Title: Fed Up
Author: Kathleen Duhamel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Together, they sizzled like butter hitting a hot skillet, but will their passion incinerate what’s left of her shattered heart?
Chef Shelby Faith Durand, 54, is struggling to make sense of her life following the untimely death of her husband/business partner. She’s sold the successful restaurant they co-owned in a small Virginia town and has been living off insurance proceeds while drowning in grief and worrying about an uncertain future. When a former colleague asks her to fill in on a short-term personal chef job, she reluctantly agrees at the urging of her bossy and concerned adult daughter.
Ian James is troubled, moody, and much too handsome for his own good. An Englishman who’s relocated to the United States, Ian is a 51-year-old television actor whose believes his best years are behind him. He’s been cast in a “wretched” antebellum drama about a family of ghost chasers, shooting on location during a steamy summer in the Shenandoah Valley. He’s worried about his sagging career and failing looks, a teenage daughter who cuts herself, and the fallout from a messy divorce. Isolated and disillusioned, Ian takes consolation in being overfed at night by his new French-trained personal chef.
Neither Shelby nor Ian is looking for romance, yet their mutual attraction is undeniable. While Ian longs for a quiet life away from public scrutiny, Shelby struggles with guilt and regret over losing her husband, while wondering if she can trust a charming man who makes his living pretending to be someone else. Is their tenuous relationship based only on mutual loneliness and lust? And is Ian really the changed man he claims to be?
“I don’t particularly like the rain,” she said absently, squeezing my fingers. “But I do love the way the air smells before a storm, don’t you?” I nodded in agreement, enjoying the normality of sitting near her, watching as heavy rain overfilled the storm sewers and began to puddle in the street. Not another living soul was visible, leaving the two of us alone in a watery landscape, its colors muted by overcast skies. 

“Jean-Pierre never got used to all the moisture,” she murmured. “Especially the times when the restaurant’s outdoor oyster bar was rained out. ‘This is bullsheet!’ he used to complain. ‘C’est des conneries!’” 

“You haven’t said too much about him,” I ventured, hoping I hadn’t steered our talk in an unsettling direction. 

“I didn’t know…” Her hesitant voice faded away before she turned to me. “I thought it might make you uncomfortable.” 

“Why would you think that? I’ve told you about my exes.” 

“Yes, but you’ve also had a lot more to talk about.” 

She looked a bit distressed, and I thought for a moment she might change the subject to something less painful. Instead, she sipped her tea, looked out onto the sopping streetscape, and said, “I didn’t only lose my husband on that terrible night. I also lost my business partner and best friend.” 

Moisture welled in her eyes, but she brushed it away with the back of her hand. “I didn’t realize how much I relied on Jean-Pierre until he was gone. I always thought of myself as an independent person, but after he died, I felt so…incompetent. I remember bursting into tears because I didn’t know our trash pick-up schedule. One day for recycled material, another day for household trash, and still another time for lawn clippings. He took care of all that, like he took care of the cats, and so many other things.” 

The Frenchman, it seemed, had left some sizable shoes to fill. 

“You know the worst thing about losing a loved one?” I asked, not really knowing what I’d say next. Her eyes found mine and she blinked back another tear. “All the things you longed to say but always held back, not willing to risk your feelings. Now there’s no more time, and the words in your heart will go unsaid.” 

“That’s beautiful,” she said, pausing to study her lap. She swallowed hard before asking, “Ian, do you ever see your old lover? The married woman who broke your heart?” 

“Only in dreams,” I replied, as my chest constricted. “She died in a car accident several years ago.” 

Our eyes met again for a second or two, and as her expression shifted to one of lustful contemplation, I read her unspoken invitation without the slightest difficulty. Without saying another word, she rose from her chair and clasped my hand, leading me upstairs. Not to my doom, as I once predicted, but to the pleasures of her bed where, on my final night in rain-soaked Virginia, Shelby took me home.
Kathleen wrote and illustrated her first short story at the age of eight and has considered herself a storyteller ever since. After growing up in a small Texas town, she earned a master’s degree in communications from Texas Tech University. Her love of the written word continued throughout her varied career as a newspaper journalist and editor, public relations executive, freelance travel writer, and owner/operator of two small businesses before becoming a published author in 2015. She is the author of the contemporary romance novels Deep Blue. Deeper, and Deep End, along with a companion novella, At Home with Andre. Kathleen’s stories feature vibrant, smart, and attractive older women—a vastly underrepresented segment of the romance market—who experience love and satisfying sex, despite the various pitfalls that accompany later-in-life relationships. Her newest release, Fed Up, features two troubled Gen-Xers who meet and fall in love at precisely the wrong time. Kathleen has spent most of her adult life in Colorado, where she lives in the Denver area with her husband, an enormous standard poodle, and a big, friendly cat.
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