Saturday, March 18, 2017

What I Read in May 2016 Part IX . . .

What I Read in May 2016 IX . . .

Vanilla Beaned (Cupcake Bakery Mystery, #8)Vanilla Beaned by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #5)

Melanie, Angie and Tate are headed to Las Vegas to meet with a potential franchise owner and view the location for the shop. Mel is grouchy because she feels like a third wheel with Angie and Tate, she misses Joe and she really really doesn't want to franchise her bakery. On the plus side, there's an Elvis convention at the hotel, with 3,000+ "Elvi" running around in costume. When she meets the potential new owner/baker, Holly Hartzmark, Mel knows there's no way she's trusting Fairy Tale Cupcakes to a showgirl! Holly proves to be more than good looks and when they are nearly killed while scouting bakery locations, Mel and Holly bond. Tate worries Tucci is involved and targeting Angie and Mel, but Holly fears the threats come from a deranged stalker. All she wants to do is quit show biz and bake cupcakes so she can be home more often for her young daughter. Mel, Angie and Tate refuse to leave Holly's side until the situation is resolved.

Once again, this is a well-written and difficult to solve mystery. I figured it out before Mel did but I wasn't positive until Mel laid everything out and analyzed the clues with Holly. It was a little sad and I kind of felt sorry for the villain. I wasn't super enthused about Tate and Angie finally being together. The idea of them together in that way feels kind of wrong somehow since they grew up together. Any bedroom activity is confined to the speculation of Mel and the reader. This story concentrates more on Holly than on Mel and co. I liked learning all the tricks that go into making a Vegas showgirl look glamorous. That was fun. I also liked the shout out to Mim's Whims from Jenn McKinlay's Hat Shop Mysteries. The ending seemed perfect until the final scene! The plot didn't wrap up nice and neat so I hope there's more stories in store for this series.

Boy can I relate to Mel! I could see and hear myself easily saying some of the things she said and digging my heels in about something I don't want to do. I can also relate to her feelings about the mean girls in school and how that affects her feelings towards beautiful women like Holly. Unlike me, Mel is big enough to apologize and quickly discovers a kindred spirit in Holly. Plus Holly's overly precocious daughter Sydney helps Mel overcome her prejudice.

The only major new character here is Holly. At first I made the same snap judgement as Mel. I grew to like her a lot once her true nature is revealed. She truly is the heart of the show and the heart of this novel as well. She's trying hard to be a good mother and to get out from under the control of her horrible manager. I don't blame her for wanting a different life but how would a bakery would allow a single mother to spend more time with her daughter? Mel works from before sunrise to late at night on her cupcakes. She barely has time for a social life, let alone a family. Wouldn't Holly also have to work long hours at the bakery? That confused me a lot but I wanted Holly to succeed. Holly's daughter Syndey plays an important role in the story. I found her cute but she sounded more like 7 than just 5. She's a little overly precocious for a 5 year old but manages to win over everyone she meets.

Oddly, unlike most of the previous mysteries, the victim only appears very very briefly on page and no one looks into his life so we don't really know anything about him. There's also the lawyer, who doesn't get much page time either, but is also a victim. Holly's ex Brian and his new wife Lisa seem nice and caring parents. I was apprehensive about Lisa being the wicked stepmother at first. The showgirls all seem nice too, except for their stage mother whose bark is worse than her bite, apparently. Marty and Oz take a back seat here. Marty appears in the beginning, with an amusing scene and towards the end to advance the plot. His story doesn't get wrapped up neatly yet but I don't think he's interested in commitment.

The recipes look good. I want to try the Snickerdoodle cupcake.

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