" This book took me much longer to finish than it should because I've never warmed to the character of China Bayles and after any gap in reading the books it gets harder to re-join her. I've never been able to relate to her, from her big-city, hard-bitten, fast-track lawyer persona to the small town herb store owner, there's always been a disconnect. I find China as prickly as a Texas cactus and about as welcoming. I've found her difficult, irascible, ungrateful, stubborn, cold and inflexible. Perhaps because it's been a while since I've read any of the other books, I've just forgotten her positive qualities or character progression. What I keep coming back for is the setting, the herbal knowledge and recipes included in the book. The peripheral characters can be quite amusing and enjoyable as are some of the activities but I always feel like China, as she walks among them, seems to look down on them and their foibles. That is another thing I dislike about her. This particular story doesn't dispel that feeling for me. Set during a chili cookoff, a man is killed by peanuts and it all goes downhill from there. China is also trying to get her boyfriend/fiance' to recover and get out of a nursing home and becomes embroiled in scandalous happenings there too. That the two stories tied together was foreshadowed and I had a good idea who it might have been early on. I also thought China treated her "best friend" appallingly (I don't think I'd want China Bayles for a friend) and kept pushing away anyone who wanted to help or be kind to her all in the name of her "independence". Still, as I said, there are great swaths of information and recipes about chili and chile that I enjoyed very much. I'll keep hoping for more from China and will probably keep reading the series but it can be a real struggle. "
— Janet, 1/14/2014