Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #1)by Nell Hampton

Hardcover, 277 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
4 Stars

Synopsis: Chef Carrie Ann Cole is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime–an assignment as the new Personal Chef to the Royal Family at Kensington Palace. But no sooner has Carrie Ann touched down across the pond and donned her apron than a dead body crops up beneath the royal kale beds.

With one assistant dead and the other soon under suspicion for his murder, Carrie Ann is scrambling to keep her kitchen up and running. Not to mention she gets off to an immediate bad start with the tempestuous Royal Chef Butterbottom, who has a bitter taste in his mouth since the prestigious position in the Royal Family’s kitchen was given to an “over-privileged, under-educated American chef.”

But the Royal Family’s appetites wait for no one, and Carrie Ann must solve the murder and still get supper on the table on time–even with the annoyingly handsome Head of Security Ian Gordon tracking her every move like an MI6 agent. Suspects abound as an American chef adds a bit of spice to the traditional royal household in the first in Nell Hampton’s charming and tasty Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series, Kale to the Queen.

My Review: This is the first book in a new series and I enjoyed it. Carrie Ann Cole is the new personal chef for the Duke and Duchess of Kensington and their two children. She leaves her boyfriend of six years back in Chicago for her dream job. He determines that they should use this time for a break from their relationship. The second there, she finds one of her assistants dead in the greenhouse and her other assistant is quickly arrested for the murder. Chef Cole doesn’t really know her assistants that well, but she has a feeling that someone else is responsible. She begins to ask questions and develop a theory about the crime.

There were several things I really liked about this book. Most of the cozies I have read that are set in Britian are historical, so it was nice to have this one in present day. I also liked that the main character is not just an amateur sleuth, but has a job, a job that keeps her very busy. It was interesting to see how strict the household was run and all the security measures. It felt a bit Downton Abbeyish with the head of the staff being rather staid, but she did soften as the story went on. Carrie Ann is a very likeable character who makes friends easily. She is generous and others seem attracted to her. Even the crotchety Chef Butterbottom softens to her a bit. I like that there are a couple of male characters who could possibly be romantic interests in the future. The mystery was well paced with Carrie Ann getting into a couple of dicey situations. There were a couple of minor issues such as, some of the dialogue was a bit stilted at the beginning of the book, but it seemed to be fine as the story went on and I didn’t need to know every single thing the family and children ate, although it would be nice to see some of the menus. Overall this was a well paced story with a mystery that was interesting. The culprit was not on my radar, but it certainly fit when the reasoning was given for his murder. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via netgalley.