Giveaway Ends 9/1
Travel and Adventure
by Tam Binh
I’m Tam Binh Saveur. Maybe you’ve heard of me. My husband Stewart and I are travel and food bloggers, and we homeschool our kids. Well, I say homeschool. We’re rarely at home. After all, why should the kids read about Paris when they can walk in the rain on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and see historic architecture?
One place that our travels have taken us is Galveston, Texas. It’s a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, so it has been a great place to teach the kids about the ecosystems here – including the reef system and the areas that provide refuge for seabirds. And the history is intriguing, with more museums than you would expect for a community of its size. The kids are especially fond of the train museum, although, personally, I find the unpainted plaster statues of passengers in historic dress a little creepy, posed as they are against the realistic historic train depot.
The first time we visited here, I made friends with Felicity Koerber, a local craft chocolate maker. She solved a murder while we were in town, and has solved several other murders since. She has invited us to stay with her in the hotel her aunt is renovating. I hate to admit it, but I almost said no. Felicity is such a nice person, but trouble seems to follow her. And while I am all for adventure, I do my best to avoid trouble. I mean, it is fun to explore a new city, but you don’t hit the ground without a map or any knowledge of which streets are relatively safe.
But it makes so much sense to stay with her, especially because we’re going to be spending time at her craft chocolate shop, Greetings and Felicitations. Carmen Avino, the pastry chef at Greetings and Felicitations, has been working on a cookbook, and one reason we are in town is to help her promote it. It’s really a fun book. If you like chocolate at all, you need to check it out. Carmen has a distinct philosophy about chocolate, which she pairs with natural flavors – from floral herbs to earthy mushrooms. But since Greetings and Felicitations focuses more on the sweet side of chocolate, most of what she presents in the shop combines herbs and spices with chocolate to create elevated takes on traditional cakes and pan dulce recipes. I find the sensibility fascinating.
That’s why I asked Carmen if I could watch her recipe creation process firsthand. I brought some ingredients of my own so I could try to do what she does and elevate a traditional Vietnamese cake recipe — only Carmen snatched the pandan extract I’d put in my box and added it to a flan batter to demonstrate how easy it is to change up flavor profiles. So I turned around and took spices she had mixed together for making café de olla – Mexican spiced coffee – and ground them up to toss into my cake. You can see the recipes for both of those here. If you make them, though, you have to tell me which one you like better. (It’s the honeycomb cake, right?)
I had hoped that Felicity would have time to sit in on our baking sessions. Only – I hate to have to say it – but there’s been another murder. This time Felicity agreed to do a chocolate sculpture for a museum, and somebody shot one of the artists. So now she’s busy trying to figure out who done it – while balancing time in the evening with my family at her hotel. The kids are excited to be around a real-life amateur sleuth – though I have expressly forbidden them from telling her that. I wouldn’t want to encourage her to take any more risks than she already does.
About The Book
A Shot in the 80% Dark (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop thriving. Despite everything she’s been through with the murders she’s helped solve, Felicity is ready to take on new challenges. So when a local museum offers her a contract to create a chocolate replica of a gigantic sailing ship sculpture for a gala celebrating Galveston’s history, she jumps at the chance to combine chocolate-crafting with art.
The project is fun – right up until there’s not just one but two dead artists on the scene, and Felicity has to change gears back to detective. Logan, Felicity’s business partner and previous bodyguard, and Arlo, Felicity’s ex who is now the cop investigating the case, are split on which victim they think was actually the intended one. Felicity may have to take some chances, both emotionally and in luring out a killer, to determine the truth.
Can she find out how Galveston’s history relates to the murders, unmask a killer, and prepare 2,000 chocolate desserts for the gala all at the same time?
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About the Author
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Royer/e/B00PFV4CGM
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