I love cooking and truly enjoy reading cookbooks, chef biographies, and tend to seek out novels that feature kitchen time. So I very much savored the day I spent reading Kate Meader's first two entries in her Hot in the Kitchen series. She serves up some very generous quantities of steamy romance in this contemporary romance series set in Chicago that features some hot chefs, with intriquing accents, and two very sexy Italian-American sisters.
I haven't read any of Meader's books before and wasn't familiar with this series until I received book two, All Fired Up, from the publisher (Forever / Grand Central Publishing) to review. After reading the first few pages, I made an executive decision and purhased the first book, Feel the Heat, so I could read this series sequentially. I'm so glad I did.
Feel the Heat is a joyous romp, from the moment you begin reading and meet "good girl" Lili DeLuca in her Wonder Woman outfit beaning celebrity chef Jack Kilroy with a cast iron skillet. How could love not follow that gentle introduction?
It quickly becomes apparent to both of Lili and Jack, their families, and co-workers that something's cooking with both of them - even before a viral video of their kiss hits the web. From what I've just described this could be a very formulaic girl meets celeb story with standard HEA (happily ever after) that could be a fine book, but instad Meader has created something a little more interesting.
Lili has some insecurities to overcome, including a negative body image she has struggled to overcome from her formerly chubby teen years. While Jack deals with the constant curse of celebrity - to distinguish whether people want to be with him for him or for what he can do for them. We also meet the very traditional DeLuca family; Lily's sister Cara, who is Jack's television producer; her mother, a breast cancer surivor; her father, the chef Jack competes against; and assorted cousins. Their antics will have you chortling out loud at points, before tears fall...
All Fired Up, the second book to be released November 5, picks up with the story of Lili's sister Cara, the perfectionist television producer now special event planner, and Shane Doyle, the Irish pastry chef we saw hired for Jack's New York City restaurant in book one.
Cara is the extreme opposite of Lili, very precise, ordered, and needing to always be in control. In addition, she's a size six to Lili's fourteen, but seemingly just "perfect." What's below the surface is what's interesting. And I have to say I was a little hesitant about Cara as the focus of this book as she didn't seem to endearing in the first book. Well...there's more there than we could see.
After a Las Vegas bachelor/bachelorette party that leads to Cara and Shane's marriage on a four hour acquaintance, we see them return to Chicago and begin to get to know each other. And while their passion runs hot, that's not the primary focus. Really getting to know one another is. While Cara might have said Shane was "too nice" for her, he definitely can hold his own with that brilliant brogue.
To see these two damaged people grow together and learn to trust one another is a engrossing and touching story. I'm not going to reveal the plot points, but I do wish that I had a slice of Bella Donna cake tonight!
Meader's books are absolutely fabulous to read and impossible to put down. Her characters come to life on the page and at points in time, I swear I smelled some red sauce cooking on the stove. She has a very precious gift to be able to convey the emotions and inner psyches of her characters from the page to our hearts.
If you love romance, have a thing for hot chefs, enjoy humor-laced writing, and love to see heros and heroines evolve these are two books you should not hesitate to pick up from your bricks and morter store or download to your e-reader. I highly, highly recommend Kate Meader's Hot in the Kitchen series and am definitely looking out for book three, Hot and Bothered.
From the Publisher
Hot in the Kitchen Book 1
Feel the Heat by Kate Meader
Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
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?
Hot in the Kitchen Book 2
All Fired Up by Kate Meader
Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Her sweetest mistake . . .
Cool as a Chicago winter, private events planner Cara DeLuca is a model of self-control . . . until she meets the one temptation she can't resist: Shane Doyle. The sexy, Irish pastry chef is too hot, too sure, too young, and after a crazy night in Vegas-her new husband. While at first Cara wants nothing more than a way out of her sham marriage to Shane, she soon finds that beneath his farm boy demeanor lies a man who can match her drive, both in and out of the bedroom. How can the wrong guy feel so deliciously right?
. . . Tastes so, so good
Shane has carefully structured his career and life around one goal: connecting with the family that doesn't know he exists. Marrying a woman with more issues than a magazine stand wasn't part of the plan, but melting Cara's icy exterior is so worth the detour. Now as the annulment date nears and long-buried secrets are revealed, Shane will have to fight for the one thing guaranteeing the perfect life he craves . . . the current Mrs. Shane Doyle.
About the Author
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. Visit her website for updates: http://katemeader.com/.