Friday, March 6, 2015

Drinks with Reads: Elizabeth Peters and Mulled Wine

Kerry Hammond goes classic tonight pairing the Elizabeth Peters book, Borrower of the Night with some fabulous mulled wine...

Elizabeth Peters is well known for her Amelia Peabody historical series, books that predominantly take place in Egypt and deal with archeology and Egyptian antiquities. It may come as a surprise to some that Ms. Peters also wrote several standalone novels and a shorter, but no less enjoyable, series featuring a character named Vicky Bliss. Today’s review is Borrower of the Night, book one in the Vicky Bliss series.

Let me just start by saying that if you love Amelia Peabody’s attitude and spunk, get ready to love Vicky just as much. Vicky’s physical characteristics are strikingly dissimilar to Amelia’s, however. Vicky is tall, blonde, and extremely well proportioned. She freely admits that she is jealous of short petite woman who don’t have to search for men above 6 feet in order to not look over their heads. Vicky is an art historian and although she’s dating Tony, a colleague, she isn’t one of those girls who think marriage is the only way to go. She is smart, independent, and did I mention very tall?

She and Tony learn of the possible location of a long lost wooden masterpiece that went missing in the 16th century. They both hop on a plane and end up in Rothenburg, Germany, in a medieval castle, to search for the relic. Partly teaming up and partly solo (as they kind of have a bet as to who can find it first), the two begin their search of the castle. They quickly find out they’re not the only ones looking, and that some of the others may be willing to kill for the treasure.

If I had to describe the Vicky Bliss series in a word, it would be “such fun.” Oh wait, that’s two words. There are only 6 books in the series, but each and every one of them has Vicky chasing a masterpiece in a foreign country. The art is fascinating, the locales make me want to travel, and the writing is top notch. The characters are great and the dialogue will make you laugh. And if you’re a fan of audio books, these are read by the wonderfully talented Barbara Rosenblat. Barbara is a master of voices and accents and she brings the characters to life like no one else can. Read a Mystery Playground interview with Barbara Rosenblat here.

For fans of the Amelia Peabody series, there’s even a little extra tidbit that comes at the end of the Vicky series that kind of connects the two. But that’s all I’ll say, no spoilers.

If you’re going to have a drink while reading a book that takes place in a medieval German Castle, what could be better than Gluhwein? Here’s how to make it:

Gluhwein (Mulled Wine)
I bottle of red wine (nothing fancy, you can use the cheap stuff)
½ cup brandy
½ cup sugar
8 Whole Cloves
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 orange, sliced thin

Put all ingredients in a pan on the stove, stir, and bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes and then let it cool a bit. Strain out the cloves, cinnamon and orange slices (you can also put the cloves and cinnamon in cheese cloth so you can just remove the packet when it’s done). Pour and enjoy.


  1. Don't forget her Jacqueline Kirby series! I love Elizabeth Peters, and all the books she wrote under her various names.

  2. Great review and great drink, Kerry!