First Page Review Blog Hop: Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle is a work in progress right now. It’s the story of two people in their twenties who think they are supposed to have it all figured out by now. Alexis is sous-chef at a famous New York restaurant, and Charlie is an undercover food blogger with massive clout in the culinary world. Their lives collide when Charlie decides to make Alexis the subject of his next article. She has no idea that the busboy she’s constantly explaining things to is the secretive blogger who has the power to launch her cooking career to the next level. Once attraction for each other enters the mix, work may become too hot to handle for both of them.


Too Hot to Handle

Copyright (c) 2014 Adrienne D’nelle Ruvalcaba

Now is not the time to be humble, Alexis thought as she looked around the restaurant. The eyes of the staff watched her in anticipation. The entire wait staff, including the servers, bartenders, and busboys, looked bored. They clearly didn’t want to suffer through a speech aimed mostly at the kitchen staff. The manager stood off to the side and allowed her to run this little show. Alexis was the new executive chef—for the time being—in New York’s only French and Russian Fusion restaurant. She had been the sous-chef for three years, and tonight would be her first service as executive chef. It was a temporary change, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t make the most of it.

She took a deep breath and launched into her impromptu speech. “Most of you know Chef Markovic had to fly back to Russia to be with his family. His mother collapsed suddenly and has since been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’s expected to be out of the country for the next few months, but he wants to keep his absence quiet. He specifically said he doesn’t want any press speculation or tabloid coverage. If there are any leaks about this, heads are going to roll.

“I don’t think I need to remind anybody about all the bad press that Danielle Stacey has been responsible for this year. Chef Marko doesn’t want that woman undercover-blogging about his career as his mother dies, and we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen. If I see one word about Chef Marko or his mother’s illness in the press, I will figure out who’s responsible for the leak and you will pay. Chef Markovic will have your head on a platter, and I’ll be the one serving it up. Y’all know he ruled his kitchen with an iron fist, and in his absence I’ll do the same.”

Alexis turned on her heel and stomped into the kitchen, and the rest of the kitchen staff followed. She felt she was in command of the situation—until she glanced back and saw the sullen looks their faces. They were Markovic’s staff, and they always would be. From the day she’d walked in, she’d been an unwanted outsider. Now she’d just crossed the line from unwanted to downright hated. She was lucky she had both Markovic and the owner on her side.

Charlie watched the little sous-chef as she spoke. She was surrounded by men who were all a head taller than she was. Her voice was surprisingly loud and strong for such a petite person. As he watched her harp about ruling with an iron fist, his amusement melted into respect. She definitely had gumption. When she marched into the kitchen, her back was ramrod straight, and her hands were balled into little fists down by her hips.

He watched as she gave yet another long winded speech filled with all manner of threats and promises of bodily harm. Charlie looked around at the other men in the kitchen; they didn’t even try to hide their disdain from her.

Her dark brown eyes fastened onto each man as she spoke. There was a challenge in her eyes, as if she was daring anyone to voice their contempt to her face. She made a few more references to iron fists, and then she snapped her mouth shut and raised one of her perfectly arched eyebrows.

The first dinner service went perfectly. The dinning room was the picture of New York refined elegance, and it hummed like a finely tuned instrument that night. There was no indication of the absolute, yet tightly controlled, chaos that dominated the kitchen. Charlie was one of five busboys on staff. Every time he ventured back into the kitchen, he was aware of Alexis barking orders at everyone.

“What’s the time on the stroganoff for table five?!”

“Where’s the dill cucumber salad that goes with this order?!”

“Why isn’t this steak medium-rare? This is well done!”

It seemed like every other word out of her mouth was an expletive, but Charlie was accustomed to such behavior. Charlie’s parents owned a diner in Saint Louis, and his first job had been as a dishwasher. As the night wore on, Alexis reminded him more and more of his mother.

Charlie had inherited his tallness from his mother, but, in every other way, he’d taken after his mellow and thoughtful father. His plain, light brown hair would have been described as mousy if he were a woman. His eyes were an average medium brown color—nothing memorable. He had an average looking face and a physique that was just good enough to snag an occasional date. Everything about him was average and forgettable, and that was just the way he liked it. In his line of work, he had to be forgettable.

He ran one of the most followed blogs on the internet, and he was the most popular food blogger for the second year in a row. For the past five years, he’d been blogging about New York’s restaurant scene under the alias Danielle Stacey. His opinion on cuisine now carried more weight than the top food critics who had been the gatekeepers of the culinary world for decades. Part of his blog’s appeal was that nobody had ever seen his face, and there was a great deal of speculation surrounding his identity. His subscribers also loved his no-holds-barred investigative approach when profiling restaurants. He often spent weeks, or months, on staff in a low-profile, high turnover position like busboy or dishwasher.

As tonight’s dinner service went on, Charlie got over his disappointment about Markovic. After one night, it was clear that Alexis was something special. He told himself that his decision to stay had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he found her attractive. Actually, unreasonable, distractingly attractive was more accurate. He had a hard time keeping his eyes off her smooth, dark brown skin, because his eyes involuntarily sought her out.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Please comment with your feedback. Let me know if you would like to know what happens next in the story.

Why They Call me DW

The Dick Whisperer

A good friend of mine, who happens to be male, recently said something about me that could be taken one of two ways. After reading this story, please let me know which way you would take it…

My name is Adrienne, and I am an introvert. This part is important, so don’t forget it! There are plenty of people out there who identify as introverts, but I am firmly on the extremely introverted side of the introvert/extrovert continuum.

Just how introverted am I, you might ask.

Introverted enough to have stopped talking for two months straight while in junior high. Didn’t talk to friends, didn’t talk in school, didn’t talk to my family, didn’t even talk to myself. The only reason I started talking again was because some nosy, but well-meaning, teacher noticed my silence and called a social worker. I was then faced with talking to a child therapist to prove I wasn’t “crazy” or being committed to the regional center for disturbed children. I’m smart, so obviously I talked after that. What were my reasons for shutting down all communications? I won’t say—ever. That’s how introverted I am.

Now, on with the story…

My good friend Robert has been going through some very difficult times in his life. He was the sole caretaker for his 95yr old grandmother until last year when she had to be admitted to a nursing home. During this process, his family has devalued his work in caring for his grandmother. They said some pretty insulting things about him being too “lazy” to get a real job (he works part-time as a massage therapist), but they were totally okay with never being the one who had to change Grandma’s adult diaper, feed her, keep her company, or take her to the doctor. What Robert did for his grandmother was more than a full time job, so his family’s attitude has been hurtful, infuriating, and just plain wrong.

Now, Robert’s mother is on the edge of losing her independence. She’s in her 70’s and has battled a serious case of rheumatoid arthritis. Lately, she has been needing much more outside help to get to the doctor and take her meds properly. At this time, no one in the family has taken direct responsibility for her care, but Robert is often the first one on the scene to help her. If she falls, the life alert calls him first. He picks her up within minutes and gives her whatever care she needs. He is the only one who checks daily, multiple times per day actually, that she is eating properly, feels well, and that her emotional health is still okay. Yes, Robert is a natural at caring for sick people.

The problem with his mother comes in when Robert tells his family that he doesn’t want to go through the same things he went through with Grandma. He doesn’t want to argue about care and constantly have to deal with insults and divisiveness from his brothers, neither of whom know anything about elder care or all the legal affairs that must be “in order” to make a more peaceful transition. He wants the family to be united, so that his mom can have what she needs going forward, whether it be a plan to transition into an assisted living facility, or a plan for a family member (most likely Robert) to be in charge of her care.

This idea has been met with vehement resistance, because the younger brother, the uninformed brother, just doesn’t understand why being prepared and proactive is important. Robert’s suggestion was to set up a meeting with an elder care lawyer, so that the family can hear a professional explain the ins and outs of all the legal paperwork and estate planning that should be done. Robert’s brothers and mother would be present for this meeting, and after they have been informed on all options, Robert’s mom will chose the one most comfortable for her.

Why is this such a problem?

Because the younger brother is uninformed, yet he wants to run the show without having talked to one social worker on the issue. Robert has talked to multiple social workers, lawyers, professionals who work in the nursing homes, and directors of programs geared for elder care. Yet, the uninformed brother expects Robert to just drop the issue and do whatever uninformed thing seems most comfortable to him.

I’ve been present during most of these meetings, because Robert trusts my ability to listen. I take notes for him, and then we talk about the best and most gentle way to discuss the issue with his mother. This is not easy. I have also been present during discussions with his uninformed brother. These discussions are almost always contentious at best, but Robert finds my presence to be soothing, and he thinks I bring balance to difficult situations.

Why?

Because I’m an introvert, and his family are all extroverts. He thinks my calm perspective is valuable.

He asked me to be present during the meeting with the elder care lawyer, his brothers, and his mom, but his uninformed brother balked at having me there. I overheard their entire conversation yesterday. I was sitting in a chair, minding my own introvert business at the time. Besides me and Robert, there were two other people in the room. Robert’s two best friends, Ike and Adam, were there to watch a ball game, but the angry call from the uninformed brother interrupted the game. I should mention that Robert, Ike, and Adam are all men in their mid-forties. All three of them work out, and are what I would describe as fitness buffs. They spend a lot of time talking about working out, building muscle, and sports. They are far from simple minded, but they aren’t as intellectual and introverted as I am. They find my quiet amusing.

Here’s how the conversation with the uninformed brother went:

Look, Bro, I still don’t see why Adrienne has to be there!” Uninformed Brother shouted.

“Dude, it’s because Mom is a girl! Man, mom’s sensitive and this shit might overwhelm her. Adrienne needs to be there because she speaks Mom’s language. She can explain this in a girl way that won’t upset Mom!” Robert responded in a loud angry tone. He was clearly frustrated with his brother.

“Man! This stuff with Grandma is difficult enough. I’m trying to tell you that I don’t think any of this is necessary. Mom’s not going to end up in a nursing home, blah blah blah blah…”

Robert interrupted Uninformed Brother with a, “Look Bro, Mom needs Adrienne to come along, because you keep giving her a hard time. Adrienne can listen to you and me rant about this and then figure out how to word a question perfectly, and I’ll be like, yeah, that’s what I wanted to ask! Bro, Adrienne is like the dick whisperer!”

Wait…! I’m the what??

I looked up and saw Adam, the other extrovert in the room, trying to hold back laughter. He looked like he was choking on his own tongue from trying so hard. Ike, the other introvert, couldn’t hold back his reaction either. Ike actually snickered a little, but he looked very uncomfortable about finding my discomfort funny…typical introvert reaction. They both looked at me as I covered my face.

As soon as the call ended, we all had a good laugh.

Robert realized what he’d said in the heat of the moment, and told me, “That didn’t come out right. What I meant was dick whisperer, like jerk whisperer.”

That didn’t end the laughter of course.

I may now be known as DW within this little circle of friends…sigh.

What kind of writer am I?

My story follows a similar path to that of many other writers; I knew from a young age that I was born a writer. There are those who love to write when they can carve out time, and there are those who cannot stop themselves from writing, even when they have no time. I’ve always know that I fall into the second category. I write, not because I want to, but because I have to.

Several important things had to happen for me to become an author though. First, I had to learn that writing is the soul on paper. If a writer is willing to share a piece of their soul with every work, they can reach an audience in a way that few other art forms can. Once I got over my fear of sharing myself, I was ready for the next step in the process. The next step was learning that writing is revision. Anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves! I had to learn how to critique my own writing, take the critique of others, develop a thick skin, and revise, revise, REVISE.

The evolution of my writing can be seen most candidly in the differences between

The Officer’s Wife  The officer's Wife Final eBook Cover

and The Prostitute’s Daughter  23014404

 

When I wrote The Officer’s Wife, more than ten years ago, I was a completely different person. I was in an abusive marriage, and writing was my means of escape, rather than my craft. At that time in my life, all I knew was that I couldn’t stop writing no matter how hard I tried. I wrote all kinds of things. I wrote autobiographical short stories, I wrote horror, I wrote poems, I wrote humor, I wrote women’s fiction, and I wrote romance. I didn’t know what kind I writer I was yet. The Officer’s Wife is a testament to that fact. It straddles the gap between serious women’s fiction and contemporary romance with a fairytale twist.

Flash forward ten years… I found myself in Engineering school and dealing with single parenthood, yet I could not stop writing! Even when I had hours of Calculus homework, I would stay up an extra hour to work on The Prostitute’s Daughter. By this time, my identity as a writer was more secure. I had claimed my little stake in the romance genre. Once I decided to embrace interracial romantic fiction as my chosen genre, I was able to focus on improving the elements that are important to the genre.

As my writing continues to evolve and get better, I will always look back on my first book with fondness. If I hadn’t written about a character finding self-assurance and confidence before I found it for myself, perhaps my life would have turned out differently.

Thanks for reading!
~Adrienne R.

#FF…#Feature & Follow blog lovin’ blog hop

Tamara Philip, Author

Follow Friday Button Hi everyone! I’m Tamara, the author of The Trouble with Playing Cupid and I always follow back! I just think it’s the right thing to do!

So when I heard about #Feature&Follow I knew I had to participate.  Want to know more?

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers — but you have to know — the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Visit for more information on- http://twinjabookreviews.blogspot.com/2014/09/feature-follow-8-ff-are-you-also-writer.html

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Authors with Flair…Adrienne Ruvalcaba interview

Thank you Tamara Philip for doing this interview!

Tamara Philip, Author

Adrienne Ruvalcaba‘s The Prostitute’s Daughter is a gripping, intense, edgy and yet sweet novel. How does one book accomplish all of that? Perhaps it’s a reflection of its author and all the layers of her personality?  Luckily for me, she allowed me to interview her in all her mysterious glory…

 In less than 30 words, tell us about The Prostitute’s Daughter?

The Prostitute’s Daughteris the story of a man who loves a woman who doesn’t believe in love. He loves her even when she isn’t capable of loving herself.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me five years to write this book. I wrote it in my spare time while I was dealing with a things, including the end of an abusive marriage, going to engineering school full time while single parenting two small children, working, and coming to grips with serious…

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Like a Virgin, a blog virgin that is…

At the risk of sounding like a cliché, although I’m okay with most clichés, I must say that this is my very first time ever writing a blog post.  Is it even called a blog post?  The fact that I don’t know must make me a blog virgin…  Is that even a thing?

I haven’t decided what the focus of this blog should be.  Goodness knows I have lots to choose from, so I will begin by introducing myself.

My name is Adrienne, and I am currently at a difficult spot in my life.  After more than five years as an engineering student, I am so close to having my masters degree in civil engineering with a concentration in structures, but I am just as close to giving up.  When I started engineering school I was focused like a laser, but now I am scattered like a sandcastle that some mean person kicked over.  A diagnosis of systemic lupus and some health complications have damaged my self esteem so much, I sometimes question my worth as a human, not just my future worth as an engineer.  At times I feel that I am just a waste of space on this earth, but there is absolutely nothing I can do about those feelings.  I have children, and they need a mother who is strong enough to own her place in the world and do something proactive.  It’s just that right now, that’s not me.