Marianne Arkins

No matter the decade, always Happily Ever After

 
Kitchen Matches from Samhain Publishing
 

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Cori Weathers is a wizard with a torque wrench, but the moment she lays eyes on her cooking teacher, Micah DePalma, her lessons turn into a klutzy symphony of flying poultry and burning aprons. It makes no sense. He couldn’t be less her type: tall, skinny, and born with a silver spoon in his mouth. So why is her heart sputtering like a badly tuned engine?

Despite family pressure to date only women of his own social class, something about the cooking-challenged spitfire lights all Micah’s burners. Cori’s a complex dish inside a deceptively simple coating, one he’s willing to risk tackle football and jealous ex-boyfriends to sample.

His every attempt to crack her stubborn heart strikes sparks. Will they ignite the flame of love—or explode into just another kitchen disaster?

Warning: This story contains flying poultry, annoying older brothers, the occasional quote from Shakespeare, and enough sexual tension to overheat ovens—and engines.

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 BOOK TRAILER

 

EXCERPT

          Corinne Weathers, Cori to her friends and family—but not to her very proper cooking class teacher, Micah DePalma—gave a squeak of fear at the flames creeping up her apron. She slapped at them with her potholder, but it didn’t help. Her throat was so tight with panic, she couldn’t cry out for help. With one last futile whack at the growing fire, and desperately trying to remain calm, Cori reached behind her neck to untie the apron straps. Her trembling fingers fumbled with the bow and pulled it into a good, solid knot.

          A brief hissing sound was the only warning she got before clouds of whatever white stuff lurked inside a fire extinguisher smacked into her gut like a fist and drifted in a halo around her head.

          She coughed and waved a hand in the air in an attempt to clear it. “Thanks.”

          “You’re welcome.” A familiar male voice threaded through the cloud.

          Cori grimaced. Ack. Saved by Micah DePalma, her handsome-but-cranky cooking teacher. Why couldn’t it have been someone—anyone—else? She closed her eyes for a moment and prayed for something to rescue her from his wrath. She knew a lecture was on its way, knew she deserved one for setting herself on fire, but she really didn’t want to hear it.

          “Are you okay?” Micah’s low voice rumbled over her, as did one firm hand as he checked for injuries. “No burns?”

          Cori ignored the warmth of his skin on hers and cracked open one watering eye to look at him. He really seemed genuinely worried. Not angry. How had that happened? She’d done nothing but annoy him since this course had started.

          “I’m okay. Thanks to you.” She shrugged off his hand.

          “And no thanks to you,” he replied, tossing the small fire extinguisher back and forth and giving her a lopsided smile only slightly tinged with irritation.

          Uh oh. Here it came. She scrunched up her face, prepared for the worst. Maybe if she apologized before he yelled, it would help. “I’m sorry.”

          “I imagine you are.” He set down the small red metal tube and stared at the disaster area that was her stove. “However, I’d say you failed this lesson. You may spend the rest of class cleaning up this mess.”

          Without a backward glance to make certain Cori obeyed his royal decree, Micah turned and walked away. She took a quick look at the horrified faces of her classmates. Her face burned as hot as the flames had on her apron, but she refused to give in to the tears that threatened. Instead she snatched up a wet rag and rubbed at the spilled oil and other goop on the stovetop.

          When class was finally over, she put away the cleaning supplies and tossed her dirty rags into the laundry. By the time she’d finished and grabbed her leather jacket, most of the class had already left. She dipped her head and tiptoed toward the door, wanting to sneak out before she did anything else wrong.

          “Ms. Weathers,” Micah called.

          Her heart jumped at the sound of her name on his lips. Now what? Cori hated that he had the ability to both arouse and annoy her, so she opted to grab hold of the annoyance with both hands. She turned and glared, tapping her foot while she waited for him to speak.

          Too bad he was such a jerk to her, because he really was kind of a hottie, if a bit too slick and tidy. He had “high class” written all over him, in the way he dressed and the way he talked. That was enough to take him right off her list of potential dates, despite the way her body reacted when he got too close. She didn’t have a good history with high-class guys.

          She remembered the night his mother—a slim, brittle-looking woman—joined them in class. One look at her perfectly manicured fingers and precisely coiffed hair, and Cori felt certain the woman hadn’t cooked a day in her life. She probably had some fancy French chef who lived in her mansion cooking up perfectly balanced and attractive meals for her.

          Still, Mrs. DePalma made all the right noises over the masterpiece Micah had created, taking the smallest bites Cori had ever seen someone eat. No wonder the woman was so thin she’d disappear if she turned sideways. She oozed class and money, just like her son.

          So, yeah. Micah was so far off the list it wasn’t funny.

          “I’m too busy to walk you out,” he said without looking up from the papers in front of him. “Please let Jimmy do so.”

          She rolled her eyes at his suggestion. Sure it was late. Sure it was dark. And, yeah, the parking lot was pretty well deserted. Despite all that, she could take care of herself. She’d been doing so ever since she turned sixteen and began to work nights at the garage.

          She had to admit, though, she really didn’t mind letting Micah walk her to her car. It was a strange sensation, being looked after and she thought it rather nice to have him nearby. For safety, she hedged. She also didn’t stop herself from thinking that, maybe one day, he might try to kiss her goodnight. Her heart pounded just a little harder at the thought. Gah. She had a crush on her teacher. She gave a small shake of her head, disgusted. She was a cliché.

Reviews (click the link for the complete review)

…the author has an easy sense of humor that works on me. Her heroine’s klutzy drama in her cooking class, for example, comes off as something an inept person will do rather than a contrived attempt at slapstick comedy. The end result is something that is actually funny. I like Ms Arkins’ style…  -- Mrs. Giggles

…sweet, funny, and enjoyable. A pleasant, well-written story.  -- Sphinx Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews  Rated:  4 Nymphs

With flying chickens and burning aprons, wise cracking, over-protective brothers and ex-boyfriends that won’t take no for an answer, Kitchen Matches is an entertaining read that you’ll be glad you picked up… Rachel, Fallen Angels Reviews - Rated:  5 Angels

 

…a quick-read, fast-paced and so romantic and funny that it has something for everyone. I highly recommend it.  Brenda Talley, The Romance Studio, Rated:  5 Hearts
 

More to come!

Shakespearean Quotes I'd intended Micah to use... but he didn't choose to

My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give thee, the more I have, For both are infinite.” – Juliet in Romeo and Juliet

 “Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.” – Ophelia in Hamlet

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:” - Sonnet 18

 

"Tempt not a desperate man". – Romeo and Juliet

 

"See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!". – Romeo and Juliet

 

"I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at". – Othello

"Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better" – Twelfth Night

"The course of true love never did run smooth". – A midsummer’s Night Dream

 

Love sought is good, but given unsought, is better.

 

My heart is ever at your service.

One half of me is yours, the other half yours-
Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
And so all yours!

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