BROKEN BONE CHINA, the twentieth book in the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs is an entertaining addition to an enduring series. Protagonist, Theodosia Browning, is owner of the charming Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, South Carolina. During her shop’s catering job at the Top Flight Balloon Club event, Theodosia and her tea sommelier, Drayton, are witness to a horrific calamity when a drone collides with one of the balloons. I’m impressed by the way the author uses a technical and unique murder method… the tragedy could have been pulled from current day news headlines. Ms. Childs brings the action to life, starting from the very first pages, and her description of Theodosia’s balloon ride reinforces my determination that I never want to give it a try myself.
I greatly enjoyed the interaction between Theodosia and Drayton, who are long-time friends. They work well together, both at the shop and in their search for finding the murderer. Their hunt involves a priceless American Revolutionary war flag which gives the reader a peek into historic places and architectural sites. As the duo ask questions and dig into the victims’ pasts, they find many suspects to focus on. The clues are scattered throughout the story and just when I would think I had it figured out, a new clue pointed me in a completely different direction.
Ms. Childs sprinkles her tale of murder with specialty tea events at Theodosia’s shop, like a Nancy Drew Tea, a Beaux Arts Tea, and a Floral Tea Cups competition, in which miniature floral arrangements are created in tea cups… brilliant! She also provides lovely ideas for hosting your own tea party at the back of the book along with delicious recipes. I was drawn to the recipe for Eggnog Scones, which are flaky, buttery, and melt-in-your-mouth yummy. While eggnog might not be available year round, this recipe is worthwhile to keep for the holiday season. But just in case you don’t want to wait that long, I’ve provided an eggnog recipe to make at home. These scones are an amazing accompaniment to tea or for a special breakfast treat.
It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out.
As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them. An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers.
Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.
Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO’s soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO’s personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques’ dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancée of one of Theodosia’s dear friends, who turns out to be an employee—and whistle-blower—at SyncSoft?
A special thanks to Laura Childs for providing a winner with a signed hardcover copy of BROKEN BONE CHINA. Contest ends Sunday, March 10, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below 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!)
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 6 tablespoons butter, cubed and softened
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup eggnogg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
Combine egg, sour cream, and eggnog in a separate dish, then add to dry mixture. Combine until mixture holds together. If needed, a splash more of eggnog can be added.
Pat dough into a large circle, about 1/2-inch thick. Now cut dough into 10 to 12 triangles and place on a well-greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet.
Bake scones for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown.
For a sweet topping, combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons eggnog and drizzle over scones.
I’ve made eggnog for numerous years when eggnog is out of season at the grocery stores. I’ve scaled the recipe down so there won’t be a huge amount left over after making this recipe.
Pinch of salt
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of fresh grated nutmeg
In a heavy pot, whisk together sugar, salt, egg, and vanilla.
In a microwave safe container, heat the whole milk in the microwave until very warm (I use the beverage button on my microwave.)
Once heated, whisk the milk very slowly into egg mixture.
Place over low heat and stir constantly until mixture reaches 160 degrees. (If you don’t have a thermometer, mixture will be thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon with a thin film. However, for safety, a thermometer is a must.)
Remove mixture from heat upon reaching 160 degrees and add heavy cream and the grated nutmeg. Stir to combine.
Use a fine mesh strainer and strain eggnog before chilling.
Eggnog should be consumed within 3 days.
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I was provided an advance copy with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.