Spotlight & Giveaway: Falling for Her Rival by Jackie Braun

Posted June 16th, 2014 by in Blog, Spotlight / 31 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome romance author Jackie Braun to HJ!
Spotlight&Giveaway

Hi Jackie, welcome 🙂 

What would you say is your motto or maxim as a writer?

Jackie BraunJust keep writing, especially when the words are coming in a trickle. If I keep plowing ahead, eventually I get where I need to be.

Would you rather… visit the world 100 years into the past or 100 years into the future? Why?

One hundred years in the past, definitely! I don’t want to know the future. I’d rather it be a surprise…for better or worse. But I’d like to go back in time to experience life before it was overrun by many of the modern “conveniences” we take for granted now. Life without aniPhone, the internet or a laptop? Gah! That would be interesting. (By the way, my first time travel story, a novella titled Mine Tomorrow that is part of a bundle of paranormal and urban fantasy stories, is coming out July 1. It takes place in 1945, so not 100 years ago, but there was still none of the technology that rules life today.)

Let’s talk about your newest release: Falling for Her Rival

If you had to summarize the book for the readers here

FFHRFalling for Her Rival is a fun read about two talented chefs who find themselves pitted against each other in a televised cooking competition, and there’s a lot more sizzling than just the food!

If you love food –cooking it or eating it–you’ll enjoy this book. If you are addicted to television shows such as Chopped!, then this will be right up your alley.

Please tell us about the characters in your book?

The hero and heroine are two people who know exactly what they want…until theymeet and start to fall in love.

Lara Dunham was a wild child. As a young adult, she rebelled in fine fashion to get her exacting father’s attention. But she went too far. She married the only food critic in Manhattan who dared give her dad’s restaurant, the Chesterfield, a subpar rating! She and her father haven’t spoken in years. Now divorced and full of regrets, she still wants his approval. When a cooking competition that offers the grand prize of running the Chesterfield’s kitchen comes up, she enters under an alias. All of her future hopes hang on winning.

Finn Westbrook also is divorced and in need of redemption. His ex laid claim to all of his recipes and sullied his good name in culinary circles with her lies. If he wins the competition, he can prove the naysayers wrong.

Their reasons for wanting to win the show become major obstacles when they start to fall for each other.

As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

My characters ALWAYS surprise me. I never truly know them or how a story will end until I’m done with a book. You could say my writing process is a bit of an adventure. LOL

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

The scene where they play Rock, Paper, Scissors for the cab at the beginning. I’d been having a hard time with the opening of this book. In fact, I’d rewritten it so many times, I was starting to feel like I was in the movie Goundhog Day. Then this scene came to me and everything else just fell into place.

When a taxi pulled to a stop a moment later, she dashed for it. She reached for the door handle at the same time a man did. Their fingers brushed and they both stepped back.
“Oh!” Lara gasped, not only because she had competition for the ride, but because the competition in question was drop-dead gorgeous.
While most of the men on the street at this time of the day were decked out business attire, carrying briefcases and barking orders into cell phones, this one was wearing faded jeans and a lightweight windbreaker. He looked as if he should have a surfboard tucked under his arm and be heading out to Long Beach to catch a wave. His face was tanned. His hair a sandy brown with streaks of sun-bleached blond thrown in. A quarter-inch worth of stubble shadowed his jaw and framed an easygoing smile that seemed at odds with his intense gray eyes.
“Rock, Paper, Scissors?” he asked.
“Why not?” she replied, hoping the rain would continue to hold off while they played.
“On the count of three then.”
She hiked the strap of her purse onto her shoulder to free up her hands and nodded.
“One. Two. Three,” they said in unison as they each pounded a fist into the opposite palm.
Afterward he was holding his right hand out flat. Lara, meanwhile, was mimicking a cutting motion with her index and middle fingers.
“Scissors cut paper,” she said unnecessarily.
With a shake of his head, the man said, “I had you figured for a rock.”

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

The scene where Lara and Finn go to her father’s restaurant for dinner. She tries to make amends with her father and he turns her away. I had a very close relationship with my late father. It would have killed me to have been treated in such a callous manner.

“She is not welcome here, and neither are you if you’re with her.”
“She is your daughter.”
“I don’t have a daughter.” After that pronouncement, Clifton rubbed his chest.
Lara was on her feet in an instant, her own heart thumping as she worried over his. “Dad, are you okay?”
He shrugged off the hand she’d placed on his arm. “I’m fine. Or I will be once you’re gone.”
If he’d inserted a knife between her shoulder blades and gave it a few ruthless twists, it would have been less painful. Still, her reception here was no less than she’d expected.
“I’m going.” She hesitated only a moment before telling him, “I know I’ve said I’m sorry, but there’s something else I want you to know. I love you, Dad.”

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?

You know, I don’t know! But I love the idea of having a book optioned!

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?

Don’t be so single-minded. You miss a lot if you’re always staring straight ahead.

What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?

As I mentioned, my time travel novella, Mine Tomorrow, comes out July 1. That’s it for 2014, I believe. I have a Harlequin Romance titled The Heir’s Unexpected Return coming out early in 2015, and an untitled contemporary romance coming out from Entangled Indulgence next summer. Stay tuned!

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

Giveaway: Digital copy of Falling for Her Rival

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Would you ever enter a cooking competition, televised or otherwise? What would be your winning dish?

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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
Gather ingredients
LARA DUNHAM MOVED the sprig of basil a fraction of an inch to the left on a sautéed chicken breast that sat atop a bed of risotto and asparagus tips. Afterward, she took a step back. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the food editor of Home Chef magazine, she eyed the table.
“I don’t know,” the other woman murmured. “It still doesn’t look right.”
Nor did it taste right, but Lara kept the thought to herself. She’d filched a nibble during the setup. It wasn’t merely a trick of the trade that had left her palate dissatisfied. Food used in photo shoots was often undercooked to help retain moisture. No, in this case, the rice needed more seasoning. In fact, it needed a lot more seasoning. But she bit her tongue because doctoring up the recipes wasn’t her call.
She did say, “The square plate isn’t working for me.”
Just as she’d suspected, it was giving off a decidedly Asian vibe that didn’t lend itself to the Italian-inspired dish.
The plate had been the editor’s suggestion; one Lara had taken out of expediency rather than agreement. She knew from past experience with the prickly older woman that it was easier and ultimately less time-consuming to show her that something didn’t work than to insist on something else up front.
Sure enough, the editor made a humming sound before agreeing. Lara held back a triumphant smile and turned to the college intern who was assisting her.
“Bring me the large round one with the wide rim. And let’s swap out the candles and napkin rings.” Again, they had been the older woman’s suggestion. “The silver is too formal.”
Forty-five minutes later, with the food carefully replated and the tablescape tweaked to represent Lara’s vision, the photographer got his shot. It would grace the October cover of the national publication and be seen by millions of people.
“Another fabulous shoot,” the editor gushed as the photographer gathered up his equipment and Lara prepared to leave the magazine’s offices. “I should know better than to give you suggestions. What you come up with always looks better. No one makes food look more appetizing than you do.”
Lara accepted the compliment with a nod. As a food stylist, that was her job and she was good at it. She was much sought after because of her attention to detail, a reputation that she’d earned over the course of nearly a decade.
Perhaps that was why it stung so badly that to her father, Lara remained a colossal disappointment.
Those who can, cook. Those who can’t, style food.
So sayeth the legendary restaurateur Clifton Chesterfield.
He’d paid her tuition to the top-rated culinary school in the country, after which he’d sent her abroad for two years to study cooking techniques in both Tuscany and the south of France. From the time Lara had been old enough to make a simple roux, his plan had been that she would follow in his footsteps and someday run the kitchen at the New York landmark that bore his name. The landmark where he’d spent practically every waking hour of Lara’s childhood.
Was it any wonder that she’d resented the restaurant? Was it any wonder that she’d resented him for choosing it over his family?
So, as a full-of-herself young twentysomething, she’d rebelled. And she’d done so spectacularly.
At thirty-three, Lara could look back and admit that she’d taken her revolt too far. She’d publicly dissed both her father and his beloved restaurant, and then married the only food critic in Manhattan who’d ever dared to give the Chesterfield a subpar rating.
Her marriage to Jeffery Dunham had lasted only slightly longer than the rise on a first-year culinary student’s soufflé before she’d come to her senses. By then, however, the damage was done. Her father refused to speak to her.
Eight years later, Lara was old enough and wise enough to admit that she’d cut off her nose to spite her face. Irony of ironies, she now wanted to hang up her stylist credentials and pursue a career as a chef. She also wanted her dad’s respect, if not his affection. She wanted to hear him say, “Well-done.”
But when she’d approached him a year earlier about a job, he’d broken his silence only long enough to refuse to hire her—not even to do prep work. And since he wouldn’t hire her, no credible kitchen in the city would either. Such was Clifton Chesterfield’s reach and reputation.
Well, finally, she had an opportunity to make her father see her as a serious chef, and Lara wasn’t about to blow it.
With the shoot wrapped, she stepped outside to catch a cab. Barring a traffic tie-up, she had just enough time to make it to Midtown before one o’clock. Of course, she wouldn’t have a chance to grab lunch, but since nerves had tied her stomach in knots, she wasn’t complaining.
Overhead, fat clouds the color of ripe eggplants were huddled together. Any moment, the sky was going to open up and it was going to pour, and she hadn’t brought an umbrella. She tried not to think of the weather as a bad omen, but she couldn’t deny its effect on her hair, which had a hard enough time holding a curl when there was no humidity. It was stick straight now, a glossy auburn curtain that fell even with her shoulders. Before raising her arm to hail a cab, she fussed with the fringe of bangs she already regretted getting at her last salon visit.
When a taxi pulled to a stop a moment later, she dashed for it. She reached for the door handle at the same time a man did. Their fingers brushed and they both stepped back.
“Oh!” Lara gasped, not only because she had competition for the ride, but because the competition in question was drop-dead gorgeous.
While most of the men on the street at this time of the day were decked out business attire, carrying briefcases and barking orders into cell phones, this one was wearing faded jeans and a lightweight windbreaker. He looked as if he should have a surfboard tucked under his arm and be heading out to Long Beach to catch a wave. His face was tanned. His hair a sandy brown with streaks of sun-bleached blond thrown in. A quarter-inch worth of stubble shadowed his jaw and framed an easygoing smile that seemed at odds with his intense gray eyes.
“Rock, Paper, Scissors?” he asked.
“Why not?” she replied, hoping the rain would continue to hold off while they played.
“On the count of three then.”
She hiked the strap of her purse onto her shoulder to free up her hands and nodded.
“One. Two. Three,” they said in unison as they each pounded a fist into the opposite palm.
Afterward he was holding his right hand out flat. Lara, meanwhile, was mimicking a cutting motion with her index and middle fingers.
“Scissors cut paper,” she said unnecessarily.
With a shake of his head, the man said, “I had you figured for a rock.”
Hmm. How to take that?
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed.”
He held open the cab’s door for her. Before closing it, however, he leaned inside. Something in his expression had changed so that it now matched the intensity in his eyes.
“Hey, since you’re costing me my ride, can I…can I ask you for a favor?”
“I guess so,” she said slowly. It wasn’t wariness she felt exactly. More like anticipation. Like a kid on Christmas, getting ready to unwrap the last gift from beneath the tree.
But then he shook his head. “Nah. Forget it. Crazy,” she thought he muttered as he started to straighten.
She tugged him back by saying, “No. Really. Ask. It’s the least I can do.”
He hesitated only a moment. “I’m on my way to something important. It’s kind of a big deal for me. A game changer.”
“A job interview?”
“Yeah. In a manner of speaking.”
She nodded, understanding. So was she. In a manner of speaking. “So, what’s the favor?”
“Can I…” His gaze lowered to her lips. “Can I have a kiss for luck?”
Lara’s breath whooshed out on a laugh even as parts of her body started to tingle. “I’ll give you props for creativity. That’s a line I’ve never heard before.”
The man pinched his eyes closed, looking both self-conscious and alarmingly delicious. “Yeah. Pathetic. Forget it.”
He started to straighten a second time. In another moment he would be closing the door, beyond her reach, and she would be on her way. Luck? What the heck? Lara figured she could use a little of it herself. And what would a kiss from a total stranger hurt, really? In a city that boasted more than eight million people, it wasn’t as if she would run into him again. So, before he could retreat or she could entertain second thoughts, she grabbed the front of his jacket and hauled him to her.
Their lips bumped clumsily before settling in place. His were firm, the pressure sweet. She expected him to pull back afterward. Mission accomplished. That would be that. She would be on her way. But one of his hands came up. His palm cradled her jaw. The pad of his thumb stroked her cheek. Long fingers tangled in the hair over her ear. A pair of smoky eyes closed as a sigh escaped. His breath was a feather-soft caress on her face. When his mouth dove back in for seconds she was grateful to be seated since her world tilted on its axis.
“Hey, buddy. You gettin’ in or what?” the cabbie asked in a voice edged with impatience.
It served as a wet blanket to the unexpected bonfire that had flared inside Lara. The man eased away, his smile crooked and slightly self-conscious.
She felt the same way. Public displays of affection really weren’t her thing.
“Nah. The lady won the cab fair and square,” he said as he straightened.
“Good luck,” Lara told him, reaching out to give his fingers a squeeze.
“Thanks.” He studied their linked hands a moment. “You know, I don’t think I’m going to need it after all.”

Book Info:

You know what they say about playing with fire…

For chef Finn Westbrook, it’s time to turn up the heat. Three years ago he hit rock bottom. Now he’s ready for a comeback, starting with winning a TV competition to secure a spot running New York’s trendiest kitchen! He just didn’t count on his attraction to rival Lara Dunham burning a hole in his plans….

Lara has worked her apron off for this opportunity, and total focus on the competition was the plan—which is difficult when all she can think about is wanting her opponent out of the kitchen and in her bed! But there can only be one winner, and sometimes, to win, a girl has to play dirty!
Book Links: Amazon B&N GoodReads

Author Bio

Jackie Braun is the author of more than 30 romance novels that have been translated into two dozen languages and released in countries around the globe. She is a three-time RITA finalist, a four-time National Readers’ Choice Award finalist and the winner of a Rising Star Award. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two sons and a rescued miniature poodle.
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31 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Falling for Her Rival by Jackie Braun”

  1. mrsmac19

    Me? Cooking? God no! I can’t cook to save my life! I can rock a mean Pillsbury ready to bake cookie! 😉

  2. janinecatmom

    No. I would never enter a cooking competition. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t cook well.

  3. marcyshuler

    I’d enter a local competition, but never a big televised one. LOL

    I didn’t enter this contest since I’ve already read the book. It was a really fun read!

  4. Kathleen Nichols

    I would love to but I’m just not that creative of a cook to compete in any cooking shows. I have several dishes that my family loves like porcupine balls, chicken noodle/rice soup, and my beefy rice to name a few. Thx for the opportunity!!!

  5. Kai W.

    I would enter into a cooking contest like Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chief. I would enter a chili cooking contest at work at the most.

  6. Ada

    Since I’m a disaster in the kitchen, I’m going to have to say no, I’d never go in any type of cooking competition!

  7. Kate I.

    I’d use my mom’s recipe for Texas Hill Country Roast (it’s somewhat similar to sauerbraten). It’s my favorite dish that she makes and every guest to whom she’s served it has raved about it.

  8. BARBARA S

    When my kids were younger and I cooked all the time, I might have but rarely cook at all now…..

  9. Maureen

    I can cook pretty well when following a recipe but I have never created my own dishes so I don’t think I would do very well.

  10. Sue G.

    I don’t think I would ever enter a cooking contest, but if I did, it would be for my homemade spaghetti sauce. Been in the family for years. Takes all day to cook.

  11. Glenda

    I doubt it – too much work to actually write down a recipe. I follow a basic plan and improvise a lot. 🙂

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