Note: The following post originally appeared on MM Good Book Reviews.
I’m excited to reveal the cover for my next novel, Dinner at Jack’s, with you today. Isn’t it gorgeous? I can say that because all the credit goes to amazing artist and cover designer, Reese Dante. I work with her on most of my books and I think she’s one of the best in the business. It’s like she can read my mind as far as knowing what will be perfect for each book.
Reese continued the look and feel of my other “dinner” books that combine food and romance for this one. If you look at each cover, you’ll see that our main love interests are positioned at the top, with some kind of artful food shot at the bottom. In case you’re wondering what the food is on the cover of Dinner at Jack’s, it’s gnocchi, little Italian dumplings that play a very important role in the story.
What I love about this one is the cool of the colors (most of the book takes place in winter) and the way the characters appear. Not only do they fit their general appearance, you get an idea of how they care for one another.
Personal chef Beau St. Clair, recently divorced from his cheating husband, has returned to the small Ohio River town where he grew up to lick his wounds. Jack Rogers lives with his mother Maisie in that same small town, angry at and frightened of the world. Jack has a gap in his memory that hides something he dares not face, and he’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Maisie, seeking relief from her housebound and often surly son, hires Beau to cook for Jack, hoping the change might help bring Jack, once a handsome and vibrant attorney, back to his former self. But can a new face and comfort food compensate for the terror lurking in Jack’s past?
Slowly, the two men begin a dance of revelation and healing. Food and compassion build a bridge between Beau and Jack, a bridge that might lead to love.
But will Jack’s demons allow it? Jack’s history harbors secrets that could just as easily rip them apart as bring them together.
Release date: 3rd October 2016
Dreamspinner Press ebook | Dreamspinner Press paperback
This gives you a small idea of how well that first meeting between our two love interests goes… And yes, I’m being sarcastic. But there’s definitely something there.
But it was his eyes which drew me, which rang the bell of familiarity. They were icy blue, so pale the irises appeared nearly translucent. Although most of Jack looked very weak, bedridden, as though a strong wind could lift him and carry him to Oz, his gaze on me was strong. There was something in those eyes I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it made me nervous. Was it amusement? Disdain? A wish that I would simply go away?
Whatever it was, I had the odd sensation that Jack had the upper hand here, despite his wraithlike and weak appearance. I have to admit, I felt a little intimidated by him.
In spite of this, I forced myself to move toward the bed, my hand extended. “Hi, Jack!” My voice was full of goodwill, and I hope it didn’t sound too fake. “I’m Beau. Beau St. Clair. Pleased to meet you.”
Jack glanced at my hand as though I were holding out a piece of rancid meat and kept his hands under the quilt. I was so taken aback, I glanced down at the outstretched hand to see if it was dirty or if there was something unsanitary clinging beneath my nails. But my hands were clean.
Maisie stood near the doorway, fidgeting. “Jack,” she warned. “Don’t be rude.”
Jack glanced over at her and then rolled his eyes. “Yes, Mother.” He smiled big, kind of like a death rictus, and drew one hand out from beneath the covers. We shook, and I refrained from commenting that the handshake was akin to grasping a dead fish.
Awkward silence reigned. Finally Maisie—God bless her—spoke up. “Beau’s here to talk about maybe cooking for you a couple, three nights a week while I’m at work.”
“Got any experience?” Beau eyed me from the bed.
I nodded. “Graduated near the top of my class from culinary school, worked in several restaurants, going from sous chef to executive chef, before I started my own business as a personal chef.”
Jack sat up a little straighter, and as he did, I had that pang of recognition again, but I couldn’t for the life of me think how I might have crossed paths with this man.
“Wow.” He moved his gaze from me over to Maisie. “You win the lottery, Toots?” he asked.
She snickered. “Yes. Beau here is the first of many changes I’m making. Soon we’ll be moving into one of the mansions on Park Boulevard. I have BMWs ordered for both of us, silver for me and cherry red for you—if you can ever manage to get your sorry ass out of bed. The yacht is being custom-built.”
I looked at her, and she grinned at me. “But seriously, folks, Beau here is just looking for a little side job while he gets settled in his old hometown. Isn’t that right, Beau?”
Jack said, “So you work cheap?”
“I guess I do. Or would.” I shifted my gaze over to Maisie. “That is, if I get hired.”
Maisie laughed. “Oh well, you definitely have an edge over all your competition.”
“And who might that be?” Jack scoffed.
As much as I wanted to just disappear into the colorless bedroom walls and listen to the mother-son banter, I thought it was up to me to get things on track. “So Jack, tell me what you like to eat.”
He sighed and blew a strand of his pale hair off his forehead. “Brown sugar Pop-Tarts, Cheetos, beef jerky, and beer.”
I clapped my hands together. “Those are my favorites too!” I took some initiative and sat down at the very edge of the foot of the bed. “But I think we can save those for special occasions, like birthdays, House Hunters marathons, and the like.”
Jack asked, “What are you, some kind of smartass?”
“You got me. I’m also a great cook… and I specialize in good old-fashioned comfort food. I make a turkey meatloaf with chipotle ketchup that’ll knock your socks off. Ever had Italian wedding soup with escarole and little tiny meatballs?” I didn’t wait for him to answer. “If you haven’t, you’ll be begging me for it after one taste.” I rubbed my hand along the surface of the quilt, caught myself, and cut it out. “Fried chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, a killer mac and cheese—I use creamed corn in the recipe—weird, but you won’t believe how good it is. I do a wicked beer and beef stew, which I serve up with thyme beer bread I make myself.” I shrugged. “That’s just the start. You think you wanna try something out?” I glanced over at Maisie, who was smiling. “I could bring a little sample over tomorrow, and you see if you like it. If you do, maybe we can set up a more permanent arrangement.”
Ever have a feeling about someone you just can’t put your finger on? A bond your heart makes that your mind is saying “What the fuck?” to? That’s how I felt with Jack, even though he’d done nothing but glare at me the entire time I was speaking. Maybe I knew him in another life or something.
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