Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
It is my pleasure to welcome Bree Baker to Escape With Dollycas today!
A Charming Escape
by Bree Baker
As a fifth-generation Midwesterner, I come from a long line of people who escape annually to the beach. We rent condos, hotel rooms and often entire houses where the clan (or circus depending on perspective) can shake off the confines of life’s daily expectations and live for a week or so on island time. I’ve been all over the East Coast, but find the stretch of barrier islands along the Carolinas, aka the Outer Banks, to be most completely perfect for my crew, with Virginia’s costal islands, Chincoteague and Assateague, as tight seconds. We go off-season and enjoy the quiet. The beaches. Maritime forests. Deep sense of history, museums. Architecture. Lighthouses and wild horses. And don’t even get me started on all the amazing food. It’s heaven, and if you’ve never visited the Outer Banks, I hope you will. It’s a whole other world. I wish I never had to leave.
This is how my Seaside Café Mysteries were born. Eventually, I’d spent one-too-many decades on a rented deck, wondering what it would be like to live in a quaint seaside town, and I decided to write about it. Now, I live vicariously through my main character, Everly Swan, owner, operator and sole proprietor of Sun, Sand and Tea, a seaside iced tea shop and café in her hometown of Charm, North Carolina. (I couldn’t choose a favorite Outer Banks town, so I took all my favorite parts of other area towns and created Charm instead. – That’s a fun perk of writing. Don’t like something? Make up something else instead.)
Now I escape to one version of the islands I love each day while I write about Everly and her fantastic escapades, but, it got me thinking… If I escape to the islands, where do islanders escape? I decided to ask Everly and it turns out she had quite a bit to say on the subject.
As it turns out, Everly is a bit of an escape artist. She often sometimes escapes into nature, walking the boardwalk, digging her toes in the sand or wading through the surf. Other times, especially once she’s in her jammies, she escapes into a book. She frequently borrows novels from the Little Libraries her best friend, Amelia, has set up throughout the town and on the boardwalk. If her great-aunts are home, Everly escapes to the Swan family homestead where they share midnight pancakes and endless glasses of sweet tea around a table that has been in their kitchen for more than a hundred years. But her most common and favorite escape of all is to her café. If not to eat her secret stash of lemon cake, then to create something new and magnificent to share.
Everly grew up at the counter, mixing potions from bags and bowls of homegrown ingredients, chopping produce from the family gardens and sweetening secret recipes with honey from their hives. To Everly, there’s magic in the process of creating or perfecting something spectacular in the kitchen. And there is no better experience than seeing her friends, family, and neighbors truly become enchanted by her spells.
In honor of Everly and her many culinary escapes, I thought it would be fun to share the recipe that got her into trouble (and started all my fun) in book one, LIVE AND LET CHAI. Iced strawberry and peach tea. I hope you will enjoy! And if you’re in the mood for an island escape, but can’t make it over to the Outer Banks just yet, feel free to join Everly on an adventure in Charm. She’d sure love to have you, and spending a few days in her life is certain to make you smile.
Summer Strawberry & Peach Tea
Nothing compliments a hot summer day like this
Swan Family Favorite, so dive in and enjoy!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 16 servings
10 cups of cold water divided
1 cup strawberry preserves
8 herbal peach tea bags
12 fresh strawberries, cored and sliced
Add 4 cups of water, strawberry preserves and peach tea bags to a saucepan and bring to a boil
Remove from heat and steep 15 minutes.
Pour in remaining 6 cups of cold water
Remove tea bags and cool completely
Add strawberry slices and stir
Refrigerate until ready to serve
Pour over ice
Thank you, Bree, for visiting today!
Keep reading for my thoughts about Tide and Punishment.
Tide and Punishment (Seaside Café Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Setting – North Carolina
Poisoned Pen Press (September 24, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07T7YSLGT
No one dreams of a killer Christmas…
It’s Christmastime in Charm, North Carolina, and while Everly Swan would prefer to focus on decorating her iced tea shop for its first holiday season, Great-Aunt Fran has decided to run for mayor against her long-time nemesis. But when the other candidate turns up dead just before the first scheduled debate, all eyes turn to Fran as the suspect with the most obvious motive.
Everly knows her sweet, elderly Aunt Fran couldn’t have murdered anyone, but as she struggles to find the real killer, it begins to seem like this may be the last merry Christmas her family may ever have.
Christmas in Charm is plagued by snow, wind, ice, and murder this year. Everly Swan has planned a big holiday party where her sweet Great Aunt Fran plans to announce her run to become the town’s next mayor. When the current mayor steals her thunder with his own announcement she holds it together for a while but then she needs to get some air. When she finds her nemesis dead in the snow with no other witnesses she becomes the top suspect for his murder. Everly knows Fran is innocent and she thinks Detective Grady Hays knows it too. Christmas gnomes Great Aunt Clara has been painting and leaving in front of their shop, Blessed Be becomes debris as the killer is doing their best to frame Fran and Everly just isn’t having it no matter how many gnomes are lost trying to scare her away. Jailing her aunt on Christmas is not an option. Everly is “tea’d” off and will not rest until the real culprit is behind bars.
Bree Baker’s stories are much more than mysteries, they are stories of family, friends, and community too. Bree has a strong bond with her aunts, she has a strong bond with best friend Amelia who owns Charmed Reads, and she would like to have a stronger bond with Detective Hays. Having her ex in town and now the good detective’s deceased wife’s mother moving to Charm that may be difficult. The core characters have continued to develop more in each book. Everly’s Sun, Sand and Tea has become a gathering place that really brings residents new and old together. I loved that the town had a holiday progressive dinner. What a fabulous idea for a beach town to stay connected even in the winter. The Giving Tree was also very heartening to read about. We had something in our town similar when our children were young.
The author strikes a quick pace in this well-plotted mystery. Everly really has her hands full but still finds time to do plenty of snooping. But key clues can be found just doing normal activities and keeping her eyes and ears open. Of course, there were those distracting clues that diverted her thinking and my thinking too. The story builds to a very exciting climax with the perfect holiday weapon. I loved it!
The best vacation our family ever experienced was to Caswell Beach, North Carolina many years ago. With a beach that matches our last name, we couldn’t resist. Books like this one take me back to those days. This installment had a rare winter snowfall and unseasonably cold weather but being from Wisconsin I would not be deterred by that at all. Charm is a place I would love to visit, heck it would be a place I would love to live.
A fabulous setting filled with charming characters and a multifaceted story that includes a great mystery, Tide and Punishment was a wonderfully entertaining story. Each book in this series has left me excited for the next. I hope I don’t have to wait too long for my next virtual vacay to Charm! I highly recommend all three of the books that have been released so far!
Bree Baker is a Midwestern writer, obsessed with small-town high jinks, sweet tea, and the sea. She’s been telling stories to her family, friends, and strangers for as long as she can remember, and more often than not, those stories feature a warm ocean breeze and a recipe she’s sure to ruin. Now, she’s working on those fancy cooking skills and dreaming up adventures for the Seaside Cafe mysteries. Bree is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers and the Romance Writers of America. She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
Find out more on her website here.
Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to giveaway!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.
Leave a comment for the author for 5 Bonus Entries.
Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.
If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End October 9, 2019, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”