Cooking from the heart, romance, and suspense highlight Deborah Smith's fabulous and fun The Pickle Queen
Oh my, I've got a reader crush on Deborah Smith as she has combined some unbelievable southern sassiness and fun, culinary wow, romance and suspense in her MacBrides series. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, The Biscuit Witch and couldn't wait to read her second, The Pickle Queen.
A suggestion, if you haven't already read The Biscuit Witch, do so before reading The Pickle Queen. While this could be a stand-alone novel, if you don't you'll be missing out on quite a bit of back-story and actually a rollicking good read. Just be forewarned that you may want to stock up with some pickled items and biscuits before you start the story. If you want to read the book that started it all, check out The Crossroads Café. I've just added it to my library as I want to know more about the café owner (and culinary reality-contestant), Delta, and the famous actress who accompanied her to Manhattan - both of whom may play more of a role in book three. [And just a note, Smith terms the MacBride series as Crossroad Café novellas, however I'd call them novels both in length and intricacy of plot. In other words, don't be put off by seeing "novella" in the title.]
The Pickle Queen's heroine is Gabby MacBride, the eldest MacBride sister and self-professed pickle queen, whose hot LA restaurant is closing as her ex partner played dirty. And this is all embarrassing headline news on all the entertainment channels as her ex partner is a Hollywood star. But someone comes to her rescue at the last moment in court - and Gabby has an idea who might have been her errant Southern Prince Charming. Though I don't think she sees Jay Wakefield on a white horse, probably more like a mule.
In A Biscuit Witch, I was convinced that Jay Wakefield might have some redeeming qualities and had a sense that there was some hidden history with Gabby - and all is explained in The Pickle Queen. Smith mixes into her culinary goddesses' fare a good deal of magic - and that might explain the soul-mate connection between Jay and Gabby - but it also could be fate. I love the fact that psychic powers are behind some of this feel-good home-cooking and if you're craving some BBQ, cornbread or biscuits, and pickles - don't blame me!
There are wild and fun plot twists, including pickle eating contests, a spam and pineapple dinner that may help save a soul, cliff side fights, and so much more. This book is impossible to put down. I admit it, I'm totally hooked on this series and am now jonesing for book three, The Kitchen Charmer, which will tell the story of Tal and Gabby's armed services brother Gus (the kitchen charmer) and wool spinner Lucy.
So, if you're like me and you love stories set in the south, romances that have a strong culinary bent, and a little mysticism mixed in with some page-turning suspense - DO add Deborah Smith's The MacBrides series to your TBR shelf. It's a fabulous must-read.
Fab Fantasy Fiction
I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley for use in this review.