When Kimberly’ first enovella, “Love on the Line,” was released recently, it jumped to the top of my to-read queue.
I met Kimberly in 2011, when we were both finalists in RWA’s Golden Heart contest. Her off-the-charts energy and larger-than-life personality meant she was the star of every room she walked into. She’s also one of the sweetest, most supportive Starcatchers sisters I could hope to have.
Before my RWA chapter’s January meeting — my first as president — she saved my bacon by answering my questions about novella writing after our speaker had to cancel. Thanks, Kimberly, for ensuring my first meeting at the helm wasn’t my last.
And thanks, too, for prettying up my Facebook stream every Friday with your “Man Wars.” Nothing wrong with a little eye candy to start the day off with a bang.
What’s cookin’, Kimberly?
Food Is Love: Comfort Food In Romance Writing
As a foodie romance writer, it goes without saying that I’m in it for the yum on both the culinary and the romance level. I use food to take my characters to that next level, whether it be in their personal journey or in their forming relationships. But while my mantra is “food is love,” that love doesn’t have to come in the form of something sexy, or even necessarily between my hero and heroine. Because as much as food is love, it’s also comfort.
Once upon a time, longer ago than I care to admit, I was in my first year of teaching English. I’d had a rotten day. And I don’t mean one of those bad days where one or two things doesn’t go according to plan. I mean, I had an epically bad, everything collapsing on me, right down to getting stuck in a freak rain shower on my way from the car to the apartment, horrible day. So there I stood, eyes brimming with tears, favorite shoes covered in mud, on the threshold of my apartment, and my then-boyfriend took one look at me and went to the kitchen. Five minutes later, I was eating the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich of my life. Not only was my rotten day a lot less, well, rotten, but I knew on the spot I was going to marry that guy one day (and I did. True story!) Something as simple as a PB and J turned out to be not so simple. Yes, it fed my belly, but it also nourished me. It was a subtle, show-don’t-tell way of saying, “I care for you.” And isn’t that what we want our characters to do as they grow?
In my e-novella, “Love On The Line,” I used the same idea with a different tack. My hero, a rough, gruff police detective, has been injured in the line of duty and can’t use his arm. He must rely on a personal chef (also his partner’s sister) to eat. Now this is a hero who doesn’t want to be nourished—he wants to go back to work, like five minutes ago. But the heroine not only feeds him, she puts him to work in the kitchen. She gives him a purpose, however small, and it changes the way he looks not just at her, but at his profession and the case he’s working. The comfort starts with the food and radiates out to touch the whole story.
While both of these stories are personal and cultivate intimacy, neither of them are sensual in that “9 ½ Weeks” kind of way (that is a different blog post!) Yet without being overtly sexy, the food creates an opportunity for the hero and heroine—or any characters in a story—to learn something about themselves and grow.
So tell me—how does food touch you? How does it touch your characters? What are some of your favorite food scenes in books?
Violet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.
For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s a literal case of adding insult to injury— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted culinary caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.
Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to food, but can she risk it all to put love on the line?
You, too, can cook like Violet. Just get into your kitchen and try the following recipe. It sounds delicious.
Violet Morgan’s Chicken and Dumpling Stew
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- A pinch to ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
- 1 8-ounce package sliced baby Portabella mushrooms, wiped clean
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 32-ounce container chicken stock
- 1 pound chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2-3 cups mixed vegetables, such as sliced carrots, small broccoli and/or cauliflower florets, and of course, for Noah, peas. Frozen works just fine, but fresh is okay too
- 1 cup all-purpose baking mix (for biscuits and pancakes and the like)
- 1/3 cup milk
- ½ Tablespoon parsley
- 1 teaspoon thyme
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until it ripples. Add onion, ½ teaspoon thyme, and nutmeg, cooking until soft and stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook 4-5 minutes more, until soft and fragrant. Sprinkle flour over mixture and incorporate well. Slowly add broth. Bring to a low boil, stirring often.
Add chicken and vegetables. As stew comes back to a boil, combine baking mix, milk, parsley and 1 teaspoon thyme in a bowl. Drop in level tablespoonfuls into the simmering stew and reduce heat to low. Cover the Dutch oven and cook fifteen minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with nice crusty bread for dipping and a green salad (just don’t tell Noah there are greens!)
More about Kimberly:
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber,” she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She is thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled “The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap,” to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Her first full-length novel, “Turn Up the Heat,” will follow in February 2014. Kimberly resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook and Twitter.