For the very first time, three of New York Times sensation Lucy Kevin's beloved wedding stories are together in print!
Set in the enchanting Rose Chalet Bridal venue overlooking San Francisco Bay, six people find love when and where they least expect it.
The Wedding Gift
Chef Julie Delgado and restaurant critic Andrew Kyle have a professional history that is spicy, to say the least. But when these two foodies decide to set their differences aside, they find that love is the spice in life.
The Wedding Dance
Phoebe Davis's passion comes through in the bouquets she creates for the Rose Chalet's clients, yet architect Patrick Knight has other designs in mind when he meets the beautiful florist.
The Wedding Song
Whitney Banning and Rose Chalet DJ Tyce Smith might not strike the right chord when they first meet, but Tyce's love song to Whitney shows they can make beautiful music together.
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
When New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller Lucy Kevin released her first novel as an ebook, it became an instant digital bestseller. Since then, she has sold more than half a million books and has appeared on bestseller lists around the world. The Washington Post has called her “One of the top writers in America.” Lucy Kevin also writes emotional and sensual contemporary romance as Bella Andre. www.LucyKevin.com
Read an Excerpt
Delgado's Restaurant: 2 stars out of 5 By Reviewer Andrew Kyle, Host of Edgy Eats
San Francisco's restaurant scene is amazing, and we diners are spoiled for choice. It is always exciting to try a new place and it was with this thought in mind that I made a reservation at Delgado's.
When I dine out I have certain expectations. On this occasion I expected the first course-a seafood bisque-to be well prepared. I wanted the chicken to be perfectly roasted, and the homemade ice cream to be sweet and cold. On top of all that the service had to be professional and friendly. Delgado's, the new kid on the block here in San Francisco, met all those expectations.
Unfortunately, simply meeting expectations isn't enough anymore. Chains and fast-food joints do that. To survive and do well, restaurants must offer more than bland food. A special night out should provide a culinary experience that demonstrates the owner is passionate about food and the restaurant business.
That passion for food didn't come across at Delgado's. Judging by the many empty seats in the dining room, it appears as if other customers have likely felt the same way.
Perhaps in future, the owner will couple her obvious skills with a more imaginative menu, but for now, Delgado's is one to avoid.
"Come on, Julie, you're going to be late if you aren't careful. You know I-"
"-was never late," Julie finished. "Yes, Aunt Evie, I know. I'm meeting new clients at The Rose Chalet today and I really want to make a good impression. Do I look okay?"
Julie's aunt was in her sixties now, with gray hair and a slight stoop caused by too many years of bending over hot stoves. But she still looked good for her age, and she still had that same no-nonsense attitude she'd had when Julie was a child.
Even though Julie was twenty-eight now, Evie still didn't hesitate to wipe off a spot of smudged makeup from her cheek.
"You look lovely, sweetheart."
"Are you sure?"
Julie checked her appearance in the mirror hanging by the door one more time, knowing everything had to be perfect for today. She usually tied her dark hair back when she was cooking, but she'd left it down this morning, knowing she made a better impression on strangers when it was falling down around her shoulders. She'd decided on a simple combination of a navy blue sweater and dark pants for the day, because they were practical enough to cook in while still looking professional.
Aunt Evie nodded. "Of course I'm sure. Though you could do with putting on a few pounds. Whoever heard of a thin cook?"
"This from the woman who wouldn't dream of missing her exercise class twice a week?" Julie laughed. She glanced at her reflection again and ran one hand over her hair. "Maybe if I-"
"I'm not going to stand here complimenting you when you should already be on your way to work," Aunt Evie said. "You have had breakfast, haven't you?"
"I'll get something later," Julie promised.
"Probably from one of those food trucks you seem to love so much." Her aunt harrumphed.
Julie gave her aunt a kiss on the cheek, then ran out to the car she was borrowing. Her beloved Mustang had gone the way of her old apartment, sucked away by debts when the restaurant went under.
Julie wove through traffic, hoping she wouldn't be stopped while she completely ignored the speed limit in an effort to be on time. As Aunt Evie had pointed out, she had never been late in all the time she'd worked at The Rose Chalet, and Julie now had her aunt's old job sort of.
Actually she was just filling in. Rose Martin, the owner of the wedding venue, had been clear about that. She only wanted someone to help out with one wedding. Then she would start looking for someone permanent to head up the catering department at The Rose Chalet.
Julie couldn't afford to screw this up. Not if she wanted a chance to turn temporary work into a permanent job.
As she parked her car in front of The Rose Chalet a few minutes later Julie thought, again, what a beautiful place it was. The building had a refined, old-fashioned elegance, surrounded by small but elegant grounds that were expertly maintained. It was exactly what a bride and groom would want in a wedding venue: a little slice of paradise carved out of the middle of a big city.
At present, however, the reception area was a bit chaotic. Rose was there, looking as pristine and lovely as ever, her red hair carefully arranged, her delicately patterned dress suiting her perfectly. She was standing at the bottom of a stepladder while RJ, the handyman/ gardener, worked to replace some damaged wooden scrollwork up near the ceiling. Given that he was both muscular and good-looking, Julie could think of a few women who wouldn't mind holding ladders for him, but apparently Rose didn't agree.
"Could you hurry up, RJ?"
RJ flashed a smile back down at Rose. "I would hurry, but I know you couldn't live with yourself if I fell off this thing and broke my neck. Just hold it steady for a few more seconds, boss."
Julie wasn't sure if Rose was going to start yelling or laughing at that point. No question about it: RJ was very charming. But Julie knew that as an employee she'd never dare to speak to Rose like that.
"I have some very important prospective clients coming today and I want to make sure everything is perfect for them-" Rose broke off to look over at Julie. "Oh, good, you're finally here. How is Evie doing?"
"Much better," Julie said with a smile. "I'll let her know you asked."
With that, Rose pulled out her phone with her free hand and scrolled through her calendar. "The couple and some of their family will be coming by this afternoon. Before they arrive, I'd like you to produce the tasting samples for the food options, along with an overall menu. I'm going to coordinate all the other things they are here to review, as well as finalize the budget. I've got about a dozen other things to do before I head out for my lunch date with Donovan."
"I'll be ready," Julie promised. "Why don't I hold the ladder and you can take care of your preparations?"
Rose looked at RJ for a moment before nodding. "Thanks."
Julie took her place by the stepladder while Rose bustled off. She always seemed to be in a hurry.
"Good to see you again," she said to RJ once Rose was gone. "So, who's Donovan?"
"Donovan McIntyre is Rose's fiancé. He's a plastic surgeon. Look, I only had Rose holding this ladder to get her to take a break. She's been working since the crack of dawn, and I bet you've probably got more important things to do than stand around and watch me work."
He was right; for one thing, she had a whole menu to prepare. Not that she could cook most of it until early afternoon, of course. That was one of the things about cooking: she could do all the preparation she wanted, but she'd still end up trying to control about five things at once as she rushed to get it all ready at the same time.
Despite the challenges, Julie enjoyed the pressure. No, she loved the pressure-the rush of working with ingredients she could transform into something special while under serious time constraints. It always amazed her that with heat and spices, and unique presentations and food combinations, she could turn something ordinary into something spectacular.
Today, all she wanted was to make sure everything went smoothly so she would have a chance of impressing Rose. Impressive enough to turn a one-shot-deal into a permanent gig at The Rose Chalet.
"Yes, I probably should get going," Julie said. "I would hate to disappoint Rose."
RJ smiled down at her from atop his ladder. "Don't worry about Rose. Her bark's worse than her bite. She just wants everybody's special day to be-"
"Special?" Julie broke in with her own grin.
"I was going to go with perfect. Good luck with the menu."
Julie hoped, as she made her way over to the Chalet's kitchen, that she wasn't going to need luck.
The kitchen was a big space, well up to the task of producing food for several hundred wedding guests. It was quite a bit bigger than the kitchen at Julie's old restaurant, but it was quiet now in the early morning hours in a way that Delgado's had never been. She'd loved the constant activity of her restaurant's kitchen- a half dozen people working together to feed hungry customers.
Julie shook her head. She'd promised herself she wouldn't think about the past. She couldn't allow herself to falter because of everything that had happened. This was not the time for regrets.
Working at The Rose Chalet could be a fresh start- a pathway to getting out of Evie's guest room and back on her own feet.
Purposefully, she turned her focus back to the job at hand. The menu itself was pretty straightforward. After all, when a bride and groom had friends and relatives coming to San Francisco from every part of the country, they would want to serve food and drink that everyone would enjoy. Julie had decided on seafood and a salad as options for the first course. The entrée would be either duck in plum sauce or pesto pasta. And dessert would be a selection of individual mousses that would nicely complement the wedding cake.
By lunch, Julie had most of the preparations completed. She'd prepped samples of two different types of chocolate mousse and they were now cooling in the walk-in fridge. The duck was slow-cooking in the oven, and there wasn't anything that could go wrong with it. The vegetables and other ingredients for the main course were ready. The pasta would be cooked right before she was nearly ready to plate everything, and the combination of fish and scallops for the appetizer was ready to go. Now all she had to do was wait for those manic last twenty minutes when the final cooking and plating would be completed. With all that done, now would be the best time to go get her own lunch.
Julie loved the food trucks that lined the city's streets. Over the past few years they'd popped up, one after the other, serving all kinds of food, from greasy to gourmet, American to international fare. She'd known exactly where all the best trucks were parked within a twenty-minute walk of Delgado's, but she didn't know the area around The Rose Chalet quite as well. She was hungry and she hoped she would find a good food truck nearby.
Julie headed out just in time to see Rose leaving for her own lunch date. She was accompanied by a blond-haired guy with looks to die for, driving a sports car that practically screamed "successful surgeon."
No wonder Rose had been so eager to make the date despite her busy day. Lord knew Julie had been without a date of her own for a long time. Given the opportunity, she would have done the same thing.
Fortunately she didn't have time to mull over her pathetic love life. Right now her every thought was focused on impressing the socks off Rose's clients in a couple of hours.
Five minutes later Julie found a truck selling the best falafel she'd tasted in a long while. She enjoyed it while sitting on a bench in a nearby park that looked out over San Francisco Bay. Still, she didn't linger long over lunch and when she returned to The Rose Chalet after thirty minutes, Julie was surprised to see that Rose was also returning from her lunch date with the doctor.
If this was how fast Rose always moved, Julie mused, no wonder RJ had to scheme to get her to stand still for a few minutes.
Sleeves rolled up, RJ was constructing frames for a couple of the flower beds and he nodded hello to both of them. "How was lunch?"
"Great, thanks," Julie said.
Instead of answering him, Rose turned to Julie. "Our guests will be here soon. Julie, is the food ready?"
"It's all prepped," Julie said. "I just have to finish it off once the bride and groom arrive."
Rose nodded, clearly making check marks on a long mental list. "I'll phone you on your cell the moment they arrive, and we can go from there. Oh, and could you make sure that everything is fine in the dining room? I checked the layout, but-"
But a small tornado might have hit in the meantime so you want me to check it again? Julie shook off her snarky thought. Rose was right-everything should be perfect for a bride and groom on their wedding day and her job was to help achieve that.
After verifying that everything in the dining room was indeed perfect, Julie headed for the kitchen. She was almost at the swinging door when she realized, with no small amount of horror, that she'd forgotten about the duck. Thank God, she hadn't lingered over her lunch!
In the nick of time she pulled the bird from the oven, sustaining only mild burns to her fingers. Right then her cell phone rang. It must be Rose. Julie picked up, barely remembering to mumble a hello as she sliced into the bird and confirmed with a loud sigh of relief that it was fine.
All of which was why it took her a few beats longer than it should have to register what Rose was saying to her. "They're here already?"
"He is," Rose corrected.
"The bride sent the groom over alone?" Julie couldn't keep the surprise out of her voice. What bride wouldn't be there for the planning of her own wedding?
"The groom's brother, actually," Rose said. "We'll go through to the dining room in about fifteen minutes."
The groom's brother?
Julie pushed the question aside as she hurriedly got to work putting the final touches to the appetizers. When she was finished, she balanced the plates expertly in one hand and took the short walk out to the dining area.
Rose and the groom's brother were just coming in, and Julie had a quick glimpse of a well-dressed, dark-haired man who appeared to be in his early thirties. She bent over her plates for a few moments to make sure there were no errant splashes of dressing or seasoning along the rims.
Rose made the introductions. "This is Julie. She'll be handling the catering for your brother's wedding. Julie, I'd like you to meet Andrew."
Julie looked up, her best smile in place as she met the newcomer's dark eyes. She was instantly aware of his strong, handsome features with just a trace of stubble, his dimples, and how his well-tailored suit showcased his athletic frame. Normally, Julie's smile would have widened at least a little in feminine appreciation.
Instead it faltered on her lips, and it was only by the faintest thread of control that she managed to hold it in place at all.
Julie recognized those features. It was hard not to, really, when she had spent so much time staring at them. This was the face that beamed out at her, and thousands of others, from the Cuisine Channel. They were the features of a man that virtually any chef in the city would have dreaded having in their dining room.
And they just so happened to be the picture-perfect features that had accompanied the restaurant review that had ruined her life.
"You're Andrew Kyle?''
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Julie."