Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cooking Up Love by Gemma Brocato: Character Interview and Excerpt


Book Info

Book Title: Cooking Up Love

Author: Gemma Brocato

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Lyrical Press

ISBN-10: 1616504277

ISBN-13: 978-16165-4272

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

     Jem gave the dough a few last punches, then covered it with a clean dishcloth. An instant later, her phone vibrated with an incoming call. Hmm, who was calling her at damn-dark-thirty in the morning?
     Viciously punching a button, she muttered under her breath. “Lying sack of sh--” She glanced up at him, reached for her glass of wine and took a very healthy swig.
     He gazed at her, wondering what had gotten under her skin. Calm and collected, she was a stunning woman. Pissed off? Holy cow, she was magnificent. There was a snap of undisguised hostility in her large brown eyes. Curly hair pulled severely off her face enhanced elegant cheekbones and a wide, expressive mouth. Her yoga pants rode low across her tight abdomen and her tank top rode up as she kneaded the dough. He stared entranced at the intricate tattoo gracing her hip. She might be mad as blazes about something, but the only thing he could think about at the moment was how much he wanted to trace the ink with his tongue. Even if he tried to deny his attraction to her, his body didn’t lie.
      He wanted her.
     Shifting uncomfortably in his suddenly too-tight jeans, he asked, “Are you planning to open for breakfast this morning?”
     “Huh? Oh…no. I got a phone call earlier and couldn’t get back to sleep.”
     He reached across the counter and ran his fingertip under her eye, removing the lingering tears there. He dropped his hand when she shifted backward, away from him. “A phone call made you cry?”
     Jem raised her glass in a salute before taking another drink. “I don’t drink wine much because I tend to get well…a bit sloppy when I do. Today was such a horrible day and it was the only adult beverage I could find. I thought, maudlin be damned! If anyone deserves a drink it’s me.”
     “Want to talk about it?”
     “Sure. But where should I start?” Jem glanced away, uncertainty dancing on her face. The deep breath she took lifted her t-shirt provocatively, and his pants got tighter. She squared her shoulders. “I know…let’s talk about a funeral for a dearly loved aunt, whom I was too busy to see more than twice in the last two years. The aunt I made travel to visit me, not the other way around. Did you know Caro had scheduled a visit to New York last month? She loved the city in winter, especially Central Park. But she called to cancel because she wasn’t feeling well. Said she had the flu, would I mind terribly rescheduling?” Jem drew a shaky breath, her pained brown eyes shimmering. “No worries, Aunt Caro. Call when you’re feeling better and we’ll make new plans. Except that new plans are never going to happen. Because I buried her today. So, reason number one and two my day sucked--guilt and shame. I should have cared more about Caro. It would have made a difference.”
     “Jem, she knew you loved her. Sugar, she had more contact with you than any other member of your family. I was around the summer she argued with your parents. It hurt her when they refused to send you for your regular visit.” When she lifted her eyebrows, he continued. “Yeah, Caroline told me about the fight. She hated that summer. I think the only days she smiled were the days you called. We’d hear about what was going on in your life. It made her very happy that you made the effort to keep in touch with her.”
     A weak smile tilted the corners of Jem’s lips.
     “What else made your day suck?”
     “That kiss,” she stated baldly.
     Her flat statement rocked him back on his heels. That kiss didn’t make his day suck.

 Author Bio

       About 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.


Connect with Gemma on Facebook,, Twitter, @gemmabrocato or on the web at
Character Interview

Jack Kerrigan is a contractor in the tourist town of Granite Pointe, Massachusetts and considers himself lucky to have been hired to remodel the café Jemima George inherited from her Aunt Caroline.  Jack recognized early on that Jem is the sweet to his savory. He agreed to take some time off from his day job to come talk to Laurie about his favorite things.


Tell us about your family.

I have the greatest family. Two brothers, Sam and Noah, one sister, Pippa, and the best parents a man could ask for. My sister has twins, a boy and girl who are five, going on fifteen, if you know what I mean. You won’t believe the stuff that comes out of their mouths. Jem was shocked speechless the first time she met them. I think they’ve spent entirely too much time around their Uncle Sam.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to build things. Ever since I was young, I’d tag along with my dad to help him out on job sites. It makes sense for me to be in construction. I love to work with my hands. Jem kind of loves it, too (*snickers*). I could have played professional football after I graduated from Boston College, but that wasn’t who I was.

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal? I don’t really care what I eat as long as Jem is sitting across from me.  But she makes a killer meatloaf. (*smacks his lips and pats his belly)

Do you play any sports?

I already mentioned I played football in college. Mostly, I play pick-up basketball and street hockey. I love darts. I taught Jem everything she needs to know about how to play. Okay, maybe she already knew how to play and was just faking that she didn’t know.  She’s sneaky that way. She saw it as an opportunity to get my arms around her. Like I really needed an excuse.

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

Jem told me about a trip she took to Blue Bay, in Mauritius. (*sighs into a smile, creasing killer dimples into his cheeks) It sounded so awesome I just know I have to take her back there sometime.


What do you do to unwind and relax?

I play darts at Big Red’s tavern, in Granite Pointe. It’s a locals mostly pub with great food. Not as good as Jem’s, but still fantastic. I also like to watch the waves roll in at the harbor. And I catch Bruins, Patriots and Red Sox games whenever I can. If I could just get Jem to quit wearing that damn Yankees hat of hers. 


Tell us about your favorite restaurant.

Seriously? You asked that? You know Jem owns a café, right? My first choice anytime is Caro’s Taste, Jem’s restaurant. My second favorite is my mom’s house. She makes Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs that are wicked good.


You just won a huge lottery what is the first thing you'll buy?

I’d buy one of the old mansions on the seaboard in Granite Pointe and restore it to its original condition. Those old beauties were built to withstand all kinds of weather, and you really can’t beat the style. (*rubs his hands together in anticipation) Next, I’d buy a tricked out truck, one with all the bells and whistles, leather interior, satellite radio, a moon roof and a truck bed big enough for Jem and I to lay in and count the stars (*winks wickedly).


Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

A couple of years back I tried to lose myself in a bottle. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. My dad got disgusted and kind of ticked off at me for worrying my mom. He dragged my drunken butt to the harbor at oh-dark-thirty one day and forced me to watch a new day dawn. He told me to embrace the promise of the sunrise, that it brings new opportunity and new meaning to life every day. Whether I accepted it that day, or a year from them, the sun would be back each morning with its promise. I will always remember his advice, and the first sunrise Jem and I watched together. (*smiles and nods contentedly)


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