Monday 19 November 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Mistletoe and Mystery by Daisy James

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour today for Mistletoe and Mystery by Daisy James, christmas and mystery, what more could you want? I have a wonderful extract to share with you today. The book is out now and you can click here to order your copy if you like what you read in the extract. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews!

Here's what it's all about:

Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course...

Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!
Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.
But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!
Cosy up with this fun, festive visit to the Cotswolds premier cookery school! Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan
If you loved Mistletoe & Mystery, why not read the first two stories in The Paradise Cookery School series? Sunshine & Secrets and Confetti & Confusions are both available now!

And I'm sure you're as ready as I am to read some, so here you go...

“Oh my God! Millie, I’m so jealous! Are you sure Claudia doesn’t need a fabulously talented assistant for the Festive Feast course? I could help with the reindeer cupcakes, or the gingerbread Santas, or the St Clements mince pies! And you know how much everyone loves my melt-in-your mouth shortcrust pastry!”

Millie had to smile at Poppy’s enthusiasm. She really did wish she could take her friend and fellow pastry chef along with her to Claudia Croft’s famous cookery school in the Cotswolds.

“In fact, scratch that. I’d even be prepared to grab my Marigolds and get stuck into the washing up if it meant I could spend the next week in Berryford watching Claudia show a bunch of enthusiast foodies how to rustle up a celebrity-grade Christmas feast. You are sooo lucky! Oh, and not to mention the fact that you’ll be able to reacquaint yourself with that hunky estate manager you’ve never stopped talking about since you came back from St Lucia, the delicious Mr Zach Barker.”

Millie felt the heat whoosh into her cheeks and groaned. She had been back from her trip to the Paradise Cookery School in the Caribbean for over two months, but she hadn’t been able to hide her feelings for Zach from Poppy who had dug relentlessly for every scrap of detail like an overzealous gossip columnist. Nevertheless, she still wanted to make light of their imminent reunion, despite the eager anticipation that was bubbling in her stomach.

“Poppy, I’m going to Stonelea Manor to co-present the Festive Feast cookery course, not to demonstrate how to manage a country estate. I’ll probably be so busy with the tutorials that our paths won’t even cross.”

“Who are you kidding? I’ve seen the photos of Zach on your Facebook page – he’s absolutely gorgeous. If I was in your dainty sequinned sandals, I’d definitely be planning a few unscheduled visits to that cute little stone lodge he calls home, armed with a basket full of freshly baked cinnamon cookies and a bottle of home-made rum punch. Did I tell you how envious I am?”

“You might have mentioned it once or twice!” Millie giggled and rolled her eyes at Poppy as they finished wiping down the marble countertops in Étienne’s, the tiny patisserie in Hammersmith where they were both fortunate enough to work. 

Millie adored the atmosphere in the little café; cosy, welcoming, friendly but with a touch of Parisian elegance and the ambient fragrance of warm buttery croissants. However, for her, the best part of the shop was its bay window, hung with a necklace of red, white and blue bunting and showcasing a smorgasbord of delicious delights more akin to a high-end jewellery store – and displaying a wider variety of colours. She loved the neat rows of multicoloured macarons, of pistachio and kiwi mille-feuille, of angel wings and miniature rum babas. Every morning, she would feast her eyes on the display and declare it to be a piece of culinary art, far better than its cousins in the Tate because Étienne’s patrons could taste their creations! 

“Okay, looks like we’re done for the day,” said Poppy, flicking off the lights and grabbing her duffle bag. “I’ve got a bottle of chocolate vodka upstairs just crying out to be tested. Come on, let’s go and celebrate your good fortune properly.”

“My flat or yours?”

“I don’t want you to take this personally, Millie, but mine – definitely. I like a bit of seasonal cheer just as much as the next person, but your living room looks like a Christmas volcano has erupted and spewed forth every decoration imaginable! Where on earth did you get all that stuff? I mean, a set of dancing pineapples in sunglasses and Santa suits?”

Millie laughed. “Got those in St Lucia – I love them! I really wanted to buy the matching set of bananas dressed as elves, but I just couldn’t cram another thing in my suitcase. Maybe I should give Ella a call and ask her to ship them over for me?”

“I’m no interior decorator but take my advice and try to resist that temptation!” 

Millie saw Poppy grin as she opened the door of her apartment nestled in the eaves above the patisserie and just across the hallway from Millie’s own tiny studio. Poppy’s flat was exactly the same size as hers, but that was where the similarities ended. The décor here reflected her friend’s personality to a tee – brash, bohemian, with jewel-bedecked mirrors and lamps that Poppy had designed herself at her Wednesday night art class, a hobby chosen because it meant she could drool over the tutor – a moody French sculptor called François.

Millie sighed and collapsed down on Poppy’s over-stuffed orange sofa with a surge of relief. It was the second week in December, the pre-Christmas frenzy had started in earnest, and her feet throbbed their objection to the onslaught of activity. She was already beginning to regret accepting Poppy’s invitation instead of heading straight for a long soak in a hot bath filled with her favourite Moulton Brown bubbles that her sister Jen had given her for her birthday.

However, when Poppy dropped down on the seat next to her with the promised bottle of vodka and two glasses, she quickly changed her mind about the bath. She accepted a generous measure and sat back against the scarlet silk cushions, curling her legs under her bottom and taking a tentative sip of the popular liquid remedy for the weary.

“Mmm, delicious, thanks Poppy.”

“So, what did your mum say when you told her you weren’t going over to France for the holidays this year? Did she freak out?” 

“Not when I explained why. I mean, it really is a dream come true, isn’t it? Mum knows how much I loved presenting the Paradise Cookery School’s Chocolate & Confetti course at Claudia’s villa in St Lucia. It was a fabulous experience and I learned so much from Ella about Caribbean cooking, but now I’ve got this amazing chance to work with Claudia Croft herself! Poppy, I’ve decided that’s what I want to do – present cookery classes to enthusiastic food lovers. Sooo… in the new year I’m going to start looking for a new position where I can do just that.”

“And leave Étienne’s?” Poppy looked scandalised, but her chestnut brown eyes were gentle and understanding. “Only joking. Millie, you could smash whatever you put your mind to. And you’ve no idea how happy I am to hear you say that. It’s about time you moved on to new adventures – you’ve got a Michelin star, for God’s sake. I don’t know why you insist on hiding that fact.”

“I’m not hiding it.”

“Well, you’re definitely not shouting about it from the rooftops like I would be!” 

Millie watched her friend remove her sparkly hairclips and allow her hair to frame her cheeks in glossy mahogany waves. A whiff of jasmine perfume invaded the air and her heart gave a nip of gratitude for her good fortunate at having someone like Poppy in her life – she really had provided the balm to her ragged soul when she’d arrived in London having been ditched at her own engagement party. 

“Actually, all that feels like ancient history now, an episode from someone else’s life – someone I don’t recognise.”

A splash of sadness swished into her chest, but she doused it in a flash. She rarely thought of her ex-fiancé nowadays, and when she did it was with only fleeting regret, not the long, slow burn of agony that had stalked her endlessly until a couple of months ago. The way Luke had chosen to terminate their two-year relationship had hurt tremendously, but the icing on the pain-filled cupcake had been the discovery that the person he had abandoned her for was her best friend’s mother. That morsel of information had been just too much to bear so she had walked out of the restaurant they co-owned, grabbed her suitcase, and ran away to start a new life of anonymity in the metropolis. Poppy had been the first non-family member she had confessed her heartbreak to and her friend had welcomed her into her world with open arms, a cheerful smile, and a surfeit of vodka in a myriad of flavours which had helped to dull the pain.

However, she was happy to report that she was done with licking her wounds. Her confidence in her culinary creativity had returned, and she was ready to launch herself into a new challenge, professional and personal. Her lips twitched at the corners when a fully formed image of the person she had to thank for her renaissance into a normal human being again appeared in her mind’s eye: Zach Barker, Claudia’s estate manager, whom she’d encountered at the Paradise Cookery School back in September.

Poppy was right. Zach was gorgeous; handsome, athletic, inquisitive, with a sharp line in sarcasm and a quirky sense of humour. Even the fact that they occupied opposite ends of the orderliness spectrum hadn’t prevented them from connecting on a deeper level than she had expected. She smiled at the memory of the warm, lingering kisses they had shared beneath the swaying palm trees, with the tropical backdrop of the white beaches, sparkling blue ocean and verdant lushness of the vegetation making the whole experience seem so much more romantic.

Meet the Author
Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

Thanks so much to Daisy for stopping by today!

1 comment:

  1. A huge thank you for having me as a guest on your blog & for kicking off the Mistletoe & Mystery blog tour! Love Daisy xx