Miss Julia Stirs up Trouble (Miss Julia Series #14)

Miss Julia Stirs up Trouble (Miss Julia Series #14)

by Ann B. Ross


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The perfect next course in the New York Times–bestselling series—plus dozens of recipes from Abbotsville’s best cooks. Don't miss Miss Julia Raises the Roof, coming April 2018 from Viking.  

Autumn’s crisp bite is in the air, but Miss Julia soon discovers that, alas, leaves aren’t the only things falling. James, Hazel Marie’s housekeeper, has taken a nasty tumble down some stairs. How can Hazel Marie feed and take care of him—not to mention a husband, son, and twin baby girls—when she barely knows how to boil water? Miss Julia promptly organizes the ladies of Abbotsville to give Hazel Marie cooking lessons. But before she can relax, Hazel Marie’s shady preacher-uncle turns up—just as Miss Julia learns that James has roped young Lloyd into an Internet scam!

Filled with mayhem, delicious recipes, and plenty of steel-magnolia-style action, Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble is a feast from cover to cover.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143124894
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/25/2014
Series: Miss Julia Series , #14
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 83,792
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ann B. Ross is the author of eighteen novels featuring the popular Southern heroine Miss Julia, as well as Etta Mae's Worst Bad-Luck Day, a novel about one of Abbotsville's other most outspoken residents: Etta Mae Wiggins. Ross holds a doctorate in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has taught literature at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Stepping carefully onto the newly sodded patches of grass at the side of the house, I stood by a hydrangea bush for a few minutes, admiring the graceful lines of my new Williamsburg chimney. Reassured that it was worth what it had cost to have it, I strolled across the lawn to the arbor near the back fence. After brushing dried leaves from the bench, I sat down to revel in the glorious October day. I marveled at the clear, blue sky—Carolina blue, as Lloyd called it—and the molten gold leaves of the gingko tree on the edge of Mildred’s lawn next door. A light breeze ruffled through the almost leafless wisteria vine overhead, as a feeling of peace and gratitude for our blessings filled my soul. All the carpenters, painters, paperhangers, plumbers, and brick masons were long gone, leaving us with a remodeled and redecorated house. Well, not the whole house, but three rooms had been remodeled and redecorated. Even better, extra furnishings, like the bedroom rug, which had been rolled into a stumbling block in the hall, were out of the house and the mattress was off the dining room table and back on our bed where it belonged. My house had been returned to its ordered self, and at least for these few minutes, all seemed right with the world.

Sam, my darling husband—acquired late in life, but all the more precious because of it—was home from his travels, working now in his new office in the old sunroom upstairs and loving it. “The best and most efficient office I’ve ever had, Julia,” he’d told me, but I think that was because I’d had the foresight to put in the semblance of a tiny kitchen in a closet—a coffeepot and an under-the-counter refrigerator so he didn’t have to tromp downstairs every time he wanted something to drink. The hall bathroom was right next door, too.

And Lloyd. My heart lifted as I thought of the boy foisted on me by my deceased first husband by way of a long- term adulterous situation, the boy who had become the center of my life. In spite of the fact that his mother was now well and truly married to Mr. Pickens—an event I’d almost despaired of ever happening— Lloyd didn’t seem eager to leave my house for theirs. He was still in and out, spending the school week with Sam and me and most weekends with his mother and Mr. Pickens four blocks away in Sam’s old house. I worried a little that the odd arrangement would warp his character but, on the other hand, having two homes with two helpings of being loved and wanted couldn’t be harmful. Both apprehensive and excited, he’d started his first year of high school and now, after a couple of months, he was finding that a quick intelligence and a sunny disposition were making a place for him. I couldn’t help but notice that he was still smaller and, in spite of his usual serious demeanor, younger-seeming than his classmates, many of whom were on the verge of manhood with their husky physiques and voices. And, actually, he was younger, for Hazel Marie had let him skip a grade before they came to live with me. Yet I had no worries about Lloyd fitting in. He was making new friends and meeting the new challenges set by his teachers. He was the joy of my life and, as I thought of him, I knew that at least for this moment in time, all was right with him and with the world.

Hazel Marie had her challenges as well, and to my constant amazement, considering the fact that she’d had such a disreputable background to overcome, she was meeting them head on. Who would have ever thought that the overpainted woman who’d flounced up to my door, bastard son by her side, announcing to me and the world what Wesley Lloyd Springer had been doing before he passed over, would turn out to be a sweet and valued friend, as well as an accepted member of Abbotsville society, such as it was?

Those twin baby girls—born, I am happy to say, firmly within wedlock—took almost all her time, but she would have it no other way. I had made the mistake of suggesting within Latisha’s hearing that she employ a nanny or, at least, an au pair to give her a rest from the constant demands. Hazel Marie rejected the suggestion— she couldn’t turn her babies over to anyone else—but Latisha decided that when she grew up she wanted to be either an au pair, once she learned what an au pair was, or a rock star. Lillian just rolled her eyes at her little great-grand.

Mr. J. D. Pickens, an erstwhile rambling man, seemed as contented as I’d ever known him to be, or as a freelance private investigator can be. I’d fretted a little about Hazel Marie’s devotion to those babies, fearful that he’d feel left out, which I understand can occur when a wife is too busy or too tired to address her marital duties. When I carefully broached the subject to Hazel Marie, she assured me that Mr. Pickens lacked nothing in that department, and from what I can tell by the smug look on his face, she wasn’t wrong. James, who’d looked after Sam for years before our marriage disrupted their cozy nest, is still with the Pickens family and, though he and I have a prickly relationship, I’m grateful that their kitchen is in good hands, which means that no one is going hungry. James rarely turns his hands in the rest of the house, but with playpens and toys and strollers and high chairs strewn everywhere, there’s not much he can do in the way of keeping a neat house.

I leaned my head back against the bench, thinking with deep pleasure about my loved ones, safe and thriving and prospering— all was, indeed, right with my world.

“Miss Julia!” I looked up to see Lillian waving a dishrag at me from the back stoop. “Miss Hazel Marie wants you!”

I came to my feet and hurried to the house. It wasn’t like Lillian to yell across the yard, so one drastic image after another flashed through my mind.

“What is it?” I gasped, my heart pounding by the time I reached her. “Is it Lloyd? The babies?”

“Neither one,” Lillian said, her eyes big. “They jus’ take James to the hospital.”

“Oh, my word.” I flew to the telephone and picked it up. “Hazel Marie? What happened?”

“He fell, Miss Julia!” Hazel Marie’s voice was filled with panic. “Down the stairs on the side of the garage, you know, coming down from his apartment. I was so scared I didn’t know what to do, but thank goodness J.D. was here. He called the EMTs, and he just called me from the emergency room. James’s right wrist or hand or something is broken so he has to have a cast. And he sprained his ankle, too, but they just wrapped it up.” She stopped and took a deep breath with a catch of fear beneath it. “I thought he’d killed himself.”

“But he’s all right?” I asked. “I mean, other than that?”

“J.D.’s bringing him home, so I guess so. I’m putting him in the back bedroom because he can’t go up and down the stairs anytime soon, and I’ll feel better having him close by. He can’t even walk by himself, Miss Julia.”

“Oh, my. But they’ll give him some crutches, won’t they?”

“J.D. said he can’t use them because the cast practically covers his hand. Oh, the poor thing—we’re all so upset over it.”

They were going to be upset over more than that, I thought, when Hazel Marie, the world’s most inept cook, had to take James’s place in the kitchen.

It just goes to show that when you have a few minutes to glory in everything being right with the world, you’d better enjoy them while you can. It’s never long before something comes along to turn your world inside out and upside down again.

“We better take supper to ’em,” Lillian said, opening the freezer door. “Sound like nobody fit to do any cookin’ over there, so good thing I got enough pork chops to go ’round.”

“Yes, thank you, Lillian. I’ll run up and tell Sam about James.”

“He already know,” Lillian said, just as I heard Sam’s footsteps on the stairs. “He pick up the phone same time I did.”

I went to meet him in the hall, knowing that he’d be concerned. James had been with Sam for years before we married and Sam thought the world of him, even though James got a little more averse to work every year that passed. Still, they’d gotten along well until Sam had brought me into the mix. There was no way in the world I would’ve put up with James’s languid attitude toward getting things done. I’d once heard him tell Lillian that he enjoyed work, so much so that he could sit and look at it all day long. So it had been arranged for James to stay with the Pickens family when they took up residence in Sam’s house. I didn’t want him underfoot at my house and James didn’t want me pointing out work to him.

“Hazel Marie said they’re bringing him home,” I said as I met Sam at the foot of the stairs, “so he must not be too bad off. Are you going over?”

“Yes, I better see about him. I’ll tell you the truth, Julia— James is not an easy patient. The year he had the fl u—a really bad case of it, too—I was up and down the stairs all day and half the night taking care of him.” Sam smiled as he remembered. “I made the mistake of rigging up a bell that would ring in the house when he needed something. They’re going to have their hands full with him.”

“I doubt Mr. Pickens will be as compliant as you, and I expect James will find that out soon enough. Anyway, tell Hazel Marie that we’re bringing supper so she doesn’t have to worry about that.” I walked to the door with Sam. “How long do you think he’ll be in a cast?”

“I don’t know. Five or six weeks, maybe, depending on how severe the break is.”

Good Lord, I thought. In five or six weeks the Pickens family would be either poisoned from Hazel Marie’s cooking or starved half to death.

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Miss Julia Stirs up Trouble: A Novel 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
An_Arkansas_Reader More than 1 year ago
This is the 14th book in Ann B. Ross’ delightful Miss Julia Series. Just as Miss Julia is taking a moment to pause and count her blessings, all manner of chaos breaks loose in the Pickens’ household. James, housekeeper and cook, falls breaking his arm and spraining his ankle. Hazel Marie’s Uncle Vern shows up, claiming poor health and begging a place to stay from his only relatives; and J. D. is spotted around town with different women in his car. Hazel Marie, already busy with twin baby girls, is struggling with the full household. Of course, Miss Julia takes it upon herself to remedy the situation in her usual comic manner. With James unable to cook, Miss Julia worries that the Pickens family will starve, so she gathers recipes from friends to share with struggling cook Hazel Marie. Recipes are shared at the end of each chapter. I enjoyed this installment in Ross’ humorous Southern fiction series, set in North Carolina. I read the first 13 books straight through, finishing late last year, and this reading this book was like a chance to sit back down with good friends I haven’t seen in a while. I laughed out loud while reading! Personally, I would have enjoyed more Miss Julia & Co. and fewer recipes, but the story was great, and Miss Julia’s comments at the end of each recipe are quite entertaining. While this would be a good story and good cookbook read alone, reading this series in order (Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind is first) would be my recommendation, as the characters develop and change so much throughout.
annieNC More than 1 year ago
Ann Ross writes a great story of Miss Julia. It always holds your interest. I like a continued series of the same characters and what happens next in their lives. Waiting for next year's edition
janesquires More than 1 year ago
A cookbook and a story all in one. It kept me busy writing off recipes and putting in a self-stick photo album. I plan to try some of the recipes. I plan to share book with someone else. Julia means well. But her concern for Hazel Marie keeps her busy and almost got her in trouble. Once someone thought she was a witch (not going to give it away) and another she almost got kidnapped by a criminal. She ended up in middle of a sting operation. Hazel Marie has her hands full when her housekeeper falls down the stairs, plus two babies, and then to top it all her Uncle shows up. I loved the idea of the cookbook. It is a page turner all the way.
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JP33AL More than 1 year ago
I love Ann B. Ross books, but I'm afraid this one was boring. It seemed she lacked for a story line. If I had wanted a cookbook, I would have ordered one. JP33AL
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would not recomnend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a dedicated reader of Miss Julia books since the very first one. Wow was I disappointed in Miss Julia Stirs up Trouble! Had I wanted a recipe book I could have purchased one from my church with the same recipes. LuAnne's kitchen hints was also a wasted page filler in this book. Ms. Ross I know you can do better. This one was definitely not up to your previous standards.
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
Miss Julia…a prime, proper southern lady with a strong well, a stern exterior and a force to be reckoned with. But underneath, a heart of gold who would do anything (and has) for the people she loves. What starts out as a seemingly calm autumn day in Abbottsville, NC, with Miss Julia enjoying her yard and newly remodeled house (well, three rooms at least), quickly turns to chaos. Her friend Hazel Marie’s housekeeper falls down the stairs and winds up bedridden. This leaves Hazel Marie to tend to him, care for her newborn twin daughters, manage the household, and cook (when she can barely boil water) all while her husband, Mr. Pickens, is away on private investigation business. Miss Julia steps in with a plan. She recruits the ladies of Abbottsville to not only share their recipes and a covered dish (as any southern lady would do during illness), but also teach Hazel Marie how to prepare the recipe. All is going according to plan until Hazel Marie’s greedy uncle, Brother Vern, an itinerant preacher shows up claiming sickness and needing his family (Hazel Marie) near. To make matters worse, Mr. Pickens has been seen driving different women around town while he was suppose to be working. Miss Julia has her hands full as she tries to bring calm and order back to the lives of her friends and her family. This time around Miss Julia’s adventure is more of a home-bound type without some of the crazy antics she has pulled in the past. However, author Ann B. Ross gives a fun look at how quickly everyday life can turn upside down and become a snowball-effect of trouble. Miss Julia continues to give advice with a sharp-tongue, but more of her tender spirit comes through this time. Ross has created a fun protagonist in Miss Julia readers can’t help but love. She may be prime and proper, but she’s had difficult times and overcame them with dignity giving readers laugh-out-loud moments along the way. All of the characters are well-developed and realistic with their flaws and emotions. Ross continues to evolve her characters with each installment keeping fans of the series anticipating the next development. MISS JULIA STIRS UP TROUBLE moves at a swift pace with the story flowing smoothly. Readers are also treated to the delicious recipes the ladies of Abbottsville provide Hazel Marie as Miss Julia receives them. The notations included with each are a cute reminder that Miss Julia is in charge. This is the 14th installment in the Miss Julia series and can be read on its own. However, I would recommend reading the series in order to fully appreciate Miss Julia and how the various characters have grown throughout the series. If you can’t read the series in order, at least try to read the first installment first to completely understand where Miss Julia began and what makes her who she is. The residents of Abbottsville are entertaining characters you will want to visit time and time again. Miss Julia is someone you’d like to live next door to as long as you had a book of proper etiquette handy at all times. MISS JULIA STIRS UP TROUBLE is a delightful read that will have you smiling from the opening page to the last paragraph. FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Miss Julia and lately have been buying the Nook editions so I was sorely disappointed to get to the end of the book and find that page numbers have been left off the the list of recipes. The author states at the beginning of the  that both are listed in  the back of the book. I think i deserve a refund!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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NewsieQ More than 1 year ago
Things haven’t been the same at Miss Julia’s house since Hazel Marie (Miss Julia’s late husband’s paramour) and Little Lloyd (her son) showed up on her doorstep. Little Lloyd has grown a lot since then – and he has acquired two infant half-sisters, twin daughters of his mother and her new husband J.D. Pickens, a private investigator. When James, who helps Hazel Marie keep house, falls and injures himself enough that he’s incapacitated, things in the Pickens home are up for grabs. As usual, Miss Julia decides to jump in and help. One of her ideas is to help Hazel Marie learn to cook for the family. She enlists the help of her friends to create a cookbook and demonstrate one of the main dish recipes for Hazel Marie. (Recipes are included in this book.) And, worried that J.D., who has always had a roving eye, will stray for the path of marital fidelity if Hazel Marie doesn’t get a complete makeover, Miss Julia figures out a way to get that done. As usual Miss Julia, well-intentioned and big-hearted as she is, gets herself into trouble in any number of ways, with hilarious results. And her new second husband Sam is there to bail her out if need be. This is a series I absolutely love, and think of the characters as real people that I care about. I hope Ms. Ross continues this wonderful series for a very long time, at least until “Little” Lloyd is married with children of his own. This is a series I collect in hard cover and one which I plan to read over and over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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