15 November 2013

ARC Review + Tour + Guest Post: Cooking Up Love by Gemma Brocato

What they say: Mix a chef and her contractor, stir in a mystery, and cook up a romance.

Jemima George leads a charmed life as a personal chef and assistant to reality television’s latest darling. But that changes in a New York minute when her Aunt Caro dies under odd circumstances, bequeathing her a small restaurant. Jem plans to sell the café and continue her life in NYC, until a dramatic phone call from her cheating boyfriend convinces her to experiment with the ingredients for happiness and accept her Aunt’s legacy. Throwing herself into remodeling the restaurant with the help of the town’s delicious contractor, Jem revamps the menu and renews her faith in herself.

Jack Kerrigan considered Caro a surrogate mother and hates the idea that the café could be sold. He doesn’t need the remodeling project, but if it means Caro’s beautiful, fascinating niece will stay to run the restaurant, he’s all in. He wouldn’t mind being savory to Jem’s sweet.

Jack’s brassy ex-wife is cooking up a scheme of her own, where Jack tosses Jem like a salad and comes back to her. Fold in a creepy attorney hiding secrets of environmental mayhem, add Jem’s claustrophobia, half-pint niece and nephew twins, one mysterious lockbox, and bring to a boil—a recipe for romance.

A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance. ISBN: 9781616505103 - Publication Date: 4th Nov 2014.

Guest post by Gemma Brocato:

First, I’d like to thank Zili for hosting me here. I’m excited to be able to share my novel Cooking Up Love with her readers.

In the novel, Jem is a chef, just starting her own café after her aunt’s death. She’s always loved to cook, especially comfort food. I thought I’d share a recipe for one of her favorite meals.

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 onion, finely diced
Diced Celery and Carrots (optional)
Bisquick dumplings according to the box recipe

Place the chicken, butter, soup and vegetables in a slow cooker and fill with enough water to cover.

Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours. About 30 minutes before serving, place dumpling batter on top. Cook until the dough is now longer raw in the center.
Serve and enjoy.

I hope you’ll find a reason to cook up a little love in your kitchen soon.

Author Spotlight: Gemma's favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a 'round tuit,' and a fortune from a fortune cookie that said she was a lover of words; some day she'd write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to 'Dear Author', were gratifying. 

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author. 

Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Connect with Gemma on Facebook * Twitter * website  


His sexy baritone voice breezed up her spine and her breath stuttered as his warm hand wrapped around hers.
Oh, no. She was in trouble. Standing this close to him, he even smelled like a hot guy, fresh, outdoorsy, a hint of distinctive male. He had great hands. Narrow wrists, long, elegant fingers, calloused enough, making her imagine how they’d rasp as they trailed along her flesh. She had always been a sucker for a long-fingered man.
Time to put the brakes on those ideas. His gaze roved over her body, not hiding the fact that he was checking her out. Heat bloomed in her cheeks and she mentally shook her head to clear the fireworks going off in her imagination when she caught sight of deep dimples bracketing either side of his full, smiling lips and even white teeth. Oh good Lord, why’d he have to have dimples?
When his gaze made the journey back to hers, she looked pointedly at her hand, still clasped in his. His look was almost apologetic as he released his grip.

Buy Links

I received a copy from Lyrical in exchange for an honest review!

What I say: Gemma Brocato has done a great job of merging contemporary romance with comedy in Cooking Up Love. The book also incorporates a mystery/thriller element which had me intrigued from the start.

Jem is a chef and assistant for reality TV's latest celebrity in New York. After inheriting an out of the way café from her aunt, Jem heads out to met her aunt's lawyer and to sell the property where she meets the uber hot contractor Jack. Jack wants her to renovate the café and then run her aunt Caro's former business. Jem has no intension of doing this until her relationship with the boyfriend implodes rather dramatically.

Jem and Jack now set about repairing the café and Jem slowly becomes part of the small town life. Aunt Caro had a fair amount of secrets, which Jem starts to discover, whilst fighting off Jack's crazy ex and a potentially dangerous eco-group.

Cooking Up Love is really funny, and Jack's 5 year-old-twin niece and nephew were hilarious. The twins were a brilliant example of how kids can get away with saying things adults cannot (see my fav quote below). Every time they appeared I was waiting to see what hilarious thing they were going to come out with next.

I loved Jack's method of distraction whenever Jem started to panic. For a while I kept thinking Jack was too good to be true, but I was pleased with how Gemma decided to reveal his past and weaknesses. I think Jem and Jack's strength came from having faced similar circumstances; Jack wanted her to learn from his mistakes and to have move will power than he did.

Cooking Up Love is a sweet and fun contemporary romance with a plucky heroine, a hunky hero and a brilliantly named dog!

4 Stars in my Sky!

My fav non-spoilery quotes:
  • The next winner of the Sexiest Man Alive title stood in her café.
  • "There is a proper motion for sanding." "Is that what fashionable contractors are calling it these days, Jack?" Getting their wood sanded?"
  • "Boys aren't the only people with penises. My mom has one too. And hers is way more special." Jem held her breathe, afraid of what might come next. "Hers is blue, it dances when you press the button. Plus, she can keep it in a box by her bed."

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