Thursday, February 11, 2021

Celebrate the Year of the Ox – #ChineseNewYear #FreeBook #YearOfTheOx

Year of the Ox banner

Happy Chinese New Year!

I live in Southeast Asia, where the Chinese Lunar New Year is widely celebrated, even among people who aren’t of Chinese heritage. When I went out on the streets for lunch today, at least fifty percent of the people on the sidewalks were wearing red, the traditional celebratory color.

So I thought I should celebrate on my blog as well. I have several books with Chinese heroines, including Her Secret Ingredient. So I’ve got an excerpt from that book for you, a fun discussion between Mei Lee Wong and her Chinese grandmother. And I’ll give away a free PDF copy to one person who leaves a comment. Don’t forget to include your email address so I can find you if you win.

Stir in a pinch to stir up his passion.

When the Tastes of France food channel offers Mei Lee ‘Emily’ Wong a series of guest spots, she jumps at the opportunity to take her culinary career to a whole new level. Ultimately, she wants a show of her own, but first she has to prove herself to Michelin-starred network founder and effective dictator, Etienne Duvalier. A legend in the world of classic French cuisine as well as a domineering perfectionist, Etienne is sceptical about the culinary abilities of a woman from Hong Kong. To make things more difficult, the master chef is also so gorgeous that Emily can’t help being attracted to him.

Emily tries to solve both problems by spiking her luscious profiteroles with an ancient Oriental aphrodisiac. Unfortunately, Harry Sanborne, the low-key, bespectacled producer for Emily’s show, samples the delicacies she intends for Etienne’s consumption. His powerful reaction to her secret ingredient comes as a pleasant surprise to them both. Harry turns out to be far more impressive in bed than on the set. However, he can’t do nearly as much to advance her ambitions as Etienne. Emily tries once more to tempt the exacting M Duvalier with her special cooking as well as her feminine charms. The outrageous results threaten to end her TV career forever—until Harry steps in to save her reputation and claim her heart.



Unlike my delighted parents, Grandma had been full of dire warnings when she had learned I’d been offered the gig at TOF. “Barbarians!” she’d muttered as she’d helped me pack. “Those American men think every Chinese girl is a delicate flower to pick when blooming, then toss in the garbage when she wilts.”

I’m thirty, Gran. And don’t forget I lived on my own in Paris for four years. I can take care of myself.”

Thirty, yes, not fresh produce anymore. Why don’t you forget about this TV show? Marry someone like Hsi Chang Hu? His mother tells me he’s still interested in you, and his property company is making a fortune.”

I’d gently rejected my old classmate’s urgent proposal years ago, before enrolling at Cordon Bleu. “I’ve got to take advantage of this opportunity. Something this good might never come again.”

And what about grandchildren for me?”

There’s time, Gran. Please don’t worry. I just haven’t found the right guy yet.”

An image of Etienne Duvalier had flashed through my mind, that clip where he swept off his chef’s hat with such aplomb and favoured his audience with a smile warm enough to melt butter. What would Gran think about a Frenchman as a son-in-low? Etienne had starred in enough of my fantasies at that point that I could feel myself dampen at the mere notion of his sharing my bed.

Well, just in case you meet someone you like there in Gold Mountain—take this.” She’d handed me a glass vial of brown powder that looked like dust someone had collected off a neglected windowsill. “Dōng chóng xià căo. Winter worm, summer grass.”

Huh?” I unscrewed the cap and sniffed the bottle’s dubious contents. No scent at all. I tapped a bit into my palm. The fine-grained particles coated my skin, reminding me of the residue from butterfly wings.

Caterpillar fungus. An ancient remedy. Increases energy and stimulates powerful desire, especially in men.”

An aphrodisiac?” I shook my head. “Thanks, but I don’t need that kind of help.” If—when—I encountered the man I wanted as my partner, I wasn’t about to resort to artificial means to attract him.

She’d refused to take the vial back. “Keep it. You might change your mind.”

Wise woman. How did she know these things? Back in my hotel room, I rummaged through my toiletries kit, looking for the vial I’d thrown in at the last minute.

I needed to get Etienne on my side. I wanted to make him desire me the same way I lusted after him. Gran’s gift just might be the means to both ends. A single arrow to bring down two geese, as she’d say.

But was it safe? And would it be effective? A quarter of an hour on the Internet convinced me that there were indeed some scientific studies supporting my grandmother’s claims, and few if any negative indications.

It couldn’t hurt to try.

Only 99 cents! But you could win a copy – just leave me a comment!


Barnes and Noble:

Totally Bound


Debby said...

Thanks for the great post. I am interested/

Debby said...

do I need my emaildebby236 at hoamtial dot com

Annette said...

Happy New Year! I already have this book and it's amazing!

bn100 said...

was nice
bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Fiona McGier said...

Of course she doesn't NEED the aphrodisiac--but it can't hurt! And it may help her to decide which man she really wants/needs! Typical gramma--marry for money, not for love. No thanks! To death-do-us-part is a very long time to spend with someone you barely like. Great excerpt, as usual.

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