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.
From the Publisher
The MacBrides Book 2 (A Crossroads Café Novel)
The Pickle Queen by Deborah Smith
Bell Bridge Books
Pickles are mentioned in the Bible. Cleopatra ate them as a beauty regimen. Shakespeare put them in his plays. Mason designed jars for bottling them. So did Ball. Did Mason and Ball fight over the King of the Pickle Jars title? I don’t know. I did know this much: I used pickles to keep fear, pride, and my love of Jay Wakefield behind a door I would not risk opening again. Even now.
Wakefields take what they want. MacBrides never surrender. For nearly a hundred years, a battle of wills between these two deeply-rooted Appalachian families has ended in defeat and heartache—most often, for MacBrides. Now the MacBride name is barely more than a legend, and it’s up to Gabby MacBride to deal with the pain of her childhood memories and also the challenge of a MacBride legacy she’s only beginning to understand.
That will mean coming to terms with her bittersweet love for Jay Wakefield, the lonely rich boy who became her soul mate when they were kids, before the dark demands of his own legacy forced him to betray her.