In Pies and Prejudice, the first in the Charmed Pie Shoppe series by Ellery Adams, Ella Mae LeFay returns to her hometown of Havenwood, Georgia to get away from her cheating husband. Her mother and three aunts encourage Ella Mae to pursue her gift of making pies by opening a shop devoted to selling pies. Over the course of the book, Ella Mae comes to realize that she bakes her emotions into her pies and shares them with those who eat the pies. Her aunts cry blue tears eating blueberry pie baked while she is thinking of her cheating husband. An eighty-year-old man in a walker does cartwheels down the street after eating a pie full of joy. And the city sees a spate of people ripping their clothes off after eating pie she has worked on while in the arms of her childhood crush, a hot firefighter.
Unfortunately, Loralyn Gaynor, the bully who tormented Ella Mae all through high school, is still in town and as nasty as ever. Loralyn becomes enraged after Ella Mae’s family has bought the office space that Loralyn has gotten her extremely rich, much older fiance to promise to buy for her so she can open up her third salon. Loralyn’s threats to sabotage Ella Mae’s pie shop and hurt her dog spur Ella Mae to yell a threat at Loralyn, something that comes back to haunt Ella Mae when police find the fiance dead in a fire with a rolling pins that has Ella Mae’s fingerprints on it near the body. After a grilling by the police, Ella Mae decides to investigate for herself, afraid that the local citizenry will avoid her pie shop if she does not soon clear her name.
This book is labeled a cozy mystery, but it might also be labeled a cozy magical book. Ellery Adams has a unique way of blending genres, mixing elements of different styles in her writing. Besides the magic seen in Ella Mae’s pie making, her mother and sisters have their own special gifts. This book has fewer non-mystery genres than the three other series by Adams that I have read. It has elements of magic and romance, but virtually all cozy mystery books have some type of love interest. However, I do see potential for the series to develop the romance life of Ella Mae in more detail. I see less personal and family drama in this book than in the three other series I’ve read.
I found this book somewhat flat in its characters and plot. I felt that Ella Mae was someone I cared about, but not someone I really felt invested in. While Loralyn certainly made a good villain I loved to hate, there was not much more to her than the single fact that everything she did was evil. The lack of sparkle in the characters in this book really disappointed me, as one thing I love the most in Ellery Adamss’ books is the way she usually draws her characters with so much life that I feel I would know them if I ran into them on the street.
The book is voiced by C.S.E. Cooney, whom I enjoyed listening to. This book is set farther south than the other Ellery Adams books I have listened to, Georgia versus Virginia and North Carolina, so it is appropriate that I can notice a stronger southern accent in Cooney’s reading than in the reading of the other narrators. However, these Californian ears had no trouble understanding any of it, which is sometimes the case with stronger southern accents.
According to the description, the printed form of this book comes with recipes for pies, which will be a great bonus if the recipes live up to the descriptions in the book.
Maybe if I hadn’t started reading Pies and Prejudice with the high expectations I gained from reveling in the Books by the Bay, Book Retreat, and Hope Street Church series by Adams, who has become my favorite contemporary author, I would have enjoyed this book more than I did. As it is, I still intend to read the rest of the series. I give it three stars.
Pies and Prejudice is available now. To order from Amazon, click here. You may also find it in your local bookstore or library.
Note: We are Amazon affiliates and will receive a small percentage of the cost of any item purchased through this site.