And He Cooks Too
Three men, three lies. Two made her doubt herself and the last nearly destroyed her career. And now, blacklisted by the city’s finest restaurants, Chef Reese Dunbar must put the resuscitation of her battered reputation in the hands of yet another man.
The television experience Nick Coltrane’s cooking show offers is her best option. But after giving her heart to him, her trust is put to the test when she discovers that Nick has lied about the real reason he brought her on board – he wants her to replace him before his audience learns he is a fraud; the host of “And He Cooks Too” can’t cook.
Reese must not only come to terms with Nick’s deception, she must also reconsider the unhealthy motivations behind her relentless drive for success. Before he can escape the charade he has allowed himself to be party to, Nick must stand up to his aunt, the only woman who has always stuck by him, and risk losing her support. Reese’s parting words, questioning whether the woman owns his soul, help him find the courage and self-knowledge to do that. In return, he helps Reese realize the folly of atoning for a teenager’s mistake through an adult’s misplaced ambitions.
Only as they come to trust the other are they able to return the other’s love and pursue the careers that give their lives meaning.
The Story Behind the Story
I’m a big fan of cooking shows, especially some of the cooks/chefs who have become celebrities in large part because of their association with them. I developed a particular fascination with a mature Southern lady who totally charms her audiences with her on-screen persona and began to wonder if that same personality stayed with her off-camera. What if that warmth chilled somewhat? That speculation was purely my writer’s imagination taking flight and in no way reflects upon this lady. I still love her and think she has done so much to raise the awareness of good food and good cooking.
Leonie McCutcheon, the aunt of the hero in And He Cooks Too, Nick Coltrane, is loosely based on that “what-if?” process. It is her obsessive, self-aggrandizing need to get her little cable cooking show noticed by “the Network” (solely a fictional entity in this book, which is never named), that is the central core of Nick’s dilemma.
I’m also drawn to TV cooking competitions. I tell myself it’s because I want to see how well I predict the winner, but it’s really because the emergence of each competitor’s personality during the run of the challenges is hugely entertaining. The producers of these shows do their best to highlight the drama and interpersonal frictions between the competitors, but some of that is based on real egos. That’s where I got my idea for my heroine, Reese Dunbar. Although more and more women are entering the world of culinary arts, men still dominate, so Reese’s had to develop a strong ego to survive. But it’s that same ego, as well as her impulsiveness, that begin the story of a blacklisted chef who must reinvent her career.
I had so much fun writing this book, i.e., spending hours watching TV cooking shows in the name of research. I hope you enjoy the result.