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Sue Hollowell

Tiramisu and Turmoil (PAPERBACK)

Tiramisu and Turmoil (PAPERBACK)

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A catering calamity, pesky paparazzi, and a celebrity wedding whodunit…

With Tilly’s new assistant on board at the bakery, she agrees to take on a catering gig that could skyrocket her business to the next level. While jousting for her space in the kitchen with the temperamental chef, a troubling discovery at the celebrity wedding of the century threatens to shatter her dreams.

Joined by her bestie and armed with enough mascarpone for a lifetime supply of cheesecakes, Tilly sets out to solve the murder. She soon learns why the actors in attendance have won Academy Awards. Nothing is as it seems.

As Tilly quickly discovers, family drama and professional jealousy disguise the clues, making it a doozy of a mystery to detect what’s real and what’s fake. Will the publicity from the event doom the next phase of her bakery plans, or will Tilly be able to uncover the truth in a humdinger of a plot?


 Paperback 109 pages
 Dimensions 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
 ISBN 979-8756652949
 Publication date July 1, 2021
 Publisher Free Heart Productions


“Oh, Tilly,” Linda whispered. “I’m so excited for our first collaboration.”

“Me too,” I whispered back.

Chef Ricardo sneered over the top of his glasses in our direction. Somehow we were going to need to figure out a way to co-exist in this space while we each prepared our food. The chef’s reputation preceded him. His food was top notch. His attitude wasn’t. When my friend Fiona told me he would be catering the food for the wedding, my stomach dropped to my feet. I knew sharing the kitchen with him would be a challenge. Linda and I didn’t need much room to make our tiramisu cheesecake. But any invasion in his arena was unwelcome. His minions were busy chopping, mincing, and whatever else they were doing for their food prep while he barked orders over their shoulders, his chef hat bobbing with every word he spewed. Each time he let loose with a yell, his employees jumped. I only hoped they didn’t lose a finger in the process.

Linda and I had set up our workspace on a long counter as far away from the chef as possible. Thankfully our cheesecake recipe didn’t need to be baked, but it did require time to cool in the refrigerator to allow it to properly set. I looked at my watch. Plenty of time.

The wedding party and guests had milled about the large mansion in preparation for the wedding. I had counted about fifty people in all joining the festivities. When Fiona told me she had recommended me to her cousin’s friend to prepare the desserts, I was sure I wouldn’t be hired. Little ol’ me and my fledgling bakery. Then Fiona told me the bride was an up-and-coming actress, and I secretly hoped I didn’t get the job. How could I be ready for prime time?

With Fiona’s insistence, Layla, the bride, gave me a chance with a tasting of dessert samples. I must have made dozens of batches of different things to find a few I thought were worthy of a wedding. Thankfully my tiramisu cheesecake was a winner. Truth be told, it wasn’t actually as difficult as the taste would have you believe.

Linda and I continued unpacking and organizing our supplies amid the furtive glances from the chef. He grabbed a tray from one of his staff and held it high. “That’s what I’m talking about!” He handed it off to a server who would distribute the snacks to the guests while they waited for the ceremony to begin.

One side of the kitchen was a wall of windows facing the ocean. Outside, an expansive deck ran the length of the house. This place must have been ten times the size of my cottage, but I wouldn’t trade my place for the world. It had become my home after moving to Belle Harbor and my little cocoon away from the world. And with my newly adopted little kitten, it was an incredible sanctuary.

“You’re not doing it right,” came the powerful voice from the other side of the kitchen.

Linda and I looked at each other and shrugged. How could someone function properly under those conditions? I put my hand on her arm as she retrieved the mascarpone from the bag. I smiled, then glanced at Ricardo and back at Linda. “I’m so glad you agreed to become my assistant.”

She put the cheese on the counter and squeezed me in a tight hug. Releasing me, she looked directly into my eyes. “You did me a favor. I feel like I’ve been given a new life. After my husband died, I rattled around that big house, unsure what to do with myself. Thank you,” Linda said.

“Quiet!” Chef Ricardo bellowed.

Linda put her hand over her mouth and dipped her head, snickering. My eyes widened, hoping her gesture didn’t get us banished from the kitchen.

We started with step one and prepared the pans and the crust for the cheesecake. Silently, we worked in perfect rhythm together. Linda placed parchment paper into the springform pans and greased them. She took some of the ingredients to the refrigerator and returned to our work counter.

Ricardo whipped his head in our direction.

“We agreed. Two shelves in the cooler,” I boldly stated. My hands shook as I finished mixing the ingredients for the crusts. With a million times more confidence than I felt, I stood tall and returned to my task, hearing nothing more from Ricardo. OK, battle number one went to the ladies. I didn’t want to intentionally tick him off, but I wasn’t going to cower either.

“Tilly,” Linda started, glancing at Ricardo. She lowered her voice. Might as well not tempt the troll. “You told me you had an idea for your bakery location.” We each took mounds of the cookie crust and pressed it into the pans. I couldn’t believe how lucky I got at finding Linda to join me as an assistant in the bakery. Or maybe the universe had guided us together. I had met her when Uncle Jack agreed to run her estate sale, something he hadn’t done in quite a while. She was perfect for me . . . and I think perfect for Unkie. Things were moving along well between the two of them. It was adorable to see them flirt with each other like teenagers. My uncle was perennially happy, but Linda catapulted his mood into the atmosphere.

“Yes. With Poppy’s Pizza Parlor going out of business, I got to thinking that might be an option. I’m going to look at it later with the realtor and see what work it might need,” I said.

This move would be incredibly bittersweet. Uncle Jack had carved out a space in the corner of his Checkered Past Antique store for my little baking kitchen. Leaving that location meant my business was doing well, everything I wanted. But not seeing my uncle as much weighed heavy on my heart. I secretly wondered if there was a place big enough for both of us to move to. But the location he had on the beach for his store had been his space for over forty years.

Before my Uncle Frank passed, the two of them had been unstoppable. Unkie had lost his step for a while after his brother’s death, but my arrival in town seemed to get him out of his funk and give him new life. I didn’t want to hurt that, but he was the first to encourage me to get my own space. We would just have to develop a new routine together. Poppy’s Pizza wasn't too far from the antique store, so I was sure we could find a way to make it work.

Several people ran by the kitchen, going from the front of the house to the back. The voices raised significantly, and yelling started. I couldn’t make out the words. Chef Ricardo’s team stopped what they were doing and all heads swiveled toward the commotion.

He raised his arms in the air, screaming, “Did I tell you to stop?” Sheepishly, they all obediently returned to their tasks. The chef stomped over to Linda and me and asked, “What’s going on?”

Several more people filed by the door, a few sniffling. “I can’t believe this is happening,” one of them said.

I turned to Linda, my eyes wide. I stuck my head into the hallway as the entire crowd streamed past. “The wedding is off” I heard as everyone moved toward the great room of the house.

Pots and pans were clanging behind me as Chef Ricardo slammed them into the sink, some full of food. “I knew it. That entitled little brat. Who would want to marry her anyway?”

I looked at my watch and saw I had a few minutes before the cheesecake crusts needed to get into the cooler. If we even needed them anymore. Curiosity got the best of me and I joined the throng.

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