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The Pepper in the Gumbo

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Alice Augustine runs the oldest bookstore in the historic district of Natchitoches and believes technology is the root of most problems. If only more people would turn off the TV and shut down the computer, the world wouldn't be in the mess it's in. If only she can get the teens she loves to step away from the screens, they might be able to hold on to their Creole culture. Alice Augustine runs the oldest bookstore in the historic district of Natchitoches and believes technology is the root of most problems. If only more people would turn off the TV and shut down the computer, the world wouldn't be in the mess it's in. If only she can get the teens she loves to step away from the screens, they might be able to hold on to their Creole culture. The only person who seems to understand her passion for classic literature is the mysterious website owner, Browning Wordsworth Keats. Paul Olivier comes back to his home town determined to show the people of Cane River that he's not the poor, nerdy kid he once was. He's made a fortune designing video games and opening a giant electronics store right in the snooty historic district will be the crowning glory of his career. Unfortunately, one bookish anti-tech fanatic has decided to do everything she can to keep that from happening. Even worse, she doesn't know that in cyber space, they're best friends and kindred spirits. Alice and Paul clash from the start, but nothing is ever quite as it seems. When secrets are revealed, will there be a second chance- for both of them? A romance that brings the humor of You've Got Mail and the deep friendships of 84, Charring Cross Road, this romance will touch the classic literature lover in everyone.


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Alice Augustine runs the oldest bookstore in the historic district of Natchitoches and believes technology is the root of most problems. If only more people would turn off the TV and shut down the computer, the world wouldn't be in the mess it's in. If only she can get the teens she loves to step away from the screens, they might be able to hold on to their Creole culture. Alice Augustine runs the oldest bookstore in the historic district of Natchitoches and believes technology is the root of most problems. If only more people would turn off the TV and shut down the computer, the world wouldn't be in the mess it's in. If only she can get the teens she loves to step away from the screens, they might be able to hold on to their Creole culture. The only person who seems to understand her passion for classic literature is the mysterious website owner, Browning Wordsworth Keats. Paul Olivier comes back to his home town determined to show the people of Cane River that he's not the poor, nerdy kid he once was. He's made a fortune designing video games and opening a giant electronics store right in the snooty historic district will be the crowning glory of his career. Unfortunately, one bookish anti-tech fanatic has decided to do everything she can to keep that from happening. Even worse, she doesn't know that in cyber space, they're best friends and kindred spirits. Alice and Paul clash from the start, but nothing is ever quite as it seems. When secrets are revealed, will there be a second chance- for both of them? A romance that brings the humor of You've Got Mail and the deep friendships of 84, Charring Cross Road, this romance will touch the classic literature lover in everyone.

30 review for The Pepper in the Gumbo

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Vellacott

    I was trawling the free ebooks on goodreads searching for something to read and was disheartened by the selection available(horror, vampires, paranormal etc) I definitely was looking for something other than this when I found this book. I read it in 2 days! It definitely helps that I'm a big fan of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and similar. The plot line for this book reminded me of the film "You've Got Mail" which is referenced in the book. I really enjoyed reading it and will seek further boo I was trawling the free ebooks on goodreads searching for something to read and was disheartened by the selection available(horror, vampires, paranormal etc) I definitely was looking for something other than this when I found this book. I read it in 2 days! It definitely helps that I'm a big fan of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and similar. The plot line for this book reminded me of the film "You've Got Mail" which is referenced in the book. I really enjoyed reading it and will seek further books by this author writing under several mysterious pen names. Extremely readable, especially for period classics fans and those who love the period drama adaptations on TV. The dig at modern technology with the various quotes under the chapter headings was a nice touch too. I highly recommend to all those who would rather be living in a by-gone era and for those who just want something less gruesome and more wholesome than the current market seems to provide.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Oh my heart, I loved this story! The characters, the storyline, the chemistry, everything just came together to make a perfect delight of a read. I downloaded the sample from Amazon and it sucked me in immediately, which meant I ended up buying the book and devouring it! As much as I love story, it isn't nearly as often as I wish that a book will pull me in so completely right from the first page. But this one? Oh goodness...all I can do is exclaim excitedly how lovely it is and to quote another Oh my heart, I loved this story! The characters, the storyline, the chemistry, everything just came together to make a perfect delight of a read. I downloaded the sample from Amazon and it sucked me in immediately, which meant I ended up buying the book and devouring it! As much as I love story, it isn't nearly as often as I wish that a book will pull me in so completely right from the first page. But this one? Oh goodness...all I can do is exclaim excitedly how lovely it is and to quote another blogger, "if you're breathing and like to read" I would highly recommend this one! What can I say of Alice that will help you understand what it is about her that I loved? I'm not even sure myself! All I know is this quirky, quiet, old-fashioned bookseller just resonated with me. Whether it's her more introverted nature, or her love of reading, or just the fact that she lives and works and breathes stories, I understood her. This woman knows her books, there are very few things she knows better. But when that quiet nature meets a roadblock for something she truly believes in? And when that roadblock happens to be only the best looking guy she's ever seen in her life? Just sit back and watch for the fireworks! Because Alice and Paul simply explode with chemistry. These two merely look at each other and the sparks are flying! I kid you not. Y'all know how I love a good romance and these two characters have quite the journey to happy ever after! Because lest you think it's all roses and rainbows once they meet, oh no. Where Alice loves her comforts (and is not a fan of change!), Paul is all about the next new thing, especially when it involves electronics. And those two things? Do not a happy Alice and Paul make. But they can't deny their attraction either, so round and round they go, trying to understand the other and striving to not give in to their feelings. Which just makes for loads of fun for us! For all their differences, they also have a lot in common and that's precisely where this story hooked me. Characters who fall in love over the words they share just make me *happy dance* and Ms. Hathaway hits it out of the ballpark with Alice and Paul! Words are so personal, you share part of yourself with them, even unintentionally. I loved the emails and the You've Got Mail aspects of the story. I also loved the town and all the personalities within it. And all the Creole culture-y things I didn't know before. And seriously! I could gush on and on about this book, but you should simply take my word for it and go read it right now. It's delightful, people! So what are you waiting for?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Love Creole food, music, lifestyle and language??? Come along to the unique setting of Natchitoches, Louisiana. You will meet Alice Augustine who inherited a book store. Her belief is to subdue technology in order to encourage all ages to read print books. Alice loves being in the historic district of her hometown. Alice starts a computer correspondence with Browning Wordsworth Keats. They both are very literate with poetry and its meanings. I enjoyed the way the author has these two characters quote f Love Creole food, music, lifestyle and language??? Come along to the unique setting of Natchitoches, Louisiana. You will meet Alice Augustine who inherited a book store. Her belief is to subdue technology in order to encourage all ages to read print books. Alice loves being in the historic district of her hometown. Alice starts a computer correspondence with Browning Wordsworth Keats. They both are very literate with poetry and its meanings. I enjoyed the way the author has these two characters quote from poetry and books. I thought it was great how Alice named all her cats from book characters. The town has given an technology store permission to build near the historic district. The owner, Paul Olivier was born and raised in the town. He is tech nerd who invents computer games that have made him a very wealthy man. He has decide to come home to show the town that the once very poor child is now a self made man. Paul is a very generous man who donates computers to the school system in town when made aware of the need but lack of funds. But he does have a secret he needs to reveal to Alice. This is a well plotted book with subtle humor through out. The author weaves the past and present together without any type of difficulty for the reader to follow. The main characters are well developed with undeniable chemistry but the question of the old versus the new seems to be blocking their relationship. Will differences be blended? Will Browning Wordsworth Keats interfere? Will Paul share his secret? This is the first book of Mary Jane Hathaway that I have read. It is one to be on everyone list to read!! It is a quick enjoyable read. It is the Pepper in the Gumbo!! Thanks to the author for the eBook. My opinion is my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A lovely story about a young woman trying to keep her life simple and retain her Creole heritage in Louisiana, when a handsome techno wizard returns to his hometown to open a "video game" store and the two clash. Our hero has a secret identity though. He's really a poetry and classic literature lover which the two have in common. Can they overcome the obvious differences and embrace the similarities? Better yet, can they overcome the secrets that are revealed? This was a good, clean romance with A lovely story about a young woman trying to keep her life simple and retain her Creole heritage in Louisiana, when a handsome techno wizard returns to his hometown to open a "video game" store and the two clash. Our hero has a secret identity though. He's really a poetry and classic literature lover which the two have in common. Can they overcome the obvious differences and embrace the similarities? Better yet, can they overcome the secrets that are revealed? This was a good, clean romance with a storyline I find close to my own heart. I felt like I got to know the characters and enjoyed the cat-and-mouse interactions between them. If you like learning about new places, and are just as worried about what effect technology is having on our culture, like romance or just plain love literature, you will enjoy this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Noelia

    NEEDS A PROOFREADER. Argh! Why, oh why, are novels allowed to be out before a thousand proof-readings? Lovely story, clean romance (I didn't even know that was a term), interesting references to French creole language and culture, beautiful, smart quotes, and interesting ongoing debate about technology vs. simpler unplugged life. Will probably resonate with all book lovers like me who are shamefully (or shamelessly) loving their e-reader, yet missing the feel and smell of the "real" book. Once the NEEDS A PROOFREADER. Argh! Why, oh why, are novels allowed to be out before a thousand proof-readings? Lovely story, clean romance (I didn't even know that was a term), interesting references to French creole language and culture, beautiful, smart quotes, and interesting ongoing debate about technology vs. simpler unplugged life. Will probably resonate with all book lovers like me who are shamefully (or shamelessly) loving their e-reader, yet missing the feel and smell of the "real" book. Once the typos are fixed this might become one of my new favorite novels! :)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Here's to another heroine that thinks the way I do, it's scary. Alice Augustine is passionate about two things, books and keeping the little historical spot in their little town as preserved and as untouched as possible. She's no big fan of modern contraptions (i.e. gadgets) and think people need to put down those phones and tablets and start reading books and have real, honest-to-goodness, face-to-face conversations. Not many people seem to think the way she does, and so she is thrilled to disco Here's to another heroine that thinks the way I do, it's scary. Alice Augustine is passionate about two things, books and keeping the little historical spot in their little town as preserved and as untouched as possible. She's no big fan of modern contraptions (i.e. gadgets) and think people need to put down those phones and tablets and start reading books and have real, honest-to-goodness, face-to-face conversations. Not many people seem to think the way she does, and so she is thrilled to discover that someone who calls himself Browning Wordsworth Keats is looking for old books and uploading them to a site for people around the world to discover and enjoy. Alice's tranquil life is about to go haywire, however, as a new store is about to open in the historic district--a store of gadgets and contraptions and other newfangled items that Alice didn't even know existed. She's determined to fight the store--and its owner--every step of the way. Unbeknownst to her, the store owner, self-made billionaire Paul Olivier, is also Browning Wordsworth Keats. I can't begin to count the things I like in this book--Alice, her bookstore, her cats named after literary characters, the fact that Paul was able to guess the names of her cats, the Creole language with its French roots, Gumbo, zydeco, the sweetness life brings when you find a kindred spirit in a stranger. I love how Alice is more than willing to fight for what she believes is right, and yet, at the same time, when she realizes that the friendship is not worth sacrificing for the fight.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Coble

    I love this book. The author provided me a copy in exchange for a review, but also because when I read the description--bookstore, computer geeks, romance--I did all but prostrate myself at her feet for a copy. When it was officially released I got it again on Kindle Unlimited. And read it again. Now I'm pretty sure I'll buy it to keep. It's just right up my alley. This is the 3rd book I've read by this author--she goes by a couple different noms de plume--and I have to say they just keep gettin I love this book. The author provided me a copy in exchange for a review, but also because when I read the description--bookstore, computer geeks, romance--I did all but prostrate myself at her feet for a copy. When it was officially released I got it again on Kindle Unlimited. And read it again. Now I'm pretty sure I'll buy it to keep. It's just right up my alley. This is the 3rd book I've read by this author--she goes by a couple different noms de plume--and I have to say they just keep getting better. _Pepper In The Gumbo_ owes a plot-debt to The Shop Around The Corner, but Carmichael puts her fresh charm on the tale. I really do love this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    As a rule, I don't like romantic fiction, so for me to not only like a romantic fiction book, but to love a romantic fiction book, that book has to be pretty amazing. This book was pretty amazing. I don't like romantic fiction, but I do like the movie "You've Got Mail" -- it's Tom Hanks thing mostly. This book is a smarter, sharper, sweeter twist on the classic tale that was used for the movie. I also like really good writing and well-developed characters -- all that is present, and more, in thi As a rule, I don't like romantic fiction, so for me to not only like a romantic fiction book, but to love a romantic fiction book, that book has to be pretty amazing. This book was pretty amazing. I don't like romantic fiction, but I do like the movie "You've Got Mail" -- it's Tom Hanks thing mostly. This book is a smarter, sharper, sweeter twist on the classic tale that was used for the movie. I also like really good writing and well-developed characters -- all that is present, and more, in this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Sparkes

    #1 Cane River Romance Loved this Louisiana romance, filled with the Creole culture, and lots of literary links ~ Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell & Elizabeth Barrett Browning to mention a few. A bookstore owner of rare books meets technology millionaire and sparks fly! #1 Cane River Romance Loved this Louisiana romance, filled with the Creole culture, and lots of literary links ~ Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell & Elizabeth Barrett Browning to mention a few. A bookstore owner of rare books meets technology millionaire and sparks fly!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I had very high expectations for this book going into it. I love romances where the main characters don’t like each other at first - especially when those romances are anonymous. You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite romantic comedies and I also love The Shop Around the Corner. This had all the components to add up to be a story I would love. However, I sadly did not enjoy this at all. For starters, I couldn’t stand the main character Alice, who was the textbook definition of “crazy cat lady.” Sh I had very high expectations for this book going into it. I love romances where the main characters don’t like each other at first - especially when those romances are anonymous. You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite romantic comedies and I also love The Shop Around the Corner. This had all the components to add up to be a story I would love. However, I sadly did not enjoy this at all. For starters, I couldn’t stand the main character Alice, who was the textbook definition of “crazy cat lady.” She had numerous cats (all named after writers or literary characters) and to be honest, I got sick of hearing about them. The book described each cat’s personality quirks in way more detail than was needed for the story. Alice was also very anti technology, believing that people have no real interactions anymore because they are glued to their phones and other devices. While this is a valid concern, she just came off as preachy and annoying. I felt like she got up on her soapbox at least once per chapter (and often more frequently than that) to go on and on about how technology is ruining everyone’s lives. She lectured all of her friends about this and had a very condescending attitude. Maybe she should have her indoor plumbing removed and go back to using an outhouse instead! Or maybe she should burn whale fat for light rather than using electricity! My point is, not all technology is bad, but she was very closed minded, yet also hypocritical (the technology that SHE uses is perfectly acceptable). I liked Paul better, at least personality-wise. My problem with him was his celebrity status. I just don’t believe that someone who is digitizing rare books would have millions of followers hanging on his every word. It was a nice thing that he was doing, bringing these obscure books to the masses, but I just don’t think the majority of people would care. Or that the owner of a video game company would be recognized everywhere he goes. Also, his dependence on his mother. Barf. The ex girlfriend comes to town? He calls Mommy to get rid of her for him! This guy is 30 years old and his mother comes over several days a week to cook for him and also interrogates any girl who comes near him. She was nosy and interfering and controlling and I couldn’t stand her. Paul’s friend Andy constantly refers to Paul as “sparkly vampire” which didn’t make sense to me. I guess because Paul was being emo? The joke was mildly amusing the first time. The subsequent 3 times the joke was recycled? Not so much. Since I didn’t like Alice at all, I didn’t like the romance. What did Paul see in her? Also, they had a series of misunderstandings that seemed fairly minor. Alice was so easily offended that she misinterpreted everything that Paul did. I really did not want to give this a one star, but it just didn’t work for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ⚜️Trea

    I'm really rather torn by this story. On one hand, it was a good clean romance story, filled with interesting characters and a rich and vibrant setting. On the other hand, there was just something about the story that made it really drag for me. Alice's approach was rather unique for me. She abhorred technology, and yet could find practical uses for it in her business life. She took that abhorrence a bit too far at times, which made her feel a little bit like a hypocrite. Paul was an interesting h I'm really rather torn by this story. On one hand, it was a good clean romance story, filled with interesting characters and a rich and vibrant setting. On the other hand, there was just something about the story that made it really drag for me. Alice's approach was rather unique for me. She abhorred technology, and yet could find practical uses for it in her business life. She took that abhorrence a bit too far at times, which made her feel a little bit like a hypocrite. Paul was an interesting hero. His personal revelations were confusing at times, but I did enjoy how willing he was to help others with his fame and fortune. His deception wore rather thin, even when he was trying to do the big reveal! For a Christian romance, it wasn't preachy at all! In fact, the religious aspect was very subdued! The romance was the focus, and it didn't suffer from a lack of sexual contact. It was interesting enough for me to want to continue the series, but it is definitely a rocky start!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tarina

    I loved this story, I read it so, fast, I will reread for the enjoyment of the story. I am so thankful that I was able to meet some wonderful characters, Alice, Paul, Mrs . Oliver, Charlie, and Bix. Oh, not to mention a wonderful group of cats. I would love to visit Alice's bookstore and browse the books. This is a wonderful story of being true to who you are and learning to accept that changes are necessary. The recipes at the end of the book is an added plus. I feel like I made some new friend I loved this story, I read it so, fast, I will reread for the enjoyment of the story. I am so thankful that I was able to meet some wonderful characters, Alice, Paul, Mrs . Oliver, Charlie, and Bix. Oh, not to mention a wonderful group of cats. I would love to visit Alice's bookstore and browse the books. This is a wonderful story of being true to who you are and learning to accept that changes are necessary. The recipes at the end of the book is an added plus. I feel like I made some new friends with this book, and a place I would love to go and visit.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Lunsford

    pepper in the gumbo Enjoyed the story very much. It shows we need to keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions about things. It does need a proofreader as do so many of these books.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Linda Russell

    Delightful I downloaded this book because it was free, to my surprise it is one of the best books I have read in a long, long time. It is witty, amusing, and so funny I laughed out loud so many times my husband thought I had lost it. Five stars all the way!!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    So, I Read This Book Today

    The definition of gumbo is almost as slippery as that of Creole. Just as gumbo can contain pretty much any kind of meat or seafood, Creole is a vague and inclusive term for native New Orleanians, who may be black or white, depending on whom you're asking. - Jay McInerney I'm Creole, and I'm down to earth. - Boozoo Chavis Technology. . . is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and stabs you in the back with the other. – Carrie Snow Alice Augustine lives the life she has always wan The definition of gumbo is almost as slippery as that of Creole. Just as gumbo can contain pretty much any kind of meat or seafood, Creole is a vague and inclusive term for native New Orleanians, who may be black or white, depending on whom you're asking. - Jay McInerney I'm Creole, and I'm down to earth. - Boozoo Chavis Technology. . . is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and stabs you in the back with the other. – Carrie Snow Alice Augustine lives the life she has always wanted. The owner of a rare book store willed to her by the elderly couple, the Perraults, who offered her peace after the death of her family, Alice is happy. Well, as happy as you can be when your bookstore runs in the red every month, and your boyfriend is a self-centred ass. But still, she is proud of her shop, proud of her Creole culture, and just as proud of the fact that she lives her life with as little technology as possible. Let’s face it – in this day and age, the art of conversation is dead, the paper book is a rarity, and nobody pays attention to anyone else – everyone runs around with their noses in their iPhones instead. Everything is good, though, in historical old town Natchitoches, Louisiana. Alice is on the board, so nobody can damage the culture of the city, right? Well. Not so much. For something terrible has happened – without going through any proper channels whatsoever, the Mayor and his cronies have allowed the building of a ScreenStop right in the middle of Historical Old Town – a glass and steel monstrosity that fits in the neighborhood like mud on the Mona Lisa. ScreenStop is everything that Alice abhors about modern life. A haven for people who live their lives in front of screens, fighting orcs and monsters instead of visiting with friends, having conversations, and generally being real live human beings. Oh, and reading books. The billionaire wizard of ScreenStop, Paul Olivier is the penultimate “Creole boy makes good” story. Raised by a single mother in a shack on the wrong side of the tracks in Natchitoches, he is determined to rub the town’s nose in his success. He lives in his world of game design, public appearances and growing his gaming empire. Nevertheless, there is something different about him. For Paul Olivier has a second identity – an identity which draws him to Alice, a persona of poetry and books, kindness and charity, that could help both of them – or destroy everything. The Pepper In The Gumbo honestly tore me apart. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the book. The writing, the characters, the French Creole history that is so important to Alice. Alice isn’t perfect by any means, but she is real and likable, even if you want to smack her and tell her to wake up a few times. That is what makes her character honest and interesting. And Paul is an enigma that I enjoyed deciphering. He pissed me off just as often as he made me appreciate his more positive qualities. All things that make him interesting. There were some things that weren’t logically presented in the book – like why Alice didn’t explain to Paul that his building’s paperwork wasn’t legal, even though his lawyers told him there was no problem, even though the building definitely didn’t follow codes. Be that as it may, what drove me nuts about the book is exactly what makes it a wonderful piece, in its own way, for a contemporary audience. The effects of technology upon humanity – upon what makes us humans. In Alice’s eyes, Paul and his kind are, “luring a whole generation into willful ignorance. She felt like the world was in love with Paul Oliver and she was the only sane person left. In a lot of ways, I have to agree with Alice. Humanity is so busy running around with their noses in the aforementioned iPads, they no longer raise their heads long enough to say “hello” much less have a conversation. The idea of what constitutes “achievement” is dropped to the level of winning another level in a game, something that means her young friend Charlie, who helps out in the bookshop, “was wasting her life on false achievements that meant nothing in real life.” Mary Jane Hathaway has done a good job of pointing out the good and the bad on both sides of the story. The loss of intellect brought on by a life consumed by video games, a world where players have been known to die from sitting so long in play mode that they literally die in their chairs, to the other side of the coin, where Bix, Alice’s nearly blind friend can make the type on an e-reader large enough that he can actually read his beloved books he hasn’t been able to read in years. As Max Frisch said, “Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” But then again, the very technology that has turned us into a nation of mindless screen-gazers, where Nobody ever talks to each other anymore. Has also given us access to the classic words of those authors and poets who are no longer grist for the publishing mill. I just downloaded of the books mentioned in the story, The Seraphim, and Other Poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (original publication date January 1, 1838) off of the Google project. I hope you read The Pepper In The Gumbo. And I would love to hear what you think about it. As I said, parts of me rant about the loss of civilization (and good book stores!) to technology. Another feels guilty because, yep, I read everything on e-reader these days – can’t help it when I suffer a bit of what Bix suffers – I just can’t read as long in paper as I can on an e-reader screen where I can make the type larger, change the background colour, and raise and lower the brightness. Sigh. So, Pot/Kettle much? I downloaded The Pepper In The Gumbo though my Kindle Unlimited account. When KU first came out I didn’t think it would be worth the monthly fee. Boy, was I ever wrong!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Southern Good Alice and Paul travel a rocky and literary road to romance. Technology is the gauntlet between them. A wonderfully, delightful story and my introduction to Creole Louisiana culture. I highly recommend this original story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Noura

    It was a mix of "YOU'VE GOT MAIL" and "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE", and I didn't like that mix, obviously.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wil

    This book was an amusing culture-clash between the printed word and the digital, imbued with a strong creole flavor and heavy doses of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    Famous billionaire Paul Olivier returns to his Creole roots in Natchitoches, Louisiana to open a new gaming store (and to show all the people who snubbed him how successful he became). What people don't know about Paul Olivier is that he has a cyber alter-ego "Browning Wordsworth Keats (BWK)," an anonymous person who uploads out-of-date books for people to read and discuss. Alice Augustine is a Creole woman whose parents died when she was young, and was raised by a grandmother who was too tired a Famous billionaire Paul Olivier returns to his Creole roots in Natchitoches, Louisiana to open a new gaming store (and to show all the people who snubbed him how successful he became). What people don't know about Paul Olivier is that he has a cyber alter-ego "Browning Wordsworth Keats (BWK)," an anonymous person who uploads out-of-date books for people to read and discuss. Alice Augustine is a Creole woman whose parents died when she was young, and was raised by a grandmother who was too tired and old to be bothered with an angry teen girl. She was saved by Mr. Perrault and his wife, the owners of the bookstore where she found peace and love. She is passionate about books and reading. I'm not really a cat lover, but I kinda fell in love with the cats in the bookstore, too! Paul and Alice have sparks from the very beginning! It was fun to watch them challenge each other and to get to know each other. It was also fun to peek inside the Creole culture, complete with zydeco music (which I had never heard of before this book), gumbo and grits. I loved the side characters, especially Paul's mom, Andy, Charlie and Bix. I also loved the references to literature, and the themes of love and grace. "Bitterness can get you pretty far in life. But love always takes you farther." I definitely want to read more books in this series (especially Book 3 for Charlie's story and Book 4 for Andy's story) Content: Clean Source: Amazon freebie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Very interesting with quotes at the beginning of each chapter which highlights the plot of technology and how it can and will affect the "old-fashioned" ways of the characters in the little historic town of Natchitoches. Alice, who runs a lovely little bookstore, and who is in love with stories and poems of the past is determined that her town will not be changed by the new technology of e-readers, cell phones and non-stop game playing. But, can she resist just having a little look when she hear Very interesting with quotes at the beginning of each chapter which highlights the plot of technology and how it can and will affect the "old-fashioned" ways of the characters in the little historic town of Natchitoches. Alice, who runs a lovely little bookstore, and who is in love with stories and poems of the past is determined that her town will not be changed by the new technology of e-readers, cell phones and non-stop game playing. But, can she resist just having a little look when she hears customers talking about a website that is 'bringing back' many of the old beloved stories which have almost been lost in the paper book world? How great would it be if people were still able to read and have easy access to some of these 'almost lost' stories. After looking and reading, her addiction to chatting with the creator of the site (WBK) changes her life on a daily basis. She is hooked - and then Paul Olivier comes into the picture. He wants to bring technology into her special little historic town and she is not going to accept that - NO WAY! This is a delightful story with well-developed and interesting characters which will make you smile.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jimnlori

    This is the first book that I've read by Mary Jane Hathaway. It is a sweet romance steeped in traditional southern charm. I loved all of the southern charm and the traditional Creole language, food, music and lifestyle that she incorporated into the story. Alice lives and breathes her traditions and hometown while Paul left as soon as he could to make his life elsewhere and only visits occasionally. Their relationship starts off bumpy and never seems to get on a smooth track. Alice sees only thei This is the first book that I've read by Mary Jane Hathaway. It is a sweet romance steeped in traditional southern charm. I loved all of the southern charm and the traditional Creole language, food, music and lifestyle that she incorporated into the story. Alice lives and breathes her traditions and hometown while Paul left as soon as he could to make his life elsewhere and only visits occasionally. Their relationship starts off bumpy and never seems to get on a smooth track. Alice sees only their differences whereas Paul sees their commonalities, but they both have secrets and won't open up to each other. It takes almost losing each other for them to see that their differences can be a good thing and that their secrets need to be shared and forgiven. I was given an ARC for an honest review. Any and all conclusions are mine and mine alone.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karla Rose

    I really enjoyed this book. For me it felt like 'You've got mail' but with an appealing small town charm. There was spice, personality. Lines that made me laugh out loud, and conversations I just had to share with someone (my hubby heard more lines from this book than a person not reading said book is expected to hear). Hathaway brought alive a culture that I have only heard/seen in movies and made it exciting and accessible. 'The Pepper in the Gumbo' was not only a joy to read with a lovely sto I really enjoyed this book. For me it felt like 'You've got mail' but with an appealing small town charm. There was spice, personality. Lines that made me laugh out loud, and conversations I just had to share with someone (my hubby heard more lines from this book than a person not reading said book is expected to hear). Hathaway brought alive a culture that I have only heard/seen in movies and made it exciting and accessible. 'The Pepper in the Gumbo' was not only a joy to read with a lovely story line, but all the little added things like books, tech, and culture made it so real and well rounded.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christalee

    This may have just become one of my favorite MJH books!! Fantastic! All of Alice's mistakes make her seem so human and down to earth, you have to adore her. Paul is just...well, he is so romantic you can't not fall in love with him. The poetry, the romance, the recipes at the end...this book is simply extraordinary! I was so disappointed when this book ended and I had to leave these characters behind. I fell in love with Paul and Alice. (I'll even miss the cats...and I am allergic.) ;) Hmm, I mig This may have just become one of my favorite MJH books!! Fantastic! All of Alice's mistakes make her seem so human and down to earth, you have to adore her. Paul is just...well, he is so romantic you can't not fall in love with him. The poetry, the romance, the recipes at the end...this book is simply extraordinary! I was so disappointed when this book ended and I had to leave these characters behind. I fell in love with Paul and Alice. (I'll even miss the cats...and I am allergic.) ;) Hmm, I might just have to go re-read it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    What a delightful book! This was my first Mary Jane Hathaway read, and I'm ready for more. This story is about the reluctant merging of the antique and the modern. About how things that seem to be opposed can blend together in many aspects of life...including relationships. The main characters were believable, normal (I can't stand caricatures in a book), and so much fun! My test as I'm reading is, "Would I want to be friends with these people? To be personally involved in their lives?" The answ What a delightful book! This was my first Mary Jane Hathaway read, and I'm ready for more. This story is about the reluctant merging of the antique and the modern. About how things that seem to be opposed can blend together in many aspects of life...including relationships. The main characters were believable, normal (I can't stand caricatures in a book), and so much fun! My test as I'm reading is, "Would I want to be friends with these people? To be personally involved in their lives?" The answer is "Definitely!" for The Pepper in the Gumbo.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cayla

    This book has a lot of similarities to the movie, "You've Got Mail." But the movie is funnier than this book. It's a good read. A clean read. Great for Christians to pick up without a worry in the world. But I feel that this book lacks humor. The two characters, Paul and Alice, are clean-cut folks, but they have a different vision for this Louisiana town. While I like the characters,I feel that Ms. Hathaway could have beefed up the story with some humor, sarcasm, and wit. The use of poetry is gr This book has a lot of similarities to the movie, "You've Got Mail." But the movie is funnier than this book. It's a good read. A clean read. Great for Christians to pick up without a worry in the world. But I feel that this book lacks humor. The two characters, Paul and Alice, are clean-cut folks, but they have a different vision for this Louisiana town. While I like the characters,I feel that Ms. Hathaway could have beefed up the story with some humor, sarcasm, and wit. The use of poetry is great, but it shouldn't have to be the only thing they do in their communication.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    0216: Got this as a Bookbub Deal, and I'm so glad I did. I'm not one for Romance books, but it was fun and sweet (no smut). Being from Louisiana, I appreciated all the references. As a Catholic, I appreciated the faith being presented as just a part of who they are. They take their faith seriously. It's a bit heavy on local lore and references, but I loved that about it. Natchitoches is one of the prettiest towns in Louisiana (or anywhere). This made me want to go to the Festival of Lights next 0216: Got this as a Bookbub Deal, and I'm so glad I did. I'm not one for Romance books, but it was fun and sweet (no smut). Being from Louisiana, I appreciated all the references. As a Catholic, I appreciated the faith being presented as just a part of who they are. They take their faith seriously. It's a bit heavy on local lore and references, but I loved that about it. Natchitoches is one of the prettiest towns in Louisiana (or anywhere). This made me want to go to the Festival of Lights next Christmas.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carol Greenwood

    I bought the book because of the word Gumbo in the title. This book was not a disappointment. Alice has inherited a bookstore and a building from a friend, a surrogate father. Her own parents died when she was a small child. She was raised by her grandmother who has also died. She has four older brothers who have all left Cane River for jobs out of state. Alice has returned because of her love of Her heritage; she's Creole. Paul is also Creole and from Cane River. He has returned for revenge. Boy I bought the book because of the word Gumbo in the title. This book was not a disappointment. Alice has inherited a bookstore and a building from a friend, a surrogate father. Her own parents died when she was a small child. She was raised by her grandmother who has also died. She has four older brothers who have all left Cane River for jobs out of state. Alice has returned because of her love of Her heritage; she's Creole. Paul is also Creole and from Cane River. He has returned for revenge. Boy meets girl, but their road is rocky.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janeiowa

    Set in the Creole country of Louisiana, this is the story of the girl who's inherited and loves her rare bookstore in the historic district. In comes a former poor resident with his steel and glass megastore of electronics and gaming, a business that has made him extremely wealthy. The overall plot reminded me, in many ways, of the Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks movie, "You've Got Mail." I read the digital version and there were a few typos, but not enough to be truly annoying. This was my first book by Ms Set in the Creole country of Louisiana, this is the story of the girl who's inherited and loves her rare bookstore in the historic district. In comes a former poor resident with his steel and glass megastore of electronics and gaming, a business that has made him extremely wealthy. The overall plot reminded me, in many ways, of the Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks movie, "You've Got Mail." I read the digital version and there were a few typos, but not enough to be truly annoying. This was my first book by Ms Hathaway, but I will buy others in this series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Pennington

    Rain Day Read I truly enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed as was the story. Many lessons were learned by the characters but put forth in a non preachy way. Couldn't put the book down. Started it last night and was up most the night. Then I finished it today. I just need to know what was going to happen next. I am heading to Amazon right now to pick up more books from this author.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    At first I suspected this book of being a "You've Got Mail" parody. Although Alice is the owner of an old book store in the historic district of a small town in Louisiana, and Paul is building a new big store just across the way, Ms. Hathaway changed the story up enough to keep my interest and made the book one I couldn't put down. This book is well written and simply delightful! I look forward to reading more books in the Cane River Romance Series.

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