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Copyright © 2010 by Janet Evanovich.
Published in September 2010 by St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly...
My name is Elizabeth Tucker. I'm Elizabeth to my mother, but for as long as I can remember, I've been Lizzy to everyone else. And for as long as I can remember, I've baked cupcakes. I enrolled in the culinary arts program at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island right out of high school, hoping to someday get a job as a pastry chef. I graduated J&W in the top ninety-three percent of my class, and I would have graduated higher, but I flunked gravy. My gravy had lumps in it, and that pretty much sums up my life so far. Not that it's been all bad; more that it hasn't been entirely smooth.
I grew up in Virginia and when I was in third grade, Billy Kruger gave me the nickname Buzzard Beak, and I carried it with me all through grade school. I got my brown eyes and distinctive nose from Grandpa Harry, and while the nose wasn't great, I told myself it could have been worse, because Billy Kruger's nickname was Poop Pants.
And then when I was in eighth grade, during a moment of misguided curiosity, I made out with Ryan Lukach, and the jerk told everyone I wore a padded bra. I mean, give me a break here. I was a late bloomer. Anyway, the truth is, my bra was so padded I didn't know I was getting felt up.
I got engaged to fellow classmate Anthony Muggin while I was at Johnson & Wales. Two weeks after graduation and a week before the wedding, Anthony and his Uncle Gordo were caught hijacking a refrigerator truck loaded with sides of beef. It turned out to be a lucky thing, because after I visited Anthony in jail and returned the ring, I sobbed myself through a couple tumblers of vodka, fell off the toilet in a drunken stupor, crashed into a sink, and broke my nose. When they patched me up, I was no longer Buzzard Beak.
So here I am with the cutest nose in town, and I've finally grown breasts. They're not huge, but they're better than a poke in the eye, and I've been told they're perky. Perky is good, right?
In January, three days after my twenty-eighth birthday, I inherited a house from my eccentric Great Aunt Ophelia. The house is in Marblehead, just north of Boston and southeast of Salem. I emptied my bank account to pay taxes on the house, quit my job at a downtown New York City restaurant, and I moved into Ophelia's money pit. Probably, the smart thing would have been to sell the house, but no one could accuse me of always doing the smart thing. Truth is, New York wasn't working for me anyway. The restaurant hours were horrible, the kitchen politics were toxic, and the executive chef hated cupcakes.
For the past five months, I've been living in my new Marblehead house and working as a pastry chef at Dazzle's Bakery in Salem. The bakery has been owned and operated by a Dazzle since Puritan times, and is now managed by Clarinda Dazzle. She has an apartment above the bakery, she's twice divorced, approaching forty, and looks like Cher on Cher's day off. At 5?5?, she's the same height as I am, but Clara looks taller. I think it's the hair. Clara's hair is black and shot with gray. If it were straight, it would be shoulder length. As is, Clara's hair is a huge mass of out-of-control energy coming to just below her ears, sometimes pulled back into a half-assed knot. She has piercing blue eyes and a nose and mouth said to have come from Wampanoag Indian blood on her mother's side. I'm not nearly so exotic, having Austrian and Danish ancestors who left me with wimpy blond hair and a body that looks more athletic than it actually is.
It was Tuesday morning, the June sun was shining bright over Salem, and Clara and I had been baking since five A.M. I was in my usual outfit of running shoes, jeans, T-shirt, and white chef coat. I had my hair pulled...
About the Author-
- Janet Evanovich is the author of the Stephanie Plum books, including One for the Money and Sizzling Sixteen, and the Diesel & Tucker series, including Wicked Appetite. Janet studied painting at Douglass College, but that art form never quite fit, and she soon moved on to writing stories. She didn't have instant success: she collected a big box of rejection letters. As she puts it, "When the box was full I burned the whole damn thing, crammed myself into pantyhose and went to work for a temp agency." But after a few months of secretarial work, she managed to sell her first novel for $2,000. She immediately quit her job and started working full-time as a writer. After 12 romance novels, she switched to mystery, and created Stephanie Plum. The rest is history. Janet's favorite exercise is shopping, and her drug of choice is Cheeze Doodles.
August 1, 2010
The creator of Stephanie Plum (Sizzling Sixteen, 2010, etc.) kicks off a new series that presses familiar ingredients into the genre of supernatural farce.
In lieu of bounty hunter Stephanie, Evanovich presents pastry chef Elizabeth Tucker, recently relocated to Marblehead, Mass., and baking cupcakes for Dazzle's Bakery. In place of file clerk Lula, Stephanie's antic sidekick is Dazzle's counter girl Gloria Binkly, who thinks animals and books and storefronts are calling to her. And instead of that dangerous hunk Ranger, Lizzy gets involved with Diesel, who seems to be channeling Ranger right down to sleeping in the nude. This time, however, Diesel isn't the most dangerous man in Lizzy's life. That honor goes to Diesel's cousin Gerwulf Grimoire, a denizen of the dark side who's determined to acquire the SALIGIA Stones, each of which holds the power of one of the seven deadly sins, in order "to unleash their power and create hell on earth." Wulf's first target is the Gluttony Stone, which has long been guarded by members of the More family. In order to gain access to the Stone, Diesel explains to Lizzy after she's been spooked by a brief visit from Wulf, the seeker has to find three keys held by different Mores. These apparently normal trinkets can be identified by Unmentionables with uncanny powers, like Steven Hatchet, the former military paramedic now working as Wulf's vassal—or like Lizzy herself, who suddenly discovers she has powers she's never dreamed of. You don't need to be an Unmentionable to see that Shirley More, who consumes three-dozen cupcakes every day, probably has one of the keys. Unfortunately, it won't be easy to get much information out of Shirley, because Gloria, attempting to cast a truth spell over her, has accidentally turned her speech into gobbledygook.
Instead of the slapdash mysteries Stephanie solves, there's a frantic pursuit of the paranormal. Fans attracted by the comic-book plotting and pacing will doubtless re-enlist for the pursuit of the other six Stones.
(COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
PublisherSt. Martin's Press
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