The official blurb:
One sexy fire captain. One Cajun chef. One combustible kitchen…
When chef Colby Robicheaux returned home to New Orleans to save her family restaurant, the last person she expected to reconnect with was her brother’s best friend and her childhood crush. As tempting as a sugar-coated beignet, Jason is one dish she can’t afford to taste. Colby can’t wait to leave the place where her distrust of love and commitment originated and go back to Vegas.
Fire captain Jason Landry isn’t looking for love, either. Disillusioned by his past, he knows he should be focusing on finding the perfect mother for his daughter. But when he first sees Colby, all grown up and gorgeous, he can’t help but be drawn to her. And when she suggests a no-strings-attached fling, Jason can’t say no.
As their relationship grows more intense, Colby finds that Jason isn’t as easy to leave behind as she thought. Could turning up the heat on something real be worth the possibility of getting burned?
Okay, first of all, a love story that centers around food and cooking? You have to admit that's perfect for me, right? You see why I was tempted?
So, I admit, I was kind of nervous as I began reading. And I don't know if that's why it took me a few pages to really connect with the characters, or if there were other factors at work, but by the time I was about ten percent through, I was hooked. I loved this story! After the kind-of slow start (which may have been entirely my own apprehension at work), I couldn't put it down. I read the whole book in just a couple of hours and ended with a happy sigh. (Love those happily ever afters!) And I totally fell in love with the characters. Jason was definitely swoon-worthy, and Colby was just as fun and spunky as a girl named Colby ought to be (she totally reminded me of my good friend, Colby)! I'll be watching for the next book in the series, because I'm anxious to see how the stories of the minor characters (particularly Colby's little sister) play out. As for the romance elements, TASTE THE HEAT was steamy enough to give me that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling, but clean enough that I won't freak out if my daughter stumbles across it on our shared kindle account (though I won't be recommending it to her, at her age). A word of warning for my fellow G-rated readers: this book isn't squeaky-clean. It is a romance novel, after all, so it won't be our next read-aloud-as-a-family book. There is some sex, although it's a behind-closed-doors, fade-to-black kind of thing. Like I said, nothing graphic that would make me squirm if I found out my daughter was reading.
BONUS! Of course, I can't review a book about cooking without sharing a decadent dessert recipe of my own, right? So yesterday, after I finished reading TASTE THE HEAT, I pulled out my trusty Crock Pot and started experimenting. The result was a delicious
Chocolate Souffle with Mixed Fruit
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. oil
1 tsp. brandy flavoring
1 tsp. hazelnut extract
2 c. powdered milk
1/3 c. baking cocoa
6 c. water (divided)
6 c. whole wheat flour (you can use white flour, but whole wheat is more flavorful)
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add sugar, salt, oil and extracts. Beat in powdered milk, cocoa and 3 c. water. Stir in flour, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated. With mixer on lowest setting, drizzle in remaining 3 c. water, scraping down sides of mixing bowl after each cup. Pour mixture into greased 5-quart Crock Pot. Cook on low for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Vent the top of the crock pot for the last 30-45 minutes. Makes about 12 large servings. Serve warm, either plain or topped with mixed fruit. (I mixed about 2 lb. of frozen blueberries, strawberries and peaches together with 1/4 c. sugar to make a delicious sauce, but if your fruit is fresh, you probably won't need any added sugar.)
You can find TASTE THE HEAT here: