Immaculate Reception (Madeline Bean Series #2)by Jerrilyn Farmer
The Pope is coming to breakfast, and Madeline Bean's got frittatas on the skillet. What a coup for gourmet caterer Mad Bean and her company, the event-planning wizards, chosen to mastermind L.A.'s official welcoming extravaganza. Pulling off the early morning meal for His Holiness, and two thousand high profile bigwigs, sounds like great fun for the unflappable Ms.
The Pope is coming to breakfast, and Madeline Bean's got frittatas on the skillet. What a coup for gourmet caterer Mad Bean and her company, the event-planning wizards, chosen to mastermind L.A.'s official welcoming extravaganza. Pulling off the early morning meal for His Holiness, and two thousand high profile bigwigs, sounds like great fun for the unflappable Ms. Bean.
But things quickly go from serene to sinister when a young priest turns up dead in the bed of an uninhibited Hollywood star, and a yellowed page of Latin scrawl, found tucked in an old book of mouthwatering Church recipes, reveals a mysterious Jesuit Brother's shocking past. Even the course of Madeline's ragged love life gets a jolt as charming Xavier Jones, the man who left her at the alter ten years ago, reappears and still won't explain why he bugged out. With the Pope arriving any day, it's up to Madeline to sort out this unholy mess of burnt brioche, tantalizing treasure, pesky naked starlets, and homicidal caterers-or a party that should go down in history could be history before it even begins.
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Immaculate ReceptionA Madeline Bean Catering Mystery
By Jerrilyn Farmer
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Jerrilyn Farmer
All right reserved.
The way the sun filtered through the lace curtains, softening the light as it danced upon the Formica-topped table, was beautiful. The sound of Xav's voice, low, yet full of enthusiasm as he casually talked of traveling to Rome next month, was beautiful. The taste of freshly baked johnnycakes, the warm cornbread simple and moist and sweet, was beautiful. I smiled at Xav and then turned my face quickly away so that he wouldn't see my eyes.
"This recipe came from Baltimore," Xav said. "I think we might want to mention something about the history of the johnnycake. What do you think?"
I think I'm not as ready to work with the man I had planned to marry as I had thought.
Xavier Jones had been that one—the one you only find once in a lifetime, if you're lucky to find such a one at all. We'd met at the Culinary Institute in San Francisco ten years ago. Xavier had been simply the most gifted student they'd ever had. He soared above our class and promised to be the future star chef, admired and followed and envied by us all. When Xav and I fell in love, our future seemed to be guaranteed. Together we'd create a wonderful restaurant and inn. People would make ittheir destination, like the auberge-hotels in France. I'd decorate and manage and help cook, while Xavier would create his incredible dishes and delight and astound the culinary establishment. In the world of fine food and wine, we'd rule. That was the dream. That was the plan. That didn't happen.
"Did you know that back in colonial America, Jesuits would ride their horses on a circuit of towns in Maryland to see what the people needed and how they could help? They traveled with 'journey cakes' . . ." "Which is where we get the name 'johnnycakes'?"
"Exactly. This old recipe for corn bread could be baked very quickly and these johnnycakes were sturdy enough to carry in their backpacks."
"I don't know if we need to emphasize the 'sturdiness' of the cakes, do you?"
Xavier laughed as he looked into my eyes. "You're so delicate. Why not boast about their sturdiness? Hard times required sturdy food."
We were working together on a project for charity. It was to be a cookbook that featured many historical recipes. When Xavier called me, I had been happy to hear from him. We were very civilized. We'd remained friends all these years. Of course, maintaining a casual friendship with an ex-fiancé had not seemed difficult when we'd been living three thousand miles apart. In fact, since we broke up we'd only spoken on the telephone a few times and exchanged cards now and then. I'd been curious to see him. In all those years he could have gained weight, lost hair, gone stupid.
I looked at him now, as he stood at the sink cleaning up from our afternoon of marathon johnnycake baking. His body was absolutely adorable, fit and on the thin side. His dark blond hair was thick and straight as I'd remembered, with a lighter streak that hung in a tuft over one eye. And there was not a stupid bone in his body.
Xavier turned and surveyed the tidied up kitchen. "Would it be okay if we leave the research materials here?" Xavier had brought over several crates of ancient recipe books, which were now neatly stacked in a corner of my commercial kitchen. See, the reality of my last ten years is that I haven't married. I never even opened a restaurant, let alone an inn. For the past seven years I've been running Madeline Bean Catering with my partner Wesley Westcott, my best friend. I guess one of life's lessons has taught me to think better of mixing my professional goals with my romantic ones.
"Just leave the crates where they are. I want to read through some of the recipes, anyway."
Xav moved over to the table and picked up his jacket. I stood up.
"I knew it would be great to see you again," he said. "I've been thinking about you. A lot."
What could I say? I had that sense that there are way too many feelings swirling around. Like it hurts to blink. Like your throat gets stiff. Maybe a mixture of anger and hopefulness and forlorn attraction, but the anger wins.
He was looking at me with such a sweet and loving expression. It just made my heart hurt with a long-familiar pain. I hadn't felt anything like this pain in years and years. What the hell!
"Madeline, would it be all right if I said a blessing on your beautiful home?"
Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention. My former fiancé? He's a Jesuit brother.
Excerpted from Immaculate Reception by Jerrilyn Farmer Copyright © 2007 by Jerrilyn Farmer. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Jerrilyn Farmer, the author of seven acclaimed, award-winning Madeline Bean novels, is a TV writer who has written for game shows such as Jeopardy! and Supermarket Sweep, and sketch comedy specials for Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Timothy Stack, Cheri Oteri, Tim Meadows, and others. Farmer also teaches mystery writing at the UCLA Extension's Writers Program. She lives in Southern California.
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Hi was told to give u a discription of me and i did on wikibooks first book
Ur welcome mimi