top of page

Asked & Answered: "How'd you come up with the idea for this book?"

Behind the Scenes Featuring:


By Gigi Templeton

(Originally published at



Growing up with unofficial grill masters in my family, I swoon over the scent of BBQ chicken, smoked brisket, and marbled rib eyes wafting under my nose. Especially when they all have a little extra kick to them. At a holiday feast a couple of years ago, I was struck with the idea of two social media (rising) stars colliding in a spectacular way—long-lost lovers who unexpectedly reunite over food and spices.

Jack, a Texas rancher and the wildly charismatic host of his own BBQ YouTube channel, Rub It In, was incredibly easy to breathe life into. As was the rest of his sometimes boisterous, though mostly affectionately witty family. In fact, they did most of the work for me. I let them ebb and flow with the ever-changing environment, the good times and the bad.

For Jillian, hybrid chili pepper horticulturist and the owner of a hot sauce and spicy dry rub company called Hotter Than Habas, I wanted a unique scenario that created drama and trauma she had to overcome. In addition, making her a recluse was cathartic for me because I’ve suffered through that myself, as a germaphobe in a global pandemic, and then long after. When everyone else was chomping at the bit to get out and about I was like… “Meh… I’m okay inside my house.” But similar to Jillian, I forced myself into a recovery process and reclaimed that social aspect.

Little rescue pup Ollie was inspired by the Maltese we adopted in January of 2022, Gracie Faith. What a rock star! Well trained, super sweet, and totally attached to us (and vice versa). A true blessing, a gift… And highly entertaining!

When Ollie came into the picture, I had an entire world built around barbecue, family, and the TRIPLE R Ranch.


Writing Process

I couldn’t get this book onto paper fast enough! I always work out the full story in my head before I start to write it—playing the scenes like a movie, over and over, until they gel. I don’t write out a synopsis unless I absolutely have to (for a formal proposal). Rather, I find that letting the scenes change in my mind leads me to different outcomes I wouldn’t have considered if I’d committed it all to paper.

For this story, I found myself typing out scenes on my phone. They were so fresh when I woke up at any given hour or when traveling, I just reached for my cell and created drafts in my Notes app. Easy to simply email them to myself and add to the pages on my computer.

There are times when I’m mentally blocked and that’s normal. I find ways to coax my muse to come out and play. At other times, she’s totally on fire, and I have to keep up with her—as was the case with Spiced Right. I didn’t worry about self-editing in the drafting phase, as I typically do. I just let the words flow. I heard these voices so clearly in my head that I felt wholly immersed in their conversations, and their ruminations. My personal advice is to capture all the thoughts that are hitting you hard and fast. They might not fit the story in their raw form; however, as you write, revise, and retell the story, you might find some gems you hadn’t expected!

Character Development

The main characters were vivid enough, with unique backgrounds, to emerge quite easily when I started my drafts and worked through revisions. My surprises came with the secondary characters. One of my favorites is Jillian’s producer, Mindy. Her voice in my head reminded me of Rosie O’Donnell’s as the sidekick to Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle—very clipped and direct, with a sardonic edge. At the end of the day, Mindy is a great friend to Jillian, encouraging her to grow, to branch out, to embrace her reclamation process. Initially, I didn’t think I needed to build in the emotional aspects with these two because they weren’t supposed to bond as tightly as they did. Yet when they both realized they were destined to be besties, I felt it deep in my heart and wanted to express that unwavering connection.

I experienced this with Jack’s older sister, Wyatt, as well. She’s not meant to be a scene-stealer, but she’s so genuine—and really acknowledges highs and lows with such clarity—that she became a standout character without being overpowering.

Then there are the twins, Hunter and Alejandro. I just want to hug them both! Truly, the family traits of warmth, sensibility, dedication, and love are the foundation of the ranch. Which is basically its own character.


Closing Thoughts

At first, this book was meant to be a fun rom-com. And while I do love the banter and the way the characters play off each other, there are many underlying stressors to overcome. The generational ranch takes money to run and that weighs heavy on Jack’s shoulders and prohibits him from having much of a social life. Jillian’s tragic past hinders her recovery process, but she ironically finds strength in numbers at the ranch. The balance I attempted to create is that you don’t just snap your fingers and roses and rainbows immediately appear. It takes time and effort to hurdle obstacles and heal hearts. Being open to the process is what this story is truly about.




Jillian Parks doesn’t need her hybrid scorpion pepper to set her pulse racing. Wildly charismatic rancher, Jack Reed, does that all on his own in this scorcher from Gigi Templeton.

“Don’t ever think I didn’t want more time with you, darlin’.” 

Those were her college boyfriend’s last words to her after a phone call summoned him home to Texas. In the ten years since, Jack Reed has taken over his family’s ranch, and Jillian Parks has experienced devastating losses with traumatic repercussions.

Now a reclusive insomniac, she podcasts about the specialty hybrid chili peppers she grows in her Seattle greenhouse, keeping a closed door between her and the past. But when Jillian’s producer coaxes her to make a surprise call-in to Jack’s YouTube BBQ channel, their chemistry still sizzles!

An invite to the ranch for a follow-up collab is a scary proposal for Jillian. But forward movement is key to her recovery, and it’s time to take the bull by the horns. With Jack’s commanding yet soothing presence, maybe this charismatic cowboy is just the right ingredient to help her heal—while adding a different kind of spice to her life!



Published by Amazon/Montlake—Now Available!

Amazon (Free in Kindle Unlimited):


Author Links:

Website & Blog:

X (formerly Twitter) & FB: @ggtbooks

TikTok: @gigitempletonbooks

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page