Becky here … I’m so happy I get to introduce you to Linda Reilly on her first appearance at Chicks! Her new series is set in the world of grilled cheese sandwiches, which is as ingenious as it is mouth-watering. I’m a huge grilled cheese fan and so is my character Charlee Russo in my Mystery Writer’s series. I should figure out a way to get Charlee into the Grilled Cheese Eatery for lunch!
When I was a kid, I was the pickiest eater on the planet. Anything that resembled meat was unacceptable, and veggies were a big yucchh. I survived on peanut butter sandwiches (hold the jelly, thank you) and grilled cheese sandwiches. Back then, I’d never even heard of cheddar, or Gouda, and certainly not pepper jack. It was American cheese all the way—those lovely squares of pale yellow heaven grilled between two slices of plain white bread. And lots of butter—that was a must for making the perfect grilled cheese.
I can still remember my mom making me grilled cheese sandwiches in a big, square, stainless-steel griddle the size of an engine block. It was too large to keep on the counter, so she’d lug it out of the bottom cupboard each time she used it. (I wish she’d kept that old griddle — what a vintage treasure it would be today!) One day—I was in the second grade—I desperately wanted a grilled cheese for my school lunch. Bless her, I’m sure she knew it would never stay warm for four hours, but she made that grilled cheese anyway. She wrapped it tightly in foil and tucked it in my lunch box. By lunchtime it was a cold, soggy lump. I ate it anyway, but we chalked it up as a failed experiment.
Decades later, when I began writing the first book in my Grilled Cheese cozy mystery series, I wanted my main character, Carly Hale, to have a mom as caring and thoughtful as my own. Nearly every day of Carly’s childhood, her mom, Rhonda, made grilled cheese sandwiches for her. Rhonda used one of those cast-iron frying pans that could substitute as a ten-pound barbell. As the sandwich was grilling, she would cover it with a piece of foil and place a can of anything that was handy on top as a grill press. One day, Rhonda discovered that a can of pineapple slices worked best. It was wider and shorter than the others and less likely to topple, so that became her go-to grill press. Carly saved that can. It now sits on a shelf in her eatery’s kitchen, a treasured keepsake from those early years that inspired her to open her eatery.
Carly’s Grilled Cheese Eatery offers mouthwatering choices such as Some Like it Hot, Sweddar Weather, and Farmhouse Cheddar Sleeps with the Fishes. And for those who want a “plain grilled cheese,” the Vermont Classic fits the bill. But you can always order it your way—choose the bread, choose the cheeses, and choose the fillings. For Carly, it’s all about pleasing the customer.
How about you? Are there any favorite foods from your childhood days that you still love to indulge in?
Back in Balsam Dell to heal after the death of her husband, Carly Hale is finally pursuing her lifelong dream—opening Carly’s Grilled Cheese Eatery. After only five months, business is booming as Vermont vacationers and townspeople alike flock to lunch on her Party Havartis and other grilled cheese concoctions. All but Lyle Bagley, Carly’s one-time high school boyfriend and now town bully who just bought the building that houses her eatery and wants Carly out. After a muenster of a fight, Carly’s forced to put her nose to the rind and find a solution to keep her business afloat.
That is…until Lyle is discovered dead behind the dumpster of Carly’s restaurant, and one of her employees is pegged as the prime suspect. To save her eatery and prove her friend’s innocence, Carly must sleuth out the killer before she’s the one who gets grilled.
Armed with a degree in Criminal Justice, Linda Reilly once contemplated a career in law enforcement. But life took a twist, and instead she found her niche in real estate closings and title examinations, where the dusty tomes in the Registry of Deeds enticed her into solving mysteries of a different sort. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, Linda lives in southern New Hampshire with her husband and cats. When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, she can usually be found prowling the shelves of a local bookstore or library hunting for a new cozy adventure.