COOKING FOR GHOSTS

A magic realism, paranormal mystery women’s fiction by Patricia V. Davis

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Do hearts broken long ago forever leave a tangible trace?

A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past.

Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They decide on impulse to open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets.

The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, but once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef\’s mystic recipes, and not the Queen Mary herself. Yet the spirits they encounter help them discover that there\’s always a chance to live, as long as one is alive.

An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection, and read by Ann Marie Gideon, COOKING FOR GHOSTS is an unforgettable tale of love, redemption, and divine female power.

Excerpt

Unconcerned with what her business partners were up to, Rohini was giggling with excitement. Hugging herself, she whirled in circles, then flung her arms up over her head and collapsed back in dizzy elation onto the enormous bed in the glorious stateroom. Everything was glorious. She was here. This was her room. The Secret Spice was, in part, her restaurant.

Hers.

And when she’d first seen the Queen from the back seat of Cynthia’s preposterous little car, she knew she was headed to exactly where she should be. She couldn’t stop smiling, until, abruptly, a lump formed in her throat and her eyes misted with tears.

“I made it, Zahir,” she whispered. “I made it.”

She sobered as she thought of him, of all he’d done for her, and all that she might still need to do on her own.

But that wasn’t for today. Today was for celebration and thankfulness. Getting up from the bed, she opened her case, pulled out all the little plastic sacks of spices and herbs she’d packed, and sighed with relief. Not a one had opened or torn. Even so, she could smell their pungent bouquet right through the protective wrappings. Rauvolfia, Serpentina, Jaiphal, Javitri, Khus Khus, Ashwagandha and more — why did cinnamon always smell the strongest? There were dozens of varieties that she’d stuffed inside shirt sleeves and trouser legs and white cotton gym socks, just like a drug dealer might hide a stash. The TSA had missed them completely. They’d even affixed a sticker to the top of her bag: “Checked by Homeland Security.”

Giggling again at that, Rohini placed all the smaller sacks into a large white bag she’d found in the wardrobe. The bag had a price list for various laundry services printed on it. With that mission accomplished, she took her treasures downstairs to the kitchen.

But she wasn’t two steps in before she stopped stock still and remained right where she was, listening.

“Oh, my,” she murmured to herself. “Oh, my, my, my.”

Now she understood why she’d felt that the ship had summoned her. To anyone else who might peek in, the kitchen appeared silent and empty. But not to Rohini. She could hear the walls sighing.

Gradually, she walked further inside, and the sighs turned to whispers. She stood still, breathing cautiously, waiting, watching. In unison, the stainless steel cooking utensils dangling from the long, narrow cylinders that were screwed to the walls began to sway, soundlessly. The copper pots that hung from the ceiling over the two spanking-new ovens and eight burner stoves began to twirl, gracefully. Every inanimate object in the room that wasn’t bolted down was waltzing eerily, on its own. To Rohini, the dance seemed sad rather than ghoulish.

Walking quietly, listening carefully, she followed the hushed sounds as they moved along the walls, leading her back to the scullery. As she approached, an ancient, enormous, floor-to-ceiling freezer blew out a puff of ice cold air as its door swung wide open as though it were greeting her, then gently clicked closed again.

Unafraid, Rohini observed it all. Still clinging to the laundry bag filled with her precious sacks of spice, s she turned in a full circle, leisurely, so as not to miss any of it. After a while, she set the bag down on one of the gleaming stainless steel work tables. Bending into a full and formal curtsy, she spoke aloud.

“It is my great honor to meet you, Your Majesty.”


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Review

I see it said about many books that there is “a little bit of everything” or “something for everyone.” Often, I find this to not quite be the case, but where Cooking for Ghosts is concerned, both these statements are true. There is romance, mystery, a touch of the paranormal, non-romantic relationship drama, real people, exciting twists and turns—the list goes on. I found myself swept up in this contemporary tale of historical curiosity, and I couldn’t put it down.

The characters drew me into their lives. Troubled pasts abound but not in a “feel bad for me” way. I felt connected to what each character had gone through without feeling like they were crying for attention. Even the moments where fear took over made sense. This was so refreshing after so many books where the characters went through much less but were much more vocal about wanting pity. I cheered for everyone right from the beginning. These are real people who made decisions in shades of gray. When an author can make the case for a man convicted of murder, there’s something special about a book.

I also loved the setting. A haunted war-time ship turned restaurant—sign me up. The rich history surrounding the ship enhanced the story, and the characters interacted (by choice or otherwise) magnificently with that history. Not to mention all the cool parts of a ship I got to visit from my comfy reading nook. No stumbling down creaking staircases required.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely read more from Davis. She’s got a real talent for weaving fantastic and meaningful stories—best kind, in my opinion.

About Patricia V. Davis

PATRICIA V. DAVIS\’s debut novel series, THE SECRET SPICE CAFE, is comprised of three books: COOKING FOR GHOSTS (2016) SPELLS AND OREGANO (2017) and DEMONS, WELL-SEASONED. (2019) The audio books will be released in 2020 by Tantor Media, and narrated by Ann Marie Gideon. Patricia lives with her husband, who is both a poker player and a rice farmer, so she divides her time between southern Nevada and northern California. Say hello to Patricia at her author website: www.TheSecretSpice.com
Find her online:
Instagram
Facebook
-TikTok @patriciavdavis
Wikipedia

Giveaway

Patricia V. Davis will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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