Friday, July 11, 2014

Release day! Cooking Up A Storm by Ashley Ladd




Be sure to read my character interview with Rique which is after the excerpt. You won’t want to miss it. ;)


Brooks and Rique desperately want to win a coveted chef’s job offered by an eccentric millionaire in paradise. Even more, Rique desperately wants to stay alive.


Brooks and Rique desperately want to win the head chef’s position offered by an eccentric millionaire Jonah Verleun on his beautiful, private but peculiar island that includes a zoo full of exotic animals, an amusement park and a monster shark tank beneath Jonah’s bedroom floor. While Brooks wants the job to escape his heartache and the lover who thwarted him, Rique is hiding from the mob, hoping to live long enough to pay them off with the prize winnings. Fierce competitors, they cook up a storm in a series of cooking challenges while trying to turn down the heat on their intense attraction. When a hurricane strikes the island, the storm Rique has been cooking up explodes, and no heart—or body—is safe.



They ran, hunched over, zigging and zagging as bullets flew around them. Rique damned himself for putting Brooks in this mess. He wondered if the mob held the others prisoner and that’s why they didn’t answer the door.

            He turned the first corner they came upon and then the next. He stopped dead and the air left his lungs. A moment later Brooks ran into his back almost knocking him over. He swayed dangerously but managed to stay upright and spread his arms wide to keep Brooks from stumbling forward.

He couldn’t believe his eyes. One of Jonah’s tigers lay in their path crouching low, baring his teeth, and eying them as if they were dinner.

            He tried to quell the jitters attacking his stomach so the animal wouldn’t smell his fear then whispered to Brooks through clenched teeth, “What do we do now? Freeze or run?”

            “Run. But where?” Brooks whispered back, a frown trembling on his lips.

            “To the closest protection.” He prayed their hunters had lost them, that they wouldn’t run back into a barrage of bullets. As Rique bunched his muscles to run, already feeling the animal’s fangs ripping into him, he noted how the tiger’s thick muscles corded in his shoulders, and how saliva ran down his snarling lips.

            “Dear God, we’re going to die.” Panic laced Brooks’ voice. “If we get out of here alive, let’s both turn down the job and move in together.”

            Swallowing hard, Rique couldn’t reply so he nodded. Besides, as much as he wanted to live with Brooks, he couldn’t do it as long as he was indebted to the mob. However, the point was moot. He couldn’t see a scenario in which one of them didn’t die in the next five minutes.

            Feeling responsible, Rique couldn’t let anything happen to Brooks as long as he was alive. He would take on the tiger giving Brooks time to reach safety. “On the count of three, run!”

As Rique whispered, “One,” hisses, then a blood-curdling growl wrenched the air. It was a different sound than the tiger was making. Then a crocodile bellowed and jumped out of the bushes and snatched the tiger by its belly. As it dragged the struggling creature back to the bushes, the tiger howled in surprise and pain. It clawed the air in vain as the reptile’s powerful jaws clamped tighter biting through flesh and bone.


Character Interview:

Please introduce yourself. What is your name and what makes you intrinsically you?

Thank you, Ashley! I’m so glad to be here, and by “be here”, I also mean to be alive. That was a close call.

I’m Enrique “Rique” Fuentes, co-head chef for Jonah Verleun on his private Caribbean island.

I live to cook, to create new and wonderful dishes to delight my boss’s palate.

I’m from the Louisiana bayou and although I’ve been taken out of the bayou, the bayou is still a big part of me.

Please tell us a secret or two about you that your author didn’t divulge, the juicier the better.

When I was a kid, I used to spy on my older brother having sex with his girlfriend. Once, he had sex with another man and that was so much hotter, kinkier. From that moment on I was fascinated by men. I couldn't stop thinking, fantasizing about them.

What is your secret guilty pleasure(s)?

I love to read erotic romance and watch erotic movies. The more flesh, the more lovemaking, the better.

Have you ever been arrested or done anything else you’re ashamed of? Please tell us all about it/them.

I’m ashamed of my gambling addiction. It got so bad while I was working in Las Vegas that I became indebted to the Eddie Carlucci, mobster. I almost got myself killed over it, and not just me, but my new love, Brooks.

Have you ever done something really wonderful? What was it?  It’s okay to stand up and take a bow.

Right after Hurricane Katrina hit in Louisiana, I helped several of my neighbors to escape their houses right before they washed away. We barely got out of that storm alive. Unfortunately, that seems to be becoming a pattern.

What was the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you? How did you recover from it (or have you recovered)?

It’s a tossup between surviving Hurricane Katrina and being hunted by the mob. Both almost got me killed.

What are the top three or four things on your bucket list that you’d still like to accomplish?

I’d love to win my own TV cooking show on a big network. I want to be the next Julia Child or Gordon Ramsey.

I want to write a cookbook, or a series of cookbooks, and see them published. I don’t mean merely published, but a big ass print run, like millions of copies. I want to write the Harry Potter of cookbooks!

I want to get up the nerve to wrestle an alligator. Coming from the bayou, it’s in my blood.

What is your greatest fear? Why? Have you ever had to face it? If so, please tell us about it.

Coming face to face with an alligator is pretty high on my list. Once when I was still living in the bayou, I came home drunk late at night and I wasn’t as careful as I should be, I almost tripped over one of those monsters that had crawled out of the swamp. Those suckers are a lot faster than they look. I barely got into my house with my skin still intact.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

My mother set me up with her best friend’s daughter. When she came onto me, I pushed her away—in front of my mother and the girl’s mother. That was one hell of a way to come out of the closet to my family.

What are your credentials for the job you’re doing now?

I’m a distinguished graduate of Le Cordon Bleu chef’s school. Since then, I’ve held several chef’s positions in some of the best hotels in New Orleans and Las Vegas.

Do you have a good relationship with your family? How would you describe your family and your relationship with them?

It hasn’t been too good since I embarrassed my mother in front of her best friend. I could have handled telling her I was gay better. Of course, I was only 20 at the time. I’d handle it much better now.

Who is your best friend? Do you stay in close contact with him/her?

Billy Ray “Bubba” Devereau back in the bayou is the best friend I ever had. We still email and talk on the phone but not as much as I’d like. His bride, Emmy Jo, isn’t too thrilled with my gambling or my (ex) man-chasing ways.

What is your favorite breakfast? Dinner? Snack?

I love a good beignet for breakfast. I like food too much to have one favorite dinner but a juicy well-cooked steak is always welcome.

Snacks? Chocolate ice cream. Red velvet cake.

Who was the one that got away? Tell us a bit about him/her and how they got away.

J.O. He’s married to a woman now so I don’t want to cause trouble for him by stating his name. It broke my heart when he decided he wasn’t gay, that I had just been an experiment that didn’t work out. I know I shouldn’t blame myself because he decided he liked women, but I should have been able to spot it, to protect my heart better.

If you were to change careers, what else would you do?

I used to dream of being a secret agent for the FBI, but after running from the mob, getting shot at and almost losing my life, I’m not so sure.

Is there anything about your hero/heroine that you would like to change? What is it and why?

Brooks is perfect. Sometimes he gets a little silly, but most of the time, he makes me laugh and I really need that.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us or your author?

Thank you for introducing me to the two most important people in my life, for giving me true love.


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