'Leah is about to give up her job at a top restaurant to marry her fiancé Dan. Then Jean-Claude, a charming French chef, comes to work at the restaurant, and suddenly Leah’s world is turned upside down.
Does Jean-Claude offer a more exciting future than dependable Dan? And does Jean-Claude even really like her?
Find out in this gripping quick romance read.'
Available on Kindle
At work the following day, it was clear Jean-Claude had made use of Leah’s time off to become a real part of the team: he just fitted right in. She even heard Jeff calling him ‘JC’. As far as she knew, her super-serious boss had never had a nickname for anyone. How had Jean-Claude managed to ingratiate himself into the restaurant’s tight little ‘family’ in only two shifts!
Leah felt her job had been usurped and she’d been replaced far quicker than she’d imagined. She knew deep down she was being silly, yet couldn’t help worrying that she wouldn’t be missed at all when she went. Still, she told herself sternly, what difference did it make to her? She’d be leaving soon, and then what went on in the restaurant would be nothing to do with her.
But the other chefs at La Maison were Leah’s friends - spending so much time together meant it was important to get on and form good relationships. If there was one thing Leah had learnt from her years in restaurant kitchens, it was that you got to know your colleagues extremely well as you worked together closely in a sometimes stressful environment. As the shifts were long and anti-social, it was hard to maintain non-work friendships, making her workmates even more invaluable. Jean-Claude was already so well-liked; he seemed to be taking those from her as well.
As she watched him move around his station self-assuredly, Leah admitted to herself with a smile that he certainly was charming. Much of his appeal stemmed from his laid-back attitude; nothing ever seemed to faze him. He also hadn’t fallen into the trap of being rather conceited, as Leah found so many young chefs did. In fact, despite Jean-Claude’s obvious skill, he seemed very willing to learn from Leah. She found it disconcerting teaching him - he was so much taller than her for a start, and he was very good-looking and confident. She was clumsy around him, and found herself making silly mistakes.
Leah and Jean-Claude were naturally working side by side, which could be awkward if they didn’t get along, but luckily, once she began to get over her initial shyness, cooking with him was fun and exciting. He was the sort of person who was always in a good mood, which Leah might have found intensely annoying in anyone else, but in Jean-Claude . . . well, she liked it.
She was usually quite serious at work – it could be hard doing a long shift, ensuring you got every order right, that each dish left the kitchen beautifully presented and looking, smelling and tasting perfect. Having Jean-Claude around changed the kitchen’s atmosphere very quickly. For a start he was liable to start singing at any moment - he’d choose something extremely catchy, and soon half the kitchen would be humming along. He was also very inspiring, and his head seemed to be constantly thinking about new taste combinations and dishes, which the staff and customers all adored.
As they cooked Leah had to do her best to appear nonchalant, but her heart beat faster whenever she was close to him and found her face getting hot. This only got worse whenever he spoke: his sexy French accent actually made her knees feel weak.
It wasn’t long before Jean-Claude asked Leah about her background, “I went to catering school and worked my way up after that,” she explained briefly, “What about you?”
“My grandfather was a great chef. His restaurant in our town was legendary, people travelled from all over to visit it. I spent much of my childhood cooking with him. I could make a perfect soubise sauce by the time I was five. Every day after school I would be in the kitchens, first in a corner doing my homework, and then making my supper. By the time I was twelve, I was being paid to work there in the evenings and on Saturdays. When I left school, it was natural for me to train in Paris and get a job in a restaurant there.”
“Why did you come to London?” Leah asked, feeling a little awestruck.
“I like to travel. I’ve been to many countries, but not Britain. When I heard that La Maison were hiring I flew over.”
“You came all the way from France because you’d heard there was a job here?”
“From Spain actually.”
Leah shook her head in disbelief – Jean-Claude’s story was just so different to how she’d lived her life. He seemed younger, yet much more worldly. She’d always maintained she’d been too busy working to travel, but he’d managed to successfully combine the two.
“Did you train as a pastry chef?”
“Amongst other things,” replied Jean-Claude with a smile, as he effortlessly turned out a perfect soufflé.
Available on Kindle