Skip to product information
1 of 3

All Fired Up (ebook)

All Fired Up (ebook)

Hot in the Kitchen

Regular price $4.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $4.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • Purchase the ebook instantly
  • Receive download link via email from BookFunnel
  • Send to preferred ereader and enjoy!

Her sweetest mistake tastes so, so good ... A buttoned up events planner finds herself accidentally married to a free-spirited Irish pastry chef. The marriage has to end ... right?

Tropes: Accidentally married, opposites attract, grumpy-sunshine, found family, tortured leads, mental illness rep. 


Her sweetest mistake . . . tastes so, so good.

Cool as a Chicago winter, private events planner Cara DeLuca is a model of self-control . . . until she meets the one temptation she can't resist: Shane Doyle. The sexy, Irish pastry chef is too hot, too sure, too young, and after a crazy night in Vegas, her new husband. While at first Cara wants nothing more than a way out of her sham marriage to Shane, she soon finds that beneath his farm boy demeanor lies a man who can match her drive, both in and out of the bedroom. How can the wrong guy feel so deliciously right?

Shane has carefully structured his career and life around one goal: connecting with the family that doesn't know he exists. Marrying a woman with more issues than a magazine stand wasn't part of the plan, but melting Cara's icy exterior is so worth the detour. It isn’t long before this side trip is leading him down an unexpected path with love the final destination.

As their annulment date nears and long-buried secrets are revealed, Shane will have to fight for the one thing guaranteeing the perfect life he craves . . .

the current Mrs. Shane Doyle.

Chapter One Look Inside

It was the most beautiful wedding cake Cara DeLuca had ever seen. Three architecturally perfect layers of frosted purity designed to make women drool and men feign disinterest as soon as it was rolled out on a wobbly serving cart to the center of the harshly lit ballroom. Undoubtedly, a slice costs thirty, maybe forty-five extra minutes of kicking the bag at the gym.

Cara checked that thought to the tune of screeching tires in her head. In a previous lifetime, she had measured every bite in push-ups and treadmill minutes, piling on laps in the pool to punish the slightest infraction. Old Cara would be looking for an excuse to slip out of a wedding reception before the cake so she could work off the chicken or fish entrée, and she had several options for how she did that. New Cara—healthy Cara—shouldn’t need to count every bite and worry if she had passed over onto the wrong side of the fifteen-hundred-calorie border.

But only an amazing cake could tempt her.

Cutting into the slice on the Limoges dessert plate, Cara slipped it past her lips, chewed slowly, and swallowed.


Dry, pedestrian, uninspired. No one knew better than Cara the truth behind that old adage about looks being deceiving. This cake might have been the bride’s dream, but a single bite confirmed the suspicions Cara had formed the day she was roped in to salvage her cousin Gina’s wedding. About ten minutes after the official planner had finally thrown up her hands in despair and gone running to the nearest sanatorium—read: palm-tree-lined, sandy beach.

This wedding was cursed.

It wasn’t so much her cousin’s insistence on the stab-your-eyes-out pink, fishtail-hemmed bridesmaid dresses or her requirement that she must have both a Neil Diamond string quartet for the cocktails and an all-girl Neil Diamond tribute band, the Sweet Carolines, for the dancing.

Neither did Cara mind organizing last-minute fittings for a wedding party of twelve, or a reception for two hundred ravenous Italians. As for corralling the ovary-explodingly cute ring bearers? Child’s play, though Father Phelan had drawn the line at chocolate Lab pups traipsing down the aisle behind ankle biters who could barely stay upright.

No, that was manageable and managing was what Cara did best. Where it all went undeniably south was at the joint bachelor-bachelorette party in Las Vegas. This type of thing had become de rigueur, and as much as Cara would have liked to put down the poker chips and back away slowly, she’d felt it incumbent on herself to manage that, too. A gaggle of drunk-off- their-butts DeLuca women needed her superior wrangling skills to make sure they had a wild and crazy, but safe, time. Unfortunately, her usually sober view had been crusted over by one colossally stupid mistake. A six-foot-tall, amber-eyed, mussed-up-haired mistake.

She should have stayed home in Chicago.

Thinking on those events of one week ago sent renewed fury roiling through her body.

She could fix it. She would fix it. As soon as she got through this day.

Slowly, she surveyed the room and tried to breathe herself to calm in the face of the happiness onslaught. Her father—Il Duce to his daughters—held court at the elders’ table after spending most of the meal bounding in and out of the hotel kitchen. Ensuring his menu was followed to exact specifications, no doubt. His queen, Francesca, rocking regal now that her corn-silk-blonde hair had returned to its pre-cancer glory, wore a familiar upward tilt on her lips as she viewed the dance floor high jinks. Cara tracked her mom’s gaze to a flash of flailing arms among the writhing bodies. Oh, you’ve got to be kid—

“I’m beginning to have second thoughts.” A crisp, British voice intruded on her internal scold.

Jack Kilroy, her boss and future brother-in-law, wrinkled his patrician nose and lay down his fork primly.

“If you can’t even get the cake right, Cara, I’m not sure I should be entrusting you with the most important day of my life,” he added with just enough of that divo tone to remind her why she was glad he was marrying her sister, Lili, in six weeks, and not her. Having worked with Jack as his TV producer when he was the Jack Kilroy—ragingly successful restaurateur, cooking show icon, and tabloid meat—and now, as the private events manager for his Chicago restaurant, Sarriette, she was comfortably familiar with his moods and tics. Jack was almost as controlling as Cara, and that type never made it onto her dance card. The one that had turned yellow from disuse. At least until Las Vegas.

“The cake was a done deal before I became involved but don’t fret your pretty head,” she said, enjoying immensely how his face darkened at her patronizing tone.

Gun. Fish. Barrel.

“You’ve requested the most spectacular, stylish, knock-’em-dead—” “Artistic, poetic, avant-garde,” Lili picked up, a little breathlessly.

Cara smiled up at her sister, newly arrived after cutting a rug on the boards.

“Wedding to end all weddings,” Cara finished while Jack pulled his fiancée onto his lap despite her whiny protests. It was a cute playact they did that would have turned her stomach at its sheer preciousness if it had been anyone else. The ache she felt in her belly could only be that cardboard cake talking.

“You shall have the wedding you’ve wanted since you were a little girl, Jack,” continued Lili, touching his forehead in the style of a fairy godmother before dropping a kiss on his lips.

“You’re so cheeky,” Jack said. “Engaged for almost a year and still no joy. I’m told I’m very eligible, you know.”

“Been reading your old Vanity Fair fluff pieces again, Jack?” Cara asked. There was a time when you couldn’t turn around without seeing Jack’s handsome mug on a magazine, billboard, or TV screen. Cara wondered if he missed it. Achieving her goal of becoming Chicago’s events queen depended on him missing it.

“Most women are dying to walk down the aisle…” He coasted a hand along Lili’s thigh, clearly appreciative of her va-va-voom figure. Even in the bridesmaid dress from Hades, Lili looked like an advertisement for real women with those generous curves.

Thin women are just as real, Cara’s inner therapist whispered.

“But this one has no interest in the fairy tale,” Jack went on. “Complete with Prince Charming.”

Lili rolled her eyes affectionately. “I’m happy to go quietly to city hall, but if you insist, I’ll indulge you.”

“Sweetheart, indulge me a little now,” Jack said and pulled her in for a kiss.

Cara loosed a sigh and tried to reel in her envy at how Lili and Jack stared at each other to the exclusion of anyone else, the secret messages that needed no words, and their unmistakable joy at being in each other’s company. Just seeing how much Jack loved her sister made Cara’s cynical heart grow larger. Not three times, but maybe one and a half.

If anyone deserved the fairy tale, it was Lili. Her younger sister had carried the weight of family obligations during their mother’s battle with breast cancer while Cara had folded up like a Pinto in a head-on collision with a semi. Cara owed Lili, and she was going to repay a fraction of that debt by planning her dream wedding down to the finest detail—even if her sister didn’t know she wanted it yet.

“How’s the cake?” Lili asked Cara once Jack let her come up for air. Her gaze slid to the slice, lying listlessly on the scallop-edged dessert plate.

“Not so great,” Cara said. “Don’t worry, we’ll have something much better for your big day.” She already had an artiste in mind and if he was good enough for Oprah’s farewell do—

“Cake’s sorted,” Jack announced.

“What?” Cara asked, but the tingle she felt as the word spilled out told her she should be asking “Who?” She didn’t even have to hear his name; her traitorous body was already on board.

“My secret weapon.” Jack chuckled and nodded to the dance floor.

Cara followed his gaze and by some Moses-like miracle, the tangle of bodies parted to reveal the weapon himself.

Shane Doyle. He of the Irish eyes, devastating dimple, and incredibly dorky dance moves.

The Sweet Carolines were playing the eponymous tune and Shane was waving his hands in the air, alternating between an interpretive dance featuring a tree and the old mime-trapped-in-a-box routine. Maisey, one of the servers at Sarriette and Shane’s dance partner, was holding tight to her side because apparently Shane wasn’t just bustin’ moves; he was bustin’ guts as well. From twenty feet away, Cara could hear him hollering about how good times never seemed so good.

The well of anger bubbled in her chest again. Shane shouldn’t even be here, but after just a couple of weeks in Chicago, he had made himself right at home and finagled an invitation to the wedding as Maisey’s plus one. Well, she could have him.

Cara was gearing up to drag her eyes away—any moment now—when a rather daring pivot landed him in a face-off with their table. One eyebrow arched. He held her stare. And then he winked. Which he had no damn right to do after what had happened between them a week ago in Sin Freaking City.

“No,” she said firmly, turning away from those chocolate-drop eyes set in that ridiculously fine face. Not just fine, but friendly and cheerful and, oh hell, mostly fine.

“No, what?” asked Jack.

“No, we can’t use Shane.” When Jack’s expression turned curious, she hastily added, “He’s too new and he’s got far too much on his plate trying to get up to speed at the restaurant. Let me remind you that you’ve given me a very tight timeline here. Less than two months to plan the kind of shindig you want means I can’t leave anything to chance.”

Though Jack and Lili had been engaged for close to a year, Lili had only recently pulled the trigger on the wedding planning now that she was settled into her MFA program at the School of the Art Institute. Jack was champing at the bit to make Lili into Mrs. Jack Kilroy, but her sister refused to be pushed. That summed up their relationship in a nutshell.

Jack and Lili shared a meaningful glance. Cara hated when they did that. “Something happened in Vegas and it clearly hasn’t stayed there,” Lili said. “We all know you slept with him.”

Recrimination simmered in Cara’s gut. If only it were that simple. Not that sex was ever simple, but at least they could put that in the ancient history column and move on.

“I didn’t know.” Jack’s brow knitted furiously. “Cara, tell me it’s not true.”

“It’s not true,” Cara repeated, sort of truthfully. She hadn’t slept with anyone in too long to recall and even then, she, or he, never stayed overnight. It was one of her rules, or it had been until a week ago when she woke up with a screaming hangover and a big lug of an Irishman twined around her body.

“You destroyed my last pastry chef,” Jack said. “Shane’s been here only a couple of weeks and you’ve already got your hooks into him.”

“Now, now, Jack,” Lili soothed. “You can’t tell your employees who they can and can’t be with.”

“Oh, yes, I can. She made Jeremy cry. The poor guy left because Cara stomped all over him.”

Cara bristled, then covered with a languid wave. Everyone’s impression of her was of a woman who took no prisoners when it came to life and love—an impression she did little to dispel.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Jeremy and I went on one date and it didn’t work out. Can I help it if you employ weak-willed mewling kittens just so you can surround yourself with yes-men who’ll bow down and kiss your ring?”

The man had cried, though.

Lili’s unearthly blue eyes zeroed in on Cara, making her shiver with their perspicacity. “So if you didn’t do the deed with Shane, what happened? You hightailed out of that Vegas hotel like you were auditioning for Girl Being Chased Number Two.”

“Nothing happened. We just had a few drinks and that’s it. Nobody got stomped on.” Much. She felt her head cant slightly in Shane’s direction. It completely sucked to have no control over her body.

And then as if she had summoned him out of thin air, he was there. The distance from dance floor to table should have given her a decent interval to adjust but Shane had bounded over like a big Irish setter, throwing Cara off-kilter. Any farther and she’d be listing like the Titanic in its final moments. His hip-shot loll against the table’s edge made his ancient-looking jeans cleave fondly to his thighs, prompting Cara’s own thigh muscles to some involuntary flexing of their own.

Who wears jeans to a wedding? While everyone else wore tuxes and dark suits, Shane was embracing the American Dream with button-fly Levis, weathered cowboy boots, and a sports jacket that stretched a little too tight over his annoyingly broad shoulders. Only after that snide thought had formed did it occur to her he had probably borrowed the jacket, likely from one of the other chefs.

Unavoidably, her eyes inched up, up, up, taking in overlong, mink-brown hair that just begged to be raked. The melty mocha eyes with a hazelnut corona ringing the iris. The jaw scruff that hadn’t made acquaintance with a razor in a couple of days. The … oh, she could go on and on.

So she did. Down, down, down she traveled that granite-hard body before resting her gaze on his large hands, not that she needed visual verification of their size. She distinctly remembered how big they were because she had awoken with one spread possessively across her stomach a week ago. Worse, she remembered just how devastatingly erotic Shane’s hand felt on her bare skin.

“Sure, I’m looking for a new dance partner,” Shane said with that Irish musical lilt that did wondrous things to large segments of the American female population. Cara liked to think she was immunized against all that faith and begorrah malarkey, but she reluctantly acknowledged Shane’s accent was one of his most appealing features. Like the guy needed more help to sell the goods.

Shaking off her appreciation, she tried to draw on all the reasons she was mad at him. “What happened to your last one?” She looked to see where the cast-off Maisey had landed but the poor girl was nowhere to be found. “Did you make her ill with all that jumping around?”

“Ah, I’m just too much for one woman,” Shane said, exploding into that cheeky smile that had caught her attention the moment she’d entered the bar at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. A patchwork memory of numerous drinking establishments flashed through her querulous mind. In every one, the guys had got there before the girls. And in every one, Shane Doyle had been first on his feet, motioning to his seat as soon as the lady mob arrived to meet up with the bachelor’s posse for the tandem shenanigans.

A nice mama’s boy, she had decided. Polite and mannered. The kind of guy she usually liked to date because they let her call the shots. Where to go, what to do, how to please her. A few tears might be shed when they parted—not by her, of course—but so far it had worked out swimmingly.

How had she messed up so spectacularly with Shane?

The band took a break and the music switched to DJ-determined wedding classics. First up, the oom-pah booms of the “Chicken Dance,” and Cara found herself a tiny bit curious to see Shane’s interpretation.

“We were talking about the cake,” Jack said, defaulting to his one-track mind. Marriage to Lili or bust. In telepathic communication, both chefs’ gazes slipped to the slice of maligned cake now insulting everyone by its mere presence on the table.

Shane scoffed. “Whoever made this rubbish should be shot for crimes against pastries.” That pulled a deep laugh out of Jack and a juvenile eye roll out of Cara. Ah, chef humor. “So I’ll expect something amazing for my wedding.” He squeezed Lili’s waist. “We both will. You up for it?”

A weird look passed over Shane’s face, clearing his cheer. If Cara didn’t know better, she would have thought he was annoyed, even angry. Which made no sense, considering what an honor it was to have Jack choose the new guy for such an important commission.

“I would think you’d want to bring Marguerite in from Thyme,” Shane said, his voice as tight as the set of his mouth. “She’s your best pâtissière.”

Thyme on Forty-Seventh, Jack’s New York outpost and Shane’s stomping ground until two weeks ago when he transferred to Chicago, sported any number of culinary stars, and Marguerite was the brightest of them all. Cara was with Shane on this. It wouldn’t have surprised her in the least if Jack wanted to fly the talented Frenchwoman in for the occasion.

Shane’s mood change appeared to have passed unnoticed by Jack. “Yeah, she’s great, but I want you. You’re a wizard with desserts, and after chasing me around for months trying to get a job, I think you’re ready for the big leagues.”

Shane smiled but it was as if the effort might result in the death of a puppy. There was something. “We could do angel food and pistachio cream, or maybe a rosemary lemon to keep the Italian theme.”

“I like how you think,” Jack said, smiling broadly. “Keep it up and we’ll talk next week.” “Sure,” Shane said with a dimple blast in Cara’s direction. A return to charming, sunny Shane.

Flustered, she felt her hand move to the still-full champagne flute she had been shunning since the toasts, but before her fingers made contact, he cocked his head. One of those Need a chaser of impaired judgment with that bubbly? head tilts that decelerated her brain. Damn the man and his caramel-hued eyes, now narrowed and holding her captive.

“Back to the dancing,” he said.

Cara had important things to say to Shane. Very important things. And avoiding him wasn’t going to get it done. After years of unhealthy denial, she had vowed to meet her problems head-on, so she wasn’t entirely sure why she had let a whole week go by without pulling Shane aside and telling him how it was. How it will be. She’d put it down to how busy she was ensuring Gina’s wedding wouldn’t be a complete debacle. Declining to examine that closely was about the only thing preventing her from losing her ever-loving mind.

Before she went off on him, it might be easier to soften him up on the dance floor.

Besides, there was something just so adorkable about his enthusiasm. She uncrossed her legs and flexed a perfectly pedied foot clad in a Jimmy Choo peep toe. Her feet looked stunning in fuchsia.

Shane’s gaze brushed fire across Cara’s skin as he reached for her sister. “Lili, would you do me the honor?”

Lili slid out of Jack’s lap and Cara’s heart slid into her stomach. “That’s if you don’t mind, Jack,” Shane added.

“Oh, you wouldn’t catch Jack dead on the dance floor,” Lili said. “He’s much too image conscious.”

“I’m not afraid of looking foolish. You’ve heard me sing,” Jack said blithely. “I draw the line at the ‘Chicken Dance,’ though.”

“It’s ironic,” Cara said, aiming for levity after being snubbed by Shane because there was no doubt that’s what had happened here.

“Ironically stupid,” Jack replied. “Just make sure I see daylight between you two.”

Laughing, Shane led a willing Lili out onto the dance floor and jumped into flapping his arms with gusto. Lili fanned her hips with both hands and then moseyed into the fray with jerky hitches more appropriate to a Taser victim.

Cara’s heart boomed at ten times the beat of the music as she fought to recover her aplomb. It was easy to see why Shane would prefer to dance with Lili, who was never afraid to get into the spirit of things. Unlike stuck-up, no-fun Cara, who needed to drink her weight in vodka to go a little bit wild.

A buzz of her phone alarm reminded her that the next wedding planner task was imminent and that she had more important things to worry about than the mistake that had followed her home from Vegas. She would deal with Shane Doyle later.

View full details