Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious.
It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter—unless murder taints the batter.
Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for—literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead…right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?
About the Author
ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she's not coated in flour, you'll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the Bakeshop Mysteries, including Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death, as well as the Sloan Krause mysteries. You can find her on Facebook to learn more!
Read an Excerpt
Fudge and Jury
By Ellie Alexander
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Kate Dyer-Seeley
All rights reserved.
They say that chocolate makes everything better; I agree. Torte, our family bakeshop, looked as if it had been dipped in chocolate. Every square inch of counter space was filled with chocolate tarts, chocolate éclairs, chocolate cakes, chocolate cookies, and chocolate truffles. Whimsical chocolate posters promoting Ashland's annual Chocolate Festival hung on the bakeshop's front windows and the scent of chocolate simmering on the stove permeated the cozy kitchen.
Every March in Ashland, Oregon, my hometown hosts one of the largest chocolate festivals in the Pacific Northwest. This year Torte had been chosen as one of the showcase vendors, which meant we would have a prominent booth in the center of all the delicious action and have an opportunity to showcase our chocolate artistry. Being recognized as a showcase vendor was a huge accolade, but also meant that we had to prepare double — if not triple — the amount of chocolate samples. Our staff had been working around the clock.
I surveyed the kitchen. It looked like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Chocolate bubbled on the stove and cooled in long thin sheets on the butcher-block island. Stephanie drizzled white, dark, and milk chocolate over marzipan. Mom dipped shortbread cookies in vats of molten chocolate. I twisted the lid onto an industrial-sized container of cocoa powder and brushed dust from my hands.
In addition to the bakeshop being taken over by chocolate, we were in the middle of a remodel. After months of skimping and saving, Mom and I had finally managed to amass enough cash to purchase the new ovens we desperately needed. Since the Chocolate Festival would take place over four days, we decided to close Torte for the duration of the fest. Andy, Stephanie, and Sterling, our small but mighty staff, would focus on the kitchen upgrade while Mom and I dazzled guests with our chocolate confections at the festival.
I moved canisters of sugar and flour to the side and gave the whiteboard a final glance. I had worked out a schedule that would allow enough time to clean and prep the kitchen, paint, reorganize and inventory our stock, upgrade our ordering and payment system, and — fingers crossed that everything went as planned — to install the new ovens just in time to reopen for business on Monday. The Chocolate Festival kicked off tomorrow, which meant that the team had two and half days to complete everything on our to-do list before the installers arrived with our ovens on Sunday afternoon. It was going to be tight, but I was confident we could pull it off.
No one at Torte was afraid of hard work or a little elbow grease. I knew that was due to Mom's incredible work ethic. I smiled as I watched her dunk a shortbread cookie in dark chocolate and banter with Stephanie. She set an example for our young staff; despite the fact that she was in her mid-fifties she was still one of the first people to arrive at the bakeshop every morning and last to leave.
She had been at Torte's helm since my dad died, and thanks to her tireless effort, kind listening ear, and delicious bread and pastries, Torte was thriving. I wanted her to thrive too. As the thought passed she turned and caught my eye. Her face was bright. "What is it, honey?"
"Oh, nothing," I replied, sliding the canisters back into place. "Just going over the schedule one more time."
Mom chuckled and winked at Stephanie. "Is that the hundredth time so far this morning?"
Stephanie poured white chocolate onto parchment paper. "At least."
I ignored their teasing, and walked to the sink to rinse cocoa powder from my hands. As much as I knew that Mom loved the bakeshop, I also knew that she was due for a vacation. She and the Professor, Ashland's resident detective and Shakespeare buff, had been getting serious. The Professor wanted to travel, but Mom had been reluctant to commit and I had a sneaking suspicion I knew why — me.
When I returned to Ashland last summer my heart was broken. I'd left everything I knew, including my husband, at sea. Being back in Ashland, surrounded by warm and welcoming familiar faces and Torte's bright cherry-red and teal walls was exactly what the doctor ordered. My heart had finally started to mend. It helped that Carlos, my semi-estranged husband, had made a surprise visit to southern Oregon last month. When we had parted ways we agreed that we would take a hiatus. He was the last person I expected to show up in Ashland.
At first the distraction of having him back in my life and back in my kitchen had been overwhelming, but after a few days we fell into our old easy rhythm. I guess in some ways it was inevitable. Food was our love language. We didn't even need to speak when we were in the kitchen together, our bodies remembered. We moved in a comfortable easy cadence just like we had on the ship. But things were different now. Carlos had lied to me. He had hidden the fact that he had a son for the duration of our marriage. I hadn't been sure that I could forgive him for that.
When he first arrived I was angry, but that had begun to dissipate. Of course I was sad and disappointed that he had kept something so important from me, but I began to understand why. He was trying to protect his son, Ramiro. I couldn't blame him for that.
It would have been so much easier if I could have stayed angry with him. When Carlos was oceans away I had been able to concentrate my time and energy on Torte and let thoughts of us slip into the recesses of my brain. He became more like a fuzzy dream — until he showed up in real life and flipped everything upside down again. His sultry dark eyes and playful personality had sucked me back in, and I found myself not only forgiving him, but falling for him again.
Then, as quickly as he had appeared, he was gone. My heart hurt, but not like it had when I left him. Things were healing between us and, for the first time, I knew that Carlos loved me and would do anything for me. But that didn't change the fact that we were worlds apart. My life on the ship was a distant memory. My future was at Torte, and only time would tell if Carlos was part of that future. For the moment, he was back on the ship and sailing under sunny Caribbean skies, and I was due at a meeting on the other side of the plaza.
I shook myself free from my thoughts and concentrated on my immediate surroundings. Mom and Dad used to tease me about living in my head too much when I was growing up. I blame them; after all, they named me Juliet Montague Capshaw. A name like Juliet requires time spent in your head.
The clock on the far wall signaled that it was a few minutes before noon. I needed to get moving. I dried my hands, untied my apron and folded it on the island. "Back in a few," I called to Stephanie and Mom and headed for the front door.
The sky dripped like a leaky faucet as I stepped onto Main Street. It had been raining for five days, which was a rarity in Ashland. Many tourists are surprised to learn that we get very little rain in this corner of the state. People tend to think that Oregon is one giant mud puddle. While there's some truth to that — Portland and the surrounding valleys west of the Cascade Mountains tend to get waterlogged — Ashland has a much more Mediterranean climate. It's one of the sunniest cities in the Pacific Northwest, another reason I was happy to call it home.
I pulled my rain jacket over my head and ducked under the red and white striped awning at Puck's Pub. In addition to boasting a serene climate, Ashland is also known around the world as being home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Our quaint downtown plaza could be mistaken for an old English village. Most of the buildings are Shakespeare–themed, with ornate façades and gables, and many of the shops have witty Bard-inspired names, like Puck's. Right now I was on my way to meet with Rosalind Gates, the president of the downtown business association. Rosalind had been working with the city to preserve Ashland's old-world charm. The city (thanks to Rosalind's persistence) had recently passed new design ordinances in order to ensure that businesses in the busy plaza adhered to the Elizabethan aesthetic.
Rosalind was spearheading a grant program to help small businesses, like Torte, expand. That's why I was meeting with her today. I tucked a white paper bag with our Torte logo stamped on the front into the inside pocket of my jacket and hurried along the wet sidewalk.
Hearth & Home, the brokerage firm where I was meeting Rosalind, was located just outside the plaza. I headed toward Lithia Park and took a right at the end of Main Street. Rain spattered on my jeans and soaked through my tennis shoes.
When I arrived at the homey, wood-framed building, I pushed open the glass door and stepped inside. Rosalind was waiting for me near the reception desk. Her silver hair was tucked behind her ears, revealing plastic earrings in the silhouette of Shakespeare's bust. She wore a purple T-shirt that read ASHLAND: SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON. The last time I'd seen Rosalind she had been sporting a SAVE OUR SHAKESPEARE shirt when a chain restaurant threatened to move into the plaza.
"New shirt?" I asked, taking off my raincoat and hanging it on a rack by the door.
She glanced at her chest. "Do you like it? I'm testing out a new tagline for the plaza. I'm not sure if this one is going to stick."
"But you made a shirt."
"My son bought me a screen press for Christmas and I figured I'd give it a whirl."
"That's great." I walked toward her and handed her the bag. "Sorry I'm a little late, but I come bearing chocolate."
"Lateness is completely excusable if it involves chocolate." Her eyes lit up as she removed a dark-chocolate-covered cherry from the bag. When she smiled deep crevasses formed on her aging cheeks. "Oh my, talent does run in your family, doesn't it? Your mother and then that romantic husband of yours. I can't wait for another Sunday supper at Torte. Everyone is in a twitter about how delicious your husband's tapas were. He enchanted the entire town, you know."
"He has that effect on people." I smiled. Carlos's tapas were irresistibly succulent and full of Spanish flavor. They were one of the reasons I fell for him — hard — on the ship. I understood why Rosalind and everyone else in Ashland had fallen under his spell.
"Will he be back in Ashland anytime soon?" Rosalind asked.
The truth was I had no idea. We had left things open-ended when Carlos went back to the ship. I wasn't sure when I would see him again, and I was trying my best to be okay with that. The distraction of preparing for the Chocolate Festival and cleaning out the kitchen had been helpful. It felt symbolic to clean and reorganize things at Torte as I was reprioritizing my personal life. To Rosalind, I said, "Hopefully."
"Yes, let's hope." She gave me an understanding smile. "Come on back. I have the paperwork for you to look over." She led me to an empty office near the back of the building. Blueprints and maps were tacked to the walls along with old photos of Ashland from the early nineteen hundreds, and a plan for a railroad terminal and station. "Is this for a railroad?" I pointed to the far wall.
Rosalind's smile broadened. "Yes. It's not public knowledge yet, so let's keep that between us."
I studied the sketch. "But the railroad tracks have been abandoned for years."
"Exactly." Rosalind walked behind the oak desk and took a seat. She motioned for me to sit too. "Do you remember the sound of the train whistle when you were a girl?"
"We've been cut off from the rail line for too long and I intend to change that. Not only will freight deliveries return, but with my plan we're also negotiating with Amtrak to bring passenger trains to Ashland again." She nodded toward the wall. "The Siskiyou Summit Railroad Revitalization Project is set to resume train traffic early next year. I can't wait to hear those lovely whistles again."
Rosalind explained that the railroad had abandoned service to Ashland in 2008. Since then freight had to be hauled by big-rig trucks. In the winter when the mountain passes were snowed in that meant that goods and supplies often couldn't be delivered until the roads were cleared.
"I didn't know there were any plans to reopen the rail lines," I said to Rosalind.
She nodded. "It's been a long time coming, and a vital step for our local economy. Per-mile costs are much less by rail, and that's a very good thing for you as a business owner."
"Right," I agreed. If anyone could handle a project of this magnitude it was Rosalind Gates. Most of her peers had retired and spent their days knitting and volunteering to hand out seat cushions at the theater. Not Rosalind. She was a powerful force in Ashland's downtown community, constantly petitioning the city council on behalf of business owners.
Pushing a stack of blueprints rolled up with rubber bands to the side of the desk, Rosalind picked up a file folder and handed it to me. "Here are the loan papers. You'll need to fill them out and return them to me no later than tomorrow at noon. That deadline is firm. The city council will be making all of their decisions on granting funding. I've already submitted your preliminary application. This is the final paperwork — and Juliet, I do think you're a sure thing. Would you and your mother like to do a walk-through this afternoon?"
"I think that's probably a good idea." I could hear the hesitation in my voice. Everything was moving so fast. It had only been a couple of weeks since Rosalind approached me about the city's grant program. The space below Torte had come available for lease, and we were seriously considering an expansion. It was rare for property on the plaza to open up, and when it did there were usually multiple offers from businesses vying for a spot in Ashland's prime retail market.
Mom and I had discussed expanding Torte someday, and suddenly that dream was within reach. We both had reservations about more than doubling our square footage, though, especially as Mom was starting to think about scaling back. At the same time, we knew that opportunities like this didn't come very often.
Having help from the city would be paramount. Renovating the basement space was a much bigger project than our kitchen remodel and new ovens. We couldn't afford that kind of undertaking on our own, but with grant money or a low-interest loan from the city, the idea was one step closer to reality. The only problem was that this was a temporary offer.
"Juliet, I can't stress this enough. If you're serious about moving forward, you have to be ready to go. This is unprecedented. Thanks to Lance we have secured an art development grant, but that money has to be spent before the first of July. If Torte is awarded a grant, construction must start immediately."
"I understand." I nodded.
"The city is also planning to roll out a new loan program for businesses in the plaza that are directly in the flood zone." She paused and studied me for a minute. "Torte hasn't had many issues with flooding, has it?"
"Not as far as I know."
"I'll ask your mother." She made a note on a yellow pad. "In any event, we have to do something about this ongoing flooding issue. It's critical to the plaza's continued success, so the city is going to offer low-interest loans. Those funds must be used specifically for building upgrades."
"Got it." I took the final loan papers, thanked Rosalind for her time, and left. The loan papers felt heavy in my hands as I made my way outside into the dripping sky. I took a different route back to the bakeshop, along the Calle Guanjuato, a brick path complete with antique street lamps and deciduous trees that paralleled Lithia Creek. Tiny green buds bent the tips of the tree branches, revealing the first signs of spring. I tightened my raincoat and smiled at the thought of cherry blossoms and fresh cut grass.
Many of the shops and restaurants with storefronts facing the plaza also had outdoor space and seating on the Calle Guanjuato. During the height of the season theatergoers would dine creekside on second-story decks under the stars. For now, patio furniture and tables had been stacked away and sandbags barricaded the back entrances.
The entrance to the basement was on the opposite side of the street from Torte's front doors at the far end of the Calle Guanjuato. Steep concrete steps with a black iron railing led down to the shop. I couldn't resist peeking in the window for the hundredth time. The steps were slippery. I held tight to the railing as I made my way down the slick moss-covered steps. Water had pooled in a large puddle about two inches deep in front of the door. That wasn't a good sign.
Excerpted from Fudge and Jury by Ellie Alexander. Copyright © 2017 Kate Dyer-Seeley. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Love this series! Can't wait to see what happens next. Great characters and an excellent plot plus tasty recipes. Who could ask for anything more?
A very fun series that really works.
Juliet (Jules) Montague Capshaw lives in Ashland, Oregon. This little town is home to a Shakespearean Festival and this story takes place during the off season. Juliet is her mother's partner in the family bakery/cafe, Torte. She has returned from working on a cruise ship where she met and married Carlos. Juliet is still trying to figure out where her marriage with Carlos stands, but he is back on the cruise ship and she is in Ashland. Jules and her Mother are participating in the Chocolate Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Jules meets Evan, a famous chocolatier and obnoxious chef to boot, for the first time and is not impressed. When he suffers anaphylactic shock and dies in front of Jules she is extremely upset. Even though she did not like him, no one deserved to die like that. She begins to help the police with the investigation. With all this going on, Torte is undergoing minor renovations with new ovens being put in, Jules' old boyfriend Thomas seems to be attempting to become more than a friend, she finds out that her mother is developing arthiritis, a pastry magazine wants to do a cover story on Jules and Torte, and they are trying to decide if they want to lease the bottom floor of the bakery and do an addition. There is a lot adding stress to Jules' life, can she handle it all? Will they figure out who killed Evan? This is the fifth book in this series and I love visiting Torte and Ashland. I love the relationship between Jules and her mom, as well the one between Helen and the Professor. The employees at Torte are very different from one another, but they work so well together and they are like a family. The plot moves quickly and kept me reading quickly until reaching the conclusion. The mystery was interesting and I was surprised to see who the killer was, as well as the reason and the method used to do it. This is a fun, interesting series that will leave you wanting more and with your stomach growling. Cozy mystery readers will enjoy this one. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Fudge and Jury is the latest installment in one of my favorite cozy mystery series! I have so been looking forward to this book and it didn't disappoint in the least. I was so excited when I managed to snag a copy on NetGalley but I had to wait to read it just so that I could savor it. Because we all know how impatient I am and the wait for the next book is going to feel SO long! This book had everything that I love about this series, and I enjoyed every minute while I was reading it. I read this series for the characters and the food period. Both are so great and something that I just can't get enough of! After five books now, I've come to really love the characters in this series but especially Jules. I love that throughout the series we have watched her both struggle and grow as she tries to figure out her life and what she wants out of it. In this book, we got the chance to see her struggle with the decision on whether or not to expand Torte. With everything still up in the air in regards to Carlos, expanding Torte will be a major commitment to her life in Ashland. I won't say what is decided as that would definitely be a spoiler but as always I love how real this series feels. Jule's life isn't perfect but it comes to life in the pages of these books. Of course I can't share my thoughts on this book without talking about the food that is described throughout. Every book in this series has just left me craving desserts of any and all kinds and this book was no different. I would gain thirty plus pounds if I attempted baking all of the wonderful recipes that Jules creates throughout the books. They all sound so delicious and it is no wonder that I'm constantly hungry while reading. This book was particularly decadent as chocolate played such a prominent role in the Chocolate Festival that Jules is participating in. I have a particular weakness when it comes to anything chocolate so this was right up my alley. I could read all day long about the different types of cakes and pastries that are baked in Torte. Yum, yum yum! The mystery portion of this book was also intriguing. I find that with this series that I'm sometimes less interested in the actual mystery than I am with everything else that is going on. I guess that is what happens when you come to adore a series so much! The actual mystery is secondary to everything else. LOL! It was still an intriguing story line though and I liked the way it ended as it just felt true to life. I'm trying not to spoil anything so I won't say any more than that. Overall this was another amazing addition to this series and one that I can highly recommend. I cannot say enough good things about this series- each book is just so, so good! I'm just bummed that I now have to begin the long wait for book six. This book was worth the wait though and I'm sure that one will be as well. With such great characters and delicious food, what else could I ask for in a cozy series like this? For those readers who haven't tried this series yet, I do think that you could probably read this book without having read the beginning books. The author does a great job of giving bits of the back story in each book so you could read this by itself. I would recommend reading them all though because they are just that good. Highly recommended to fans of mysteries and cozies alike!! Bottom Line: Another amazing addition to one of my favorite series. Read it! Disclosure: I received a co
The book was quite good. Will read other books by miss alexander. The only thing i did mot really like eas all the detail with the food. I thought it took away from the mystery. There were recipes at the end so thought it over kill in story
As I read each book in this series, I have an even greater urge to visit Ashland, Oregon during the Shakespeare Festival. Alexander’s ability to weave fact and faction to make a cohesive story is masterful; you really don’t know how to separate one from the other. In this 5th of the series, I learned a lot about chocolate and can’t wait to try the very unique chocolate pasta. Alexander includes cooking tips and recipes in each book that are an added incentive to get caught up in Jules life. I was so pleased to read on the last few pages that the series will continue, and that a cruise may be on the horizon. So what will happen when Jules reunites with Carlos on the ship and if the sparks fly what happens to Thomas? I can’t wait to read the next installment.
Torte is invited to participate in a chocolate festival. Jules and her mother run the booth at the festival while their crew gives Torte a face lift. The festival is in full swing when a snobby, world renowned chef stops by to sample Jules cake. He quickly has what appears to be an allergic reaction and falls to the floor and dies in front of the Torte booth. Jules must use her many talents to find out who wanted him dead before Torte gets the blame. No matter what other books I have on my to-be-read pile, I push them aside as soon as soon as a Bakeshop Mystery becomes available to read.
The stars seem aligned for Jules Capshaw and her mom, Helen. Torte; a well-loved bakery, is getting a make-over complete with new ovens. Mom’s relationship with a certain classy law enforcement officer seems to be on track. Carlos; Jules’s ex is back on the high seas and Tommy, another local officer is still pining for Jules. Ashland is preparing for their Chocolate Festival and Torte is being showcased as one of the “premier” vendors. What could possibly go wrong? A little rain can’t hurt, right? Ellie Alexander has continued to draw us into this entertaining bunch of characters that make us laugh and fear for their safety. Best installment yet, must read!!!
Author Ellie Alexander is guilty! Guilty of the crime of writing a brilliant mystery full of sweet chocolaty delights, and bittersweet murder! Don’t ever say the cover of a book can’t lead you to a wonderful read. When I saw the cover of book one in the Bakeshop Mysteries, MEET YOUR BAKER, in the bookstore, I just had to read the back of it. And of course reading the back of it led to me buying it. Since that first book, I have eaten up each title as fast as they can come out! FUDGE & JURY (another great cover) finds Jules and the gang at Torte, the bakery, taking part in the annual Chocolate Festival. Let me tell you, the entire time I was reading this story, I wanted chocolate! I could smell the tasty, rich scent with every description. Just writing this review I can smell it in the air. (Dabbing a little drool from the corner of my mouth.) I always love returning to Ashland, Oregon, and spending time with the cast of characters in this series. With each book I have watched them change and grow as author Alexander continues to give readers more glimpses into their lives. These characters are people I want to be friends with. Heck, I want Jules mother to adopt me! I don’t want to come across all the dead bodies, and danger that they do, but I’d be willing to risk it. And it brings this review the latest murder in Ashland. Ellie Alexander set this story up perfectly. She let readers get comfortable with everything and feel like part of the story before bringing in the murderous mayhem. My favorite books are the ones that let the story play out for a while, before the death scene/body discovery. I like reading about the characters, and their daily lives pre-murder, the victim included. The author’s timing was perfect. As for the mystery of the murderer, Ms. Alexander kept me wide eyed and alert, and looking at every potential suspect convinced that they were the killer. I was even suspicious of a few non-suspects. FUDGE & JURY was an assortment of intrigue, action, and a chocolaty swirl of guessing, that kept me stumped right up until the shocking reveal. Every time I finish a book in the Bakeshop mystery series, I am breathless, happy, and hungry! FUDGE & JURY left me feeling all that and more. And of course, there are amazing recipes at the end of the book!
Title: Fudge and Jury - Bakeshop Mystery Book 5 Author: Ellie Alexander Published: 1-3-2017 Publisher: St. Martin's Press Pages: 321 Genre: Mystery; Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Culinary Mystery; Amateur Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Women Sleuths ISBN: 13: 9781250088055 ASIN: B01H035XWY Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.5 Stars I received a copy of "Fudge and Jury" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Description From The Publisher: Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious. It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter—unless murder taints the batter. Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for—literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead…right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream? My Review of "Fudge and Jury": Juliet "Jules" Montague Capshaw can best described as an exceptional baker and a slight airhead. With her name is it a surprise the resides in Ashland, Oregon a town known for its quaint Elizabethan styled shops; one of which is Jules' bakery, Torte? Ellie Alexander describes the town so well tat you can picture walking down the side walk and dropping in on Torte and having a cup of tea and scone or cookie, but you'll have to come after the Shakespeare and Chocolate Festival as it is closed for remodeling and possible expansion if they can get the funding. It's only four days and you can enjoy tasting all the chocolate treats offered by the four showcase vendors, sampling their wares to the weary travelers passing through. Caution is needed after Even Rowe, confectioner and Confections Couture. dies after sampling Jules' cake from anaphylactic shock. Jules juggles the renovations, festival and finding out who killed the obnoxious, odious man, with a list that includes nearly every person who ever met him. Recipes for some very tasty chocolates are included. My rating for "Fudge and Jury" is 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is a great book for culinary cozy mystery lovers and anyone who enjoys a light mystery filled with bold characters and a plot that leads you on a merry chase to find a killer.
A Chocolate Festival sounds like a great idea! Ashland Falls, Oregon is preparing for their festival and Torte, a locally owned bake shop, is excited to be participating. The delectable chocolate delights will leave your mouth watering and when a local participant drops dead, it seems that Torte needs to prove their innocence. This book has a lot going on and it is sure to please fans of this wonderful series. Each book gets better and better and this one is definitely my favorite by far! I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.
It's a winner! Fudge and Jury is the first book of the series that I have read but it sure won't be the last! The characters are so great that they are sure to become life long friends; I was impressed with the ensemble from the first page. The writing held me throughout the book from the mystery that had me stumped to the details that I could visualize and almost smell. I also loved the overall positive feel that I got from most of the characters. At first I was a little concerned when I realized that one character spouted Shakespeare, but I was pleased to see that even though others followed his model, the use of Shakespearean quotes was not excessive; a touch of the Bard is fine. I am looking forward to catching up with other books and to seeing where her relationship with Carlos goes. I want to meet that guy! Now I need to go make something chocolate! I requested and received an advanced readers copy of this book via NetGalley. This review is completely voluntary; I review all books that I love and I completely loved these characters and their story.
Favorite Quotes: Juliet, you are the worst liar on the planet. I know exactly what you’re thinking and I assure you that I’m thinking the same thing. Evan was clearly hunted down and killed by a crafty baker. Don’t try to pretend that you’re not as delighted as I am… She reminded me of a writer who was a regular at Torte. He brings his laptop and plants himself by the front windows while he writes and drinks coffee by the gallon. Andy once asked if we should cut him off because customers around him were complaining that the floor was shaking so much that they thought there was an earthquake. Mom had made a point of trying to fatten me up, offering me buttery scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam and sausage rolls. She claimed that having a pastry chef who looked like a skeleton was bad for business. The gyro smelled so good that I would have eaten it off the floor, but I agreed to Lance’s request and tossed the cardboard container back in the bag. My Review: Fudge and Jury is book number five of a six book series - although it had strong enough legs to stand on its own. I had not read the previous books and had no difficulty following the story. As the plot revolves around a chocolate festival and features a bakery owner who thoroughly describes her baking process and tasting of her treats, this story would be a mystery loving gourmand’s highest level of heaven or a dieter’s lowest level of hell, I was coveting her confections the entire time I was reading. Written in the first person POV of a somewhat spacey/daydream-prone baker, the story was packed with quirky characters yet was a bit slower paced than I am used to. However, I was far from cracking the inventive murder mystery. The victim was an esteemed chef who died moments before the chocolate festival was to begin, and being that he was a rather atrocious blowhard, there was no shortage of suspects. It looked like someone might just get away with the perfect murder.