Game of Scones

Game of Scones

by Mary Lee Ashford

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Overview

As co-owner of Sugar and Spice Cookbooks, Sugar Calloway has seen simple confections bring friends together and spark fiery feuds. Except this time, the recipe truly is to die for. . .


After losing her job as food editor at a glossy magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway-aka "Sugar" to friends-isn't sweet on accepting defeat and crawling back to her gossipy southern hometown. So when she has an opportunity to launch a community cookbook business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer in peaceful St. Ignatius, Iowa, she jumps at the chance to start over from scratch . . .

But as Sugar assembles recipes for the local centennial celebration, it's not long before she's up to her oven mitts in explosive threats, too-hot-to-handle scandals, and a dead body belonging to the moody matriarch of the town's first family. With suspicions running wild, Sugar and Spice must solve the murder before someone innocent takes the heat-and the real culprit gathers enough ingredients to strike again . . .

Includes delicious recipes!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781516105052
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: 12/04/2018
Pages: 194
Sales rank: 219,909
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.45(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," my Aunt Cricket is fond of saying. And though that is great advice, everybody can't actually leave, can they? I mean, someone has to stay in the kitchen and take the heat or nobody eats.

Today that person was me, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway, aka Sugar to my friends.

Up until six months ago, I had been a highfalutin senior food editor for a major magazine headquartered right here in the midwest. Corner office, nice salary, corporate trips. Now, thanks to a downturn in advertising revenues which resulted in downsizing at Mammoth Publishing, I had a new calling.

Cookbooks.

In partnership with Dixie Spicer, a woman who is, without a doubt, the best cook in Jameson County if not the whole world, I'm the Sugar half of Sugar and Spice Publishing. The Spice part comes in, not just because it has a nice ring to it, but because Spice is Dixie's nickname. A moniker she claims came about because of her last name, Spicer, and her hair color, which is a rich cinnamon. To tell you the God's honest truth, the nickname probably had a lot to do with her personality, but more about that later. In any case, Dixie and I publish cookbooks.

Now, probably not the kind you're thinking. Not the big fancy celebrity or TV show-driven ones on the shelves at the big box bookstores. These are community cookbooks. They're the kind your church or your kid's soccer team puts together, usually using the sale of the books as a fundraiser.

Most days I thought my exit from the corporate grind and the new venture it had brought about was brilliant, but today my role had turned into more damage control than publishing professional. The St. Ignatius Founders' Day Commemorative Cookbook, our inaugural project, was due to the printer in six weeks and I'd thought a brief meeting with the cookbook committee would finalize the contents. But then Scone Wars had broken out. What to do?

"When you find yourself in a hole, stop diggin'" was another idiom from Aunt Cricket, and though I've found she borrows wisdom from others and edits to the situation, it is mostly still wisdom. Mostly.

I took a deep breath and tried to gather my thoughts. As I did, I inhaled the combined smells of hot coffee and fresh baked pies. No matter where you're from, food is a universal thing. But here in the heart of America it's absolutely baked into the essence of the people and the place. Whether a holiday celebration, a family dinner, or a potluck. It's infused into the joy, the grief, and everything in between.

Today I'd counted on food to bring together the St. Ignatius Founders' Day Committee. With the help of the Red Hen Diner, I'd assembled a mouth-watering spread of summer fruit pies. Cherry (my favorite), apple, and peach. Perfect flaky crusts, sweet fruit flavors, and fresh hot coffee. I'd placed my trust in food to bring the group together.

Instead I had a major fail on my hands. The mob was out of control.

Or at least two members of the St. Ignatius Founders' Day Committee were, and the rest of the group egged them on with their rapt attention. I looked around the chicken-themed meeting room with its bright red and white checked tablecloths. In a matter of minutes, the place had changed from a bright and friendly chicken-themed backroom at the diner, to a WWE smackdown ring, with two contenders and the rest of the committee craning their necks, and jockeying for the best view to see what was going down.

In one corner, we had Elsie "The Eliminator" and in the other corner, Bertie "The Rock of the Block." It had begun with jabs over whose recipe for scones should be included in the Founders' Day cookbook, and escalated to full blown insult-throwing. Both were now on their feet, red-faced and agitated, silver heads bobbing as they squared off.

The committee chair made eye contact with me from across the room. Petite and proper Harriet Hucklebee looked around at the roomful of people as if she wasn't sure whether she should call the sheriff or sell tickets.

"Ladies, ladies." I raised my voice in an attempt to be heard above the argument. "Let's talk about this. I'm sure we can come to some sort of agreement."

"You sure can, missy." Elsie Farmer whipped around toward me, her smart silver earrings jangling with the force of her turn. "You can take Bertie's sad excuse for a scone recipe and toss it right in the garbage where it belongs."

"Come on, Elsie, everybody knows my scones put yours to shame." Bertie stomped closer to her opponent tightening the strings of her blue chambray apron with each step. "At last week's Ladies' Missions meeting, they were gobbled up. None left. You might have noticed if you hadn't been so busy flapping your lips."

"That must have been because people were taking them home to use for doorstops," Elsie shot back, her fists jammed on the waistline of the pink cabbage rose floral dress she wore. "If people knew ahead of time what you serve at your B & B, they wouldn't bother." She turned and addressed the rest of the committee. "I guess the 'B & B' stands for bad and ... bad."

Not terribly creative insult throwing, but she spat out the last "bad" as if it were the foulest of swear words.

There was a collective gasp from the onlookers.

"You'd better watch yourself," Bertie bristled. She pushed up her wire-rimmed glasses and leaned in nose to nose with Elsie. "Don't you go bad-mouthing my business, old woman."

"What are you gonna do, old woman?" Elsie reached out a finger and poked it at Bertie's nose. "Do me in over a scone recipe?" Oh my word, the two had plum lost their minds.

"Ladies —" I tried again to restore some civility.

"You." Elsie turned her finger toward me. "Sugar Calloway, you're the reason for all this fuss. You and your dumb cookbook."

Now all eyes in the room shifted to me. I didn't think it was the best time to point out that the "dumb cookbook" she referenced wasn't really my dumb cookbook. It was their dumb cookbook.

I looked to the other committee members for help. Poor little Harriet, bless her heart, looked ready to duck and run. Jimmie LeBlanc, head of the local historical society, ran a finger under the band of his bow tie like the bright red satin was about to strangle him. Tina Martin's bright fuchsia lips were frozen into a surprised "O." Dot Carson, the postmistress, leaned forward her eyes darting between Elsie and Bertie. And Lark Travers, jewelry store owner and project donor, suddenly found the ceiling of the room extremely fascinating.

Okay then, no help from the peanut gallery.

Turning back to Elsie, I took a deep breath.

She looked me up and down and lifted her chin. "When you're ready to see reason, you know where to find me." She walked to the door, and then turned back to the room. "Until this is sorted out, I will not support the Founders' Day project, nor will the Farmer family." With that, Elsie slammed out.

"Good riddance," Bertie called from across the room.

"Wow." I broke the silence that followed Elsie's exit.

And as if that had been the cue they were waiting for, everyone started talking at once.

CHAPTER 2

Holy guacamole, now what? How on earth did a short meeting to sort out a few details about a cookbook go from a pie and coffee to DEFCON 1 in a matter of minutes?

I did feel somewhat responsible because it wasn't news to me that a ton of emotion is often attached to a favorite recipe, but I'd never seen anything quite like this.

It would take the committee a little while to get settled down, which gave me a chance to gather my papers and my thoughts. The St. Ignatius Founders' Day Cookbook was tight on space already and truly didn't need two scone recipes, but there had to be a way to work this out. A great believer in the win-win theory (go ahead, call me Pollyanna if you like), I was sure there had to be a solution. A good one. I just couldn't put my finger on it at the moment.

What had ever possessed me to think the two would see reason? I guess I'd thought one of them would take the high road and volunteer to leave their recipe out. I'd even brought along alternative recipes each had submitted. Elsie's Pineapple Right Side-Up Cake sounded tasty and Bertie's Corny Casserole would be a great addition. But instead the two feisty seniors had gone at it like opponents at a sold-out rumble.

I looked around the table. With a break in the action, some had taken the opportunity to refill their coffee cups or take a restroom break. Others were headed back to their places, checking their phones or chatting with their neighbors. Most of the committee members had little interest in scones, or casseroles or cakes for that matter, but from what I could hear of the chatter the threat of Elsie Farmer's family pulling out had the group in a tizzy.

The Farmer family was a big part of many of the events. Farmer's Farm Feeds had the parking lot where the parade would start, Farmer Trucking would provide the flatbed truck that would serve as the stage for all the presentations and, most importantly, Farmer's Hardware was the sponsor of the Miss Iggy contest which would determine who would be crowned queen of the whole St. Ignatius Founders' Day Celebration.

Who would have thought that a dispute over a scone recipe would threaten to derail so many things?

I reached for my sheaf of papers and handed draft copies of the book's table of contents to Tina Martin, local real estate agent, who sat on my right.

"What do you want me to do with these?" She waved the papers in the air. Her hot pink perfectly manicured nails matched her lipstick. In addition to being the town's most successful realtor, Tina was also the local cosmetics maven. If she hadn't tapped you yet to host a Looking Pretty party, trust me, she would. I think I'd escaped thus far because I was newish in town and didn't know enough people to garner a big order.

"Just pass them down." I handed a few more to a young woman on my left who I had just realized I didn't know. "I'm sorry, I don't think we've met."

"You probably don't remember me." She took one of the sheets and handed the rest to her neighbor. "We met at last month's Dilly Dally Dayz. I'm Minnie. Minnie Silberhorn. I'm the new secretary of the Founders' Day Committee. I think they just picked me because I'm good at taking notes. And because Kenny Farmer volunteered me." She straightened the pens beside her tablet, one red, one blue, one green, lining them up equal distance apart on the table.

Her light blue eyes met mine and a twinge of guilt shot through me because I had forgotten meeting her. I prided myself on remembering names and faces, and usually tried to pair a person's name with something about their appearance so the name would stick in my memory. But Minnie was so quiet, both in dress and manner, nothing about her really stood out. It wasn't that she was homely; it was simply that she sort of blended into the background.

"We really appreciate your note-taking, but I'm sure you're good at a lot of things." I gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile. "Are you any good at herding cats? Because I'm afraid that's what it's going to be like, trying to get this group back on track." I waved my hands at the room.

She gave me an odd look and straightened the red pen I'd just bumped out of alignment.

Okay then. Not everyone appreciates my sense of humor.

I watched my table of contents papers make their way around the table. Dixie and I had organized the recipes into the usual categories. Appetizers, Main Dishes, Sides, and Desserts. I really had to get the categories signed off on today because I needed to get photos done for the sections. Add to that, I needed to get a photographer lined up.

Also, because the purpose of the book was not only to celebrate local fare but also to commemorate the town's founders, I'd suggested some snippets of history mixed in. I needed those today as well.

Harriet Hucklebee slipped into the space between Tina and me. "I know you told us we'd have a limited amount of space for town history, but Jimmie has put a few ideas together." She lifted her eyes heavenward. "Lord help us, I think he's written a novel."

I stared at the two-inch thick pile of papers she'd laid in front of me. Jimmie LeBlanc hadn't just written a novel. He'd penned War and Peace St. Ignatius style.

"In order to keep within the budget for printing costs, we have to stay with the number of pages we planned." I tried to give her my no-nonsense-I-mean-business look but it's hard to take a tough line with a woman that looks like Marian the Librarian. Dixie and I had been very clear with the committee on page count when we'd looked at options more than two months ago.

"I know, but you know Jimmie." She pushed at the sleeves of her soft blue sweater set and shrugged her shoulders. "You'll just have to be firm with him."

Me? So in other words, no one on the committee wanted to tangle with the retired history teacher turned local history fanatic. The truth was I was fascinated by Jimmie's stories, but the charming old guy had not even a passing acquaintance with the concept of brevity. Bottom line, we had to keep costs down or the cookbook would end up being a money pit rather than a fundraiser.

Harriet patted the back of my hand. "I know you'll help him to understand." She smiled and stepped away. "I'll work on getting the group back in their places so we can get on with our agenda."

I glanced at my cell phone to check the time and saw I had missed two calls. One of them from my landlady.

"Greer," I said under my breath.

"Did you just growl at me?" Tina took a swig of her ever-present energy drink and looked at me over her bright purple rhinestone-studded reading glasses.

"No." I laughed at her offended look. "I missed a phone call from Greer and ..." I glanced back at my phone. "... from someone else I don't know." The other number was a different area code and not one I recognized. It wasn't my Mama Dearest's number nor the right area code to be any of my extended family.

"Oh, how is Greer?" Tina rolled her eyes and tucked a strand of perfectly highlighted blond hair behind one ear. I have no idea how the errant strand had escaped because her whole head of hair had been hair sprayed within an inch of its life.

"Doing well." I glanced back at my phone. "She probably just needs something from the attic or shed."

I was fond of Greer, who had rented me her well-kept Victorian at a great price when I moved to St. Ignatius. The darling eighty-something had decided a move to The Good Life, the town's senior living center, was in order and made me a great deal on the rent. The only caveat had been she wanted to leave some things behind until she decided what to do with them. However, with increasing frequency, Greer had been calling with various things she wanted me to look for in the many boxes and trunks.

"It's ridiculous she expects you, a renter, to do that." Tina shook her head. "Most people would simply sell their house and be done with it."

It could be as a real estate agent Tina had more than a passing interest.

"I think it's hard for her to let go and face no longer having her home to go back to." Whatever the reason, Greer wasn't ready to sell her house and I wasn't yet in any position to buy, but I hoped by the time she decided to put it on the market, I'd be able to swing the mortgage.

"Hmmpf." Tina leaned back in her seat, removed her purple glasses, and eyed me. "You know, Sugar, I have a Plum Passion eye shadow that would be stunning with your dark hair and gray eyes. Just stunning." She fumbled in her bag and I hoped she wasn't going to apply Plum Passion right then and there. "Not that you need help. Those classic cheekbones, that porcelain skin, and the contrast of your gorgeous dark chocolate hair. Still, it doesn't hurt to ice the cake, you know." She gave me a wink and handed me a business card.

"Thanks, hon." I took the embossed card though I was pretty sure I had one already. "We'll talk later." I would call my cheekbones angular, my skin type, pale and guaranteed to sunburn, and though I liked chocolate, I thought plain old dark brown better described my hair color. I wondered if Tina's real estate ads reflected her penchant for colorful descriptions.

Picking Greer's number from the recent calls, I started to step away and hit redial. Clearly Tina didn't think much of my arrangement with my landlady. It was a good thing Greer wasn't counting on her for help. I'd heard Greer had a son who lived in Minneapolis, which was not much of a jaunt, but he'd not been to see her in a long while. Not in all the time since I'd known her anyway.

"Let's get back to the business at hand," Harriet clapped her hands to get everyone's attention.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Game of Scones"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Mary Lee Woods.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.

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Game of Scones 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Dollycas 5 days ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway and Dixie Spicer aka “Sugar” and “Spice” have teamed up and opened a community cookbook business, Sugar & Spice Publishing. Former food editor Sugar handles the logistics and blue-ribbon baker Spice tests the recipes. Their first client is the committee for the local Founder’s Day Centennial Celebration. Sugar meets with the committee to discuss a duplicate scone recipe. Working with adult women, Dixie’s Aunt Bertie and Ellie Farmer, she is sure they can work it out. What happens is a shouting match that almost comes to blows. The meeting ends with no resolution. Hoping individual meetings with the bakers will solve the issue Sugar sets up a meeting with Ellie. But she finds the woman dead clutching a scone. With the ladies’ ongoing feud Bertie quickly becomes the prime suspect. When Bertie leaves town telling no one of her plans Sheriff Terrance Griffin turns up the heat while Sugar and Dixie worry if someone has hurt Bertie too. ___ This was a delightful cozy mystery. I have been on a few fundraiser cookbook committees so this story excited me from the start. Thankfully our cookbooks were completed without any dead bodies but there were some heated conversations. People take their recipes seriously! The author includes 3 recipes at the end of the book. Sugar and Dixie have their work cut out for them in making a business like this flourish, especially if this one is any indication. Both women have the expertise needed except they need to bring in a photographer. Enter Max Windsor, a friend of Dixie’s brother. We also meet Sugar’s pain-in-the-butt neighbor and her landlord who recently moved to a senior living community. There is a palpable tension between Dixie and the sheriff, which plays out throughout the story. These characters have a real small-town feel with gossip running rampant and a bit of Southern charm from Dixie. The dialogue is strong. While we have been given a great introduction to these characters, the author has left a lot of room for them to grow. A little cooperation from Bertie would have removed her from the suspect list but in lieu of that Sugar and Dixie find themselves right in the middle of the investigation. It was easy to find additional suspects because the victim rubbed several people the wrong way. I enjoyed tagging along for each clue, twist, and turn. The pace had a couple of dips but quickly got back on track. The ending was exciting. I love that this series is set in Iowa. Not too far from home for me and not a common setting for cozy mysteries even though it is full of small towns that could host this genre. I found Game of Scones to be a very entertaining story. I am excited to see where Ms. Ashford takes her character next. Risky Biscuits will be out July 9.
AmyWeidenaar 10 months ago
Sugar and Spice and everything nice? Not so much when Sugar and her best friend Dixie (aka Spice) take on their brand new business' first community cookbook publication. First, you have two of the most competitive women in the entire community fighting over who has the better recipe to enter for the same dish. Then, you have one of them turn up rather dead and the other seems to be the murderer. Only she's disappeared too and nobody has the slightest idea where she could have gone to. Since the murder victim isn't exactly the most popular of community members, there's plenty of candidates who could have done the dirty deed. If Sugar and Dixie want this publication to be a success (and not called off), they're going to have to get busy trying to figure out whodunit. It's so great to join in on the first book of a series and if you have checked out other reviews, you'll notice I don't get that chance often. Let's start with what you can expect from this book. I always like strong characters with good development and we definitely have that here. There's clearly some past history between Dixie and the investigative officer. Max is a mystery in himself and he's got some great chemistry cooking between himself and Sugar. These seemed like very interesting relationships I would love to see develop. I always find it interesting to learn new things, so I definitely enjoyed seeing how Sugar and Dixie were building their business and the various steps involved in publishing this style of cookbook. The dialogue was fun and scenery was well-written. There were a few other questionable activities going on that you weren't sure if they pertained to the main mystery or not. All in all, I felt this was a fantastic book and I look forward to reading more in this series. Thank you to Kensington Books, Mary Lee Ashford, and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this book and share my honest thoughts and opinions with others.
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
3.5 After losing her job at a well known magazine, Sugar Calloway moves back home. She joins up with Dixie Spicer to start a community based cookbook company. When a fight breaks out between two locals over which of the scone recipe will be in a cookbook, Sugar knows she has her hands full. When one of the women turns up dead, she realizes she needs to solve this murder mystery in order to save her new business. What a fun first book in this new cozy mystery series. Sugar and Dixie make a great pair. I like the way they work together, both in their business and in mystery solving. I enjoyed the small town setting, where everyone knows everyone. I thought the author did a great job writing about small town life. We get to meet several interesting characters, one of which may be a future romantic interest for Sugar. Hmmmmmm. I look forward to reading future books in the series. My thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Game of Scones by Mary Lee Ashford takes us to St. Ignatius, Iowa. After the publishing company Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway aka Sugar worked for downsized, she moved to St. Ignatius, Iowa. Sugar joined her friend, Dixie Spicer to open Sugar and Spice Publishing to produce community cookbooks. Their first project is the St. Ignatius Founders’ Day Commemorative Cookbook which is due to the printer in six weeks. Unfortunately, a scone war has broken out between Elsie Farmer and Bertie Sparks. Only one scone recipe is needed for the book, but neither women is about to back down. The next day Sugar heads over to Elsie’s house to talk to her about the scone situation. When no one answers her knock, Sugar heads around to the back yard. She notices someone disappearing through the bushes and finds Elsie dead on the ground with a scone in her hand. Elsie was poisoned, and the evidence leads straight to Dixie’s Aunt Bertie who has disappeared. Someone is setting up Bertie to take the fall which angers Dixie. Sugar and Dixie start sifting through the clues and suspects. Can they serve up the killer before he strikes again? While investigating the murder, the pair need to continue working on the cookbook. Dixie cooks up the recipes from the upcoming cookbook for handsome photographer, Max Windsor to snap. Sugar is also dealing with a cranky neighbor and her elderly landlady who seems to need something she stowed in her attic daily (lonely for company at the senior living facility). Will Sugar and Dixie get the cookbook completed in time while trying to crack the whodunit? Game of Scones is a lighthearted cozy mystery with a charming small town and a variety of quirky characters. I did feel like the book could have used a little reworking. Sometimes the story moved along and other times it dragged from the amount of detail especially on how a cookbook is published (you have to wonder how Dixie and Sugar stay in business with only one client). There were a couple of subplots in addition to the main mystery. There is the cantankerous neighbor who seems to nitpick (I had a grandmother like that). Greer, Sugar’s landlady, who has moved into the local senior living facility. She left a number of her possessions in the attic of her home that she has rented to Sugar and calls Sugar frequently for a miscellaneous knickknack. Then Greer’s son gets it in his head that Sugar is taking advantage of his mother. There is a hint of romance between Max and Sugar plus Dixie and Sheriff Griffin. Numerous townspeople are introduced in Game of Scones. All the characters felt superficial and flat. I wanted more character development to bring our main characters to life. I did like the description of St. Ignatius. The mystery is straightforward with the guilty party easily identified. There are a limited number of suspects and little investigating. The story follows Sugar on her day-to-day activities and her interactions with the people she encounters. Though Game of Scones is not set in the South, it reminds me of a certain authors Southern cozy mysteries. I am giving Game of Scones 3 out of 5 stars. There are two scone recipes at the end of the book. Game of Scones contains a great deal of cooking and eating along with a cat, a dog, nosy townspeople, plenty of gossip, a mysterious aunt, a make-up maven, flirting, and thorny whodunit.
Chatting-About-Cozies More than 1 year ago
New Author Mary Lee Ashford stirs together a delicious culinary concoction for cozy readers! I was delighted to read this fun, fast-paced Mystery. Rosetta ‘Sugar’ Sugarbaker Calloway has a food editor background and has recently partnered with fantastic cook, Dixie Spicer to publish cookbooks. Project One—Put together a tempting cookbook for their town—St. Ignatius Founders’ Day Commemorative Cookbook—that will please sponsors, committee members, and the community. Wouldn’t you know, however; a dispute crops up over whose scone recipe will go in the cookbook and one of the disputees turns up dead! Sugar and Dixie put their sleuthing skills to test to nab the killer and must be getting close to the truth because threatening messages and vandalism begin to occur to warn them off. More than one mystery is examined in this plot and I found the story quite enjoyable. The characters are easy to get to know and the killer may just surprise readers! Delicious recipes included.
TheCozyReview More than 1 year ago
As co-owner of Sugar and Spice Cookbooks, Sugar Calloway has seen simple confections bring friends together and spark fiery feuds. Except this time, the recipe truly is to die for. . . After losing her job as food editor at a glossy magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway—aka “Sugar” to friends, isn’t sweet on accepting defeat and crawling back to her gossipy southern hometown. When she has an opportunity to launch a community cookbook business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer in peaceful St. Ignatius, Iowa, she jumps at the chance to start over from scratch. As Sugar assembles recipes for the local centennial celebration, it’s not long before she’s up to her oven mitts in explosive threats, too-hot-to-handle scandals, and a dead body belonging to the moody matriarch of the town’s first family. With suspicions running wild, Sugar and Spice must solve the murder before someone innocent takes the heat—and the real culprit gathers enough ingredients to strike again. -- Series: A Sugar & Spice Mystery - Book 1 Author: Mary Lee Ashford Genre: Cozy/Culinary/Business Mystery Publisher: Lyrical Underground Game of Scones is the debut book in the new “A Sugar & Spice Mystery” series by Mary Lee Ashford. Ms. Ashford is not new to the cozy book industry. She is half of the writing duo of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national best-selling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books. Sugar loves her new home in St. Ignatius, Iowa. Even though having everything she has tied up in a new business venture is stressful, she knows that she and her partner, Dixie can and will be successful. It is just going to take a lot of work, and she has never been afraid of hard work. But when their very first project is in jeopardy before it's even finished because one of their backers is murdered, she jumps in to solve the case before it puts her in the poor house. The characters in this book are well developed and highly entertaining. They each have distinctive characteristics that make them instantly loved. Even the murderer and the victim aren’t hated by the community or by the reader. The killer, in particular, is a likable character, and some readers will even feel pity for the motive. The setting is great for this type of story. Small town life can often seem to be one giant gossip fest and knowing everyone who lives there is like have a giant extended family. Like many families, they have the good and bad, but when it comes down to it, they are always there for each other. The story is fast-paced without skimping on the detail. The writing is intelligent and smooth with easy transitions. The delicious recipes contained in the book are included and will cause the readers mouth to water. The second book in this series comes out in 2019, and readers will grab it up as soon as it hits the bookstore shelves. I highly recommend Game of Scones to anyone who loves a great who-done-it
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
After losing her job at a food magazine, Rosetta Sugarbaker Calloway, “Sugar” to friends, opens a new business with award winning baker Dixie Spicer. Together, the two will shepherd community cookbooks through the publishing process. Their first project is for the centennial of the town where they live, St. Ignatius, Iowa. However, this cookbook has heated up the feud between Elsie, a member of the most prominent family in town, and Bertie, Dixie's aunt. The two are fighting over which of their scone recipes should be included in the book. When Sugar goes to meet with Elsie to attempt to reach a resolution, she finds Elsie's dead body. Bertie is the prime suspect, but she has disappeared. Is she in danger as well, or is she the killer? This book gets this new series off to a fun start. Sugar and Dixie are a great duo, and they are surrounded by a fun group of family and friends. I enjoyed getting to know them here, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better in future books. The town is wonderful, with all the hallmarks of a delightful cozy setting, and I enjoyed the fact that it is in Iowa, not some place we typically go for cozies. I did feel the pacing of the mystery was a bit off, but this never lasted for long, and we had a great climax. We get a total of three recipes at the end of the book, including both scone recipes.
ArizonaJo More than 1 year ago
Game of Scones by Mary Lee Ashford was a delight to read. Ms. Ashford is a "new to me" author but this book had everything that I look for in a cozy mystery. I enjoyed this setting as it was quite different from the usual small tourist town setting. St. Ignatius, IA is a small rural community that has survived through hardships by working together. I loved both Sugar and Dixie as they both seem to be strong, smart and capable young women who have begun their own business publishing community cookbooks. I found this to a unique career choice that I've never seen in other books. The plot moves quickly and drew me in from the first chapter. After the death of the town matriarch (who had created plenty of enemies), there were several suspects that had a motive to want the troublesome woman dead. Then a second death occurs and the sheriff has his hands full and Sugar and Dixie keep asking questions. There were also a couple of secondary threads throughout the story that weren't directly related to the murders but did show how small towns thrive on gossip as well as how they come together to help each other. I enjoyed the book and look forward to more books from this author. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Lyrical Underground via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.