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SCRUMPTIOUS Launch Party + Giveaway!

Please give a warm Casablanca welcome to Amanda Usen, whose new contemporary romance, with a foodie twist, SCRUMPTIOUS, is now in stores!

Cupcakes and man candy! Hot chefs in love! When you mix a traveling chef-for-hire with a love ‘em and leave ‘em pastry chef, the result is…SCRUMPTIOUS!

In a nutshell:

Joe Rafferty is just as mouthwatering as the food he cooks. But if he thinks he's going to waltz in and take over her kitchen, he's denser than a thick slice of chocolate ripple cheesecake. Marly has invested too much of her life in Chameleon to hand off the restaurant to someone else—especially a cocky-as-all-get-out superstar chef. But there's no denying the man knows how to light her fire. Question is: Can she have the sizzle without feeling the burn?

Food is my love language. I met my husband in culinary school, so it’s no wonder that I write about chefs and food…and love. I gave Joe a little piece of every hot chef I’ve ever encountered in my cooking travels– ice-blue eyes, to-die-for shoulders, asbestos hands and the bad boy arrogance I love to see in a kitchen. In Marly, I created a fiery woman who can keep up with him – on the line and everywhere else. Sparks fly when these two share the stove…

With every other egg she cracked, her mind returned to Joe. She hadn’t given this much thought to a man since, well, her father didn’t count, so never.

Joe Rafferty did not want her. No big deal. No problem. Plenty of other guys did. Like Danny for example. He’d been more than willing to stay with her instead of playing poker last night. She didn’t need Joe.

Unfortunately, the tiny little traitor that lived somewhere between her heart and her brain wanted to show Joe what he was missing. That inner turncoat was fluffing her hair, checking her makeup, and picking out scandalous lingerie. Oh yeah, and another part of her wanted to show him he wasn’t God’s gift to the kitchen. Especially her kitchen. That part of her was sharpening her knives. By hand.

Marlene poured egg yolks and sugar into the small bowl of her heavy-duty KitchenAid mixer on the counter. She stirred and scraped once, just to keep the yolks from burning, then secured the whip and let it rip. She turned around to pour egg whites into the bowl of her twenty-quart Hobart stand mixer and began whipping them at medium speed, wrinkling her nose as the egg white smell of wet dog rose from the stainless steel bowl.

“You always come in this early on Saturday?” Joe asked from the doorway.

Marlene looked up for a moment, just long enough to catch an eyeful of his broad chest and the swirl of dark hair peeking out of the collar of his T-shirt as he buttoned his chef coat. A sharp flash of lust arced through her belly, quickly chased by irritation. Not interested, she reminded herself. She began to add sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, to the meringue. “I can’t stay late tonight, so I wanted to get my desserts prepped and my specials done early.” Samson had been known to misbehave when left alone too long.

“Can’t stay late, huh? Got a date?”

Inner traitor giggled. “As a matter of fact, I do.” Sam would share her dinner and her bed—that counted as a date in her book.

“Leaving early shouldn’t be a problem,” Joe said, making it sound as if he was giving her permission.
She gritted her teeth and added the last tablespoon of sugar to her meringue.

“Got a minute to go over the prep list?” he asked.

Marlene bumped up the speed on the mixer. “Sorry, my nice, fluffy egg whites aren’t going to hang around while we chat. Just write it down. I’ll get it done.”

He stood over her. “I’ll wait.”

“Your call.”

She folded the ground almonds into the yolks, and took her time folding in the whites, gently bringing the denser nut and yolk mixture up from the bottom of the bowl. She would not take her irritation out on her delicate sponge cakes. Just before the streaks of egg white disappeared, she divided the batter among six half-sheet pans and encouraged the bubbly batter toward the edges of each. She slid them into the deck ovens and shut the heavy door with care before she turned to face him.

“Now, what were you saying?” God, it was completely unfair that he was so attractive. She should not want to kiss a man who made her nuttier than the almonds in her cakes.

 “Olivia wants to know if you have time to make the garlic mashed potatoes and white beans. She soaked the beans last night. We also need pesto, chimichurri, chipotle sauce, and onions and peppers, got that?” Joe asked.

“I’ll get right on it. Anything else, Chef?”

He cocked his head to the side. “You make the word chef sound like an insult. You have something against chefs?” he asked, leaning a solid shoulder against her reach-in, blocking her in the bakeshop.

“Absolutely not, Chef,” she repeated. “Just doing my job.”

“Uh-huh,” he said with a sardonic grin. “Which job? Pastry chef? Prep cook? Troublemaker?” Joe pushed away from reach-in and began to walk toward her. She swallowed, resisting the urge to step back.

“All of the above.” She lifted her chin and met his eyes, hoping he couldn’t read the bluff in hers. She wasn’t going to cause any more trouble. She just wanted her real job back, which unfortunately happened to be his job at the moment.

Joe stopped right in front of her. His blue eyes went gray, like an ice storm. “You don’t have any other nasty little tricks planned for me during service, do you, sugar? Because if you do, neither one of us will be laughing this time. I’ll turn you over my knee and give you the paddling you deserve.”

“Well, that would be something new.” She gave him a tight-lipped smile. He was so close that his breath feathered over her face and another lightning strike of simple, straight-up lust hit her in the gut.

His eyes dropped to her mouth, and she saw a muscle in his jaw twitch. Maybe he wasn’t unaffected by the tension that charged the air between them. Frustration, pure and simple, made her crave some sort of satisfaction, and inner traitor wanted to remind Joe what he was missing. She reached out to smooth the cotton of his chef coat across the expanding width of his chest. “I don’t need dirty tricks to take down a schoolboy like you,” she said.

“You don’t, huh?” His deep voice rumbled quietly in his chest. “What do you need?”

“Not a thing.” Her palm slid over his firm muscles, caressed the warm column of his neck, and finally felt the rasp of his shadowed cheek. It did make a sound. She drew his face down to hers. 

“Just this,” she whispered against his lips.

For a chance to win Scrumptious, please comment below. I’d love to hear about your favorite food memory! Lord knows I still dream about the pecan Danish we used to make at my first bakery job in Nashville, TN at Provence Breads and CafĂ©. The dough was made in-house, shaped into a cinnamon-y spiral, filled with a smear of butter and brown sugar, then sprinkled with chopped pecans. When the Danish came out of the oven, it was my job to slather them with heavenly apricot glaze. I ate one warm every Saturday and Sunday morning for at least a year. Sweet and toasty. Unforgettable.

For more information about me or my books, please visit

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Happy New Year and thanks for celebrating with me today! 

Amanda - thanks so much for visiting with us! Like Amanda said, we're giving away copies of Scrumptious today: 2 COPIES! Please share your food memory in the comments for a chance to win. US and Canada addresses only, and please leave an email address so we can contact the winners, who will be announced on Monday, January 9. 


  1. That sounds, well... Scrumptious! Congrats on the new release!

  2. Hooboy... you had me at chocolate ripple cheesecake. Best of luck with "Scrumptious," and when is the next one coming out? "Delectable?" "Delicious?"

  3. Oh, yeah! Cover: great! Food: wonderful! Storyline: Priceless!
    Congratulations on the new release.

  4. I really love cupcakes, yummy, and the guyslooks so delicious ;)

    i'm not lived in US and Canada, so dont count me ;)

  5. Great excerpt. Scrumptious sounds amazing. Love the cover. One of my favorite food memories is Sunday dinner at my parent's house. My mom always made the best fried chicken. :)

  6. Cheryl, Grace and Carolyn, thank you so much! I've been floating ever since a friend called to say, "I just bought your book!" And Grace, the next one is Luscious, LOL!

  7. Eli, thank you. I love cupcakes, too! I just made them with my kids the other day. Three kids turned loose with pastry bags - scary!

  8. And Crystal - I love fried chicken when OTHER people make it. Then I don't know how much oil it took to fry it, and there's no mess on my stove! :-) Good choice!

  9. Hi, Amanda! "Scrumptious" sounds wicked good : ) Best wishes for much success!

    One of my best food memories ever centers around a funnel cake. We have a Fall Festival each year in my little hometown, and food vendors are everywhere. The combination of a variety of sweet and savory taste treats and beautiful Autumn in the VA mountains is awesome! Each year, I had to have a funnel cake at the festival. One year, my mom and I decided to make a last run through the festival just before it closed on the final day. I found one funnel cake vendor still open, and she used all the batter she had left and made a mountain-sized cake! Then she piled it with powdered sugar! When I took the cake back to the car, Mom was speechless. That funnel cake was the biggest one that we had ever seen. We divided up the cake and also shared it with our little black dog, Max. By the time we were through, the three of us had powedered sugar all over the place, and Max had become a "black and white" dog. His whiskers were sugar-coated! Best funnel cake ever, and a wonderful, wonderful memory!

  10. Hi Amanda,

    just wanted to stop by and say hello. I will definitely add your book to my tbb list. Sounds like a great story. Man and cupcakes great combination.

    Don't enter me in the contest as I am overseas

  11. Being a lunch lady, I love books about food, uh people who work with food. :)

    I learned to cook at my grandmother's stove, so that's a major memory. Now, Gramma wasn't what many folks think of when they remember their grandmother's cooking. She was a plan it, cook it fast person. Nothing fancy, just good, simple food. She was delighted to discover a way to make cookies out of cake mix so she didn't have to spend so much time baking.

    I did play restaurant. I'd make a menu, take orders and do most of the cooking--before kindergarten! I earned a few nickles that way.

    Congrats on the new release!

  12. I certainly have a food memory. There's a restaurant where I use to live 12 years ago that made the most amazing steaks. To this day I still crave their steaks, eating just one was never enough lol
    Your book sounds wonderful and I cannot wait to read it :)


  13. Hi, Virginia! Fair food is the best, isn't it? Since we live in WNY, we usually head for the Italian sausage stall. Freshly filled cannoli, corndogs, ice cream cones, and yes, the funnel cakes - all fabulous. Thanks for sharing your memory!

    Dannyfiredragon - thanks so much! :-)

    Lizzie Starr, a good chef friend of mine is a lunch lady, too! And here's a secret: lots of chefs (including my husband and I) are get it done right fast types, too. Thanks for sharing your memories.

    Leanne109, I love steak. One of these days I'll get my husband to write down his chimichurri recipe. It's a cilantro-based sauce with garlic, vinegar and chilis. Delicious on red meat! I am totally with you on great steak memories.

  14. I'm a total foodie so any book with food in it works for me. I can't wait to feast on this one.

    My favorite food memories revolve around Sunday dinners at my grandparents' home. A meal would take at least 4 hours and have at least five courses. I don't know how my grandmother did that every week! At the end of the meal, if my sister and I were really good, my grandfather would peel oranges and make eyeglasses out of the peels. I still don't know how he did it. The rest of the day my sister and I would run around wearing orange peel eye glasses.

  15. Yummy! I love reading books about cooking. I don't like to cook, so I guess I live vicariously.

  16. A favorite food memory. Sunday morning Dim Sum brunch with the family springs to mind. All of those small dumplings in myriad shapes and with different fillings littering a tabletop. There would be just enough room for a couple of teapots, and the diners plates and teacups surrounding the steaming food in an efficient border. Loved the baked sweet egg tarts in flaky pastry with which we would end the meal. It is more than one dish as food memories go, but the strongest that I have.

  17. Oops. Should have added

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  18. Scrumptious sounds great and love the cover too!

    A favourite food memory of mine would be the delicious Chinese chicken dishes that my grandmother used to make when we went over to our grandparents for dinners :)

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  19. The book sounds great. Love the title and the cover. Makes a person want to lick...the icing off the cupcakes :P.
    My best food memories are learning to cook with my mom, and cooking with my kids. Just last night my 18 yr old son headed into the kitchen and asked "what biscuit recipe do you use? I feel like biscuits.":D Of course we have to compare and discuss whose is better after. LOL

  20. Sounds like my kind of book!
    My favorite food memory was anytime Aunt Ruthie was in the kitchen! She was the central figure of our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. She could make or do anything! Since she passed, my mother has boycotted the idea of family dinners. This year, my generation of the family prepared and had the dinner. I know Aunt Ruthie was proud!

  21. What a great excerpt! Congrats on the release and great cover:)

  22. I would have to say my Papaw's chili. It is absolutely delicious. He never wrote down his recipe before he died. I've been trying to replicate it but I can't get it exactly.

    Many congrats on the new release!

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

  23. My Grandma always made the best spaghetti and everykind of Italian cookie you can imagine. Baking with her as a little girl are some of my fondest memories. Sadly she always mde everything from memory and never wrote any of her recipes down. They are now locked away in her mind as she has Alzheimers.

    I am reading your book on my kindle right now. Loving it so far. I would love a paperback copy for my collection. I am from WNY and love all the Buffalo area references. Congrats on the new release!!

    izzyabbysmom2006 AT yahoo DOT com

  24. Robin and Shana, thanks for the welcome! Robin, I don't suppose you have a pic of those orange peel glasses? And Shana, food other people cook is heaven. ;-)

  25. Lil and Winnie, my Scrumptious hero and heroine make dumplings...twice. They also make a Thai curry, not Chinese food but on the same side of the world! Mmmmmmm! Thanks for stopping by!

  26. mmbourassa, my biscuits could use a little you have a recipe to share? :-)

    And Phoenix, that's awesome. I'm not your Aunt Ruthie (but my middle name is Ruth) and I'm proud of you!

    C.H. - thanks! And congratulations of your own fabulous new release! Dylan=Delicious!

  27. StacieD - Chili is tough. There are so many different ways to make it. Any chance yours is better than his? :-)

    Erin T - Oh, man. Both of my husband's grandfathers had Alzheimers. I'm so sorry. Your memories will have to speak for her. Her cookies sound delicious!

  28. OMG! I MUST have this story!!!

    My favorite food memory is from when we (my siblings and I) were young. Like most families, we didn't have much extra $ available for non essentials. But, my parents wanted to make holiday's extra special so we celebrated with our food.

    On St. Patrick's day, everything we ate was green. Green pancakes for breakfast, green apples for a snack, Celery (ant's on a log,) and green kool-aid for lunch, green hamburgers for dinner, with green jello for dessert. Everything (sandwiches, pancakes, cookies, etc) was cut into heart shapes for Valentine's day. And we made homemade gingerbread houses and cookie decorations for Christmas.

    Congrats on your new release. It looks amazing!
    refhater2(at) yahoo (dot) com

  29. I remember the first time I had a Krispy Kream donut. I lived in California, where we didn't have them, and was in South Carolina for my son's wedding. He brought a box to the hotel for my sister and I and we were in heaven.
    I'm looking forward to reading Scrumptious, it sounds delicious. :D

  30. Refhater- Green hamburgers? LOL! That is wonderful. Your parents sound like fun!

    Barbara E - We had Krispy Kreme in WNY for a while and my in-laws would go out for a box and we'd eat them for dessert. Evil heaven!

    Thanks for all the comments and the warm welcome!

  31. Love the cover of this book. Sexy men and food. Yummy. Great excerpt. Now I need to read to find out what happens.
    I love Cheesecake of any kind. I can't make it, but love to buy and eat it. Love to try new kinds, excerpt for ones that have nuts.
    Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.

  32. I love a hot blueberry muffin bursting with just ripe blueberries! Nothing better!

  33. It will have to be x'mas cookies... Always bring back good memories for me.

    Your book sounds terrific!

  34. Scrumptious looks and sounds like a delicious read and I'm not just talking about the stud muffin on the cover;) CONGRATS Amanda on your release!

    My favorite food memory is of my mom's meatloaf. I know it sounds kinda boring, but I swear when she makes it now it just gives me this warm and fuzzy home feeling:)

  35. Chrisbails - since I live in Western New York, I can't get away from cheesecake. My fav is chocolate (like the one in Scrumptious) but I never turn down straight-up vanilla, either.

    Renee - we go blueberry picking several times during the season. Blueberries make me soooo happy!

    May - I spent nearly a decade working at a bakery where every Christmas we frosted 30,000 cut out cookies. The broken ones would sit in piles to be consumed by us cookie elves. Ah, my Christmas cookie memories are good, too!

  36. yadkny - not boring! My mom is a great cook and I completely understand your warm fuzzies. Thank you for sharing your memory!

  37. Congrats on the new release. Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake. Yum!!! Great excerpt. Can't wait to read this book.


  38. Thanks, Joanne! Chocolate cheesecake was a revelation to me when I started baking. I never get sick of it!

  39. Hello! The winners of Scrumptious are Leanne109 and Phoenix (anonymous). I will be emailing you both today. Congrats!


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