Friday, April 7, 2017

Kale to the Queen - Review


KALE TO THE QUEEN by Nell Hampton
The First Kensington Palace Chef Mystery

Chef Carrie Ann Cole has the opportunity of a lifetime when she accepts the position of family chef for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Leaving her rising start chef boyfriend back in Chicago, Carrie Ann is certain they can make a long distance relationship work for the year she's abroad. Now she needs to concentrate on the intricacies of life in the palace while providing healthy food for the duchess and her family. Adjusting to jet lag, Chef Cole is in her kitchen planning the meals for the week ahead when she goes into the attached greenhouse. In addition to the fresh greens she's collected she also finds the body of one of her assistants-murdered! With such tight palace security, how is it possible? When her second assistant is accused of the crime, Carrie Ann vows to prove his innocence and have him work alongside her once again.

KALE TO THE QUEEN is a pleasurable read with likable characters and an interesting mystery. Unfortunately, it also has several issues which detracted from my enjoyment. First of all, there are major errors regarding making tea. Carrie Ann doesn't warm the tea pot and then she puts cream in the tea! You drink tea with milk (if you like) not cream. Is she thinking of a cream tea? A cream tea is a scone with jam and cream and a cup of tea, not putting cream in the tea. She makes a point of putting the cream in first, which is historically accurate (if it was milk) as putting it in afterward could crack the delicate porcelain cup of days gone by, but not strictly necessary today. There is also a question, American tea or British tea? What is American tea? A mug with a tea bag with boiling water poured over? Although off putting I wouldn't be so critical of the errors if the author hadn't made a point of stating that Chef Carrie Ann spent a week learning to make proper tea from Mrs. Warwick, who hails from London. Mrs. Warwick must be some sort of huckster!

I found myself intrigued as the book continued, but I couldn't help but notice I was nearing the final pages, with no ending in sight. The book did finish, but the ending was abrupt. The author gave the killer a good motive, but then made an addition which was contrived and included more inaccuracies, which I will not detail as I don't want to give away any spoilers.

I did appreciate Carrie Ann's personal growth through the history, realizing the importance of her own dreams and reaching for them instead of playing second fiddle in both her career and her personal life.

The Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series has lots of promise. I hope that future installments will pay closer attention to detail and flush out the ending, while maintaining its fresh upbeat style.

Recipes included.