Series: One and Only Texas #2
Published by St. Martin's Press Source: Netgalley
Genres: Alpha Guy, Cowboys, Contemporary Romance, Millionaire/Billionaire Hero, Romance, Small Town Romance, Revenge
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Welcome to Dulcet, Texas, home of the legendary Briscoe Ranch Resort, where one man will discover that revenge is a dish best served sizzling hot…
Ambitious and talented, chef Emily Ford has the chops to make it in the cutthroat culinary world—which is why she refuses to accept her demotion at the hands of Knox Briscoe, the new CEO of Briscoe Ranch Resort. He has grand plans that include bringing in a celebrity chef to helm an exciting new restaurant at the resort, but Emily has plans of her own—to do whatever it takes to change his mind…
Knox Briscoe made his millions in the high-risk game of buying and flipping businesses. Cut out of the Briscoe fortune by an old feud that left his family in ruins, Knox grew up dreaming of revenge. Out-maneuvering his uncle for control of the resort is merely the first step in his plan—a plan that doesn’t include the brazen and beautiful Emily Ford. Drawn into her passion, Knox’s world is turned on its axis, and it isn’t long before he’s faced with the biggest risk of all—with his career, with his heart…and with the woman who has captivated him, body and soul.
This book appealed to me because lately I have been missing home (Texas) and the heroine in the story is a chef, and lately I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen trying to learn new things about cooking. I didn’t realize it until I was a few chapters in, but the setting and some of the characters really seemed somewhat familiar to me, and that’s when it hit me. I read the novella for this series a while back, I think sometime last year. Once I figured that out, I was actually pretty excited to see how things were going to turn out.
So Knox is basically coming back to his family’s home, but not the family home where he grew up. His father was basically pushed out of the family and all the family money that went along with that, and ended up a bitter man. After his death Know swore to himself that he would make things right. Now a very successful businessman, he is set on getting back what his father lost, which means taking over the Briscoe Ranch Resort. I have to admit I could understand where Knox was coming from. Granted he didn’t have all the facts, he didn’t know why his dad was pushed out and no one would talk about it. His Uncle Ty, for the most part was pretty welcoming, but he was kind of a jerk, he doesn’t think very much of a his daughter, and honestly made a whole lot of bad business decisions. It’s no wonder it was so easy for Knox to set his plan in motion. I was actually pretty pleasantly surprised by Knox. I really thought he was going to end up being just a force for vengeance the entire time, but he really started to care about the family he had never knows, from Granny June to his cousins, and of course to our lovely heroine, Emily.
Emily has the kind of focus I could only wish for. She is obsessed with food, and tailoring food to each person. She has big dreams for where she can take her food here at the ranch too. And when it seems like Knox is just going to write her off, she really stands up for herself, which I loved. There is also a pretty funny scene with peach soup too. But I liked that she got Knox to agree to give her a chance, and how much she devoted herself to getting it right. Plus Knox and Emily have this kind of quiet chemistry, almost like the two of them calm each other while at the same time having a big case of the hots for each other.
A long goes on in this book, but Emily and Knox’s romance is really nice to read, I liked it a lot. I liked Emily confronting her past, and well Knox doing the same thing as well. There is a lot of family in this book, and some of them aren’t great, and some of them are, made it seem more real. I did think that perhaps the book was a tad too long for the story, but the pacing was pretty good, so I’ll let that slide. I will say that I am really hoping Haylie is going to get a story soon, because that is one I definitely want to read.
Emily pushed a loaded food cart behind the resort’s main reception desk, then through the maze of cubicles and offices tucked away from the guests’ view. She nodded to Ty Briscoe’s secretary, then let herself into his corner office.
Knox’s fierce intensity beat like waves of power through the air in the room. Emily froze near the door, stunned to find herself suddenly, uncharacteristically, intimidated.
Knox rose slowly, buttoning his suit jacket as he loomed over Emily. “Are you asking to be fired, Ms. Ford? Because I was hoping the chef I hire for the new restaurant would see the value in keeping on some of the resort’s restaurant workers as line cooks.”
Oh, this man. Emily visualized the way his perfect suit would look covered in mushroom reduction, sweet potato puree, and bits of roasted pheasant. In the end, she decided against the childish act, more out of respect for Ty than any sense of dignity or self-preservation.
Ty jabbed his spoon in the air at Knox. “You watch your tone with her. Emily’s too valuable an asset at this resort to work as a line cook.”
Spoken like the father figure he was to her. Emily’s heart warmed for the man who’d taken a huge risk in hiring her right out of chef school, homeless and without a penny to her name. Of course, she didn’t reveal any of that. She carefully schooled her features, refusing to splay open her chest and give Knox Briscoe one single glimpse of her heart. His careless response to her peaches was proof enough of his lack of a soul.
The gleam in Knox’s eyes turned cool and calculating as he turned his focus to Ty. “I wouldn’t have expected that from you, Ty. Sleeping with the special event chef. Interesting. And against my business policy.”
Emily’s self-control snapped. She pushed up from her chair, ready to get in Knox Briscoe’s face and give him a piece of her mind. She slammed her hands onto the table for emphasis, but instead of hitting the table, her right hand caught the rim of the soup bowl. As though in slow motion, the bowl launched itself at Knox. Emily lunged for it, but she was too late. Bright orange soup splashed all over the front of his suit.
Mortified, she stood over him and watched glops of peach and brûlée topping ooze like lava into the creases of his waistband and belt.
For his part, Knox didn’t rise or curse at her—as Ty was doing, she noticed out of the corner of her eye—nor did he attempt to clean himself off. He kept his cucumber- cool gaze locked on hers, a slight smirk curved on his lips. “Did I hit too close to home on that observation, Ms. Ford?”
Holy shit. She’d spilled soup all over her new boss. There was no way she was getting the restaurant now. She’d be lucky to keep her job. What she refused to give up was the last shreds of her dignity. Nobody insulted her by insinuating that she’d slept her way to the top and got away with it, not even the intimidating Knox Briscoe.
She rose to her full height. “I may not know what your father did to get disowned by the Briscoes, but it’s no wonder you’re trying to deflect some of that shame you inherited from him onto the people of this resort. Even after all these years, it still stings, doesn’t it? Whatever he did to get shunned? The shame of it all?”
A shadow crossed Knox’s face. Good. She’d meant for that to hurt.
A hand closed around Emily’s arm and tugged her away. Ty pushed between her and Knox, scolding her, apologizing to Knox. When did the giant she’d long revered as a force of nature turn into a spineless, apologetic noodle? She would’ve never expected her idol to fall from grace in the blink of an eye.
Emily glared past Ty, to Knox. “It makes sense, now, this whole alpha power vibe you’ve got going on. You know what they say about men who seem like they’re overcompensating for something.”
The shadow vanished from Knox’s eyes and the shark- like calculation returned. “That they have big feet? Or am I mixing my old wives’ tales?”
“Emily, please. Leave us,” Ty said. “You’re embarrassing yourself and insulting me.”
That pulled her up short. She was way beyond dam- age control when it came to her own embarrassment, but she did care about insulting Ty. She might not trust Ty to know what he was doing, not after this crippling deal with the devil himself, but she still respected Ty enough to honor his plea. With a nod, she walked with stiff, proud steps to the door.
“Ms. Ford, the suspense is killing me. What do they say about men who seem like they’re overcompensating?” Knox said, sounding amused.
Gritting her teeth, she paused with one foot out the door and tossed a look over her shoulder, startling all over again at Knox’s aura of cool perfection. The cut of his jaw, the fullness of his lips, eyes that were as cruel as they were wise. How had she ever thought she could win over a man like that with peaches and pheasant? Whatever family shame Knox was overcompensating for, it wasn’t going to save Emily or her beloved resort. Knox Briscoe was beyond redemption, her career was over before it had even gotten off the ground, and life was never going to be the same again.
“Haven’t you heard?” she said. “The thing about men who seem like they’re overcompensating for something, is that they always are.”