Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander - #review #giveaway

Torte―everybody’s favorite small-town family bakeshop―is headed for the high seas, where murder is about to make a splash. . .

Jules Capshaw is trying to keep her cool as Torte gets set to make its transformation from quaint, local confectionary café to royal pastry palace. Meanwhile, Jules’s estranged husband Carlos is making a desperate plea for her to come aboard his cruise ship and dazzle everyone with her signature sweets. She may be skeptical about returning to her former nautical life with Carlos but Jules can’t resist an all-expense-paid trip, either. If only she knew that a dead body would find its way onto the itinerary . .

“A warm and inviting atmosphere, friendly and likable main characters, and a nasty murder mystery to solve!” ―Fresh Fiction

Now, instead of enjoying tropical drinks on deck between whipping up batches of sea-salted chocolates and flambéing fresh pineapple slices in the kitchen, Jules is plunged into dangerous waters. Her investigation leaves her with more questions than answers: Why can’t anyone on board identify the young woman? And how can she help Carlos keep passengers at ease with a killer in their midst? Jules feels like she’s ready to jump ship. Can she solve this case without getting in too deep?

“A perfect mix for fans of Jenn McKinlay, Leslie Budewitz, or Jessica Beck.”  ―Library Journal



Oregon is one of the states which I have not visited ... yet.  There's not that many anymore - maybe a dozen.  But to live in a town where there is a Shakespeare Festival every summer on top of that?!?  I could definitely live and work in Ashland!

In Crime of Passionfruit, by Ellie Alexander, we get to spend part of the time in Ashland and part of the time on a cruise ship!  How great is that?  Now, let me qualify that.  It turns out to be not especially peachy keen the whole cruise (dead bodies will do that), but the idea of a cruise is fun!  And Rocky, the cruise director, is determined that everyone will have a good time every minute of their cruise (and book another one before they leave).  With all the rain we've had the past couple of weeks, I would L.O.V.E. a cruise about now!

I liked the feeling in the pastry kitchen amongst Jules and her staff.  And when you are putting out multiple pastries and desserts daily, in numbers nearing 1,000 of each have to have good working relationships in the kitchen.  I liked the flexibility of the pastry menu.  We were treated to several descriptions of 'discoveries' (my word) of new desserts in the making.

Of course, Jules was asked to fill in for one week until the new pastry chef came on board.  And the person who asked was her estranged husband, Carlos, who was head chef (of everything, I guess).  I believe it's the first time I've come across an estranged couple in a cozy.  It was obvious that Jules and Carlos still loved each other, but Jules' home was in Ashland, amongst the cozy small town memories, and Carlos' penchant was for an ongoing variety of new experiences.  If one gave up their choice of home for the other, they'd probably wind up resenting each other, and y'all know how that can end up.

There is one slinky salsa dancer on board, who would not mind sliding into any space around Carlos that Jules might vacate.  Delicious drama!

To balance all this sweetness, Ms. Alexander has provided us with several rather more serious themes in the story:  murder (of course), and a few that I really cannot mention without giving too much away.  (I try to avoid spoilers.)

In order to get the body back to the nearest port, as directed by the cruise line, the captain must sail the ship through, rather than around, a storm.  This causes absolute chaos on the ship.  I was flashing back to both Titanic and The Poseidon Adventure several times.

Jules goes back and forth several times about Carlos.  ("Should I stay or should I go?" by the Clash ran through my mind here.)  But in the end, she followed her heart and allowed Carlos to follow his.  Many people wind up waffling for far too long a time, to the detriment of the relationship.  No such trouble here.

In the end, Jules returns to Ashland with her mother and the Professor.  The renovations to Torte are going well.  Richard Lord, a hotel owner whose antics have been causing trouble for Jules and Torte has been frustrated for the time being.

And thank goodness for the recipes at the back of the book.  They will keep me occupied until Jules and the Torte clan sally forth to new adventures!



Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.




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Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review!

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