When Rita Clarkson’s Suburban takes its last breath on a New Mexico roadside, rescue roars up on a Harley in the form of smooth-talking honkey tonk owner, Jasper Ellis, a man as mysterious as he is charming. Rita’s cross-country journey to New York City–with her three estranged siblings in tow–is only beginning, but now that Jasper has found Rita, his plans do not include her leaving.
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When rescue looks like a whole lot of trouble . . .
The road trip was definitely a bad idea. Having already flambéed her culinary career beyond recognition, Rita Clarkson is now stranded in God-Knows-Where, New Mexico, with a busted-ass car and her three temperamental siblings, who she hasn’t seen in years. When rescue shows up—six-feet-plus of hot, charming sex on a motorcycle—Rita’s pretty certain she’s gone from the frying pan right into the fire . . .
Jasper Ellis has a bad boy reputation in this town, and he loathes it. The moment he sees Rita, though, Jasper knows he’s about to be sorely tempted. There’s something real between them. Something raw. And Jasper has only a few days to show Rita that he isn’t just for tonight—he’s forever.
BEHIND THE COVER
AN EXCERPT FROM TOO HOT TO HANDLE
The roof! The roof! The roof is…literally on fire.
Rita Clarkson stood across the street from Wayfare, the three-star Michelin restaurant her mother had made a culinary sensation, and watched it sizzle, pop, and whoosh into a smoking heap. Some well-meaning citizen had wrapped a blanket around her shoulders at some point, which struck her as odd. Who needed warming up this close to a structural fire? The egg-coated whisk still clutched in her right hand prevented her from pulling the blanket closer, but she couldn’t force herself to set aside the utensil. It was all that remained of Wayfare, four walls that had witnessed her professional triumphs.
Or failures, more like. There had been way more of those.
Tonight’s dinner-service plans had been ambitious. After a three-week absence from the restaurant, during which she’d participated in the reality television cooking show In the Heat of the Bite—and been booted off—Rita had been determined to swing for the fences her first night back. An attempt to overcompensate? Sure. When you’ve flamed out in spectacular fashion in front of a national TV audience over a fucking cheese soufflé, redemption is a must.
She could still see her own rapturous expression reflecting back from the stainless steel as she’d carefully lowered the oven door, hot television camera lights making her neck perspire, the boom mic dangling above. It was the kind of soufflé a chef dreamed about, or admired in the glossy pages of Bon Appétit magazine. Puffed up, tantalizing. Edible sex. With only three contestants left in the competition, she’d secured her place in the finals. Weeks of “fast-fire challenges” and bunking with neurotic chefs who slept with knives—all worth it, just to be the owner of this soufflé. A veritable feat of culinary strength.
And then her bastard fellow contestant had hip-bumped her oven, causing the center of her divine, worthy-of-Jesus’s-last-supper soufflé to sag into ruin.
What came next had gotten nine hundred forty-eight thousand views on YouTube. Last time she’d checked, at least.
About Tessa Bailey:
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.
Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.
She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.
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