Guest Kimberly Kincaid: The (Other) F-Word

KimKincaidToday I have the great pleasure of welcoming my friend and chaptermate, the fabulous Kimberly Kincaid, to the Ruby blog. You may know her from her popular Friday Man Wars with Robin Covington and Avery Flynn. But I decided to invite her to come hang out with us today because she knows what the Rubies know (as evidenced by our freebie cookbook, Eat, Read, Love — food can be an important part of a romance novel!

Kimberly is a 2011 Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Her contemporary romance splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly’s debut e-novella, Love On The Line, is available now from Amazon. She is also thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Her first full-length novel, Turn Up The Heat, will follow in February 2014. Kimberly resides in Northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Visit her any time at or come check her out on Facebook and Twitter.


The (Other) F-Word

Confession time: I’m a gigantic foodie (what’d you think the F stood for?!)

When I tell people I write contemporary foodie romance, their eyebrows inevitably go up. The contemporary part, they get. The romance part, self-explanatory. The foodie part? Baffles them every time.

The Reader’s Digest explanation is that all my stories revolve around characters and settings that have a direct relationship with food. Chefs in traditional restaurant settings are my go-to, but I’ve also written about caterers, wine experts, and restaurant owners. In fact, Violet, the heroine in my latest release, is a personal chef who works exclusively in her clients’ homes. But the truth is, you don’t have to write about the culinary industry to write foodie romance. In fact, even if your characters (or you!) don’t cook at all, there’s still some foodie to be had if you know where to look for it.

But before we dive into where to cultivate the yum, let’s take a second to talk about why you should do it in the first place. First (and most obviously), all characters eat. It’s a naturally occurring scenario for characters to be in, which can be appealing in that it makes them seem “regular” (read: easy to identify with). There’s a scene in my upcoming Christmas novella where my heroine is bleary-eyed and in need of a caffeine fix the morning after a long night of work. When she finally gets her coveted cup of coffee (made by the hero, of course), she’s blissfully happy. Is that a scene with which you can identify? Likely yes, even if coffee isn’t your go-to. My goal was to establish that A) my heroine was a “real” person in a familiar situation and B) the hero used food to comfort her.

Which brings me to reason #2. Food is the perfect chance to characterize your people. Picture this: A hero in a book sits down in a bar and grille and orders a burger and a beer after a long day. A different hero frequents an Italian restaurant after his work day is over, and orders chicken Piccata and a glass of Chablis. Can you “see” these heroes in your head even though the only way I’ve described them is by what they’re having for dinner? I’m willing to bet you can—and your readers will be able to do it, too (and yes, those are two of my upcoming heroes who do exactly that in each of their books!) You don’t have to know all about food to slip it into your books and let it make your characters sing.

So now that we’ve established why you should sneak food into your writing, let’s look at how you can. I’m a firm believer in going with what you know (don’t worry if that’s not a lot). As we’ve already established, everyone eats. What are some foods you like? Can you see your characters liking them too? If you can work in what you know, it’s easier to describe the smells, tastes, and even sounds the food makes. Writing about food experiences gives you an amazing opportunity to make your scenes evocative because it encompasses all five senses naturally. Use that to your advantage! Even the most surprising dishes can be sexy— it just depends on what your characters bring to the table (sorry…I couldn’t resist) So don’t be afraid to play with different types of cuisine and experiment with what works best for your characters.

I feel compelled to mention that I am not a chef, and I have no extensive formal culinary training. I do love to cook, and I definitely love food, which is why I jumped both-feet-first into writing foodie romance to begin with. But research is key. Go to your favorite restaurants. Check out the flavors that go together in your favorite dishes. Peek at recipes. I once wrote an entire scene based on a picture I saw in a cooking magazine (thank you, Rachael Ray!) Then slowly weave in an aspect or two where it suits your work. Let the perfect, lunar yellow of saffron-infused rice entice your reader. Or maybe describe the warm, dark-cinnamon scent of sticky buns as your hero hits a bakery for his morning coffee. Foodie details don’t have to run over your scenes to set the stage. But a sentence or two about the sights, smells and sounds of something as simple as a backyard barbecue can take your scenes from good to great.

Just be forewarned. Getting hungry as you write is an occupational hazard. But chances are, if you sprinkle in those food details to set the scene and characterize your cast, your readers will be hungry for more of your writing. Bon appetit, friends!

Portrait of young attractive happy amorous couple in bedroom

Violet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.

For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s a literal case of adding insult to injury— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted culinary caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.

Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to food, but can she risk it all to put love on the line?

Kimberly is giving away a free e-copy of Love On The Line to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is tell us your character’s favorite food!


53 responses to “Guest Kimberly Kincaid: The (Other) F-Word”

  1. Eva Lefoy says:

    Oh yes, everyone eats, and food brings in so many different senses. Smell. Taste. Touch. And those – smell especially – trigger memories for us and our characters.

    This story sounds terrific, Kimberly!


    • Thanks Eva! I love having a built-in “excuse” to weave all five senses into my stories. The only drawback is it makes you hungry when you write…and read…and edit…and…

      Well, you get the idea!


    • Amanda Brice says:

      I really need to get better about including the sense when talking about food. Mmm…


  2. Hi, Kimberly! *waves to fellow Starcatcher*

    I have so many characters … Erin, the heroine of my first novel, is a sugar fiend — especially chocolate cream-filled donuts from a particular bakery, which her coworker, Mike, shamelessly exploits to get himself off her shit list. Mike’s a burgers-and-fries kind of guy, but has a reputation for his insatiable appetite. His heroine, Breanne, is strictly a health-food girl.


  3. Hi Kim! I already have this novella, no need to put me in the prize drawing. And I highly recommend it folks… it is yuuuummmy. With and without the foodie scenes. 🙂

    You really got me thinking here Kim – I need to use food waaaaay more often than I do in my own writing.


    • Heyyy, McQ 🙂 Thanks for the kind words about Violet and Noah! Food really can sneak into books, even in places we might not expect it. That’s part of the fun, I think! Thanks for stopping by!


  4. Hi Arlene! I use food to characterize my people ALL the time. It’s such a hidden opportunity to give them that extra layer, and it’s showing rather than telling, so it works wonderfully. And you don’t have to write chefs (although, I admit, I mostly do) to do it. Everybody eats!


  5. Hope Ramsay says:

    Hi Kim. Congrats on the new series with Kensington.

    Food scenes are way more fun to write than sex scenes, IMHO. I have them everywhere, but I never actually thought about it until right this minute.

    You’re so right! As I think about the memorable food scenes in some of my books, they are all about characterization. Like the time I made my Boston heroine eat okra cooked by my hero’s mother. That was pretty hilarious, and it simultaneously showed her “yankeeness,” but also that she was a polite person.

    Wow. I think I’m going to be more conscious of this in the future. I just finished a scene where two very lonely people are pulling together a Christmas Eve dinner out of a precooked ham and some instant potatoes. She’s so hungry the food seems like manna from heaven. He’s so caught up in thoughts of the past that the food seems like a poor substitute for the Christmas dinners of his past. But I only just realized this.

    Going back to that scene to see if I can squeeze just a little more out of it.


    • Food is so evocative, isn’t it Hope? I love using it to propel my characters into their personas and show my readers more about them. It’s sensual (not in the sexy way, per se, although it can be! But in this case, I mean more of a five-senses experience that translates to more) but all showing. I get a great picture of your Boston heroine just from that tiny snippet. Can’t wait to read the whole thing!

      So glad it’s encouraging you to peek at your MS 🙂


  6. As always, KK, you put food center stage! And, being an amateur foodie myself, I love that. Food, how we prepare it, how we eat it, what we eat, all reveals so much about our personalities and our families and our daily lives. And that easily translates to the page!


  7. Tamara Hogan says:

    Kim, such a good point about food and drink being a way to flesh out characterization. A hero who cracks open a can of PBR after a long workday likely has a very different background, lifestyle, occupation and worldview than one who opens a twenty year old bottle of wine after his.

    Congrats on your deal with Kensington!


  8. Great post, Kim! I love foodie books. I’ve been looking forward to your release ever since you told me about your sale in Anaheim last year.

    My CP constantly yells at me, “Enough with the food descriptions!” Obviously, she is NOT a foodie, and I don’t think she realizes quite how many readers are. So I ignore her for the most part on that topic and leave in the menus and mouthwatering descriptions since ALL of my heroine’s and some of my heroes like to cook. You could say my books are foodie reads, except that my characters are not chefs and food critics.


    • Thanks Laurie! I think anyone can be a foodie writer– even if the characters are awful in the kitchen. It’s all about the experience and what it brings (pardon the pun) to the table for your characters. My hero in Love On The Line is about as far from foodie as it gets. And yet he ends up looking at food differently by the end!


    • That must be why I love your books, Laurie. Food and fun.


      • Thanks, Arlene. Now that I think about it, my most recent L.L. Kellogg book, The Naughty Never Die, doesn’t have much food in it. It just didn’t fit the characterization for my hero and heroine to be foodies. Although, my hero is a chocoholic.


  9. Kat Cantrell says:

    Congrats Kimberly!! I’m so excited to see all the new contemporary deals coming through. 🙂

    I’m with Jen McQ–I need to use food more creatively. My h/H just had dinner and I’m afraid it was steak and salad. How boring is that? I’m going to go make it something more interesting…grilled swordfish and quinoa maybe?


    • Hi Kat! I think you can make even “regular” food sing in the right situation. The hero in one of my full-length foodie novels coming out early next year makes the heroine a PB and J. It’s all in the execution and delivery, as well as the personal connection 🙂 Bon appetit! Let me know how it goes!


    • Amanda Brice says:

      I’m with Kim. Steak and salad actually can tell us a lot about the character. It says something entirely different than swordfish and quinoa, of course. 😀


  10. Amanda Brice says:

    Thanks so much for being here, Kimberly!

    You know, it’s funny, because I came up for the idea of doing the Ruby cookbook, and I do mention food in all my books, but I wouldn’t say I necessarily use it well in a foodie-sense. At least in my Dani series. But I guess it’s used for characterization (if not for mouth-wateringness), because Dani is a recovering anorexic who also happens to have food allergies, so she has an uneasy relationship with food.

    Now in my time travel…oh yeah. I use food. Then again, it’s set in Paris and the French countryside, so how could you not? 😉

    Congrats again on your new novella, as well as the upcoming series with Kensington!


    • I think that is a fantastic point, Amanda. Food can work to show a character’s unease just as well as her happiness. And food shapes us in so many ways. In Barbara O’Neal’s RITA winner, How To Bake A Perfect Life, the main character’s moods affect the outcome of her baking sessions ,for both the good and not-so-good. It’s a fascinating mood parallel…

      Thanks for having me on the blog today!


  11. Food! I’m not sure if I qualify as a foodie, but I sure love to eat. And I definitely love reading about characters who enjoy food – chefs, restauranteurs, or whatnot.

    As for my characters, in each book there’s definitely some aspect of food involved. It adds that extra sensual element. In my second book, I researched Puerto Rican dishes that might be served at a family gathering. For my upcoming release, I used a family recipe for burgers and made it a metaphor for the relationship (yeah, that might sound weird, but it worked!), and in my current WIP, my hero cooks for the heroine’s family, but I’m still working on WHAT he cooks. LOL

    Congrats on the release, Kimberly!


  12. Loni Lynne says:

    Well my most recent character I’m writing about enjoys tea, Hot Tea… and there is a reason for that. (That’s all I’m saying.) 😉

    Food is a great common denominator among people. We all enjoy certain foods and sharing or breaking bread with others has always been a form of hospitality. So having it as almost a living character in books is a great idea! All the best! If I don’t win Love On The Line, it’s on my list to read!:)



    • I’m intrigued, Loni! And I do so love the idea of sharing the act of cooking. It is actually a huge theme in Love On The Line (Violet teaches Noah to cook, as it helps him heal in unexpected ways, plus it is just so sexy to have a man in the kitchen!) Enjoy it 🙂


  13. In my book, Muse, my heroine is a wonderful cook. Her favorite meal is the Thansgiving feast. The hero has always gone to a restaurant for the holiday. This meal will bring their diverse family members together for the first time.


  14. Angi Morgan says:

    My Intrigues rarely have food scenes. But I do have a romantic comedy that has a banana… 🙂
    Great article, Kimberly.


  15. Pintip says:

    Love this article, Kimberly. (And I, too, have the novella already, so no need to enter me in the drawing). I love food, and I love writing about food, but my latest WIP is the first time it plays a feature role. And, um, confession: a lot of what my characters eat are what I happen to be craving at the moment. Lol. Best of luck with the novella!!!


    • Amanda Brice says:

      I had the great fortune to judge this WIP in the Marlene Awards this year (hey everyone — Pintip is a finalist!), and it was AMAZING. She literally had me spellbound by the end of the 30 pages, clamouring for more.

      (And very, very hungry, too!)


    • Congrats, Pintip!!! I will go ahead and admit that most of my characters have similar food tastes and cravings to what I like. I add recipes in the back of all my books, and many of them are tried and true from the Kincaid arsenal. It makes it easy to weave it in and make it a seamless part of the story.

      Good luck in the Marlene!


  16. Shoshana says:

    So I can go out to eat as research? I’m in. 🙂

    Thanks for a great post, Kim, and congrats on your new release!


  17. Your books sound delightful, Kimberly. Congrats on the new ones coming out. I usually have lots of eating scenes, but your comments showed me how I can ramp up the strength of them.
    I have a scene in one book where the heroine and her brother and the hero pop corn and eat it with her mother, as if nothing is wrong, when everything is. Every time I work on that scene, I have to get out the popper. The sensory memory takes over and demands popcorn. Now, I’ll probably have to have that for lunch today. LOL


    • Thank you, Marsha! Popcorn is a great one– we can all smell it and taste it and feel those papery pieces in our fingers. What a nice sensory pick!

      And now I’m hungry. Occupational hazard, for sure 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


  18. Vivi Andrews says:

    Congrats on the release! I’m not much of a foodie. Though in my last release, my hero repeatedly brings my heroine food because she gets caught up in her work and forgets to eat (which is something I’ve definitely been known to do). I guess romance is the man who feeds you. 🙂


  19. Vivi, I am a firm believer that the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach, hero or heroine! Part of what makes the scene in my Christmas novella so evocative is not just that the hero makes the heroine this great cup of coffee, but that he does it to comfort her. It’s a subtle way of showing that he cares for her and is starting to really like her, even though his brain is saying “no, no, you can’t love that one!”

    But then, of course, he does anyway 🙂 Sounds like you’ve got the same thing!


  20. Sarah Andre says:

    Hi Kim, (I’m also a Starcatcher-RS) and an avid FB fan of your man wars. 🙂

    Congrats on your release and busy publishing future! That’s a lot of stories in the pipeline and your foodie angle is actually a really unique concept.

    In the RS my agent is shopping I made the heroine a vegetarian because that’s so alien to my alpha hero and just one more thing that drives him crazy.


    • Hey, a familiar face! 🙂 Good to see you, Sarah. I love how food is so subtle, yet so bold at the same time. My hero, Noah, is anti-greens. Maybe he and your hero could go out and grab a steak! It drives my heroine, Violet, nuts too. Isn’t it funny how they get under each others’ skin like that?

      Sounds like a great read– I can’t wait to see it hit shelves 🙂


  21. Elisa Beatty says:

    So nice to have you here, Kim!!

    Your post reminds me that I’ve got a food scene that plays a central part in my first book: it’s a Regency, and the hero arranges for a dinner party at which a Morrocan chef does the cooking. The guests are all terrified of the food at first, and then are utterly seduced (including the heroine).

    Food is definitely sexy!!


    • Amanda Brice says:

      Ooh, that sounds fantastic!


    • I’m so thrilled to be a guest 🙂 And ohhhh I love Morrocan food! All the unexpected flavors are so sensual and evocative. Always a winner to have your characters enjoying a food experience they are unsure about. It makes their inhibitions hit the skids rather nicely 😉

      Thanks for having me on today!


  22. Nan Dixon says:

    Oh Kimberly this sounds like so much fun!

    I do have my characters do a lot of cooking in my books. To the point that my Crit partners once said if I brought in one more scene with food — I was going to have to bring food to the meeting — they were getting so hungry.
    Congrats on the release!



  23. Liz talley says:

    Great post, Kimberly 🙂

    Hero’s favorite food in my last book would have to be a nice medium-rare filet. He’s a photographer and a rancher so very manly.

    But I always have food in my books too. I do have a scene where he takes his niece and nephew to Anthony Brocatos in New Orleans for Italian ice creams 🙂 That was a fun scene to write.


    • Oh, Liz…I think a field trip is in order for those ice creams! Many of my characters in the Pine Mountain series are Italian chefs too. What a fun scene that must’ve been to write!

      And now I want ice cream…


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