Hi there! Today I’m featuring a contemporary romance that combines romance, family, and cooking–all set in Chicago, my hometown. Kate Meader’s HOT AND BOTHERED, the third book in her Hot in the Kitchen series, is D-Lish.
About the book:
Although her baby boy keeps her plate full, Jules Kilroy is ready to take her love life off the back burner. Despite a bevy of eligible bachelors, it’s her best friend, Taddeo DeLuca, who’s fueling her hormones with generous servings of his mouth-watering Italian sexiness. But Jules learned her lesson once before when she went in for a kiss, only to have Tad reject her. She’s vowed never to blur the lines again . . .
After a lifetime of excuses and false starts, Tad has finally opened a wine bar, a deal made even sweeter when Jules joins his staff. Lovers come and go, and he’s had his share, but friendships like theirs last forever. Still, ever since he tasted her luscious lips, he can’t stop fantasizing about what could be. Then she signs up for an online dating site—and the thought of his Jules with another man makes Tad’s blood boil. Even if he gets burned, Tad can’t stop himself from turning up the heat this time.
How about a little taste? (from Tad’s POV)
“I’m just trying to look out for you, Jules.”
“That’s a neat trick. You move your lips and Jack’s words come out. I’ve already told you I don’t need another brother.”
She might not need a brother but she needed a protector. Someone who could be with her through the tough times, who understood the meaning of sacrifice and family. Someone not like him.
But he could be her friend. “What happened to get you so upset tonight?”
Her brows drew together over eyes sparking with determination. “I realized I have to take what I need and fight for what’s mine.”
Whoa, if he wasn’t turned on before, he sure as hell was now. Mine. He loved how that sounded on her lips, even though he had no idea what she was yammering on about. She was grabbing something by the balls—her destiny, perhaps, and he was man enough to say, she had him by the balls as well.
The smoky lines around eyes dark with emotion hit him like a shot of moonshine. Every hair, and more, stood to attention at the sight of her Cabernet-red lips in that beautiful bow shape that would look so perfect trailing scorching kisses across his chest and beyond. Warmth washed through his veins. The edge of desire rose up to meet him and he embraced it fully.
He was only human.
She padded toward him, showcasing the sultry sway of her hips even without the sparkly fuck-me heels. Her eyes turned to shadowy emeralds like the pupils had swallowed the usual sea-green brightness. He recognized that look. He had seen it the other night in the wake of his kiss. Except for one difference: Juliet Kilroy, his friend, hot MILF, was now seducing him.
She brushed by him and closed her fist over the doorknob. Looked like her difficulties with the open/close thing were a thing of the past. Drawing the door ajar a few inches, she speared him with a look that might have flattened a lesser man.
“I’m giving you a choice. You can walk out this door and pretend there isn’t something happening between us or you can stay and give me what I need.”
His cock thickened and grew achy. “What do you need, Jules?”
“You. Inside me. All night.”
Oh, sweet Jesus.
He held her green tilty gaze, aiming to infuse his next words with cut-the-bull clarity. “I’m not like the others, those men you’ve been dating, the ones who slobbered all over you tonight. I’m not boyfriend material.”
“That’s not what you offered, though, was it?”
Leaning past her shoulder, he pressed the door shut, the snick short and final.
“That’s not what I offered.”
Two years ago Juliet ‘Jules’ Kilroy left England bound for Chicago. She was young, upset, and pregnant. Her brother Jack, renown chef and restauranteur, took her in not only to his home but to his new extended family–his wife Lili hails from a close-knit Italian family. Among them, Tad DeLuca, Lili’s cousin and a single man with tragic secrets.
Being the odd people out, Jules and Tad strike up a friendship. He’s the rock she can lean on when Jack’s busy working. Tad even takes birthing classes with Jules and attends the delivery of little Evan. Jules knows Tad’s no good for her–he’s rarely with the same woman twice–but she’s been celibate since conception and lays a sloppy kiss on Tad one night, one he quickly rebuffs.
See, Tad knows he can’t lose his heart to Jules–he doesn’t have one to give. Not since his parents died in a car wreck ten years ago that was his fault. They remain friends, nonetheless. Fast-forward a year and Jules is helping out cooking at Tad’s new wine bar. She’s also ready to get “out there”. A dating Jules is one facet of her Tad has no will to witness, however. His attraction to her begins to get the better of him–he even offers his “services” when he learns she’s looking for a fling…
And, she turns him down. Their lives a so intertwined; his aunts babysit little Evan and his cousins are her closest gal pals–she doesn’t want to tip the boat.
Still, they manage to seal the deal, leaving only awkwardness and hunger in its prime form. Tad even disrupts some of Jules’ dates, that rascal.
In the end there’s a lot of break-up-to-make-up. Evan’s father learns of his existence and wants to meet his son–something Jules and Jack want to prevent. Yet, Tad’s the voice of reason, even if it clashes with Jules’ gut instinct. And, when the anniversary of Tad’s parents’ death rolls around, Jules is there to love him out of his drunken stupor.
I liked this one. A solid breeze-read. I generally like a little more conflict, the biggest obstacle to Jules and Tad getting together is their insecurity, but the friends-to-lovers trope was well-handled here. Jules is fun gal to get into. Tad is really a great guy–and head over heels for both Jules and Evan, but at times his “voice” rang more Brit than Chicago-Italian. (I’m probably most sensitive being that I am from Chicago, and of Italian descent.) I enjoyed how cooking was such a big part of the book–family meals are the lifeblood of Italians–and how it eventually brought Jules and Tad together.
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About the Author:
Kate Meader writes contemporary romance that serves up delicious food, sexy heroes, and heroines with a dash of sass. Originally from Ireland, she now makes her home in Chicago, a city made for food, romance, and laughter – and where she met her own sexy hero. When not writing about men who cook and the women who drool over them, she works in an academic library.
Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading my friends! 🙂