|Photo by Leslie Sloan|
Happy Friday, everyone! I hope your Valentine's Day was a happy one spent with someone you love. Today we have a special treat for you lovers of romance. Our guest today is author Barbara Barrett. Her debut book The Sleepover Clause was published by Crimson Romance. Her new title, And He Cooks, Too (from The Wild Rose Press) is currently available on Kindle and will be officially released March 22. Barbara's kindly agreed to let me ask her five nosy questions. So let's get started!
Your upcoming release from The Wild Rose Press, And He Cooks, Too, features a hero who's supposedly a television chef. Fess up—do you enjoy watching cooking shows?
“Enjoy” is a nice way of putting it, since I haven’t yet reached “addicted” stage and hopefully never will. I recently added “The Story Behind the Story” to my website where I explain where I got the inspirations for this book: both came from TV cooking shows. Although I’ve learned some interesting cooking techniques along the way, my main fascination has been with cooking show personalities, in particular, Rachael, Giada, Bobby, and Paula. I only have to mention their first names and you know who I mean. That’s how popular they’ve become. I got to wondering if off-camera they’re different people, more introverted, less nice, etc. The hero’s aunt, the self-involved executive producer of the show, is based on where that speculation took me. Not that my favorite cooking celebs are anything like that, but their on-screen personas were a great jumping off point. The other inspiration for the story, my heroine, comes in part from my impression of the numerous TV cooking competitions. To make them more interesting, the producers focus on small tiffs and major confrontations as chefs’ egos clash. Female chefs, in particular, have to develop thick skins and egos to survive in the culinary world, so I gave her an ego and added a tendency for impulsiveness, which is what gets her blacklisted at the start of the book and forces her to reinvent her career.
That's such a fun concept for a romance. And He Cooks, Too, has received some very nice reviews from Amazon readers. Nick, the hero, has a secret that he's keeping not just from the heroine Reese, but from his viewers as well. How were you able to keep Nick a sympathetic character even though he's not the awesome cook he pretends to be?
Love those nice reviews, but can always use more.
Though I love secrets and the revelation of secrets in stories, I chose to make the reader aware from the start that Nick can’t cook, so they could come along for the ride as he attempts, unsuccessfully, to free himself from the pressure of living a lie. I felt if they learned about his lack of cooking skills later in the book, they would feel duped. Next, I tried to incorporate Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat theory for Nick by almost immediately showing him in a favorable light, doing something for someone else. I have Nick counsel his aunt’s assistant after a dressing down she has received from his aunt. My heroine, Reese, overhears this session and is immediately struck by his compassion and sensitivity. Later, I introduce his friend, Dave, who, by serving as Nick’s sounding board, helps reveal more of Nick’s motivations and needs.
Other authors I've interviewed have mentioned Save the Cat and I have it among my reference books. It's a great source for us writers. Your first book, The Sleepover Clause, features a city girl from L.A. who lands smack dab in the Midwest and hates it there. What attracted you to this "fish out of water" theme?
I wrote this book as a Valentine to my hometown of Burlington and my home state, Iowa. I wanted to present the town and the state and the people who live there as more than residents of the “flyover zone.” I wanted them to be seen by readers as the caring, hardworking, and intelligent people they are. So I introduced them through the eyes of the visitor, Aubrey, my heroine, a native of Los Angeles who has grown up hearing about the town through the jaundiced memory of her mother, who used to live there. Aubrey arrives with “attitude,” hating the weather, the scenery and the fact that she has to “hide out” from disgruntled clients back in California in this sleepy little burg. She even goes so far as to think to herself that “Iowa sucks.” But with time and help from some very resourceful residents, she changes her tune and is able to deal with the client situation she has been avoiding. It doesn’t hurt that she falls for the youngest brother of McKenna Custom Coaches as well.
On your website, you describe how important your characters' careers are as part of their storyline. Why is that?
I spent over three decades as a human resources professional for Iowa state government. My job was learning about other people’s jobs – what they did, what competencies they needed to do them, and how well they did them. That experience is now an integral part of me. I don’t know how to describe my characters’ lives without going into their occupations and jobs, because those help define my characters’ motivations, aspirations and even limitations. For instance, in The Sleepover Clause, Aubrey trusts a client, a so-called friend of her mother, and foregoes her usual due diligence on a project, and on the client’s word, redecorates her mountain hideaway in Louis XIV style. She’s unaware that this is the client’s way of getting back at her estranged husband for straying. When the client and her husband get back together and he goes ballistic over the changes to his man cave, the client denies ever having given the okay to the project. Although it’s Aubrey’s internal conflict, her need to gain her mother’s approval, that provides the motivation for her actions, it’s her job as an interior decorator that provides the vehicle for the story.
What are you working on now? Tell us more about your current or upcoming releases. We're all ears!
I’m currently working on two projects while two others percolate in my brain. The first, Driven to Matrimony, is a shorter story than my others to date (approximately 50,000 words) about a forensic accountant who places her job in jeopardy to convince her over-fifty movie star mother to slow down her rush to the altar with a twenty-year-old film student only to find herself attracted to the young man’s father. The other is the sequel to The Sleepover Clause, currently titled The Travel Clause. The two that are currently gelling (already written and revised awaiting a final revision), are the first and second of what I’m calling “The Dances of Sullivan’s Creek” trilogy about the people who are part of building a residential development in Iowa – the developer, the architects and civil engineers, the general contractor, the sales manager and the interior designer. The first is titled Saved by the Salsa and the second is Tough Enough to Tango.
So you're writing about your beloved Iowa again. I'm intrigued by the titles of your Sullivan's Creek series. How does dancing relate to building a residential community? We'll definitely have to read your books to find out!
And He Cooks Too Barbara Barrett
Three men, three lies. Two made her doubt herself and the last nearly destroyed her career. And now, blacklisted by the city’s finest restaurants, Chef Reese Dunbar must put the resuscitation of her battered reputation in the hands of yet another man. The television experience Nick Coltrane’s cooking show offers is her best option. But after giving her heart to him, her trust is put to the test when she discovers that Nick has lied about the real reason he brought her on board – he wants her to replace him before his audience learns he is a fraud; the host of “And He Cooks Too” can’t cook. Reese must not only come to terms with Nick’s deception, she must also reconsider the unhealthy motivations behind her relentless drive for success. Before he can escape the charade he has allowed himself to be party to, Nick must stand up to his aunt, the only woman who has always stuck by him, and risk losing her support. Reese’s parting words, questioning whether the woman owns his soul, help him find the courage and self-knowledge to do that. In return, he helps Reese realize the folly of atoning for a teenager’s mistake through an adult’s misplaced ambitions. Only as they come to trust the other are they able to return the other’s love and pursue the careers that give their lives meaning.
Excerpt: And He Cooks Too
The woman, her boss had called her Reese, angled her head, as if absorbing the man’s statement. It was the first real look Nick had gotten of her. Not bad. Not bad at all. “Patrice got the job because of Julian Parker, not because you and she got together?”
He glanced away. “Uh, well—”
“Both of you?” She started for the door again. “I am so out of here.”
Louis clamped a hand on her shoulder. “C’mon, Reese. Cut the drama. I thought if I explained the situation, you’d understand.”
“What I understand is that there is nothing here for me anymore.”
“You know the code, Reese. Chefs don’t leave their kitchens in the middle of service. You’re good, but not good enough to test it.”
She twisted around. “You can thank your new sous chef for the timing. Do you think her telling me just prior to the dinner hour was an accident?”
“Stick around. We’ll work out something,” he coaxed.
“Nobody leaves me high and dry. You’ll regret going out that door.”
“Let’s see who regrets what.” She ripped a net from her head, allowing a mass of raven black hair to escape, and pushed through the door to the outside world.
Purchase And He Cooks, Too here
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Thanks so much for being here today, Barbara. It's been fabulous!
Have a wonderful weekend, all!
Hot Contemporary Romance
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Hot Contemporary Romance
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