Book Intro: Can’t Stand the Heat by Shelly Ellis

Posted on April 21, 2013


author photo4I didn’t intend it, but food became an important element in Can’t Stand the Heat, the first novel of my Gibbons Gold Digger series about an outrageous family of sisters who seduce men for money. I love to eat, whether it’s chowing down on some mac and cheese with a side of meatballs prepared by my mom, or going to a high-end restaurant to sample duck foie gras before I move onto pan-seared scallops with an amuse-bouche in between. Food makes me happy. And for many, eating good food can be a highly sensual experience — in more ways than one.  Let’s be honest: Food is sexy!

In the novel, Can’t Stand the Heat, the heroine, Lauren, is a sous chef at a Creole/Cajun restaurant, Le Bayou Bleu, in her small town of Chesterton, Virginia. Like all the other women in her family, for years she’s used her body to seduce rich men. But after suffering abuse from her latest sugar daddy, she decides to give up her gold-digging ways for good. She also resolves to swear off men for awhile so she can focus on improving herself—that is until she meets the sexy and charismatic ex-NFL player, Crisanto Weaver. Keeping a man like him at a distance is hard, especially when he hires her to cater a dinner party for him. 

They say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and Lauren manages unwittingly to do just that by cooking Cris one of the best meals he’s ever tasted. Here’s a sneak peak on how she does it.

Chapter excerpt of Can’t Stand the Heat:

CANT STAND THE HEAT“Should I . . . should I start plating the entrées?” Lauren asked. She turned from the stove, wiped her hands on a dishcloth, and faced her first new client, the ex-Dallas Cowboy/millionaire Cris Weaver. 

He had been standing about ten feet behind her for the past hour and a half, observing her while she cooked. He said he wanted it to be part of the evening: Lauren doing her kitchen voodoo while everyone else at the party watched her work, like they were watching a show.

Whatever, she had thought flippantly on the phone as he made his request. You’re the one writing the check, sweetheart. Short of me wearing a thong bikini while I’m cooking, I’m game for just about anything at this point.

Her casual attitude disappeared, though, when she realized he would be staring at her the whole time she cooked. Knowing his dark eyes were on her had been unnerving, but miraculously she had managed to not burn herself or set his kitchen on fire.

“Or I can hold off serving the entrées for a bit . . . until your guests arrive. The meat shouldn’t dry out if you want to wait.” She shrugged her shoulders. “It’s up to you.”

Cris propped his elbow against the kitchen island’s granite countertop, shifted on his leather stool, and took a sip of red wine. “No, you can go ahead if it’s done. I have no idea when they’ll get here. I might as well start without them.” He grinned. “The food smells too good not to eat.”

He certainly was in good spirits for a man who was throwing a party and not one guest had shown up.

If it was me, I’d be pissed, Lauren thought as she glanced at the two porcelain platters covered with appetizers. Most of them—dates wrapped in applewood bacon and stuffed with blue cheese, deviled eggs filled with crabmeat ravigote, and white pork boudin balls—still sat untouched. It looked like the price of his dinner was quickly escalating from $875 a plate to $3,500 a plate with every minute that guests didn’t arrive. She felt bad for the guy.

Lauren pursed her lips. “All right. Well, I guess you can go ahead and sit at your dinner table. I’ll bring the food to you in about two minutes.” 

“You’re serving me, too?”

Lauren opened his oven to reveal a bubbling pan filled with pork chops. The room suddenly filled with the food’s intoxicating aroma. “Sure, why not? You’re paying a lot of money for this.” She used both ends of the dish towel to tug the pan out of the oven without burning her hands. She set it on the stove top. “I may as well give you the full service, right?”

Really? And what does the ‘full service’ include exactly?”

At those words, the hairs started to prick on the back of her neck. A delicious thrill went down her spine.

Want to read more about Can’t Stand the Heat, the book series, and Shelly Ellis? Go to You can also follow me on Twitter at @ellisromance and on Facebook.

You can purchase Can’t Stand the Heat at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at BAM.