Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Interview and Review: Cooking Up Love

Hey guys! Today I have a review for a great book, Cooking Up Love, along with an interview with the author and she has been kind enough to offer up an e-copy of the book for one lucky winner! Just comment below with your email to be entered to win. In a few days, Gemma will pick the winner. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy this review and get to know Gemma a little better.

Book Title: Cooking Up Love
Author: Gemma Brocato
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press
ISBN-10: 1616504277
ISBN-13: 978-16165-4272

Jemima George leads a charmed life as a personal chef and assistant to reality television’s latest darling. But that changes in a New York minute when her Aunt Caro dies under odd circumstances, bequeathing her a small restaurant. Jem plans to sell the café and continue her life in NYC, until a dramatic phone call from her cheating boyfriend convinces her to experiment with the ingredients for happiness and accept her Aunt’s legacy. Throwing herself into remodeling the restaurant with the help of the town’s delicious contractor, Jem revamps the menu and renews her faith in herself.

Jack Kerrigan considered Caro a surrogate mother and hates the idea that the café could be sold. He doesn’t need the remodeling project, but if it means Caro’s beautiful, fascinating niece will stay to run the restaurant, he’s all in. He wouldn’t mind being savory to Jem’s sweet.

Jack’s brassy ex-wife is cooking up a scheme of her own, where Jack tosses Jem like a salad and comes back to her. Fold in a creepy attorney hiding secrets of environmental mayhem, add Jem’s claustrophobia, half-pint niece and nephew twins, one mysterious lockbox, and bring to a boil--a recipe for romance. 

A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance

Excerpt From Cooking Up Love
     Jem gave the dough a few last punches, then covered it with a clean dishcloth. An instant later, her phone vibrated with an incoming call. Hmm, who was calling her at damn-dark-thirty in the morning?
     Viciously punching a button, she muttered under her breath. “Lying sack of sh--” She glanced up at him, reached for her glass of wine and took a very healthy swig.
     He gazed at her, wondering what had gotten under her skin. Calm and collected, she was a stunning woman. Pissed off? Holy cow, she was magnificent. There was a snap of undisguised hostility in her large brown eyes. Curly hair pulled severely off her face enhanced elegant cheekbones and a wide, expressive mouth. Her yoga pants rode low across her tight abdomen and her tank top rode up as she kneaded the dough. He stared entranced at the intricate tattoo gracing her hip. She might be mad as blazes about something, but the only thing he could think about at the moment was how much he wanted to trace the ink with his tongue. Even if he tried to deny his attraction to her, his body didn’t lie.
      He wanted her.
     Shifting uncomfortably in his suddenly too-tight jeans, he asked, “Are you planning to open for breakfast this morning?”
     “Huh? Oh…no. I got a phone call earlier and couldn’t get back to sleep.”
     He reached across the counter and ran his fingertip under her eye, removing the lingering tears there. He dropped his hand when she shifted backward, away from him. “A phone call made you cry?”
     Jem raised her glass in a salute before taking another drink. “I don’t drink wine much because I tend to get well…a bit sloppy when I do. Today was such a horrible day and it was the only adult beverage I could find. I thought, maudlin be damned! If anyone deserves a drink it’s me.”
     “Want to talk about it?”
     “Sure. But where should I start?” Jem glanced away, uncertainty dancing on her face. The deep breath she took lifted her t-shirt provocatively, and his pants got tighter. She squared her shoulders. “I know…let’s talk about a funeral for a dearly loved aunt, whom I was too busy to see more than twice in the last two years. The aunt I made travel to visit me, not the other way around. Did you know Caro had scheduled a visit to New York last month? She loved the city in winter, especially Central Park. But she called to cancel because she wasn’t feeling well. Said she had the flu, would I mind terribly rescheduling?” Jem drew a shaky breath, her pained brown eyes shimmering. “No worries, Aunt Caro. Call when you’re feeling better and we’ll make new plans. Except that new plans are never going to happen. Because I buried her today. So, reason number one and two my day sucked--guilt and shame. I should have cared more about Caro. It would have made a difference.”
     “Jem, she knew you loved her. Sugar, she had more contact with you than any other member of your family. I was around the summer she argued with your parents. It hurt her when they refused to send you for your regular visit.” When she lifted her eyebrows, he continued. “Yeah, Caroline told me about the fight. She hated that summer. I think the only days she smiled were the days you called. We’d hear about what was going on in your life. It made her very happy that you made the effort to keep in touch with her.”
     A weak smile tilted the corners of Jem’s lips.
     “What else made your day suck?”
     “That kiss,” she stated baldly.

     Her flat statement rocked him back on his heels. That kiss didn’t make his day suck.

My review:
Book specific questions:
Tell me something about your book I won’t find in the back cover blurb.
Jem suffers from claustrophobia. The woman can’t stand to be closed in. This leads to a lot of uncomfortable moments in her life. She’s even been in therapy for it, but until she met Jack, nothing had helped.

Did you have a specific inspiration in mind for Jemima and Jack while writing? Were they based on real life people?
I didn’t have specific people in mind for either Jem or Jack. But I was inspired by Keri Russell’s hair from Felicity. I wanted Jem’s hair to be crazy curly (I’m sure because I’ve suffered from stick straight hair my entire life).

If it were made into a movie, who do you see playing some of your favorite characters from the book?
I could definitely see Keri Russell or maybe Amy Adams as Jem. For Jack, I’d love to see Clive Owen. He’s got the blue eyes, the dimples and great hair. Plus, he looks great with a scruffy chin.

General questions:

What are some inspirations when it comes to story ideas?
Cooking Up Love is the first in a series based on the five senses. But I want my books to have a cause behind them, too. So for this one, I picked the environment. The next book, Hearts in Harmony deals with hate groups.

Have you ever heard a song (or seen a movie) and just had an entire story pop into your head?
No, but I read a label on a wine bottle once that had the same effect. I’m outlining my next series based on that. My friends would say that is type casting.

Do you have specific scheduled writing times?
Not really. I tend to write best in the morning, so that is when most of the writing occurs. I’m trying to be better about time management right now, and focus my energy in the morning on writing and the afternoons on the business of being an author. Now, if I could just install parental controls on my laptop and smartphone to keep me away from social media.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Nobody likes to be pushed around, so I’m definitely a pantser. I do outline chapters, but am not afraid to deviate from them to write whatever my characters tell me to write. 

Are there times when you think a story should go one way and your "characters" change your mind for you?
Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet. One of the benefits of being a pantser, I’m sure.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I’m not sure I’ve grown up yet. Maybe a caterer or chef. I do love to cook.

Which author is an automatic buy?
Suzanne Brockmann. I own every single Troubleshooters title and reread them constantly.

What do you eat/drink while writing?
Coffee with stevia, cocoa powder and sugar-free French vanilla creamer. It’s a frou-frou coffee drink without paying the price (fewer calories you know).

What are you reading right now?
 Only Scandal Will Do by Jenna Jaxon, one of my Lyrical Press sisters.

What is your guilty pleasure?
The Real Housewives franchise. It doesn’t even matter what city, it’s like watching a train wreck.

What TV show are you LOVING right now?
I’m a bit addicted to The Paradise, a Masterpiece program on PBS. But I also make a point to record The Walking Dead, because I do love Andrew Lincoln.

Ok, speed round *g*...

Jeremy Renner or Jason Statham? Jeremy - the man has a devilish smile.

High Heels or Flats? Heels, although my feet aren’t as happy about it.

Wine, Beer, or Umbrella drink? Wine.

Cupcakes or Cookies? Um, popcorn?

Chocolate or Gummi Bears? Does anyone ever answer Gummi Bears?

Beach or Woods? Woods.

Iron Man or Thor? Can’t say I’ve seen either.

Gone With the Wind or Titanic? Titanic, because Rose carved out her own destiny.

Author Bio
About Gemma Brocato
Gemma's favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a 'round tuit,' and a fortune from a fortune cookie that said she was a lover of words; some day she'd write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss even the rejections, addressed to 'Dear Author', were gratifying.
After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue an avocation as a romance author.
Her gamble paid off when she was a 2012 Finalist in the prestigious Golden Pen contest for Romantic Suspense and she received contracts for her first and second book.

Connect with Gemma on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gemma.brocato, Twitter, @gemmabrocato or on the web at www.Gemmabrocato.com

Buy Links

Thanks for stopping by today Gemma!It was great interviewing you. Yes, some people do answer Gummi Bears and...FOR SHAME! You are missing some nice eye candy, so if you get the chance I suggest a viewing of Iron Man and Thor. You don't mind if I steal your frou frou coffee drink idea, do you? Sounds yummy!

Ok guys, don't forget to comment for a chance to win this book. Email in comment is a must, or how else will we contact you!


  1. Thanks for having me over today, Ursula. And for the lovely review. I've been debating a trip to the theater to see Thor. I do like Chris Hemsworth. A lot! One of the more fun things on my to-do list.

    1. It was my pleasure. You can get the first Thor movie on Netflix or DVD, It's the 2nd out in theaters right now.

  2. Ooooh i love this excerpt! I want to know more about the kiss!! Great interview and great review! I feel like I get to know authors so much more through these :) Ms. Gemma, I sure can't wait to read this book!


    1. Thanks Tera. I agree, I love these interviews where I get to share a bit of myself. Hmm, does that make me an... nah! Not what I was thinking.

  3. Wonderful review and a great chuckle interview. I enjoyed learning more about you Gemma!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Calisa. I'm glad it was good for a laugh today.

  5. I'm afraid I would be the one that would answer Gummi Bears over the chocolate. (hangs head in shame) Congrats Gemma on the release! What a great interview.

    1. Lindy, I'm sure gummi bears are wonderful, but I'm not a fan of sticky candy. Now, it they made hard candy bears, all bets are off! I'd probably hoard those. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I knew wine would be chosen over beer or umbrella drink! Have you all seen her bulletin board? Made completely of wine corks! Fun interview! Am I that sheltered because I don't know who Jeremy Renner or Jason Statham is? Oh well, I guess I spend too much time on the computer! Nice review of Gemma's book Ursula! Congrats on the release Gemma!

    1. Thanks Diane. I appreciate you stopping by. I hope you've googled Jeremy and Jason. It will be worth your time.

    2. Thanks. I had fun reading and reviewing this book.

  7. I learnt so much about you in this interview, Gemma. Cupcakes or cookies? LOL. Love that you picked popcorn. I'm a popcorn girl myself. :) Loved the excerpt too. I certainly can't wait to pick up my copy of Cooking Up Love. It's the very next book on my TBR list. Just reading Twelfth Sun by the fabulous Mae Clair. Yours sounds like it has mystery as well. I love that in a book.

    1. Joanne, I loved Twelfth Sun. Mae's hero captured almost as much of my heart as Jack did. As far as popcorn, I've always been more about savory than sweet. I often call popcorn my sin food.

  8. A great review - congrats!

    Heya Gemma, are there five books for the five senses, each specializing in one?

    1. Yep - Hearts In Harmony is due out in May and it's about sound 9my heroine is a music therapist). Light and Shadow is my current work and it's on Sight. I haven't decided if I'll work on touch or smell for the fourth on. Some days, the whole idea is daunting. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Glad you said that, Diane. I don't know who Jeremy Renner or Jason Statham is, either! Gummie bears, Lindy? Really??
    Gemma is such a good writer, can't wait to read this book!

    1. Ladies you are missing out! Google them, and bask in the gorgeousness that is Jason and Jeremy *g*

    2. Sally and Dian, here is a link to Jeremy's IMDB page. And you're welcome. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0719637/