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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.
He leaned forward slowly, maybe giving her a chance to run. A chance she wasn’t going to take. His lips brushed hers, lightly, as his hands cupped her face. He rubbed his thumbs across her cheekbones, dark eyes watching her carefully.
The flecks of green had deepened, making his eyes even darker now. She leaned forward, placing her hands on his shoulders, bringing her mouth against his more firmly. The contact seemed to send an arrow of heat through her body, making her nipples ache, her pulse warm again.
His mouth opened against hers and she let him inside, rubbing her tongue against his, feeling it rasp against her teeth. She sucked his lower lip for a moment, nipping him lightly, hearing the catch in his breath.
His hands dropped to her breasts, cupping, then rubbing them, his palms brushing her nipples to hard points. She felt cool air against her back as he pushed her shirt up, his fingers fumbling with the catch on her bra. His lips drifted down the side of her throat, leaving a trail of heat as he did.
She pushed his shirt up, running her fingers through the slight dusting of hair across his chest, then down along the ripple of muscle over his stomach.
His hands cupped her breasts, pushing the bra aside. He leaned down, taking one nipple into his mouth, sucking, his tongue laving the aching peak.
Somewhere behind them something beeped loudly. Porky came awake with a woof.
“Shit.” His hands dropped to her hips, his forehead pressed against her breasts. “Shit. Fuck. Goddamn.”
“Timer’s beeping,” she muttered. “And Porky’s awake.”
He nodded, his forehead still resting on her collarbone.
“Fire’s ready. And you’re behind with the meat as it is.”
He raised his head to look at her. “I didn’t plan this.”
“I know.” She wasn’t entirely sure what he meant—the timing with the meat or the timing with the two of them. She brushed a hand across his cheek, pushing his hair back from his face.
“I don’t want to stop.”
“I don’t either.” She slid back a few inches, moving her hands to his shoulders. “But like you once said, barbecue waits for no man.”
**Nona’s Review of Hungry Heart by Meg Benjamin**
Hungry Heart is a down-home, down-to-earth romance by Meg Benjamin set in Konigsburg, Texas (Book Eight in the Konigsburg Series). Now I’m not a Texan, but apparently barbecue (also known as ‘cue) is a big deal in the Lone Star State. When The Barbecue King (aka Harris) runs into Darcy things start smoking, baby. Darcy is a sous-chef at The Rose Restaurant, but has her eyes on bigger and better things. The King has ambitions, too, of starting his own barbecue place. When he insults Darcy’s fancy potato salad, she sees red. But she also notices how hot The King is. Thinking it can’t hurt to learn more, she offers to help him out in exchange for him teaching her how to make ‘cue. Things heat up between them pretty fast.
There’s a secondary romance as well, featuring Andy and Chico. Chico’s a big tough-looking guy with a tender heart. Though he works as a bar bouncer, he’s also part-owner in the business. His size intimates people and leads them to underestimate his intelligence. Andy is drawn to him and his gentleness with her, though is uncomfortable with the stares the townspeople direct their way. Things gets touchy when Chico, who’s a dab hand at ‘cue himself, enlists The King to join him in entering the local Barbecue cook off. Andy’s verbally abusive ex-husband was a cook-off champ and the whole thing (pardon the pun) leaves a bad taste in her mouth.
Hungry Heart is an enjoyable and sexy read. It was fun to read a romance featuring people you might meet in your own home town. The story had a very realistic feel. Which isn’t to say there was no drama: Andy’s nasty ex returns to town, The King comes face to face with someone from his past, and Darcy has to decide if she’s finally ready to settle down in one place. There’s also an exciting scene with the four of them battling a severe rainstorm that threatens to destroy everything The King has worked so hard for. Not to mention the cook-off itself, where The King is accused of sabotaging another contestant’s entry.
I haven’t read any of Ms. Benjamin’s other Konigsburg novels, but now I’d like to. Characters appear in the story who’ve starred in other installments in the series and I’m interested in reading about them, too. If you enjoy small town romance featuring hot, hunky heroes and sassy, appealing heroines you’ll eat up Hungry Heart. And you’ll learn a few things about ‘cue!
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 Rafflecopter giveaway