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Hungry for Love: 16 Tales of Food-Based Romance

Food has the ability to engage at least four of our basic senses, five if you count the sound of popcorn popping or the sizzle of a hot steak. Is it really surprising that food is often an important ingredient in romance fiction? Couple that sensory appeal with just how steamy things can get in the kitchen—is it the stove or the way-too-sexy chef giving off all that heat?—and authors have all the fixings for a delectable story guaranteed to satisfy any reader’s craving for romance.

Acting on Impulse, by Mia Sosa

Fitness trainer Tori Alvarez wants nothing more to do with Hollywood action star Carter Stone after their Aruba-based romantic fling unravels, but Carter is determined to win Tori back by convincing her to help him get in shape for his new role. Tori’s visits to her parent’s Cuban restaurant and the luscious descriptions of her favorite dishes provide a nice contrast to all the calorie-burning exercises Tori makes Carter endure.


The All You Can Dream Buffet, by Barbara O’Neal

In order to keep her family from selling off Lavender Honey Farms, Lavender Willis invites her three closest friends in order to choose the right person to take over operations when she is gone. O’Neal is one of the pseudonyms for RITA award-winning Ruth Wind/Barbara Samuel, and this warm and comforting novel about new beginnings and women’s friendships is seasoned with just enough love to keep romance readers happy.


Alaskan Holiday, by Debbie Macomber

Killing time while awaiting the start of a Seattle sous chef job, Josie Stewart accepts a temporary position at a lakeside lodge in Alaska, where she is romanced by Alaskan-to-the-core Palmer Saxon. As the author of a cookbook, Macomber knows a thing or two.


As Good As the First Time, by K. M. Jackson

When both her professional and personal lives take a turn for the worse, Olivia Gale returns home to Sugar Lake to help out at her family’s bakery, Goode N’ Sweet. Her plans for pie-making take an unexpected turn when she meets up with old sweetheart Clayton Morris. A charming, small-town setting and some delectable pies are just a few of the delicious ingredients Jackson deftly stirs into in this sweet treat of a romance.


The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy Reichert

After bumping into sexy smarty-pants British import Al at a pub, struggling French restaurant owner Lou accepts the challenge of proving to him that her hometown isn’t a culinary wasteland. But will happen to their burgeoning new friendship when Lou discovers Al is also the pseudonymous newspaper restaurant critic, whose scathing review nearly shut her restaurant down? Reichert’s yummy debut is both a love letter to Milwaukee and a paean to the joys of a good coconut cake.


Come on Closer, by Kendra Leigh Castle

Baker Larkin O’Neill knows how to take care of herself in the kitchen, but when she falls for lawyer Shane Sullivan, whose romantic reputation precedes him, Larkin just might wind up getting burned. Romance readers know there is nothing more irresistible than a bad boy hero.


Delicious, by Susan Mallery

Seattle restaurant owner Cal Buchanan needs a culinary miracle if he is to have any hope of saving his family’s business. Why did that miracle have to be his ex-wife Penny Jackson, who just happens to be the best chef in town? This is the first in Mallery’s series featuring the restaurant-owning Buchanan family.


Delicious, by Sherry Thomas

When Stuart Somerset inherits his brother’s estate, he doesn’t realize it comes with its own private chef, one Verity Durant, a woman whose scandalous past could either bring down Stuart’s rising political career or finally quench his thirst for love. Thomas’ exquisite prose is matched by her luscious and lushly sensual descriptions of food.


Hot Mess, by Emily Belden

After convincing her to invest her life savings in his new restaurant, Allie Simon’s celebrity chef boyfriend ditches her, leaving Allie to run the restaurant while picking up the pieces of her heart. Belden’s hot and sexy debut novel, partly inspired in part by her memoir, Eightysixed, is a fascinating glimpse into the restaurant biz.


Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan

Fleeing from a relationship gone sour, Polly Waterford sets up shop at a bakery in Polbearne, a seaside resort in Cornwall, England, where she finds a sweet new lease on life and love with some help from her new friends–including a hunky local beekeeper. Colgan includes a sampling of Polly’s recipes in this charming confection of a romance.


Luscious, by Amanda Usen

Desperately needing a break from her restaurant after her divorce, chef Olivia Marconi heads for the luxurious delights of the Marconi family inn in Verona, Italy to rethink her life’s choices, only to find that her divorce lawyer Sean Kindred seems to have some unfinished business with her that has brought him there, too. Mouthwatering descriptions of Italian dishes and red-hot sex make for a sizzling duo in this delectable contemporary romance.

The Next Best Thing, by Kristan Higgins

After losing the love of her life, widower Lucy Lang, who has been spending her days helping her aunts at the family bakery and her nights with a cat named Fat Mikey, wants nothing more to do with romance. Lucy is determined to break things off with Ethan Mirabelli, a good friend who wants something more with her. Love, laughter, and plenty of delicious details about food are all hallmarks of Higgins’ books.


Savor You, by Kristen Proby

Ten years ago, Mia Palazzo walked out on Camden Sawyer, but now Mia’s sexy ex-husband is back in her life when a celebrity cooking show pits the two chefs against one another. As things heat up in the kitchen, the sexual chemistry sizzles in this spicy contemporary.


Sugar Rush, by Donna Kauffman

Baker Leilani Trusdale thought she had put her past behind her when she opened her own bakery on Sugarberry Island. Then her old boss and old flame Baxter Dunne, otherwise known as “Chef Hot Cakes,” turns up in hopes of filming an episode of his cooking show. This is the first in Kauffman’s sweetly charming Cupcake Club romance series, and apropos of that, the author includes several tasty cupcake recipes for readers to try out at home.


Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love, by Megan Caldwell
After taking a copywriter job at a local bakery, newly single mom Molly Hagan discovers there may be more on the menu than tasty cakes. Caldwell, a pseudonym for romance writer Megan Frampton, generously seasons this scrumptious story with plenty of sharp wit as well as five recipes she developed with the pastry chef at Union Square Café.


Wrong to Need You, by Alisha Rai

A decade after he left town, Sadia Ahmed’s brother-in-law Jackson Kane is back with an offer to fill in as chef at her struggling café. Can he be trusted to keep things strictly business? Red-hot romance and the redemptive power of love are the main ingredients in this emotionally intense addition to Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series.



About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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