When I saw the title Gumbeaux in my daily email for free and cheap e-books, it scared me.
The spelling didn’t frighten me. I’m used to Louisiana folks replacing the “oh” sound in words with the French spelling “eaux.” Seems normal in a place where people have names like Robicheaux, drink Bordeaux, live in Breaux Bridge or wear Geaux Tigers t-shirts.
Even here in Gulf Breeze, Florida, a photographer named his business Gumbeaux Portraits and a Cajun restaurant hangs a Great Gumbeaux! sign.
But when I saw Gumbeaux as a book title, I was afraid someone had beaten me to the punch and written a gumbo murder mystery before I published mine.
Relief. Gumbeaux isn’t anything like the draft of my novel, Rue the Roux. Kimberly Vargas’ novel, a light-hearted romance with some serious life-lesson scenes, is set in Bayou Bend, a small Louisiana college town. The main character, a young woman running from her wealthy family, enrolls in college to study art. When she loses her family’s financial support and her scholarship, she goes to work at the Gumbeaux café, which becomes the hub of her life. The gumbo served there is “science, art and magic.”
The Louisiana tourism agency ought to put Vargas (who lives in California) on retainer for her glowing descriptions of Louisiana, its people, culture and geography. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a historical marker or a sight-seeing brochure, but I enjoy facts and history so I appreciated the detours. She even points out that coffee first came to America by way of New Orleans in the mid-1700s.
Gumbeaux was a quick and refreshing read after I’d spent a week of deep reading with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. And the cost of Gumbeaux was more than refreshing. It was a free book offered on November 27.
Maybe by November 27, 2015, I’ll have Rue the Roux, my gumbo murder mystery, finished and featured as a free e-book on bookbub.com