Thursday, July 18, 2013

Taste the Heat: Rachel Harris on my TBR list

One sexy fire captain. One Cajun chef, One combustible kitchen…
When chef Colby Robicheaux returned home to New Orleans to save her family restaurant, the last person she expected to reconnect with was her brother’s best friend and her childhood crush. As tempting as a sugar-coated beignet, Jason is one dish she doesn’t want to taste. Colby is counting down the days till she can leave the place where her distrust of love and commitment originated and go back to Vegas.
Fire captain Jason Landry isn’t looking for love, either. He knows he should focus on finding the perfect mother for his daughter, but when he first sees Colby, all grown up and gorgeous, he can’t help but be drawn to her. And when she suggests a no-strings-attached fling, Jason doesn’t want to say no.
As their relationship grows more intense, Colby finds that Jason isn’t as easy to leave behind as she thought. Could turning up the heat on something real be worth the possibility of getting burned?

Title: Taste the Heat (A Love and Games Novel)
Author: Rachel Harris
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 220 pages
Release Date: July 2013
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-62266-0-940
Imprint: Bliss


“The perfect mix of humor, heartwarming moments, and heat!” –Cindi Madsen, author of Act Like You Love Me

© 2013 Rachel Harris

When the bright red and white Taste the Heat banner fluttered in an abrupt and unseasonable gust of wind, then collapsed onto her head in an undignified heap, Colby Robicheaux figured it had to be an omen. Of what, she didn’t really know. But considering the subject matter of both the banner andthe multi-colored sign she had tripped over on her way up from the parking lot, she had a hunch it was a cosmic premonition of something.
“Lady Irony, you have a wicked, wicked sense of humor,” she muttered, plucking the banner for the St. Tammany Parish Firefighters’ Cajun Cook-off from her head. She glanced back at the aforementioned sign she’d tripped over, now standing askew in its staked position in the ground. It boasted the event’s connection to the world famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival beginning the following week.
Food, music, and heritage—the trifecta so many people born and raised near New Orleans held dear. And the very things Colby had fled from twelve years ago. Lifting her eyes into the late May sun, she squinted and said, “Well played, Big Guy. Well played.”
A passing snort from an event-goer made her wince. Right. So maybe talking to herself in public wasn’t the best approach for her to prove that their family restaurant, Robicheaux’s, was still in capable, non-crazy hands.
Forcing a casual, sane smile onto her face, she set the offending banner on the ground near the entrance of LeBeaux State Park and willed her feet to step through the gate. They refused to budge. Families and couples strolled past on their way inside, deep in conversation, hands waving dramatically as their thick accents proclaimed dawlin’ and yea, you right. Others broke out in spontaneous, carefree dance to the lively Zydeco tune carried on the wind.
A memory of a similar beat hit Colby with the power of a hurricane-force wind. Suddenly she was no longer outside the park but back in her childhood kitchen, stirring a pot of gumbo as her parents danced around the butcher-block island. Her father twirled her mother in a multi-step move, and Mom’s infectious laughter echoed off the oak cabinets.
Not now, please not now.
Coming home was always a tug and pull—warm memories warring with apprehension. Since she left her Las Vegas restaurant three weeks ago, Colby had yet to venture anywhere outside their small suburban town of Magnolia Springs, population 1,100. She hadn’t even seen anyone beyond the restaurant staff and her siblings. In hindsight, taking a few baby steps would’ve been a much smarter move.
Colby gave herself a mental shake and firmly placed the ghosts of her past in the locked trunk of her memory. Back where they belonged. She straightened her shoulders, smoothed her clammy hands along the sides of her crisp linen pants, and told herself she could do this. She owned this.
She took a deep breath, then another for good measure, and lifted her head and marched herself through the wooded arch. Immediately, the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood engulfed her. A large stage dominated one half of the open field with the promised Zydeco band. A woman in a brightly checkered dress sawed an accordion in and out, and a young man in crawfish-patterned suspenders sat near the edge playing a washboard. To the side, a mile-long line stretched before a photo booth with an old pirogue, crab net, and fake alligator set in front of a backdrop of the swamp. And surrounding her, encompassing the rest of the large field in a wide semi-circle, were countless booths filled with fragrant food, each representing a different St. Tammany parish firehouse.
Reading the menus posted beside the closest ones, it appeared as though they all sold jambalaya and gumbo by the Styrofoam bowlful, along with each fire station’s own unique Taste the Heat twist, such as fiery fried jalapeno peppers, habanero nachos, and at least a dozen different forms of chili, each declaring their own to be the parish’s absolute best.
The punch of spicy cayenne and fried okra assaulted Colby’s senses, and the fresh onslaught was simply too much. She clamped her stinging eyes shut. She couldn’t tell if the turbulent sensations rolling through her stomach were from anxiety, regret, or extreme nausea—but there was a very good chance she was about to be sick.
Oh, please God, don’t let me puke in public.
She could just hear the news report now. Big city chef returns home and tosses her cookies at local heroes’ feet. Full report at ten.
She bet that would get customers filling their tables.

Rachel Harris grew up in New Orleans, where she watched soap operas with her grandmother and stayed up late sneak reading her mama’s favorite romance novels. Now a Cajun cowgirl living in Houston, she still stays up way too late reading her favorite romances, only now, she can do so openly. She firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, powdered-sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.

When not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, she homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches reality television with her amazing husband. Taste The Heat is her adult romance debut. She’s the author of MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY and A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES. She loves hearing from readers! 

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