Gimme Some Sugar (A Pine Mountain Novel)
Kensington / June 3, 2014 / $6.99 print, $5.99 digital
Desperate to escape the spotlight of her failed marriage to a fellow celebrity-chef, Carly di Matisse left New York City for a tiny town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The restaurant she's running these days may not be chic, but in Pine Mountain she can pretend to be the tough cookie everybody knows and loves. Until she finds herself spending too much time with a way-too-hot contractor whose rugged good looks melt her like butter...
Jackson Carter wasn't looking for love. But he's not the kind of man to walk away from a worksite—or from a fiery beauty whose passionate nature provides some irresistible on-the-job benefits...
It's the perfect temporary arrangement for two ravenous commitment-phobes—except that Jackson and Carly keep coming back for seconds...and thirds...and fourths...
My favorite subgenres in the romance world are suspense and contemporary. Whereas the racing heart in romantic suspense tends to come in the form of hulking, brooding Navy SEALs and terrorists kidnapping an ambassador’s daughter-turned-chemist bent on saving the world, I find that the ordinariness of a great contemporary hero can also make the heart go pitter-patter. Take, for example, Jackson Carter, carpenter extraordinaire and head hottie in the second book in Kimberly Kincaid’s Pine Mountain series, Gimme Some Sugar. Hellooooo tool belt.
The same charming, sassy elements that drew me into Turn Up the Heat are present in Gimme Some Sugar, but I am coming to recognize that as Kincaid’s trademark, and I welcome her brand of storytelling as much as padding around the house barefoot after a long day in high heels.
The banging coming from her backyard wasn’t horribly loud, but the source of the noise seemed to vibrate with her like the hum of a tuning fork.
A really sexed-up tuning fork. Whose titillating thrum reminded her that almost a year had passed since she’d experienced an orgasm that hadn’t been self-inflicted.
In the World of Romance, Jackson is a relatively straightforward guy. Outsized and incredibly sexy are his biggest claims to fame, because his ‘temporary affair’ psyche is straight out of the miscommunication/wrong assumption trope. It’s probably why he doesn’t realize what a catch he is: he’s worried that if he falls in love, he’ll turn into his father.
But he’s crazy about the new head chef at the Pine Mountain Resort’s up-and-coming restaurant, La Dolce Vita. Carly di Matisse is a celebrity chef determined to rebuild her career and her confidence after her douchebag husband rode her skirt tails to his own fame—even if it’s in the tiny town of Pine Mountain, smack in the middle of the Pennsylvania Blue Ridge Mountains. Her ex is holding her divorce finalization hostage, insisting she come back to New York City to pick up with the second season of their local cable cooking show, Couples in the Kitchen.
“You can’t hide out in the middle of nowhere forever.”
Carly could easily be one of my favorite female characters. Not just because her surname is one of my favorite Fauvist painters, but also because I appreciate her philosophy: “Life’s an experience. You might as well eat good food on the way.”
“Gimme some sugar” is as much a part of my Southern lexicon as infusing homemade food with love for my kin folks. I think that might be the real pull for me. Carly manages her life through her culinary prowess—her mind never completely shutting down. When Jackson takes her on a quick tour of his mother’s lush gardens, Carly is both aroused by Jackson’s earthiness and distracted by memorizing the taste and texture of a variety of tomatoes she’s never tried. It’s like she’s using Einstein’s portion of her brain power.
But even though Jackson is hesitant to form any kind of permanent bond with Carly, a voice in his mind hounds him to “Feed her.” It’s very Field of Dreams. And the voice is never wrong.
“I was curious if anyone ever cooks for you.”
Carly shrugged, and the rustle of her hair over her shoulders sent up the intoxicating scent that went straight to his gut. “You brought takeout.” She gestured to the food as she put it in the refrigerator.
“True. But I didn’t make it.” As soon as the words left his lips, the meaning behind them seemed to uncoil in his brain. He really hadn’t fed her after all.
“I taste lots of things that other chefs make, but that’s mostly to tweak them.”
“That doesn’t count. I’m talking about somebody making something just for you. You know, giving you the whole experience.” Something in Jackson’s chest thumped to life at the wide-eyed flash of Carly’s stare, and his words felt reckless as they formed in his mind. “When was the last time someone fed you rather than the other way around?”
“I don’t know.” Carly’s words escaped her on a murmur barely louder than a whisper. The innuendo threaded through the air like a provocative suggestion, so heady that Jackson could imagine its flavor in his mouth, so seductively good that he wanted Carly to taste it too. She looked up at him, her pretty brown eyes brimming not just with want, but with need.
This woman was starving for something, and he wanted to give it to her.
The story is full of these sexy, yet sweet, innuendos that make your heart go pitter-patter. Kincaid romances the reader as much as her characters do each other, and that’s quite a refreshing approach to many of today’s romances. There’s nothing crass or controlling, or shall we say binding between these characters, and yet the romance is incredibly sexy. Imagine that.
Carly and Jackson have such great chemistry right from the get-go, but they are their own worst enemies. Commitment-phobes to the bitter end, a simple misunderstanding nearly does them in. This is the type of story that is both maddening and super fun because Fate leads our couple on a merry chase. Duh, it’s romance, so we know love will find its way in the end. It would be too easy if both they discovered their feelings at the same time. Serendipity just doesn’t strike like that.
When Jackson finally convinces Carly to let him cook for her, he has a great epiphany but still insists on keeping things light.
But there was something about her, so easy and pure, that made wanting to be near her a foregone conclusion.
It’s not until their inner voices and emotional struggles make it to the light of day that our lovers are able to see a possible future. And thank God for best friends who can tell it to you like it is. Carly’s friend, Sloane, a writer who’s staying with her in Pine Mountain, has the greatest advice of all tied to her prediction that Jackson is Carly’s “swan.”
“Just because he helped me out when I needed it doesn’t mean he’s my egret…swam…love-of-my-life-bird-man,” Carly argued, wiping her face with the back of her hand.
Sloane snorted, surprisingly graceful. “At least you’re getting the idea.”
Carly blew out a shaky sigh. “Why can’t this be easy, like following a recipe?”
“The good stuff is never easy. But if he’s your swan, you’ll figure it out.”
I hope you’ve all found your swans. And if you haven’t, I hope you open your heart and your mind to the possibility of your swan somewhere out there on this big blue marble. It might just be your path to la dolce vita.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Gimme Some Sugar by Kimberly Kincaid, available June 3, 2014:
Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and this year her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.