this book we have a haunted truck and a attack crap and a very serious subject and a plot twist that I did see coming and was not sure I liked. Emily Ford, a chef that cooks for the soul and Knox Brisco the outsider and son of the disowned Briscoe brother are the main characters in One More Taste. Emily, banquet chef thinks of the Briscoe's as her family. Ty Briscoe gave her a chance at 18 and she now on the verge of her own restaurant at the ranch then Knox showed up and it seems to be falling apart. Knox sees one thing and one night only, his chance to revenge his fathers disowning. Then what starts out a job interview for Emily (one month of meals in home) Knox starts to see a different view of the Briscoe's and Emily. But will it be enough to change his revenge. Both have a lifetime of walls to break through if they can only come to grips with what it truly means to live. *Book Obsessed Chicks Review team
This was a fantastic book. The second in the series but easily read standalone. It's filled with humor, romance, revenge. All the good stuff! Knox and Emily are great characters and I thought they worked perfectly together. Knox has one thing on his mind when he arrives at Briscoe Ranch Resort. Revenge! His now deceased father was cut out of the family fortune so making the rest of the Briscoe family pay is his one goal. What he doesn't expect is meeting the fiery and passionate Emily Ford and developing feelings not only for her but the rest of the Briscoe Clan. Turns out his father may not have been completely honest in his retelling of events. Will the secrets be too much for Knox to handle? Definitely a book I recommend!
A haunted thirty year old truck driven by Knox Briscoe is only one aspect of this story that is quirky…there is also an attack carp named Phantom and a motor-scooter riding cane-wielding grandmother. Knox is bent on revenge against his uncle, Ty Briscoe, having been raised by his father to believe Ty did them out of their fair share of inheriting Briscoe Ranch. He has a plan and will stick to it…if he can. Little does he realize that what he thinks is true and what actually is true might not be the same. Emily Ford is a gifted chef that creates dishes based on inspiration she intuits from the person she is cooking for. Her dream is to have her own restaurant on Briscoe Ranch and she is willing to work hard to achieve that goal. Knox, bringing investment money in to upgrade the ranch, wants a five-star chef rather than Emily but gives her a chance to prove herself and change his mind. Both Emily and Knox have issues to work through before they can achieve a happily ever after and help to put Briscoe Ranch back on course. I find it interesting that this series is not based on only Briscoe family members but instead on people in the community or working on the ranch. I look forward to the next book in the series and wonder if Haylie or any of the other Briscoe’s will have their stories told in future books. I also liked the men at Murph’s Gym and wouldn’t mind seeing some of those men star in a book, too. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of this novel to read in exchange for my honest review. 4.5 Stars
Emily has the talent, dedication and confidence to make a name for herself in her chosen field. Nothing will stand in her way, not even the opinionated, arrogant CEO. Knox and Emily were like a tornado, the tension had the ability to consume everything in it's wake. When dealing with passionate immovable forces, casualties are usually a forgone conclusion. One More Taste is a blend of sensual flavors that permeates the taste buds while appealing to the heart.