Title: All Fired Up
Author: Kate Meader
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Her sweetest mistake . . .
Cool as a Chicago winter, private events planner Cara DeLuca is a model of self-control . . . until she meets the one temptation she can’t resist: Shane Doyle. The sexy, Irish pastry chef is too hot, too sure, too young, and after a crazy night in Vegas-her new husband. While at first Cara wants nothing more than a way out of her sham marriage to Shane, she soon finds that beneath his farm boy demeanor lies a man who can match her drive, both in and out of the bedroom. How can the wrong guy feel so deliciously right?
. . . Tastes so, so good
Shane has carefully structured his career and life around one goal: connecting with the family that doesn’t know he exists. Marrying a woman with more issues than a magazine stand wasn’t part of the plan, but melting Cara’s icy exterior is so worth the detour. Now as the annulment date nears and long-buried secrets are revealed, Shane will have to fight for the one thing guaranteeing the perfect life he craves . . . the current Mrs. Shane Doyle.
It took me a while to get into the groove of Kate Meader’s writing but when I got into it, I was in it for the long haul. At first, I thought it would be a simple, ‘we got married in Vegas but we’re strangers or we can have the ultimate benefits without commitments’ type of romance but the depth of the story caught me by surprise. And that endeared me to Cara and Shane.
Shane is a pastry chef making his own name in the industry but he moves to LA and then Chicago to be closer to his remaining family, who by the way does not know about him at all. Now he’s working under Jack Kilroy, superstar chef, in his Chicago restaurant. On a drunken night in Vegas, he ends up hitched to none other than Jack Kilroy’s soon-to-be sister-in-law and ex-producer of his TV show, Cara DeLuca. And while Shane is as swoon-worthy a hero as they come, it was Cara that really fascinated me in the book.
She used to be Jack Kilroy’s producer and her biggest career break would have happened if not for the sudden change in Jack Kilroy’s life plans, which included Cara’s younger sister, Lili. Now, she’s managing events for Jack Kilroy’s Chicago restaurant and hoping to expand the business so she could really flex her managing and organizational skills. She’s seen as aloof and cold by the restaurant staff and it doesn’t help that she can’t even join them in meals during break time. But she has a few secrets of her own and a guilt that she won’t let leave her. Plus, she didn’t count on getting married to an Irish pastry chef, who’s not keen on getting an annulment when, really, they said their ‘I-do’s’ under the influence of alcohol.
A lot happened in the book, from co-habitation shenanigans, meeting the DeLuca clan, a rough rugby game, a trip to The Bean, some line-dancing, motorcycle trips around the city, and cooking. I loved all these but the one the I loved the most in this book is the trajectory of the characters’ development.
I especially adored Cara’s transition from this insecure and guilt-ridden woman to someone who loves herself more and believes in the power of acceptance and understanding. It’s actually the first time that I’ve read a book covering Cara’s particular issue and I really appreciated the treatment that Kate Meader gave to this specific subject. The way it was presented: the story left me heartbroken at first but then I saw the strength in Cara to be able to go through what she had and still triumph over the adversity in the end. It was a joy to read, really.
This is one of those novels that really show the readers how the two main characters fit with each other. Saying they complete each other would be a bit cliche but I love how compatible and complementary Cara and Shane are with one another. Even though they’ve completely led different lives growing up, I think they are kindred spirits. For instance, they both feel removed from their families. Shane didn’t have any family left expect the one in Chicago who has no idea of him. Cara, on the other hand, has the lovely DeLuca family but her struggles before and the consequential guilt have left her feeling like an outsider. But their understanding of each other’s feelings and disposition is one of the things that made me believe they are undoubtedly good, even perfect, for each other.
Since this is my first Kate Meader novel, I didn’t know what to expect from her book. I mentioned earlier about having to get into the groove of her writing but I was hooked afterwards. I love her wit. She had me laughing out loud countless of times throughout the book. And then she would have me choking back tears in some. And I love that even though there were plenty of hot, and I mean hot scenes in there, she also gave me a lot of heart. This book reminds me of what I feel when I read Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books. Their books are both sexy, charming, laugh-out-loud, but heartwarming.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
About the author:
Kate writes contemporary romance that serves up delicious food, to-die-for heroes, and heroines with a dash of sass. Originally from Ireland, she cut her romance reader teeth on Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Mills & Boons thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, and she’s there. She has a bachelor’s in law (useless), a master’s in history (not as useless), and another master’s in library and information science (yay, using). When not writing about men who cook and the women who drool over them, she works in an academic library. Her stories are set in her adopted home town of Chicago, a city made for food, romance, and laughter – and where she met her own sexy hero.
Kate is represented by Nicole Resciniti at The Seymour Agency.