Read an Excerpt
Some Like It Spicy
A Perfect Recipe Novel
By Robbie Terman, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Robbie Terman
All rights reserved.
Insulting someone who carried a big knife was never a good idea. Especially if that person could debone a chicken with her eyes closed.
For executive chef Ashton Grey, cooking was more than a passion, it was the very reason for her existence. So when a customer complained his filet mignon was undercooked, Ashton would have preferred to stick the customer under the broiler rather than ruin a perfectly fine cut of meat.
"Ashton, put down the cleaver and fire a new steak," Jenna Rawley, her best friend and business partner commanded.
"I'm talking to him." Ashton stepped toward the door, only to be stopped by Jenna. Blond and petite, wearing a designer black dress and her trademark pearls, Jenna looked like the type of woman who would fall over if a feather hit her. But Ashton knew her friend's four older brothers had taught her where exactly to put the hurt on, and if she tried to rush her, Jenna could have her flat on her back within seconds.
"You're not going out there," Jenna said, referring to the dining room. "We agreed after the last time — the kitchen is your domain; the front of the house is mine."
"Well, he's eating my food in the dining room, and I have a right to defend myself."
"If you think you can get past me," Jenna said, raising an eyebrow. "I dare you to try."
Ashton backed away and leaned against a stainless-steel counter. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, going through a few quick breathing exercises she'd learned from a brief stint in anger management. The long, deep intakes of air, followed by slow exhalations, loosened the knot in her chest. "Fine. I'm going to cook him a new filet myself, and it will be the best damn steak he's ever eaten."
Pierre, her sous chef, bristled, and she assured him that she wasn't implying he'd made a mistake. But Sweet Home was her restaurant, with her name on the menu, and she didn't want an unhappy customer spreading around town that she didn't know how to properly cook meat.
After Jenna left with the new dish, the tension in Ashton's neck eased. Just a couple more hours to get through dinner service and this awful day will be over.
The complaining customer had merely been the icing on a particularly crappy cake. One year ago today, her beloved nana had died, and the shock of her sudden death still hadn't dissipated. Nana had always been her biggest supporter — not only in life, but also in death. Without Nana leaving her this house to turn into a restaurant, Ashton would never have been able to afford to open Sweet Home.
And on this already horrible day, when she longed to bury her sorrow in work, the restaurant was dead. Not on life support. Dead. As in flatlined.
Ashton glanced at the clock on the wall. Nine on a Saturday night. By this time, a successful restaurant would have been bursting at the seams, filled to capacity with a waiting list half a page long.
She had four tables filled.
If she peeked into the front of the house, she could see whether any new parties had come in. But she couldn't bear to face the reality, to see the restaurant she had worked so hard for as quiet as a mausoleum.
Behind her, a different noise echoed in her ears — boredom. Pierre tapped his foot rhythmically against the tiled floor. Her three line cooks muttered and hissed in Spanish. Even the high school student she'd hired as a dishwasher, usually so eager to please, now made water chimes with the glasses instead of washing them. He actually wasn't half-bad, if one didn't mind an earsplitting version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
Ashton refused to turn around, to glimpse the looks in their eyes she'd seen far too often lately: the look of defeat. If she turned around, if they caught her gaze, she knew someone would ask to be cut for the night. But if she let even one person leave, especially on a Saturday night, she'd finally be forced to admit the truth she'd kept locked away, deep in the pit of her stomach, for months.
Juan, one of her line chefs, mustered the courage to speak. "Hey, Chef, my girl wanted to see this movie, and I was thinking ..."
Ashton turned on her heel to face him. "The grease traps need to be cleaned, Mr. Alvarez. I think now is an excellent time to do it."
His eyes popped as his jaw fell several inches. "But, Chef —"
"If you want to change the oil in the deep fryer after that, then keep talking."
Juan's mouth snapped shut but his face spoke volumes: a ticking jaw, pursed lips, and laser-beam eyes. He threw a clean, white dishtowel on the floor, and then banged a pan against the stainless-steel prep table as he walked away.
Ashton turned her gaze on the remaining chefs, meeting their stares head-on. One by one, they all averted their eyes.
If only her employees knew how much she hated acting like a hard-ass. But she'd learned early on if a chef didn't maintain control of her kitchen, then the chaos would reflect in the food. Being female in a male-dominated profession made it even harder. She couldn't let her staff get away with any hint of disrespect or let them slack off for a minute. Her reputation, and that of her restaurant, depended on it.
A loud shout from the front of the house caught her attention. "If I wanted to eat a cow while it was still mooing, I wouldn't be paying thirty bucks for you to cook it for me!"
The August heat wave currently invading Chicago was nothing compared to the boil that rose up the back of Ashton's neck. She stalked to the door and peered into the dining room. Jenna stood by a table of four, where a thin man with a receding hairline and thick glasses gestured frantically.
"I've had a better piece of meat at a fast-food restaurant," the man yelled. "Where'd the chef get her degree? Online?" He let out a laugh, the sound somewhere between a cackle and a snort.
She'd heard an awful laugh like that before — when she'd told her father she was going to culinary school. As anger shot through her like a bolt of electricity, she shoved the door open so hard, it banged against the wall.
The few other patrons whipped their heads around, following Ashton as she stormed to the man. As she walked, she yanked the thermometer from her jacket pocket. Ignoring Jenna's furious glare, she stabbed the center of the filet. A triumphant smile curved her lips. One-hundred-forty-five degrees.
"Since this steak is cooked to a perfect medium, I can only assume you actually want well done." She knew she sounded smug but didn't really care. It was Jenna's job to sweet talk the customers. Hers was to serve great food. Which she did. Every time.
The man's beady eyes popped from his skull. "That isn't medium. It's rare. Did you even graduate from culinary school?"
"Why waste your money on culinary school? You'll just fail."
Ashton put a hand against her head, as if she could push out her father's hateful words, but they were imprinted in her brain no matter how hard she tried to forget them.
Jenna grabbed her arm. "Go back to the kitchen," she whispered hotly. "Please, Ashton. Don't make this worse."
She jerked away from Jenna's grasp. "I'm very sorry, sir." Her voice rose and became more punctuated with each word. "Let me fix this for you immediately." She picked up the steak with her bare hand and threw it into the fireplace like a major-league pitcher.
As she flipped the switch to turn on the gas logs, she glanced at the portrait of Nana hanging over the mantle. "Sorry, Nana," she muttered. "I know you don't approve of throwing food in your house, but I think even you would say he deserved it."
She looked back at Beady Eyes, whose jaw had slackened into — finally! — stunned silence. "Take the meat out in about ten minutes. It should be just to your liking. Enjoy."
As she started to return to the kitchen, she heard a familiar voice from her childhood drift to her ears. "You're a disappointment."
She whipped back in the direction of the man. "Excuse me?"
"I said you're a disgrace. And the food here is horrible. I could do better myself."
Ashton clenched her teeth until her fillings ground into dust. Heat speared upward and dots of anger formed in front of her eyes as sanity and reason fled from her brain. She ripped off her chef's jacket and threw it at the man. "Here."
The man lowered the jacket from his head and stared. "Excuse me?"
"Congratulations. You're the new chef. Go back to the kitchen and get to work."
Beady Eyes glanced at his companions, who looked as though they'd rather be anywhere but here. "I ... I ... "
"What?" Her heart pounded against her chest like a meat tenderizer. "Now you have nothing to add? I thought you said you could do better. Go ahead."
"Ash." Jenna put a hand on Ashton's shoulder, but she jerked it off.
"Well?" She raised an eyebrow. "Let's go. Now!" She slammed her hands down on the table. Her right palm hit the handle of the steak knife balanced on the edge of the plate and, as if in slow motion, Ashton watched the knife sail through the air, then come down. The knife slammed into the wood chair, point-side down ...
Directly between the man's legs.
Gasps bounced off the walls, and then silence fell over the room. Ashton stared at the knife as rational thought doused her like a bucket of water. A blend of horror and shame leaked into every pore of her body.
The man sat in the chair, motionless, a stunned expression frozen on his face.
When Ashton reached to grab the knife from between his legs, Jenna grasped her by the shoulders. "Get out of here," she snapped through gritted teeth. "I'll take care of this."
"If you want to avoid a lawsuit, do as I say." Jenna gave her a none-too-gentle shove.
Feeling like she was in a trance, Ashton stumbled back. She saw their few remaining customers pointing and whispering; one woman even had her cell phone in hand, pointed at Ashton, no doubt filming her humiliation. Her dad was going to love this.
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of Nana's portrait. She swore she saw disappointment in Nana's eyes.
Blinded by tears, she raced through the kitchen, up to her office, where she sank to the floor. This was the end. She'd ruined everything. All because she couldn't control her temper.
A knock on the door made her heart jump. "Not now," she called to Jenna, who undoubtedly wanted to kick her ass. She couldn't blame her, either. It wasn't just Ashton's money invested in the restaurant.
The door opened, but it wasn't Jenna who peered in. A willowy brunette dressed entirely in black stepped over the threshold. Ashton recognized the woman who'd filmed her.
"This is my private office," Ashton said. She rubbed the moisture from her eyes as she rose. "If you want a refund for your meal, the manager will take care of it."
The woman shook her head. "That's not why I'm here. My name is Sally Germaine. I'm the producer of The Next Celebrity Chef."
Oh, God. Could this get any worse?
"I liked the way you handled yourself out there," Sally said. "You're tough, and you don't take any crap. We're starting filming on the new season in a few days in New York City, and one of our contestants had to back out at the last minute. I'd like you to take her place."
"Wha ... what?" Ashton stammered. "You want me to be on television? After what just happened?"
Sally smiled in a way that made Ashton's palms sweat. "We're about ratings, and the more controversial the contestants, the higher they go." She held up her phone. "My bosses are going to go wild when I show them what I filmed. You're exactly what we're looking for."
The last thing Ashton wanted to be was controversial. She'd spent her life trying to deal with her anger, not use it for "ratings."
"I'm sorry, but I can't."
Sally reached into her pocket and pulled out a card. "Think it over. Our contestants become stars. Your food is fantastic, but based on the number of customers you had tonight, I'm guessing word hasn't gotten out. This could be a mutually beneficial relationship."
"I can't believe I missed all the fun," Chloe Nelson, their third partner, complained before popping a chocolate truffle in her mouth. She, Ashton, and Jenna lounged on Chloe's couch, catching her up on the previous night's debacle. As the pastry chef of the restaurant, Chloe finished work before dinner service started.
"Yeah, it was loads of fun," Jenna replied drily. "I had to stop the guy from calling the police. He claimed Ashton tried to kill him."
Chloe swatted the air and wrinkled her nose. "If she'd wanted to kill him, he'd be dead."
Heat rose to Ashton's face. "Can we forget the whole incident ever happened? Jenna calmed him down and he left. End of story."
"What about the invitation to be a contestant on The Next Celebrity Chef?" Chloe reminded her. "You have to do it."
Jenna nodded in agreement. "This could put us instantly on the map."
Or it could make Ashton a laughingstock. The contestants on the first three seasons of The Next Celebrity Chef were petty and backstabbing. They'd done everything in their power to make their competition look too incompetent to perform even the most elementary technique.
And if the chef could manage to get a dish to the table in time, the judges were ready to tear it apart. Too dry, too salty, lacks acid, lacks taste. Compliments were few and far between. If she wanted to have her teeth kicked in, she would make dinner for her father.
"Not going to happen," Ashton reiterated. She wanted to save the restaurant, but this was going too far. "If you think it's such a great idea, Chloe, then you do it."
"I've been making only pastries since we finished culinary school," Chloe said. "There is no way I'd make it through the competition."
"Then I guess we're coming up with another plan." Didn't they understand? If she'd gotten so out of control over one man sending back a steak, how could she handle criticism from three judges at once? There had to be another way.
"There's no other way," Jenna said, echoing her thoughts. "Peter called today."
Ashton's heart rate doubled. Peter was Jenna's brother and their accountant — the chances of a call from him being a good thing were about as likely as her finally admitting that Krab with a K did taste like the real thing.
"It's not good," Jenna said. "We've barely been breaking even every month. Food costs have been on the rise, and so have utilities. If something doesn't change, we won't make it to Christmas."
Ashton clutched a hand to her midsection. Stay calm, she chanted to herself. "I know we can do it. We just need to stay open long enough for people to discover us."
The main problem was location. They needed to be in downtown Chicago, not in Lincoln Park. But Nana's building was nearly paid off. There was no way they could afford rent downtown.
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask Jenna if her father could loan them some money to get through this rough spot. But if she asked Jenna, then she'd be expected to ask her own parents. And asking Charles Grey for money was on her to-do list somewhere after climb into convection oven and close door.
"No one knows we're here," Chloe said. "We don't get any foot traffic because people think this is only a residential neighborhood."
Ashton nodded her agreement. "We need to attract tourists. And the only way we can do that is to advertise."
"We don't have the money for advertising right now, and we don't have time to wait for people to find us." Jenna's voice was sympathetic but firm.
Then was there any other option except closing? Ashton's eyes slammed shut, as if closing them could guard her against the inevitable. She didn't want to lose this place. It was more than just her livelihood, her dream. It was Nana's legacy — and it held Ashton's best childhood memories. If they lost the restaurant now, she'd likely have to sell the building to pay off their debts. God, it would be like losing Nana all over again, but this time, she wouldn't have a little piece of her left.
And Jenna and Chloe ... she crushed her eyelids down harder. Had it not been for Jenna, whom she'd known since childhood, and Chloe, her roommate in culinary school, the doors never would have opened. They'd taken a chance, invested their money. She didn't want to let them down. They were the only true family she had left.
Excerpted from Some Like It Spicy by Robbie Terman, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2013 Robbie Terman. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
Great Book!! A pinch of laughter, a dash of tears and a dollop of spunk, create the sensational new book Some Like It Spicy by Robbie Terman. I experienced every emotion known to woman while devouring this fast-paced gem. The story is so good and well written, I could not put it down. If you are a foodie, a reality TV junkie or someone that just loves a great contemporary romance, look no further because this book is the icing on the cake. Current TV reality show, The Next Celebrity Chef, is seeking contestants. By sheer coincidence, one of the show's producers is patronizing Ashton Grey's restaurant when a humiliating yet comical incident occurs between one of the customers and Ashton. Ashton's chagrin evolves into an invitation to be a show contestant. Her best friends and business partners, Jenna Rawley and Chloe Nelson convince her to do it. The publicity and notoriety alone could put their almost defunct restaurant on the map and move them into profitability. Aston loves her friends and restaurant dearly, so she reluctantly agrees to be a show contestant. One of the judges and show host is extremely talented executive chef Ty Cates. When Ashton and Ty meet for the first time there is instant chemistry and sparks ignite. Although the contestants and judges are not permitted to fraternize, Ashton and Ty can't help themselves. Within a very short period of time, they fall in love. Their secret affair can ruin both of their careers and futures, but their feelings for each other supersede reality. The antics and actions of the contestants, judges, producers and family members are both funny and jaw-dropping wicked. Each character has their own distinctive personality and ability to shine in their own right. If you want to read a top-notch sexy romance, this book should not be missed.
I loved this book so much I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down! I laughed, cried and believed in love at first sight. I wouldn't change a thing about the book. Immediately after reading it I went online to find a recipe for lobster mac and cheese and then drove to the store at 3 in the morning and made it for breakfast. After breakfast I read it again! I have only re-read a couple of books. This book is that great!
Ashton Grey’s restaurant Sweet Home doesn’t have much time before it goes under unless Ashton can make a name for herself. What better way than as a contestant on a reality cooking show. What she doesn’t count on is Celebrity Chef and show judge Ty Cates heating things up in the kitchen and the Wreck room and the bedroom and the woods. Can Ashton keep her head, win the contest, save her restaurant, and maybe fall in love? Fans of reality shows will get a kick out of this sweet and funny story. Ashton and Ty steam up the pages and the supporting cast is icing on the cake. Fans of the Rising Star Chef Series by Louisa Edwards are sure to get a kick out of Some Like It Spicy. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Confession time, I love Reality Cooking shows, especially the competitions!! I watch them all and salivate over things I could never cook, mostly because I do not cook at all. It never stops me from loving watching others cook and the challenges are always interesting! This book is the perfect combination of my TV obsession and my love of romance. Really fun storytelling that brings you right into the competition. The pace was spot on and I suspect Mr Terman is also a big fan of the genre. She gave the perfect number of contestants, just enough to keep things from getting confusing. Terrific build up of all the supporting characters, I never had a moment where I thought "wait, who is that", really well done seeing as there are a lot of folks who com into play. I was fine setting aside the moral dilemma of the plot cause I am a sucker for a love story! This was great because it is my favorite style, giving both the main character's POV. Ashton was a riot, her sass combined with her temper made her really fun to read. She never stood a chance against all Ty's delicious charm. While they fell in love, I fell for them! I laughed a lot, I cried a little and I enjoyed every second of this story! The steam factor is more mainstream hotness than full on erotic detail. Definitely gets a gals temperature rising!! They are quite prolific in their steamy encounters, loads of variety! Face fanningly sensual and deliciously naughty settings! I am ready to jump into the next book, I am so hoping it is one of her two friends Chloe or Jenna!! Everybody need a HEA!!
Some Like it Spicy is a delicious contemporary romance by Robbie Terman. With a laugh-out-loud opening scene, Terman draws you into her enjoyable story with realistic characters and an original plot. With the help of her two best friends, Ashton Grey opens a restaurant, but after a year, the restaurant is failing. Encouraged by her friends, Ashton agrees to be a participant in the upcoming TV season of The Next Celebrity Chef. The grand prize money would be enough to keep the restaurant open for a while longer. Ashton never suspects that she’ll meet the love of her life, Ty Cates, a judge on the show, the very first day she is on the set. Attracted to Ashton’s sensual curves, her ability to cook, and her outspokenness, Ty thinks he has found the perfect woman. Even though they agree to keep their relationship on the down low, they have a hard time hiding their feelings while on the set. When Ashton and Ty finally heat up the bedroom like they do the kitchen, their intimate relations are spicy and smokin’ hot. Ashton has one particularly difficult relationship in her life, and when she finally stands up to this character, I was so proud of her. When Ashton and Ty separately come to the conclusion that they are meant to be together no matter what happens to their careers, I found myself smiling. In addition to the cooking challenges, Terman does a masterful job of developing the other contestants on the show, making readers feel like they were right on the set during filming. Delightful characters, an enticing story line, savory plot twists, and an enthralling romance make Some Like it Spicy a delectable evening’s entertainment that was impossible to put down. I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of an honest review for The Jeep Diva. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Her bio says she wants to make her readers cry a bit and laugh as well, and she definitely achieved it. I really related to Ashton because of her low self-esteem. I'm sure I'm not alone in never quite feeling good enough and hungrily seeking praise for my work. And the food...! I'm hoping to find some of those recipes, especially the capers. Yum! Ty was the perfect hero for Ashton and their love scenes were exactly what the title suggests: spicy!
I was a little hesitant when I started Some Like It Spicy because I'd read quite a few chef themed books lately but I'm glad I read this one because this one was really different. The first chapter may have been my favorite. It starts out with Ashton doing what she loves most cooking for her nearly empty restaurant. She knows the place is failing. She just doesn't know how to fix it. The scene that became her "audition tape" had me rolling on the floor laughing! The woman who recorded it with her cell phone turns out to be a casting director for "The Next Celebrity Chef" reality show. The show would bring publicity they can't afford. Next we meet chef Ty Cates, celebrity chef. He enjoyed the celebrity chef status in the beginning but is tired of living the playboy life and wants to go back to cooking. I liked the fact that it was the guy who was doing the pursuing in this. Sure Ashton was swooning over him, but unlike a lot of other books it was the hero that wanted something more than a fling. The hilarity of the contest just added to everything.
A TV cooking show that has cattiness, asshat’s but most of all two people that can’t fight the attraction they feel for each other. This could cost him his career and her the restaurant of her dreams but not only hers but also the friends that invested with her. Ashton Grey is a wonderful woman with a short fuse when it comes to people critiquing her food. Sweet Home is in ruins if she does not do this TV show “The Next Celebrity Chef”, not only will Ashton dreams be shattered but she would have disappointed her Nana. Then of course there is Jenna and Chloe that have invested in the restaurant so she accepts for the sake of Sweet Home’s survival. Ty Cates is a celebrity chef and now he’s tired of the spotlight all he wants to do is cook do what he loves to do. Sure he had his fun with the models, the spotlight but now he doesn’t have time just to be himself. He is ready to finally find a woman that makes him laugh that is smart someone that he can spend the rest of his life with. When he meets a woman at the stage of “The Next Celebrity Chef” he believes he is meeting Andrea the Vice President of Talent for food Fanatics TV but instead found Ashton. Ashton has a story of her father has always critiqued her food and belittled her. Only that doesn’t stop her from doing this show, she needs to remember not to let him in her head and ruin her chance from saving her dream. Now she is hearing Ty critique her chicken salad sandwich that it needs more salt. She knows that it doesn’t need anything else that it is perfect. Ty felt a connection to Ashton but knows that they can’t form no kind of relationship but the more time he spends time with her the more he wants her. When the show starts to tape Ty finds himself watching her and Ashton can’t help seeking him out when it’s time to go to the set. The stares that they share the sneaking around, eventually someone is going to find out, what if they mess up and they get caught up in the moment especially when there is one contestant that seems to have a b*&*hy attitude that no one is able to support. They both know that this can’t last that as soon as the show is over she will be going back to Chicago and leave him. Ashton knows that she needs to break it off with him, she is starting to have feelings for him but she has to do it. Ty is not going to let her go this is not just about sex. Some Like It Spicy is a hilarious read that had me laughing out loud. I was greatly intrigued by the set-up of this story. I love watching cooking shows like MasterChef then of course Hell’s Kitchen so this book was amazing. The characters are well developed and the pace of this book goes by quickly and kept me interested. Ashton and Ty have an intense chemistry that explodes over a night making pizza who would have thought. The dialogue is snappy, and Ashton always seems to have just the right thing to say to Ty when it comes to cooking or even to a certain contestant. That is one of the reasons why I could not put this book down the drama I just kept turning the pages and before I knew it the story was over. One of the most memorable moments in this book is the food fight; I could not believe that everyone was throwing food at each other, dumping soup on each other, totally hilarious. If you want to read a book that will bring out a smile, laughter and is full of romance, then this is a book for you.