TV chef Cella journeys to an idyllic seaside town to write an Italian cookbook. She's also mourning a failed restaurant project, dodging her predatory agent, and finding respite from soul-crushing fame. When she learns that her next-door neighbor, hot doctor Max, is the nephew of a late, famed Italian restaurateur, she convinces him to teach her authentic touches that will help her write the book.
This is a mixed blessing for guilt-ridden Max, who botched his own attempt to become a chef--a failure that's left his aunt's gorgeous restaurant sitting empty for years. No one has challenged Cella when it comes to her cooking in ages. Max's fiery disposition sparks her intuition and reminds her how to feel the food.
But the heat between Max and Cella may be hotter than the flames on the stove. Max's gentlemanly nature and Cella's professionalism stop being enough to keep them apart. With Max's vacation ending and Cella slated to return to L.A., how will they ever say goodbye?
“Blades delivers a saucy romance full of lovely characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal, blending an inviting, homey locale with scrumptious descriptions of Italian cuisine. Romance-inclined foodies will love this contemporary.”
- Publisher's Weekly
“The Secret Ingredient was a slow-burn, highly developed, and impeccably detailed romance novel.”
- T. Rosado, Goodreads
“I absolutely loved this book. The writing was excellent and the characters well developed. But the thing that made me keep reading was how flawlessly the author told the story.”
- Karen, Amazon reviewer
“By the time I finished this book I felt as tho[ugh] I had taken a trip to Italy. It's not set there and I've never been there but the atmosphere created by this author was absorbing and real.”
- L_iam, Amazon reviewer
Awards and Accolades for The Secret Ingredient
2021 Finalist. The RWA Vivian Award
2020 Finalist: The HOLT Medallion
2019 Quarterfinalist: Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize for Fiction
2020 Finalist: National Readers Choice Award
2020 Finalist: New England Reader’s Choice Award
2019 Winner: I Heart Indie Contest
2018 Winner: Unpublished Stiletto Contest
2018 Finalist: Sexy Scribbles Contest