Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Novel Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Brenda Gayle, author of The Hungry Heart!

About The Author

Brenda Gayle has been a writer all her life but returned to her love of writing fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communication—although some might argue there was plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. A fan of many genres, she is drawn to contemporary romance and enjoys writing deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense. Her first book, Soldier for Love, was a recommended read by a number of reviewers. Her new book, The Hungry Heart, is the first in her Heart's Desire series, which chronicles the difficult road to finding love and family acceptance for the three Graham cousins. Brenda lives in eastern Ontario with her wonderful husband, two fabulous children, two Siberian Huskies, a rescued cat, and assorted aquatic wildlife.

Brenda Gayle's The Hungry Heart Virtual Book Tour Page On Novel Publicity

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card

Win An Autographed Copy of The Hungry Heart

Contest Dates: Sept 24 - Oct 19

Wanna win a $50 Amazon Gift Card or an autographed copy of The Hungry Heart? Well there are two ways to enter:

1) Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle Official Tour Page.

2) Enter the Rafflecopter contest!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review

The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: September 7, 2012
Format: Paperback - 324 pages / Kindle - 443 KB / Nook - 766 KB
ISBN: 161217406X
Genre: Contemporary Romance 

BUY THE BOOK: The Hungry Heart

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Novel Publicity Tours.

Book Description:

Child advocate Nora Cross doesn’t have time for the private cooking lesson her sister won at a charity auction. Hunter Graham, the young chef, is the last person she needs telling her she’s forgotten how to have fun. So why can’t she get the very hot, very eligible man off her mind?

After a stellar debut in New York City, Hunter’s back in Santa Fe to open a new restaurant. He lives a charmed life and he knows it. He isn’t interested in a workaholic who’s glued to her smart phone. So why is he trying to convince Nora to relax and enjoy life—with him?

When Nora’s apartment and office are ransacked, Hunter comes to her rescue, surprised to find himself playing knight-in-shining-armor to the uptight executive. But when it becomes clear Nora is no random target, Hunter realizes he’ll do anything to keep her safe.

Book Excerpt:

Whoever said a cold shower could cool your ardor didn’t know what they were talking about. Ten minutes of standing under freezing cold water had turned Nora’s skin blue, but it had done nothing to dampen her desire.

“Agh!” She allowed free rein to her frustration, not caring whether or not the running water covered her scream.

She turned off the faucet and sat on the edge of the tub. This was so unfair.

They had come so close. Hunter had wanted her—seemingly as much as she wanted him. She still wasn’t quite sure what went wrong.

Dammit, I should never have agreed to stay for dinner. This was her fault.

It wasn’t that she was in love with Hunter. She was too smart to allow that to happen. But she had made up her mind, made a decision that she would allow herself some pleasure—and why not? Then having done so, she had set out to try to make it happen. Not that she would have seduced him or done anything quite so bold. She’d just decided that she wouldn’t pass up any opportunities that came her way.

She knew he found her attractive. He had said as much, demonstrated it, too. He wasn’t a saint, and given his reputation it wasn’t unreasonable to expect him to make a move on her while they were sharing the same suite.

Only now they weren’t.

She inhaled deeply and willed away the threatening tears. No, she wouldn’t cry for him. It was only sex. She shouldn’t allow herself to feel this much anguish over one night.

She stood and towel-dried her hair. It was probably for the best, anyway. What was the point of one night of mindless sex?

She thought about Taylor and wondered what her relationship with Hunter had been like. Was she in love with him? Or had the sex been that good? Whatever the reason, the woman was still crazy about him, although he seemed to have little interest in renewing what they’d had.

Nora rubbed the condensation off the mirror and stared at the face looking back at her. She tried to be objective, but all she could see was a woman about to turn thirty-five. Tiny lines were beginning to form at the corners of her eyes—he’d called their color cafĂ© noir when they’d first met—and there were more lines just above her top lip.

Her age had never bothered her—in fact, she’d always felt she’d accomplished a lot while still quite young—at least professionally. But dammit, it would be nice to experience fantastic sex at least once before I'm thirty-five.

What was it about turning thirty-five that disturbed her so much? It was just a number.

Her lips were a rosy pink and slightly swollen. She touched them gently, remembering the feel of Hunter’s mouth as it grazed hers, and then the hard urgency with which he had kissed her in the garage.

Stop it.

She turned away, frustrated. This was getting her nowhere.

Forget it. Forget him. None of it mattered anyway. Tomorrow morning she’d be back in her real world, and all this would be nothing but a memory.

She heard a noise and paused to listen more intently. Was that banging?

She slipped on a robe—the scratchy generic one provided by the hotel, not at all like the luxurious plush one she’d borrowed from Hunter—and opened the bathroom door.

Yes, someone was definitely pounding on her door.

“Who’s there?” she called, tightening the belt of the robe.

“Room service.”

What? “I didn’t—”

She stepped up on her toes to peek out the peephole. Her knees felt like jelly and she leaned against the door, closing her eyes and murmuring a heartfelt “thank goodness.” Then she looked again to make absolutely certain her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her.

Hunter was magnificent in a fresh pair of dark khaki pants and a red golf shirt. His hair looked damp, as if he had just stepped out of a shower, too. In one hand he balanced a platter, covered by a large silver lid. He was impatiently shuffling from one foot to the other.

She pulled open the door and stepped back, waiting.

Hunter’s eyes widened and then he dropped his gaze to take in her bare toes. Slowly he raised his head. His appraisal of her was slow and intense. She felt exposed, and rubbed her palms against the fabric of the robe just to assure herself she had actually put one on. When he got to her face he paused, and then broke into his seductive, heart-stopping grin.

“I see you’re expecting me,” he said.

© 2012

My Book Review:

Two very different people ...  a child advocate and a chef/restaurant owner ... a private cooking lesson ... a growing attraction for each other ... family drama ... and a past that has danger written all over it ...

Nora Cross is a successful child advocate executive with CAN (Children's Action Network), who is too wrapped up in her career to have or want a social life.

Hunter Graham is a renowned chef who has a reputation for being a playboy.

When Nora's younger sister Karen wins a private cooking lesson at a charity auction, she pressures Nora into taking the private cooking lesson with the hot young chef, Hunter Graham. After a successful debut in NY, Hunter is back in Santa Fe to open a new restaurant. Opposites attract and sparks fly when Nora and Hunter meet, but she tries to resist his advances, while he finds her annoying yet intriguing and wants to get to know her better.

When Nora's apartment and office were broken into and it wasn't a random occurrence, Hunter rushes in to be her protector ... but can Nora's troubled past and their family dramas smother the flames of attraction, or can they fulfill the desire of their hungry hearts?

The Hungry Heart is a fast-paced contemporary romance story that has a suspenseful twist added into the mix. Written in the third person narrative, author Brenda Gayle weaves an intriguing tale of how two people who are opposites become attracted to each other, only to have a troubled past and family issues rear its ugly head and threaten their budding relationship. This story has something for everyone: romance, mystery, suspense and family drama. This is not an ordinary or typical romance story, it has many layers with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing what will happen next.

The author creates an intriguing, realistic and complex cast of characters who draw the reader into their lives. I really liked Nora's strong and tough personality, her vulnerability simmers below the surface, she has a depth about her that I find intriguing. Hunter may have been portrayed as a player, but I found him to be a charming guy that has an endearing sweet side that won me over. I really liked the opposites attract dynamic of their relationship, there is the sizzle of attraction between them that I always like to read in romance stories, but I really liked how their different personalities provided a balance in their relationship. With a great supporting cast of characters who add to the mystique and intrigue of the subplots, engaging dialogue and interactions, palpable romance and cooking scenes, and an engrossing mixture of romance and suspense within a multi-layered storyline, The Hungry Heart is an entertaining story that will keep the reader engaged from beginning to end.

The Hungry Heart is not your typical contemporary romance story! This story has enough romance with a twist of mystery and suspense that will be a pleasant surprise for diehard romance fans!



  1. Replies
    1. Hi Karielle Stephanie! This was a great romance story mixed with suspense. I really enjoyed reading this book. :)

  2. I love this review, Kathleen. You have like a million blurbable little bites there, and writing reviews so dense and entertaining are a real talent! Thanks for joining us on this tour, and please take a moment to cross-post to Amazon and GoodReads.

    Em :-D

    1. Hi Em! Thank you for your kind comments, and for the opportunity to read, review and host this virtual book tour event. :)

  3. Thanks for the lovely review, Kathleen. I like stories that are multi-layered, too, and while I like to read a straight-up romance, I have a great deal of difficulty plotting one to write it. I'm so glad you enjoyed the elements of suspense in The Hungry Heart.

    1. Hi Brenda! I loved reading The Hungry Heart! While I love straight-up romance stories, I prefer to read multi-layered stories because it keeps you so engaged. :)

  4. That was a great review! Your style is great! Hope the book is too!

    1. Hi! Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments. The book is really good, I hope you get a chance to read it. :)