“Jane Heller is the literary master. She has an inimitable knack for crafting perfectly imperfect characters and dropping them into outrageous yet utterly believable situations where hilarity inevitably ensues. Heller’s timing is flawless, her turns-of-phrases are peerless, and her endings never fail to satisfy. Three Blonde Mice is like the Dark Chocolate Marquise featured in the book (recipe included!): decadent, sexy, and over far too soon.” — Jenna McCarthy, author of Everything’s Relative
“A hilarious culinary comedy dripping with both romance and suspense that deliciously sends up the farm-to-table foodie phenom. Prepare to laugh out loud – sustainably.” — Ciji Ware, New York Times bestselling author of That Winter in Venice.
“I loved Three Blonde Mice, a hilarious send-up of foodies and the farm-to-table movement. Three Blonde Mice is a delicious read — and there are no calories.” — Elaine Viets, author of The Art of Murder: A Dead-End Job Mystery
Melodie Johnson Howe
“I love Jane Heller’s quirky off-kilter novels! In Three Blonde Mice, Heller and her keen-eyed wit cook up a wonderful satire on chic cooking classes, farm-to-table food groupies and chefs with the egos of rock stars. She dissects love – and conjures up a murder plot – with the sharpness of a paring knife. I enjoyed every delicious moment.” — Melodie Johnson Howe, author of City of Mirrors
“A real treat, deliciously spiced both in the culinary and cozy mystery sense. Loved the setting with its farm-to-table ambience and the sharp, at times biting humor laced throughout. I gobbled up THREE BLONDE MICE. Highly recommended.” — Eileen Goudge, New York Times bestselling author of the Cypress Bay mystery series
July 4, 2016
Somebody wants to kill famed farm-to-table chef Jason Hill, but the titular blonds—40-something Elaine Zimmerman and her two best friends, Pat and Jackie, all on a “haycation” at a Cultivate Our Bounty week in Connecticut—are on the case….Heller offers plenty of red herrings and a decent amount of laughs at present-day foodie culture….The ever-wry Elaine is a finely honed narrator.
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
August 1, 2016
A romantic comedy with a hint of malice, a dash of snark, and a good size helping of great friends….This is the story of what happens when agritourism goes one step BEYOND the table. It reminds us to be true to ourselves AS WELL AS others because you just never know whom you might offend with that little white lie and end up going from top chef to prime entree. First things first, that title! Usually the cutesy stuff gets taken up by the Cozy Mystery genre but not so in this case. While there IS a mystery to solve, it’s not all about THAT drama, it’s about all the other drama, and the title works perfectly for our sleuthing trio while still being playful. Now, speaking of that trio, for me, the ladies starring front and center reminded me of the Sex and the City quartet minus one. They’ve all got distinctive personalities, missions, and even a “Mr Big” contender. They share the highs and lows of their lives, often times around the table….The ladies (Jackie and Pat) are here to support their friend (Elaine) as she aims for a fresh start devoid of her commitment phobic ex (Simon). It’s suppose to be a week of food, fun, and friends (perhaps some “more than friends” too!)…but alas, it looks like dessert will be fiendish behavior in the form of an uber creepy stalker-ish letter, and a big finale that’ll leave someone down for the count. Can the ladies uncover the potential hench man or woman before things really heat up or will they have to stay out of the kitchen…PERMANENTLY….Between the murder mystery and the foodie adventure, one would have more than enough to occupy themselves with here, but the author does one better with these memorable characters. I could honestly say that in real life, I’d adore friends like these ladies. I mean, they’re there for each other through thick and thin, aren’t afraid to call each other as well as themselves out on any BS, and can work a secret arrangement (with good intentions!) with the best of them. Then there’s all the other attendee’s of the event…and potential KILLERS…adding their own flavor to the mix. From the too-good-to-be-true love interest to the slightly obsessed foodie groupie couple to the “I-bleed-Earth” pair, they are as varied as the ingredients they’ll be working with. The Cultivate Our Bounty week was an awesome time to look behind the agritourism (didn’t really even know the word before this book) craze sweeping the nation without ever getting your hands dirty… Healthy for you, good for the earth, kind to the sources of our nourishment….not a bad mix. In the end, it was a delightful read that had me turning pages while smiling, snickering, or smacking my lips at the delicious recipes described. WARNING: DO NOT READ ON AN EMPTY STOMACH! The humor and friendship were contagious, the info on agritourism and farm-to-table restaurants eye-opening, and that fact that someone ACTUALLY gets hit in the arse (w/a bullet) that deserves it, TOTALLY worth it. These gals are a great trio, and sharing their adventure was really BANG BANG! (inside joke) Recommended read for Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, and Romantic Comedy fans…as well as those that simply love a delicious fictitious tale to drool over.
A Chick Who Reads
August 1, 2016
Three Blonde Mice is a tongue in cheek self proclaimed nickname for friends Elaine, Jackie and Pat. They met each other as each of them were going through a divorce, and have become fast friends. We were introduced to these characters in Jane Heller’s Princess Charming, when they went on their first group vacation, a cruise. This novel follows them on their second vacation to Connecticut for Cultivate Your Bounty week, a farm to table festival where they will join food enthusiasts for private cooking lessons from celebrity chef Jason Hill. They get a little more than they bargained for when they find out that one of their classmates may want more from their chef than lessons, they may want him dead. We quickly catch up with our three main characters. Elaine, who found love on the high seas, is disillusioned with her boyfriend, Simon, and has broken up with him because of his lack of commitment…. I quite liked Elaine, who doesn’t let a surprise appearance by Simon stop her from trying out her femme fatale moves on classmate, Jonathon, to determine whether he is guilty or innocent. The mystery was pretty good, but the reason why a sequel was written, in my opinion, was because of the friendship of the three ladies. They met each other and found common ground through divorce, and that support has continued as each finds their legs. Each of them are in different places in their lives, but their friendship remains solid, even as they once again find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation. Jane Heller’s writing is loose and funny and not your typical tightly wound mystery. You do not need to read the first novel to enjoy Three Blonde Mice, this can be read as a stand alone novel.
Tribune Company/Variety Menu Column by Diane Rossen Worthington
August 1, 2016
Sometimes it’s fun to share other things than just a recipe. As a food writer I receive many books to review, from cookbooks to food-related memoirs to novels. When this food-lover’s romantic, suspenseful comedy landed on my desk, I took the afternoon off to indulge in some fun reading. Without a doubt, “Three Blonde Mice” is the foodie beach read of the summer. Author Jane Heller knows how to tell a good story, and this one weaves in food, satirically mocks the over-used Farm to Table movement and reminds us what’s so funny about human nature. Milking a cow never was so fun to read about!
Two years ago, my friend Rhonda Friedman, supervising producer at the CBS daytime drama “The Bold and the Beautiful,” told me the show was co-publishing a series of romantic novellas based on the main characters but featuring plots that the authors were dreaming up themselves. “Do you have any interest in writing one of these?” she asked me. I had started watching B&B when I met Rhonda, so I was familiar with the soap’s characters. “Sure, why not?” I told her, figuring I’d write the book under a pseudonym. It would be a fun project, I decided, and that would be that – something very different for me to satisfy my creativity between my other books. The result was called Blindsided by Love and I had an absolute blast writing it.
After it was published last year, I said to my husband, “If I can come up with a new story about characters on a soap opera, why don’t I write a new story about characters from one of my books?” His reaction was, “No reason at all. Go for it.” Coincidentally, I got an email from a reader who told me that Princess Charming was her favorite of my novels and that she wished I’d bring back the book’s three best friends and send them on another vacation. I’d had similar requests over the years from fans who wanted more of the “three blonde mice,” as they referred to themselves, so the timing seemed perfect to write a sequel to Princess Charming.
The question was where to send the three women on their latest vacation? Also coincidentally, I had just left California to spend the summer in Connecticut, where there are dozens of farms and farm-to-table restaurants, some of which offer cooking classes. I decided to place Elaine, Jackie and Pat at a farm resort where they would be agritourists, having read that agritourism is a very hot travel trend. During the summer, I learned how to milk a cow, make cheese from the milk, cook farm-to-table meals – all the things my heroines ended up doing. Here’s a pic of me milking (or trying to) an extremely tolerant cow named Missy.
What a fabulous summer of research it was! I gained a real understanding of sustainability and farming, particularly dairy farming, and enjoyed every morsel of food I cooked and put into my mouth. Speaking of which, as part of my research I interviewed Dan Magill, the executive chef at Arethusa al tavolo, one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in the Tri-State area. Nominated for a James Beard Award, Dan introduced me to his pastry chef, James Arena, who actually created a dessert for me to use in the book. He even gave me the recipe, which I included in the Author’s Note.
Now I can’t wait to see where the three blonde mice will wind up next. And yes, there will be a sequel to the sequel!
Read the First Chapter
“Welcome. Welcome,” said the woman who was standing in the center of the room. Fifty-something years old, she had a weathered but pleasant-looking face and wore a Whitley-logoed T-shirt with a pair of blue jeans. Her gray hair was fashioned into two long, age-inappropriate braids. If she’d had a beard and mustache, she would have been the spitting image of Willie Nelson. “I’m Rebecca Kissel, Whitley’s executive director. I’m so pleased that you’ve chosen us for your agritourism experience and are here at our Welcome Happy Hour. We’ve got an exciting week planned for you, and the weather is supposed to cooperate, so I know it’ll be fun as well as educational. You’ll enjoy meeting our in-house staff as well as your fellow agritourists, but the highlight will be your interactions with the renowned farm-to-table master we’ve snagged for you: Chef Jason Hill, who personifies clean, sustainable food that’s as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. He’ll be your instructor this week as our artisan in residence and will preside over our Saturday Bounty Fest finale to which we invite our non-Cultivate Our Bounty guests as well as members of the community.”
She nodded at a long table set up across Whitley’s Harvest Room, a serene space that overlooked infinite pastures. It was painted in the palest yellow and decorated in a neutral palette of bleached oak flooring and oversized white-slipcovered chairs. There were also strategically placed white poufs—cubes that doubled as ottomans on top of which rested reading materials about the property’s rich agricultural history.
“Before you leave tonight,” she continued, “please stop by the hospitality table and pick up your personal earth- friendly, 100 percent recycled cotton Whitley tote bag. There’s one for each of our agritourists as well as one for Chef Hill—you’ll see your nametag pinned to your bag— and it contains maps of the property, a biography of Chef Hill, his recipes that you’ll be preparing, a copy of his latest cookbook, the schedule of events, and lots more. The tote bags are handy because you can repurpose them for the beach, for work, for groceries, for gardening, whatever you like.” She beamed, as if she were about to announce a cure for cancer. “You’ll really appreciate the bags after you’ve cooked with us this week. Just think how much fun it’ll be to bring your homemade fruit preserves, pickled vegetables, and raw nut balls to your friends and neighbors!”
“Speaking of nut balls, whose idea was this trip anyway?” I said to my best pals, Jackie Gault and Pat Kovecky, as we huddled together in a room full of strangers at the start of our week’s vacation. Well, more precisely it was a “haycation” because we were staying on a farm.
No, we weren’t camping out in some broken-down barn. Please. I’m a person who has standing appointments for twice-weekly blowouts. We’d booked the Cultivate Our Bounty package at Whitley Farm, a Relais & Chateaux resort in Litchfield, Connecticut. It boasted a restaurant headed by a James Beard Award nominee and guest cottages outfitted with four-poster king-size beds swathed in Frette linens and layers of down, and we were there to learn where our food comes from and take culinary classes so we’d be able to cook the stuff. We would be milking a cow and making cheese from that milk; selecting a grass-fed, pasture-raised chicken and then roasting it with herbs we picked in the garden; foraging among the weeds for elderberries, milkweed, and other oddities of nature and then turning them into edible menu items. From Whitley’s brochure: “Our goal is to increase understanding and appreciation of the land and the food it provides by giving our agritourists the opportunity to cultivate the bounty that sustains us while experiencing true farm-to-table cooking.”
“It was my idea,” said Jackie in her low, husky voice. “I thought the Three Blonde Mice deserved a week that didn’t involve a hit man and a wacko ex-husband.” She knocked back the last of her wine and heaved a grateful sigh, as if she’d been waiting all day for that glass. She preferred hardcore alcohol like bourbon and Scotch but would drink anything you put in front of her—too much of it lately, if you asked me. As for her “Three Blonde Mice” bit, it was the nursery rhyme nickname I’d given the three of us when we met seven years ago, and not because we were mousy. My hair was shoulder length and highlighted to a near platinum blonde; Jackie’s was cut short and utilitarian like a punk boy’s, spiky and strawberry; Pat’s was a maze of tight frizzy curls—the color of oatmeal with glints of gray.
“I think it’ll be enlightening,” said Pat, after a decorous sip of her wine. She held her glass with her pinky extended like someone drinking tea out of one of those itsy bitsy china cups. “A nice change from last year’s trip, that’s for sure.”
“I’m counting on it,” said Jackie.
We took vacations together every year, and the last one was a disaster: a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean on an enormous floating hotel called the Princess Charming, during which Jackie’s ex-husband Peter had hired one of the other passengers to kill her on the ship. Yes, kill her. (The would-be hit man was in the dining room with us every night. At the 6:30 early-bird seating, if you can believe it.) On top of that, she and Peter had been partners in J&P Nursery, a landscaping and gardening center in Bedford, a New York suburb frequently referred to as one of the most posh hamlets in America. The nursery serviced the fifty-acre estates of Wall Street hedge fund managers who viewed themselves as country gentlemen and therefore bought a lot of topiary. But when Peter turned out to be a crook, a cad, and a creep, and was carted off to the big house, the business became Jackie’s responsibility.
Pat gave Jackie’s arm an affectionate squeeze. “We won’t let anything or anyone upset the apple tart this week, don’t you worry.”
“Apple cart, Pat.” I always tried to restrain myself from correcting her, but, despite her privileged upbringing and Ivy League education, she was hopelessly susceptible to malapropisms and often spoke in sentences you’d expect to hear from a foreign exchange student. “I’m sure apple tarts will figure into our week here though.”
I polished off my glass of Whitley Farm’s Merlot-Petit Syrah. It was pretty decent for a blend produced in Connecticut, which was not, after all, California. In California, we’d be blathering about how a wine’s structure, balance, and aroma were a religious experience. Not that I was a wine connoisseur. I drank red mostly because it was packed with life-saving antioxidants, allegedly. Women my age—I’m on the diminished-estrogen-level side of forty-five and a borderline hypochondriac—need all the help we can get.
“Now that you’re all sufficiently lubricated, are you ready for our Whitley Mystery Challenge?” asked Rebecca, our fearless leader, as servers clad in yellow aprons that matched the walls stood at attention over by the table where our tote bags awaited us.
“Mystery Challenge?” I rolled my eyes. “I hate mysteries. They’re in the same category as surprises, and you know how I feel about those.”
“Elaine,” Jackie groaned. “Try to just go with the flow for a change.”
“Your servers are going to blindfold you,” Rebecca explained, “and then you’ll taste several of Chef Hill’s offerings that showcase Whitley’s commitment to sustainable food systems. You’ll smell and touch each bite, savor it, and explore the culinary experience. Afterwards, you’ll remove your blindfolds, and we’ll discuss what you were eating, and you can assess your palate’s ability to identify flavor profiles. This is how you’ll begin to cultivate your bounty and learn where it comes from.”
“Give me a break. Do we really need to know where our bounty comes from?” I said. “Personally, I think people who obsess about whether their salmon is sockeye or chinook are schnooks. It’s a piece of fish, not a priceless diamond, and all it does is swim through my intestinal tract and land in my toilet bowl. And foraging? Seriously? What if we get Lyme disease from traipsing through the woods, not to mention poison ivy? Oh, and The Huffington Post had an article the other day about a man who drank raw milk from a farm like Whitley and came down with Guillain-Barré syndrome.”
“Elaine.” Jackie groaned again, while Pat giggled.
Okay, I admit I was risk-averse and paranoid, anticipating danger, disaster, and death when no possibility of these things existed. Such traits could be amusing if you were a friend and irritating if you weren’t.
“You’ll end up liking this trip,” said Jackie, as a rosy-cheeked male server with a mullet headed our way carrying something that wasn’t food. “You’re just being your usual neurotic self.”
She was probably right. She and Pat knew me better than almost anyone. We’d met at a New York courthouse the day we’d all shown up to divorce our worthless spouses. Twenty minutes after our chance encounter in that musty, charmless lobby, we’d moved from consoling each other about our exes to celebrating our shared courage in shedding them, and then we’d ditched our lawyers and gone out for lunch—a long lunch involving a piano player who sang “Hey Jude” and kept extorting everybody to join in, which nobody did. Many more get-togethers followed, and the Three Blonde Mice became as close as sisters. It didn’t matter that we were very different in terms of personality and background. We genuinely cared about the friendship, and nurtured it.
“And while you may not want to learn all this farm stuff, I do,” Jackie went on. “A lot of my customers are installing vegetable and herb gardens on their properties, and I need to be knowledgeable about it. Besides, Chef Hill is kind of hot from what I’ve seen of him on TV.” She wiggled her hips. “Maybe I’ll get lucky.”
Ever since Peter had traded my tomboy, whiskey-voiced friend for a simpering girly girl named Trish who probably wore her pearls to bed, Jackie had been on the prowl for men who would validate her sex appeal, and her quest only intensified after their divorce. She talked incessantly about getting laid or wishing she could.
“And I’ll learn how to cook healthier meals for Bill and the children,” said Pat.
Pat’s husband was a gastroenterologist named Bill or, as I’d dubbed him, the God of Gastroenterology. He was a celebrity doctor, the guardian of the country’s collective digestive system, and he popped up on Good Morning America whenever there was a national outbreak of E. Coli. After a few years of letting his big, know-it-all personality overshadow her gentle, supportive one, Pat had decided enough was enough and divorced him. Eventually, he realized what a dope he’d been—it’s not every day you find a woman of Pat’s devotion and utter goodness—and came crawling back. They re-married, to the delight of their five teenagers—four boys, and a girl who had Pat’s squat, pear- shaped body and round, full face along with her sweet nature and shining blue eyes.
“I get that you both have your agendas for this week,” I said, “but being educated about the lifespan of a zucchini blossom isn’t my idea of a good time.”
Our server arrived, interrupting our back-and-forth. “Good evening. I’m Oliver, and I’ll be working with you for the Mystery Challenge.” He held up three black eye masks of the type used for either a good night’s sleep or a date with the guy from Fifty Shades of Grey, and slipped a blindfold over our eyes. “Now I’ll fetch your challenge items. Be back in a few.”
Suddenly, I was in total darkness, and I did not enjoy the feeling. Nor did I appreciate having my eye makeup smudged.
“It’s Oliver again,” said our server after we had stood silently for a few minutes, awaiting his return. It was as if losing our sight had infantilized us, rendering us mute as well as blind. “I’ve got a tray of food here—three different bites for each of you ladies. I’ll guide your hands to the bites and you can sample them. After your blindfolds come off, you’ll tell Rebecca what you ate. Ready?”
“Yup, me first, Ollie,” said Jackie. “I’m starving.”
“Okay, I’m picking up your right hand now and directing it to one of the bites,” he said.
“Hm. Slippery,” said Jackie. “The hors d’oeuvre, not you, Ollie.”
“Take your time with it,” he said. “Really savor it.”
I could hear Jackie chewing. She was a loud chewer even when she wasn’t savoring. “Very tasty,” she said. “I could wolf down a dozen more of these, whatever they are.”
“I’ll go next,” chirped Pat.
While my friends were playing Whitley’s little mystery game with Oliver, I lifted my blindfold just enough to sneak a peek at the tray of Chef Hill’s tidbits. Call me a cheater if you must, but I wasn’t about to eat just anything. My blood pressure was ninety over seventy for good reason. My cholesterol level was an impressive 160. And I weighed 130 pounds, which, for a middle-aged woman of my nearly six- foot height, made me a giantess with a model’s figure—if not the staggeringly beautiful face. Why was I such a healthy specimen? Because I was in control at all times. I mean what if something on that tray was a cow testicle or an octopus heart, one of those “chef ’s specialty” items you see on restaurant menus nowadays, and I spent the rest of the week with my head over the porcelain throne?
Whew. Jackie’s slippery thing is just a deviled egg, I thought with relief when I had my 20/20 vision back. It didn’t look like the mayonnaise-and-mustard-with-paprika kind my mother used to make for company, but an egg was an egg. The second item was a piece of fruit—a peach maybe— with a dollop of cheese and some sort of herb or other. And mystery bite number three was meat—chicken, probably— sandwiched between two potato—
“Your turn, Elaine,” said Pat, interrupting my stealth mission.
I fake coughed, covering my mouth with both hands so no one would notice that I was reaching up and surreptitiously sliding the blindfold down over my eyes. And then I made a performance out of letting Oliver help me navigate the bites into my mouth, smacking my lips ostentatiously and emitting “ah” and “hmm” noises as if I gave a shit what I was eating and whether it was grown at Whitley or bought at the nearest Stop & Shop. “Wow, that was intense,” I said when I was done.
Oliver gave us permission to remove our blindfolds and thanked us for our participation.
“Now comes the test,” said Rebecca once all the guests had finished the exercise. She was still in the center of the room but was now holding a clipboard and pen. “Let’s find out who was able to identify the bounty. Anybody?”
My hand shot up. Why not have a little fun with these people, I figured.
“Yes,” said Rebecca, nodding at me. “The woman in the beige sweater. Your name?”
Obviously she had no fashion sense, as my sweater was not beige. It was lightweight summer cashmere I’d gotten at last year’s Labor Day sale at Bloomie’s and its color was oatmeal. “Elaine Zimmerman,” I said. “I believe I ate an egg stuffed with beets, apples, and bleu cheese, a wine-soaked peach with a smear of herbed goat cheese and a sprig of mint, and braised chicken served between potato crisps and topped with a lemon aioli.” I smiled and waited to be told that I had just aced the class, the week, the trip.
“You fucking peeked,” Jackie hissed. She pretended to look mad, but she was laughing. “You’re such a fucking baby.” “I am not,” I hissed back. Jackie loved using the f-word in all its iterations. She was so earthy. “I was only ‘going with the flow’ like you wanted me to.”
“Not now,” Pat scolded. “You two can hatch this out later.”
“There’s nothing to hash out,” I said, compelled yet again to correct her.
“I appreciate your contribution, Elaine,” said Rebecca, scribbling my answers on her clipboard as the other guests murmured among themselves, no doubt astonished to have such a gastronome in their midst. “I think you’ll benefit greatly from your week here.”
“See that?” I whispered to my friends. “Willie Nelson thinks I’m good at cultivating my bounty.”
“Unfortunately, you didn’t identify any of the foods correctly except the hard-boiled egg,” said Rebecca, sending me into a state of sheer mortification. “And before I let the others give us their answers, let me boast about our eggs here at Whitley. They’re a product of our Rhode Island Red laying hens, which are fed our organic, certified soy-free meals so they’ll lay beautiful big brown eggs. During the summer, when there’s lots of sunlight, they lay about six per week per hen.”
“Fascinating,” I muttered. “Just riveting.”
I sulked while the other guests threw out their answers. I went into a complete snit when one of them, a young woman who looked like a walking juice cleanse, got every ingredient right.
“Don’t feel bad,” said Jackie, slinging an arm around my waist and squelching another laugh. “So the egg was stuffed with radishes, not beets. They’re both red.”
“And your peach turned out to be a pear, but they both start with p,” said Pat, with a not-very-straight face.
“You couldn’t even cheat your way through,” Jackie said. She and Pat could no longer contain themselves and were now doubled over, cackling. I was about to point out that my friends didn’t try to guess what the mystery foods were when an extremely attractive man tapped me on the shoulder.
“Sorry to intrude, but I just wanted to say that I admire your courage for being the first to raise your hand,” he said as I took a quick inventory of his refined, almost patrician appearance. Those soulful brown eyes! That lustrous brown hair curling under his ears! That Cartier tank watch that cost way more than the knockoff I’d bought off a street vendor! The rest of his wardrobe wasn’t cheap either; his shirt, slacks, and loafers were straight out of an Armani ad. And—most appealing of all—there was no wedding ring. “Your braised chicken idea wasn’t that far off the mark. Quail can be hard to identify.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I appreciate that.” He had a jovial air about him, a good-natured, nonjudgmental demeanor. “I’m Elaine Zimmerman, and these are my friends Jackie Gault and Pat Kovecky.”
“Jonathan Birnbaum,” he said during our round of handshakes. “Nice to meet you all.”
“Do you work at Whitley or are you an agritourist like us?” asked Jackie.
“The latter,” said this Jonathan Birnbaum person, who, although Jackie had posed the question, continued to concentrate on me, which was both unnerving and flattering. “I came primarily for the cooking classes. How about you, Elaine? What brought you to Whitley?”
“The bounty,” I said without missing a beat. “Cultivating it, I mean. I have so much to learn, as you can tell from the Mystery Challenge. And I’m looking forward to the cooking, of course.”
“Perfect,” he said with a gleam in those brown eyes. “We’ll be in the trenches together all week, Elaine.”
Suddenly, things were looking up. Maybe Jonathan Birnbaum and I would embark on a torrid affair during Cultivate Our Bounty week. Maybe that affair would evolve into a meaningful relationship, one with stimulating conversations and stimulating sex and safety deposit boxes stuffed with Cartier jewelry. Maybe being dragged to Whitley was the best thing that would ever happen to me.
Of course, there was a slight complication. I already had a boyfriend.
In bestselling author Jane Heller’s wild and hilarious novel, three friends go on a cooking excursion with a famous chef, only to discover that one of their classmates is very keen on practicing knife technique.
Elaine Zimmerman and her best friends Jackie Gault and Pat Kovecky venture to a farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. It’s been over a year since their last trip together, a Caribbean cruise aboard the Princess Charming, and after dealing with a murderous ex and his hit man, they’re yearning for a no-drama “haycation” this time. During their Cultivate Our Bounty Week, they and eight other guests will learn how to cook farm-to-table meals with Whitley’s artisan in residence, a renowned TV/restaurant chef named Jason Hill. Elaine, the jaded, neurotic narrator, is less than thrilled―especially because the program wasn’t supposed to include a surprise appearance by her former boyfriend Simon, who’s still the love of her life but can’t commit to her. What’s more, after milking a cow and making cheese, she stumbles on evidence that one of her fellow agritourists is out to murder Chef Hill at the resort’s Bounty Fest finale.
Is the killer among the freakishly fit Manhattan couple who takes their devotion to organic, hormone-free, non-GMO food to the point of obsession? The grandmother from Wisconsin who’s a groupie of the celebrity chef and follows him to every event? The mother and son from Palm Beach who bicker over whether he should give up his law practice to open his own restaurant? Three Blonde Mice serves up a crackling romance between Elaine and Simon, a twisty whodunit involving a screwball cast of suspects and a satire of current food fads and the farm-to-table chefs who perpetuate them.