Peace, love, and barbecue—with a big order of sexy on the side.
Sous chef Darcy Cunningham is less than entranced with small-town Konigsburg’s obsession with barbecue. But her future career as a chef de cuisine requires expanding her culinary horizons, so she talks the Barbecue King, a.k.a. Harris Temple, into taking her on as his apprentice.
However, learning Harris’s professional secrets wasn’t supposed to include falling for his spicy blend of smoky sexiness and laid-back charm.
Chico Burnside specializes in flying under Konigsburg’s small-town radar, but lately life has been going a little too smoothly, even for him. Hoping to shake things up a bit, he talks Harris into teaming up for Konigsburg’s first barbecue cook-off. But once shy scientist Andy Wells catches his eye, Chico’s got more on his mind than brisket. Like enticing her out of her shell to show her just how tenderly a big guy can love.
As the competition ignites, so does the romance. Until a natural disaster threatens to derail Konigsburg’s dream team before the grills even get good and warmed up.
Hi. Welcome to All I Want and More. We’re glad to have you here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Glad to! I’ve been publishing for around five years now with Samhain and with Berkley Intermix. My books with Samhain are all part of my Konigsburg, Texas, series (Hungry Heart is number eight), but they’re stand alones that can be read in any order. After twenty-plus years in San Antonio, my hubs and I moved to Colorado five years ago, and I really love it. I’m writing full time and enjoying my forays into the mountains.
In this book, who was your favorite character to write and why?
Well, I love all four characters (two heroes and two heroines), but if pressed, I’d have to say Chico Burnside is probably my favorite. He’s been a secondary character in several of the Konigsburg books, but I always felt like he had a story to tell. He’s a bouncer at a tavern in Konigsburg, but he’s got a lot of hidden depths, and he falls for a very unlikely woman—a shy scientist who’s the last person you’d expect to date a former professional wrestler. I had a lot of fun figuring out his story and finding a heroine who was worthy of him.
What 3 words would you use to describe your main characters?
Determined, snarky, barbecue-loving
Can you tell us a little bit about this book? Maybe a little snippet?
It’s all about barbecue. My heroes and heroines end up forming a barbecue team to compete in Konigsburg’s first-ever barbecue contest. Two of them are professional cooks—Darcy Cunningham and her true love Harris Temple (a.k.a. the Barbecue King)—while the other two—Chico and his true love Andy Wells—are enthusiastic amateurs. But before they can get to the contest they’re hit with a natural disaster that changes everything for them. Here’s a quick bit with Darcy and Harris (after they’ve done the deed for the first time):
“That was…memorable. Really memorable.” She blew out a warm breath against his chest as his muscles relaxed.
“Well, sweetheart,” he murmured. “They don’t call me the King for nothing.”
That time she did punch him.
How do you go about picking character names? Do you have to get them just right and make sure they fit with the characters personality?
Three of my four characters appeared in other books so I didn’t change their names (and frankly, in those other books the names just came to me). I really wanted to refer to Harris as the Barbecue King all the way through the book because I just loved it, but cooler heads (i.e., my editor) prevailed. I usually don’t agonize over the names too much, although I’ve occasionally changed them when I realized the name just didn’t fit the character.
We’re cover hussies..What was your first impression of this cover?
I loved it. No kidding. The woman looks just like my description of Darcy and the background looks like the Texas Hill Country where the story takes place. Sometimes I’ve had to ask for changes in the first version of a cover, but Angela Waters got this just right.
What does writing mean to you?
It’s what my life has revolved around for the past five years. I’ve always wanted to write (and to publish), but sometimes I couldn’t believe it would ever happen. It’s so exciting that it did!
What do you hope readers take away after reading one of your books?
I hope they have a good time and meet some characters they enjoy spending time with. There’s nothing worse than reading a book where the characters annoy you or where they seem weak in some way. I really want people to come to the end and miss the people they’ve been reading about.
If you had a technology free day, what would you do?
Possibly go nuts! But in reality, I’d probably grab a print book and spend the day getting caught up.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a couple of trilogies set in Colorado. I love Texas and I love writing about it, but Colorado is such a great place. I’d love to set some stories here too.
Sexiest feature on a man? Hands and forearms, oddly enough.
Boxers, Briefs or Commando? Briefs please.
What is on your night stand/dresser? Books, bookmarks, a reading lamp, and lip balm (everybody in Colorado keeps lip balm stashed in every room).
Hairy chests or smooth? Hairy
Cowboy or businessman? Depends on the business. Some are sexier than others.
Tattoos or piercings? Another case of it depends. Pierced ears are cool. Pierced lips and noses, not so much.
Secret talent? I’m a good cook and I like doing it
What’s your guilty pleasure? Watching Scandal, which I do while the hubs plays racquetball
Celebrity crush? Timothy Olyphant. Sigh.
Heels or flats? Flats. I spent too many years throwing my back out with heels.
Night owl or early bird? Early bird, although I’d really rather be a night owl
Twitter or Facebook? Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/meg.benjamin1)
Pinterest or Instagram? I’m a Pinterest junkie (http://www.pinterest.com/megbenjamin/)
ebooks or paperbacks? Um…both? I don’t think one rules out the other
Is there anything else you like to add?
Thanks so much for hosting me. I enjoyed it!
He leaned forward slowly, maybe giving her a chance to run. A chance she wasn’t going to take. His lips brushed hers, lightly, as his hands cupped her face. He rubbed his thumbs across her cheekbones, dark eyes watching her carefully.
The flecks of green had deepened, making his eyes even darker now. She leaned forward, placing her hands on his shoulders, bringing her mouth against his more firmly. The contact seemed to send an arrow of heat through her body, making her nipples ache, her pulse warm again.
His mouth opened against hers and she let him inside, rubbing her tongue against his, feeling it rasp against her teeth. She sucked his lower lip for a moment, nipping him lightly, hearing the catch in his breath.
His hands dropped to her breasts, cupping, then rubbing them, his palms brushing her nipples to hard points. She felt cool air against her back as he pushed her shirt up, his fingers fumbling with the catch on her bra. His lips drifted down the side of her throat, leaving a trail of heat as he did.
She pushed his shirt up, running her fingers through the slight dusting of hair across his chest, then down along the ripple of muscle over his stomach.
His hands cupped her breasts, pushing the bra aside. He leaned down, taking one nipple into his mouth, sucking, his tongue laving the aching peak.
Somewhere behind them something beeped loudly. Porky came awake with a woof.
“Shit.” His hands dropped to her hips, his forehead pressed against her breasts. “Shit. Fuck. Goddamn.”
“Timer’s beeping,” she muttered. “And Porky’s awake.”
He nodded, his forehead still resting on her collarbone.
“Fire’s ready. And you’re behind with the meat as it is.”
He raised his head to look at her. “I didn’t plan this.”
“I know.” She wasn’t entirely sure what he meant—the timing with the meat or the timing with the two of them. She brushed a hand across his cheek, pushing his hair back from his face.
“I don’t want to stop.”
“I don’t either.” She slid back a few inches, moving her hands to his shoulders. “But like you once said, barbecue waits for no man.”
Meg Benjamin is an author of contemporary romance. Her Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Medium trilogy for Berkley InterMix is set in San Antonio’s King William District. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Indie Press Romance, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers and the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon kitties (well, partly Maine Coon anyway).
You can follow her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/meg.benjamin1)
and Twitter (http://twitter.com/megbenj1)
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