Zucchini-Apple Ginger Cake for The Lost Girls of Devon TLC Book Tour

I have read more than 20 books since March 16 (and the start of this safer at home experience).  Hitting my 2020 GoodReads challenge will be no problem this year.

What have you been reading?  Or, what’s the latest binge-worthy viewing?

Welcome to the latest stop on the TLC book tour and my latest read:  The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal.  (I received a free reader’s copy for an honest review.)

About the book:

One of Travel + Leisure’s most anticipated books of summer 2020.

From the Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids comes a story of four generations of women grappling with family betrayals and long-buried secrets.

It’s been years since Zoe Fairchild has been to the small Devon village of her birth, but the wounds she suffered there still ache. When she learns that her old friend and grandmother’s caretaker has gone missing, Zoe and her fifteen-year-old daughter return to England to help.

Zoe dreads seeing her estranged mother, who left when Zoe was seven to travel the world. As the four generations of women reunite, the emotional pain of the past is awakened. And to complicate matters further, Zoe must also confront the ex-boyfriend she betrayed many years before.

Anxieties spike when tragedy befalls another woman in the village. As the mystery turns more sinister, new grief melds with old betrayal. Now the four Fairchild women will be tested in ways they couldn’t imagine as they contend with dangers within and without, desperate to heal themselves and their relationships with each other.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Barbara

Website | Facebook | Twitter |Instagram

About the author

Barbara Samuel (O’Neal) has won the highly prestigious RITA award from Romance Writers of Americas seven times and has been recently inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. She has written eleven novels of women’s fiction, about dogs and food, families and second chances. She lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.  She attempts to garden despite hail and blizzards and the thin mountain air, and loves to travel, teaching and hiking and eating lots of great food.

What I thought…

I previously read The Art of Inheriting Secrets and while I enjoyed it, I would say that O’Neal’s latest, The Lost Girls of Devon, was even better.

The plot revolves around four generations and is set in a idyllic seaside town in the UK.

The main character, Zoe, is in her late thirties, coping with a recent divorce and a teenage daughter that is in crisis. She is summoned back to her ancestral home to care for her aging grandmother and because her best friend is missing.

Isabel is the teenage daughter mentioned above. She is a budding photographer and writer but is holding in an awful secret. (Teenage girls can be soooo cruel.)

Lillian is Zoe’s grandmother (and Isabel’s great-grandmother) who is an accomplished mystery writer and village celebrity. She writes her much-loved novels from her manor which overlooks the sea and the moors. Lillian is in her nineties and is suffering from the onset of dementia.

Poppy. I just love her. Poppy is Zoe’s mother (and Lillian’s daughter). She is a free spirit that left this lovely village to travel the world. Her travels took her to India and New Mexico where she searched for knowledge and self-discovery. This search took her away from her daughter when Zoe was an impressionable age.

Poppy runs a “good witch” store in the village where she doles out love potions and tarot readings. I loved the O’Neal did not make her over-the-top. What makes Poppy so good at her readings is that she is an intuitive listener and a kind shoulder to cry on.  She is just a good person and someone totally different from the woman who abandoned her daughter so many years ago.

The theme of forgiveness runs throughout the book. All four women either need (desperately) to forgive someone or need to ask for forgiveness in return. Zoe was my biggest obstacle in the novel. No spoiler alert here but she needs to buck it up, forgive, and look at her own life (especially when it comes to friendships). I also thought, at times, that the mystery of the “lost girls” was secondary if anything. The real story here involves the relationships.

I would highly recommend this book for a summer read.

The Food

 Besides lots of hot soothing mugs of tea in the novel, there’s quite a bit of food:
  • Pizza
  • Eggs
  • Poppy seed cake and wine
  • Herb garden:  rue, lavender, peppermint, chives, begamont
  • Tulsi tea with honey and lemon
  • Scrambled eggs with goat cheese
  • Lots of scones with Devon clotted cream
  • Pie and fresh rolls with butter
  • Lentil soup
  • Crumbles with custard and special tea cakes…copious vegetables (turnips and spinach and potatoes and asparagus)
  • Beer
  • Boysenberry jam, toasts, waffles, and almond milk
  • Lemon balm and chamomile tea
  • Fried cheese pies
  • Steak pie and plowman’s lunch
  • Lavender lemonade
  • Apple ginger cake
  • Tomato soup and egg salad
  • Ice cream with chocolate sauce
  • Picnic of sandwiches, cold chicken, finger foods
  • Berries and apples, perfect pears and golden cups of pomegranate juice
  • Pies, biscuits and bottles of Coke
  • Bone broth
  • Croissants
  • Strawberries
  • Muffins and coffee
  • Stew of carrots, onions, celery, and sweet potatoes
  • Oysters and martinis
  • Fish and chips
  • Baked pasta with cheese and a rich tomato sauce
  • Chocolate chip muffins
  • Ginger apple cake

Serve for tea time.

Ginger apple cake (or apple ginger cake) was mentioned a few times and since Gran’s gardens and Poppy’s gardens were featured, I decided to use what I had grown in my garden and morph it into a Zucchini-Apple-Ginger Cake.

Zucchini-Apple Ginger Cake


I morphed a couple of recipes together for this cake.


  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 c. baker’s sugar*
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 T. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded zucchini
  • 1 small gala apple, shredded
  • 1/2 c. chopped candied ginger, chopped

    Chopped apple, chopped candied ginger, and a tub of grated zucchini that needs used.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk together.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and oil until creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Stir in zucchini, apples, and candied ginger.
  5. Spoon the batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

You can use a glaze or cream cheese frosting or just sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Your choice.

*I used baker’s sugar because that is all I had on hand.  Regular sugar should work fine.

This is a very moist cake that reminds me of an apple cake mom used to make.   I really love the spice the candied ginger added.  I just sprinkled powdered sugar on mine but this cake would be scrumptious with a cream cheese frosting (or, as The Hubs suggested, a maple frosting).

I’m linking up with July’s Foodies Read and…

Weekend Cooking.

I’m all about reading this summer.  Here’s what is next on the TLC Book Tour here at EEs:

The Doctor of Aleppo by Dan Mayland 
This is an emotional wartime mystery/romantic suspense title written with some of the epic WWll stories of love, tragedy, and redemption in mind, and applied to themes of war in Syria. Someone who loves to be both emotionally and intellectually engaged would enjoy this book. It has drawn comparisons to A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.   (Book Tour Stopover here on August 17.)

Let the Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell.   This is a novel setin the pre-Civil Rights era South.  (Book Tour Stopover here on September 22.)

A Borrowed Life by Kerry Anne King.  This one is “an emotional and sharply witty novel about how life’s unexpected detours can ultimately bring you home.” (TBA)

Stay tuned.

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