Ever since Jenny Kales debuted her first cozy mystery, ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK, earlier this year I’ve been looking forward to the second installment in her Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series! Fortunately, Jenny didn’t disappoint and is celebrating the holidays with her new release SPICED AND ICED! First off, the cover is whimsically festive and invites a reader in for some Christmas cheer, cookies, and murder. Callie is an enjoyable protagonist and I would dearly love to spend some time with her in her kitchen baking up some of the delectable treats she serves at her restaurant. In addition to being a wonderful cook, Callie has a caring personality. She treats her employees, friends, and family with equal respect and love and is a good role model to her ten-year-old daughter. I so enjoy her relationship with her Greek father and especially her “Aunt” Sweetie, visiting from Greece. It provides an opportunity to learn some bits and pieces of Greek words, culture, and customs which adds character to a terrific story.
The murder mystery provided suspense and kept me turning pages wanting to find out what happens next, while there were plenty of suspects to keep me guessing. Callie’s Grandma Viv and Aunt Sweetie also join in the sleuthing with humorous results as does the scenes where Callie finds out about the woman her father may or may not be dating. Callie is dating Detective Sands, who is in charge of the investigation. They are in the early stages of their romance but the author gives them room to grow, to learn to trust each other. I look forward to what is in store for them in future books.
And then there are the recipes the author includes with her book…so many yummy ones! Jenny graciously allowed me to share her husband’s grandmother’s recipe for Paximathia, Spiced Greek Biscotti which has been passed down through the family! I so love knowing that this recipe is a family tradition which makes it even more special in the sharing. Biscotti are wonderful cookies for several reasons: they’re delicious and ideal for dunking into coffee, tea, or hot cocoa; they can be made several weeks ahead of time, which is perfect for gift giving around the hectic holiday season; they’re sturdy so they ship well. These Paximathia are flavored with the Greek liqueur, Ouzo (although you can use anise extract instead) which lends a delicate spicy flavor and scent. Not too sweet, they can be “decorated” by drizzling some melted white chocolate over them. With Christmas right around the corner I drizzled melted red candy melts over them, then immediately sprinkled with red sparkling sugar for a festive look. Either way, your family and friends will thank you for such a thoughtful treat!
The season is bright when Calliope “Callie” Costas agrees to contribute her Greek snowball cookies to a December bridal shower at The English Country Inn in the scenic waterfront town of Crystal Bay, WI. But when Callie finds a colleague dead, she’s sucked into another murder investigation — all while juggling her growing business and staggering holiday workload.
As she reluctantly agrees to help the Inn’s owner track the killer, Callie is soon up to her spiced Greek biscotti in difficulties. For one thing, the hotel staff is freezing her out as she tries to uncover information, helped by her feisty Grandma Viv and her sweet but nosy aunt who’s visiting from Greece. And then there’s her deepening relationship with the suave and mysterious Detective Sands, a British expat now living in Wisconsin, who seems to have a few secrets of his own.
The icing on the cake is a host of simultaneous family mayhem including her father’s surprising fixation on a real estate agent and her ex’s plans to move back to Crystal Bay. As the Inn’s annual Christmas Tea approaches, things are heating up in Callie’s Kitchen, but she’s on thin ice! Will Christmas be a festive celebration this year – or will it be murder?
A huge thank you to Jenny Kales for providing an e-book copy of SPICED AND ICED for one lucky winner! Contest ends Monday, December 5, 2016 at 11:59 pm PST. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below the recipe to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
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I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.