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Cinnamon and Gunpowder

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  5,998 ratings  ·  1,277 reviews
A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.

To appease the
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Kat Kennedy
I described this book to my mother. “It’s about a chef who gets kidnapped by pirates. He has to cook a gourmet meal for the pirate captain once a week. And this pirate captain, mom, she is AWESOME!”

My mom smiled knowingly, “Oh. And then they start getting it on like rabbits!”

I faltered for a moment, stalling while trying to explain. “No! It’s not a romance-romance. I mean, they do develop a relationship but it’s…not a focus in the novel.”

My mom seemed to understand, giving a confident nod. “So h
Hannah Greendale
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a culinary delight served with eccentric pirates, treacherous waters, and a wild-haired, fiery-tempered female pirate Captain.
This becoming woman sitting across from me was as grisly a villain as ever walked the earth, and yet I was more at home in the quiet of her parlor and the comfort of a good meal than I had been since my ordeal began. Taste and talk---these were the privileges of the living. I could refuse to make conversation and bring out the monster in her, or I could pacify and live long enough to escape.

When Chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by pirates, he finds himself the recipient of an odd request from the
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is a hilarious, whimsical novel that features two of my favorite things: pirate queens and FOOD. Captured by the red-haired Mad Hannah Mabbot, Shark of the Indian Ocean, personal chef Owen Wedgwood must now spend his weeks cooking her feasts in a ship's galley with the barest of larders. He's short on supplies and has none of the implements that a self-respecting French-trained chef would require, so he's forced to improvise:

While I was searching vainly for a rolling pin, it occurred t
Joe Valdez
My treat for finishing Hamlet was this 2013 swashbuckler by Eli Brown, my introduction to the Southern California author's work. Brown's second novel earned a spot on my 2015 reading docket by boasting the best title, logline and cover design I've laid eyes on in a while. These were the equivalent of meeting a woman with a warm laugh, a love for books and an appetite. (I apologize for turning this review into an eHarmony ad.)

Title: Cinnamon and Gunpowder. You have my curiosity, sir.

Logline: "Th
Christy B
I need to preface this review with the statement that lady pirates are most likely my favorite all-time historical subject. I study and read about them, I watch TV and films with them, I even create my own lady pirate characters for stories. I love them.

So, the fact that this book contained a fierce red-headed lady pirate captain, I was all over it, so to speak. There was the fear that I may be disappointed (it's not like books about lady pirates grow on trees) because this book was written by a
Diane S ☔
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This extremely inventive novel takes place in 1819 on the high seas, when Owen Wedgewood, chef to Lord Ramsey, is kidnapped by the notorious pirate Hannah Mabbot. After killing Lord Ramsey, who was at dinner, Mabbot eats some of the food on the table and falls in love with the cooking skills of Wedgewood. It is his narration we follow and a well written one it is, in short Wedgewood is a wordsmith, his prose is a wonder. Mabbot promises not to kill him if he makes her a sumptuous dinner every Su ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Eli Brown’s infectious romp of a novel has a thoroughly modern sensibility dressed in the garb of yore. It is the early 1800’s and Owen Wedgwood is chef to Lord Ramsey, one of the chief shareholders of the Pendleton Trading Company in England which trades opium for tea, silk, silver, and spices in Asia. Enter Hannah Mabbot, pirate extraordinaire, defender of the underdog, and avenger of the exploited.
”Then entered a pillar of menace, a woman in an olive long-coat. Her red hair hung loose over h
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a hard book to review because it’s a hard book to define. Part adventure, part food writing, and part romance, this epistolary novel is as complex as the dinners Wedge creates, as beautiful as the love that grows, and as bittersweet as the ending. Tears weren’t expected in a story about a chef creating new meals for a group of pirates every week, but they came all the same.

I was madly, head-over-heels in love with
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
This turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I think it was most likely a victim of my false expectations. I was expecting a fun and hilarious historical romance romp. What I actually got was a weird historical fiction with a touch of fantasy and a tiny bit of romance.

Mad Hannah Mabbot, the notorious pirate captain, is a terror on the high seas and a thorn in the side of the prominent Pendelton Trading Company. During a raid where she kills a high ranking Pendelton official Lord Ramsey she
Diane Barnes
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
This probably deserves more than 2 stars just for its inventiveness. It simply wasn't the book for me. A mis-match between reader and novel. I don't really appreciate swash-buckling adventure, but for those who do, it may be right up your alley.
What happens when a cultured and devout British chef is captured by pirates and forced to live among the heathen brutes led a by fiery red haired freckled female captain? Well you end up with nail biting adventure, desperate attempts at gastronomy, fantastic imagery and a bit of romance. The novel sports eloquent and descriptive language, written in a tone and verbiage appropriate to the early 1800s. The author's knowledge of sailing and ships is amazing. The chef's evolution among the pirates i ...more
A purely escapist read featuring a trained personal chef kidnapped by a ruthless pirate. A fantasy read in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean, but with a badass lady pirate. 3 full stars for the stellar food and cooking descriptions.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-read
A chef is kidnapped by a beautiful, red-haired female pirate captain and forced to cook her gourmet meals. There are so many ways this book could have gone wrong, but it avoided the pitfalls to be a very fun, exciting and at times serious read.

I was afraid the book would be fluff, falling into cliches of the misunderstood and noble pirate who would not actually harm anyone, and the prissy, pampered chef. But it wasn't long before those cliches were jettisoned like so many cannonballs. (Though he
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to G. by: Stephen
The pirate book I never knew I wanted or needed. So good it dragged me from the brink of a reading slump. Honestly, I don't have much to say here. I simply adored it.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"With this meal I surrendered to the mystery of my days and vowed never to look askance at love of any kind, nor to defy it. For the world is a far more expansive and mystifying place than can be said."

What an adventure! When I first saw the cover to Cinnamon and Gunpowder I thought, " looks like those old erotic books I almost get tricked into buying at the biannual book sale each year." Reading the cover jacket convinced me it might be intriguing and happily with each paged turned that
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2015
That was even better than I expected

Watch my full review:
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
3.5 stars

The friendliest and most delish pirate book I ever read ;)

Review will follow.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Suzanne by: Trish's review
Recipe for Fun
*Take one rather priggish and rigid chef, Owen Wedgewood, kidnapped from the scene of his employer’s murder, rendering him rather traumatized;
*Add one saucy lady pirate, the infamous Hannah Mabbot, who’s chasing another pirate for reasons no one but she knows, while being herself pursued by an inventor seaman determined to destroy her with innovative weaponry;
*Sprinkle in an assortment of motley pirates who crew Mabbot’s ship The Flying Rose and a young mute cabin boy who becomes,
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
First of all, lets talk about this cover. It's gorgeous no? The colour, the artwork, the smoking gun, and the badass female pirate with her chef. I love it. It sets a tone for the book.

Okay, this book was an imagery feast for me. Brown really created quite the visual adventure with the beautiful contrast of gritty and dark pirate life with the comforting feeling that could only be brought on by enjoying a deliciously cooked meal (seriously, don't read this book on a hungry stomach). He spares no
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Fiction
Recommended to Kris - My Novelesque Life by: Retro Chapter Chicks
Written by Eli Brown
2013; Farrar, Straus and Giroux (318 Pages)
Genre: shistorical fiction, adventure, cooking, sea


When ruthless pirates take over his Master's house and murder him Chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by their Captain, Mad Hannah Mabbot. She loves luxury items and so spares Owen's life if he can make her extravagant meals once a week - never repeating a recipe. Wanting to stay alive he uses the crude materials around him to make his own masterpie
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very unusual book, at times humorous, at other times tragic. The descriptions of food, and of Owen attempting to cook with limited ingredients in an ill-equipped galley, had the air of a fairy tale. The author made things that I'm sorry, I absolutely would not touch, sound like the most mouth-watering feast imaginable. But contrasted to that was the reality of life on a pirate ship: dirty, nasty, full of bugs and rats and deprivation. I really was not sure if he was going for contrast, or it w ...more
Whitley Birks
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
See more reviews on my blog.

So, like most of my five-star reads, this one gets that final push due purely to that THIS WAS JUST SO PERFECT FOR MEEEEEEEEE! factor. A lot of my readers probably wouldn’t actually like it all that much. And to be honest, it has a lot of things in it that I usually don’t enjoy, but that were done with enough panache to carry me through. Caveat out of the way? Okay, onward!

Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
I love cooking and better still eating. To me a pleasure equal to the above two is reading about them. So when I read the blurb of this book I jumped into it. And I should say it has certainly quailed my hunger regarding the foodie aspect. It was indeed delicious!

Apart from the food references I loved the rather unusual plot. A personal chef is kidnapped by a female pirate - The Mad Mabbot- the terror of trading ships. He is forced to cook for her in exchange for his life and so the tale begins
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
I lead my book club on quite an adventure when I chose this one. Two of the gals in the group might throw me overboard for choosing this bleh pirate novel. I best redeem myself quickly. I don’t want to walk the plank. One gal might throw me a rope for helping her escape COVID and her current toilet paper and Rotel tomato shortage. Fingers crossed that I have the goods to barter with. I like my group and would like to be invited back!

You see, I had high hopes for this one based on a recommendati
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cinnamon and Gunpowder gave me the same warm, fuzzy feelings I experienced with The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Now, I’ll grant you that the former is historical fiction set on a pirate ship and the latter is sci-fi set on a drilling rig in deep space, so they’re perhaps not the most obvious pairing. But as I reflected on the things I liked about Cinnamon and Gunpowder in preparation for writing about it here, Chambers’ book kept bobbing to the surface of my mind. The se ...more
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

I DEEPLY regret that I can’t remember which of you wonderful Bitches recommended Cinnamon and Gunpowder, but I owe you one because this book was AMAZEBALLS. I do have to warn readers in the strongest terms that the book has a bittersweet ending. There is a love story, but this is NOT a romance novel and you will want copious amounts of tissues towards the end. But boy howdy, is it amazing!

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is about a chef, Owen, who works for a very
Well, after several crappy tries, I've finally got this to stick.


So, I thought the title was funny. Most of the times, that's all there is to my reading habits - the title is great or the cover is pretty. Needless to say, most covers these days are pretty and titles inventive, but the contents are as stale as ever. But this book, Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder is the rare book that feeds my questionable habit. I loved it.

Generally, I'm not too enamored with the idea of swashbuckling pira
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is indeed a rollicking adventure on the high seas!

The year is 1819 and Chef Owen Wedgewood is kidnapped by the villainous red haired pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot when she kills his master, Lord Ramsey. In return for his life and keep she orders that he must cook her a sumptuous meal every Sunday. With hard tack and dried horsemeat the mainstays of the pirate kitchen, Owen must use all his skills and inventiveness to cook superlative meals each week.

Hannah is on a quest to rid the world of the
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED “Cinnamon and Gunpowder.” It’s one of those books you're almost reluctant to finish because then you'll have to admit it's finally over. The author did a smash up job mingling something along the lines of “Pirates of the Caribbean” with mouthwatering food. It took me a bit longer to finish than normal, but I fully think this book is one that’s meant to be savored. The few times I read more than a few chapters I felt somewhat hollow. It was as though I wasn’t able to fully abso ...more
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Award-winning author, Eli Brown lives with his family in a California oak forest where the squirrels hide acorns in his garden. His first novel, THE GREAT DAYS, won the Fabri Literary Prize.

His latest novel, CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER, was a NPR Book Review Staff Pick. They described it as " porn and a rip-roaring adventure." It was a finalist for the California Book Award.


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