Genre: paranormal cozy mystery.
The first slice is magic…
When the going gets tough, Ella Mae LaFaye bakes pies. So when she catches her husband cheating in New York, she heads back home to Havenwood, Georgia, where she can drown her sorrows in fresh fruit filling and flaky crust. But her pies aren't just delicious, they're having magical effects on the people who eat them--and the public is hungry for more.
The second is murder…
Having discovered her hidden talent for enchantment, Ella Mae makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. And when Loralyn's fiancé is found dead - killed with Ella Mae's rolling pin - it'll take all her sweet magic to clear her name.
After catching her husband of 7 years cheating on her with a pair of twins, Ella Mae LaFaye went straight back home to her mother. All she took where the clothes she was wearing, and her beloved Jack Russell terrier Chewy. Ella Mae and her mother have been estranged ever since she left Havenwood to go to New York with Sloan. Or even before then, with her mother busy with her committees and her garden, and Ella May raised by the housekeeper, Reba. And also a bit by her three aunts, who are all so different from her mother. But they are all close friends.
Ella Mae was taking cooking classes, hoping to one day open her own pie shop. Her aunts see no reason she cannot open one right here in Havenwood. And so, with financial help from her mother and aunts, Ella Mae buys a sweet little cottage in town, perfect for a bakery. But she does make an enemy in the process: her childhood nemesis Loralyn Gaynor wanted that shop to open her third nail parlor annex tanning salon. Her aging fiancée, the famous horse veterinarian Dr. Bradford Knox was to buy it for her, as a token of his love.
But while Ella Mae is happily busy with the renovating of the pie shoppe, disaster strikes. Loralyn’s nail salon burns down, and Dr. Bradford Knox is found inside, beaten to death with a rolling pin, a rolling pin with Ella Mae’s finger prints on them. The police of course suspect Ella Mae, but she had no motive, and could never have gotten into the nail parlor. She also cannot explain how her rolling pin ended up as the murder weapon. Everyone seems to have loved Dr. Knox, but someone did not, and Ella Mae is determined to find out who that was. Loralyn seems not to be grieving at all, she only wanted him for his money, just like her previous two husbands. But Loralyn has an airtight alibi; she was out of town for a bridal party.
Still, something fishy was going on, and the only one really grieving, besides Dr. Knox’ assistant, is his son, Chandler Knox. And Ella Mae will do anything she can to get to the bottom of this and clear her name.
Her Charmed Pie Shoppe will open next Saturday, and she will not have the cloud of a murder accusation hanging above her head. She will also have to hire someone to help in the shop, while she is busy baking. For now, Ella Mae has decided to start with breakfast and lunch, and if the Pie Shoppe becomes a success, she will consider dinner as well.
So far, none of the applicants to the job are suited, so when Reba offers her services, Ella Mae is overjoyed. Not only will she be awesome for the job, they get along so very well. Reba will talk the most stringent dieting woman into taking a piece of pie. And come back the next day for more. Or is that the “magic” baked into the pies, without Ella Mae realising it?
And then there is her highschool crush, Hugh, who has become a hot fireman. He seems to really like her, but he is also awfully close to Loralyn. Can she trust him? Or is he just spying on her. Hugh also works at the doggy daycare, Canine to Five, and Chewy loves it there. Lots of other dogs to play with, a doggie pool, someone to groom them and feed them.
I absolutely loved this book. The magic is very subtle, and it takes Ella Mae a long time to see it, and even more to believe in it. But her mother and her aunts all have a different gift, and Ella Mae’s is to put emotion in her pies. Like what happened when she was baking will lusting after Hugh … everyone who ate those pies sure lost their inhibitions! Let’s just hope the reporters won’t find out about it. Her mother’s gift is with plants, especially with roses, one of her aunts is a metal sculptor, she makes sculptures of deceased beloved pets, and help people deal with their grief. But it takes a lot out of her.
I liked Ella Mae, even though I have a lot of trouble with that name. I keep thinking of Ella Mae Clampett, of the Beverly Hillbillies. Any of you reading this old enough to know that series/book?
It is not easy for her to leave her cheating husband, she still loves him. But she cannot trust him, and when he does not even want to come to Havenwood to talk things through, she knows he is not really sorry, and would cheat on her again. So she sets the divorce in motion as soon as she can. And not even his apologizing letter (which his secretary typed for him) and the enormous check he sends can make her change her mind. While she still loves her husband, she also never got over her crush for Hugh.
The secondary characters of her mother, aunts and Reba are amazing. I want to go to Havenwood and live there and know them. The magic in this book is subtle, not flashy or witchy, it is just there and it comes from the heart.
And then there is, of course, the mystery. A very evil plot, and not something I could have predicted. I was just as amazed as Ella Mae when she found out. I love being surprised by an author, and Ellery Adams certainly did that.
And I just know that the family feud between the Gaynors and the LaFaye’s will have more problems in the next books. Books which I will devour as soon as they arrive.
I do recommend this series to everybody who enjoys a good paranormal cozy mystery. And if you do not like paranormal mixed in your cozies, do read her Books by the Bay series, which is totally awesome.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian