Good morning, all! I'm so happy to welcome Meg Benjamin today. She's here to tell us about her new book, Hungry Heart, and to share a bit of what inspired her to write this yummy romance! Enjoy!
**Meg will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour and her review tour. Follow the tour and comment often to increase your chances to win! **
by Meg Benjamin
Peace, love, and barbecue—with a big order of sexy on the side.
Sous chef Darcy Cunningham is less than entranced with small-town Konigsburg’s obsession with barbecue. But her future career as a chef de cuisine requires expanding her culinary horizons, so she talks the Barbecue King, a.k.a. Harris Temple, into taking her on as his apprentice.
However, learning Harris’s professional secrets wasn’t supposed to include falling for his spicy blend of smoky sexiness and laid-back charm.
Chico Burnside specializes in flying under Konigsburg’s small-town radar, but lately life has been going a little too smoothly, even for him. Hoping to shake things up a bit, he talks Harris into teaming up for Konigsburg’s first barbecue cook-off. But once shy scientist Andy Wells catches his eye, Chico’s got more on his mind than brisket. Like enticing her out of her shell to show her just how tenderly a big guy can love.
As the competition ignites, so does the romance. Until a natural disaster threatens to derail Konigsburg’s dream team before the grills even get good and warmed up.
I have a soft spot for people who cook, maybe because I enjoy cooking myself. My heroes and heroines frequently find themselves sharing a table, and sometimes a kitchen as well. The idea of food and romance seems pretty natural—eating is a kind of intimate thing, after all. There’s something very personal about your preferences in noshing (C’mon, admit it—you don’t really like those rice cakes, do you? Wouldn’t you really rather have some nice nachos with guacamole?).
Actually cooking dinner for your Significant Other can be a major step forward in a relationship. Feeding another person is a sensual act—appealing to sight, taste, smell, touch. It’s not for nothing that that famous dinner scene in the movie Tom Jones leads to a riotous bed scene soon thereafter. And it’s not for nothing that the heroes and heroines in my latest Konigsburg, Texas, book, Hungry Heart, are all cooks who make up the Barbecue Royale barbecue team. One heroine, Darcy Cunningham, is actually a chef at a four-star restaurant. Her Significant Other, Harris Temple, owns a barbecue food truck and is known professionally as the Barbecue King. My other hero and heroine, Chico Burnside and Andy Wells, aren’t professional cooks, but they’re enthusiastic amateurs. And they all cook for one another.
When my characters do cook for each other, it’s usually an expression of caring. And food is often the prelude to something else, a more direct expression as it were. Here’s an example with Chico and Andy, two people who never really expected to end up together. But in the way these things usually work, once they do end up together, they can’t imagine being apart either. Chico shows up at Andy’s house and you’ll notice the first thing she does is offer to feed him. But you’ll also notice that once that offer is made, they move beyond it pretty quickly.
“Would you like something to drink? I just got done with dinner. I was late getting away from Austin today.” Babbling, Andy. Stop babbling.
He shrugged. “Whatever you’re having is fine.”
What was she having anyway? Her brain suddenly drew a blank. She darted into the kitchen where her bottle of Shiner still sat on the table. Okay. Point of reference.
She opened the refrigerator and pulled out another bottle, handing it to him. “I’ve got Lone Star too, if you’d rather have that.”
“This is fine.” He took the bottle from her, pulling off the cap.
“Well…” She started to pick up her beer, then paused. Should they go into the living room? Stay in the kitchen? Head down the hall to the bedroom? She hadn’t a clue.
She bit her lip, trying to slow down her galloping heartbeat.
Chico stepped forward, resting a hand on her shoulder. “Andy, it’s okay. Relax. Don’t be a hostess. Just be yourself. It’s you I’m here to see.”
She shook her head, blowing out a breath. “I’m not sure I know how to do this anymore. It’s been a long time since I’ve…been with anyone.” Not since Lew, in fact. And Lew had never been all that impressive as a lover.
But then Lew hadn’t put nearly as much time into being a lover as he had into being a barbecue whiz. Being with Lew probably didn’t prepare her for being with Chico.
Chico’s hand moved from her shoulder to the side of her face, his thumb skimming gently across her cheekbone. “It’s not a race, Andy. I’m not here to score points. We can take this at whatever speed feels good.”
What felt good right then was the warmth of his hand. She closed her eyes, letting herself just feel it for a moment. Remembering what it was like to be touched. To want to be touched. Almost without thinking, she brought her hand to his, sliding her palm across the back of his fingers.
She leaned forward slowly, resting her cheek against the solid wall of his chest. “I’m glad you’re here. And I’m sorry I’m such a loon.”
“You’re not a loon.” His voice rumbled pleasantly against her ear. “You’re just nervous. So am I. We should probably have just done this in the truck last weekend—gotten it over with so we could get to the good part. But I don’t fit in a truck all that well.”
She gazed up at him. “The good part?”
“The part where you know each other. Where you each understand what the other one wants. That kind of good part.”
Her lips tipped up. All of a sudden, her heart seemed lighter. “Yeah. That is a good part.”
“It is. But to get there, we’ve got to take the first step. And that means…” He paused.
She nodded. “That means you come with me. Now.”
She turned, taking his hand to lead him down the hall. Toward the bedroom. And the other good part.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Meg Benjamin is an author of contemporary romance. Her Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Medium trilogy for Berkley InterMix is set in San Antonio’s King William District. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Indie Press Romance, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers and the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon kitties (well, partly Maine Coon anyway). Her Web site is http://www.MegBenjamin.com and her blog is http://megbenj1.wordpress.com/. You can follow her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/meg.benjamin1), Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/megbenjamin/), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/megbenj1). Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.