Did you know September 10-16 is Chef Appreciation Week this year? How exciting is that?!
I know, I know, it’s back-to-school season, but I’ve already written a back-to-school post. Yeah, I’ve already written a food post too, but this time I thought it would be fun to talk about those who fulfill our fictional food fantasies, CHEF characters!
Romance is FULL of chef heroes and heroines. There’s just something about being in the kitchen surrounded by food that creates the perfect setting for love… or loathing. Chef heroes and heroines add a whole lot of extra flavor to typical romance tropes (pun totally intended). So in honor of Chef Appreciation Week, let’s explore how those tropes are so much tastier with chefs at the helm as we show our appreciation for those who heat up the kitchen.
One of my favorite tropes is loathe-to-love (aka hate-to-love and/or enemies-to-lovers), and when it takes place in the kitchen? Count. Me. In. What a place for cooks to clash! Egos flare, attraction sparks, passions ignite, and love fans into a flame. A perfect example of this is Jenny Proctor’s third Hawthorne brother book, How to Kiss Your Enemy All that friction between chefs Lennox and Tatum is so fun. Our very own Jan Thompson also has chef rivals in her Savannah Sweethearts series, Call You Home. Bonus, Jan’s title features a deaf heroine! (I love seeing diverse representation in Christian fiction. Isn’t it beautiful to explore God’s wide world through the eyes of others whose experience vary from our own?) Let’s give a shout out to Piper and Isaac! And one of my all-time favorite rival chef romances is Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish from rom-com queen Bethany Turner with chefs Hadley and Max battling it out for reality television glory.
If grumpy/sunshine romances are more your thing, what’s more fun than a broody, crabby chef? Valerie Comer’s chef Levi Esteban from Better Than a Crown is a prime example of hard-headed and brooding hero (and I adored him).
Billionaire, widower, and single dad romances are market staples, and you can find all three in Jan Thompson’s His Morning Kiss, where we meet a personal chef Skye.
See what I mean about putting chefs into all sorts of romance tropes? What a *perfect* way to add a little forced proximity, caregivers, or any number of other sub-tropes we love.
And I’ve got a few more personal chef books for you! Lavished with Lavender from Valerie Comer features both a nurse and a personal chef, which is doubly fab in my book (cheers for Chef Tony!). And I can’t forget my dear friend Teresa Tysinger’s personal chef Leah Spencer in Say It’s For Good, which also combines the tropes of second chances and a fake relationship with Teresa’s signature Southern flavor and gorgeous backdrops.
Speaking of forced proximity (and workplace romance!), Sarah Monzon’s Freedom’s Kiss is full of sparks between food truck owner Adam and chef-hopeful Olivia. Lindi Peterson’s Chef Grant reconnects with his childhood sweetheart and friend in Sweet Love of Mine, and you’ll have fun with Paige’s unique and tasty offerings in Elizabeth Maddrey’s opposites attract tale, A Splash of Substance while learning about sustainable food!
We’ve covered a lot of tropes already, but I can’t leave without appreciating the chef of at least one marriage of convenience book. Dwight Williams, chef of the legendary Maple Pit in Toni Shiloh’s Buying Love, is just the sort of hero worth appreciating. (Come on, maple barbecue and all the other maple goodness? Stop. I’m drooling.)
While it’s still fairly early in the back-to-school season, a lot of us are looking forward to Christmas books!! If that’s your favorite, Carolyn Miller’s upcoming holiday release will feature TWO chefs, Alphonse and Camille. Plus it’s a collection of short romances, so you know I’m down for that. (This tall girl LOVES her short books LOL!) You can pre-order Muskoka Holiday Morsels for auto-download on 11/2/23.
I also happen to have a holiday romance featuring a chef heroine. CJ Sinclair is visiting her sister this Christmas as she sorts out her life after breaking free of a traumatic relationship. There, CJ reconnects with her former best friend and first love, ex-military musician Tobin, in Now and Forever Christmas, a friends-to-more second chance tale with a wacky, lovable family lightening the serious moments. There are plenty of those, since CJ walked away from God for a while and yearns for redemption and forgiveness with her fresh start.
Whew! We covered a lot of ground today! LOL! I hope our chef characters feel appreciated. 😉 Wouldn’t you agree the passion, artistry, and dedication of chefs make the most overdone of tropes more palatable?
Since all of our chefs here are fictional, I’d like to offer my own personal appreciation gift to one lucky reader! To enter the random drawing for an eBook edition of Now and Forever Christmas, be sure to comment with your favorite fictional chef, the title of the book they’re in, and/or which of YOUR favorite tropes I missed! Remember, until tomorrow 9/12, your comments are ALSO your entries into the 2023 Back-to-School Bash!
Until next time, happy reading!