Sizzle. Nibble. Sip. We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but anyone who loves food will be smitten by these yummy stories of candlelight dinners, bad-boy chefs, and behind-the-scenes restaurant life.
Your Heart’s Desire, by Melody Carlson
Picking up and moving halfway across the country isn’t easy but Caroline Marshall is determined to make the move work for herself and her nine-year-old son. Jobs are scarce in 1946, now that the men are back from the war, but Caroline manages to find one at a nearby chocolate factory. Having lost her husband in the war, Caroline isn’t looking for love, but when she keeps running into the same handsome man all over town she assumes fate is trying to tell her something. A charming portrait of life after WWII that shows how difficult life was for those left behind though not without hope for the future.
Tart, by Lauren Dane
Julie Lamprey, owner of the Tart bakery, for years only had eyes for her longtime crush, Cal, but he doesn’t see her that way. When Gideon Carter returns home to help out with his grandfather’s farm and supply Tart with local produce, sparks fly, and the two begin a whirlwind affair. Now Cal sees what he has been missing and decides to lay claim to Julie as well. When faced with having to choose between the two men, she finds that she doesn’t want to. Can a girl have her cake and eat it too? Second in the Delicious series.
A Taste of Love, by Andrew Grey
Bring a box of tissues along when you read this one because Billy and Darryl’s story is filled with sadness—but don’t let that deter you. Billy is down on his luck after his father died, leaving him in charge of his five-year-old twin brothers. Ready to take any job, he finds one at the small bistro Darryl runs. Darryl wasn’t expecting to find anything other than an employee, but together, these two go through trial after trial and manage to come out stronger for it. The descriptions of the food are to-die-for and the behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant business is a bonus for foodie fans.
Wedding Matilda, by Heather Hiestand
Mysteries abound in this historical romance from Hiestand. The Redcakes Tearoom has always prided itself on its delicious cakes and pastries, but lately the cakes aren’t up to snuff. Lady Matilda must find out the reason behind the failing quality before the family business is ruined. As she begins her investigation, the secretary of Redcakes, Ewan Hales, is happy to help, but he is about to turn in his resignation—Ewan has just found out that he is not the orphan he thought he was but the heir to the Earl of Fitzwalter. Can this unlikely duo, a sudden Earl and a shopkeeper’s daughter find love despite their turmoil? This is a fine addition to the Redcakes series.
Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, and Kimberly Kincaid
This collection offers three connected stories about three best friends who find love around the holidays. Clara Parker is a food columnist who needs help from firefighter Will Mason in Kauffman’s “Where there’s Smoke;” baker Abby Denton saves a stranger on a snowy road in Angell’s “The Gingerbread Man;” and caterer Lilly Callahan goes head-to-head with pastry chef Pete Mancuso in Kincaid’s “Sugar and Spice.”
Fool’s Gold Cookbook, by Susan Mallery
Ana Raquel Hopkins returns home to Fool’s Gold to run a food truck. She’s not back long before she runs into Greg Clary. He was always one step ahead of her when they were children, and when Ana asks the mayor of Fool’s Gold about creating a cookbook, she discovers that he’s beaten her to the punch once again. While working together on the cookbook, Ana finds Greg annoying at first until he starts to grow on her—soon they’re making magic in the kitchen. An added bonus here are 150 easy seasonal recipes to go along with the sweet love story.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
Lou has dreamed about opening her own French restaurant. After much hard work, Luella’s is finally a reality. When a surprise gift for her fiancé backfires, Lou has an awful night in the kitchen. Of course that’s the night an anonymous Milwaukee critic chooses to write a review of her restaurant. While drowning her sorrows in a local pub, she meets British transplant Al Waters and offers to show him the sights in Milwaukee. Agreeing not to talk about anything work related, they tour the city and their friendship grows—but what will happen when Lou finds out that Al is a food critic?
Caged in Winter, by Brighton Walsh
With only a few months to go until graduation, college senior Winter meets aspiring Chef Cade. Sparks fly, but Winter’s experience as a foster child has made it difficult for her to trust anyone. Cade has had it rough, too, but he thinks getting to know Winter is worth it. This steamy new adult romance is the first in the Reluctant Hearts series.
For more fun with food and romance try one of these titles:
The Accidental Bride, by Christina Skye
Angelina’s Bachelors, by Brian O’Reilly
Chocolate Thief, by Laura Florand
Delicious, by Sherry Thomas
Demons Like it Hot, by Sydney Ayers
Dining with Joy, by Rachel Hauck
Dinner at Home, by Rick Reed
Dreaming of You, by Francis Ray
Fool for Love, by Beth Ciotta
The Forgotten Recipe, by Amy Clipston
How Sweet It Is, by Melissa Brayden
Legend, by Jude Deveraux
Marriage Test, by Betina Krahn
Off the Menu, by Stacey Ballis (BL) 2012
Seduction and Snacks, by Tara Sivec
Skinny Bitch in Love, by Kim Barnouin
Vanity Fare, by Megan Caldwell
You’re the One, by Robin Kaye
Also take a peek at this Booklist Online feature for more ideas.