I’m going to admit to something shameful. I was once a gourmet cook. Now I rarely cook at all. You see, I used to be part of a gourmet club with my husband and three other couples. We met monthly for years. Each month the host couple would pick a country and prepare the main course. The other couples would provide the side dishes, soup, salad, dessert and wines. I learned a lot about the food of other countries. We sat at the dinner table for hours, eating and drinking. It was a big deal. When we hosted a Japanese dinner, my husband made special short legs for our dining room table and we all sat on the floor on pillows. That’s when I began to consider myself a kind of gourmet cook. Oh, yes, I was pretty proud of myself.

Time has passed. Two of the couples divorced and that ended the club. We always said we should have made a cookbook from all the recipes we used over the years. Of course we didn’t. But what we did do was gather cookbooks. And I got hooked. I love cookbooks. I love reading them, looking at the pictures and trying out recipes. I could tell just by going over the recipe whether I’d like how it would turn out. Those of you who are cooks know what I mean. Ingredients are everything. A great mix of them will turn out well. An off combination? I won’t even give it a shot. Hey, this sounds like some of the books I’ve read or decided not to read.

Anyway, then things changed. My son grew up, got married, left the nest. Which made me happy. Then my husband died suddenly. Not happy about that at all. Cooking for one isn’t a treat either. I do occasionally cook for friends because I get an itch for things like pot roast or pork chops. I just can’t cook those for one person. Recently I picked up yet another cookbook at an estate sale. Yes, I have over a hundred of them. But they call out to me. The cover, the pictures, the interesting recipes. I can’t resist. This one has a spicy soup recipe I want to try.

Why spicy? Well, I’ve been writing this Texas Heat series. The characters are spicy and so are their love affairs. They’re romantic too. Yes, that’s tough for a widow to write but I enjoy getting lost in their stories. It’s good for me to go into their world and relive falling in love. When Cassidy meets Mason in Texas Heat, I find myself going back decades to when I saw my husband for the first time. It was on a blind date. Sparks flew. Just like they do for Cass and Mason. When I’m writing, I feel the heat, the yearning, all the same feelings the characters do. It’s a miracle to me. One that keeps me writing book after book.

Now back to that blankety-blank cookbook. I’m going to make the spicy chicken corn chowder. Even though it will make enough soup for eight people. Maybe I’ll invite some single friends over to share it. Send them home with plastic containers in doggie bags. I like variety in everything. Good thing there are three books in the Texas Heat series. First I wrote Cassidy’s story, Texas Heat. Then there’s Megan’s story, coming in May, Texas Fire. Now I’m working on Shannon’s love story in Texas Pride for next October. These three sisters are each unique and their hot heroes? I fell in love with each of them every time. I have to say that writing about romance in Texas, especially stories based in my native Houston, makes me very happy. It’s almost like reliving my own happily ever after. Soup, anyone?

 

A surprise inheritance. A family of strangers. And a man she can’t avoid . . .

Cassidy Calhoun can’t believe she’s the secret daughter of an oil billionaire. This small-town Texas girl with student loans by the barrel has never gotten a thing she didn’t earn for herself.

The terms of her late father’s will say Cassidy—and her newfound spoiled half-siblings—must work a year at the family’s floundering business before they inherit a dime. Too bad the only thing Cass knows about oil is that it makes the junker she drives go.

Mason MacKenzie, the evaluator for their test, will help her get up to speed. Or will he? Mason is a boot-wearing, truck-driving Houston hottie who runs Calhoun Petroleum’s biggest rival. The sparks between him and Cassidy could combust any minute. But the closer they get, the more strange near-accidents Cassidy seems to be having. And Mason has plenty of reasons to play up their attraction for his own benefit.

If she can trust him, the two of them working together might save a crumbling dynasty. But if she can’t, Cass might just lose both her fortune and her heart . . .

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