Jun 14 2014 1:00pm
Read & Win: Linda Francis Lee’s The Glass Kitchen
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With the glass kitchen, Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself.
A true recipe for life.
Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.
The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.
Sneak a peek at a selected scene from Linda Francis Lee's The Glass Kitchen:
She scrambled out of the apartment, the cool morning air hitting her like a gasp of relief. With the Keds dangling in her fingers, she just stood there for a second, breathing, in, out, before she finally sat down to pull on the flowered sneakers.
She had just finished tying the last shoelace when she saw him.
He was tall, lean, with broad shoulders, dark brown hair. He looked primal, with a firm jaw and hard brow, walking toward her with a fluidity that seemed physically impossible, given his size. He had none of Robert’s pretty- boy good looks, and there didn’t seem to be anything practiced or politically correct about him. From the look of him, she imagined he was one of those New York businessmen she had heard about who traded stocks like third- world countries trade rulers, easily and ruthlessly.
Of course he wasn’t dressed like a businessman. He wore a black T-shirt, long athletic shorts, and sweat- slicked hair. He had the smooth, tight muscles of someone who was athletic but didn’t spend his days as an athlete. It wasn’t hard to imagine him showering and then heading out of this tree- lined neighborhood on his way to some glass- and- steel office building in the concrete jungle of Midtown Manhattan.
She knew the minute he saw her, the way his eyes narrowed as if trying to understand something. She felt the same thing, as if she knew him, or should.
Images of food rushed through her head, surprising her. Fried chicken. Sweet jalapeño mustard. Mashed potatoes. Biscuits. And a pie. Big and sweet, strawberries with whipped cream— so Texan, so opposite this fierce New Yorker.
Good news or bad? she wondered before she could stop herself.
“No, no, no,” she whispered. The images of food meant nothing at all. She wanted nothing to do with him, with any guy, at this point in her life. And she definitely didn’t want anything to do with the kind she felt certain wielded power like a club. Robert charmed his way into control, but she knew on sight that this man would take it by force.
When he reached the steps, he stopped, looking at her with an intensity that felt both assessing and oddly possessive. It might have been an hour, or a second; no smile, no awkwardness, and her breathing settled low. She became acutely aware of herself, and him. Everything about this man pulled her in, which was ridiculous. He could be a serial killer. He could be demented, insane. With a body like that, he probably didn’t eat sugar. A deal killer, for sure.
His head cocked to the side. “Do I know you?”
Portia smiled— she was Texan, after all, and had learned manners at a young age, even if it was out of a library book her mother “accidentally” forgot to return— and his expression turned to something deeper, richer like a salted hot fudge.
“No,” she answered, the word nearly sticking in her throat. “Should you?”
Desire had caused the storm that left her shipwrecked in Manhattan—the desire her husband felt for another woman. But there had been her own desire, too, the desire for intensity and excitement in her own life, which she had suppressed when she married Robert. Sitting there, she felt that desire stir inside her like the first bubble rising in a pot of caramelizing sugar.
“I guess not,” he said. “But you seem familiar.” He put his foot on the bottom step, his hand on the railing, bringing him into her space with a confidence likely born of always getting what he wanted. “Do you run in the park?”
She glanced down at her flowered sneakers and wrinkled her nose.
“Okay, so I haven’t seen you running,” he said, his voice still rich and creamy but sliding into humor. Peppermint, she thought, the corner of his mouth hitching at one corner.
Portia laughed outright with the sort of ease she hadn’t felt in months. Somehow this man who looked like he knew his way around darkness had chased hers away. “You don’t approve of my shoes?”
“Is that what those are?” His lips hitched higher, a curl of his slowly drying hair falling forward and making him look more approachable.
“What are you, the fashion police?”
That caught him off guard. “Me? Hardly.”
Portia stood up, skipped down, and stopped. Two steps still separated them, but given the difference in height, they stood nearly face- to- face. His laughter fled, and his eyes narrowed as he looked at her mouth. Her breathing slowed, and everything around her disappeared. She could make out the sparks of cognac in what she had thought were solid brown eyes. His nose was large, but somehow went perfectly with his strong face and
jaw. His mouth was full, sensual. No one would call this man pretty, but
something about the way his features came together drew her in. She felt
a need, an urge to reach out, touch him. Which was crazy.
A truck turned the corner, hitting a crack in the asphalt with a loud bang, and she blinked. The man straightened.
Portia glanced around, took in the back side of the Dakota apartment building with its Gothic façade, antiquated moat, and wrought- iron balustrade around the perimeter, as if everything in her world hadn’t shifted at the sight of this man.
He straightened abruptly, that sense of control settling back around him. “Can I help you with something?”
“No. No. I was just tying my shoelaces.”
“Ah, then, fi ne.”
He started up the stairs. She went stiff.
He stopped and raised his hands. “I live here.”
“You live here? As in, you live in this place? Right here?”
His brow furrowed. “Yes.”
This was her upstairs neighbor. More specifically, this was Gabriel Kane, the owner of the rest of the town house, the man she— or rather, Robert— had agreed to sell her apartment to before she refused at the last minute.
“Then these are your steps. Wow! Great place,” Portia managed inanely.
Initially, she had sent word that she wasn’t prepared to sell, at least not yet. No contracts had been signed. She had needed time to get her thoughts together. That was a month ago. Then, the minute she made the final decision that she was keeping the property, she had left a message with Gabriel Kane’s lawyer herself, explaining the unexpected changes in her life.
She had apologized up and down but hadn’t heard back. Granted, she had only left the message the day before, but she had assumed she’d hear right away. She had slipped into the apartment late last night, using the old key in hopes of avoiding Kane for as long as possible.
She didn’t doubt for a second that the man was furious with her for backing out of the contract after he’d already bought the rest of the building from her sisters. There was no question in her mind that he would try forcing her to sell. Chicken that she was, she was counting on his lawyer to convince him otherwise. Even she knew a deal wasn’t a deal until documents were signed.
“Have a great day!”
She practically leaped to the sidewalk, catching sight of an old man who was sitting in the window next door,peering out at her as she dashed toward Columbus Avenue.
Copyright © 2014 by Linda Francis Lee.
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 as of the date of entry. To enter, complete entry at www.heroesandheartbreakers.com/glasskitchensweeps beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on June 14, 2014. Sweepstakes ends at 1:59 a.m. ET on June 23, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Heroes and Heartbreakers, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Learn more about or order a copy of The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, available June 17, 2014:
Linda Francis Lee is a native Texan now living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The author of twenty-one books that are published in twenty countries, when Linda isn’t writing she loves to run in Central Park and spend time with her husband, family, and friends.