Once Upon A Romance

Featured Author

It's a pleasure to introduce you to Jessica Conant-Park...

Jessica and family "I live in Manchester, NH with my wonderful personal chef (husband), Bill, and our son, Nicholas. In between chasing my six-year-old around, I write the Gourmet Girl mystery series set in the Boston restaurant scene.

I grew up in Newton, MA, a suburb outside of Boston, with my food-oriented parents. We traveled to France a number of times and we fell in love with the phenomenal cuisine. My mother slaved over Julia Child and taught herself to make even the most complicated of recipes. Trips to visit relatives in Kansas were highlighted by the prospect of tasting the best BBQ the state had to offer. We ate one meal and discussed where the next would be.

I went to Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and, despite loving the school and making life-long friends, there was one major disappointment: campus dining. After graduation, with a lot of psychology and English courses under my belt, I spent the next few years living in my own apartment, cooking what I wanted, and working as a day-care teacher. I then went to graduate school, got my master’s degree in social work, and worked for a number of years with young children and families in Early Intervention programs.

I met my husband-to-be, Bill Park, while he was the executive chef at a Boston restaurant. Not only did I begin regularly eating more upscale food than I ever had, but I was introduced to a whole new side of the restaurant world. Bill was full of information and stories about the chaos, competitiveness, harshness, and beauty of the professional culinary world. I couldn’t believe some of the stories I was hearing. I’d eaten in plenty of restaurants, but it hadn’t occurred to me what might be going on behind the scenes. Now I knew.

My mother was a well-established author and, after I’d shared the millionth wild culinary story with her, she pointed out that these stories needed to be written. She suggested we collaborate on a book. It was the perfect idea! I’d been an avid reader all my life and the idea for the Gourmet Girl series began to grow. I knew right away that I wanted our book to be an equal mix of chick lit, mystery, food and humor?Shopaholic meets Rachel Ray meets Janet Evanovich.

Our heroine, Chloe Carter, stars in Steamed and Simmer Down and returns again next March in our third Gourmet Girl mystery, TURN UP THE HEAT. We are so pleased that Berkley has offered us another contract for two more books in the series. There are many more culinary adventures to tell . . . !"

The Gourmet Girl Mysteries...

Steamed cover If you have an appetite for crime, join Chloe Carter, food connoisseur, aimless grad student, and resilient survivor of failed romances. . .

Chloe Carter is forever on a quest for the perfect meal and the perfect man. Getting both in one shot is irresistible. That’s why Chloe (known on the Internet as GourmetGirl) risks another burn when she accepts a date with DinnerDude online. Unfortunately, her fellow food lover turns out to be just another cheap, pompous, well-fed bore. Showing more promise is the honey-lavender crème brûlée-a bit of culinary heaven Chloe’s bland date never even has a chance to sample. Certainly there’s an easier way to run out on a tab than being stabbed to death in the men’s room.

Talk about a rocky love life. Chloe’s first date of the week is a murder victim. Her second date is with a perfectly sweet chef who’d be ideal if he wasn’t the prime suspect. As the investigation plunges the amateur sleuth into the gourmet restaurant scene, she discovers a cutthroat world rife with killer competition, stormy love affairs, and a recipe for Baby Bok Choy Slaw to die for. . .

"Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant give us a new chick lit cozy mystery series to enjoy. Their collaboration is seamless without a glitch or hiccup to be found in the flow of the story. In addition to some fun and eccentric characters, they’ve mixed into the recipe the right amounts of humor, suspense, romance, and culinary flavor to make this new series pleasing to the palate. Steamed is fresh and funny with its own unique twist. No cookie cutter series here." Connie, www.onceuponaromance.net

" . . .a well crafted mystery. . .This witty novel has both a slew of suspects and a sizzling romance. A delightful debut." Romantic Times Bookclub

Simmer Down cover Chloe Carter’s dream boyfriend, Josh Driscoll, is prepping for the opening of Simmer, Boston’s hot new restaurant-which means her love life is being put on the back burner. Josh is too busy to be her own personal naked chef for a while. . .

But bigger problems are to come. At a fund-raiser featuring samples of Josh's cuisine, a club owner is found bludgeoned to death by Josh's state-of-the-art, professional-grade food processor, the ominously named Robocoupe. 

Chloe would love to pin the murder on Josh’s ex-girlfriend, who found the body-and who’s also still after Josh’s body. But Chloe’s own boss at the Boston Organization Against Sexual and Other Harassment in the Workplace could be a possibility, too. Word is, the victim was worse than your everyday flirt, and just might have put the moves on the wrong woman. If that’s the case, his wife had a motive, too, and Chloe has to check out her alibi.   By opening night at Simmer, the list of suspects is almost longer than the line to get in. Chloe is struggling to solve the crime before the final course is served . . .

Reviews... "Simmer Down cleverly blends the best elements of a mystery and romantic comedy. I’m eagerly anticipating the next episode of murder, mayhem, and laughter in the Gourmet Girl series. It’s a series guaranteed to satisfy the reader." Connie, www.onceuponaromance.net

"The Gourmet Girl Mysteries have quickly become one of my favorite culinary mystery series.  I find myself eagerly looking forward to curling up in a toasty spot with a cat in my lap, glass of wine by my side, and indulging in the book in one sitting." Tracy Farnsworth, www.roundtablereviews.com


This shrimp and pasta salad is one of my all-time favorites. It is a great dish to serve in the warm weather; the pasta makes the salad filling, while the veggies and herbs bring the flavor of summer! Feel free to play with it by adding any other local or seasonal ingredients that suit your taste. Frozen shrimp are perfectly acceptable and much more economical than fresh, so don’t break the bank feeling the salad will suffer if you don’t use expensive fresh shrimp! I usually despise eating leftovers because many dishes seem to lose their taste after sitting in the fridge overnight. Not this one! Reheat the dish to room temperature and hit it with a touch of olive oil or balsamic if you need a bit more moisture.

Here's a printable copy of Shrimp and Pasta Salad. I hope you come to like it as much as I do!

"Live well, love well, eat well!"
Jessica Conant-Park


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Once Upon A Romance ~ #17 ~ 3601 S. Noland Rd. ~ Independence, MO 64055