Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Owen Wedgwood is moderately happy with his life as a successful chef working for a shipping magnate in England.  His wife and newborn child died a few years past and he’s still grieving for them every day; cooking is his escape and his life.  Unfortunately for Owen it is 1819 and pirates sail the seas and pirate queen Mad Hannah Mabbot has a bone to pick with his employer.  After shooting his employer dead she kidnaps Owen and forces him to create elaborate Sunday meals for her from the little supplies on board ship.  If the food is good, he lives; if the food is bad, he dies.  Great motivation to do good work!

This is a lighthearted tale overall with serious storylines.  Mabbot is a pirate with an agenda – the downfall of the opium trade that has ruined the lives of so many in the South Pacific.  She wants to bring the shipping giant, which still deals in slavery among other unsavory business practices, to its knees.  So does her nemesis the Brass Fox, a man of mystery and cunning, but his motivations may not be as pure.  Then of course there is the wildly inventive Frenchman obsessed with bringing Mabbot down with whatever insanely destructive means necessary.

This is a fun filled pirate tale with a lot more substance to it than you would assume by the title and cover.  This is another book to read on a full stomach.  While the ingredients at Owen’s disposal are meager, the culinary creations he prepares will make your mouth water.