The Flirtation Game
A Castle Ridge Small Town Romance Book 3
Love isn’t all that’s cooking.
After a scandal in Hollywood, celebrity chef Michael Marstrand accepts a position to be head chef at Castle Ridge Lodge and star in a television program about re-opening a five-star restaurant. He believes returning to his hometown to help the struggling restaurant will earn him public relations points and help an old friend. What he doesn’t know is the sous chef expected to be named head chef and the television series is a reality show called Kitchen Catastrophe.
Sous Chef Isabel O’Donnell returned from vacation to discover the restaurant kitchen remodeled and a new head chef. With contracts already signed, she has no choice but to work for Chef Michael, a man she’d had a crush on since middle school. A man who’d stolen her job.
With the hidden cameras rolling, Michael tries to make the day-to-day routine boring so Kitchen Catastrophe will never be shown, but an interfering producer introduces a bridezilla and an employee who causes trouble. Add the simmering attraction between Michael and Isabel and the reality show has everything: drama, fights, and sex.
In this best friend’s brother conflict, will a fake flirtation produce the perfect recipe or enflame desire?
5 STARS “I loved the action packed drama the producer is trying to create and the Chef is trying to avoid.” Cashmere
Michael stepped away from Danielle and straightened his shirt. A shirt she hadn’t even realized she’d messed.
She ran her fingers through her hair, trying to pull herself together. She was going to be head chef; she couldn’t be caught making out in the kitchen. Not only was it unsanitary, it was unprofessional.
Parker, the lodge owner, observed the two of them, a glint of confusion on his face. His perfectly-coiffed hair appeared tame compared to the man she just kissed.
“What do you need?” Michael’s voice sounded normal. He obviously had more control over his libido.
Her skin cooled. Maybe he wasn’t as attracted to her.
“Good. You two are getting reacquainted.” Parker wrung his hands together. He seemed more together than on New Year’s Eve, but still jumpy.
Why would he be nervous of either one of them? In high school, Michael and Parker had been best friends. Now, they acted like strangers.
Michael’s face was a complete mask. What was he hiding?
“I’m glad you’re going to be okay with this decision, Isabel.”Parker’s shoulders relaxed.
She tilted her head, trying to figure his puzzling words out.“What decision?”
“Now that Chef Françoise has retired, I’ll be announcing the new head chef.”
Her chest pounded. She stood straighter, and pulled back her shoulders. This was it. Parker was going to tell her the head chef position belonged to her.
He waved his hand in a vague fashion. “The press release with head shots will go out today.”
Air caught in her lungs. “I didn’t take new photos.”
Michael jerked beside her. He gaped at her with raised eyebrows and tightened facial muscles.“What?”
“No need for the sous chef to take head shots.” Parker avoided her gaze like a guilty man.
“But…but.” The catch in her chest morphed into a fissure, a fissure cracking and widening with each of her panicked thoughts. “I’m the new head chef.”
Michael’s shoulders hunched, and he took a step back, as if he’d taken a punch to his midsection. Except she was the one who’d taken the punch, because something was wrong. Parker acted nervous. Michael shocked.
She sucked in a sharp, jagged breath, ignoring the pain. “Chef Françoise promised me the position.”
Michael’s skin had gone white as a chef’s coat. His round eyes had dimmed of color. “What?”
Parker’s expression softened, except for his pinched mouth.“I’m sorry, Isabel. I thought Michael told you. I thought that’s why you two were talking in the kitchen together.”
Her breath spasmed, sending alarms throughout her body. Her gaze switched back and forth, between Michael and Parker.“Told me? Told me what?”
Parker touched her arm.“The new head chef at the Castle Ridge Lodge is celebrity chef Michael Marstrand.”