Sunday, May 15, 2016


Publisher:     Berkley
Published:     April 5, 2016
ISBN:        978-0425258941
Genre:      Cozy Mystery
Format:     Print  
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Mel Cooper is essentially out-voted 2 to 1 by her partners Angie and Tate to franchise her “baby”, Fairy Tale Cupcakes.  While it’s not what she wants she goes along to check out a possible franchise site in Vegas…where what goes on may not, at least this time, stay in Vegas.  Despite staying in the Blue Hawaii hotel with all sorts of great Elvis paraphernalia, things start going downhill from the moment Mel meets their potential franchisee. 

Holly Hartzmark is, in a word, gorgeous and gorgeous in a way that makes Mel feel like she’s less than nothing.  When Mel learns that Holly is a show girl her opinion of their new partners lowers even more.  After all, what could a glamourous Vegas show girl know about baking cupcakes?  Before she can explore just how talented Holly is, the prospective shop site is blown up, injuring their attorney and realtor.  When a second prospective site is taken out of the running by a speeding car driving into the front window Angie and Mel begin to think something more is going on.  The question is – is it gangster Frank Tucci’s latest attempt to eliminate everyone Mel’s missing boyfriend and county prosecutor Joe cares about or competitor baker Olivia or Holly’s mysterious stalker who is out to get them?  And can they find the miscreant before someone else is hurt?

I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of Jenn McKinlay’s Cupcake Bakery mysteries from the very beginning.  Her latest, VANILLA BEANED, is definitely one of my favorites.  With the whole “love triangle” between Mel, Joe and Manny over – or at least brought to an end in this one, the focus is strongly on the mystery.  With Vegas as the back drop there is lots of opportunity for the characters to show their stuff.  I had to smile pretty much every time an Elvis connection showed up in the story. 

McKinlay did a fantastic job showing how Mel, Angie and Tate’s relationships were shifting now that Angie and Tate are on the brink of marriage.  What used to be three close friends is now a couple with a friend—and the author realistically shows the changes that can happen while finding a way for the friends to stay best friends.  With Manny and Holly looking like they are setting their sights on each other there is some great potential for either a spring off series or more adventures in Vegas.  By taking Mel, Angie and Tate out of Arizona and into Vegas McKinlay opens the door for some really great twists and turns in this fun cozy series.

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

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