For today’s Book Hooks hop, I’ve picked out a never-before-shared excerpt from my BDSM ménage romance novel, The Ingredients of Bliss. I had a lot of fun writing this, at least partially because I could work in a lot of memories from a trip to France I’d taken the year before I wrote it – including lots of food!
One sexy French chef. One kinky American TV producer. One ambitious Chinese gal who thinks she wants them both. The ingredients of bliss? Or a recipe for disaster?
Accomplished cook Mei Lee ‘Emily’ Wong knows exactly what she wants—her own show on the Tastes of France food channel. But life is full of complications. First, her deceptively nerdy producer, Harry Sanborne, initiates Emily into the delights of submission. Then her boss, legendary chef Etienne Duvalier, begs her to dominate him. Emily just can’t resist—especially when Harry orders her to explore her inner mistress. Suave and sexy Etienne will do whatever she asks—in the bedroom if not in the kitchen. And Harry, her lovingly diabolical Dom, adores pushing Emily’s limits.
When the network sends the trio to France to shoot a series of cooking shows on location, Emily knows her career is on the upswing. Her plans fall apart in Marseille as a Hong Kong drug syndicate kidnaps both Etienne and Harry. The Iron Hammer Triad mistakes Etienne for notorious gangster Jean Le Requin, who has stolen their drug shipment, worth millions. Emily realizes she must find the real Le Requin, retrieve the purloined dope, and bargain it for Harry’s and Etienne’s lives. The secret she’s been keeping from Harry might prove useful. Still, what chance does one woman whose knife skills are limited to chopping vegetables, have against the ruthless cruelty of two criminal organizations?
“‘Silk worker’s brains’? Are you joking, Etienne?”
“Not at all. You’ve never encountered cervelle de canut? A Lyonnais specialty, and quite delicious, I might add.”
Morning sunlight poured through tall windows into the demonstration kitchen of the École Supériore de Cuisine Lyonnais, the site for our show that afternoon. Seated side by side at a butcher block table, Etienne and I pored over drafts of menus and recipes. I was trying to ignore the effects his closeness had on the speed of my pulse and the humidity of my pussy.
“Er—do you really think our American audience will be interested in brains?” We Chinese have a reputation for eating almost anything—I have a particular fondness for zhafeichang, deep fried pork intestines with sweet bean sauce—but I knew that Westerners tended to be more squeamish.
“No brains are actually involved, Mei Lee. The dish is based on fromage blanc, seasoned with fresh herbs, shallots, olive oil and vinegar. Very savory, I assure you, and unique to the Lyon region.”
“All right—whatever you recommend.”
Etienne shot me a sharp look, as though he found my acquiescence surprising. Today he looked devastating, as usual, in a blindingly white dress shirt tucked into narrow black jeans. He had rolled up his sleeves. The red-gold hair dusting his forearms was very distracting. I knew how soft it was.
“We’ll do quenelles de brochet, Lyonnais potatoes of course, salade Lyonnais with bacon and poached egg, and marrons glacés for dessert. Do you think that’s enough?”
“For an hour-long show? Plenty. I’ve never made the quenelles, though.”
“You’ll find them straightforward. Baked fish, bread crumbs, egg yolk, a standard cream sauce—quite simple.”
I’d sampled quenelles the previous evening, while dining at a classic bouchon with Harry and Etienne and thought them a bit bland. To be honest, though, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the food for which Lyon was renowned. My senses were too dazzled by the proximity of my two lovers. Although I’d consumed only one glass of the robust Beaujolais presented by the rotund proprietor, I’d felt totally intoxicated, joy bubbling through my veins like champagne.
My mind wandered, reviewing the marvels of the last twenty-four hours.
After the astonishing night with Harry and Etienne in Paris, the routine details of traveling felt completely unreal. Along with the rest of the crew, we’d piled onto the bus for the four hour drive to Lyon. I’d shared my seat with Lisa, not wanting to encourage any gossip. I’m afraid I hadn’t been very sociable. I’d been preoccupied with recollections of the night’s pleasures. Whenever we’d stopped for a bathroom break, I’d felt the eyes of both men following me. I’d spent the entire trip in a fever of anticipation.
Once we’d arrived and settled into the hotel, they’d whisked me away to the narrow, cobbled lanes of the medieval Old Town. We’d roamed the streets together, poking our heads into cramped souvenir shops, sampling bits of sausage and cheese, pausing in a café facing the majestic Cathédrale St-Jean to admire the sunset behind the hills of Fourvière.
The golden summer dusk had slipped gradually into a violet evening. Every sensory impression had possessed a sort of magical clarity—the lilt of children’s voices as they’d kicked a ball around the cathedral square, the twittering of starlings wheeling above the tiled roofs, the saliva-inducing smell of grilling pork emanating from the open doors of traditional bistros, the anise flavor of the Ricard that Etienne had ordered for Harry and me. The warmth of the balmy night and the heat coming from my lover’s bodies. I’ll remember this all my life, I’d thought, gazing at them in the deepening gloom.
They’d kept touching me. A brush of casual fingers against my thigh. An arm encircling my waist. A powerful hand, clasping and squeezing mine. We’d spoken of superficialities, the history of the city, the show the next day, which restaurant we should choose for dinner. The silent messages we’d exchanged had dealt with different topics all together.
The Ingredients of Bliss is available in ebook and print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Totally Bound, and other fine bookstores.
Be sure to visit all the other great authors joining today’s hop, for lots more romance!