A day in the life with Juliet Montague Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

fudge-and-juryBeing a pastry chef is a pretty fabulous job, despite the early morning hours and long days spent on my feet and in front of a hot oven. As is life in my charming and somewhat quirky hometown of Ashland, Oregon. Since Shakespeare and the theater company play a starring role in our English-style village tucked into the southernmost corner of Oregon there’s always something going on around town. From productions of Hamlet to jugglers and musicians busking on the sidewalk Ashland is alive with creative types and festive energy.

Lately the excitement hadn’t centered around the theater though. Instead everyone was talking about chocolate. That’s right chocolate. Ashland hosts one of the Northwest’s largest and most decadent chocolate festivals every year and locals were buzzing with preparations for this year’s fest. The chocolate festival ran for a long weekend and featured every kind of chocolate you could imagine including chocolate slushies, a seven-course chocolate dinner, chocolate beer, chocolate and sea salt pairings, and of course plenty of chocolate fudge, truffles, cakes, and cookies. Guests could sample and taste their way through the event and take in demonstrations and workshops offered by some of the most revered chocolatiers this side of the Mississippi.

Torte, our family bakeshop, had been named one of the festival’s showcase vendors which meant that in addition to providing hundreds of samples to chocolate lovers would we also be responsible for a variety of technical demonstrations, like cake decorating and chocolate modeling. Our team had been working around the clock baking Mom’s world famous chocolate spice cake with mocha frosting, chocolate pasta that would be served with white chocolate sauce and topped with chopped pistachios and fresh berries, and an assortment of rich dark chocolate truffles infused with almond extract and orange liqueur and coated in coconut and cocoa powder. Additionally, I was constructing three unique chocolate wedding cakes that would serve as our display at the festival and hopefully attract some new clients.

While Mom and I worked at the festival the rest of the team would stay behind and begin renovations at the bakeshop. We had saved up for shiny new ovens for months and they were finally ready to be installed. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. With the festival in full swing everyone in Ashland would be consumed by chocolate.

I never considered that things could go terribly wrong as Mom and I draped our tables at the stunning, historic Ashland Springs Hotel with yards of espresso colored fabric and placed the tiered chocolate wedding cakes that I had meticulously hand-pipped with French buttercream frosting on rustic log slices and adorned them with evergreen branches and blood red winter berries. Our table looked as if it had been dipped in chocolate and like an elaborate sweet feast. As the first guests arrived we offered them tastes of our labor and beamed with pride when they gushed about our cake designs. But then things took a nasty turn.

Evan Rowe, a master chocolatier and owner of Confections Couture, wandered by our booth under the pretense of introducing himself. I had a sneaking suspicion that the self-described chocolate diva was really trying to size-up his competition. He appraised our “homey” display with a sneer and look of condescension. Before I had a chance to come up with a witty response he popped a piece of our signature chocolate cake in his mouth and then seconds later clutched his throat and dropped to the floor. Could someone have tainted our cake, or had one of our fellow chocolate purveyors intentionally bumped off the five-time festival champion? I wasn’t sure, but I did know that I was going to have to figure out who killed Evan in order to save Torte’s reputation and return to my happy place—chocolate.

FUDGE AND JURY is the fifth book in the Bake Shop mystery series published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks, January 2017.

Welcome to Torte―a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious. . .and, now, suspicious.

It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter―unless murder taints the batter.

Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for―literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead. . .right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?

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About the author
Ellie Alexander writes the Bakeshop Mystery series for St. Martin’s Press, set in the Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic, artisan pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw.

Ellie 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.

You can find her online at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Fudge and Jury. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends January 8, 2017. Good luck everyone!

73 responses to “A day in the life with Juliet Montague Capshaw by Ellie Alexander

  1. donnadurnell2013

    Happy New Year!

    Book sounds fabulous. I wouldn’t want to be a baker, tho chocolate sounds wonderful.

  2. Pauline Barlow

    Juliet Montague Capshaw sounds so romantic and a Chocolate Festival sounds perfectly delicious. “Fudge and Jury” sounds like a must read to me.

  3. Love The Name Fudge and Jury Looks like a great book from a new to me Author Thanks for the giveaways

  4. This book sounds absolutely yummy and delicious! Love the cover, and that the pastry chef’s name is Shakespearean! How awesome! Thanks for the chance to win dearest Dru Ann and Ellie Alexander.

  5. Linda Herold

    I would love to win this book! Thank so much for the chance!!

  6. Another one of my favorite series! Love the characters and especially the setting!

  7. So many books, hardly any time. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Another new to me author…

  9. Love this series…the characters, the stories, etc. Can’t wait to read this one.

  10. This is a new series for me! I’ll be going to our local library today and can hopefully find the earlier books in the series. “Fudge and Jury” sounds decadent!!

    • Judy, yay! Technically you don’t have to start at the beginning but if you can find MEET YOUR BAKER or request it at the library I think it’s always fun to start a series at the beginning. Happy reading!

  11. Yes please. You know how much my gang loves chocolate (bags of Hershey’s chocolate in Gramp’s fridge), so place my name in the magic hat please.

  12. Another great series!! I’m anxious to get my hands on this new release. It so happens fudge is one of my favorite things and holds a lot of special memories. Thanks Ellie and Dru Ann!

  13. elainehroberson

    I love to make homemade fudge. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of your book.

  14. Peggy Hyndman

    I love this series. Thank you for the chance to win a print copy of Fudge and Jury.

  15. Barbara Hackel

    Another exciting book in a great series!I can hardly wait to read it-with something chocolate by my side as I do! Such a mouthwatering book. 😉
    Thanks Dru Ann for today’s selection! Thanks Ellie for your generous offer. ❤

  16. Oh, chocolate. Thanks for the chance to win.

  17. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway. So delightful and special.

  18. Susan Slovinsky

    This is a delightful series and the only thing that could make it better is chocolate 🙂 Looking forward to reading this latest addition.

  19. Nothing better than a mystery revolving around chocolate. Thanks Dru Ann for including it on your blog.

  20. Have not had the pleasure of reading this series. So am hoping this will be a start. The synopsis is so intriguing. Really looking forward to it.

  21. What a great post, wish I could attend such a chocolate festival. Thanks for the chance to win!

  22. Love the cover art. This book sounds interesting and fun. Yeah verily intriguing. Looking forward to this. And chocolate!!

  23. Anything chocolate sounds good to me! Being a pastry chef would be a dream job of mine, too.

  24. Jody McGrath

    This sounds like it could be really good!

  25. OMG! Chocolate upon chocolate. I am ready to dive into this book!

  26. This is a fun Cozy series.

  27. Fascinating title!

  28. wendynewcomb

    This looks delicious! Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  29. Great series. A chocolate festival sounds amazing and I can’t wait to read “Fudge and Jury”.

  30. Looking forward to reading the latest Bakeshop Mystery!

  31. Cheryl Harding Smith

    want to read this ..sounds so good

  32. Vicki Highley

    Chocolate and Shakespeare – now that’s a book I want to read. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  33. It’s so satisfying when a rotten character gets what they really deserve. Too bad it means someone has to clean up afterwards.

  34. Doward Wilson

    Love this series & just got the 2 previous books as a Christmas Gift.

  35. love this series and I devoured the book last saturday! the character interactions are wonderful and it’s great to see Jules being less in her internal world and more open to being part of the real world. the food descriptions, wow, Ellie you are an artist with words and imagery. it’s going to be hard to wait till summer for the next installment.

    • Reba, you’re making me blush. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it! I have the most fun writing about Jules and food so it’s always wonderful to hear that readers feel that too. Here’s to many tropical recipes to come this summer!

  36. Just added this book to my WishList…..
    Thank you for the giveaway…..

  37. ****WINNER***
    of Fudge and Jury is diannekc