Shannon here: Gail Pallotta shares insight into her real-life romance, along with an excerpt from her latest Romantic Mystery, Cooking up a Mystery. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print (U.S. only) or a Kindle copy. Gail won’t get her author copies until May 20th. Deadline: May 14th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Gail:
Before I left home, my parents insisted I promise not to spend alone time with anyone before I knew a lot about them. I met my future husband, Rick, at a social function, but we only spoke briefly, so when he asked me to go out, I said no. Back then, people talked on landlines and put their names in phone books as did I and my roommate. A day after the gathering, Rick’s father called, asked if Rick could come over and cook me a steak and told me what a fine young man Rick was. Thank goodness, I believed him. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last month.
In Cooking up a Mystery after the heroine put her husband through dental school, he left. Now, she owns a tea house and catering service. Men are off limits.
Excerpt from Cooking up a Mystery by Gail Pallotta:
“Stop!” Eric’s voice rang out.
Laney jumped. “What’s wrong?”
Eric couldn’t let her leave. He’d been wallowing in pain in his easy chair, thoughts as dreary as rain filling his head. Then Laney called out to him from the front door. He heard the food warmer clicking across the parquet floor, and a scent that reminded him of his mother’s cooking wafted into the room. A vision with a beautiful smile and a soft, caring voice appeared. Her long, auburn hair and hazel eyes had burst into his melancholy existence like a ray of sunshine. He had to at least have a phone number.
What had she called her service? Roger had told him he sent the meal before he left to go overseas on business. No telling when Eric would talk to him again. Laney headed toward the door, the food cart clacking behind her on the way out of his life. His heartbeat accelerated. The throbbing in his foot beat in his head. He couldn’t think. She’d asked him what was wrong. “Uh, it’s a little cold. The roast beef.”
She turned and glared at him.
He wanted to slap himself. If he added two plus two, right now, he’d probably get five, and he had a PhD in math. The doctor had said to stay put, no movement at all that wasn’t an absolute necessity for seventy-two hours. The cast might as well have been a bear trap. He couldn’t stand up and chat or follow her to the door. He wasn’t himself.
Laney’s facial muscles tightened. “Cold?” She could’ve shot the word from a cannon the way it boomed into his psyche. Irritation, horror, or a mix of both lined her tone.
Eric’s insides crumbled. He’d stopped her all right, and he couldn’t believe the words it’s a little cold had come from him. He cared about people and tried to lift their spirits. When he helped students overwhelmed with personal problems, his mother claimed it was a gift. Seemed he’d lost or misplaced it today. He pointed at the pot roast lying on his plate. “Actually, this is scrumptious. It’s good even cold.”
Laney stared at him as though he had mashed potatoes for brains.
He patted the cast. “It’s the foot. It really hurts. Have you ever broken a bone? I mean a really bad break?”
She shook her head.
“It throws the whole world out of kilter.”
Her eyes softened the tiniest bit around the corners. “I’m sorry your meal isn’t what you expected. I don’t want any of my customers unhappy.”
Eric flashed the biggest grin he could with pain pulsing through his foot. “I’m happy. This is wonderful. I can’t wait to savor every bite of it.”
Confusion filled her eyes. “All right, I’ll tell you what. Just to make sure you’re convinced you’ve gotten your friend’s money’s worth, I’ll send a free meal tomorrow to make up for the..the…cold roast beef.”
“Send it?” He’d made an idiot out of himself for nothing.
“Yes, my assistant, George, will arrive about this time.”
“No. You have to bring it.”
“I, I, have to bring it?” Laney sputtered again. “I need to cook at my tea house.”
“Let me explain.” Could he explain? His foot ached so bad he wanted to scream. If only he’d taken a pain killer before she arrived, but how could he have known? He’d expected a pimple-faced kid in a pair of baggy jeans.
Laney put her hand on her hip, wrinkling the black sheath skirt that showed off her curvy figure and narrowed her eyes.
About Gail: Gail’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner and a TopShelf 2020 Book Awards Finalist. She enjoys hearing from readers. Learn more & connect: Gail’s Website
About the book – Cooking up a Mystery: Laney Eskridge worked to put her husband through dental school. Then he left with another woman. She’s on edge from the emotional scars and her parents’ deaths. Then she hears unexplained noises in her new tea house, and her anxiety is tripled. Add a budding romance with Eric—a guy with a fear of commitment—and it’s all too much to handle. She cuts ties with Eric and plunges into making her business pay off.
When Eric discovers that Laney’s in danger, he vows to protect her. But can he make a lasting promise? Will she trust him? . . .and when they overhear a threat that could cause national turmoil, will anyone believe them? There’s more brewing than herbal tea in Cooking up a Mystery.
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Question for Readers: There are over two dozen recipes in the back of Cooking up a Mystery contributed by members of Mission Love Seeds, a charity supporting children throughout the world. Do you have a favorite recipe?