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Name: Megan Burton
Description: dark hair, blue eyes; no identifiable scars; wearing a diamond tennis bracelet
Last seen three years ago in Key West, Florida
If you have any information, please contact the police immediately.
When Sadie Hoffmiller's new friend, Eric Burton, receives word that his missing daughter's body may have been found in Florida, he immediately packs his bags, but Sadie is determined to stay home and prove to everyone that she is not a busybody.
But when she senses Eric is hiding something, Sadie is compelled to take action. Before she knows it, she's in the heart of Miami, trying to piece together a trail littered with broken relationships, mysterious strangers, and forged documents that might just provide Eric the answers he's been desperately searching for — or reveal a truth he may not be ready to face.
Sadie must also face a difficult question: Where is her heart leading her? Onward into Eric's adventurous arms? Or back home to the stable and steady Pete Cunningham? If only love was as easy as following a recipe.
Once again, Sadie finds herself in the company of some colorful characters and on the hunt for some good old-fashioned Southern cooking. But despite the drama and intrigue, all Sadie really wants is to go home. . . as soon as she does just one more thing.
- Includes eight new mouthwatering recipes, tested and approved by the official bakers of Sadie's Test Kitchen
ELIZABETH LANE HYDE
Elizabeth J. Mott
- Size: 5½" x 8"
- Pages: 320
- Published: 2010
About the Author
Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until she was thirteen and her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began her first novel in 1998 and hasn’t stopped since. Her seventh novel, Sheep’s Clothing, won the 2007 Whitney Award for Mystery/Suspense, and Lemon Tart, her ninth novel, was a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist. Baked Alaska is Josi’s eighteenth novel and the ninth book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series.
Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her wonderful husband, four amazing children, one fat dog, and a varying number of very happy chickens.
“Hey.” Sadie Hoffmiller looked up from where she was planting marigolds in the courthouse flower beds-part of the community service she’d been sentenced to after an unfortunate situation she’d been involved in a few months earlier. The sun blinded her, forcing her to lift a gloved hand to shield her eyes even though she knew the voice. Eric Burton had received the same sentence for the same reason – co-conspirators is what they’d been called.
“Hi there,” Sadie responded, sitting back on her heels and attempting to smooth her hair before realizing her glove was covered in dirt and therefore made whatever state her hair was in even worse. “I thought you’d finished your community service on Monday.”
The judge could have been much harder on both of them. As it was, Eric had make short work of his three hundred hours, sometimes doing up to twenty hours a week in addition to running his locksmith business. Sadie had tried to keep up with him, but she still had a few days left.
“And how would you know that?” Eric asked, giving her a playful smile. “Or have you been asking about me?”
Sadie felt her cheeks heat up for no good reason at all and went back to her flowers. “Actually I was excited to have a little peace and quiet around here. I’ve been counting down your hours more than I’ve been counting down my own.”
Eric laughed out loud, making it impossible for Sadie to feign offense at their banter. He lowered himself to the grass beside her, and Sadie found herself watching him out of the corner of her eye. Spring had just come out of hiding in Colorado and the grass was still a mottled green and brown. It was warm for April, mid-sixties, and the citizens of Garrison were taking full advantage of it.
Eric lay on his back, supporting his weight with his elbows while lifting his face to the sun that was almost directly overhead. His long hair was pulled into his usual ponytail at the base of his neck, and he wore jeans and a gray, long-sleeved T-shirt with a green alien head on the front.
Sadie watched him a little too long before going back to her marigolds. Sometimes he was flirty, and now and again he was downright brazen in his attention to her, and yet he backpedaled quickly when those moments came around, leaving a bewildered Sadie in his wake.
“I told Tami I’d keep helping with Wednesday’s food delivery until someone else breaks the law and takes my place,” Eric said, interrupting her thoughts. “Apparently Garrison doesn’t have enough of us fringe citizens.”
Us? He wasn’t calling Sadie a fringe citizen, was he? She glanced at him quickly and realized he probably was. He probably thought it was a compliment. “It’s generous of you to keep helping her out,” she said.
“It was generous of you to give her the cookies. She insisted I have one,” Eric said after a few seconds. She could feel him looking at her, and she imagined his blue eyes were even brighter than usual, thanks to the sun. But she didn’t allow herself to look at him and instead became even more intent on the flower she was patting into place.
When she didn’t answer, Eric spoke again. “What kind of cookies are they?”
She still didn’t answer.
“I’m not leaving till you tell me, so you may as well fess up.”
Sadie squinted at him as she once again sat back on her heels and let out a breath. “No one was supposed to know they were from me,” she said quietly, embarrassed to be found out. “They were an anonymous thank-you gift. I didn’t want Tami to feel indebted.”
“If it makes you feel better, she hasn’t figured it out yet,” Eric said with a wry grin. “I’ll keep your secret if you give me the recipe.”
Not since Sadie’s late husband, Neil, had she met a man who preferred the kitchen to the La-Z-Boy, and while Eric insisted that he loved to cook, Sadie had seen his house and had a hard time believing he could cook in such a mess. She didn’t like to doubt him, but there were so many ways that Eric confused her. Cooking was only one of them.
Sadie looked up at him. “So? What?”
“The recipe,” Eric said, shaking his head slightly. “Are you going to give it to me, or do I have to tell Tami she’s got to find a way to thank you for the thank-you.”
“You’re impossible.” In some ways he was like a younger brother, teasing and goading her all the time, and yet . . . in other ways he was nothing like a brother at all. Not one little bit.
“They’re my Kickin’ Craisin cookies,” Sadie said in surrender.
“Kickin’ Craisin, huh?” Eric said, squinting thoughtfully. “Where’s the kick come from?”
“Cayenne pepper,” Sadie said, unable to hide a smile. She loved people’s reactions when she told them the secret ingredient.
Eric’s eyebrows shot up. “In a cookie?”
Sadie smiled even wider. “Just a little. You want zing not zoinks.”
Eric threw his head back and laughed before sobering instantly.
“Am I interrupting something?”
Sadie looked up. Pete Cunningham, her sorta-kinda-boyfriend-maybe, was blocking the sun. She smiled, but felt as though she’d been caught doing something she oughtn’t. “Pete,” she said, hoping that by making her voice sound lighter she could cover up her discomfort. “Is it four o’clock already?”
“Almost,” Pete said. He was dressed in black slacks and a royal blue shirt that looked quite striking beneath his black overcoat. He cut a very different figure than Eric did, and he didn’t look all that happy to find them talking together. He turned to Eric. “Mr. Burton,” he said with a polite nod. Too polite.
“Detective,” Eric said just as coolly. He pushed himself up to a sitting position while Sadie patted another flower into place.
“I’ve only got a few more flowers to get in the ground,” Sadie said. “It’s going to get cold again tomorrow, and I want to get these planted before the weather turns. I didn’t realize it was so late.”
Pete put his hands in his pockets. “It’s all right. We’ve got a few minutes.”
“I can finish this for you, if you’d like,” Eric said, his tone suspiciously formal.
Sadie turned to look at him in surprise.
“If I hadn’t been distracting you, you wouldn’t be running late.”
Sadie sighed and gave him a reproachful look. His gallantry was only a ploy to make the point that he’d been distracting her from the date she had with Pete. He was so not worth the thoughts she couldn’t seem to get out of her head about him. However, she chose to take him at his word. To do anything else would allow him an opportunity to make even more uncomfortable comments.
“That would be great,” she said, brushing off her gloves before removing them and handing them to Eric. He frowned slightly, betraying the fact that he’d hoped to draw this out a little longer. He took the proffered gloves as Sadie pushed herself up, wincing at the cramps in her knees from kneeling so long. Pete reached down to help her, and she raised her left hand toward him.
Eric put a hand on her arm. “Your shoulder?”
“Oh, right.” Sadie lifted her right hand instead. As part of the unfortunate situation that had landed her with the community service in the first place, she’d torn a ligament in her shoulder. It had made remarkable progress over the last several weeks but it was still tender. Why was it Eric had remembered and Pete hadn’t?
“Give me a couple minutes to clean up and I’ll be ready,” she said, untying the apron she’d worn to protect her clothes. She and Pete were going to Baxter’s for an early dinner and then planned to catch a movie at the Capitol Theatre, which played classics on Wednesday nights. Tonight they were featuring Out of Africa and Sadie’s best friend, Gayle, had dropped Sadie off at the courthouse for her community service so that Pete could pick her up and they wouldn’t have to worry about Sadie’s car.
“No need to rush,” Pete said, smiling at her with those hazel eyes she liked so much. Pete was wonderful—kind, smart, supportive, and stable—everything she wanted. And yet, there was something that was either too much or too little. Because of . . . whatever it was, their relationship hadn’t progressed much over the last few months. But they were in a comfortable place and for now they both seemed okay with that. “I’ve got a few phone calls to make,” Pete continued, leaning in to kiss her on the cheek. “I’ll wait for you in the car if that’s okay.”
Sadie nodded her agreement and looked down at a quiet Eric while Pete headed toward the parking lot. “I appreciate your help finishing up,” she said to Eric, feeling bad he was digging in the dirt even though it wasn’t her fault exactly. He had chosen not to wear the gloves; they were next to him on the ground while he worked bare-handed.
“I’ll just bet you do,” Eric said in a dull voice.
“What?” Sadie questioned, sure she’d misinterpreted his tone.
Eric sat back, put his hands on his thighs, and looked up, glancing at Pete’s retreating back before making eye contact with her. “Is that really the kind of guy you want to be with?”
Sadie was instantly defensive. “Obviously,” she answered, folding her arms over her chest, embarrassed. She should have reprimanded Eric for asking such an inappropriate question, but she didn’t.
Eric studied her for a moment before turning back to the flower bed, stabbing the trowel into the dirt. “Huh.”
She frowned. “Huh, what?” she asked.
Eric shrugged and then jammed a poor marigold into the hole he’d just dug. “I pegged you as wanting someone who was a little more real, a little more—I don’t know—fun.”
“Pete’s real,” Sadie said even though she didn’t know what that meant. “And he’s . . . fun.”
Eric paused, then put down his trowel and stood slowly. “Is he?” he asked, hooking his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans. His tone had changed dramatically. No longer hard, it was now whispery and . . . almost intimate. He took a step toward her so they were only a foot apart. His closeness forced Sadie to look up, and although she knew she should take a step backward for reasons of propriety, she didn’t want to.
“You deserve more than a safe bet, Sadie,” he said. His breath smelled like cinnamon and a hint of cayenne. “You deserve someone who will enjoy life with you rather than just live it by your side.”
Behind the words was the implication that he was the kind of man she’d enjoy life with, and that brought to the foreground all the thoughts she tried not to think about him but had a hard time avoiding. All of a sudden it was impossible to ignore the fact that she was attracted to this man.
It made her feel utterly ridiculous.
“I’m older than you,” she said before realizing she’d opened her mouth. Her face instantly burned. Did she seriously say that? Out loud?
“Are you?” he asked.
Sadie narrowed her eyes. “You know I am.”
Eric made an innocent face and shrugged. “I don’t know any such thing.”
“I’m fifty-six,” Sadie said in an attempt to convince him; the words almost stuck in her throat. It was not normal for a woman to admit her age like that, but this was an emergency. She watched his face, but he showed no reaction at all. “How old are you?”
Eric shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.”
He was younger than she was! She knew it! “It does matter.”
“Not to me,” he said. “Is that your only reason for choosing him over me?”
Sadie cast a look over her shoulder, remembering that Pete was only twenty yards away. His car must be on the other side of the parking lot, though; she couldn’t see it from where she stood.
Eric took her chin in his hand and turned her head back to face him. He didn’t say anything, just lifted his eyebrows expectantly as he dropped his hand. He wasn’t going to let this conversation just go away.
Sadie’s head was still spinning, but there didn’t seem to be any option other than answering.
“I—uh . . .” She stumbled to find another reason, acutely aware of the fact that there were things she couldn’t say. She had been an educator; he was a locksmith. She was organized; he was a slob. And she was older than he was!
“You have longer hair than I do.”
Eric smiled. “I’ll cut it.”
This was not happening! And yet it was. She was not having this conversation! And yet she was. She didn’t know what to say. And yet she spoke because it had to be said. “We’re too different.”
“Not really.” Eric took another tiny step toward her; she could feel the toe of his boot against the toe of her sneaker. “You just have a hard time admitting that I’m the kind of guy you really want to spend the rest of your life with.”
Sadie stared into his eyes and when he leaned into her, she found herself steeling herself expectantly. He was going to kiss her.
And she was totally going to let him.
Inches from making contact, however, Eric paused. “Mark my words, Sadie Hoffmiller, the first time our lips meet, it will be you kissing me.”
He stepped back while Sadie tried to make sense of what he’d just said, and what he hadn’t done. Her eyes snapped to meet his laughing ones, and the expression on his face told her in no uncertain terms that she’d proved something he’d suspected all along.
Sadie opened her mouth but could find no words. She wasn’t used to being made a fool of and felt instant heat rush up her spine.
The ringing of his cell phone saved her from having to respond. It was some heavy metal song she didn’t want to know the title of—AC/DC she thought. He winked at her while digging the phone from his pocket.
“This is Eric,” he said, turning away from Sadie who stood with her hands balled into fists at her sides. How dare he trick her into saying things she shouldn’t have said!
She narrowed her eyes, waiting for him to get off the phone so she could tell him what she really thought of him, but then she noticed his eyes go wide. “What?” he breathed before going silent again. He glanced at Sadie, a pleading, scared look on his face that drained her of all her anger. “Yes,” he continued, “I can fax them to you in about ten minutes.” He pulled the phone away from his ear and stared at it for a moment before turning it off.
“What?” Sadie asked as he turned toward her. “What’s happened?”
“They found a body in Florida,” he said, looking away for just a moment and taking a deep breath. “They think it might be my daughter, Megan.”
Kickin’ Craisin Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
21/2 cups quick oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of cayenne pepper
11/2 cups Craisins
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add Craisins, chocolate chips, and nuts, using a wooden spoon to mix (dough will be too thick for most mixers).
Drop by tablespoons or use a 1-inch scoop to make dough balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake 6 to 9 minutes or until just browned—do not overbake. Allow to cool on pan 2 minutes before moving to cooling rack. Cookies should be crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Makes 3 dozen.
drives me crazy!
by Roberta - reviewed on October 12, 2010
I was just crazy with anticipation over what escapade Sadie is going to get involved in next, I couldn't put this down until I knew. Sadie is funny, curious, smart, resourceful, compassionate, and a good friend. AND she's normal. I love that she's not afraid to get involved when a friend is in trouble, even if the police think she's a busybody. Look at how many clues she picks up on, and how she's so intuitive. I have enjoyed this series so much, its like going along with a neighbor and being a part of the adventure. And its fun. I can't wait until the next installment.
The best Sadie book yet.
by Customer - reviewed on August 31, 2010
This was so much fun to read. Josi Kilpack introduces some fun new characters and surprising twists to this installment of her cozy mysteries.
Each of these "delicious desert" books are wonderful!
by Heather - reviewed on September 28, 2010
Josi S. Kilpack has made each one of these books fun and more involved than the last one. It's hard to wait for the next one! It is just like your next door "busy body" neighbor getting caught up in a mystery! Heather
by Heather - reviewed on August 31, 2010
This is my favorite of the Sadie Hoffmiller series. It was a real page turner and I really enjoyed the plot. It was well put together and kept me guessing. Good job, Josi!
A Lion's Share of Twists and Turns!
by Karlene - reviewed on September 05, 2010
I loved Key Lime Pie. I rarely give 5 full stars to any book, but this one gets it. I loved everything about it. The characters are interesting, unique, quirky—especially Sadie. She is so determined not to be a busybody, and yet, that's one of the traits that makes her so endearing. I love the way her mind works—and her heart. The plot has a lion's share of twists and turns. Several times I thought I had it all figured out, only to have the story spin off into another layer of intrigue and mystery. KLP was a completely engrossing and totally fun mystery! If you like culinary mysteries like Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Schulz mysteries or Gayle Trent's Daphne Martin series, you'll love Sadie Hoffmiller.
by Kimberly - reviewed on September 07, 2010
There are few characters I’ve encountered in my 30 years of voracious reading who have struck me as being more real and more genuine than Sadie Hoffmiller. I caught myself sitting down to write her an email the other day, as I had tried a new recipe that I was sure she would enjoy. Imagine my dismay when I remembered she’s a fictional character! But apart from brilliant characterization, Kilpack weaves a mystery that truly delights. Compelling, and full of delicious plot twists, I have not read a single one of her novels where I guessed the ending (and I, fellow book lovers, am a VERY good guesser). So I challenge you to see if you’re cleverer than me. Can you figure it out before Sadie does (and before I did)?