Moving back to Crystal Cove, California was one of the best decisions of my life. I’m Jenna Hart. I used to be an ad executive in San Francisco. I happen to be an artist and a creative person, but after a few years, the bloom fell off the rose. You know what I mean, right? You have dreams of doing something great, of influencing the world, but then reality sets in and you realize that it’s just a job. You like the people. You like the clients. But the hours. Sheesh. There were times I would get calls from a client at midnight asking why an ad campaign fell flat. Sometimes my boss, who never slept, would call in the wee hours to brainstorm. My husband, David, didn’t appreciate that very much.
Ah, David. He was the other reason I decided to quit my job and move home. David died. Suddenly. In a boating accident. My heart broke in two and I simply couldn’t return, day in and day out, to the apartment we shared without feeling like a piece of me was missing. My smile left. My get up and go, got up and went.
So I moved home. Crystal Cove is this lovely coastal town south of Santa Cruz, north of Monterey. It’s tucked at the base of the Coastal Range and, like the Tuscan region of Italy, the area has the most delicious weather. Warm but never too warm. Cool but never too cool. There is something about being near the ocean that has given me a new hope. I love the sound of the sea and the ebb and swell of the tide. I adore watching the sun set and hearing seagulls keen overhead. Yes, I could visit the ocean when I lived in San Francisco—it is on a bay, after all—but it was different. I can’t explain why.
Did I tell you that I’m starting up a new store with my aunt? A culinary bookshop. My aunt is my father’s older sister and a hoot of a woman who tells fortunes, on occasion. She’s been like a mother to me. My mother, sadly, passed away the same year as my husband. Tough time for me and my family.
Aunt Vera owns Fisherman’s Village, a quaint shopping area in town. Years ago, she had intended to personally open one of the stores in the village, The Coobook Nook, but for some reason she never did. She cajoled me into returning to town to help her get it on its feet. [Between you and me, I think she saw something dire in my future.]
Now, understand something…I am no cook. Oh, sure I can do the basics, like make meatloaf and toast, and I’m not bad with a cake mix in a box. So, you’ve got to be asking, why did she want me? Well, I am a gourmet. I adore food. I’ve dined on wonderfully exotic food. I’ve eaten everything from eel to chocolate ants. In addition, like I said, I’m an advertising executive by trade. I’m good with marketing. I understand why people buy products and what sparks their interest on television and in magazines. And I have a flair for color. So let’s just say I am having a ball setting up The Cookbook Nook. There’s a café adjacent to the store, too, and my aunt wants it to become the “in” place to eat. We’re on the hunt for a good chef, if you know one.
I hope you’ll drop in to The Cookbook Nook and see what we have in store. Lots of cookbooks and culinary mysteries and literary fiction that include food. We’ll also sell adorable knickknacks for the kitchen, like unique salt and pepper shakers, funky spatulas, and aprons. Oh, and kiddie chef items, too. And who knows? When you stop in, maybe you can help me solve a mystery or two.
* * What is the most delicious dish you’ve ever read about in a mystery? * *
Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of FINAL SENTENCE to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Contest ends July 3; US entries only per publisher’s request.
You can read more about Jenna and her family and friends in Final Sentence, the first book in the new “Cookbook Nook” mystery series.
Meet the author
DARYL WOOD GERBER aka AVERY AAMES pens the Agatha Award-winning, nationally bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery series. As DARYL, she writes A Cookbook Nook Mystery series, featuring a culinary bookshop and café owner. Daryl’s short stories have been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and other awards. As an actress, Daryl has appeared in “Murder, She Wrote” and more. Visit Daryl & Avery at www.darylwoodgerber.com. Check out her recipes on her blog www.mysteryloverskitchen.com And friend her on Facebook.