For readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell teases all five senses in this poignant, tantalizing novel of fantasies long hidden . . . and finally indulged.
Aspiring chef Lily McKee noticed Kincaid Graves the first time he walked into the dingy diner where she waits tables. With his ice-blue eyes and primal tattoos, his presence puts Lily on edge—and reminds her of all the unfulfilled longings she isn’t pursuing while she’s stuck in this dead-end job. Without a doubt, the man is dangerous to her long-term plans of leaving town and hiring on at a real kitchen—and yet, she hungers for him, if even for just a taste.
Kincaid didn’t come back to his coastal Oregon hometown looking for a good time or a good meal. The ex-con has a score to settle, old wrongs to set right. But Lily, equal parts innocence and insight, brings out an impulsive side of him he thought he’d left behind in the past. And it only takes one intense moment of weakness between them to make him consider the possibility of an entirely new future—and the promise of passion beyond either of their wildest dreams.
Praise for Turn Up the Heat
“Serena Bell nails it. Turn Up the Heat is sexy, emotional, and engaging. I couldn’t get enough!”—Stacey Kennedy, USA Today bestselling author of the Club Sin series
“Turn Up the Heat is a delicious read! Serena Bell rides that bittersweet edge where everything is darker, hotter, and sexy as hell.”—USA Today bestselling author Shari Slade
“Sexy and tender, sweet and spicy, Turn Up the Heat is a delicious book I couldn’t get enough of!”—Molly O’Keefe, two-time RITA-winning author of Indecent Proposal
“Darkly sexy and deeply emotional.”—Elisabeth Barrett, author of Once and Again
“Gritty and heartbreaking . . . a poignant story of redemption, with passionate interludes that are raw and primal and characters that tug at the heart strings.”—The Sassy Bookster
“Serena’s writing is mesmerizing. Her characters are beautifully wounded. I loved the time I spent within this world and I’m looking forward to seeing more from her Second Chances series.”—Crystal Blogs Books
“This one is on my keeper shelf and one of my favourites of this year.”—Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews (five stars)
“Seriously, this book has it all. I’ve already added most of Serena’s backlist to my TBR—no idea why it’s taken me so long to get started, but I’m a fan now!”—Becky on Books and Quilts
Excerpt from Turn Up the Heat
Copyright © 2015 Serena Bell
All rights reserved — Penguin Random House
“No.” That was Hadley, one of the short-order cooks. “I don’t want her in my kitchen.”
“It’s not your fucking kitchen, Hadley. And it’s only for a couple of hours, till Blake can get here. Would you rather be in the weeds?”
Hadley flipped four burgers in rapid succession with his left hand and shook a pan of caramelizing onions with his right. “Do I look like I’m in the fucking weeds?”
“Dinner rush is just starting. You will be in ten minutes. Look, I’m not giving you a choice.”
“Of course you’re not.”
The men glared at each other, then turned to her.
Lily knew better than to look like she was waiting for an invitation. She grabbed an order ticket and got to work.
Of course it was the ticket for Booth 9. Her mystery man. He’d ordered a burger.
She let herself wonder, just a little. If he’d do it. If he’d pin her, hold her, boss her, own her.
Wondering wasn’t doing. There was no harm in wondering.
She’d told herself that after what had happened with Fallon, she needed to give herself space.
She’d told herself: No men in Tierney Bay. Do the job, make the money, get out.
The anger coiled now. The sense of betrayal.
Do the job, make the money, get out.
And yet, every time her mystery man came in here and she took in his size, the hewn-wood solidity of him, the ripple and surge of what he’d built under the surface of his skin like a barely contained threat, she wanted to rewrite the rules. And that was before he turned that cool blue gaze on her, stripped her to the skin and then barer still, and dared her something she didn’t have a name for.
She’d promised herself. And in her head, she’d promised her mother and her sister, who had given up so much for her.
And her father, who had given up everything.
So that meant she could wonder, but that was all.
But it wouldn’t be breaking the rules to cook for him. To grill him a burger and watch him eat it. She’d seen him eat a few times, like he was ravenous and barely restrained, but savoring every last nuance. Watching him eat would be only a consolation prize, but it would be a damn good one.
Unfortunately, she’d had a few of Tierney Bay Diner’s hamburgers, and they were nothing to write home about. That would dampen the fun of feeding him, for sure.
It would take her ten seconds, no more, to fix that.
A few chopped onions, minced garlic and parsley, Worcestershire sauce.
She dared a glance, and there he was. Icy-lake eyes, full lips, the slashes of cheek and jawbone, a day’s stubble. Not reading. Watching her.
They’d done this too many times for her to pretend they weren’t doing it. She looked right back at him, held his gaze, and heat flared in her, like the shimmer of air over the grill.
She oiled the grill and formed the patty, the sound of her hands loud as a slap in her mind but drowned by sizzle and the clang of metal and the god-awful eighties XM station playing on infinite loop.
In a few seconds she was flipping her own burgers with her left hand and clearing space for sausages with her right.
She brushed cooking oil on the grill—but someone had substituted lemon juice in her oil bottle and the whole thing caramelized in an instant.
Behind her, Hadley snickered.
Screw him. She scraped the grill clean, time wasted, and started over.
On his next pass, he knocked her elbow when she was salting, and she seared his forearm with a metal spatula she’d been heating on the grill for just that purpose.
He jumped a foot and his jaw tightened, but he half-grinned, too. He knew the score. It was every man for himself in the kitchen. Every woman, too.
She’d be poised for his next attack, but somehow, some way, she’d prove herself in here. This was how you did it.
Meantime, she wouldn’t let him distract her. Wouldn’t let him break her rhythm. The smack of patties on her latex palms, the swish of spatula against grill surface, the dance she was part of now as her brain tracked tickets and entrees, ingredients and subassemblies. What needed to be started and what needed to be finished.
Booth 9’s burger was up, and she watched it get delivered. He took a bite, then looked up from the burger and met her eyes. It was there: gratitude and worship, hot and dark as sex. Like no one had ever really fed him before.
She loved that. She couldn’t help her smile.