Title: The Baker
Series: Workplace Encounters
Author: Serena Yates
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Length: 40000 words
Release Date: July 15, 2015
Blurb: Ian Wallace works as a baker for his tyrannical father in their family owned Scottish Bakehouse in Casper, Wyoming. He wants to represent the bakery in the upcoming Tartan Day competition, but his father refuses to reveal the secret ingredients that make them so successful—unless Ian gets married and has a son, proving he is fit to continue the family line.
Just before New Year’s Eve, Cameron Lewis, a former Marine turned police detective, comes into the bakery for donuts for his department and some black buns for himself. Cameron is hooked, and as his visits become more frequent, they stir Ian’s father’s suspicions. But threats can’t stop Ian from donning his kilt and entering the competition anyway—to show his father what he can do on his own. Though he might not have the secret ingredients, Ian and Cameron might still discover a recipe for happiness.
Thanks for joining us today, Serena. Congratulations on our new release. We are also happy to have the opportunity to ask you some questions.
The Baker is the 6thth book in the Workplace Encounters series. How did the inspiration for the series come about?
Serena: I think it was a combination of things. There are lots of office romances where people fall in love with their bosses, or assistants, or colleagues. And there is something wonderfully “forbidden” about that. But I was looking for a twist on that trope, and came up with two changes. One, the romance would not take place at the office, and two, the office wasn’t the only place people work. Hence “Workplace Encounters” and a focus on blue-collar jobs. They are fascinating to me, and there are not that many books with main characters in those professions. I have found the occasional firefighter or handyman, but there isn’t a lot of variation. So I set out to research potential jobs I could be looking at, and when I came across elevator mechanics, and steamfitters, and carpenters, and lumberjacks, I guess I got inspired.
Do you have a favourite occupation in the series, a workplace you found the most fun to be the setting of one of your stories? And do you have a favourite couple in the series so far?
Serena: Not really. I get so involved into each new profession I research that I like them all. As for a favorite couple – that is the same thing. I will always have a special place in my heart for Joe and Bill, of The Elevator Mechanic, because they were the first who popped into my head. Not to mention that Bill is deliciously kinky and opens Joe’s eyes to a whole new world of sexual play and adventures. But as I work with each new couple, I discover things about them I really like too. I mean, take the guys in The Baker. Ian with his overbearing father learns to stand up for himself – and wears a mean kilt. And Camron, the studly former Marine turned detective who is up for promotion and still finds the time to support Ian. What’s not to love?
Can you tell us a little more about Ian and Cameron? And perhaps share a little something that isn’t mentioned in the blurb?
Serena: I’ll share the first part of their New Year’s brunch with you…
Cameron had arrived early, just to be sure they’d have a table. Right before eleven a tired-looking Ian walked in, and Cameron waved him over. He got a refill for his coffee, Ian got a new mug, and they were left to their own devices with a huge menu as the frazzled waitress hurried to the next table demanding her attention.
“Hi.” Ian hardly looked up from his coffee, clasping his mug with an intensity worthy of a life raft, not a portion of caffeine.
“Happy New Year?” Cameron couldn’t help phrasing it as a question.
Ian’s body language couldn’t be clearer—Ian was not feeling even close to happy.
“Yeah.” Ian looked up, and his eyes flashed with something like anger. “Happy fucking New Year.”
Cameron’s eyes widened of their own accord. He hadn’t known Ian, who’d so far seemed so even-keeled, had it in him.
“Oh my God. I didn’t say that out loud, did I?” Ian’s eyes were as big as Cameron’s felt.
Cameron nodded, not at all sure what to say. The father of three seated at the next table, right behind Ian’s back, had turned around and thrown proverbial daggers at Ian with his eyes, but Cameron wasn’t about to tell Ian. He seemed distraught enough as it was.
“I’m sorry.” Ian deflated, almost sinking under the table as he slumped in his chair.
“No problem.” Cameron tilted his head, curious what had prompted this outburst. “But I’d like to know what caused you to swear and help if I can.”
“I’m not so sure anyone can help, but thank you.” Ian righted himself a little and poured half his coffee down his throat in one big gulp. “And I don’t want to bother you with my issues.”
“What are friends for?” Cameron was only half joking. He liked Ian, and he wanted to help if he could. He was a fixer of problems, and Ian had already wormed his way under Cameron’s skin.
“Thanks.” A small smile made Ian’s face look a lot more relaxed.
“Let’s order our food, and then we can talk while we wait.”
“Good plan.” Cameron focused back on the menu. He only needed to decide between two options. It was either the philly cheesesteak omelet or the ultimate skillet. Both were equally bad for him, but it was a holiday, and he could always work it off in the gym.
Ohh… that was great. Thank you! 🙂 On a typical day, how much time would you spend writing? Describe your writing environment.
Serena: I usually write 3-4 hours on a writing day. But then because I hate routine, I vary what I do each day. There are days where I do research, or planning, or reading to help me with the setting or the newest Workplace profession. So it isn’t always the same. I write at the desk in my upstairs study, which has a nice view between my neighbors’ houses and across the bay toward the Welsh mountains (more like high hills, actually).
What book is currently on the bedside table?
Serena: Funnily enough, I don’t read in bed. But I am reading The Backyard Lumberjack right now, as well as an anthology of gay erotica, and a few gay romance books.I read quite fast, so it’s rare one lasts more than a day. You’ll see my reviews pop up on Goodreads as I go through them.
Just before nine things had slowed down to a manageable level, and Ian was about to take a short restroom break, leaving the store to Senga. But then the doorbell tinkled yet again, and the most gorgeous man Ian had ever laid eyes on walked into the store. He was tall, probably over six feet, had blond hair in a ruthless buzz cut, and his warm brown eyes invited Ian to trust him. The man was well built, muscular like a Marine, and wore a smart dark green suit, covered by an open black winter topcoat. His facial expression seemed guarded but curious as he looked around the store. Ian had the strangest feeling he was cataloging exits and potential sources of danger.
Thank God Senga was busy with a group of women unable to decide what they wanted so Ian had an excuse to talk to the guy.
“What can I do for you, sir?” Ian’s voice sounded suspiciously hoarse, and for the briefest moment, a spark of heat appeared in Mr. Good-looking’s eyes.
“I’ve never been to this bakery before….” The stranger trailed off as he examined Ian with the same curiosity and concentration he had used to assess the shop.
I know you haven’t. I’d definitely remember you!
“A colleague at the station recommended your stuff, so I came to have a look.” The stranger tilted his head. “You’ll probably laugh, since this is such a cliché, but I’m looking for donuts.”
“Station? Donuts?” Ian’s brain refused to function for a moment.
“Yeah, I’m a cop. Well, a detective actually, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I love donuts, and so do my colleagues.” The stranger laughed, and the deep, resonant sound thrilled Ian to his core.
“Ah. Right, well, we do sell donuts.” Ian pointed to the display. “It’s not a great selection, since most customers seem to come here for the more Scottish specialties, but I hope you can find some you like.”
“I’ll take two dozen, please.” Mr. Detective smiled. “And what else do you think I should get so my colleagues can find out about your wonderful work? It does smell amazing in here.”
“Thank you.” Ian started to put the donuts into a box and, without thinking, blurted out the first thing he could think of. “Would you like to try my buns?”
“Your… buns?” Mr. Detective’s eyebrows rose, a twinkle appeared in his eyes, and an amused smile curved his dark red lips.
“Yes. The black ones.” Ian pointed at the cakes, only to realize what the stranger must have meant when the man couldn’t stop grinning. Heaven above, was the gorgeous specimen of male beauty gay? But who else would have gotten the joke? Not that Ian had meant it as a joke. He was deep enough in the closet he didn’t know how to begin looking for the door, never mind find it. He definitely wouldn’t mind trying if this guy were on the other side, waiting for him. But Mr. Detective probably wasn’t out either, even if he were gay. A gay cop, or detective, wouldn’t make it out here in the wilds of Wyoming. Ian could feel himself blush even as he realized he was now babbling in his own head.
“Oh, I see.” Mr. Detective bent toward the black buns and grinned. “They look kinda cute. Are they as Scottish as they look with that flag painted on them?”
“Yes, they’re a traditional cake eaten during the traditional Scottish Hogmanay celebration on New Year’s Day.” Ian finished packing up the donuts, closed the box, and placed it on the counter. “Would you like to try one?”
“Yes, please. I have no idea what’s inside, but I like surprises. I’ll try to figure out what the ingredients are.” Mr. Detective looked back up. “Gives me a fun mystery to ponder.”
“Okay, I’ll get you one in a small box.” Ian wasn’t going to ask about the other mysteries, the not-so-fun ones, in the man’s life. He might be a homicide detective, and eww, Ian wasn’t going there. “Anything else I can get you?”
“Nah, I’m okay for now.” Mr. Detective grinned again. “But if your stuff tastes as good as it looks and smells, I’ll definitely be back. Can’t believe I’ve worked here for five years and have never noticed this place. Don’t tell anyone, or they’ll take my badge.”
Ian laughed as he rang up the purchase and took the guy’s money. As far as I’m concerned, you can come back anytime, Mr. Detective!
I’m a night owl and start writing when everyone else in my time zone is asleep. I’ve loved reading all my life and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. Although I always wanted to be a writer, financial independence came first. Twenty-some years and a successful business career later I took some online writing classes and never looked back.
Living and working in seven countries has taught me that there’s more than one way to get things done. It has instilled tremendous respect for the many different cultures, beliefs, attitudes and preferences that exist on our planet.
I like exploring those differences in my stories, most of which happen to be romances. My characters have a tendency to want to do their own thing, so I often have to rein them back in. The one thing we all agree on is the desire for a happy ending.
I currently live in the United Kingdom, sharing my house with a vast collection of books. I like reading, traveling, spending time with my nieces and listening to classical music. I have a passion for science and learning new languages.
THREE Winners win: $10 Amazon/ARe Gift Card.
THREE Runners-up win: E-copy from Serena Yates’ backlist!