What the heck do a bunch of Nordic polar bear shifters know about running an American hot sauce company? Well…more than meets the eye. With a history tracing back from before the East India Company, all the way to the Silk Road and the Viking Age, these shifters know everything there is to know about the spice trade. What they don’t know is how to woo a mate. That’s right, from the moment that the eldest Scoville brother, Herbert ‘Herb’ Scoville, sees the curvy heir to the Quincy Sauce Company, Alice ‘Allie Penny’ Quincy, he knows that this firebrand is a special woman. Herb loves the hunt, and he’s never failed to catch his prey…but Alice is no ordinary woman. She’s as saucy as her family’s hot sauce, and she’s not going to give up the recipes to the sauces that Herb claims her grandfather stole from his that easily. When Alice suggests a cook-off at the Bright Star County Fair, it’s on. Herb’s got his eye on the prize…and the trophy doesn’t look half bad either.

From the moment Alice sees Herb, she knows he’s everything she doesn’t want in a man. He’s pompous, gets what he wants, how he wants, and he’s competitive to a fault…so why does she feel a link to him that she just can’t ignore? His steely grey eyes remind her of a night filled with masks, ballgowns, ratty sneakers…and neck ties and belts wrapped around her wrists and the bedposts of a certain hotel room, in a certain city, on a certain night that seems to be so far in the past that it might as well be a fairy tale. Herb looks just as good in a custom tailored European suit as he does shirtless, handling a grill with a finesse that nearly rivals hers, but this polar has more than just a hot body to offer. The only thing hotter than their sauces is their banter, but Alice’s heart belongs to another…a shifter whose name she doesn’t even know. Can she learn to let go of her past, or does Fate want her to keep nursing a broken heart? Will Herb take away Alice’s pain…or will he take away her grandfather’s legacy?

Sexy shifters and their feisty mates who aren’t shy about loving each other – so, this is an adult, 18+ reader tale.

Titles in the Feminine Mesquite series include:  The Cinderella Cook-Off – Beauty and the BBQ – Spicy Beauty – The Matchstick Grill – Little Red Hot Sauce

Title:  The Cinderella Cook-Off
Series:  The Feminine Mesquite #1
Author:  Sable Sylvan
Published:  March 17, 2017
My Rating:  4 stars

The Cinderella Cook-Off begins The Feminine Mesquite series with Alice and Herbert’s romance.  This series is a light modern day re-telling of some classic fairy tales with a definite spicy taste.  The Quincy sisters, Southern belles with the beauty, sass and strength of true steel magnolias and the Scoville brothers, true Nordic ancestry, polar bear shifers with the money, attitude and sexiness to back up any claims, will face off over the recipe to a secret hot sauce.  What happens next is pure fun.

Alice (Ally) and Herbert (Herb) are both the elder siblings of their families.  While the Quincy sisters have the legacy of their grandfather’s hot sauce company to put into repair, the Scoville brothers are under the mistaken assumption that the recipe for the secret hot sauce that is the base of Quincy family’s company was stolen from their grandfather, who was once best friends with Grandfather Quincy.  Unfortunately, Herb and his brothers make the worst arrogant, entitled impression possible on the sisters at the reading of their deceased grandfather’s will.  Which will soon lead to confrontations, a challenge and a courtship between Ally and Herb.

While The Cinderella Cook-Off in some ways sets up the series with some world building, it’s light enough that we really get right into the story.  Ally has the responsibility of the eldest – she has younger sisters to see through college, a floundering company to build into a success and the daily reminder in her dreams and thoughts of the man that should have been hers if only fate had been kinder to them both.  The last thing she needs to be dealing with is an arrogant, billionaire, Nordic god of a man trying to steal something from her family that was never his family’s to begin with.  To say they got off on the wrong foot would be an understatement.

We only get a glimpse of the younger Scoville brothers, but we definitely get a feel for the younger Quincy sisters.  I don’t think you could get much more Southern belle attitude unless you brought Scarlett O’Hara into the scenes.  I loved their closeness, how they stand up for each other, and even will grill a potential date.  Throughout the story we are reminded of the man Ally fell in love with one New Year’s Eve while visiting a friend in New York City.  It’s obvious that they are fated mates who were torn apart and haven’t found their way back to each other.  While we do get clues along the way that Herbert is questioning, Alice is completely clueless to the possibilities and holds true to her dream lover.

I enjoyed The Cinderella Cook-Off.  It’s a light, sexy, funny and tender romance with a Shifter touch.  I will definitely follow their adventures to see how this all plays out over the series.

I read this title through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Available for the Kindle