Sunday, May 14, 2017

Caramel Crush - Jenn McKinlay

Caramel Crush
A Cupcake Bakery Mystery
Jenn McKinlay
Berkley Prime Crime


Have you ever spent time close to someone who’s planning a big, fancy wedding?  After a while, the detailed planning and changing whims make it not much fun.  Especially if you’re best friends and business partners with both halves of the couple.  Angie DeLaura, the bride-to-be, won the coin toss, so Melanie is standing up with her and functioning as Maid of Honor.  Tate, the groom, and the other third of the partnership that runs Fairy Tale Cupcakes, just wants Angie to be happy.  And that’s about all the input he has.  Not too surprisingly, Angie is now a full-fledged bridezilla, complete with endless agonizing over every detail, ever-increasing demands for hand-holding at every single step, and terrifyingly regular temper explosions and crying jags.  All three have been best friends since junior high.  Melanie is happy for her buddies, but the wild swings between crying jags and ‘schmoopie’ lovey talk is starting to make her dizzy.

Enter the seemingly perfect antidote to all of that:  Diane Earnest, Mel’s college roommate, who now runs her own successful marketing firm.  Mel owes Diane a favor, as she delights in reminding her, so here’s what she’s going to need to do.  Diane just found out that her fiancé is marrying her for her money.  Diane, a Type A on turbo, is all about her business and her bank account.  She’s not going to be taken advantage of, by any man.  She wants Mel to bake a batch of cupcakes, decorate them with “love stinks” and other assorted ‘I’m dumping you’ phrases, and deliver them to Mike Bordow at his party supply business.  Diane wants Mel to be on the phone with her so she can hear his reaction to getting dumped.  None of this makes Mel feel good, but she does owe Diane from their time in college, so she agrees.

If you’ve been reading this series (list of titles below, all very much worth a read) for any time at all, it will not surprise you at all to know that, when Mel arrives at the party supply office/warehouse, she discovers a dead body.  It’s Mike, and it looks like someone already dumped him, into a ball pit, after bashing him over the head.  Of course, as the angry ex-fiancée, Diane is the primary suspect.  Diane invokes The Favor again, and convinces Mel to try to find the real killer, and get her off the homicidal hook.  It honestly doesn’t take that much convincing.  Mel is on the case.

In this installment, Mel, Angie, and Tate all matured quite a bit.  I lost my patience with Angie quite a long time before Mel did, and I was grateful that this author doesn’t find that kind of behavior in any way cute.  Mel, to her credit, deals with it as only a lifelong friend could.  It’s a huge relief to everyone involved, and a great opportunity to further develop the cast of characters.  The mystery is interesting, since, as it turns out, there might be several people who wanted Mike dead, for different reasons.  The outcome of the whole thing makes sense and is quite satisfying.  The story ends on a kind of cliffhanger for a secondary character, so I hope the next installment isn’t too far in the future.

Rating: 8
April 2017

ISBN# 978-0-399-58381-0 (paperback)

The series so far:


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