More than that for me – the sensuality of food helps add to and build the sexual chemistry between a couple. Food and sex pretty much always go hand in hand in my world!
I had an interesting conversation with reviewer and blogger Elisabeth Lane, who creates meals from romance novels and posts the results at her amazing site, Cooking Up Romance, about how it’s harder for her to do her schtick with fantasy novels. She’s read both my fantasies and the erotic romances, and she pointed out that the fantasies don’t have anywhere near the same level of food detail. Or, when food is mentioned, it’s boring stuff like field rations or formal feasts platters of meat or some such.
Conversely, with a couple of my erotic romances, she’s created *fantastic* food from them. She made cannoli from UNDER HIS TOUCH, which she’ll talk about when she guests here a bit later this month, and the sea scallops above from RUBY.
With a Cajun chef hero, who runs a restaurant in New Orleans, RUBY is absolutely my most foodie book. The heroine has a conflicted relationship with food, as she works for a fashion magazine, and the hero feeds her by way of seducing her. Elisabeth said of it, “This is not the mindless, tawdry gluttony of Las Vegas buffets and strip clubs, but the languid, sultry elegance of the Old South.” She also said:
It was impossible to pick one spot where food became an important element of this story. Bobby’s desire for sexual control is possibly only subsumed by his desire to feed people, particularly the calorie-phobic Danielle. Which brings me to the very best part of Ruby. Sure, the sex is epic-level hot and the characters are adorable together, but what made this book the stand-out of the series was Kennedy’s sensual descriptions of Bobby’s food. Honestly, I sensed a kindred spirit because the man just cannot stop cooking. It’s almost compulsive. Blueberry muffins, truffle omelets and crepes for breakfast; cranberry and brie sandwiches for lunch; steak, scallops, souffles, oysters and who only knows what else for dinner. If you’re not hungry by the end of this book, there’s something wrong with your soul.
Of the sea scallops dish she decided to make, she said:
This dish comes from a scene in the middle of the book where Bobby brings Danielle to his restaurant and feeds her several small plates. My version of his scallop dish includes a cilantro-lime crema with a Greek yogurt base, a peppered mango curry with a coconut milk base and a spiced chocolate with a tomato base. If you’re cooking for more than four people, just buy more scallops. Unless you’re trying to feed 12, there will be plenty of sauce if you resist the temptation to heap sauce on the plate. And you should. My guests thought even half a tablespoon was borderline too much.
So, in celebration of Food and Wine in Romance month at the Cafe, here’s the scene Elisabeth is talking about! (Management claims exemption from liability for any induced food cravings.) Warning: BDSM elements and smexiness, particularly towards the end. It’s PG up until “Give us a taste, chère.”
A small table in the corner under draping vines awaited her, lit with candles. A stand held a silver champagne bucket, and the maitre d’ poured a glass for her. The label was French and looked old, not one she recognized. The wine evaporated on her tongue, the sublime effervescence filling her head.
If she didn’t know better, she’d think she was being courted.
Course after course arrived, thoughtful, perfect presentations of the most succulent food she’d ever tasted, all on small plates. She began to feel like a pampered pet, coaxed into trying just a bit more. A popover, lighter than air, a hint of honey-butter perfuming it. A single oyster on the half shell, presented with a subtle sage breading that reminded her of Thanksgiving. Three sea scallops, sautéed to perfection, sweetly juicy and served each in a pool of its own sauce—one a piquant cilantro, the next a peppered mango and the final one a variation on the barely bitter chocolate he’d served that morning, strangely perfect with the salty counterpoint.
She inhaled the Caesar salad—the dressing exquisite, the anchovies aged in a smoky oil. When the waiter reverently laid the main course before her, a perfectly golden mini-soufflé of crab and nine aged cheeses, she heard a woman at the next table inquire about it, only to be told it was reserved for special customers. A heart carved into the crust, inlaid with a brush of cinnamon, confirmed it.
Prejean finally joined her, as she finished the soufflé. He gave her plate a long look and raised his eyebrows, the gold hoop winking. “Any good?”
“My compliments to the chef,” she purred, thinking about how he’d felt in her mouth.
“Give us a taste, chère.”
She offered her fork, but he shook his head. So she swirled her finger in the remnants and held it out. He sucked her finger into his mouth, hot, holding her gaze and sending prickles of delight through her naked pussy.
“Have you thought of a punishment yet?” he asked, pouring himself the last of the champagne, not commenting on the fact that she’d somehow plowed through most of the bottle on her own. No wonder she felt giddy.
“Nope. That’s your department.”
“Such a rebel. You talk so brave and then you give in, submitting in the most delicious way. Isn’t that right, my little Ruby?” He pulled her gloves out of his suit jacket pocket, riveting her attention. “Put those on.”
Her blood pulsed, just as it did when the roller-coaster wheels creaked into motion. Buckle your seat belt. She pulled on the gloves, holding the undersides of her wrists up to him, to be tightly laced and knotted. Such an innocent act for anyone to witness. So terribly fraught for her.
The waiter set a plate in front of them and Prejean scooted his chair closer, turning the dessert for best presentation.
“Gingerbread bread pudding with a bourbon glaze. Are you hungry?” He nearly growled the question, his face taking on those stern lines that never failed to set her nerves fluttering. His hand ducked under the tablecloth and moved up under her short skirt, sliding up to find the naked skin above her boot. “Spread your legs and answer me correctly. Or I’ll pull away this tablecloth and show all these fine people what you’re not wearing under here.”
Transfixed, she opened her thighs to him and his fingers slipped into her hot, slick folds, stroking as fast as she’d worked him, sending her screeching up to the edge of climax. “Yes, sir,” she whispered, urgently, desperately wanting to clamp her thighs together.
He smiled in catlike satisfaction and stilled his fingers. But he left them there, lightly touching while he forked up some of the dessert. “Open wide.”
The sensual pleasure of his touch wound with the champagne buzz and the phenomenal blend of ginger, bourbon and hot, melting sweetness. Shrouded in the shadows of the vines, she didn’t care if anyone saw when he leaned in to kiss her, his lips sticky with sugar. She moved her hips under his hand.
“Let me come,” she murmured against his mouth. “Please, sir.”
“Here?” He acted shocked. “In my place of business? I don’t think so. Besides—” he pretended to look thoughtful, “—you haven’t earned it yet.”
She groaned. “What do I have to do?”
His eyes gleamed. “I’ll think of something. How tired are you?”
“I’m not,” she answered instantly, surprised to find it was true.
“Excellent news. I have just the thing in mind.”
Danielle Sosna has no problem denying herself in order to achieve her goals—after all, that attitude landed her a dream job at Vogue Paris. But in New Orleans for one last assignment before heading overseas, she’s faced with the most decadent of temptations. Seductive Cajun chef Bobby Prejean takes Dani’s strength of will as a challenge, and offers her a night of wild indulgence—if she will agree to obey his every command.
Dani can’t resist Prejean’s invitation to join him in a world of carnal desire, complete with fetish costumes and masks. Determined to keep her emotional distance, she gives Prejean everything but her name. A night becomes a week, as she spends Mardi Gras suspended in the delicious space where pleasure meets pain.
Too late, she realizes the cloak of anonymity has not protected her—and that chasing her dream might come at the expense of her heart.