Excerpt from “Chocolate Muse” by Zelda Benjamin

Chocolate Muse: Pastry chef Maddie Higgins is horrified when her prize-winning torta di chocolate gets a bad review. Choking critics is never a good thing, and she loses her job before the scathing article hits the morning paper. Forced to take a job in a friend’s bakery and teach a children’s evening class to make ends meet, she vows vengeance on the man responsible for her damaged reputation. But when she realizes that the father of two of her students is her nemesis, the charming food writer Brad Angelo, her anger deflates faster than an overcooked soufflé.

Brad, a single father struggling to balance parenting and his syndicated food column, is completely clueless about the trouble he’s caused Maddie. He finds her evasive attitude and chocolate talent to be intriguing parts of her allure, but isn’t sure he s ready to create a life that might be messier than melted chocolate when their secrets are slowly revealed.


Before shutting off the TV, Maddie took a moment to commiserate with the contestants. If that one unfortunate turn of events in the script of her life had been part of a TV reality show, Zest’s former pastry chef, Maddie Higgins, would surely have been the star.

There were no hidden cameras that night and the unexpected incident had sent her tumbling from stardom. Would the culinary world ever forget her careless oversight? She couldn’t. The look on that man’s face after taking the first bite of her award winning torta di chocolate would have made good reality TV. Instead it left her spiraling in self-pity compounded by sleepless nights and an over indulgence in sweets.

If she had only known he had been there to review her most popular dessert, she might have been more diligent. Looking

through the little round window, she had watched and had waited for the first sign of pleasure on the handsome customer’s face.

That’s when everything turned ugly. The expected smile of decadent satisfaction had melted into a cough and sputter. No one choked on her delicious desserts. Too late someone discovered the cause – soap powder mistaken for sugar.

Maddie and the kitchen crew searched for a hidden camera. They hoped an inconspicuous TV camera had accompanied the food critic and this was all a setup.

Paul, executive chef at Zest had no one else to blame. He dismissed her before the horrific review hit the morning papers. Instead of TV stardom Maddie found herself an unemployed pastry chef with a runaway culinary muse.

Even thought she hadn’t actually added the offensive powder, she knew when the chocolate hit the fan it would be aimed straight at her.


Zelda Benjamin is a pediatric ER nurse with a passion for writing. She was born in Brooklyn, New York and sets her stories there. The people and the neighborhoods inspire her characters. She writes the Love By Chocolate romance series for Avalon Books.

Author’s website: http://www.zeldabenjamin.com


3 Responses to “Excerpt from “Chocolate Muse” by Zelda Benjamin”

  1. joylene Says:

    This was a fun excerpt and a great hook. What the heck happens next!

    Thanks Zeida and Pat. Merry Christmas.

  2. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Soap mistaken for sugar. Ouch! Should be a fun book.

  3. Zelda Benjamin Says:

    Thanks, Joylene and Sheila. This book was fun to write.

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