mbmjowtrmkThe love affair of Myra Sims and Gabriel Catts will break your heart. And Claybird Catts will steal it. Janis Owens’s three novels centering on the life of Myra—who has a past more tragic than most, and a present she just can’t seem to hold on to—are beautifully haunting. My Brother Michael is told from Gabriel Catts’s perspective, but puts the reader smack dab in the middle of events concerning Myra Sims, while in Myra Sims, the title character tells her own story. The Schooling of Claybird Catts completes the trilogy, and is told from Myra’s son Claybird’s point of view.

As Gabriel agonizes over his desire for Myra in My Brother Michael, the draw of pecan brownies by the poolside and his image of Myra in a bikini fail to lure him. Her son’s “conniving” voice, more than Uncle Gabe can withstand, finally does.

As warm weather begins to roll in with April’s rain clouds, Janis Owens’s “Myra” books are a great way to round out the summer reading list. Comfort food in the form of pecan brownies are practically required as an emotional investment is made into the life of these three lovable figures, as are a box of tissues and a new swimsuit so they can be enjoyed poolside.

Poolside Pecan Brownies


3/4 c. salted butter

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

3 eggs

1/2 c. cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

1/2 to 1 c. chopped pecans

Pecan halves for the tops of the brownies


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan.


Stir in the cocoa powder.


Beat the eggs with the sugar.


Whisk the cocoa mixture into the egg mixture until combined well.


Sift together the flour, salt, and chopped pecans.


Add to the wet mixture. Fold until combined.


Pour into a non-stick pan or greased 9 X 9″ pan.

Top with pecan halves to decorate.


Bake between 25 and 35 minutes, depending on how firm you want them. I like them underdone, but mine had to travel so I fully baked them.



Yield: 12 brownies