Monday, August 4, 2014

SUGAR AND ICED by Jenn McKinlay

Publisher:  Berkley
Published:   April 1, 2014
ISBN:  978-0425258927
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Melanie Cooper has been living her dream with her Fairy Tales Cupcake shop.  It suits her just fine as a local venue making a variety of different kinds of cupcakes.  Sure, she has her personal favorites like Death by Chocolate, but every day is an adventure coming up with new flavors and combinations.  Along with her life time best friends, Tate and Angie the shop has been doing well.  But not so long ago Tate left his major money making business to basically find himself and prove to Angie that she’s the girl for him.  Tate’s not one to sit idle and while Melanie is just fine with things the way they are and so far Angie’s been on the same page with her, Tate wants to expand the business.  An innovative way to do just that happens when the Sweet Tiara Beauty Pageant comes to town. 

Okay, it’s not really a beauty pageant—it’s a scholarship competition and Mel and Angie’s employee, Oz’s girlfriend, Lupe, has decided to enter.  Well it’s not so much that Lupe up and entered. Instead it is Mel’s mother, Joyce and her friend Ginny who decide Lupe is the perfect candidate.  Adding to the mix is that Joyce hasn’t been so happy with her daughter the past few months because Mel not only broke her engagement to “dear” Joe, but she never told anyone they were engaged in the first place.  Mel decides to go along with the whole pageant idea if for no other reason than she believe Lupe should win that full scholarship to the university of her choice along with breaking the ice between her mother and herself. 

Things at the pageant aren’t exactly peaceful and happy.  Lupe stands out against a crowd of young women who have been on the pageant road for pretty much most of their lives.  With expensive gowns, overdone makeup and attitude that just won’t stop Lupe manages to hold her own.  That is, until, the pageant organizer turns up dead and Lupe’s fingerprints are on the weapon.

I had a “boo-hiss” moment after Jenn McKinlay’s last Cupcake Mystery, GOING, GOING GANACHE.  I felt like the author wrote her characters into a corner, ran out of ideas and just went off mixing up their relationships trying to find her way back to what made the series work so well in the first place.  She is definitely back in the saddle with SUGAR AND ICED.  There is some really nice character development and movement in not only Angie and Mel, but also between secondary characters Marty and Olivia as well as Oz and the introduction of Lupe to the series. Olivia’s turnabout in GOING, GOING GANACHE was less than believable.  Her progression in SUGAR AND ICED was nicely and smoothly done.  I miss the mean-streak competition between the three women but I do like where the series seems to be going with them.

I like Manny, the detective and it would be really nice to see him with his own spin off series—maybe in a more serious rather than cozy vein.  I just hope with the changes happening between Mel and Joe he isn’t dropped from the series.

You do not have to read the Cupcake mysteries in order but I will tell you they are a tasty treat.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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