Series author Jennifer Greene takes "women's work" to a whole new level with this month's Mesmerizing Stranger. The novel's heroine, Cate, is a professional adventure chef. Now get an insider's look at how Greene created Cate's "strong but sweet" character for the second novel in the author's current trilogy!
My New Man in Town trilogy for Silhouette Romantic Suspense is about three sisters who lost everything when they were children—and how they each have something to solve before completely getting over the tragedy they endured.
Cate is the middle sister—and I had so much fun with her. I chose to give her the career of “Adventure Chef.”
I’ve always written about women’s issues and women’s values. I believe (and always have) that romances convey support to today’s women, whatever trials, troubles, and triumphs they’re experiencing in their lives.
Cate’s profession was a specific way to express that support.
Women certainly aren’t stuck in the kitchen any more. They aren’t expected to have food on the table, as if cooking and cleaning up were a Woman’s Job.
Yet...there are things women do, and have always done, because it’s part of our natures. We tend to be nurturers. We tend to be caretakers. Yet today, it seems somehow suspect if a woman wants ‘nothing more’ than to stay at home and be a homemaker, in the traditional sense.
So I gave Cate a traditional female job...but in today’s context. Being an Adventure Chef allows her to travel to exotic places, to be independent in every sense. She has to be creative and resourceful—to work with whatever foods are available in a given environment—and to make those into something wonderful. She has to be able to handle herself with strangers. She needs courage, flexibility, determination, some daring-life spirit.
Of course, women have always had those fabulous traits. There’s nothing new there.
What’s new today, though, is giving a woman respect, admiration, and support for the things she does that are ‘intrinsically’ female. That’s so what our genre is about. Being a nurturer isn’t a subsidiary job—it’s a fabulous one. Being a caretaker is a powerful role, in a family, for an individual…just maybe, for the world.
We’ve come close to abandoning terms like ‘housewife’ and ‘the little woman’. Thank heavens. Women, in the kitchen, are no longer pictured with aprons and high heels—a la the old Leave It To Beaver scenario of how a ‘good wife and mother’ was defined. Those television-star moms were obedient to their husbands—even when their spouses were buffoons. That was an era when women were led to believe they were being ‘put on a pedestal’.
Not today. Forget the pedestal. Forget the high heels. (Unless you’re in the mood to wear them.)
My Cate hangs out in a kitchen because she loves caretaking others. She’s not just temperamental—she’s proud of it. She takes power from doing what she’s terrific at…and demands respect because she IS terrific.
Of course, there’s nothing new there either. Women have always been terrific. But when they’re in a kitchen today, it’s not in a subservient role. It’s a celebration of strength and choices. And there’s the difference. Women have more choices today. And whether a woman chooses a traditional role—or a less conventional one—she’s still a heroine in my book. Especially this one!
Hope you enjoy Cate and her story in Mesmerizing Stranger!
- Jennifer Greene
Greene's New Man in Town trilogy starter, Secretive Stranger was released in April 2010. The series second, Mesmerizing Stranger, is on shelves now. The trilogy will conclude this December with the release of Irresistible Stranger.