Bringing a Small Town Vibe to a Big City Romance
Thanks to Book Reviews & More by Kathy for hosting me on my release tour for Feel the Heat, the first in my Chicago-set Hot in the Kitchen series about an Italian restaurant-owning family and the sexy, sizzling chefs who love them. I thought I’d chat about what readers expect when it comes to a story’s setting. It’s a well-known fact that we love small town romances: the sense of community, the quirky, nosy neighbors and family members, the local hang outs where everybody knows your name, the stranger who shows up and eventually earns the grudging respect of locals—and the love of a good man or woman. Well, I don’t write small town contemporaries but I try to bring all those heartwarming elements to my own big city tales of love, laughter, and food.
The Hot in the Kitchen series centers on the love lives of a close-knit Chicago Italian family: Lili, the loyal homebody, Cara, the seemingly perfect older sister, and their bad boy charmer of a cousin, Tad. The sense of community is strong and vibrant as these funny Italians cook, eat, and annoy the hell out of each other. But they will also fight tooth and claw to defend their own because there’s nothing more important than la famiglia. Looking for quirky, nosy family members? Then you’ll enjoy Aunt Sylvia with her inappropriate questions and less-than-subtle attempts at matchmaking. Pull up a stool at the local Irish bar, O’Casey’s Tap, where the alcohol flows and many a poor decision is made (Note to self: Don’t kiss a smokin’ hot celebrity in full view of a bar crowd with phone cameras poised for the money shot). And it all starts with a tall, dark, and handsome stranger: Jack Kilroy, British, famous, the rock star chef who has everything a man could want except the one thing he needs: a way back to his love for food and the family he left behind on his journey to superstardom. The town might be bigger but the problems are the same—(hot, sexy) people seeking connection, love, and the perfect Amatriciana sauce.
Title: Feel the Heat by Kate Meader
Hot in the Kitchen Series Book One
Publisher: Hatchette Book Group
Length: 384 pages/Word count: 97,000
IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT . . .
Photographer Lili DeLuca spends all her time managing her family’s Italian restaurant, instead of following her dream of getting an MFA. When famous British chef Jack Kilroy unexpectedly challenges her father to a cook-off, Lili decides she’s tired of playing it safe and vows to seduce the tempting Brit. But once a video of her and Jack kissing goes viral and her luscious butt starts trending on Twitter, Lili fears she’s cooked up a recipe for disaster . . .
. . . GET INTO THE BEDROOM
Jack Kilroy’s celebrity has left him feeling used and used up. While Lili’s oh-so-sexy moans when she tastes his delicious creations turn him on, he’s even more aroused by how unimpressed this beautiful, funny woman is with his fame. He knows they could be amazing together, if she could only see past his bitch fork-wielding fan base. Now, as he’s about to start a new prime time TV cooking show, can Jack convince Lili to realize her own ambitions – and turn up the heat in his kitchen?
Here’s an excerpt that demonstrates the family coming together to protect their own in the aftermath of a steamy kiss between Jack and Lili going video viral:
“Don’t hold back,” Jack said.
Tad gave a press-on smile, but it made no impression on those flinty eyes. “She knew what she was doing. At the top of my list is the moron who put up that video.”
Jack nodded grimly. “You and me both.”
“But that doesn’t mean I think you’re completely blameless. There’s some rumor going round the Interweb that you’ve got a new show in the hopper.”
“And,” Tad dragged out, “after all that Hollyweird shit with your skanky soap opera chick, advertisers might be more open to a guy with a regular girl from the hood, complete with a nice TV-friendly family.” His mouth curled into a sneer. “Not that we’re especially friendly.”
Is that what people thought? More importantly, is that what Lili thought? His agent hadn’t wasted a second. “That’s a rather cynical viewpoint, and that video doesn’t exactly fit the wholesome image so beloved of advertisers.” He adjusted in the booth, the memory of her wandering hands sending all his blood rushing hellward. Nope, nothing wholesome about that.
Tad smirked. “Maybe. But it’s not going to do you any harm, is it? As long as we’re clear, if I see you gaining an advantage at Lili’s expense, you’ll be moving to the top of my list. She’s too good a person for that.”
“I would never hurt her.” Damn, all he wanted to do was protect her from all that. Keep her safe from every hater with a camera or a keyboard. Sweat trickled down the back of his neck.
He strummed the table and added, “I like her.”
A slow burn of a smile animated Tad’s face, and Jack immediately wanted to bite back his admission.
“Okay,” Tad said, a million things hinted in that single word, all of them annoying as all get out.
They were bonding. Cute.
Kate Meader writes contemporary romance that serves up delicious food, to-die-for heroes, and heroines with a dash of sass. Originally from Ireland, she cut her romance reader teeth on Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boons thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, and she’s there. She has a bachelor’s in law (useless), a master’s in history (not as useless), and another master’s in library and information science (yay, using). When not writing about men who cook and the women who drool over them, she works in an academic library. Her stories are set in her adopted home town of Chicago, a city made for food, romance, and laughter – and where she met her own sexy hero. For news, excerpts, and recipes, check out her website at http://www.katemeader.com.
Ms. Meader’s Giveaway:
One grand prize winner will get a Feel the Heat Swag Bag containing a Supper Hero-Wonder Woman apron, a Feel the Heat tote bag, a Vespa-shaped pizza cutter, a “Grate Love” cheese grater, heart-shaped measuring spoons, a Feel the Heat fridge magnet, heart-shaped pasta, cookies, and a recipe card for goat cheese caramel gelato. Ms. Mead is also giving away smaller swag bags of assorted kitchen utensils and more!
Click HERE to see pictures of the swag and follow the rest of the tour.