SUGAR AND SPICE AND ALL THOSE LIES by Evy Journey
PUBLISHER: Sojourner Books
RELEASED: November 29, 2017
GENRE: Cozy Mystery, Women’s Fiction
Cooking a wonderful meal is an art. An act of love. An act of grace. A gift that affirms and gives life—not only does it nurture those who partake of the meal; it also feeds the soul of the creator. These are lessons Gina learns from her mother, daughter of an unfortunate French chef.
Gina is a young woman born to poor parents, a nobody keen to taste life outside the world she was born into. A world that exposes her to fascinating people gripped by dark motives. Her passion for cooking is all she has to help her navigate it.
She gets lucky when she’s chosen to cook at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area where customers belong to a privileged class with money to spare for a dinner of inventive dishes costing hundreds of dollars. In this heady, scintillating atmosphere, she meets new friends and new challenges—pastry chef Marcia, filthy rich client Leon, and Brent, a brooding homicide detective. This new world, it turns out, is also one of unexpected danger.
Can the lessons Gina learned from her mother about cooking and life help her survive and thrive in this other world of privilege, pleasure, and menace?
I’m alive. I’m dead. I’m in-between. In that limbo where my vital signs hover just above death. I rise above my body and look down on it, lying on a gurney. Hospital staff are rushing me along the brightly-lit hallway to the operating room. One of them holds an oxygen mask on my face. Another, a bag of intravenous fluid connected to my veins by a tube.
I’m not ready to die yet. These good people anxious to rescue me don’t know that my resolve is the only thing that is keeping me alive. No, I’m not ready to die—I’ve only just begun to live. I have yet to prove to myself, to the world, that I have what it takes to prevail.
My family—now on their way to the hospital—doesn’t know yet exactly what happened to me. And except for one detective, neither do the police. I see him now by the foot of the gurney, keeping pace with the nurses. He’s scowling, his lips pressed into a grim line.
A tall, taut, and solitary man, he has deep-set gray eyes clouded by too many images of violent death and a lower lip that hangs perpetually open in disgust or despair. So much darkness he has already seen in his thirty odd years in this world. He needs to piece together the facts that constitute the attempt on my life, events that may have led to it, and various fragments of my past to understand what brought me to this point.
The first time I met him, I fell in love with him. There was something primal about him, some paternal, animalistic instinct to save hurt or fallen victims. Like me, maybe. It gave him power and it made him irresistible to me.
But fate is fickle. It teases. It entices. One day, something quite ordinary happens to you. Yet, you sense that that ordinary something can change your life. Not necessarily for something better, but for something new. Fate is dangling before you the promise of a world that, before then, was totally out of your reach. How can you not seize it?
Now, of course, I see the end of that promise. And it’s not where I want to be.
It’s tragic, don’t you think, that the end of that promise should be right here on a gurney, with me fighting for my life? It certainly is not what I hoped for.
How could it end this way? I embraced life, took chances, but half-dead on this gurney, I wonder: Am I paying with my life? But, like I said. I’m not ready to die yet.
Gina/Regine Lambert—23, mixed blood from her mother (half Chinese’ half French) dark lush hair, creamy skin, large blue eyes, a generous mouth, and—her Mom says—a straight noble nose like Gwyneth Paltrow’s. A 5’7” body with curves in the right places. You wouldn’t call her voluptuous, though. She’s a cook at a haute cuisine restaurant and comes from a working class neighborhood, a little naïve but hopeful and quick to learn.
Brent Hansen— a tall man of about thirty, dark brown hair, gray and piercing but melancholic eyes, fills his jeans and jacket with palpable strength. He’s a homicide detective, has a law degree from a prestigious university, and a passion for truth and justice which he doesn’t want to complicate with a committed relationship.
Leon Barrett—29, a pair of very blue eyes on a well-tanned face crowned by bronze, wavy hair, tall, filthy rich, family of old money, polished, fussed over look. A playboy who enjoys the chase and has a need to win but never commits. Devoted to preserving his Barrett legacy, he works as his father’s right hand man.
Mrs. Lambert—Gina’s mother, oldest daughter of a Chinese mother and a French chef who was murdered in his artisanale delicatessen. Worked at fast food restaurants to help support her mother and sisters before she could finish high school. A great cook who taught Gina cooking is an act of love.
Marcia—Gina’s best friend, easy-going pastry chef in her early 30s, a little overweight. Frank, experienced, and smart.
Cristi—Gina’s childhood friend, red-brown hair and dark eyes, expertly accentuated, curvy. Shy and unsure of herself.
Laure—French woman in her thirties, chef de cuisine and owner of the restaurant Gina works for.
Evy Journey, SPR (Self Publishing Review) Independent Woman Author awardee, is a writer, a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse. Her pretensions to being a flâneuse means she wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. But she’s only had the chance to live there as a transient.
In a previous life, armed with a Ph.D. and fascinated by the psyche, she researched and shepherded the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. Worse if beautiful prose seduces you and you continue to be plagued by existential angst—an out-of-fashion preoccupation in this era of cyber relationships.
So, she’s turned to writing mostly happy fiction, believing it’s an antidote. For now, she’s found refuge in invoking the spirit of Jane Austen and spinning tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.
Connect with Evy here:
“It’s yours. You can do what you want with it. Rent it, sell it, use the money to open that restaurant you’ve always dreamed of owning. All I want is for you not to forget me, to always remember I helped you make your dreams come true. That’s really what means a lot to me-to know that I made a difference in your life. A difference in the life of the only woman who’s ever really touched me. Who’s freed me up in some way from my family. I suppose, in a way, it’s a sort of legacy I’m leaving you.”
Women can be strong. Women can be fragile. Women can be jealous of other women who have men, money and power. Women can kill…all because they don’t have those things. This tale is spun around lies and jealousy. Looks aren’t everything, but when they get you into the good graces of the men with deep pockets, then it becomes something to be leveraged. For some, it is what’s on the inside that counts; however, men and women have come a long way from that analogy today. With divorce rates as high as they are, commitment is hard to find. So how do you know what love is? How do you identify it? Is it completely gone and replaced with lust at first sight? Journey has a novel filled with obsession, jealousy, deceit and mystery…one that will leave readers entertained.
Gina has a beauty that captivates most men. With her mixed heritage, French and Chinese, she is a force to be reckoned with. She is a cook at a wonderful Michelin-starred restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her only complaint would be that she has no time for herself, except holidays with her parents. Pleasing the high-paying customers and astounding the owner with her skills, Gina doesn’t know the first thing about relationships and friendships or mixing the two. When Gina gets a visit at the restaurant from her childhood friend and her new beau, she begins to realize how ill-willed and vengeful other people can be. Being attacked by someone you considered to be your best friend can be mind-boggling, but jealousy wins every time. After reluctantly pursuing the man who broke up with her best friend, she finds joy and delight in how the rich live, but her heart belongs to another, the detective who comes to question her after the attack. It makes her question her feelings in ways that can be very dangerous for her. When packages and threatening letters appear at her condo, she understands that someone may be targeting her again out of jealousy for the two men who have captivated her. How can she get out of this predicament alive and can one of these men be her forever?
Journey has a good story-line and interesting character development in this novel. The main characters all seem to have their own agenda…either money, love, or power. The pace is very fast and provides a sense of thrill and urgency to the story, but the plot is a bit dramatic and predictable. Jealousy can be everything that this story portrays, but the emotional turmoil and some of the scenarios are not completely blameless on the main character as the author would have the reader believe. It is also difficult to believe in constant jealousy from friends who Gina acquires in such a short time; it provides the story with a sense of falseness and lack of credibility. If you are a fan of women’s fiction and cozy mystery, you may be interested in picking this book up for a quick read.
A copy of this book was provided to Turning Another Page by Loving the Book, but this in no way affects our honest opinion of the book or the review that has been written. We provide a three-star rating for Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies by Evy Journey.