Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Interview & Excerpt ~ LOVE AT THE ICICLE CAFÉ by Denise N. Wheatley

Love at the Icicle Café
by: Denise N. Wheatley
Genre: Contemporary Christmas Romance
Release Date: December 29, 2020
Publisher: Tule Publishing
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Can an icicle-themed festival thaw the most unlikely hearts?

California lawyer Mina Richards spent her childhood helping her mom bake at their winter-themed café in the snowy village of Gosberg, Germany. When her retired parents want to sell The Icicle Café, Mina returns to facilitate the sale. She needs this to go right—she’ll fly in, finalize the deal and fly out to rescue her once high-powered career. But faced with Scott, her childhood friend and crush who doesn’t want to sell, Mina’s plan quickly falls apart.

Rising chef Scott Dawson has turned The Icicle Café into a destination restaurant. His parents and their partners want to sell the café to a hotel chain, and Scott can’t meet their price. When Mina arrives—more beautiful and determined than ever—he sees the possibility of a new future for the business and the town he loves. He just needs to change her mind…about more than selling the café.

When Scott asks Mina to help with the café’s annual Icicle Fest, their icy relationship warms. Can these former friends find a future together in the snowy village of their past?


Hi Denise. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Hello, and thank you for having me! I am doing well despite this challenging year we’ve all had.

This has definitely been a tough year. Congratulations on the release of Love at the Icicle Café. Just from reading the blurb, the book sounds really good. What else can you tell me about it?
Thank you so much! I really enjoyed writing this one. The book tells the story of Mina Richards and Scott Dawson, two former army brats who grew up in a small German town called Gosberg. Their parents are business partners and own a popular winter-themed bistro called The Icicle Café, which they’re planning to sell to a hotel chain. Mina, who now lives in California and works as a patent attorney, is happy for her parents’ retirement. Scott, however, serves as The Icicle Café’s executive chef, and after transforming it into a beautiful destination restaurant, wants nothing more than to keep it in the family.

When Mina returns to Gosberg to help facilitate the sale, she’s forced to face Scott’s resistance. But as the former friends begin spending time together, their icy relationship thaws. Scott asks Mina to extend her trip and help plan the café’s annual Icicle Festival. She agrees, and the magic of the holiday season kicks in, leaving the pair wondering whether there’s a future for them in their beloved hometown.

I love the book cover. Is this a Christmas romance?
Thank you! Of all my book covers, this is one of my favorites. Love at the Icicle Café is definitely a Christmas romance, and the holiday season is a constant theme throughout. So readers will experiences all the fun aspects of Christmastime, from ice skating to decorating, gingerbread house-building to festivals and parades.

Tell me more about Mina and Scott.
Mina is very ambitious, headstrong, and loyal. She also has a soft side. In the beginning of the book, she’s dating a fellow attorney and on the cusp of making partner at her law firm. Her life looks great on paper, but in reality, she’s struggling in her relationship and facing some pretty tough adversities at work.

Scott is warm, outgoing, hard-working, and passionate. He’s very dedicated to the Gosberg community. He’s so consumed by The Icicle Café that he hasn’t had much time for a personal life. His focus is on growing as a chef and expanding the Icicle brand, which is why he’s so devastated after finding out the café is up for sale.

What do you love about them individually and together?
Individually, I love Mina’s courage. She’s so brave in the decisions she makes in her pursuit of happiness. As for Scott, I love his tenacity. He fights for his passions in a way that’s really admirable. Together, I love the pair’s genuine connection. Once they reunite in Gosberg, it doesn’t take long for them to get past the initial standoffishness and slowly bond after losing touch years ago.

What makes them perfect for each other?
Mina and Scott share a lot in common, starting with their unique experience growing up overseas. Family is a top priority for them both. Much of their childhood was spent at The Icicle Café, with Scott developing a love for cooking while Mina took a liking to baking. The café is where they truly bonded. And even though Mina eventually moved away, the Gosberg community holds a special place in both of their hearts.

What was your favorite part of the book to write?
My favorite part of the book to write was the ending. It’s definitely a grand gesture moment. I can’t give too much away, but seeing Mina and Scott’s story come full circle and end with such a satisfying conclusion was really fulfilling for me. I hope that readers will feel the same way!

I’m a sucker for grand gestures. Tell me about one of your favorite scenes from the book, and why is it a favorite?
One of my favorite scenes was actually the most difficult to write. I love it because it’s such an intense moment between the main characters. Scott invites Mina to his place for dinner, and she questions why he never pursued an executive chef position at a high-end restaurant. She tells him that he could be doing so much more than just managing their parents’ “little” café.

Of course, Scott takes offense to this and insists that The Icicle Café enabled him to realize his dream. He accuses Mina of being out of touch and insinuates she’s gotten uppity and too good for their hometown. But in the end, their connection is strong enough for the pair to talk it out and reach an understanding.

Can you tell me a fun fact or two about Love at the Icicle Café?
One fun fact is that my father was stationed in Germany while serving in the U.S. Army. The town of Gosberg is based on stories he told me about various communities he visited. The warmth of the people he met was very inspiring.

Another fun fact is that I studied patent law extensively in order to authentically portray Mina’s career as an attorney. I had so much fun creating the companies she represents and their cases. I also studied up on German cooking when depicting Scott’s career, and delved into some really mouth-watering dessert recipes while writing Mina’s baking scenes.

I hope you tried some of those recipes for Christmas. What inspired you to write this book?
The main inspiration behind this book is my love of Christmas. I wanted to write a romance that truly captured the spirit of the holiday season; one that celebrates love, family, and friendship. I was also motivated to create realistic characters who appear to have life completely figured out, but underneath it all are reevaluating their goals and plans for the future.

Denise, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me.
You’re so welcome! Thank you again for having me.

“Hey you,” Scott said to Mina, holding out his hand and helping her inside. “Thanks again for coming. You look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Mina replied, trying not to swoon after inhaling his woodsy cologne. She looked around Scott’s beautifully-decorated, rustic townhouse. “Your home is lovely.”

“I can’t take much credit. I tossed out a few ideas to a very talented interior designer, and she brought them all to life. May I take your coat?”

“Yes, please.”

As Scott helped Mina out of her wool trench, she could feel him eyeing her slim figure, which was clad in a fitted sleeveless magenta dress.

“Wow,” he breathed. “You look beautiful.”

She clasped her hands tightly in front of her and tried not to stare back at him. But she couldn’t help but notice how handsome Scott looked with his freshly cut hair and trimmed goatee. He was dressed in a pale blue button down shirt and perfectly-tailored navy pants, both accentuating his athletic build.

“Thanks. You look really nice, too.”

“Yeah, well, I thought you should know that I do own more than just the jeans and workout gear you’re used to seeing me in. Can I take that grocery bag from you?”

“Sure. I stopped by the store and picked up the ingredients for my white chocolate lemon truffles.”

“You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to those.” He grabbed the bag then took her hand in his. “Come on. I’ll show you to the kitchen.”

“Dinner smells delicious,” she said. “What’s on the menu?”

“Well I figured you’d probably had enough of The Icicle Café’s German specialties. So I decided to switch it up tonight. We’re having beef wellington wrapped in a crêpe, warm wilted winter greens, roasted potatoes with garlic and herbs, and a full bodied dry red wine.”

“Mm…” Mina licked her glossy nude lips and smiled at Scott. “That sounds sensational. You know, you are amazing. Why aren’t you working as an executive chef at a high-end restaurant in Paris or New York? You could be doing so much more than just managing our parents’ little café.”

Scott dropped the bag of groceries down on the counter. “Our parents’ little café? Is that what you think of it? Mina, I’ve expanded The Icicle Café into so much more than that. Plus it’s where everything started for me. That place enabled me to realize my dream of becoming a chef. And while I do have a classical culinary education, the café is where I truly honed my skills.”

Mina’s expression grew solemn as she reached into the bag and pulled out her ingredients. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. And I certainly didn’t mean to talk down about the café or your efforts. It’s just that—”

“You didn’t offend me,” Scott interrupted. “I heard the compliment within your statement, and I appreciate it. I also get that someone like you, who lives this big life in California and has cultivated a career in law, would think that working in some fancy restaurant is more meaningful than running our parents’ little café. But since you’ve been away from Gosberg for so long, I don’t think you truly understand the significance and value of The Icicle Café. At least not anymore...”

Mina slammed a bag of flour down onto the counter. “That is so not true, Scott. Just because my dreams kept me away from Gosberg doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the café’s worth. So please don’t make me out to be some out-of-touch snob because I questioned why you didn’t think bigger and left to pursue my law career.”

“Speaking of which, how’s that working out for you? Did they name you partner during that conference call today, or are you still being strung along?”

Mina froze. She glared at Scott, who’s steely eyes were staring right back at her. Several moments passed, and they both remained silent. When he opened the bottle of wine, poured himself a glass and took a long gulp, she spun around and stormed into the living room.

“You know what?” she exclaimed, “I didn’t come here for this.” Mina snatched her coat off the rack and threw open the door.

Right before she walked out, Scott approached her from behind and grabbed her hand.

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I am a lover of romance, happy endings, and the art of storytelling. I'm best known for my chick lit novel I WISH I NEVER MET YOU, which was published by Simon & Schuster in 2004. I've since traditionally published several novels and novellas, including contemporary, suspense, and paranormal romance. I strive to create characters who are strong, colorful, and relatable, and tell entertaining stories that embody matters of the heart.

My holiday novel LOVE AT THE ICICLE CAFE hit shelves on 12/29, courtesy of Tule Publishing. My contemporary romance novel SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS will be released in March 2021. It is the first book in my FEARLESS FAIRYTALE series and is also available for preorder via Tule Publishing. And finally, my romantic suspense novel COLD CASE, TRUE CRIME will be available in June 2021, courtesy of Harlequin/HarperCollins Publishers.

I am currently working on two Christmas novels that will be released in 2021; CHRISTMAS IN FULL BLOOM via Tule Publishing, and CAPTURED AT CHRISTMAS via Harlequin Intrigue. Stay tuned for more on those projects!

I received a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the city where I was born and raised. I've written screenplays and ghostwritten for some of your faves, and when I'm not sitting behind a computer, you can find me in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television, or chatting on social media. Speaking of social media...

Places to find Denise N. Wheatley:


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3 comments:

  1. I loved this book. I enjoyed reading your interview too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I have this book on my one-day reading wish list. I definitely want to read it.

      Delete
  2. I have this on my TBR and can't wait to read it.

    denise

    ReplyDelete

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