Guest & Contest: Maddie James

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What’s in a Title?   Which came first, the title or the story?

In the case of the books in the Matchmaking Chef series, the title came first, every time. More than the characters and definitely more than the setting, each of the eight titles in the series set the tone of the story.

I knew that the launch story for the collection would need to represent not only that story, but lay the groundwork for what was to come. The title Perfectly Matched, was just that—perfect.

Not only is that the title of the first novella, but for the entire collection. And, coming later this year, the companion cookbook by the same title. In fact, Suzie, the matchmaking chef, references this cookbook in the first story.

So definitely in the case of this first book, the title came first.

ChefSeries-3D-MDAfter that was settled, I conducted a serious brainstorming session with myself and a dictionary of food terminology. I created first the title, and then the brief premise for the next seven stories.

Hot Crossed Buns – I knew there would be a bakery involved, and possibly some spanking. Although I’ve been semi called on the carpet in a couple of reviews for having “kinky sex” in this story, the illusion of kinky is represented more than any graphic acts (of course, handcuffs and a riding crop are involved in that illusion….) There could be a lot more kinky than what is here….

Dates Du Jour – Food and speed dating all in one? How could we refused?

Side Dish – Main dish or side dish – which girl will the guy prefer?

Mate to Order – So, what happens if a woman has a list for the perfect husband? Can she order up the matchmaker to find her a man made to order?

Romancing the Scone – Okay, I have to admit I just loved the play on words here. I knew nothing other than a bakery and scones would be involved. A stalker made his way in without my planning him!

Better Than Chocolate – I can’t take the credit for this one. A co-worker actually suggested this title. I’m not above taking co-worker direction!

Hard Candy Kisses – Which is sort of an oxymoron, in a way. Candy kisses aren’t hard, are they? But I liked the sound of the title, so it worked for me!

I love thinking of books as the title first. It is my guiding light throughout the writing process. I often remember the time and place I thought of it, who I was with, and why. I have a file of just titles – potential new books. One day.

Of course they all have to be written. One can’t build a career on a title, can one?

In case you want a little bit more about my stories, here is an excerpt from BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE:

Jillian looked Scott square in the eyes. “You spit my chocolate truffle right out on the damn sidewalk.”

Finally she stopped. Everything that needed to have been said was said. She guessed. Scott swallowed, and she watched his Adam’s apple bob. In the next motion he moved to the couch beside her, put his arms around her shoulders, and pulled her into his chest.

It was warm there. And nice. Sort of like she was nestled into a man cocoon.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “Take a minute, catch your breath, cry into my shoulder if you want, and then I’ll explain.”

Inhaling, taking that wonderful scent of his fully into her lungs, she tried to do just as he said—catch her breath. She shuddered once, relaxed into him, wondering how she’d suddenly gotten from near-death to exquisite pleasure all in the span of about five minutes.

“There,” he cooed. “Take a moment, and we’ll go from there. That’s right, sweetheart.”


Scott hadn’t planned this, not at all. His plan was to take her to dinner, approach her about the candy, prod her about where they were made, and get her to confess that she was a fake. That she had taken someone else’s candy and wrapped it up as her own.

That had been his plan.

Because he was convinced that the woman was a fake. She had no more made those chocolates than his mother had. And his mother hated to cook, bake, or anything. His mother simply “prepared” to quote her. Which was very strange since he and his brother were both in the food business.

But that was neither here nor there. Jillian Bass was tricking the whole town of Legend, and he had to get to the bottom of it. Why? Because she was befriending his family, and he didn’t want them to be taken advantage of.

If there was one thing he knew, it was chocolate. He’d not spent the past ten years working as a taster for Bianchi, the world’s largest and most renowned chocolate maker, for nothing. If there was a second thing he knew, it was his competition. It was his job to keep up with it.

Or, he should rephrase, it used to be his job to keep up with the competition.

But with this new development, he might just be able to get his job back. Because yes, he knew Bianchi Chocolates, and he also knew the chocolate company that was giving them a run for their money: Jeaneva Chocolates.

And the chocolate that he had spit out on the sidewalk a few days earlier? That would have been one of Jeaneva Chocolates’ signature brands: Hazelnut Crème de la Crème.


Jillian Bass is a fake.

But looking at her now, snuggled into his chest, a small and slightly insecure look on her face, he felt nothing but caring and sympathy for her. Not to mention that his jeans were growing tight in the crotch as he held her.

Somehow when she had looked up at him with that tear-streaked face a moment ago, his heart had melted like butter in the pan, and the reason he had come to her was nearly forgotten.

All he wanted to do at that very moment was comfort.

And kiss the hell out of those sexy, pouty, trembling lips of hers.


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2 thoughts on “Guest & Contest: Maddie James

  1. Good morning! Thanks to “Romancing the Book” for featuring THE MATCHMAKING CHEF collection here today! I hope you all enjoy that small excerpt from Better Than Chocolate. It’s a yummy story of love by chocolate. Who can resist that?

    Have a wonderful day and again, many thanks for hosting. I hope you all enjoy!

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