Book Review & Guest Post – The Captain and the Baker by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead

A big welcome to Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead as part of their release of The Captain and the Baker from Pride Publishing.

Review

I loved this opposites attract feel good romance. Jake and Locryn are both likeable characters, once you get past Jake’s TV persona. I liked how, as he became more himself and less what he’s like on TV, he stopped swearing, and his stress levels dropped.

I also loved Dorothy, the kitten they both adopt, and loved that Jake literally saved the cat early on in the story.

I loved Jake and Locryn together. I liked how quickly Jake realises that his preconceptions of Locryn are just that. The romance is wonderful and I particularly liked the scenes in the pirate’s cave, and Locryn showing Jake how to knead dough.

I liked that, although this is Jake and Locryn’s story, it’s also about two other couples. Merryn and Petros are sweet together, and I liked that we find out about Zoe and David and that they’re more of a part of the story than just the reason for Jake to visit Portavel.

The villagers aren’t just background, they’re very much part of the story and the heart and soul of the village. I thought the authors captured the feel of the small Cornish village very well – it had a personality and character of its own. I found the setting very easy to visualise.

Fionn, Jake’s producer is a not a nice person at all, and very shallow. I thought she was well written, and I must admit I was cheering in one particular scene.

I soon found myself so caught up in the story that I couldn’t put it down until I was sure that Jake and Locryn got their HEA. A very satisfying read in one sitting. 5 out of 5 stars.

Guest Post

I seem to remember a couple of inspirations for our new novel, The Captain and the Baker. First of all, there was the photo Catherine rather liked of a man baking in chef whites. Then, I went to visit Catherine and we were watching a programme hosted by an angry chef. We had one of those moments when we turned to look at each other just as the same idea popped into both our heads at the exact same time.

“Captains novel!”

And so we had the germ of the idea for our eighth Captivating Captains novel, and the rest of the story evolved from there.

Before we start to write, we always make sure we have an outline. Some writers go into a blank document plotless, but we don’t, and it’s just as well because writing together would be incredibly difficult if we didn’t have a plan laid out at the start. Of course, the plan isn’t set in concrete by any means – sometimes when you’re writing, characters can tug you in unexpected directions, but when we reach that point, we always talk about this first before we depart from the plot. But that outline needs to be there when we start to write a novel. It’s like driving in convoy; you need to agree on a route before getting behind your respective wheels.

As well as deciding on the plot’s outline before setting off, we also decide who’s writing which character. This is usually something we decide before we even put the storyline together as our starting point is always with the characters, and plot and story come next. We know the characters to an extent before coming up with the storyline – which is as well because otherwise it’s hard to write the story! And the characters will often tell us or show us things about themselves and their world and their story before we start writing.

Sometimes we “cast” the minor characters, deciding who will written them, once we reach them in the story. And sometimes we’ve shared writing duties for a single character. The rather horrible Captain Marsh in The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper was written by me when he shared scenes with Catherine’s character, and by Catherine when he was sharing scenes with mine. And you can’t see the join.

Most co-writers share out duties by writing a chapter each, usually so that their chapter is in their character’s point-of-view, and the readers get alternating point-of-view characters and chapters. Some write a chapter and the other author comes in and adds their gloss. There even some who divide up the work so that one half of the pair comes up with the plot, and the other writes it.

Catherine and I are quite unusual because we write live on the page together. Before the internet, the only way co-writers could do this was by sitting in a room together, taking it turns to dictate and type. We live over one hundred miles away from each other, so that obviously wouldn’t work. But we use Skype to have our plotting conversations, and we use Google Docs to write. It means we can write pretty much wherever we happen to be. I’ve written while sitting at the hairdresser’s waiting for my dye to take, or on the bus, or in the tea room at work, and of course at my desk.

It’s so important to communicate, and of course it’s not always easy and there’s times where our ideas have clashed. When this happens, we talk through what our options are and sometimes the discarded idea might end up turning into something else anyway. We bounce ideas off each other and they build and grow as we talk about them. It’s exciting to suggest an idea for a scene, then Catherine adds her touch, then I add something else, Catherine tweaks, and you end up with something surprising, and that we hope our readers will love as much as we do.


When a hot-tempered TV chef and a mild-mannered baker meet on the rugged Cornish coast, they’ve got the perfect ingredients for a red-hot snack.

Sweary and stressed celebrity chef Jake Brantham is the captain of several floating restaurants. When he’s sent to the idyllic village of Porthavel to turn a pirate ship into the next gastronomic sensation, it’s the last place on earth he wants to be.

Locryn Trevorrow is the bakery king of Cornwall. From the humble pasty to a wedding cake fit for a mermaid queen, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the art of baking. He lives in a cosy world of gingham and ganache, but at night he goes home to his smugglers’ cottage alone.

When he’s adopted by a lost kitten, Jake soon discovers that there’s more to Portavel than cream teas, lobster pots, and the annoyingly fastidious Locryn. As the village prepares for the wedding of its favourite young couple, Jake and Locryn find themselves as unlikely matchmakers for two locals who’d given up on love.

Torn between the call of Hollywood and the kisses of Locryn, will Jake choose a mansion in Beverly Hills or a cottage on the Cornish coast?

Released worldwide by Pride Publishing in ebook and paperback on 25th August 2020

Links
Pride Publishing | Goodreads | Amazon

Excerpt
Jake, immaculate in his chef whites but his hair just ruffled enough to look careless, tried to smile into the television camera.

There wasn’t much to smile about because, although the set of Saturday Breakfast was more than familiar to him, he hadn’t had to share it with Locryn Trevorrow before.

Locryn, as sugary sweet as the cakes and delicacies he baked, was as far as it was possible to be from Jake, a chef who’d made a name for himself swearing on the telly while cooking. As he had watched Locryn across the studio that morning, all smiles and sunshine and please and thank you and how marvellous, he couldn’t imagine the man had ever sworn in his life. He’d probably draw the line at fiddlesticks.

“And now it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for!” Katya, the host of the show, beamed, showing dazzling white teeth. “Our search for a bride and groom ends today with our very last couple, so get on the phones and get voting! You all know the rules by now. We’ve scoured the country and, out of thousands of applicants, we’ve found three couples who are competing for the chance to hold their wedding at Jake Brantham’s brand-new restaurant. The twist is, even Jake doesn’t know where that will be! All he knows is that it’ll be in the hometown of our winning couple and we’ll watch it all happen in his new series, From Wreck to Restaurant!”

The camera cut away to Jake, who pulled his best theatrical glower. The one all his fans went crazy for.

“Each week we’ve invited a couple onto Saturday Breakfast and paired them with a chef from their town, who’s been challenged by Jake to cook one of his signature dishes. Our last couple are Zoe and David, from the gorgeous little village of Porthavel, and they’re joined by Britain’s favorite and loveliest baker, Locryn Trevorrow!” Across the studio crew, a loud smattering of applause sounded, which Locryn dismissed with a bashful wave of his hand. “We sent our intrepid crew off to meet Zoe and David at home in Cornwall, so let’s take a look at life in one of Britain’s cutest fishing villages.”

The floor manager called, “And we’re off.”

A makeup artist dashed onto the set and immediately began dusting at Katya’s face. Standing behind the worktop where he would soon do battle with Jake’s recipe, Locryn called to Jake, “Morning! We haven’t had a chance to meet yet, so hello!”

Plummy wasn’t the word for it. Jake had wondered if that voice was a put-on for the cameras, but it didn’t sound like it. Did that mean the cottage in the opening titles of Trevorrow Treats was real too, right down to the roses around the door and the goats on the front lawn, grazing the grass that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean on Cornwall’s south coast?

“And a good fucking morning to you!” Jake unfolded one arm and waved. A sort of wave, at least. Locryn blinked at him, then gave a smile that was more like a grimace. Perhaps they didn’t say fucking in his little corner of Cornwall.

“You ready to feel the meat?” Jake asked. He planted his hands on his hips, his eyebrow arched in challenge.

“Yes…right, meat.” Locryn abandoned his designated mark as a runner began assembling the ingredients on the worktop. There were fresh herbs and juicy tomatoes, oils and spices, but none of the sugar and silliness that Locryn Trevorrow had turned into his fortune. He approached Jake and lowered his voice a little to ask, “You do know I’m a baker? I’m just slightly concerned because it doesn’t look like you’ve set me a baking challenge.”

“And you do know I’m not a bloody baker?” Jake sighed. “You’ve got to follow one of my recipes, mate—and I don’t do cupcakes or croissants!”

Locryn shook his head, then ruffled one hand through his dark-blond hair. He glanced back at the worktop, where the runner had now covered the ingredients with a tea towel that bore a pattern of sunflowers.

Very bloody him.

“I’ll give it my best,” he decided. Then he smiled and said, “You never know, if I get it terribly wrong, Zoe and David might get the sympathy vote anyway!”

And I’ll have to go to the arse end of nowhere for months.

“Do you think so?” Jake dabbed at some crumbs on the workstation in front of him. “I bet it’s fucking fixed anyway. That posh couple from Hamble’ll win because—and don’t tell anyone I told you”—Jake revved up to unleash his secret in an unsubtle stage whisper, and he didn’t care if anyone overheard—“the groom’s uncle is one of this show’s producers.”
Locryn unfastened one of his cufflinks—they wouldn’t be buttons, would they—and rolled up his sleeve as he said, “That’s not true, is it? Tell me that’s a fib.”

A fucking fib. Is he nine?

“It’s true!” Jake gave an emphatic nod. “Eugenia and Ptolemy have an in. You may as well send your two fucking home right away! It’s a long way back to your foggy old smuggler country. If they leave now, they’ll just about catch the next train!”

But all Locryn did was unfasten the second cufflink and serenely roll up his sleeve. Then he smiled and told Jake, “You’re just as charming as I thought you’d be. Don’t count me out yet, Mr. Brantham. If all else fails, I can try and fall back on this smile.”

“I don’t do charming, Trevorrow. I do simple, local, fresh.” Jake emphasized each word, punching his fist against his palm. Locryn blinked then glanced toward the floor manager, who was frantically ushering everyone back into position. Across the studio all three couples were sitting on bright yellow couches around a coffee table in the mock-up of a sitting room, where guests were stationed while the cooks gave their demonstrations. Locryn gave them a thumbs-up and David and Zoe returned it, the young couple looking as nervous as he was laid-back.

That won’t last.

“It’s Saturday Breakfastand—awwww—aren’t David and Zoe adorable?” Katya made a face into the camera as though she were addressing a newborn kitten. “And someone else we adore is our guest chef, or should I say guest baker, Locryn Trevorrow. Locryn’s famous for his naughty but gorgeous cakes and bakes, and he’s come all the way from Porthavel with our last couple to try and cook them to victory. Are you ready to face Jake’s challenge, Locryn?”

He nodded and replied, “As I’ll ever be, Katya.”

“You’ve already met our couples and the lines are open, so get voting now. At the end of the program we’ll find out which of our gorgeous couples have won their dream wedding, and Jake will find out where he’s going to be turning a wreck into a restaurant in his brand-new series, From Wreck to Restaurant.” She glanced toward Jake and grinned. “Will he be in Hamble, York or Porthavel? It’s up to you at home. Jake, it’s time for you to reveal to Locryn what he’s going to be cooking today!”

Rubbing his hands together, Jake crossed the studio and stood beside Locryn. The man’s cologne was suddenly all around Jake. Not a cloying, gassy cloud of it but a spicy scent that Jake, despite himself, found oddly enticing.

Oh, fuck that, no.

“So, Locryn, no f—fancy cupcakes for you today!” Jake said. “Instead, you’ll be making one of my favorites, pork goujons with tomato sauce. It’s simple, it’s local, it’s fresh, and when you get to the breadcrumbs, it’s bloody close to baking.”

Pork?” Locryn looked down at the worktop as Katya pulled back the tea towel to reveal the ingredients. He rubbed his hands together and glanced toward the couples on the sofa. “I’m up for that. It’s for Zoe and David, after all!”

“You’ve got your recipe, you’ve got your ingredients and you’ve got Jake to keep you on your toes.” Katya grinned. “Jake, any hints or tips for Locryn before he dives in and tries to recreate one of your Michelin-starred staples?”

“Feel the meat,” Jake advised. He leaned with one hand on the worktop. “Don’t skate round it. It’s central to the dish. You need to feel it and know when it’s cut the right size, know when it’s cooked through. That’s the secret working with any f—flesh. Meat. You’ve got to feel it.”

About The Authors


Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead began writing together in the spring of 2017 and swiftly discovered a shared love of sauce, well-dressed gents and a uniquely British sort of romance. They drink gallons of tea, spend hours discussing the importance of good tailoring and are never at a loss for a double entendre.

They are the authors of numerous short stories and two novel series, the de Chastelaine Chronicles, and the Captains, published by Totally Bound and Pride. Their novel The Ghost Garden has been shortlisted for the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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1 Response to Book Review & Guest Post – The Captain and the Baker by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead

  1. Pingback: Anne Barwell reviews The Captain and the Baker

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