The logical thinker in me cringes at the thought of starting a series anywhere but at the beginning, but there's not enough time in the day or days in the week for me to read everything I'd like, so I threw caution to the wind and went into this book blind. And while I know there are background and character-building elements of the story that I missed, it still made sense as a stand-alone book.
So basically, after attending pastry school and working on a couple of luxury cruise ships (among other things like getting married - this is something that makes me want to go back and read the other books - find out more), 20-something Juliet is back home in Ashland, Oregon, putting her talent to use at her family's bakery, Torte, which it seems she is also part owner of with her mother.
Like any cozy, our heroine finds herself involved in solving this mystery, along with local law enforcement and the help of her family and friends. I thought it was full of interesting characters, my favorite being Juliet's friend and artistic director at the local theater, Lance.
I will admit to knowing the killer-slash-cause-of-death the minute I read a certain part, but I credit that to having a pretty strong culinary background (culinary school, restaurants, catering, food writer) and knowledge of food. I don't think that detracted from seeing how the mystery played out, though. I enjoyed the way Alexander wrapped things up.
Of course, you can tell by the name, that it's a foodcentric cozy—aka, if you're not craving something by the time you've finished the book, the author hasn't done their job. Let's just say that I was in the mood for chocolate (and a chocolate slushie) something fierce by the time I turned the last page.
But here's the thing that you might now know about me—I'm a sucker for meatloaf. I don't know if that makes me a little strange or not, but I'm okay if it does. I've been known to make meatloaf for the sole purpose of meatloaf sandwiches, so when I came across a passage where Juliet and Thomas (childhood friend, ex-flame, and local law enforcement) ordered meatloaf and smashed garlic potatoes in a local pub, I was a goner.
Mom had an old family recipe for meat loaf that reminded me of this. As soon as our remodel was complete I was going to have to make her famous[*] recipe and serve meat-loaf sandwiches on our homemade buns as a lunch special.
Plus, another thing that I think makes a great foodcentric cozy, is when there are recipes in the book for things that were mentioned or made in the story. Fudge and Jury has that in the back, and meatloaf sandwiches were one of the recipes. I used that recipe as the base for the one I'm sharing today—it was really the addition of fresh rosemary that had me intrigued. It calls for sausage as part of the meat, and I used some made by a local butcher shop that's labeled as "pizza" flavor, for the spices they add (but you can use any that would fit in the flavor profile). I left out the veal called for (because it's just not readily available around here) and the barbecue sauce, and added sundried tomatoes to complement the rosemary and Italian spices/herbs.
It would fit perfectly on the lunch menu of Torte or a cozy pub, if you ask me.
*On a side note, Juliet's mom Helen has a ridiculous amount of "famous" recipes. 😉
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.