He’d been defrocked,
& she’d been disbarred.
They fell in love
as they’d fallen into other traps:
Through blood that flowed
away from the brain &
into their erogenous danger zones.
Their recklessness brought them crashing together,
even though he couldn’t save her
any more than she could defend him.
He was Urban Dictionary,
she, Merriam Webster.
She thought him crude,
he thought her a prude,
but when they had to work together
to meet a common goal,
they found a common interest:
He was meat & potatoes,
she, veggie burgers & sprouted grains.
Over dark chocolate mousse
with white chocolate antlers,
they fell for one another,
realizing that the savory had kept them alive,
even as the sweet had sealed the deal with a kiss.
These books are as guilty a pleasure as a box of Russell Stover’s (especially if they’re full of Roman nougats). Death by Chocolate was the first book I’d read in this series (I’ve since read three), and they’ve all been entertaining.
Being a lover of Southern fiction, I was a bit disappointed these were set on the West Coast. However, I think if the author added a few extra details besides the types of flowers that grow in San Carmelita, California, and what the buildings look like (such as naming some actual haunts, fictional or otherwise), that might endear me more to that side of the country.
The way these books are “teased,” I was led to believe that food (especially the sweet kind) would play more of a central role, but sweets just happen to be what the main character likes to make and eat.
I love that the Savannah Reid character is a plus-sized woman who is comfortable in her own body (and is still attractive to other men); what’s more, I love that she happens to be single and not worried about old maidenhood or her biological clock ticking (even though the latter I could relate to). Her “partner-in-law,” Dirk Coulter, is a loveable curmudgeon without coming across as a stereotype. These two characters are well-developed, even though Savannah’s calling people “boy,” “girl,” and “sugar” and such can be a bit much sometimes (a la Paula Deen).
Savannah’s assistant, Tammy, is like a carbon copy of Nancy Drew; she’s rather bland and uninteresting, not to mention a bit of a broken record, calling everything Savannah eats “crap” because it isn’t healthy like her crap. But, people who are really into clean eating tend to be annoyingly vocal about it, so that’s realistic. Of all the five main characters, she adds the least but just enough.
Ryan and John are loveable–who wouldn’t want them for friends? Even though they’re almost too perfect, they are way more believable than Savannah’s siblings, who are more caricatures than characters; I think the author tries too hard to show that Savannah comes from a dysfunctional Southern family because damn, are her siblings over the top (a la Peg Bundy).
I do enjoy the references to Granny Reid (though she needs more unique adages). I hope I will read a book where Savannah goes back home to McGill, Georgia, and gets some “sage wisdom” (pardon the cliche) or unravels some interesting yarns.
As for Savannah’s cats, Diamante and Cleopatra (why do all single women have to have “fur babies,” though thank God, that phrase isn’t used in these books, though Savannah does refer to herself as their mother), they’re about as interesting as most cats (which is not very).
The author’s ideas of The Deep South seem to come from books and movies and her imagination rather from actually living there. I’ve read up on Sonja Massie/G.A. McKevett, and, according to several bios, she has never lived anywhere near the South. I think it takes an exceptionally skilled writer to be able to capture Southern culture without having lived in it (visiting doesn’t count), but maybe that’s why the books aren’t actually set in the South, so that was a good call.
If the author would keep Savannah’s relatives in Georgia (with the exception of Gran), the books would be better because those storylines add absolutely nothing. The real fun is in the relationships that Savannah has with her friends and the mysteries themselves, which are pretty good, even though they lack that “twist” element we Americans have almost come to expect (thanks a lot, O’Henry).
What I like about these books is that the quality of each one has been consistent. Maybe that’s because this is a series, but still, that’s important.
I hope Savannah will eventually stop being a doormat when it comes to her family (like kicking her sister out of her house for ordering porn and making her pay for it). This might be the reason why I don’t like her family in the books. Are they all as screwed up as Savannah isn’t? I guess I’ll find out when I catch up.
When it comes to Savannah’s parents, I’m finding it hard to believe that the same woman and the same man bred nine children, only to have them taken away by the State as being unfit. Usually, women like that have a ton of kids by different dads, so that’s one redeeming quality her parents had.
The profanity in these books is pretty mild, which I appreciate. These are stories I’d feel comfortable with my teenage daughter reading–when that time comes.
Cookie thought Brownie was stuck up,
& Brownie thought Cookie was stuck on himself,
so they were stuck in their unfriended state,
until along came Candy,
who, distressed at their unfriendliness,
offered them each a hand,
building a bridge of commonality.
When Cookie & Brownie realized
they were better together,
from the fresh-out-of-the-oven warmth
that radiated between them,
only for another battle to begin:
Cookie thought their new alliance should be Crownie,
& Brownie, Brookie,
but both couldn’t have top billing.
She never sent him flowers,
but she thought him the orchid of Eden,
the rose of Miniver.
She never bought him candy,
but she thought him a transcendent trinity of
roman nougat, pecan divinity, and noir chocolate.
She never wrote him a love letter,
but she thought his words the gospel truth,
the poetry of Calliope.
She never wrote about him,
but in every man whose character
was a man of character,
he was there—
making him a man of innumerable incarnations.
Through three spring thaws,
and two winter frosts,
she was his secret admirer,
and he never even knew it.
Her friends & family were like an upended box of truffles:
some were sweet
(enough to cause a zit),
some were soft
(like caramels left in the car too long),
some were hard
(as if they’d long since passed the hard crack stage),
some were nutty
(or just plain legume),
some were chewy
(like “chewing the fat” chewy),
some were creamy
(just pinch a little to see what nasty surprise comes out),
some were flaky
some were bitter
(like cocoa in need of a spanking),
some were dense
(like a math labbie when it came to lit),
some were cake-like
(be it cheesecake or beefcake),
& some were just plain kooky.
They were good for nothing,
till she went Paleo crazy,
turning them into a brownie base,
for dark chocolate dispelled
their sinfully-funky taste.
Let’s eat more dark chocolate,
pray more to the God who made it,
and make love using it.
1. Waking early, to everyone else still sleeping
2. Recalling an old memory, & being able to hold onto it
3. Remembering a new word I learned, for it is another color to add to my literary palette
4. Writing a new piece that seemed to come from nothing
5. Drinking a cuppa java while sharing my writing with new friends
6. Reading a handwritten letter from an old friend
7. Getting good news in the mail, & sharing it with whoever will listen
8. Running into someone who remembers me from years past, for it meant I’d made an impression
9. Realizing I accomplished a goal I’d never made, for it was inside me all along
10. Parting with something that meant little to me, but means a great deal to someone else
11. Discovering a Brady Bunch episode I haven’t seen
12. Listening to old Christmas music while a fire on the television crackles
13. Having all the ingredients for a new recipe, & deliciousness ensues
14. Remembering to pull my Mexican Coca-Cola from the freezer at just the right time
15. Enjoying dark chocolate with hazelnuts or marzipan
16. Driving to the beach when it’s 82 degrees with a breeze
17. Finding the perfect seashell—a tiny glimpse of the celestial kingdom
18. Burning calories while playing outside in the shade—MOMents that Heaven are made of
19. When twilight lasts as long as the day
20. Stopping to breathe in the scent of the gardenias
21. Capturing a butterfly with my camera
22. Climbing into bed & falling asleep to the sound of rain
23. When I see my husband as he sees me, & know, I chose the right one for me
24. When I make my daughter laugh & know that yes, I was meant to be her mom
25. When I see something old in a new way, & it’s like the first time I’ve seen it
The chocolatiest of all the chocolate—
great with lots of nuts or
a little bit of heat;
a slightly bitter companion to
from a little bean
sprouts something wonderful
for the palate and mind.
Dark is best,
for it takes so much less to satisfy.