Anonymous is the winner of Raquel’s giveaway! Watch for an email from her!
Welcome, Raquel! I met Raquel at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida a couple of years ago. I was immediately impressed with how smart and passionate she is. I’m so delighted that since then she got a contract for her new Caribbean Kitchen mystery series. Just writing that makes me hungry! The first book in the series is Mango, Mambo, and Murder which is up for preorder. The book doesn’t come out until next October, but I couldn’t wait until then for you to hear about it! I’m happily reading it right now. Here’s a bit about the book:
Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quiñones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel V. Reyes’s Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.
Food anthropologist Miriam Quiñones-Smith’s move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, puts her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son. Adding to her funk is an opinionated mother-in-law and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex. Gracias to her best friend, Alma, she gets a short-term job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women’s Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.
When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes–especially after the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him. Detective Pullman is not happy to find Miriam at every turn. After he catches her breaking into the doctor’s apothecary, he enlists her help as eyes and ears to the places he can’t access, namely the Spanish-speaking community and the tawny Coral Shores social scene.
As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.
Raquel: Miriam Quiñones-Smith is the main character in my Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series. Here is the doll I used to help me visualize her. Is that weird? It’s kind of like having a three-dimensional mood board.
Miriam is Cuban-American with a Ph.D. in Food Anthropology. (Did you know the percentage of Latina’s with PhDs is in the single digits?!. That’s one reason it was important to me to have an aspirational Latina in my story.) She faced prejudices and stereotypes in her pursuit of higher education, and her doctorate was hard-earned. Dr. Quiñones is also the mother of a preschooler.
So, when Miriam’s husband asks her to postpone her professorship search to stay at home with their young son for a year before he starts kindergarten, she is conflicted. She loves her son. She loves her husband. And she REALLY wants the career she’s studied years for. She has a passion for Caribbean culture and foodways. All those sleepless nights with a teething baby in one arm and a research book in the other hand have to pay off. The ink on her diploma is barely dry. She can’t give up her dream of writing an African diaspora Caribbean cookbook that easily.
Mothers often put their careers on hold to be the primary caregiver. I know I did, especially regarding my writing, which was one of the motivations I had for giving Miriam such a heartstring conflict. She worked very hard for those letters behind her name. She wants and deserves the career that goes with them. Thankfully, her best friend offers her a good solution. And the It Takes a Village adage (workplace childcare, afterschool care, and of course family and friends) comes into play, too.
You’ll have to read Mango, Mambo, and Murder to find out exactly how Miriam juggles career, motherhood, and amateur sleuthing.
Readers: Does access to quality childcare change career outlooks for mothers? Would it have made a difference in your career path? Look for the giveaway below!
Raquel V. Reyes writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Raquel is a co-chair for SleuthFest. Her short stories appear in various anthologies, including Malice Domestic’s Mystery Most Theatrical and Midnight Hour. Mango, Mambo, and Murder, available 10-12-21, is the first in the Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series. She blogs on Cozy Florida with two other Florida cozy authors. Find her on social media as @LatinaSleuths.
Giveaway: Raquel loves all things Miami like Miami Vice, flamingos (neon and real), art deco, wild parrots, and the Golden Girls. She has a Golden Girls magnet set to #Giveaway to one randomly drawn person that leaves a comment on this post and joins her newsletter between now and June 1st.