Monday, July 14, 2014

Cooking Up A Storm by Ashley Ladd: Carly's One Question & Review

Cooking Up A Storm - Tour Banner

Booking Storm - Book Cover

Cooking Up A Storm
by Ashley Ladd
GENRE – Contemporary M/M/M romance
PUBLICATION DATE – July 11, 2014
LENGTH (Words) – 26,500
PUBLISHERTotally Bound

Brooks and Rique desperately want to win the head chef’s position for eccentric millionaire Jonah Verleun on his beautiful, private, but peculiar island that includes a zoo full of exotic animals, an amusement park, and a monster shark tank beneath Jonah’s bedroom floor. While Brooks wants the job to escape his heartache and the lover who thwarted him, Rique is hiding from the mob hoping to live long enough to pay them off with the prize winnings. Fierce competitors, they cook up a storm in a series of cooking challenges all the while trying to turn down the heat on their intense attraction. When a hurricane strikes the island, the storm Rique has been cooking up, explodes and no heart or body are safe.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of multiple male ménage.

Cooking Storm - Author Banner

Troubling thoughts whirled through Rique’s mind. Why had Jonah called him and Brooks into his office? Had they violated some fine-print rule he’d missed? Had Jonah learned about his debts and Mafia troubles?

Gulping, Brooks shared a worried glance. His gait was uneven and stilted and his frame was stiff and wary.

“Are we in trouble?” Brooks whispered.

Worried about the reason for their summons, Rique forced himself to relax and not shake his head at his lover and his loose-cannon lips. As much as he was beginning to love Brooks, there was no way he could share his mob secrets.

Not only would they overly alarm Brooks, but the security team might overhear and he didn’t trust anybody.

Jonah locked the door and leisurely returned to his desk. He folded himself into his chair and looked, long and assessing, at first Brooks then Rique. Finally, he said in a smooth, debonair voice, “No. Not at all. But I wish to remind you of your contract.”

Damn! Rique gulped as they pulled up chairs across from their boss. So they were in trouble. Too late, he realized his toes were tapping fast and that his fingers were linking and unlinking, so he stilled them.

“What about the contract?” Brooks inched forward in his chair and wrung his hands in his lap as his eyes bulged.

Jonah bent over the desk then he pointed at the security cameras.

Before a word came out of Jonah’s mouth, Rique had an epiphany. As he recalled Fiona’s warning, his heart threatened to burst. “You’ve been watching us. Everything. Everywhere.”

Several seconds later, Brooks blanched and his Adam’s apple convulsed. “You saw us together. Intimately, I mean.”

Leaning closer, Jonah nodded. “Yes. You gave your signed permission, and this is my private island which means it’s governed by my rules.”

It could mean Rique’s life if he left. With his heart feeling as though it was beating in his throat, he pleaded, “Please don’t kick us out. Our love lives are our choice and should be private.”

He watched a deep flush crawl up Brooks’ neck and into his cheeks as Brooks begged.

“Please don’t hold it against us. We didn’t plan to fall in love. It just happened. We haven’t hurt anybody.”

Fall in love? Shock and wonder filled Rique. Warmth flowed through him. So Brooks felt the same way he did.

Giddiness replaced the dread born moments before.

Brooks loved him. And he loved Brooks. How could he have fallen so hard, so fast? He reached over and put his hand on Brooks’ shoulder. Then he turned and faced Jonah. “I won’t apologize for loving this wonderful man. And I won’t stop loving him. If it means we can’t be together then I’m torn whether or not I still want the position.”

He couldn’t believe he’d just said that. Damn my heart!

When Brooks squeezed his hand and tilted his chin, light refracted off his glasses and made his pupils look fractured. “Ditto. No disrespect intended, sir.”

Laughing heartily, Jonah slapped the table, causing a few sheets of papers to float to the floor.

Is the man crazy?

Blushing, Jonah gave them a shy smile. “Don’t apologize, and please call me Jonah. I loved watching you. I wanted to join you. I came as much as you did.”

Carly's One Question
Today I welcome Ashley Ladd! She's talking about the fantasy story elements in Cooking Up A Storm. Because this story has so many exotic concepts; a zoo, amusement park, and fish tanks for floors I just HAD to ask her one question! Where did the inspiration come from for such fantastic story elements, and were your ideas inspired by any childhood or real life trips or events?

Ashley: Honestly, I dreamed these ideas up. I just pulled them out of thin air. LOL  I let my imagination soar and chose the things I’d want on my private exotic island if I was a billionaire making my own rules.

Then I pictured Jonah, the billionaire who owns the island and stages the contest, as a fish lover. He owns many statues of merfolk, game fish, and Neptune which he’s placed throughout his compound. Then I decided to make him even more eccentric and added the shark tanks beneath his bedroom floors. To round him out a bit, I added the world class zoo with animals from around the world.

After that I thought, why not add an amusement park? Jonah likes to have fun and he wants his staff to be happy but he doesn’t like to mingle with outsiders. So he provides as much amusement as he can within his private walls.

As my first full-time job was at an amusement park called King’s Island in Mason, Ohio about half an hour north of Cincinnati, those memories are always in my mind so they were bound to pop out in one of my stories. It was a wonderful job for a teenager. When I was off duty I was allowed to partake of all the rides and amusements I wanted for free and believe me, I took advantage of that benefit. I also met my husband at King’s Island. Of course King’s Island is much larger than Jonah’s mini amusement park but he doesn’t have to wait in long lines to ride.

King’s Island also has an awesome Wild Animal Safari which I visited several times. And of course, as a very proud Cincinnatian, I visited the Cincinnati zoo a lot and their famous white Bengal tigers.
To tell you the truth, I’m terrified of sharks and alligators and any creature that would eat a human thus I’m polar opposite of Jonah. However, Rique doesn’t like them either so he’s like me. I wouldn’t step foot into Jonah’s bedroom regardless of how many assurances I received of my safety. In a perverse sort of way, I’m fascinated by these creatures because I am so scared of them. It’s not the first, and probably not the last time, they’ll appear in my stories. They make for fascinating reading.

“Cooking Up A Storm” was a lot of fun to write because I let my imagination run wild. So was Jonah’s character because he is so eccentric.
Buy from Totally Bound!

My Review
4 Stars
Brooks and Rique are both desperate to win the cooking competition that millionaire Jonah Verleun has invited a select group of five Chefs to compete in, with the purpose of choosing a new head chef for his exotic island compound. Brooks is determined to escape the heartache of being left by his lover and hopes the opportunity will give him a chance to rebuild his confidence. Rique is deeply in debt to the mob, and needs the island's isolation almost as badly as the outrageous income Jonah is offering, to buy himself some time and pay back his growing debt.

The competition is fierce, but the unexpected passion that ignites between the two men burns even brighter. While both feel emotional current that pulls them beyond a single night of passion, Rique is unwilling to risk trusting Brooks with his secret and thereby endangering his life as well. Although the men had been warned that they would be watched constantly, neither expected that to extend into their private living quarters as well.

Jonah is instantly attracted to the two virile Chefs who are introduced as part of the group, but watching them satisfy their need for each other pushes him over the edge of caution and drives him to proposition both of them.

While the triad of lovers grow closer over time, Rique's past begins circling closer, and while Jonah's compound should be a fortress of safety, even the strongest of walls has a weakness. Keeping this secret just might cost Rique everything he has come to hold dear.

A sensually written novella, the spectacular foods, exotic location and fantasy like living arrangements are described in breathtaking detail that brought Ladd's imaginative world to life in full color. I would have liked to have seen the same painstaking attention to detail applied to the dynamics of the three men's developing relationship, and felt that the lack of emotional word building was an opportunity lost. While I enjoyed the suspenseful storyline, entertaining secondary characters and steamy sexual encounters, in the end I couldn't help but wish for just a little bit more!
Author Profile
Cooking Storm - Author PhotoAshley Ladd lives, loves, and writes in Paradise, aka Florida, thus many of her stories are set in the Sunshine State. Also a Trekkie and an Air Force disabled vet, Ashley often creates military heroes and heroines and goes where no woman has gone before. She loves romantic comedy, time travel, and cats so don't be surprised if a talking cat shows up in some of her stories.
Ashley writes for Ellora's Cave, Totally Bound, and New Concepts Publishing under this name. 
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  1. Thank you for hosting me and Cooking Up A Storm today. Ashley

  2. Sounds like a good book. I really need to check this one out!

  3. Thank you so much for beign part of the tour and reviewing the book