Guest Chick: Linda Reilly

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.

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37 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Linda Reilly

  1. I too am a hearty New Englander. On freezing cold winter days, my go to lunch is tomato soup and a big fat grilled cheese. But the cheese has to be Seriously Sharp Cheddar. I cut it very thick. It warms my heart.
    As I sit here this morning, the temp outside is 13F, I have my first morning coffee in my Thomas Jefferson mug that says “I can’t live without books”, I am already dreaming of lunch! I know what I am having! You guessed it! I also can’t wait to start reading the Grilled Cheese series of books!
    Thank you! Stay warm and safe!
    Carol

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I also just bought “Up to No Gouda” and the first book in your Cat Lady Mysteries. I am a HUGE cat lover, but 2 is my limit. LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Three cheers to you on the new book, Linda! I, too, grew up on a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, often with chicken noodle soup. What a perfect combo!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Welcome to the Chicks, Linda! Congrats on your new series–how exciting!

    I really enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches, too, but I came to them late. We used to go with American cheese slices during my childhood, but I much prefer sharp cheddar. On a side note: instead of a hold-the-jelly sandwich, I have a kiddo who likes a hold-the-peanut-butter sandwich.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jen, I’m totally psyched at being a Guest Chick! I prefer sharp cheddar, too! Your kiddo sounds like a cutie. Nothing wrong with a plain jelly sandwich! As a kid, I also liked my PB with marshmallow fluff, but these days plain old Creamy Jif peanut butter does the trick.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s only 9:30 and I just ate breakfast, but I’m already craving a grilled cheese sammie! To be fair, though, I’m almost always craving a grilled cheese sandwich.

    I’m so looking forward to reading your series, Linda, but I’m a bit worried that in doing so I’m going to gain 10#. I don’t often have bread good for grilled cheese in the house, but I’ll be sure to pick some up when I’m ready to settle in to read because I know those cravings will come in hard and fast!

    I never had to go to daycare when I was a kid, but my younger sister sometimes did before she started school. I remember going with her one day (must have been a day off from school or something) and the lady made open-faced cheese sandwiches under the broiler! My little girl world was ROCKED!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Okay, I am now officially jonesing for a grilled cheese sandwich, and it’s not yet eight am here where I am. What a fabulous theme for a cozy series–love it! Thank you so much for visiting the Chicks today, Linda! (And now I’m off to the kitchen to see what kind of cheeses I have in the fridge…)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks so much for visiting us Chicks today, Linda! Your series sounds yummy! Guess what I had for grilled cheese growing up? Toasted Velveeta on Wonder Bread–with the crusts cut off. Guess you won’t be adding that one to your grilled cheese recipes. (Actually, I loved it.)

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    1. Hi Lisa! Actually, that’s a wonderful recipe for kids. In fact, that was yet another thing that I rejected as a kid–the crust on the bread. Oddly enough, my mom never bought Velveeta, but my aunt did. I think I was about 30 before I ever had a Velveeta grilled cheese. It was delicious!

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  7. Dear Linda,

    Congratulations on your new series. I had the pleasure of reading it as an ARC and you’ve done a great job!

    I grew up on fried bologna sandwiches (with ketchup) so not quite the warm and cozy feelings of a great grilled cheese.

    Dare I ignite a debate about using mayo as the outside spread to make the sandwich crisp properly? Anyone have an opinion?

    Ruth

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve done that before, Ruth! It’s an excellent hack when the butter is hard and the bread is soft. I wonder if I could do a blind taste test and pick out which was which. After all, it’s just the fat that makes it so crispy and delish. I’ve also been known to give it a couple squirts of olive oil. For me, all a grilled cheese needs is lots of gooey cheese and crispy bread.

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    2. Thank you, Ruth! So glad you managed to get an ARC. I have cousins who loved fried bologna, but it didn’t appeal to me. Go ahead and ignite a debate! I’ve heard from other people that I should be giving the mayo a try, so I promise I will do that in the near future. Maybe this week!

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  8. Congrats on the new series, Linda! I’m sitting here freezing, wearing a hoodie with a cardigan over it — so a grilled cheese sounds heavenly! Unfortunately, I have no bread and no soup in the house, and I’m not going out into our -8 degree windchill!
    My usual go-to is a slice of American and a slice of Swiss extra toasty with lots of butter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Vickie! It’s about 19 degrees F where I live, but it sounds like it’s much colder where you are. American and Swiss make a great combo, and “extra toasty” is the way to go!

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  9. I have loved being a Guest Chick today! I tried “liking” several of the posts but I wasn’t having any luck with logging in, somehow. But I want you all to know that I LOVED all of your comments and responses!

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  10. Welcome, Linda! This is absolutely mouthwatering reading. I’m also big on grilled cheese. In fact, I can think of nothing better than grilled cheese with a side of mac and cheese. All the cheese, all the time. Congrats on the series!!

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