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
A huge welcome to Gemma Brocato and her wonderful characters from Cooking Up Love. I’m so glad you’ve dropped by, Gemma, and brought two of your favorite people along with you for a character interview.
Joanne, Thanks so much for inviting me and Jack and Jem over today. We’re all eager to tell you a little bit about ourselves.
Let’s put Jack and Jem in the hot seat then. Jem if I can start with you. Did you ever consider your story would be told?
Jem: *smiling sheepishly* I worked for a reality TV star, and have appeared on camera often. This wasn’t the story I expected Gemma to tell, *sends and adoring glance toward Jack* but I’m so happy with the way it turned out.
What’s your favorite scene, one your writer portrayed just right?
Jack: *Jack grabs Jem’s hand* Can I answer this one, sugar? I found Jem in the café after she’d gotten a devastating phone call. We walked to the waterfront and watched the sunrise together. Gemma thought she was giving that sunrise to Jem. But, I knew the sun brought an exciting new promise for me, too. The promise of a happily ever after. *Jem sighs and blows a kiss at Jack*
Were there any particularly difficult scenes you’d rather your writer have never written?
Jem: I hated every scene where Gemma made me suffer from my fear of small spaces. *Shuddering*
What was your favorite thing to do in your book?
*They smile at each other*
Jem: We love to hang out at Red’s Tavern and play darts. I’m proud to say I usually win.
Are you happy with how everything turned out?
Jem: Oh yes!
Would you care for a sequel?
Jack: I think we’ve been in the spotlight long enough. It’s my sister’s turn to play the lead. Gemma was generous to her and her kids with her next story. That’s all I’ll say.
What was your favorite line?
Jack: It was right after Jem and I got locked in the pantry. She doesn’t like small spaces, you know. Gemma put some awesome words in my mouth. A foretelling of sorts. “We also have moments of glory and brilliance. Distracting you with a kiss was mine. As a matter of fact, kissing you could become one of my weaknesses.”
What’s your favorite time of the day?
Jem and Jack respond at the same time: Dawn
What’s your greatest fear?
Jem: *with a shiver* Small spaces.
Jack: *matter-of-factly* Losing Jem.
What’s your greatest weakness?
Jack: *smiles* Jem’s kisses. They make my heart flip every time.
What’s your strongest quality?
Jem: Can I answer for Jack? He is a kind man. He hates it when I say that, but it’s true. He’d rather I said he was a sexy strong stud with a wicked awesome sense of humor. And he is all of that. But a sweet, sensitive heart beats in his chest.
What makes you proud?
Jem: *A broad smile spreads over Jem’s face* Well, I hate to brag, but I had a role in reuniting a family torn apart by mistakes and pride. I helped a father be proud of his son again, when it seemed they’d never talk again.
Jack: *nod’s then adds his own moment of pride* I helped Jem heal after her aunt died, and her EX-boyfriend betrayed her. Oh, I also helped her find inventive ways to manage her claustrophobia. *He leers at Jem*
I have a couple of questions just for you, Gemma.
As the writer, is there anything you’d like to say in response to your characters’ interview?
Just that I’m pleased that they are happy with the end of the story. Although, it really isn’t an end, rather, it’s a delicious beginning for the rest of their lives.
Are you working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?
As Jack mentioned, his sister Pippa’s story, Hearts In Harmony, is due out in May 2014. That story tugged at my heart from the very moment I was introduced to her. Currently I’m working on finishing Sam Kerrigan’s story. He was one of my favorite characters in Cooking Up Love, so I’m delighted to be working on that. Since the story is based on the five senses, there are two more yet to come.
Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Jack smiled sadly and shifted on the hard rock. “That’s when I really got to know Caroline. She gave me a job and helped me figure out up from down. I’m ashamed to say I sort of lost myself in the bottle. Knowing how much I’d disappoint Caroline if I didn’t show up to work the breakfast shift kept me from drinking until dawn. My dad’s a patient man, but after putting me to bed drunk a few times, he got fed up. So the next time it happened, he poured me a strong cup of coffee, shoved me in the car and brought me here. He marched me down the pier and pointed toward the sunrise.”
Jack lost himself in thoughts of a long ago morning, as Jem stared at the horizon, waiting for him to go on.
“Dad doesn’t talk much. It’s just his way. He shocked me that morning by stringing a whole lot of words together. Said his heart was breaking for me. What I was going through was breaking my mother’s heart, too. He told me it was time to move on with my life, not stay buried in what I couldn’t change. Dad told me each sunrise offers a new promise. As bad as yesterday was, there’s new opportunity, new hope every day. He told me I was the only roadblock to happiness. I shouldn’t let Tessa destroy my essence. Yep, my dad talked about my essence.” Jack chuckled; the memory of the moment still amazed him. “Said I deserved more than the next guy to wallow in the misery. But I’d be better off accepting the new chance each dawning sun provided.”
He turned to face Jem and put his finger under her chin, turning her face his direction. Cupping his hand over her cheek, he rubbed his thumb along the smooth skin he found there. He prayed she’d lift her head enough to let him press a kiss to her lips, but she remained still, her eyes searching his. “That sun, right there, is your new opportunity. If you stay unhappy for a few days, or even years, it’s okay. Tomorrow, and every day after, the sun will come back with the same offer. And one day, you’ll be ready to accept it.”
He dropped his hand to her shoulder and scooted closer to her, easing his arm around her. Jem didn’t shift away from him, but didn’t lean into his solid warmth, either. Her sigh was audible as she turned her face back toward the brilliant orange globe on the horizon. Side by side, they watched the new sun rising over the water, brightening the day first with a rosy glow, then a fiery glare that made them squint. Bathed in an otherworldly glow, Clooney played in the surf as the rising sun painted vivid colors on the sea and sky.
“Thank you,” Jem said softly as Clooney finally wore himself out and trotted back to Jack’s side.
Jack rubbed his hands across the dog’s wet coat, slicking water off his back. “You’re welcome.”
How can readers find you and your book, Gemma?
Connect with Gemma on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/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.