In Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay, the team from the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery gets invited by the iconic rodeo star Slim Hazard to sell their cupcakes at the famous Juniper Pass Rodeo and take their new van on the road to a cooler Arizona spot than the 110 degree Scottsdale. Arriving at the town, the five get settled in, with the quintet consisting of Mel and Angie, the proprietors of the bakery; Tate, the ladies’ best friend and investor; Oz, the shop’s high school intern; and Marty, the senior citizen cupcake fan who works part time in the shop. That night the five settle in on their balconies to watch the parade heralding the opening of the rodeo when a gunshot rings out, and Slim crumples in his car, with blood streaming down his chest. Fortunately, it was not serious, and the sheriff chalks up the wound to a stray shot fired in the air.
The rodeo gets started when someone finds the body of rodeo star Ty Stokes, who was originally Slim’s protégé but had a falling out with him when he demanded a share in the rodeo business. He lies gored in the pen of a bull, and the bull is missing, condemned without a trial. As Mel and Angie leave the salon where they are staying, they see the bull going down the road, and in a scary touch, they see Oz walking down the road with cupcakes in his hands and ear buds preventing him from hearing anyone’s warnings. In a clever move, Oz uses his cupcakes to distract the unsettled bull and manages to get away. Then, the next day, while going to check out the bull, Angie and Oz find a bloody pitchfork, the weapon that murdered Ty. Now they must find the person who wielded that weapon.
This book was a real delight to listen to. The mystery plot was creative and enjoyable. In addition, the details of their time at the rodeo were a lot of fun. The pork stand next to their cupcake truck is run by a pair of sexist pigs who deride the group for selling cupcakes, so Angie and Mel make a wager that the owners of the stand with the lesser sales will have to wear the uniforms of the other stand. During the second night, “somehow” the cupcake van’s freezer gets unplugged, thawing out all their supply. This would have ruined the cupcakes needed for beyond that day. That is, until Mel comes up with the idea of cake pops, lollipops made of cake, frosting, and candy toppings. These become even more popular than the original cupcakes.
The characters are a whole lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the interplay among all of them. Each one has a strong character so unique that I felt I knew them well. Even the supporting characters come to life, making this book especially fun.
Susan Boyce, who has won many awards for her audio narration, does an excellent job of narrating this book. She is so enjoyable in performing the many roles in the book, making the characters come across as real people whom I feel I could open my eyes and see standing in my living room.
Red Velvet Revenge is a terrific book, with the Cupcake series just seeming to keep getting better and better as it progresses. I really enjoyed this clever book that is so well written. I highly recommend it to all and give it five stars.
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