Jennifer Ashley is one of those writers with limitless energy and a treasure trove of untold stories in her head. She writes historical, paranormal and contemporary romance as Jennifer Ashley; mysteries as Ashley Gardner; and paranormal romance/urban fantasy as Allyson James. Her over 100 books have been translated into over ten languages, and she is a N.Y.T and U.S.A. Today bestselling author. Her website informs us that although she loves reading and writing above all else, she also has a bunch of hobbies including cooking, hiking, playing flute and guitar, painting, and building miniature rooms and dollhouses. One can only assume she is another one of those people who requires no more than four hours of sleep at night (or she is the most organized woman in the world).
I love reading Kat Holloway mysteries, each of which is carefully researched so that the young cook’s preparations and meals are what might have been served in Victorian England. I was so enamored of her seed-cakes that I’ve spent the past two weeks trying to recreate a healthy version without butter or eggs. I love her evening preparation of yeast dough that rises all night so that she can do the second rising in the morning before baking it – exactly how I do it! It’s delightful to hear how Mrs. Holloway plans and executes the meals she’ll serve ‘above stairs,’ in addition to how she puts together her own and the other servants’ meals. There’s usually something in the oven that needs tending, or a complete meal that needs serving when Mrs. Holloway leaves to help a friend solve a problem.
Ancillary characters like vivacious, cross-dressing Lady Cynthia, mysterious, renaissance man Daniel Macadam, and snooty butler Mr. Davis are well-drawn and interesting. Mrs. Holloway is always putting on her apron and getting to work in the kitchen or removing her apron and donning her coat, hat and gloves to venture into the bustling city. She treasures her days off with her little daughter, tries to convey proper behavior to her staff, and strives to make the lives of poor beggars a little easier with coins and extra food that she brings outside after the evening meal. Solid Mrs. Holloway is indeed a most charming and dependable hero.