Book Review: The Hunted Heirloom, A Charlotte Reade Mystery, by Laura Cayouette

Haunted Heirloom

Have you ever read something that took you back to a place that was comfortable, but showed it to you in a different light? Reading The Haunted Heirloom, a cozy mystery by Laura Cayouette, did that for me in a fabulously fun way!

Charlotte Reade is an actress who has given up the glitz and stress of Los Angeles for the casual comfort of New Orleans, a place her family called home for generations, even though it took her some time to find her way there. With a big movie about to launch and a hurricane threatening the city, Charlotte finds herself, and the guy of her dreams, in the middle of a mystery that hits close to home. Very close. In fact, it’s hanging in her bedroom. The chandelier has something to tell her as it moves on its own when her family history is discussed. Will she figure out what it is, or will it continue to be fodder for tour guides leading haunted tours of the city? Or is there a deeper connection to another Garden District family, whose surviving member finds himself in the middle of a haunting of his own?

Laura Cayouette weaves her deep love of the city of New Orleans through her writing on every page. As someone who has spent time in the same places, I can picture everything from the colorful people of the French Quarter, to the sidewalks turned into ramps by live oak roots. For me, it was a chance to settle into the city I adore while getting a glimpse into the behind the scenes world of a Hollywood actress. So much of Laura Cayouette runs through the book in the form of her main character, Charlotte Reade, from her acting career to the pink corseted flamboyance of The Pussyfooters, a local dance group who uses the fun of their performances and parade appearances to raise money for local causes.

The Charlotte Reade mysteries are Laura Cayouette’s love letters to the city that has become home in the way only New Orleans can. The Haunted Heirloom is book 4 in the series, but each book can stand alone. However, I suggest you get them all. They are quick, fun reads! Settle in, pour yourself a drink in your go-cup, and enjoy!

There are several ways to get your copy. I got mine digitally on Amazon, but signed copies are often available through the Garden District Book Shop.  Don’t forget to check out her blog here: L.A. to N.O.L.A.



New Orleans Ladies…and Gentlemen…and Everybody In-Between!

Something unexpected happened during the second half of my week in New Orleans.  Well, to be honest, a lot of unexpected things happened, but mostly because of this one thing.  Once my mom and my girls went home, I had several days on my own in the city.  I expected that it would be me quietly wandering the French Quarter or museums and having awkward solo dinners.

Not so.  Not so at all.

I discovered something remarkable about the city I adore.  Being alone in New Orleans is not alone at all.  People talked to me.  Lots of people.  Tourists who thought I was a local (well, I was once) and asked for directions or how there could be so many names on one above ground tomb, servers who didn’t want me to feel lonely at meals that are typically social times, a medium, tour guide, and a voodoo priestess…..

Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t like I was being constantly bothered and never had a moment with my own thoughts.  Not in the least.  There was plenty of that.  But I never felt isolated.  And I made some very special and very unexpected friends that I treasure.  The best souvenirs ever!

Read on to meet some of the folks, new friends and strangers alike, who made me feel at home.

Street music is at a whole other level in the French Quarter. This jazz band was killin’ it, y’all.

IMG_1347        IMG_1345

I don’t know who he is, but this man is the embodiment of New Orleans street jazz. Playing as much for himself as the passers-by. Once in a while, he’d bust out with a little singin’, too!
Second Line parades are always led by the band. This one made the rounds 5 times that day – 5 different wedding parades!
Second Line parades are tradition – for both happy occasions like weddings, or for sad occasions like jazz funerals.
Art on display and artists at work alongside buskers bring such a variety of vibrancy to the Square.
In New Orleans, we parade for all kinds of things. Sometimes we party, sometimes we rally. Either way, we’re coming together.
When you’re eating dinner at the personal table of the ghost of the owner of the house, which is now restaurant, you wave and smile at the living who are checking out the dead.
I love this picture. It’s just a couple of folks being themselves in the way that this city lets them be. Fishnet guy was owning the streets he was walking down all week. Completely comfortable in his own skin. I swear New Orleans must be where “you do you” was coined.
One new friend came in the form of a great tour guide who knows the French Quarter folks like no one else – both the living and the dead!
When you want to know about voodoo and make sure you’re doing it justice, you go to the source. And you make a great friend doing it. This lady right here encouraged and empowered me. And for that, I’m proud to call her my friend.
She brought the best breakfast I ever had (so good I had it twice) and kept that great coffee coming. Another precious new friend!
And then sometimes, you run into a friend from back home getting off the streetcar you’re getting on! Don’t tell me this isn’t a big small town.

There was one more friend who is a fabulous medium and a great encourager as well, but I was enjoying my time with her so much, I never even thought about getting a picture.  Too bad, too.  We had just done a seance and who knows who might have photo bombed that one.  It was after thinking about that missed chance that I made sure I got pictures of the other folks!

I adore the people of New Orleans and am grateful for so many who made me feel welcome and at home.  New Orleans, and especially the French Quarter, has always had my heart.  Now, I’m sure I left part of my soul there, too.  Technology has made it possible for me to continue to grow these friendships, but I can’t wait to get back down there and see them again!

New Orleans.  A city whose heart is as big as its character.

Much love!


New Orleans Spring Break Part 1 – Food

It’s hard to talk about the Crescent City and everything that makes it my favorite place on the planet in one post.  So, rather than giving you a play-by-play of my Spring Break week in New Orleans, I decided to break it down into categories.  Part one- The FOOD!

New Orleans is basically a gastric orgasm.  Food that sends you into throes of passion.  You fall in love with your plate and everything on it.  You wash the food down with drinks that will make your head spin.  Love at first bite.

Breakfast can come in any form you want, provided you want tons of flavor and calories don’t count.  My personal favorite breakfast food?  Crawfish.  Yep.  Crawfish for breakfast.  I ate it four out of the seven days I was there.  From the Bayou Bowl at The Creole House washed down with a mimosa or bacon bloody mary,

Creole House NOLA signCreole House NOLACreole House NOLA menuCreole House NOLA Bayou BowlCreole House bacon bloody MaryNola Nash Creole House mimosa

to the Bayou Benedict at Cafe Maspero (get the grits)

Cafe Maspero NOLA Bayou Benedict

with the best coffee this side of Cafe du Monde.  It doesn’t hurt that the waitstaff at both places are absolutely precious!  (You’ll meet one of them in another post.)  And that Cafe du Monde staff can handle a crowd!  Woo-wee.  And, yes, you want to wait in the infernal line for your friend dough deliciousness.

Cafe Du Monde NOLA begnietsCafe Du Monde NOLA exteriorCafe Du Monde NOLA waiting

Head down to the French Market and get some crawfish balls and jambalaya (no idea why they gave me so many forks – apparently they were thinking I should share.  Um, no),

French Market NOLA Crawfish Balls and Jambalaya

or gator on a stick.   (That’s my spunky little girl, who admittedly has a style all her own, munching that gator.)

French Market NOLA gator on a stick

Too spicy for ya?  Okay, make sure you cool those taste buds with a snowball.  Not to be confused with a snow cone.  Very different beasts.  (And my beautiful older girl with her wedding cake snowball)

French Market Nola Snowball

Feel like having some spine-tingling high-end cuisine?  Go eat at Muriel’s haunted restaurant.  If you can get a seat at Jourdan’s table, he might even join you.

Murriel's NOLA table

As a local returning home, I did have to grab a daiquiri and stroll the Quarter, but I steered clear of Pat O’s (even though it’s a fun place to go) and Bourbon Street.  Trust me, I’ve spent enough time in those places.  However, I did poke my head into Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar for a minute on my way to the Old Ursuline Convent.  Think about that sentence for a second.

Lafitte's Bar NOLA

Not in the mood for creole food (crazy person)?  Then, take the St. Charles streetcar into the Garden District for some great south of the border fare at Superior Grille, a place I spent a lot of high school and college evenings at devouring chips and salsa with my strawberry margarita.  (Drinking age in Louisiana at that time was 18.  Relax.)

Superior Grille NOLA

There are a bazillion other places to eat in New Orleans and I plan to be back soon to sample those as well, but I will definitely end up back at these favorites, too!

Stay tuned for my next post – the folks of New Orleans.  A few of the fabulous people that make the French Quarter a place I can’t wait to go back to.

~ Much love!


Little League Baseball and Spring Break Travel Plans

What a gorgeous day yesterday was! The wind was super blustery, but who cared when the sun was shining! I took my new hair-do out for a great day of little league baseball with my favorite wee boys! Nephews are the most fun! The tiny sluggers played hard and won the weekend! Way to go, boys!

Today was a lot of errand running, but I didn’t mind one bit. Why? Because I am getting ready to head back down to my beloved New Orleans!!!! So excited! Part of the visit is a big birthday spring break trip for my daughter, and then I get to stay a few extra days by myself to do a little research for the sequel to one of my novels. What’s on tap for my trip? A little late night French Quarter jazz, some haunted history, and of course some of that fabulous New Orleans food, y’all! (If you see me at Cafe du Monde for the third or fourth time in one day, just look away. Don’t judge. Wipe the powdered sugar off your shirt, and look away. ) I’ll be taking lots of pictures and hopefully will have some great stories for you. Stay tuned!

And when I get back, I get to go see my little guys and have us a serious crawfish boil! Which is a good thing to have to look forward to because it is soooo hard for me to leave New Orleans!

Y’all. This next week is going to be amaze-balls!!!! What’s your favorite thing to do in the Big Easy? What is a must-do for my trip??

Much love!