Published: July 3, 2012
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address: Gina Gina@loveromancesandmorereviews.com
Jordan McAllister’s goal in life is to be a sports writer. Growing up she played football with her four older brothers—and usually beat them at their own rough and tumble games not so much because she was a girl but because she was just good at it. When her former fiancé dumped her in the small town of Ranchero, rather than run home to her family she went and got herself a job at the local paper. It wasn’t exactly as a sports writer. In fact, unless you consider dating advice as a sort of marathon, it wasn’t even close. Then when the food columnist put that job on hold Jordan’s editor put her in the food critic’s slot. Problem is…Jordan can’t cook. Not only that, she pretty much has no use for 5 star dining. But she isn’t without options. Far from it. Jordan has friends and one of those friends is a fabulous chef and thus was born the clueless cook. Readers gobble up “Jordan’s” recipes none the wiser than they are actually her friend’s down home cooking with a fancy name attached.
As it turns out, her column is so wide read and enjoyed by so many that cattle baron Lucas Santana requests her presence at the Cattleman’s Ball in the hopes her writing about the taste tempting beef served will bring about an upswing in business. The pot is sweetened by her date – a very handsome cowboy named Rusty Morales. While the meal itself is pretty decent Jordan is less than impressed by the, for lack of a better word, sleazy womanizers who populate the dinner. Still, she finds herself enjoying Rusty’s company. That is, until, he dies in her arms.
Despite her best intentions, when Rusty’s mother asks for her help finding Lucas’s killer she can’t say no…can she?
I was kind of on the fence about the first book in Liz Lipperman’s Clueless Cook series, LIVER LET DIE. The second, BEEF STOLEN-OFF was a very enjoyable cozy. It has just the right blend of mystery, quirky characters, red herrings and some marvellous humor. Lipperman really hit her stride with this one. I can totally relate to Jordan’s total enjoyment of some foods like her Ho Ho’s and avoidance of a few others like rare beef. I adore Jordan’s friends—Rosie, Ray, Michael—and the rest of the Empire apartment gang. The addition of Jordan’s brother to this story filled it out really nicely. I wouldn’t mind seeing Danny pop up in future books—or maybe getting his own series along the way.
The gang at the Empire apartments are the kind of people you’d like to have you’re your own neighbors. They’re a diverse group with their own issues and personalities and each is memorable in his or her own way. Like most theme-based cozies the author includes an array of recipes at the end and for a non-cook like me I got to say they’re pretty easy to make.
The end has a nice, well done, lead into the next book. I liked that Lipperman completed this story, gave the book a good ending and closed off the story. Yes, there is a thread about what you will find in the next book, but you aren’t left hanging and thinking you have to buy it. That said, I’ve already got book 3 and a hint…I totally enjoyed the cruises I took way back when.
The books are stand alones and you don’t have to read the first to enjoy the second because the author gives her readers a solid backstory without being overwhelming about it. I do recommend reading them in order though simply because it’s just a good series.
This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.