Gone with a Handsomer Man****.*
by Michael Lee West
An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.
Take one out-of-work pastry chef . . .
“Teeny Templeton believes that her life is finally on track. She’s getting married, she’s baking her own wedding cake, and she’s leaving her troubled past behind. And then? She finds her fiancé playing naked badminton with a couple of gorgeous, skanky chicks.
Add a whole lot of trouble . . .
Needless to say, the wedding is off. Adding insult to injury, her fiancé slaps a restraining order on her. When he’s found dead a few days later, all fingers point to Teeny.
And stir like crazy!
Her only hope is through an old boyfriend-turned-lawyer, the guy who broke her heart a decade ago. But dredging up the past brings more than skeletons out of the closet, and Teeny doesn’t know who she can trust. With evidence mounting and the heat turning up, Teeny must also figure out where to live, how to support herself, how to clear her name, and how to protect her heart.”
We were fortunate to have been invited to visit Charleston this past weekend, which is a favorite destination for us. Beside the charm, architecture & history of the city, we visit for the FOOD!
A Foodie’s paradise, we graze our way across the peninsula, hoping that the fact we’ve parked the car for the weekend, means we’re expending a few of the calories we’re consuming. I thought I’d include some Charleston photos, some new & some I’ve posted before, sprinkling in some of my favorite quotes from the book, as part this edible review since we just returned from the scene of the crime(s). . .
Following Teeny in Charleston and her culinary escapades, was the fictitious “I’m a Suspect Icing” on the “I Didn’t Kill My Boyfriend Cake” for me :-)
I even ran into Teeny’s bulldog, Sir, on a previous trip, right across from a white mansion on South Battery~
You know you’re in for a treat from the first two sentences:
“All I ever wanted in life was true love, a set of copper cookware, and the perfect recipe for red velvet cake. The last thing I wanted was to end up on Charleston’s six o’clock news, accused of murder and a slew of other crimes.”
So the fun begins. . .
Michael Lee West serves up Teeny’s troubles and tribulations like a Baptist Church covered-dish supper~ there are things you anticipate, but with lots more variety and MORE than a few surprises :-)
There was as much tempt my palate in this book, as when we visit Charleston: Coconut Shrimp, BBQ ribs, Bacon-Deviled Eggs, Seven-Layer Salad, Chicken Fried Steak, Tomato Basil Tart, not to mention every type of pie imaginable, along with recipes included in the book for Lavender Shortbread, Teeny’s Vanilla Peach Pecan Coffee Cake, Espresso Steak Rub & Fried Green Tomato Salad with Cornbread Croutons.
The MOST fun for me was reading excerpts from Teeny’s ‘Templeton Family Receipts & Whatnot’:
“Whenever one of the sisters got peeved, she wrote a recipe—not a normal one, mind you, but one that helped her relax. Some people have punching bags, time-out rooms, or Prozac. The Templetons had a cookbook. Our recipes were fanciful, listing umpteen lethal ingredients. Not that we’d ever tried them on anyone. It was just a way of venting.”
I took my cue from Teeny’s shopping cart to make a trifle:
“Food defines people just as clearly as their taste in clothing and their interior design. Miss Dora and I had discussed this a lot. Our cart overflowed with carby things: garlic French bread, potatoes, fresh corn, and a bakery sour cream cake that I planned to turn into a trifle. To our credit, we had a box of strawberries for the aforementioned trifle.”
A Bonaventure Georgia Peach Trifle, with a few strawberries from Teeny’s cart~ layers of pound cake, vanilla pudding & topped with whipped cream.
If you’d like a recipe you can find one for Georgia Peach Trifle, courtesy of Southern Living, here.
“That gave me an idea. I grabbed a peach. In a month, it would be ripe, but now it was hard and heavy.”
“I fired down two more peaches. One whizzed over Bing’s head but the other slammed into his nether region.”
Since it’s not peach season, it came as no great surprise that my peaches were as hard & heavy as the ones Teeny fires as ammunition, so I used frozen peaches for my trifle instead :-)
“In my mind, peach trees meant love, shelter, and comfort. I’d grown up on a peach farm in Bonaventure, Georgia. Bing knew how I felt. The engagement was broken, but the tree should stay in one piece.”
“ ‘The whole process just tickles me,” I said. ‘I like matching food to people and filling up their empty spaces.’ ”
“As I drove toward the Battery, I felt the pull of the Spencer-Jackson.”
“The house was creeping up on me, seducing me with iron curlicues. . . ”
“. . .secret alleys. . .”
“. . .rose petals on cobbled walkways. . .”
“. . .and the tolling bells of St. Michael’s.”
“I loved the play of light on the stucco and how it changed from ice pink to peach to Pepto-Bismol.”
“This was Charleston, by god. The people might have lost the war but not their manners.”
“On this side of East Bay, the houses were fitted together like marzipan confections—cotton candy pink, blueberry, lime, saffron, watermelon ice.”
“When I got nervous, I had my own ways of calming down; I made up unusual recipes that weren’t necessarily edible but suited my mood.”
“I needed that book because it was full of make-believe evilness, penned by a whole slew of Templeton women trying to improve their moods with pounded peach seeds and foxglove.”
“I pulled the sheet over my head and tried to think of a soothing imaginary recipe. What I really needed was Smother Your Love gravy, poured over Forget Him pork chops, with a heaping side dish of He’s Better Off With Her pie.”
I decided to make Teeny’s signature cocktail. . .if you’ve read the book, you’re probably expecting a Peach-Teeny/Tini~
There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments for me, especially in this chapter of the book~
Teeny’s Splendid Mimosas~
Teeny’s cocktail of choice to serve for those with a Sucralose allergy
Rim a LARGE glass with pink sugar~ to distract with the lovely color & camouflage the sweet SPLENDA® flavor
Mix Blood Orange juice :-) with as many SPLENDA® packets as you dare~
Hope & Pray Sucralose with take effect sooner rather than later. . .
Add plenty of Champagne~ don’t be skimpy~
Conceal evidence of empty little yellow packets,
Serve and Hope for the Best!
“Teeny Templeton is small-statured and big-hearted, a heroine worthy of this novel, which is by turn acerbic and sweet, poignant and funny, with great sex, bad boyfriends, and Do Not Try This at Home recipes. However you slice it, Gone with a Handsomer Man is as addictive as red velvet cake. I hope it sells as many copies as that other novel set in the South that starts with ‘Gone with.’” –Harley Jane Kozak, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning author of Dating Dead Men and A Date You Can’t Refuse
Enjoy a second helping of Teeny
and a Teeny Tasting, here.
Love it, love it, love it! I am definitely reading this book.
Maria, your knack for taking us on an edible book romp is amazing….
I hope you don’t mind that I am sharing this review with the Culinary Literary Group at Gather.com…..!
Your posts are so wonderful and probably the best on Earth! I read and savor each word and revisit each photo over and over. My nephews’ girlfriend is a native Charlestonian and we adore the city. Your post makes me so hungry for a visit and soon!
Thank you so much for an absolutely wonderful blog. I’m never disappointed, EVER!
Your post is gorgeous Mary. I loved seeing the Charleston images. Love that city and would return tomorrow if possible.
Wonderful book review!
The trifle looks amazing! Might just give that a try in a couple of months when the local peaches start coming in.
What a great job you did capturing Charleston. It is, indeed, a delightful place with wonderful color and texture, both in the food and the places. Did you by any chance try the shrimp and grits at Magnolia Grill?
Hi, Yes, over the years I think we’ve had one of everything on Magnolia’s menu! One of my favorites aps is the Down South Egg Roll :-)
As soon as I saw a comment from you last week saying that you planned to read the book I thought-oh boy, this will be good! As always Mary, what an amazing post-loved it all! Gorgeous pics, settings and recipes:@)
It looks as though you had a great time putting this together! The Georgia Peach Trifle looks and sounds delightful.
The trifle is amazing. We don’t have peaches yet in the market, or least any that looked like yours!
I have a deer friend who graduated from The Citadel and we went to his wedding near there. I had never been to a wedding reception in a church basement before. We were all from NY and in college, and thought we were going to a wedding like we have here. What a surprise! Punch and cookies! :)
I can’t wait for Teeny’s next adventure either. Have a
great weekend and thanks for stopping by!
Let me tell you how much I love Charleston…its charm and elegance. The architecture and the antiquity, the restaurants…I could go on and on! This post is just perfect in so many ways…I am going back to read it again and wish that I will have another trip there very soon.
hmm, that would be a” dear” friend The deer are devouring the new growth on my plants, so they are on my mind. :)
I loved this post Mary, as I love all your posts! I have yet to visit Charleston and your beautiful photos made me wish I could go there tomorrow! Your trifle looked so good, hard peaches or not. I can’t wait to read Michael’s book –I know I will love it!
Oh my! You captured the Spencer-Jackson! That was it exactly, gorgeous and pink and “to die for”! What fun with the artificial sweetener. Your trifle looks killer too. I know, I want to try so many of the recipe ideas. I haven’t made an Italian Cream Cake in years (cuz my kids would complain about the nuts in the cream cheese frosting!) but that got me going!
Oh, I just couldn’t say enough! What a beautiful post and so much effort. You always amaze me, you have the most creative mind and the energy to put it all together!!!!!
I just love these kinds of posts. I love the pictures, the review, the food, the stunning photography, the link to the recipes (I am soooo making that peach trifle, just need to get some appropriate glassware). What fun this was to read this morning!
Peach Trifle is one of our all-time favorite desserts! Your looks perfect!
I just started reading Michael’s book and looking forward to finishing it. Loved visiting Charleston through your beautiful photos! :)
Oh, this is a tour de Teeny! What a joy to see your gorgeous photographs–they bring the book into vivid color and add so many nuances and dimensions. You captured the heart of Teeny and Charleston, right down to Sir and Splenda. A thousand hugs and a million thank yous. XX00
Mary, I’m late commenting, because I first viewed this fabulous post on my iPhone. Your view of Charleston certainly captures the essence of GWAHM. Kudos for a stella post. I had wanted to use Splenda packs and the quotes on the back cover, but my mind couldn’t compete with this. You amaze me! I so admire your creative talent and energy. I want to be just like you when I grow up! ~ Sarah
What a delightful post! Your trifle is exquisite and I loved the photos of Charleston! Just gorgeous.
Just stopping by to say that my publisher and literary agency retweeted this gorgeous post. XXOO
What a great blog. I love it! So many beautiful photos and posts. I want a pontoon boat now. We have a center console fishing boat but a pontoon looks fun to dine and relax in. I like the book reviews, too.
Books, food, photos, porch, water, a boat, I’m hooked!
I didn’t realize you had gone to WP. Your blog looks fantastic! Thanks for visiting. I will put this on my sidebar so I don’t miss you.
I loved your post. I am currently reading the book and loving it:)
having been in the military and stationed predominately in th southeastern side of our great nation Charlestown is simply put a jewel in the crown that makes up a southern belle’s tiara
Ooh lala!!! Your trifle looks delightful!!! And all your gorgeous photos too! What a lovely look at Charleston through your eyes!
Blessings & Aloha!
Beautiful Post … love the place, too! Thanks for sharing.
Charleston is on my bucket list….I’m sure we will be visiting in the next year or so and I love all that charm! Great post!
The pictures! The food! The book! You’ve blended the ingredients for a perfect post! I must say that peach trifle is looking delicious.
Ahhhhh, Mary. Now I understand a bit about the talent behind your gorgeous, gorgeous posts. I finally saw the little ‘about me’ click at the top of your blog and read it.
You have taken your talents in one area and moved them quite beautifully into another. The way you weave your story through your graphics is amazing. I’m glad you’ve found an alternate media for your design talents.
I look forward to seeing what you have to share each week. Thanks for linking up. Your posts are always incredible.
Delightful! I so enjoy Michele Lee West and always love a trip back to Charleston. I have alot of the same pics. Wonderful Post as always!
Oh my goodness! What a fun C post. My daughter will be living in North Carolina when her husband gets back from deployment. When I visit her we’ll have to hop over to Charleston. That Peach Trifle looks amazing! I’m hungry!!
best wishes for the book…wow.
Happy Mother’s Day for Moms in your family.
I so love Charleston. It is one of my favorite southern destinations! That trifle looks really good too!~Ames
I didn’t know where to look first – what a beautiful post! The food…the lovely views of Charleston – everything…
Sorry for the late comment! What a fun post! I love Charleston. I’ve only been there once, but thought it was really great! Thanks for the great trip down memory lane!
Just found this site. After reading your “About me” you could be my sister (I felt like I was reading— about me!) So much in common!
Charleston is beautiful and that dessert divine! I got caught up in the photos, I didn’t even read the post. Now I have to go back to do that!
I’ve always wanted to go, and now I want to go even more!!!! Beautiful posts…..thank you!!! (ps Try Stevia instead!!!!!!)