Thursday 1 December 2022


 Hello there!

If you're looking for my IWSG post, for practically the first time ever, I'm missing it. Clashes with the WEP challenge and life is super busy at this time of year, anyway. See you in January.

Seeing you're here, I'd be delighted if you'd read my meet-up with the two MCs in my latest novel...and answer my question at the end.


For the WEP challenge this month, I've edited the scene from my 'women's fiction with romantic and suspense elements' Paris Cookery School novel where my two main characters meet. It's over the limit at 1053, so sorry, but it fits the prompt perfectly, especially with reference to Roberta Flack's song. 

Something has been lost in the editing process, but hey, I might use this shorter version in my WIP. 

To pre-empt comments, I'm a member of the FB group, Ask a Book Editor, (highly recommended) and I was told the latest preference for foreign words is to italicise the first usage, thereafter don't, as italics get annoying after a while. I drink to that.

Angélique runs a cookery school. Charlie is a new student. Thus begins the romance which is the heart of the novel. 

TAGLINE: More than cooking goes on in the kitchen.

Your face, your face, your face



A very dishy dish stands at my kitchen door – handsome, tall, and very English. After lugging his suitcase up five floors, his cheeks are flushed. And those eyes – I’m lost. They’re the color of the sea on a cloudy day, pale green flecked with gold. Mon Dieu. So hot.


His charcoal pin-striped suit is too dressy for my cookery school. Although with his glossy black hair, groomed hipster beard, and devastating smile, who am I to judge?


Entrez.” I sweep my arm in a gracious lady-of-the-manor gesture. “Welcome to Le Petit Paris Kitchen Cookery School. I’m your host, Angélique Ravello. You’re Charlie Byron?”


His mouth is luscious and with that quirk at the edge, he’s permanently smiling. He holds out a hand. “Yes. Enchanted, I’m sure, Angélique.” His phone pings. “Pardon.” He reaches into his pocket, silences it.


There's that hand again.


His fingers are long and strong like a piano player’s. If his smile turns my legs to water, what will happen if I touch him? Sucking in a breath, I take those fingers in mine. I swear the earth moves in my hand.


We both laugh. Did he feel that powerful surge of electricity? Or am I going mad?


Enchanté, Charlie.” Neither of us breaks the grip. His fingers tighten on mine. When did we move so close? It’s like our bodies are magnetized. Now I can fully appreciate his handsome bearded face with cheekbones to shame a supermodel. And his délicieux cologne duels with délicieux cookery smells.


His smile dimples his face. “Thank you, or should I say merci?”


Behave yourself Angélique. I break the grip. Rub sweaty hands down my thighs. “English is fine, unless you prefer—”


“English then.”


His eyes rove my face. “You look like Amélie from that fabulous film everyone watches before coming to Paris.” He slaps his head. “No doubt you get that all the time.”


“I do.” My heartbeat whooshes in my ears. I won’t risk my cookery school’s reputation by flirting. I’ve already disgraced myself with my over-the-top reaction to his gorgeousness.


He inhales rosemary lamb while he gives my kitchen a good going over with those goldy-green eyes. “Uhmah. Something smells good.”


And something looks good. I’m lit up inside, my veins thrum. I haven’t felt like this since I met Alexandre at lycée.


“Everything okay?” His head tilts to the side while I check him out with one side of my brain while the other tells me to behave.


I drag my eyes from his face. “Oui, oui. Parfait.” I’m trembling like a leaf shaking in the Mistral in the South of France.


“So, what’s the verdict on my kitchen?”


He frowns like it was the last question he expected. Well, my man, it was the last question I expected to utter.


“Hmmm.” He raises a perfectly-groomed eyebrow, no stranger to a brow bar.


“Well, Charlie, you’re a BBC presenter, interior designer, and builder of bespoke kitchens. How does mine rate?”


“Right.” He scratches his beard. “I’m surprised to find such a modern kitchen here.” He drops his leather man bag on his luggage, kicks it to the side, steps forward for a closer look.


At me? Or the kitchen?


He rubs his hands together. “This is one beautiful kitchen.”


“Thanks.” Not as beautiful as you. I let go of the counter and surprisingly don’t drop to the floor. “I couldn’t afford an interior designer. How did I do?” That’s me, digging for compliments. Shameless.


“You did great.” He quirks his lips in a cute smile. “Your expansive workspaces are state-of-the-art. Those picture windows and balcony doors let in so much natural light it’s magical. Your furniture is sympathetic to the baroque window moldings. And I appreciate what you’ve done with color.”


“You like the color?” My voice squeaks. My maman and I pored over a thousand paint catalogues to recreate the warmth that sharing a perfect meal brings.


“I do. To use a food reference, those walls are raspberry macarons dipped in custard cream.”


Yum. This Englishman totally gets the vibe. “Exactly. What I aimed for.”


“You achieved it. Those rosy walls are a perfect foil to your blue and white Moroccan floor tiles, Italian marble workbench, and top-of-the-range Lacanche cooker. Brilliant.” He’s on a roll. “You’ve achieved that lived-in, much-loved feel rarely found in London kitchens. But I must say, those cooking smells beat all …” He kisses his fingers.


I’d like to hug him for his generous critique, but of course I don’t. He’s from London, I’m from Paris. Nine days of rubbing shoulders and he’ll be gone.


I smooth my chignon to keep my hands busy. “Thanks. A welcome drink, Charlie? Champagne?”


“Just the ticket. Do you mind if I nose around?” His phone chirps again. He glances at the screen, frowns, silences it.


“Not at all.” I lift a bottle of Champagne la Maison Garnier from the ice bucket and am tempted to plunge my face into the chill. While he opens cupboard doors, checks out Grand-mère’s antique china, watches the street theatre, I fill two crystal flutes. I breathe deeply to get control of myself, join him on the balcony, hand him a frothy glass, drown in his dreamy eyes, “Salut, Charlie.”


“Salut, Angélique. Hmmm. Del-ic-io-us.” He watches the bubbles fizz. “Like the view.” His voice is as smooth as his silk Hermès scarf slung oh-so-casually around his neck.


“I’m aware of how lucky I am with what I have.” And nearly lost when Maman died.


“Bloody hell! Uh, excuse my French. The Eiffel Tower.” He leans forward, eyes aglow. “How cool to have people come from all over the world to share this view while they learn to cook. Epic.”


“I agree.” I gulp my champagne faster than I should. My head spins. Fizz tickles my nostrils. Is my frozen heart thawing like the snow which fell in Paris this winter? No matter. My new mantra – ‘be always professional.’


“So,” Charlie says, “who else is coming?”


Merde. I’d be happy to stand here for the rest of the night and breathe him in. “Three women - from Ireland, Australia and Alaska.”




It’s a tight squeeze on my balcony and I deliberately push my hip against his. He brings back memories of happy times I’ve spent here with Alexandre.


But Alexandre is gone.



In my latest novel, out in 2023, drama, romance, and passion are layered, flavoured, tasted and left to simmer, not unlike the traditional French recipes scattered throughout the book.



Anyone a whiz at choosing book titles? I'm struggling with this one. Here is what I have so far ... can't move forward with the cover until I settle on one.

1. Le Petit Paris Cookery School 

2. The Taste of Love

3. A Feast of Food and Love

4. The Cookery School of Second Chances

5. The Recipe for Second Chances

5. Other?

 That's it for 2022. It's all over bar the shouting! It's been a great year for WEP with some beyond fabulous writing. Thanks to my wonderful team, and all who participated, either by posting entries, reading entries, and supporting Team WEP. And a big thank you to Nick Wilford for his judging expertise. 

Raspberry macarons with custard cream - yum! 
Can't wait to taste them again!



Elephant's Child said...

Definitely hot.
And I struggle with titles but lean towards 'The Taste of Love'.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Scorching! Made my veins thrum a bit too. Perfect pacing and the whole done to a turn, pun intended. :)

None of the titles have this explosive sense of passion that's there in the writing. Current incumbents rather sedate. Sorry that's not very helpful, is it? Does French cuisine have sizzlers? Would that be an appropriate word to build the title on? Definitely wants a word that denotes excitement and thrill and passion.

Brilliant take on the prompt, btw. Just loved it and want to read more.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise - wonderfully set up - I now want to read the rest ... and what happens. Add the food in ... and the cookery school - three women from other parts of the world ... oh la la ...

Number 2 ...

Cheers and here's to lots of encouragement ... Hilary

Jemi Fraser said...

I like Recipe for Second Chances best :)

Great snippet! I think that's going to be a very steamy kitchen!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Denise:
That is brilliant description. I struggle with love descriptions. I'd better get good at it.

For the title: I have trouble too, but I think The Taste For Love is good only I'd replace The with A: A Taste For Love.


Olga Godim said...

So romantic!
Of the titles, I'd go with #1.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for reading @Elephant's Child, @Nila, @Hilary, #Jemi, @Olga, @Nancy. Also thanks for the title votes. I have a lot to think about.

A Hundred Quills said...

I enjoyed this passionate exchange. A brilliant sneak peek into your upcoming novel. How about The Taste of Love or some sort of a French and English brewing?

ashok said...

Wonderful.. Nice to connect to your blog

Yolanda Renée said...

An exciting tease for the rest! Loved it.

As for the title. I'd go with the first one, but by the time the book is done, it'll give you the title!

Happy Holidays!
Wishing you and yours peace and health!!!!

cleemckenzie said...

Based on this delicious piece of the story, I'd go with The Taste of Love.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

A Recipe for Second Chances sounds intriguing. Merry Christmas, Denise.

Pat Garcia said...

All your titles sound good but to be honest I don‘t know which one I would choose. Maybe, the passion in the story should define the title. Your snippet is definitely passionate.
Have a merry Christmas and a safe crossover into 2023.
Shalom aleichem

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Yup. That's a story with a lot of chemistry :)

I'm hoping that next year I'll be joining the WEP hops again--see you there!

Denise Covey said...

@Rebecca, @Pat, @Joylene, @Lee, @Renee, @Ashoc, @Sonia. Thank you all for your help in choosing titles. Merry Christmas everyone!

Rebecca, I'm glad you're coming back next year! Have missed you.

Beth Camp said...

An inviting 'taste' of the story to come! Re titles, #2 A Taste of Love, jumped off the page for me . . . and then #4 The Cookery School of Second Chances suggested more about the relationships in the story. The words "feast" and "recipe" seem to move me away from that sense of romance that permeated the excerpt. Lovely story. Whatever title you choose will surely attract readers! Thank you for sharing.

J Lenni Dorner said...

I really like the second title, except it's super close to A Taste for Love
by Jennifer Yen.
The Recipe for Second Chances -- there's a book call The Secret Recipe for Second Chances, so as long as you leave out that word, it can work. So that one gets my vote.

Looks like a good romance book. Love and food, food and love. Good combo!

(Then again, I married a chef. So I'm biased.)

Dewey Decimal System Day is December 10. 📚
“The only limit to your success is your own imagination” – Shondra Rhimes
I wish you a merry holiday ⛄ season, and a New Year full of peace, joy, and creativity.

Nick Wilford said...

Definitely simmering, rising to a boil. I might combine 2 and 3 and go for A Feast of Love.

Denise Covey said...

@Beth, @J Lenni, @Nick. Thanks so much for your input re titles. It seems I need to find something a bit more spicy!

H. R. Sinclair said...

OOOOOOOO, niiiice! :) I like the 4th and 5th titles, it give a good sense of what the book is about while still being fun.

L.G. Keltner said...

You truly are an expert at setting a scene and creating that romantic tension that keeps people reading. Masterful!

Bernadette said...

A sumptuous story. For the title, I'm leaning towards 5 (maybe 'A Recipe' instead of 'The Recipe') and 2.

Chrys Fey said...

I really like The Taste of Love. Flows nicely. And that tagline is perfect. I have a soft spot for movies and books that feature food, so I am intrigued by this story. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Love romance and food. A winning combination! Great storytelling here. Thanks for sharing.

Jamie said...

I love books with food. Especially if verbs cause instructions that sneak around dialogue with story. I love the descriptions so far. I would Google to see if the place is real, not that I can afford it, but for the "lotto bucket list." The only thing that stuck out to me was country, country, state. I was pulled out for a moment to wonder if people in other countries, like France, actually do that with America. If 🇺🇸 we're so un-United that people in other countries feel the urge to identify by state? I mean, I can't say I'd blame them. It's not a big deal, ...and maybe more my own political involvement that caught my eye. Like, the list would feel fine if the school were in NYC. Because Americans listing a state with countries, sure. Or even something like, "China, Mexico, and Chicago." Country, Country, City. Because if it's set in America, of course you'd just say the city. Even in NYC, just naming another borough would sound fine. I'd pay it no mind. "America." "Oh, where?" "Alaska." Though I'm fascinated by the diversity of that state so then I want to know which part. 🤣 I'm useless. Just shove a macaroon in my mouth to shut me up already! 😍🍪

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

A nicely romantic scene that leaves me nostalgic for times when going to a French restaurant was within the realm of possibility and wouldn't entail taking out a loan just to be able to afford a meal.