I am delighted to welcome Brandy Bruce back to the blog! Her book The Last Summer is one of my fave reads this year, and today she is here to talk about her foodie trilogy 🙂
Three couples overcome obstacles and find out that love often begins in the kitchen. A trio of novels flavored with grace, with delicious elements of food and restaurant life, mixed with lovable characters.
Table for Two, Second Chance Café, and Recipe for Love were previously published by Heartsong Presents. This new compilation book includes the bonus short story, A Southern Belle Road Trip, and a recipe!
Food and Fiction!
By Brandy Bruce
Hi reader friends! When Carrie said she had an opening for a guest post to talk shop on a book release, I waved my hand wildly, “Me! Me!” This summer my new novel The Last Summer released, and promoting that has been so fun. But not long before that, my book compilation, The Romano Family Collection, released and those books and characters are very special to me, so I’m thrilled to give them a little love today! For one of the books in particular, Recipe for Love, fall and winter settings are woven throughout, so I highly recommend that one especially for a holiday read. The Romano Family Collection is a three-book series that includes a bonus short story and recipe. Each story stands alone, but it’s fun to see how they connect. So grab a coffee or a warm mug of apple cider, and let’s chat!
Back when I was working for a traditional publisher (I’m currently a freelancer), my family lived in a different house that had a library/office that connected to my bedroom. Dream come true for this reader! (It was a selling point for me—that and the playland out back). There was an archway in our room that led to an office with floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves. My desk went right in, along with my favorite books, and cue writing! A story came to me of an overworked chef who meets a food critic who’s dealing with some self-esteem issues. I wrote the whole story, then sent it to an editor friend of mine. I didn’t hear anything for a long while. Finally, I sent her a short email, asking if she had any thoughts on that manuscript I’d sent her.
An email came back quickly and she said, “Yes! I want it. Come up with two more stories to make it a series. I need those proposals ASAP.”
I didn’t have any ideas for follow-up books, so I sat in my office and brainstormed until I came up with something. I wrote up summaries and first chapters and sent that back to her. And then came a contract from Heartsong Presents for those three books. Now that was a real dream come true for this girl. A cry-worthy, jump-up-and-down, clasp-contract-to-chest dream come true. As of this spring, now those books are available in one compilation book!
From the beginning, the characters were very involved with their families. For my own reading, I love stories that include strong side characters. I want close friends and parents and siblings and colleagues to be around, because for so many of us, our lives include the drama of all the people we’re in relationship with. Even for more introverted characters, one way to know those characters intimately, is to see them—on the page—interacting with others. So the Romano family series was born! Books that include family, faith, and food. Oh the food!
I truly love reading books and watching movies that include food in some way—The Food Network is one of my favorite channels. When I’m trying to wind down, watching Ina Garten cook makes me so happy. I learned to make beef bourguignon after watching the movie Julie and Julia, and it’s one of my favorite dishes. I’m hungry for chocolate whenever I watch the delicious movie Chocolat. The Hundred-Foot Journey makes me want something spicy! One of my all-time favorite novels that includes food is Siri Mitchell’s Chateau of Echoes. That book makes me want to hop on a plane to France and eat a gourmet French meal!
All three books for The Romano Family Collection are foodie novels, by that I mean that food is an important part of the story. Gabriel Romano, a well-respected and successful chef and restaurant owner, is the patriarch of the Romano family. His son and daughter are both talented cooks as well. The Romanos are the anchor for this series, but I love every character that the reader is introduced to. The setting for the first two books is the bustling and breezy city of Denver. The last book is set at a B&B in the cozy mountain town of Estes Park. Along the way, the reader is taken to fancy Italian restaurants, downtown diners, and small-town chili cookoffs! To me, food is the flavor of life. I love to sprinkle that flavor into my writing. (I’m literally hungry right now as I’m writing this post!)
I hope you’ll grab a copy of The Romano Family Collection for your holiday reading. The brisk cold of fall in Denver is tempered by a warm plate of steaming chicken Alfredo. Yellow Aspen leaves dance around a freezing rushing river, but inside the Mountain View B&B, a delicious plate of frosted sugar cookies is waiting by the coffee pot. The warmth of family and friends and food—and more than a touch of romance, of course—are waiting for you in this compilation series!
Carrie asked if I’d like to add in a recipe with this post. For sure! When I sent out a few promotional copies for The Romano Family Collection, I included my favorite pizza sauce recipe along with the book. One of the things I love about food is that memories are connected to certain dishes. This recipe came from my friend Melody. I remember my husband and I going over to have dinner with her and her husband, Jason. They made homemade pizza for us and the sauce was so delicious that I asked for the recipe. Enjoy!
1 six oz. can of tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp basil
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs (or 2) olive oil
*Mix all ingredients and spread on pizza dough!
Brandy Bruce is a mom, a wife, a book editor, an author, and someone who really loves dessert. She’s the author of the novels Looks Like Love, The Romano Family Collection, and award-winning The Last Summer. Having worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade, Brandy currently works as a freelance book editor, when she’s not writing novels! Brandy, her husband, and their children make their home in the beautiful state of Colorado. She’s very active online and she loves to hear from readers. Sign up for Brandy’s newsletter via her blog!
Thanks, Brandy! Well, I don’t know about y’all, but I’m starving now! What is your favorite comfort food?