Friday, December 20, 2019

Protagonist Profile & Giveaway ~ A Bakeshop Mystery Series by Ellie Alexander

A Cup of Holiday Fear (A Bakeshop Mystery, #10)
by: Ellie Alexander
Series: Bakeshop Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Amazon | Paperback | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

The latest installment in the Bakeshop Mysteries: Christmas comes to Ashland, OR—but all Jules wants is to catcher a killer.

Torte, Ashland’s favorite bakeshop is decking the halls and brewing up cups of holiday cheer. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is dark for the season, but spirits are high as twinkle lights illuminate Main Street and snow falls softly on rooftops. Torte is bustling with activity. Jules and her team are rolling out dozens of Christmas tree cutouts and dusting them with sparkling green sugar. Helen’s signature Antoinettes, a delectable almond cookie filled with raspberry preserves and slathered with chocolate buttercream, are an instant hit. As are Andy’s peppermint bark mochas and eggnog shooters. While carolers serenade shoppers in the plaza, Jules packages up festive boxes of holiday sweets. She feels a bit like Santa Claus as she delivers glistening Christmas stolens, dainty tea cakes, and mincemeat pies.

To cap off the merry season, Jules and Helen host their annual staff party at the historic Winchester Inn’s Dickens Feast. The six-course dinner is a beloved tradition, complete with Yorkshire pudding and a Christmas goose. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and even a cheerless Ebenezer Scrooge delight dinner guests with jokes, friendly banter, and surprise gifts. As snow piles up outside the hot buttered rum and mulled wine keep everyone toasty inside. However, just as the dessert course is about to be served the power goes out. When the glow of warm light returns, the merriment evaporates. One of the guests is sprawled out in front of the twenty-foot Christmas tree. Suddenly Jules finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Her only wish this Christmas is to catch a killer.

Name: Juliet Montague Capshaw, but please call me Jules.

Age: 34

Date of birth: 1984

Physical Description: I’ve always been tall and thin with pale blond hair and light eyes. I enjoy the fact that I’m tall now, since I work in a professional kitchen. It’s easy to reach spices on the top shelves.

Occupation: Artisan Pastry Chef

Town of residence: Ashland, Oregon

Pets and names: Alas, I have no pets. Maybe one day, but for now I’m too busy baking.

Best friend/partner in crime-solving: Lance, the Artistic Director at the Shakespeare Festival who likes to moonlight as a amateur sleuth.

3 likes in no particular order:
1. Ashland, our small town is not only charming but the most welcoming community I’ve ever known.
2. My staff at Torte. They may be young, but they are eager to learn and some of the most talented bakers I’ve ever known.
3. Butter. Butter is a baker’s best friend.

3 dislikes in no particular order:
1. Richard Lord, the owner of the dreaded Merry Windsor across the plaza.
2. When bad things happen in our little hamlet. I’ve learned to make it my mission to try to do whatever I can to help restore normalcy.
3. Processed food. We bake everything fresh and by hand at Torte.

Drink of choice: Coffee, always coffee.

Favorite food: Hummus.

Favorite dessert: Do I have to pick one? That’s torture for a pastry chef, but if I’m forced to choose, I would have to say our chocolate mocha torte with hazelnut buttercream and fresh apricot preserves.

Favorite color: Blue. It reminds of my time at sea.

Favorite way to spend an evening: Hosting one of our Sunday Suppers at Torte, my family bakeshop. We pick a theme and create a meal and experience around food where neighbors and friends coming together for a shared meal.

Hobbies: Jogging and hiking—I love exploring the many trails through Ashland’s crown jewel Lithia Park.

Best memory to date: When my mom and the Professor, Ashland’s resident detective and Shakespeare buff, tied the knot on Midsummer’s Eve. It was the most beautiful and romantic wedding I’ve ever been a part of.

If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently? I would have put a bit more thought into leaving my husband and the only life I had ever known on the ship. But, then again if I had thought too much I might have not have returned home and fallen in love with Ashland.

What’s something you’ve said you would never do, but in fact have done? Investigate a murder! When I first discovered a dead body in the bakeshop, I never would have imagined that I might become involved in the case.

Words to live by: Never underestimate the power of pastry.

They say that the holidays bring people together. Nothing could be truer in my hometown of Ashland, Oregon which looked like a scene straight out of a picture postcard. Our Shakespearean hamlet had been decked out for the holidays garlands of fresh evergreen boughs draped over the Elizabethan shop windows and blue and white snowflake Happy Holiday banners dangling from antique lampposts. Torte, my family’s bakeshop, was no exception. Our red brick exterior gleamed a beautiful crimson under the warm glow of golden Edison-style lights that stretched from the side of our building to the entrance to the Calle Guanajuato, a cobblestone walkway that paralleled Ashland Creek. Enormous wreaths wrapped with bright red bows hung in the bakeshop’s front windows. Strings of colorful vintage bulbs dotted the roofline and would soon be illuminated along with the rest of every other shop, restaurant, lamppost, and tree in the plaza.

For the moment our sweet downtown shopping district sat in a dusky slumber. The sun hugged the top of the mountains, readying itself for its descent. As soon as darkness washed over the Rogue Valley, the holiday season would officially take flight. Tonight was the annual Festival of Light Parade, and I was so jittery with excitement that I almost skipped an afternoon coffee as I stepped inside Torte’s front door. The dining room was packed with familiar faces. I waved to a group of women sitting in a booth near the windows. They were sharing a tray of chocolate fondue, one of our seasonal specials that we served in a ceramic fondue pot with decadent melted Belgian chocolate and assortment of fruit, pound and sponge cakes, and handmade marshmallows.

One of the women, Wendy a Torte regular and dear friend of Mom’s, dipped a skewer stick with a fluffy square of vanilla sponge into the luscious chocolate and called out, “Juliet, we all agree that Torte is going to ruin our waistlines this holiday season.”

Her friend dabbed a drip of chocolate with the edge of her napkin. “Wendy’s right, but what she didn’t say is that we also decided that it’s totally worth it.”

I chuckled as unzipped my black parka and hung it on the coatrack next to the front door. “My apologies to your waistlines, but I’m glad you’re enjoying the fondue.”

“No apology needed,” Wendy said helping herself to a square marshmallow. “The holidays are about little indulgences. We’ll focus on our waistlines again in January, right ladies?”

The women laughed and clinked their skewers together in a show of solidarity.

“Good plan.” I flashed them a thumbs up and turned my attention to the twelve-foot blue spruce tree to my left. The aroma of fresh pine and balsam made me pause for a minute and breath in the earthy scent.

For the holidays we had accented the bakeshop with Elizabethan-style greenery. Bunches of ivy, laurel, and holly twisted with golden twinkle lights wrapped around the bay windows and had been adorned along the espresso bar and around our chalkboard menu. Sprigs of mistletoe dangled above the door. Gorgeous, aromatic wreathes made of fresh herbs like rosemary and bay hung from every window. After tonight’s lighting ceremony, we planned to finish decorating the tree with hundreds of hand-decorated snowflake cookies.

Rosa, one of our more recent hires, stood on a step stool as she twisted strings of pearls onto each branch. “Is this good?” She tucked her long, dark hair behind her ears and pointed to the tree.

“It’s lovely.” I stepped closer and inhaled the woodsy fragrance. It mingled with the wafting scent of bread and richly brewed coffee. “It’s really starting to feel like the holidays in here,” I said to Rosa, noting the evergreen garland she had tied to our chalkboard menu and the poinsettias placed on each tabletop in the dining area.

I left her to the decorating and squeezed past a line of customers waiting at the espresso counter. We’d been bustling with non-stop activity for weeks. Our busy season started to ramp up the day after Halloween with customers placing orders for pumpkin, pecan, apple, and chocolate and coconut cream pies for their family Thanksgiving gatherings. Bread production tripled. Our coffee sales began to skyrocket and keeping the pastry case stocked became a daily challenge.

With Thanksgiving behind us, my team of bakers turned elves had been rolling out our signature sugar cookie cutouts in the shape of Christmas trees and winter stars. Rows of butter stollen, chocolate yule logs, gingerbread spice cookies, hot chocolate petits fours, and rum fruitcake filled the pastry case. There were red and white peppermint stripped cakes on display in glass stands and baskets of our holiday breads filling every square each the counter. From Hanukah cider and jelly doughnuts and chocolate rugalach to old English figgy pudding and trifle, we were committed to making sure that our offerings were special, unique, and filled with tradition.

“Hey boss,” Andy gave me a two finger wave from behind the counter. His cheery red apron with the Torte logo was tied around his waist and a Santa hat with a fluffy cotton ball flopped to one side of his head. “I saw you come in and thought you might need sustenance for the parade.” He handed me a steaming mug with a mound of whipped cream sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies. “It’s my peppermint bark mocha. Tell me what you think, because Steph is getting ready to put the holiday specials up on the chalkboard.”

“I’m sure it will be great. No one could claim you’re skimming on the whipped cream.” I snuck a taste with my pinkie. “Did you add a dash of peppermint extract to this?”

Andy grinned. “You know it. I was thinking we could serve these with peppermint sticks of candy canes too.”

“Sounds delish.” I balanced my coffee and headed downstairs to check in with my baking team.

Torte had recently undergone a major renovation, including expanding into the basement space that now housed our gorgeous state-of-art kitchen and cozy seating area where customers could get an up-close and personal look at our bakers in action or linger with friends in front of the atomic fireplace. Rosa had wrapped evergreen boughs and twinkle lights along the stairway railing and a second (albeit slightly smaller) Christmas tree had been placed near the seating area, awaiting decoration.

“How goes parade prep?” I asked I stepped into the kitchen.

Sterling, my newly appointed sous chef stood near the wood-fired oven watching over savory flatbread that had just begun to char. Stephanie had the meticulous task of hand piping the sugar cookie cutouts with royal icing. If anyone was up to the task, it was her. At first appearance her goth style, shockingly purple hair, and heavily lined eyes made her seem aloof, but I had learned that under her reserved exterior she had a tender heart. Much like the Grinch.

One of my most recent hires, Marty, a jovial and professionally trained baker in his sixties, was stirring a vat of butternut squash soup for the upcoming lunch rush. We had prepared extra stock of all of our usual offerings along with some holiday specials for the day. Tonight’s parade would draw thousands of people to the plaza. Historically it was one of the busiest days of the year. Locals and visitors would line Main Street at dusk to sing carols and watch as Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their sleigh of reindeer parade through town until they arrived at the plaza where they would officially illuminate a million festive lights and kick off the official holiday season. Christmas in Ashland was nothing short of magic.

Since Torte was just a few doors down from the balcony where Santa and Mrs. Claus would flip on the lights, we planned to set-up an outdoor hot chocolate and cookie station. We had made stacks of unfrosted cookies in fun holiday shapes—trees, stockings, presents, wreathes, and Santa’s sleigh. Children would be invited to frost a cookie with colorful buttercream and decorate them with an assortment of shimmery sprinkles. We would offer complimentary hot chocolate and handmade peppermint marshmallows to warm people’s spirits while they waited for the light show.

“Andy and I have the tables set up outside,” Bethany said, interrupting my internal checklist. “Do you want to come see?”

Bethany wore a long sleeved emerald green T-shirt with red and white lettering that read: We Whisk You A Merry Christmas. Her unruly, long curls had been tied into two ponytails with matching red and green ribbons.

“Nice shirt,” Sterling noted with a smile as he removed a tray of bubbling mozzarella, salami, and tomato flatbread from the pizza oven. “Where do you find so many shirts with baking puns?” His jet black hair had begun to grow out. It had a hint of a wave now that it fell below his ear. The naturally disheveled look suited him.

“I have my sources,” Bethany bantered.

“Did you know that studies say people who use puns are smarter and wittier on average?” Marty chimed in.

“Validation!” Bethany raised her arms in triumph. “Long live the pun.”

“Now look what you’ve done,” Sterling said to Marty. “Don’t encourage her. The next thing you know we’ll all be wearing matching punny T-shirts.”

Marty ladled the gorgeous, creamy butternut squash soup into a waiting bowl. “Hey, you can’t argue with research.” He paused and shared an impish look with Bethany. “As they say, the proof is in the pudding.”

Stephanie, who had remained silent, let out a groan.

Sterling rolled his eyes. “We’re doomed.”

I knew that the teasing was all in fun. My staff, while different, shared a mutual love of the craft of pastries and a mutual respect for each other. Mom and I prided ourselves on the fact that Torte rarely—if ever—experienced any bickering amongst our team. There had been one exception, Andy, our lead barista, had been less than welcoming of Sequoia, another recent hire. I had come to learn that Andy’s personal life was in turmoil. He had made the decision to drop out of college and was worried that Sequoia was going to replace him. We had assured him that he would always have a place at Torte. Things between the two of them had been better ever since.

“If you guys would stop bugging me, I have real work to do, like show Jules the adorable Christmas cookie decorating station.” Bethany tossed one of her ponytails over her shoulder as I followed her out of the kitchen.

Having the bakeshop divided into two levels had allowed us to greatly expand our product line. The commercial kitchen was more than double the square footage of our old kitchen but running up and down the stairs throughout the day to delivered fresh trays of pastries and having staff and customers on two floors provided new challenges. We had kept the royal teal and red color scheme that my parents had used when they opened Torte’s front doors decades ago. It felt perfect for the holiday season.

Bethany lifted a tray of Christmas puddings, cupcakes piled high with fluffy mounds of buttercream frosted to resemble snow, and raspberry and pecan Kringles (a Danish pastry) made my mouth water. “I’ll drop this off upstairs before we go outside.”

“Does anything else need to go up?” I asked taking a sip of the mocha Andy had made for me. It had a wonderful balance of chocolate with hints of peppermint, but it wasn’t overly sweet. He had managed to have the coffee flavor come out first with subtle touches in the background. I was impressed. It wasn’t an easy task, and many coffeeshops opted for overly sweet and cloying chocolate drinks artificially flavored syrups. At Torte, we made everything by hand from natural, locally sourced ingredients.

“No.” Bethany expertly maneuvered the tray. “Just this for now, but there will be lots to bring up soon.”

As I glanced at the shiny Christmas puddings dotted with edible gold leaf, I felt a sense of gratitude for tradition. When my parents opened the bakeshop, they made a pact to create artisan food baked with love and seasonality. There was something special about baking based on the season. Some of my fellow pastry chefs had succumbed to the pressure of launching their holiday lines in September. But not at Torte. We prided ourselves on savoring the flavors of every season. The beautiful Christmas puddings Bethany was carrying would only be available for the next few weeks, and I liked it that way.

Once upstairs, Bethany slid the new tray into the pasty case and received a round of “oohs” and “amahs” from waiting customers.

“Hey, Boss, what do you think of the peppermint bark mocha?” Andy asked as I went to grab my coat.

“It’s heaven in a cup.” I raised my half-full coffee mug in a toast.

“Awesome.” Andy’s sincere and youthful face lit up in a smile. His summer tan had faded, making the freckles on his cheekbones more pronounced. “I’ll add it to the holiday special board. You’re not going to believe what Sequoia wants to put up there.” He stuck out his tongue and pointed to Sequoia, who was boxing up a pumpkin cheesecake. A month ago his reaction would have worried me, but since he and Sequoia had found a working rhythm, I knew his goofy and somewhat disgusted face was in jest.

“What?” I asked.

Sequoia handed one of our white craft boxes with our blue and red fleur de lei logo to a customer and closed the pastry case. She had a distinctly Ashland look. Her dreadlocks were hidden beneath a navy bandana. Knotted bracelets were tied around her petite wrists. We don’t have a strict dress code at Torte, but I had encouraged Sequoia to ditch her flowing peasant skirts for more practical jeans. Loose fitting clothing or clunky jewelry isn’t a good match for a crowded kitchen or the narrow space our staff had to navigate behind the pastry counter and espresso bar. Sequoia had taken my advice, in part because I think she was tired of having her tie-dyed skirts stepped on. Today she wore jeans that were covered in patches and a long-sleeved navy t-shirt under her Torte apron.

“You know a lot of people around here celebrate winter solstice,” Sequoia replied in her languid tone. “I was thinking we could do a winter solstice chai with brandy extract, star anise, cinnamon, vanilla bean, oranges, and black peppercorns. Something real earthy, you know?”

“That sounds wonderful. I’d love to try a sample.” I took another drink of my coffee and set the mug in a tub under the counter.

Bethany clapped twice. “That would be so cool. I could do an Instagram post about chasing the light. Maybe we can do a whole thing about light versus dark around solstice. It’s not for a couple weeks, right?”

“It’s the first day of winter every year. Did you know that solstice is the turning of the sun?” Sequoia didn’t wait for Bethany to respond because it was obvious by the dreamy look in Bethany’s eyes that Sequoia had her full attention. “Throughout history and across nearly every culture there have been celebrations and festivals marking the return of the light. There’s a huge solstice celebration here in Ashland with a bonfire at Emigrant Lake. It’s an event for the whole family with face painting, music, food, and a wonderful trail of luminaries around the lake. You can follow the path of light and reflect on the past year and the year ahead.”

“That sounds amazing.” Bethany whipped out her phone and started scrolling. “Okay, what about something like this?” She held out a picture for me and Sequoia. “Black and white dipped cookies to pair with your solstice chai—those should make some great shots for our social and such a great story to share too—I love the idea of following a path of light. What do you think? And can I come to the solstice celebration?”

Sequoia’s inner calm radiated when she smiled. Her energy wasn’t as effusive as Bethany’s, but it was equally inviting. “Absolutely. I’d love to have you come along.”

“Hey, don’t forget about my peppermint bark mochas and eggnog shooters.” Andy pretended to be injured. He tossed the Santa hat he’d be wearing in Bethany’s direction. “I thought you were going to get some shots for social media after you show Jules the set-up outside.”

She caught the hat and handed it back to him. Her cheeks flamed with same red as the felt hat. It was a common occurrence whenever Andy was around. “No worries. I am. Totally. Like we talked about this afternoon it’s going to be huge. I’m going to shoot so much footage at the tree lighting and do a massive push for your holiday drinks.” She spoke so fast there wasn’t time to breath between sentences. “Anyone who comes in after the lighting and shows that they’ve made a purchase at any shop on the plaza is going to get twenty percent off any of our holiday drinks.”

“It’s cool. Don’t freak. I was just messing with you.” Andy raised the hat in surrender.

“Yeah, but I just want you to know that I would never say I was going to do something, like promote your amazing holiday drinks, and not follow through.” Bethany’s cheeks burned with color.

I took it as my cue to rescue Bethany. “Shall we go check out the cookie station?” I headed for the front door.

Sequoia flashed us a peace sign.

Andy pointed outside to the bustling plaza. A group of carolers dressed in period costumes had gathered in front of the Lithia Fountains to serenade shoppers.

“Uh, I wouldn’t stand there too long, if I were you, boss,” Andy said, nodding at the sprig of green mistletoe above my head. “You might get smooched.”

“Eeeek. Let’s go, Bethany.” I motioned for her to hurry, but I was too late. The door swung open and Lance, my friend and the resident artistic director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, swept in.

He didn’t miss a beat. I guessed it was probably because Andy was still pointing at the mistletoe. Lance gasped. “To what do my wandering eyes appear? Mistletoe hanging near?” He fanned his face with one hand. “And above the fairest baker in the land.” In one dance-like motion he leaned toward me and planted a kiss on my lips. Then he dipped me and proceeded to kiss both cheeks and my forehead.

“Lance, enough.” I pushed him away.

“What kind of greeting is that, for your dearest friend? And at the holidays no less.” He looked to Bethany for support. She chuckled.

“Holidays or not, I wasn’t planning to be smothered with a wet kiss.” I scowled.

He adjusted his sparkling silver tie and smoothed his black suit. “Then I might suggest you don’t linger under the mistletoe. Am I right, young one?” he asked Bethany.

She pulled on a puffy red coat.

Bethany hoovered nearby.

“Are you coming in or out?” I asked, opening the door again, for Lance.

“I was coming to find you, darling.”

“Give me five minutes. I need to check our set up for the holiday parade.”

“Be careful out there. I bumped into Richard Lord on my way over and the man is on a rampage.”

Great. Just what I didn’t need—during the holidays or anytime of the year. Richard Lord owned the run-down Merry Windsor hotel across the street. When I returned home to Ashland, he had taken an immediate dislike to me and had tried, unsuccessfully, to put Torte out of business ever since.

“Why is he on a rampage?” I asked, reaching for my coat.

“Who knows what goes on in that man’s head. He was muttering something about not getting asked to play Santa. Although why he didn’t land the role is a surprise to me. He has the stomach for it, if you catch my drift.” Lance nudged my waist.

“But not the disposition,” I replied.

“Touché. But honestly, I might be with Mr. Lord on this one. I’m so over the parade. The holiday lighting. The magic of Ashland.” Lance’s voice had an unusual edge to it.

Bethany’s eyes widened. “Are you being serious? The holiday lighting is literally like the best thing that happens in Ashland. In just a couple hours the plaza is going to be all lit up with beautiful lights and decorations. I can’t wait. This time of year always makes me feel like a kid again.”

“Sweet sentiment, kid, but I’m afraid the holidays aren’t my cup of tea, as they say.” He unwrapped a silver cashmere scarf tied around his neck. It matched his tie and overcoat.

I was surprised to hear that too. Lance loved drama and anything and everything that involved high production value, a million Christmas lights, traditional carolers, and an old fashioned holiday parade sounded right up his alley.

I studied his face. “You are serious, aren’t you?”

“Never more serious, darling. The holidays leave a bad taste in my mouth. I’m a full-fledged Scrooge. Usually I’m somewhere on a tropical beach with a cocktail in hand this time of year, but alas given the recent upheaval with the board and my personal life, I’m stuck here for the duration. And to that I actually want to say bah hum bug.”

“Oh, you’re going to love it. It’s so beautiful,” Bethany gushed. “I didn’t realize that you meant you’ve never been to the parade. Just wait, I mean, it’s amazing. You will love it.”

Lance cleared his throat and caught my eye.

“Can you go check on the tables?” I said to Bethany. “I see some kids who look like they’re already interested in decorating.” That was a half lie. There were some kids milling around the decorating stations, but there was nothing for them to do yet. We wouldn’t bring the cookies, frosting, and sprinkles outside until after the parade. I wanted a minute alone with Lance.

“You bet.” When she opened the door a blast of cool air hit us.

Once she was out of earshot, I patted Lance’s arm. “Why don’t you go get one of Andy’s delicious peppermint bark mochas and find a spot to relax. I’ll be back in five minutes, and then we’re going to have a heart to heart, understood?”

“About what?”

“About your attitude. I need to warn you, Lance Rousseau, you are not getting off that easy.”

“How so?”

“This is my absolute favorite time of year, and I’m not going to allow even one moment of your bah hum bug attitude. When I get back, I want a smile on your face and I want you humming along to Jingle Bells, understood?”

He scowled. “Juliet, I have loathed this season of supposed merriment since I was a kid. Well, at least since my mom died.” The briefest flash of sadness passed over him.

I understood that the season could trigger painful memories. The holidays had always brought feelings of loss to the surface for me. My dad, like Lance’s mom, had died when I was young. The profound grief of losing a parent had shaped me in ways I was still discovering. If there was one thing that I had learned since coming home to Ashland is was that closing your heart doesn’t protect it. It closes you off to every possibility.

“I know. I’m sorry.” I reached for his hand.

Lance squared his shoulders and his emotions shifted. “Look, Juliet, I appreciate the effort, but Christmas is not my thing. You would have to work round the clock to try and convince me otherwise, and by the looks of the queues in here, you don’t have that kind of time.”

“How wrong you are, Lance. Challenge accepted. Operation Lance Loves Christmas commences now.” I pushed him toward the coffee bar.

Lance could protest as much as he wanted. The holidays were a time of joy and I was determined to help him find that magic of Christmas again.

Purchase A Cup of Holiday Fear from:

The Bakeshop Mystery Series:

On Thin Icing ~ Review
Caught Bread Handed ~ Review
Fudge and Jury ~ Review
A Crime of Passion ~ Review
Trouble is Brewing ~ Review
Another One Bites the Crust ~ Review
Till Death Do Us Tart ~ Review
Live and Let Pie ~ Review

🎄 You can read my 4.5 Star review of A Cup of Holiday Fear here. 🎄

Meet the characters of the Bakeshop Mystery Series here.

Ellie Alexander (also known as Kate Dyer-Seeley) is a Pacific Northwest native. Her love for the Pacific Northwest runs deep. Hence why all of her books (whether she’s writing as Ellie or Kate) are set here. From the Shakespearean hamlet of Ashland, Oregon to the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington to the hipster mecca of Portland, Oregon and a variety of other stunning outdoor locales, the Pacific Northwest is a backdrop for every book and almost becomes another character in each series.

When not writing, you can find her testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouse or brewpubs nearby. You’ll also find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of “research”.

Ellie loves hearing from readers and interacting on social media. Be sure to follow her to learn about her writing process, upcoming books, special events, giveaways, and more!

Places to find Ellie Alexander:

Ellie is giving away a signed copy of A Cup of Holiday Fear.  This giveaway is US only.  Just answer the question below.  Good luck. 



  1. My husband's cheesecake is the highlight of the Christmas season. I love it.

  2. I love too many treats, which is sometimes a problem! But nothing beats making my grandmother's recipe for ginger cookies. They taste great and nothing makes the house smell more like the season!

  3. I love peppermint hot chocolate with toffee chocolate chip cookies.

  4. Pecan pie and rumchatta with expresso!

  5. I love pumpkin pie.
    Theresa N
    weceno at yahoo dot com

  6. My favorite holiday drink is hot cocoa with a peppermint stick and whip cream.

  7. I like hot peppermint mocha coffee and ambroasia salad for dessert
    digicats {at} sbcglobal {dot} net

  8. I love hot chocolate with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.

  9. Hot chocolate with whipped cream is my favorite holiday drink.

  10. Hot butter rum is always fun. It's just a pat of butter (about 3/4 tbsp), brown sugar (2.5 tbsp), a dash of cinnamon & nutmeg (ground clove is fun too, but even a pinch goes a LONG way), and 2 shots of dark rum. Combine with 4-6 ozs of boiling water (or just top up your mug) and stir really well.

  11. Hot Chocolate and Cinnamon rolls are my favorite. THank you

  12. Peppermint mocha with whipped cream ❤

  13. I really like White Chocolate Mocha. Thank you

  14. My favorite holiday dessert is cranberry/orange bread.

  15. Thank you all for entering. I loved learning about your favorite holiday drinks and desserts/pasties. The winner has been selected and an email has been sent to them.


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