One of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes begins with “What’s in a name?” Well let me tell you when your name is Juliet Montague Capshaw and you live in the charming Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon there’s a lot in that name. As in a lot of pressure, and a lot to live up to.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved growing up in the sweet Southern Oregon town surrounded by actors, playwrights, artists, and a warm and welcoming community of locals. My dad was a Shakespeare buff and thought naming me after the bard’s most romantic heroine would set me up for a life of love. He was wrong. Let’s just say that I haven’t exactly been lucky in love.
I thought shortening my name might help. That’s why I go by Jules. It fits. And it kept the nasty chef I trained under in culinary school from mocking me by singing, “Romeo, oh Romeo, where are you?” whenever I made a mistake.
After I graduated from culinary school, I landed a job as an apprentice pastry chef on a cruise ship. I left Ashland and the name Juliet behind, and set sail for new adventures. Working on a cruise ship had its advantages like exotic ports of call, experimenting with high-end pastry recipes, learning new techniques from world-class chefs, and meeting seductively handsome foreigners like my estranged husband Carlos.
I never thought I was homesick until things fell apart with Carlos. Suddenly I found myself longing for my idyllic childhood home with its quaint Main Street, friendly shop keepers, sun-drenched mountains, wild rivers, and our family bakeshop, Torte. When I called Mom to tell her I was coming home I could hear the excitement in her voice, mingled with unspoken worry. We’d kept in touch during my years at sea, but I hadn’t been home in a decade.
Returning to Ashland felt both familiar and entirely new. The town hadn’t changed much since I’d been away. I recognized its bubbling sulfur fountains, the meandering trails through Lithia Park, and all of the shops themed after Shakespeare, like Puck’s Pub and A Rose By Any Other Name. I recognized many faces too. They greeted me with hearty hugs and genuine excitement, “Juliet, you’re home!” Was I home? What did home even mean?
I wasn’t sure of much these days, but I did know one thing—baking. The only remedy for my problems was to lose myself in the dough. So I cinched on an apron and returned to my roots.
Torte, our family bakeshop, sits right in the middle of all of the action downtown. Our handcrafted pastries and treats are legendary with tourists and locals alike. The busy bakeshop was the perfect place to disappear for a while. Mom and I quickly found our rhythm while rolling out pie crust and piping decadent layers of chocolate frosting on hazelnut cakes.
My legs felt less shaky. Baking on solid ground certainly had its advantages. Returning to Ashland may have been the best choice I’d made in a while. I began to wonder why I ever left. That is until I discovered a body in the bakeshop and one of Torte’s employees was named the top suspect.
Murder was on the menu, and I was on a mission to find the killer and settle back into the delicious life I never knew I was missing.
You can read more about Jules in Meet the Baker, the first book in the new “Bakeshop: mystery series, published by St. Martin’s Press.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on January 2 for the chance to win a copy of MEET THE BAKER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
Meet the author
Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here: