Brooks and Rique desperately want to win the head chef’s position offered by an eccentric millionaire Jonah Verleun on his beautiful, private but peculiar island that includes a zoo full of exotic animals, an amusement park and a monster shark tank beneath Jonah’s bedroom floor. While Brooks wants the job to escape his heartache and the lover who thwarted him, Rique is hiding from the mob, hoping to live long enough to pay them off with the prize winnings. Fierce competitors, they cook up a storm in a series of cooking challenges while trying to turn down the heat on their intense attraction. When a hurricane strikes the island, the storm Rique has been cooking up explodes, and no heart—or body—is safe. Brooks and Rique desperately want to win a coveted chef’s job offered by an eccentric millionaire in paradise. Even more, Rique desperately wants to stay alive.
They ran, hunched over, zigging and zagging as bullets flew around them. Rique damned himself for putting Brooks in this mess. He wondered if the mob held the others prisoner and that’s why they didn’t answer the door.ABOUT Ashley Ladd
He turned the first corner they came upon and then the next. He stopped dead and the air left his lungs. A moment later Brooks ran into his back almost knocking him over. He swayed dangerously but managed to stay upright and spread his arms wide to keep Brooks from stumbling forward.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. One of Jonah’s tigers lay in their path crouching low, baring his teeth, and eying them as if they were dinner.
He tried to quell the jitters attacking his stomach so the animal wouldn’t smell his fear then whispered to Brooks through clenched teeth, “What do we do now? Freeze or run?”
“Run. But where?” Brooks whispered back, a frown trembling on his lips.
“To the closest protection.” He prayed their hunters had lost them, that they wouldn’t run back into a barrage of bullets. As Rique bunched his muscles to run, already feeling the animal’s fangs ripping into him, he noted how the tiger’s thick muscles corded in his shoulders, and how saliva ran down his snarling lips.
“Dear God, we’re going to die.” Panic laced Brooks’ voice. “If we get out of here alive, let’s both turn down the job and move in together.”
Swallowing hard, Rique couldn’t reply so he nodded. Besides, as much as he wanted to live with Brooks, he couldn’t do it as long as he was indebted to the mob. However, the point was moot. He couldn’t see a scenario in which one of them didn’t die in the next five minutes.
Feeling responsible, Rique couldn’t let anything happen to Brooks as long as he was alive. He would take on the tiger giving Brooks time to reach safety. “On the count of three, run!”
As Rique whispered, “One,” hisses, then a blood-curdling growl wrenched the air. It was a different sound than the tiger was making. Then a crocodile bellowed and jumped out of the bushes and snatched the tiger by its belly. As it dragged the struggling creature back to the bushes, the tiger howled in surprise and pain. It clawed the air in vain as the reptile’s powerful jaws clamped tighter biting through flesh and bone.
Ashley lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, animals (especially cats), and playing on the computer. She's been told she has a wicked sense of humor and often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.
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If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
Cincinnati, Ohio. I miss my hometown. It’s the most beautiful place on earth and I’m homesick. I made a wish when I was sixteen that I wanted to live in sunny Florida—and guess what? I’ve been living in my dream land for the past twenty-five years. Be careful for what you wish. Now I’m ready to go home.
If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
A jigsaw. So they could build beautiful furniture.
What song would best describe your life?
This is a toughie. “Fuckin’ Perfect” by Pink
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
Cat and kittens and products to make them happy and healthy. I’m the original cat lady.
What is your secret guilty pleasure?
Milk duds when I’m at the movie theater.
If you were stranded on a tropical island, who would it be with? You can choose any living, deceased or mythical figure.
Can you describe the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
I was one of our newscasters in high school, and I had to read a newscast to the entire school off a roll of toilet paper while sitting on a toilet. My cousin, who is also one of my classmates, will never let me forget it.
Tell us about the scariest thing that ever happened to you.
When I was six, I was learning how to ride my bicycle in my front yard with my parents and several of my friends watching. I was doing quite well until the phone rang and both my parents ran inside to answer it. Then I made a wrong turn and went down the steep hill on the side of our house—straight into our woods. I couldn’t stop. I rode straight into a three-pronged tree, broke my nose, and knocked loose a lot of teeth.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Besides sitting on a toilet reading a newscast off a roll of toilet paper in front of the entire school? I think that was also my most embarrassing moment. Nothing else comes to mind.
If you were on a reality show, what one would it be?
What Not To Wear (at least that’s the one my daughter wants to send me to)
City life or country life?
I used to think I’d love to live in the country, but I’m too spoiled by city living now so I’ll have to say city. I love the conveniences too much.
Ebook or paperback?
Ebook! I love e-readers. They feel so Star Trek and I’m such a Trekkie. Plus I’m far-sighted and even with glasses it helps that I can adjust the font large with ebook readers.
Zebras or elephants?
Zebras—because I love horses and they’re similar to horses.