The Romance Review for Kensington Books

1. Where did you come up for the idea of combining recipes with a romantic comedy?

When I was coming up with the idea for this series, I sat down and made a list of the things that are most important to me. Family, love and food made that list—and some days food is at the top, depending on whether there’s any chocolate in the house! I have always loved to cook and loved books that incorporated food into the storyline, then wondered what it would be like to have my characters reflect that love. Hence, the idea for having the characters write the recipes was born…and an entire series based on my three favorite things was concocted.

2. What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Hands-down, reader response. I have had such wonderful letters and conversations with readers, and they always seem to come on days when the writing isn’t going as easily or I’m struggling with a new idea. There’s the woman who told me my books helped her get through a dark time in her own life; the young lady who wrote to me and said my books were the distraction she needed from the stress of being a new mom. The others who have said that a line from one of my books provided a laugh when they most needed one, or helped them see their own relationships in a new light—all of those have brightened my days and given me a reward far greater than any I could imagine.

3. Among the characters that you have created, do you have a personal favorite?

I have to say I love them all! I love Grandma Woodrow in The Bride Wore Chocolate because she’s not afraid to live her life; I love Vinny in The Devil Served Tortellini (despite his faults) because he lets his feelings show. I love the Chubby Chums, I love Maria (and especially Dante!). I have to say I am always partial to my heroes, but each one of my characters has a tiny part of them that I admire and thus, they all become close to my heart.

4. What would you consider to be the perfect romantic evening?

I could say the cliché of a dinner out without the kids and a spin on the dance floor, but truly, for my husband and me, we’re so easy to please that a romantic evening is anytime the kids go to bed early (with minimal returns for water) and the dogs take more interest in a rawhide bone than our toes. Before we had kids, I had high expectations for romantic evenings. Now we’ll settle for a delivered pizza and having the TV to ourselves for a few hours. 😉

5. How did you come up with the plot for The Devil Served Tortellini?

It sprang out of necessity! After I wrote The Bride Wore Chocolate, I had, ah, gained a few pounds from testing all those recipes. Each book I write in this series leaves me a few pounds heavier (how I suffer for my craft; those rum balls were just torture to consume), which means I need to watch my diet after I turn the book in. I decided to write a book about a woman on a continual diet (having been there myself) who then meets a man who undoes her best intentions. Any mom with kids who crave Twinkies will know all about the temptations the people you love can bring into the house.

6. Do you visit the places where your stories are set?

I’m originally from the Boston area and much of my family still lives there, so yes, I do visit Boston often. I create a number of fictional locations for some of the scenes, because I like to be able to control the characters’ worlds. At least to whatever degree an author thinks she’s got control! J

7. Is there one specific quality that your heroes/heroines must possess?

Family, whether the one you’re born with or the one you create out of those around you. I think family helps keep you grounded. I also believe it gives people a depth and richness of character that they wouldn’t have if they existed solely on their own. I grew up in a small town in a close family and believe those ties stay with you forever; they’re passed down into the next generation and continue that sense of community wherever you live.

8. What hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

Besides shopping and eating J, I’d have to say I love to travel. My kids have inherited that bug and told us they want to visit all 50 states before they’re 18. So, every year, my husband and I take them to at least a couple new ones. Not only do I get to see the sites in other locations, but there’s the bonus of eating out every night and finding shoe bargains all over the United States!

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