Sunday, July 08, 2012

Red Velvet Revenge - Jenn McKinlay

Red Velvet Revenge
A Cupcake Bakery Mystery
Jenn McKinlay
Berkley Prime Crime
Cupcake bakery owners Mel Cooper and Angie DeLaura are used to chaos and short notice.  But there’s not much that can prepare them for their teenaged intern, Oz, showing up with a van he’d like to incorporate into the business.  His idea, bolstered by fellow employee Marty, is to sell cupcakes from the van.  Not a terrible idea, but it’s 115 degrees in the shade in Scottsdale, business has slowed to nearly nothing, and the van needs an enormous amount of work.  A short and ill-fated test ride in the van leads to a break-down, which, in turn, leads to a rescue by Slim Hazard and his wife.
Slim Hazard runs an annual rodeo in Juniper Pass.  The rodeo is really the lifeblood of Juniper Pass, and Slim is a local legend.  He’s also got quite a sweet tooth, and suggests that the bakers bring their wares to sell at the rodeo.  In the van, of course.  It takes heroic efforts on both the mechanical and culinary fronts, but the group arrives ready to sell.  During the parade that opens the festivities, a bullet fired from the crowd injures Slim.  Undaunted, he declares the rodeo will proceed.  When Mel and Angie find the star attraction, bull rider Ty Stokes, dead, it’s clear that someone doesn’t want that to happen.
The mystery takes a background spot for much of this installment, but the author does such a wonderful job filling in the characters and events of the rodeo that it really doesn’t matter.  Longtime readers (SPRINKLE WITH MURDER, BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF, DEATH BY THE DOZEN) will definitely side with Mel and her exhaustion on the whole “Tate and Angie Show” will-they-or-won’t-they issue.  It’s gone on far too long at this point and needs to be resolved one way or another.  On the very bright side, intern Oz has become an integral, and very welcome, member of the cast.
This story finds the usual cast of characters is in an entirely new atmosphere with new challenges (spending most of the day crammed into a cupcake van together) and new people.  There’s the rancher, Slim, his former beauty queen second wife, his barrel racing champion daughter, and the daughter who’s adopted an anti-rodeo stance because it’s ‘cool’ with the Hollywood crowd she desperately wants to join.  Even the most minor characters are written well.  Everyone has something to contribute, and by the time I finished the book, I felt that I had been to Juniper Pass.  This is entertainment that’s as light and fluffy as Mel’s buttercream frosting; perfect for summer reading.
Rating: 7
July 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-25138-6 (paperback)


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