Blurb: At Gram’s Country Cooking School, Isabelle “Betts” Winston and her grandmother share their home-style culinary secrets. But what they keep to themselves are the secrets of Broken Rope, a quiet little Missouri town, that isn't nearly as quiet as it seems...
A fresh school year begins as Gram and Betts anxiously await the arrival of their new crop of students. But their enthusiasm is thwarted when a stranger named Freddie O’Bannon arrives and claims to have proof that he was accepted to the school despite what is in their files. And when the ghost of Cylas Gent, a young man who might have a romantic past with Gram, also appears, there are suddenly two mysteries demanding their attention.
But just as Gram and Betts start sifting through the past, one of their new students is murdered. Does the seemingly sweet Freddie O’Bannon have something sinister to hide, or are Gram’s ghosts trying to teach her a lesson? Either way, it’s up to the country cooks to catch a killer before another living soul gets burned.
My Review: Paige Shelton, how do you do it??? How do you write ghostly characters that I become more attached to than the living characters in some books?
In this wonderful third book in the Country Cooking School mystery series, Betts and Gram are once again faced with a modern day and historical mystery to solve. With a new school year beginning they have a whole new group of students to become acquainted with. When one of them turns up dead they realize they don't really "know" anyone on their suspect list. Even though their applicants are vetted, it's impossible to know what is hidden in everyone's background. How can a sour bread starter be linked to the murder? I learned a lot about baking bread in this book!
The historical mystery revolves around a family that was killed in a bakery fire back in the '50s, and one of the ghosts that appears was very close to Gram back then and has caused much heartache for her through the years. In attempting to solve this mystery Betts is introduced to time travel when she visits the site of the old bakery!
And Jerome, oh Jerome. He's the Old West cowboy we met in the first book in the series, If Fried Chicken Could Fly. Betts developed quite a crush on him (who wouldn't???), and in this book he reappears and complicates Betts' feelings more than ever. I'm not one for developing many "book boyfriends" and maybe it's just because I have such a thing for cowboys, but if I were Betts I don't think I'd ever be able to have a normal relationship with "real" boyfriend Cliff as long as Jerome were around arousing such feelings.
This is one of my favorite series on the shelves today...cozy mysteries with an Old West backdrop. With each book I find that I have as hard a time letting go of the ghostly visitors as Betts does, and I can't wait to see who we get to meet next!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher with the request for a review.
Welcome, Paige! What was the inspiration for your wonderful Country Cooking School Mysteries?
Thanks, Melissa. I think it all began with an idea of “country cooking” which seemed like a good fit for a cozy mystery series. And when I thought “country cooking,” I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother. Gram was the first character to come to life.
Is the town of Broken Rope based on a real location?
My grandmother lived in a small town in Missouri, so my mind immediately went to that town – Rolla, Missouri. When the name “Broken Rope” popped onto the page, Rolla mixed with another town I’m fond of – Tombstone, Arizona. Broken Rope is a mix of the two.
What made you decide to give the series the delightful Old West setting?
I think the name “Broken Rope” gave life to the other series specifics, including the setting. It just kind of . . . worked. It’s funny how one thing leads to another and the pieces sometimes seem to come together on their own.
I freely admit that in the first book I fell a little bit in love with Jerome. Is he going to make a return appearance?
Boy, you’re not the only one. I received a bunch of email about Jerome. Yes, he shows up in IF BREAD COULD RISE TO THE OCCASION, and he sure wreaks havoc on Betts’ emotions.
Is Betts ever going to get herself a pet?
Oh, I hope so! Two of the ghosts in the book that will publish next year some time are a Pony Express rider and his horse, and Betts seems to have a strong connection to the horse. That has made me think she needs some sort of pet, but said pet hasn’t revealed itself to me quite yet.
What trouble do Betts and Gram get into in If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion and what's next for them?
The main ghost in BREAD is Gent Cylas who was killed in a bakery fire and had been friends with Gram when they were sixteen. Their time with him and their visits to the old bakery building are strange and dangerous. There’s also a whole new crop of students arriving for the school year; one student is a surprise in that they have no record that they accepted him into the school, and another student is murdered. Figuring out the present day mysteries and how to help Gent solve his long ago issues keep them both very busy. Next year’s book includes the above mentioned Pony Express rider and a bunch of cowboy poets who come to town for their annual convention. The poets aren’t all who they seem to be and the Pony Express rider sure would like to get some letters delivered. It’s been a fun book to write.
Thanks to you and all your readers, Melissa! Hope to see everyone in Broken Rope.