BY: NANCY DEROSA

Emma Craven’s excitement over marrying a chef is dimmed when her fiancé, Gary Parker, decides to open up a new restaurant. Against her better judgement, Emma soon finds herself the manager of The Green Spruce Grill. Her grades for her teaching-degree courses plummet. Her wedding plans are fraught with complications. And she now finds herself trying to please her family, friends, and Gary—all the while putting her own desires on the back burner. Making matters worse, Gary’s family shuns her, no matter what she does to try and win them over. Her dreams are slowly fading away, and she feels powerless to stop it. Desperate to halt the avalanche her life has become, she struggles to stand up for what she really wants. But her journey of self-discovery is more like an obstacle course—and if she can’t find the courage to stay true to herself, Emma risks losing not only the man she loves, but her self-respect and everything important to her as well…

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Food for Thought: Second Course by Nancy DeRosa, we are reunited with Emma Craven, Gary Parker, and all their zany friends. This time, Emma and Gary are engaged, but instead of the joyous happy time Emma envisioned when she thought of her engagement, she’s miserable. She and Gary can’t seem to agree on any of the wedding plans. Gary suddenly decides to start up his own restaurant and expects Emma to be as excited about it as he is, including working full time at his side. Emma’s been neglecting her schoolwork for her masters degree in teaching and her grades are dropping fast. And with Emma trying to please everyone but herself, her own dreams seem to be a thing of the past.

The story is cute, clever, and the characters delightful. You will be laughing and crying right along with Emma. A fun, touching, and thoroughly entertaining story.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Food for Thought: Second Course by Nancy DeRosa is the story of a charming young woman who has finally found a match made in heaven…or so she thinks. Emma Craven is ecstatic when popular local chef Gary Parker asks her to marry him. In fact, she is so overjoyed, she nearly breaks her foot dancing around the bedroom the next morning. (Loved that scene!) But as Emma and Gary begin to plan their dream wedding, she quickly realizes that they have some major issues. Gary wants no more than two or three bridesmaids for Emma, and one of them has to be his sister. This means that Emma has to leave out most of her four best friends and her sister-in-law, something she is not willing to do. Then there’s the matter of the new restaurant that Gary wants to open, fully expecting Emma to work full time as the manager. But Emma wants to be a teacher not a restaurant manager. However, if she can’t get her grades back up, she may have to drop out anyway. To make matters worse, Gary’s family is cold to her, no matter how hard she tries to make them like her. But when Gary says they can’t have a honeymoon because he can’t leave his new restaurant that long and his old girlfriend starts showing up again, Emma begins to wonder where this is all going.

Food for Thought: Second Course is a charming, poignant, and delightful story with realistic characters and a well-developed plot. Filled with both funny and touching scenes, it’s a book you will enjoy reading again and again.

Chapter 1

Emma Craven walked into her apartment and slammed the front door behind her. Standing in the middle of her tiny foyer, she looked down at the diamond ring on her finger. As tears sprang to her eyes, she jumped up in the air with a clap of her hands and exclaimed, “I’m getting married, I can’t’ believe it.” It was three a.m. but she didn’t care. She wanted everyone in her building to know she was finally getting hitched to the chef of her dreams.

Quickly entering her living room, Emma stood still for a moment and once again looked down at her sparkling engagement ring. Putting her cell phone to her ear, she decided it was time to call her mom.

“Mom,” Emma yelled out in excitement. “Mom, wake up.”

“Emma, is that you? Oh, my, God, what’s wrong?” Sally asked in alarm.

Emma paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and blurted out, “I’m getting married, Mom. Can you believe it? Gary has asked me to marry him, put a diamond ring into the tiramisu we just ordered at Murry’s Grill, and it was the best damn dessert I’ve ever had.”

“What? He put the ring in what?”

“Gary put the ring into my dessert,” Emma repeated patiently. “Is that original, or what? I am now sporting a beautiful round solitaire on my finger and it’s amazing.”

“I can’t believe it,” Sally shrieked. “This is the most wonderful news I could ever hope to hear. I love Gary, he’ll be family now. I have a son-in-law who will help me cook every holiday dinner.”

With a laugh, Emma replied, “Not every dinner, Mom. He does have a family that he’ll have to cook with on holidays, too. I can’t believe I haven’t met them yet. I hope they like me.” Emma rubbed her forehead as exhaustion took hold of her. “Listen to us talking about holiday dinners already. Let’s talk about all that later, first let’s plan a wedding.” Emma plopped down on her couch, her heart filled with happiness. The vision of walking down the aisle in a billow of white got her so excited she began to bounce up and down.

“I am overcome with happiness,” Sally declared in a voice filled with emotion. “My baby girl is getting married. I have to pinch myself.”

“Please don’t do that, it’ll hurt, and then you’ll never get back to sleep. Goodnight, Mom, I love you.” Emma blew a kiss into the phone and said goodbye.

Emma had enough of jumping and bouncing around, but as tired as she was she was too keyed up to sleep. She relived the shock she experienced after discovering a diamond ring, right smack in the middle of the tiramisu they had ordered to celebrate Gary’s birthday. Emma couldn’t stop crying after Gary had told her he loved her. He immediately went down on bended knee and asked her to marry him. Emma stood up, flung her arms around him, and said yes. Everyone at Murry’s Grill also stood up and gave them a standing ovation. She was positively thrilled with the attention. It was a magical night.

Not only had Emma felt like a princess at that moment, she felt as if she loved Gary so much it actually hurt, and she wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of her life with him. She had always thought fairy tale endings weren’t real, and she would never have one. Less than three hours ago, her shining knight had come to claim her.

Emma hugged herself, with renewed excitement, stood up, and began to dance around the house. She danced around her couch and, twirling into her bedroom, she quickly threw on her pajamas. Sitting on the edge of her bed, she imagined herself in a lace white wedding dress, riding in a stretch limousine as it pulled up to the church she had gone to since she was a child. The beautiful image got her so worked up she couldn’t contain herself. Once again, she jumped up and began to twirl wildly around her bedroom, imagining herself as a graceful ballerina.

Soon she was out of breath. She hadn’t had that much physical activity in a dog’s age. When she slowed down from her dance, she slipped on a white sock that had been peeking out from underneath her wicker desk. She felt herself falling on the floor as her left foot slid out from under her, slamming hard into the metal leg of her bed. As a searing pain took hold of her foot, she yelled out, “Oh, shit,” as she quickly grabbed onto her sheets to help break her fall. As she landed on the bed, the pain in her foot was so intense, tears instantly sprang to her eyes.

Emma cried out. “Why at the most happiest moment of my life must I experience such God awful pain?” A strange answer popped in her head, and it was–because life, well, life, sometimes just doesn’t cut you a break.

© 2017 by Nancy DeRosa

Bookshelf Reviews:

“5 Stars. Magnificent. DeRosa sets quite a spread and that’s an understatement. I enjoyed reading this story, filled with glorious journeys of food and family. It was a fun and romantic story, and full of joy. There were several characters in this book and they had a great chemistry. It was magnificently written, and I indulged myself in this light course of a story. Highly recommended.” ~ Amy Shannon, Bookshelf Reviews