You might not be able to relate to someone who only wears Prada and drives a
Maserati, but let’s face it, as human beings, we all have at least one thing in
common: We must eat in order to survive. Whether it be the humble PBJ or French
cuisine, something must fill our stomachs.
But eating isn’t just about staying alive. Nearly every holiday we celebrate is
associated with a particular food or meal—just imagine celebrating Thanksgiving
without the dinner!—and the sharing of food is deeply ingrained in every
culture. You wouldn’t invite someone over to your house without providing them
with some sort of refreshments. It simply isn’t done. By the same token,
refusing what is offered could be seen as a major insult.
Cooking is also a terrific means for expressing creativity. The combinations of
foods and flavors are endless, particularly if you don’t limit yourself to one
particular cuisine. Tina Hayes, the heroine of MUST LOVE COWBOYS, does
this by searching for recipes online and then adding her own personal touches.
Food can be beautiful as well as tasty. Whenever I’m out with friends and
someone orders a particularly awesome dessert, someone nearly always posts a
picture of it on Facebook. Fans of The Great British Baking Show will
tell you that while they get a kick out of the show’s hosts and judges, the
delightful-looking confections the contestants create steal the spotlight every
Food plays an important role in caring for children. Nothing is more important
to a parent than ensuring that their kids have enough to eat. That nurturing
instinct is hardwired into our DNA, and without that powerful drive, our species
wouldn’t have survived and thrived. Being able to produce a surplus of food has
enabled our intelligence to evolve, allowing us to develop other aspects of our
culture—music, art, industry, and science.
Food can also be sensuous. The reportedly orgasmic property of chocolate at
least partly explains its popularity, but the flavors of many other foods have a
similar effect. Think back to the last time you moaned with pleasure when biting
into something truly delicious and you’ll understand what I mean. Some foods are
credited with aphrodisiac qualities, while others can be used in more erotic
settings, such as during foreplay. I’ve used food in several of these ways in
many of my novels, but this classic scene from Tom Jones says it all:
The foodie novel has become popular in recent years, perhaps because of the
DIY gourmet food trend or the prevalence of television cooking shows. I don’t
know about you, but every time I watch Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, I
wind up trying my hand at one of the recipes. But even before television brought
Julia Child into our homes, there has long been a connection between food and
literature. The use of food enables authors to depict various thematic elements
in a subtle yet clear fashion. Feeding someone denotes nurturing and caring,
while denying food illustrates hatred or coercion. Sharing food represents
friendship, camaraderie, and love.
One of my favorite books, THE CRYSTAL CAVE (the first volume in Mary
Stewart’s Merlin trilogy) illustrates the use of food in literature. After a
miserable voyage across the English Channel, young Merlin arrives cold,
destitute, and ravenously hungry at the headquarters of his father’s army.
There, he is given a hot bath and warm clothing, followed by a dinner that
Merlin declares is the best he’s ever eaten in his life. I’ve recreated that
meal a time or two—my husband refers to it as The Merlin Meal—which consisted of
a shellfish soup, chicken fried crisply in oil, sausages bursting with onions,
and new bread fresh from the bake-house ovens. We thought it was delicious, but
can you imagine what a starving homeless boy’s reaction would be? No one has to
tell Merlin that he has finally found a safe haven; the message is perfectly clear.
In MUST LOVE COWBOYS, Tina has always been too shy around men to
openly express her feelings toward them. Now that she’s been tossed into a
bunkhouse full of cowboys, she focuses on providing them with the best meals she
can dream up. She draws on fond memories of her own childhood to create
breakfasts of scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits with gravy, as well as lunches
with chicken salad sandwiches and fresh fruit. Her dinner menus include such
meals as pork chops with baked sweet potatoes and Caesar salad, roast beef and
Yorkshire pudding with broccoli casserole and tossed salad, and teriyaki chicken
wings with fried rice. She makes desserts like apple pie, blackberry cobbler,
and butterscotch cream pie, all of which show each of the cowboys—one in
particular—just how much she cares. And once again, the message is perfectly clear.
Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse turned romance writer.
Her Cat Star Chronicles series includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast,
Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and Rebel. She is a member of
RWA and IRWA and lives with her husband and sons near Bloomfield, Indiana.
When you find yourself in Cowboy Heaven, things can get hot as
From established author Cheryl Brooks comes the
second in a steamy contemporary romance series set at a Wyoming ranch chock full
of sexy-as-sin cowboys.
COWBOYS... Shy computer specialist, dog lover, and amateur chef Tina
Hayes has a thing for firefighters, but when she travels to the Circle Bar K
ranch on family business, the ranch's cowboys have no trouble persuading her to
stay on as their cook. Especially not when she learns that brooding Wyatt
McCabe-a man who makes her heart gallop like no one else can-is also a former
HOW DOES SHE KNOW HE'S THE ONE? Wyatt's
sizzling embraces leave Tina breathless. But being surrounded by a passel of
smokin' hot ranch hands can be complicated. With so many cowboys courting Tina
all at once, Wyatt must prove to Tina that she belongs with him.