Books-n-Kisses is please to let Amanda Usen take over the blog today to talk about her new book Luscious.
Food and Romance – a Luscious Combination!
I met my husband in culinary school, so food and romance are forever linked for me. However, even before I met him, my dates centered around food – probably because I worked in a restaurant and a bakery. I dated waiters, chefs and bakers, and we’d go out after work, usually to get something to eat, ironically enough. Kitchen folks love to eat food they didn’t have to make! Before I worked in the food biz, my dates still centered on food. We would go out for coffee, dinner and a movie or to get a drink. Even back in high school, my friends would come back to the house and I would cook for them. (My poor mother!)
I imagine there are other things to do on dates – play tennis, perhaps? But won’t you be hungry and thirsty afterwards? Maybe go to a movie…with popcorn and candy? Go to the beach? Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
I guess it’s not so strange that I would write a book where the hero and chef heroine swan off to a cooking school/vineyard/spa inItalyand eat fabulous food and drink amazing wine while they do all the other things that heroes and heroines do in romance novels. Sometimes all at the same time, like in this excerpt from Luscious:
Sean chewed, but he didn’t really taste the food in his mouth. Oh, he was smooth, all right. Smooth like the freakin’Alps, no doubt about it. He didn’t want her pity, he wanted to seduce her, but Olivia looked more bowled over by the food on the plate in front of her than by his proposition.
She had initially responded to his kiss on the plane but then froze in his arms. That did not bode well for his plan. He shook his head slightly, taking another bite and watching Olivia savor her food. She smiled a little every time her lips closed around the fork. Anticipation swirled inside of him as he thought about all the other ways he wanted to bring her pleasure. Her kiss had been so sweet—raw response mixed with hesitation. He wanted to kiss her again, over and over until she relaxed and opened to him. He wanted to know if their bodies would fit together as perfectly as their mouths—but first he had to convince her.
Olivia sighed and set her fork down with a clink. Immediately, a busboy swooped in to retrieve their empty plates. She took a long drink of her wine, then folded her hands in front of her on the white tablecloth. She met his eyes squarely. “I think you’d better tell me more about those high school fantasies, Counselor.”
His pulse jumped. Maybe he had a chance, after all. “Are you sure you don’t want me to whisper them in your ear on the airplane?” She couldn’t say no after they were in the air.
“Positive.” She tipped her chin up, so her eyelids were at half-mast. Her expectant expression made him think of her head on a pillow, gazing down at him while he…
“Last chance to avoid shocking our waiter,” he warned.
“You can’t shock a waiter in a place like this.”
Sean was certain she was incorrect, but out of public decency, he kept his voice low. He began to weave a fantasy, noticing that every server who passed within earshot of their table discreetly slowed his steps. Olivia attempted to taste the next course delivered by a wide-eyed waiter but dropped her fork with a clatter when Sean mentioned blindfold and gondola in the same breath. Still, he had to give her credit. After dropping her fork, she had focused her attention entirely on him and had barely twitched a muscle.
As he neared the end of his pitch, Olivia’s head was cocked to the side and her eyes were glazed. He’d thrown in everything but the kitchen sink, hoping that something might pique her interest. She cleared her throat and straightened in her chair. “There aren’t any gondolas inVerona. The canals are inVenice.”
“A balcony would work. Plenty of those, right?”
Olivia picked up her fork, color rising in her cheeks. “I wouldn’t have pegged you for the kinky type.”
He lifted one eyebrow, unable to prevent the corners of his mouth from turning up. He encouraged his buttoned-down, by-the-book, technicality driven, Type-A, loophole lawyer image. He enjoyed arguing a point, any point, just for the sheer fun of it. He liked to be right. He liked to be in control. He liked to win. It had been impressed on him at a very early age that all of these things were necessary for survival, but the bedroom was not a courtroom. Control was necessary up to a point, of course, but buttoned-down lawyer guy disappeared with his tie.
She leaned forward. “Sean, I just don’t get it. You had a prime opportunity last summer—”
“I told you, you were married.”
“I’ve been under the impression that guys don’t give that detail a lot of thought.”
“Some guys don’t.” He shrugged. “I’m not your ex-husband.”
She flinched and dropped her gaze. After a second, her eyes met his again. “You want me to believe you’ve been dying to have sex with me? That you rejected me a couple of months ago because I was barely married, but now you want to take me toItalyand blindfold me in a freaking gondola?” Her voice was soft, belying the intensity of her words. “Give me one good goddamn reason.”
Sean let the desire that had sharpened inside him for years roll across his face. He reached across the table and brushed her hair out of her eyes. “I’ll make you glad you did.”
Her nostrils flared. “A better reason than that.”
He never put anyone on the stand unless he knew exactly what they were going to say, and that went double for his personal life. He had no idea how Olivia would react to the information he was about to give to her, and that made him nervous. Unfortunately, this felt like his last chance to convince her to let him join her.
“Your mother is expecting me,” he said reluctantly.
The color drained out of her cheeks. For a minute, he thought she might fling her fresh glass of wine in his face. When she didn’t even glance at the food the waiter gingerly placed in front of her, Sean knew he was in serious trouble.
“You called my mother?” Her voice rose unevenly.
“I’m afraid she’ll be very disappointed if I don’t arrive at Villa Farfalla. I got the impression she’s eager for American tourists to discover the delights of her hospitality.”
“The Villa sounds amazing. A sprawling estate, a vineyard, cooking classes with a famous chef, wine tours, a private spa…” Sean was actually looking forward to spending a week there, as long as he didn’t have to do it from a shallow grave dug by Olivia, which is where it looked like he was headed.
“Spare me the propaganda. My mother is a brilliant businesswoman, but if you think I’m difficult, wait until you meet her. No detail escapes her attention.”
Sean covered his elation with a frown. “Do you think she’ll check your bed every night? That would put a kink in my plans.”
“Your plans are kinky enough,” she said darkly.
Sean chuckled. “C’mon, it’ll be fun.” He leaned across the table to take her hand. “I didn’t mention I was arriving with you, but if I cancel my reservation, I’ll feel compelled to give your mother a reason.”
“So sue me. I get free legal representation.” Olivia’s green eyes reminded Sean of the sky just before a tornado ripped across the horizon—lush, eerie, and dangerous to life and limb. He squeezed her hand. “All you have to do is say yes, Olivia.”
For the chance to win a copy of Luscious and find out if Olivia is able to finish her dinner after an offer like that, leave a comment below! Does your perfect date involve food or drinks? OrItaly? Maybe beaches are your thing. What’s your favorite date?
Eat, play, love
Plain old ice cream just isn’t going to cut it. To beat these blues, chef Olivia Marconi needs the good stuff: rich, creamy tiramisu gelato. And no place better to get it than Italy. But a fresh start is nearly impossible with Sean Kindred dogging her every move. She’s been burned by his too-hot-to-handle antics before. Though there’s no denying the man can still get her all fired up. Could a weeklong affair finally turn into something more lasting…or will it all go up in flames?