The Missing Ingredient by Marika Ray



Title: The Missing Ingredient
Series: Reality of Love #1
Author: Marika Ray
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: March 21, 2019


Who knew a cooking show could get so messy?
Elle Fierro
All I have to do is appear as a judge on this cooking show in Hollywood and my restaurant will open to rave reviews. Pretty much my lifelong dream. What I absolutely shouldn’t do is sleep with one of the contestants and ruin everything I’ve
worked so hard for. But he gives good hugs, makes me laugh, fills out a simple T-shirt like nobody’s business, and is sweeter than the maple syrup he dripped all over my naked body last night…
Austin Cox
I may have been drunk when I applied to be on that reality cooking show, which is why it’s hard to believe I’m here. What’s even harder to believe is that Elle, with her
painted red lips and fiery disposition, is in my bed and making me forget I need to win this damn show to get my little sister out of the foster care system.
When Elle throws me under the bus to realize her dream, will our love burn out or will we find the missing ingredient to happiness?


My review:

Elle is a famous chef in NYC, with cookbooks published and a new restaurant opening in a matter of weeks. She is hard, driven, and a perfectionist and her staff refers to her as El Jefe. She is invited to appear as a judge on a cooking competition pilot being filmed, and plans to use the publicity to jump start her new restaurant. Austin is just a guy who loves to cook, having received no formal training but his friends all rave over his creations. He enters the competition to gain entry into the restaurant world, needing a good job to be awarded custody of his 16 year old little sister after their mom’s death following a cancer diagnosis.

This was entertaining, but I didn’t love the book. To start with, no matter how attracted she was to him, Elle would never have jumped into bed with a contestant to begin with. She is too professional and driven, and that part didn’t sit well with me. Austin basically kept persisting until he wore her down, and that is  no way to start a relationship. And for Elle to lose all her passion and drive for her life’s dream based on two weeks away, and really only a few days with Austin in a more-than-just-professional way, also didn’t mesh with the character at all. I did like the interactions between the characters, and Elle’s sendoff in the beginning was perfect.

Overall, this was an okay read, but I just can’t see these two as a forever couple.

Rating: ♥♥♥

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Author Bio


Marika Ray
spends her time behind a computer crafting stories, walking the beaches of
southern California scoping out the lifeguards, and making healthy food for her
kids and husband whether they like it or not. Prior to writing novels, Marika
held various jobs in the finance industry, with private start-up companies, and
then in health & fitness. Cats may have nine lives, but Marika believes
everyone should have nine careers to keep things spicy.
enjoys writing all types of fiction novels, based on what inspires her. Right
now she’s working on stand-alone romances in the Beach Squad series, all about
California lifeguards and their equally fearless women. Moderate suspense, a
splash of humor, and lots of steamy romance…all with the beautiful ocean as a
relaxing backdrop!
information can be found at


Author Links



The Hardest Route by AS Teague

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The Hardest Route, an all-new emotional and romantic standalone from A.S. Teague is available now!

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My friends used to tell me ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ Clearly, they lied because a few months later, I found out my one-night stand was pregnant.

I couldn’t handle a baby. I was Griffin Rockwell, the best wide receiver the league had ever seen. But what choice did I have? My baby girl was coming whether I was ready for her or not.

Brooke turned out to be an amazing woman and mother. For seven years, we were the MVP’s of co-parenting—and even better friends.

That all changed when tragedy struck our makeshift family and I was faced with the terrifying possibility of losing the one woman I was quickly realizing I couldn’t live without.

I was at the height of my career and on the path to becoming the greatest of all time.

But keeping my family together, with Brooke by my side, might prove to be the hardest route of all.

My review:

What an intense book.

Brooke and Griffin meet in Vegas, where Brooke’s best friend Mel has dragged her to celebrate Mel’s 30th birthday. Trying to get Brooke to loosen up and have a good time, she literally pushes her into Griffin. They have a one-night stand, neither expecting to see each other again. Griffin is eight years younger and freshly drafted into the NFL. Brooke is shocked to find herself pregnant, but they eventually work something out, coparenting for several years.

This book didn’t follow the path I expected, and I’m always happy to be surprised like that. Instead of getting together because of the pregnancy and suddenly being in love and perfect, both Brooke and Griff realize they are in different places in their lives and would not work as a couple at that point. But they become close friends, parenting Allie together over the years. Eventually they start to realize the feelings they have for each other, but then they get devastating news.

What I loved: Allie Bean is the best. She is such a great kid! Mel is the best best friend ever – she is a true (platonic) life partner to Brooke. I also liked Brooke and Griff’s relationship. There will always be bumps in parenting, no matter what, but they have things mostly figured out. And when he decided to go for a real relationship with Brooke, he doesn’t hold back.

I really enjoyed this book. I also hope that Mel gets her own book, too. I feel like there is a story between her and Aiden that needs to be told.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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About A.S. Teague

A.S. Teague enjoys the warmth of South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. The stereotypes about peach cobbler and sweet tea are not overstated. After years in the medical field, she is now enjoying every minute of being a stay-at-home mom. She loves wine, the beach, wine on the beach, and crying at Disney movies. When she doesn’t have a book in her hand, she can be found pestering her husband with pictures of animals she wants to rescue, as well as debating whether to exercise or take a nap.

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One More Round by Lauren Helms is on Sale!

Sales Blitz for ONE MORE ROUND by Lauren Helms

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Review & Excerpt Tour

#FallInLoveWithAGamerBoy with this must read romance! Nearly a year since it’s release, ONE MORE ROUND is currently on sale! Grab this fun and flirty read by Lauren Helms for only $.99. Don’t drag those fingers, #oneclick it now as this sale ends in only a few short days!

“Lauren Helms delivers a sweet and steamy romance that packs an emotional punch.” —Mary @ USA Today Happily Ever After Blog

“Hot, nerdy gamer? Check. Woman with a secret? Check. Childhood friends to lovers? Lovers to enemies? A second chance? And a happily ever after? Check times 4.” —The Romance Reviews

“Lauren Helms has brought her A game to the table with One More Round, and this is my favorite book to date. Somehow she was able to keep me guessing throughout, and by the end, was craving more like I do coffee in the morning, which is the mark of a brilliant author in my eyes.” —Jennifer Pierson: The Power of Three Readers


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About One More Round 8

History doesn’t have to repeat itself… or does it?



Life was on track, going great,

And I couldn’t have been happier.

But then he walks back in,

The tall, dark, broody blast from my past,

The one that got away,

Or shall I say, the one I pushed away.


Now, he’s pushing the boundaries,

Demanding answers,

Ready to bring the past to the present,

For a chance at a future.


As a professional gamer,

I’m focused and detailed,

Weighing all of my options.

After she left, I was lost, shattered,

And thought it was game over,

For me, for us.


But when I see her again,

There’s more at stake than just a game,

This time, I’m playing for keeps, ready for One More Round.



Copyright @ 2018 Lauren Helms

Against my better judgment, I stand and head for the kitchen under the guise of getting a drink. I open the fridge, surreptitiously trying to get her attention.
I close the door with a bit more force than necessary. Nothing. So, I walk up to the sink next to her and look out the window, too.
God, she smells good.
So damn good.
And she’s absolutely stunning. Her golden hair comes past her shoulders and falls in waves that make me think she’s been at the beach all day, though I know she hasn’t. Her slightly rounded nose and perfect pink lips are precisely how I remember them. But her dark-blue eyes always have a way of rooting out people’s bullshit, which is what I’m certain will happen if she ever looks up at me.
I’ve done my best to keep a physical distance from her. I don’t want to be too close, for fear that I will reach out and touch her, like old times. She was always so close to me when we were kids.
I brush her arm as I lift the pop to my mouth and take a drink. This startles her, but it only takes a second to regain her composure.
“What ya looking at?” I ask, not taking my eyes off the apartment building across the street.
“Oh, nothing. I was just thinking, I guess,” she sighs as she moves the bowl in her hands back under the running water.
“You guess? How do you not know?” I ask, using my same words from earlier, but in a gentler tone.
She looks at me this time, which is what I wanted. “Stop asking me questions if you always hate my answers.” She says it with a ghost of a smile.
Acting on its own, my shoulder bumps hers.
We’ve danced around each other for months. I haven’t touched her since that first night we met again as adults. I shook her hand because I was caught off guard. But today, we’ve touched twice. Where are the walls I’ve built?
She looks up at me with a hint of something in her eyes that I can’t quite figure out. Interest? Need? Maybe longing.
“I’m just kidding, G.” I smile at her. Something I haven’t done toward her in a very long time. Yeah, that look in her eyes is definitely longing.
She gives me a sad smile before turning to put the bowl on the drying rack. It isn’t lost on me that she’s hand-washing the dishes instead of letting the dishwasher take care of them.
“I really do want to know what’s got you staring out the window.”
She eyes me. “Why?”
I give this some thought. Why do I want to know so bad? Why do I care?
“Because I care?” Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. Yeah, I can see that was the wrong thing to say when she snorts and tosses an eye roll my way. A laugh escapes her lips but there’s no humor in it.
“Yeah, you care. Since when, Simon? You can’t even look me in the eye. You don’t care. So, don’t waste your breath,” she spits out and starts shoving dishes in the dishwasher now, throwing all kinds of temper around with the task.
“Jeesh. Chill, alright? I guess old habits die hard. I can still tell when something is wrong. We do have a history. That won’t ever change,” I say, defending myself.
At this, she goes rigid. Ah-ha. Either bringing up the fact that we have a history or my telling her to chill—which she hates—has stopped her in her tracks; I’m guessing it’s a little bit of both.
“Just leave me alone, Simon,” she mutters.
“Is it your brother? Does he live here in Chicago? Are things better between the two of you or is he still an asshole with problems?” I can’t hold it in, I’ve got to know.
She puts the last cup in the washer and closes the door uncharacteristically slowly. She then wipes her hands on the towel, lays it down, and slowly turns to me.
If looks could kill, I’d be six feet under. She steps a tad closer to me.
“You … do not get to ask about him. You do not get to bring him up. Ever. Do not ever speak about him, or the past, to me or anyone.” Her voice is so low it makes my skin prickle.
“Uh, OK.” I gulp. This evil clone Gia is scary as shit.
She takes a step back, then turns to leave the kitchen.
Then as her words register, I realize.
“They don’t know, do they?”
She stops. Looks over her shoulder at me. Instead of anger, guilt clouds her eyes.
“No,” she says, and walks away.

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Author Lauren Helms:


Lauren Helms has forever been an avid reader from the beginning. After starting a book review website, that catapulted her fully into the book world, she knew that something was missing. Lauren decided to take the plunge and write her first novel. While working for a video game strategy guide publisher, she decided to mix what she knew best–video games and romance. She decided to take the plunge and joined NaNoWrimo and a month later, she had her first draft.


Follow Lauren:  Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon | BookBub | Instagram


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