The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap
Love on the Line
Drawing the Line
Outside the Lines
When caterer Lily Callahan goes up against hotshot pastry chef Pete Mancuso in the bake-off of the season, the stakes are high - and scandalously passionate. Will the gorgeous gourmand steal Lily's heart - and the top prize in the Christmas cookie competition?
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If You Give a Chef a Cookie…
Last year, when I sat down to write Sugar and Spice, my novella for the three-story holiday anthology, The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to swing it. I’d never written a novella before, and I knew I wanted to kick off my Pine Mountain series just right. So I decided to go with what I knew, as in, characters I knew, and recycle someone from a previous story or draft or outline that had never gotten a story of his or her own.
Enter pastry chef Pete Mancuso.
Pete was a secondary character in my RWA Golden Heart finaling manuscript, The Moment of Impossible Movement. The manuscript had its pitfalls, and despite some elements (okay, Pete) I loved, I ended up putting it on a shelf for what turned out to be Turn Up The Heat. In that book, Pete was an overly-confident, commitment-phobic, fast-talking, easy-on-the-eyes inner city school teacher, and the outline for his book had him paired up with the by-the-book librarian, Lily Callahan. The two of them had definite sparks on the page—there’s nothing quite like an adversaries to lovers story to turn those flames up high! But I’d kind of forgotten about the two of them until my editor said, “I’d love to see a hero swap to go with our cookie swap—maybe a hero who starts out as the love interest of one woman, then ends up with another”
Anyone who knows romance understands that this is a TALL order. All three heroines in Sugar Cookie are BFFs! What kind of guy would start out dating one woman, only to fall for another throughout the course of the book?
The overly-confident, commitment-phobic, fast-talking, easy-on-the-eyes kind, that’s who. I needed Pete, and I needed him fast.
So I dusted Pete and Lily off and turned them into chefs. It wasn’t too hard, since they still got to be “who” they were, only now they were passionate about winning a Christmas cookie competition instead of duking it out for a grant for inner city school funding (I even got to keep a thread of that in Sugar Cookie, but I won’t tell you how—you have to read to find out!) Making Pete redeemable after he’d dated Clara (the heroine in Donna Kauffman’s Sugar Cookie novella, Where There’s Smoke…) was a tall order, but my editor was brilliant in asking me to do it. I love the layer of complexity it gives Pete (again, no spoilers from this girl! You must read to find out!) and Donna and I had a blast working out the details. Suffice it to say that things aren’t always what they seem, and Pete and Lily end up as perfect for each other as chocolate chip cookies and milk.
Which is good, because if you give a chef a cookie, if they live in Pine Mountain, they’re probably going to ask for true love to go with it.
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