Grilling Up a Story with Ari McKay + Giveaway

December 15, 2016


Grilling Up a Story with Ari McKay


Hello everyone! I’m Ari, half of the symbiotic relationship known as Ari McKay. We are so happy to have our latest novel, Striking Sparks, being released today by Dreamspinner, and we’re very grateful for you taking some time out of your busy day to join us here!

Do you like barbecue? McKay and I both do. We aren’t Texans like Beau and Jake in Striking Sparks, but every area of the U.S. has their own special take on the cuisine, and they all have something going for them. Rich sauces, smoky flavors, and moist, tender meat, combined together to render a taste that almost every American can recognize and enjoy. And no matter how different they might seem on the surface, deep down they’re fundamentally the same.

That basic commonality is something shared by Beau Walker and Jake Parnell, even though neither of them realize it at first. Growing up as rivals both on the football field and in their family businesses, neither realizes that they share a difficult secret and a mutual attraction. Beau sees Jake as being too smart and ambitious for their small hometown, and Jake is certain that Beau sensed his attraction and hates Jake for it. Even when they each learn that the other is gay, it’s not enough to bridge the gap that seems to yawn between them.

We liked the idea of using a competition to bring the two men together, and we both have watched a rather alarming number of cooking shows, so it seemed a perfect vehicle to get them communicating. And in Texas, what could be better than bragging rights to having the very best barbecue? Enter a celebrity chef, a TV crew, and the excitement of the local rodeo, and sparks are bound to fly!

Of course, we couldn’t make it easy on them. Jake is dealing with grief over the death of his fraternal twin brother and the pressure of helping his pregnant sister-in-law and her children, as well as trying to run the family restaurant. Beau is anxious to have the competition happen so he can afford to hire someone to manage the business aspects of his restaurant and focus on cooking, which is what he really loves. Beau also thinks that Jake considers him no more than an ignorant bully who never aspired to do anything with his life. It’s when Beau sees Jake basically falling apart before his eyes that he reaches out to Jake, and they start to see that they’re not as different as they’d always thought. When their misconceptions are wiped away, the chemistry between them finally has a chance to work its magic and show them what they’ve been missing out on.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I have to admit, part of the fun of writing this story was researching the food. McKay and I have our favorites, of course. I asked McKay what hers was, if she could only pick one, and she said that was trying to name a single favorite kind of cake. But she finally settled on a wood-smoked pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw. Now, I can totally get behind that (my favorite is from Red Hot & Blue), but I also love beef brisket where the meat is so tender it practically melts in your mouth. We enjoyed trying and swapping recipes for the competition, and even researching the grills — believe it or not, the high end ones are really, really complicated! It always delights me to learn something new when writing a story.

We hope you will give Striking Sparks a try, and as a thank you, we’d like to give you a chance to win a prize!  All you have to do to enter is comment to this post and tell us your favorite type of barbecue! On December 18we’ll pick someone at random to receive their choice of one of our stories with Dreamspinner!

We also love hearing from our readers, so feel free to ask us anything you’d like here, or on our facebook page, or at our blog. We look forward to hearing how you like Striking Sparks — and if you end up enjoying it, we have another story about a Walker chef coming out in 2017, so stay tuned for Breaking Bonds!

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Check out Striking Sparks today!


Striking Sparks by Ari McKay


The stakes are high and the heat is on.

Beau Walker, owner of the Barbecue Shack, needs the help of Jake Parnell, his one-time rival and secret crush, in a televised barbecue competition. Beau is a proud man, but the stakes are high, and smart, sexy Jake is his only hope, even if being around Jake reawakens the attraction he’s fought for years.

Jake left his hometown, determined to build a life somewhere his sexuality wouldn’t hurt his family’s restaurant business—and far away from hunky, obstinate Beau Walker. Then his twin, Josh, is killed, and Jake returns to support his brother’s wife and children. Despite his reservations, he agrees to go head-to-head against Beau on national television. Between stress and grief, as well as pride and determination, only one thing is certain—the heat between Beau and Jake extends well beyond the kitchen.

10 Responses to “Grilling Up a Story with Ari McKay + Giveaway”

  1. H.B. says:

    Congrats on your new book release! It sounds fantastic.

    I’ve always enjoyed a good pulled pork and I love a side of barbecue beans and toast.

  2. Rene says:

    Congrats on the release of Striking Sparks. I really love BBQ and i like spare ribs, steaks and pork on it LOL

  3. Ari McKay says:

    Hi HB!!! Thanks so much for responding! I LOVE barbecue beans, too! And mmm… pulled pork. Now I’m hungry!!! :D

  4. Ari McKay says:

    Hi, Rene! Thanks so much for the good wishes! I’m not so much a rib girl, but steak and pork…. OOOOO! :D

  5. Trix says:

    Even though I love pork, I usually end up braising it in a pot or roasting it in the oven. So, on the grill, I tend to go for steak, swordfish, or salmon (though I haven’t done salmon in ages because it’s kind of a production).

  6. Ari McKay says:

    Hi, Trix! My husband loves grilled salmon, too, and you’re SO right about it being a production!!! :D

  7. Jen CW says:

    I like pulled pork, but barbecue chicken is also a big favorite of mine. Thank you for the chance and the great post.

  8. Ari McKay says:

    Hi, Jen! :D Thanks for replying! :D Good choices, and good luck! :D

  9. Angela says:

    I love Barbecue but not only for the meat (love that too) but also for all the side dishes like potato or pasta salad, baquette with garlic/herb butter and fruit/vegetable-salads. But i like Barbecue the most when eating it with friends and family so we can spent time together.

  10. Ari McKay says:

    Angela –

    Oh, yes, sides are one of the big draws of any barbecue! And time with family is icing on the cake, isn’t it? :D

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