In Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay, the employees of the Fairy Tale Cupcake Shop find themselves working at the 75th Miss Sweet Tiara beauty pageant. While Angie is thrilled at the prospect, Mel thinks beauty pageants are ridiculous and doesn’t want to participate. But visiting the location of the pageant, Mel gets caught up in the excitement and agrees to supply cupcakes every day and also bake the recipes that each contestant has created uniquely, with one including Velveeta cheese mixed with spaghetti-Os and another using Red Bull instead of milk in the batter. Part of their incentive for helping with the pageant is that Oz’s female friend, Lupe, has decided to participate because the prize is a full scholarship to college. She has been accepted to Stanford and wants to go to medical school but doesn’t have the money, so this pageant is a big determiner of Lupe’s future.
Things get off to a rocky start when one of the judges exhibits open racism against a Latina’s winning and blatantly gives her much lower, false scores. When Lupe and others confront the judge about her behavior, they end up having a fight, with Lupe telling the racist that if she does anything to harm Lupe’s friends and family, Lupe will go after her. Thus, when the judge is found strangled, attention immediately focuses on Lupe. The team works hard to keep Lupe from being arrested, while Mel’s mother,Joyce, works to help Lupe succeed at the the pageant.
This series is a whole lot of fun in addition to being a well-planned mystery plot. The degree of humor in the book makes it cute as well as clever. The characters make the book enjoyable, as they come to life very vividly.
But the book is not all fun and games either. Mel spends the whole book struggling over what she wants for her life. She worries that even if she marries Joe, to whom she was engaged for several months, she will still lose him. The death of her own father to a drunk driver in the early years of culinary school has left her afraid to commit to anyone or anything for fear they will be taken away from her. The book9 is a very strong book with some strong introspection that I wish the series had covered earlier. Understanding why Mel is so opposed to marriage helps a lot to understand what has been going on. This fear of commitment manifests not just in her fear of committing to people, but also in her fear of increasing her cupcake business.
I really love the narration of Susan Boyce, who reads the book for the audio version of the book. She adds sparkle to the performance and makes the book seem so realistic as I listen to it. I really am deeply impressed by Boyce’s narration and her gift as a narrator.
I really loved the experience of listening to Sugar and Iced. This book does not have as funny a premise as some others, but the book is very strong. I loved the whole book and give it five stars!
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