Louisa Edwards

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Hot Under Pressure

In my research for the Rising Star Chef trilogy, a contemporary romance series that takes place during a high-stakes culinary competition, I had to travel from one coast to the other to sample the food of the three highlighted cities. Gosh, my job is just so rough sometimes! There I was, forced to explore New York City’s bewildering array of restaurants, to eat steamed Vienna beef hot dogs in Chicago, and to scope out the gorgeous Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco. And along the way, I learned that each of those delicious cities has its own style, its own cuisine—its very own flavor.

It’s partly a regional thing. We all know what the local specialties of our hometowns are, right? I grew up in Virginia, where it wasn’t Saturday unless my daddy was bringing home a greasy brown paper bag full of warm ham biscuits slathered with creamy mayonnaise, salty ham, and thick slabs of ripe red tomato.

When I lived in New York, every time I got the sniffles I craved matzoh ball soup—but I also experienced cuisines I’d never tried before, from all over the world, and had some of the best meals of my life. The Chicagoans are rightfully proud of their history as the hog butcher for the world, but in recent years, Chicago chefs have done more than anyone to embrace innovation in the kitchen. And then there’s San Francisco, the city where I set the final round of my fictional Rising Star Chef competition.

The food scene in San Francisco is all about freshness, with a straight-from-the-organic-farm-to-your-plate sensibility that makes eating out feel as warm and welcoming as coming home. That’s what made it the perfect backdrop for HOT UNDER PRESSURE. The hero, Henry Beck, confronts the demons of the past around every corner when he returns to San Francisco for the first time in a decade to compete against the only woman he ever loved. As Publishers Weekly put it, “the intimacy of the competition allows the couple, through the language of food and a sensual memory-filled homecoming, to open their hearts to new perspectives and a second chance at love.” And it could only happen in San Francisco!

If you like second-chance stories, happy endings, and original recipes, answer the following question in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of HOT UNDER PRESSURE.

What ingredient or dish is your hometown known for?




Too Hot To Touch

I love stories where the main character is pulled back from the big city to her little hometown to deal with the family—and maybe the first love—she left behind. The drama, the relationships, the history…I can’t get enough of them!

So of course I wanted to write a homecoming story. But my version has a little twist: in TOO HOT TO TOUCH, the first book of my Rising Star Chef trilogy, it’s the hero, Max Lunden, who comes home after years wandering the world, learning exotic culinary techniques…and his tiny hometown is a village: Greenwich Village, to be exact, a neighborhood of Manhattan.

But Max does have to deal with his family and his family’s legacy, a steak-and-potatoes restaurant called Lunden’s Tavern. The Lundens need Max’s help to enter the biggest culinary competition in the nation…which brings us to Max having to deal with the girl he left behind.

Except Jules Cavanaugh was the one with the crush. And now that she’s all grown up and a talented chef at Lunden’s Tavern, she doesn’t think they need any help…even from the still-smoking-hot guy who made her teenage heart flutter. So despite their sizzling attraction, she’s determined to keep her cool—no matter how hot it gets…

Obviously, Max has a lot to contend with! To see how he juggles all those frying pans, pick up my latest release, TOO HOT TO TOUCH. In fact, one lucky commenter will be chosen at random to receive a signed copy, along with a set of my Rising Star Chef romance trading cards!




Just One Taste

QUESTION:  Foodies and romance readers alike have embraced your Recipe for Love novels, but your new book, Just One Taste, is an ending of sorts, yes?

LOUISA:  In Just One Taste, readers of the whole series will get some resolution to story arcs that have carried through the first two books as subplots. And new readers will be introduced to the chefs of Market, and all their romance and drama! The book can definitely be read as a stand alone story, but it should be very satisfying for people who’ve been wondering what’s going on with restaurant manager Grant Holloway, or the romance between bad boy Brit Frankie and photography student Jess.


QUESTION:  Just One Taste is partly set at a top culinary school—and my but it seems to have a lot of rules, how did you go about getting the details right on such a place?

LOUISA:  I went behind the scenes at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, which is stunning and fascinating.  I explored the whole campus, poked into classrooms, and grilled my guide, an adorable pastry student.  I’m also lucky enough to have some culinary school grads as friends, and they very sweetly answered all my hundreds of nitpicky questions!


QUESTION:  The book has your bad-boy chef and your geeky-but-hot instructor dabbling in aphrodisiac research.  Please tell us something tantalizing about aphrodisiacs that you learned from your research!

LOUISA:  Full disclaimer:  Despite what my heroine, Dr. Rosemary Wilkins, “discovers” about aphrodisiacs, medical science has yet to validate any food as a true aphrodisiac.  However!  The most recent research has found connections between certain food scents and a raising of the libido—for instance, the combination of the smell of pumpkin with the scent of lavender.  Interesting, no?


QUESTION:  What do you personally like best about this new book?  And why?

LOUISA:  That’s such a tough question!  I think what really made me proudest of Just One Taste is the connection between my hero and heroine.  Rosemary is unlike any character I’ve ever written—she’s shy, painfully awkward, brilliant, and disconnected from her emotions.  And Wes?  Never tries to change her.  He adores her, exactly as she is, and I don’t know if there’s anything more romantic than that.


QUESTION:  Your writing gets better with each book.  What did you work on in particular when it came to making Just One Taste even better than the first two books, Can’t Stand the Heat and On the Steamy Side?

LOUISA:  Wow, thank you for the compliment!  I’ve been so happy with each book, as it was finished, but when writing Just One Taste, I tried to be very conscious of the ways the different characters and story threads wove together.  It was a lot to handle, but I love the way it came out.


QUESTION:  What comes next?  And how long do your readers have to wait for the next course?

LOUISA:  I have some exciting news!  I’ll have a brand new culinary romance trilogy for my readers in fall of 2011. The first one, Too Hot to Touch, is scheduled for August, with the other two, Some Like It Hot and Hot Under Pressure, following very quickly, almost back to back. The Hot Trilogy follows a team of talented chefs from New York who are competing in a high stakes culinary competition . . . and falling in love along the way!

I have an autographed set of my Market trilogy for the reader with the best question we didn’t answer above!  So bring it on …



QUESTION:  On the Steamy Side is Book 2 in your debut series A Recipe for Love—pray tell us how you came up with the series’ name, what your objective for the series was, and how that concept will have evolved by the time Book 3, Just One Taste, arrives this September?

LOUISA:  It was actually my publisher’s idea to unify the series with a title like “Recipe for Love.” I came up with a loooong list of possibilities, and they picked one. Simple! I didn’t actually set out to write a linked series; my original idea was that each book would feature a new kitchen crew at a different restaurant in different cities. I liked the idea of exploring food culture across the United States. But when St. Martin’s bought the books, they loved the cooks at Market so much, they wanted to see more of them! So Just One Taste (St. Martin’s, September 2010) will be the third book in the Market trilogy, and while it can totally stand alone as a story, it will also wrap up some ongoing storylines from the previous two books, hopefully in a very satisfying way.

QUESTION:  Why do you think chefs make such good heroes?

LOUISA:  It takes a certain personality type to choose a life as a chef—you have to be okay with long, strange hours, enjoy dealing with offbeat coworkers, and most of all, you have to be a sensualist. All good chefs really live in their bodies: they taste the food they’re preparing, smell produce for freshness, check for doneness by feel, listen for the expediters orders, and arrange plates for the most beautiful presentation. Any man who pays that much attention makes a good hero!  Plus, there’s just nothing sexier than a man who can kiss you breathless one minute, then go cook you a fabulous gourmet dinner.

QUESTION:  What snake holes do you have to avoid when it comes to a chef hero or setting a romance in a NYC restaurant?

LOUISA: I guess the hardest thing for me is making sure to write a few scenes outside the restaurant kitchen!  It’s not always easy to get my characters out and about, but reading an entire book set in a little hotbox of a cramped NYC kitchen space might get kind of claustrophobic.  So I send my chefs to the Union Square greenmarket, to a dive bar on the Lower East Side, and to Central Park for picnics.

QUESTION:  Okay a personal question:  Have you ever dated a chef?

LOUISA:  Ooh, good one!  In fact, I haven’t, but mostly because I’ve been with the same man (my husband) since our sophomore year of college.  He’s not a chef—but he makes a mean omelet!

QUESTION:  What is the most difficult thing about writing a contemporary culinary romance?

LOUISA:  Honestly, I can’t think of anything.  I love it!  I can’t imagine writing anything else right now.  It can be challenging, because I think readers demand more realism from contemporary romances than they do from paranormals and historicals, but I actually prefer to write that way, so it works out well.

QUESTION:  You’re a former NYC book editor of romances; do you find contemporary culinary romances differ from other books in the romance genre?  And if so, how?

LOUISA:  I find contemporary romance especially romantic and meaningful because there’s a way in which they represent the real world—therefore, what happens in a contemporary romance could actually happen.  And that’s exciting!  But I think at heart, all romances share a sense of hope, endless possibility, and belief in the power of love—those are what make this a great genre to write in.

QUESTION:  So far, both Can’t Stand the Heat and On the Steamy Side have included some luscious recipes in the back of each novel.  Where do those recipes come from?  And can we count on future books having them, too?

LOUISA:  Oh, those recipes!  They represent a significant portion of my life (and my husband’s patience) because I come up with all of them myself.  I get help from friends with testing them, and with ideas, but even so, they’re a lot of work!  I have tremendous respect for cookbook authors now.  On the Steamy Side was a lovely bit of rest, because most of its recipes came straight from my family.  I still had to test them all, because these were some oooold recipes, handwritten and with measurements like “a wine glass full of whiskey” and that kind of thing.

There will definitely be recipes in every Recipe for Love novel (I’m especially proud of the ones in the back of Just One Taste!), although I’m thinking about asking some of my chef friends to contribute the ones for my next three books, the Best American Chef trilogy.

QUESTION:  What can we expect as you wrap up your Market trilogy in September with Just One Taste and then embark on your new Recipe for Love series, The Best American Chef trilogy, in 2011?

LOUISAJust One Taste is the culmination of the Market trilogy, and it’s the story of bad boy chef Wes Murphy and his genius food chemistry professor, Dr. Rosemary Wilkins. Here’s the blurb:

He has a hungry mind.

Bad-boy chef Wes Murphy dreads his final semester cooking class—Food Chemistry 101—until he meets the new substitute teacher. Dr. Rosemary Wilkins is a feast for the eyes, though her approach to food is strictly academic. So Wes decides to rattle her Bunsen burner by asking for her hands-on advice—on aphrodisiacs . . .

She’s got love down to a science.

Rosemary is a little wary about working with Wes, whose casual flirtations leave her hot under the collar. But once they begin testing the love-enhancing power of chocolate, oysters, and strawberries, it becomes scientifically evident that the brainy science nerd and the boyish chef have some major chemistry together—and it’s delicious . . 

If that whets your appetite, maybe this nice long excerpt will tide you over until August 31st!

As for the Best American Chef Trilogy, I’m writing the first one now. Luscious will be released in March 2011, followed by Delectable in September 2011, and Tantalizing in March 2012.  This trilogy follows a group of talented cooks as they duke it out for the title of Best American Chef, reconnecting with family and finding friendship, love and passion along the way.  I’m having a blast with these new characters!  This trilogy is set in the same world as the Market trilogy, so expect to see a few familiar faces . . .

QUESTION:  You’re going to be stuck on a remote island by yourself for a good long spell and you can only take three things with you.  What would they be?

LOUISA:  1.) Cast-iron skillet.  You can cook anything in it, and hey! Doubles as a weapon! 

2.) My laptop. I can’t live without it; I swear, I think it’s wired into my central nervous system at this point.  And hey, I’ve got deadlines.  I don’t have time for island vacations!

3.) I guess it would be cheating big to say “the contents of my bookshelves,” so I’ll just cheat a little and say Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series.  I’d go nuts on an island with nothing to read, and I could happily reread her books a zillion times.

This has been such a fun interview, thank you for having me!

Louisa will be giving away a couple's prize to someone who comments on the blog. The lucky winner will receive two On the Steamy Side flutes and two signature aprons and 2 spats ... and a copy of On the Steamy Side plus a chapter booklet!

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