In Vanilla Beaned by Jenn McKinley, Mel reluctantly goes with Angie and Tate to Las Vegas to make arrangements with a woman there to open a franchise of their Fairy Tale Cupcake shop. Unhappy with the idea of trusting her branding to the personal success of another person and her ability to bake cupcakes, Mel reacts negatively to Holly especially when she discovers that the prospective franchisee is a glamorous show girl. Chastised by their lawyer for her attitude, Mel agrees to examine the shopfront on sale while still waiting for Angie and Tate to show up from the detour they took to gamble. Then as the realtor opens the door and drops his cigarette, the whole place explodes, dangerously burning the realtor and causing a head injury to the lawyer.
The next day, the trio joins Holly at her mansion, where they are suitably impressed by Holly’s cupcakes. But even if they agree to allow the franchise, Holly’s intended location has been destroyed. But Angie’s oldest brother comes through with a cute place that impresses them all. And then a car comes crashing into the building, leaving the new realtor with a broken leg. The driver shakily gets out of the car and walks off, still wearing the crash helmet that had kept him safe.
Who is behind these attempts on their lives? Angie’s mind goes immediately to Olivia Puckett, their crazy bakery rival, but perhaps it’s Frank Tucci, the mob boss being prosecuted by Joe, Angie’s older brother and Mel’s former fiance. Tucci has a reputation for killing the loved ones of anyone who gets in his way. Or could it be the unknown person who has been stalking Holly?
This book was a very fun book, a great improvement on Dark Chocolate Demise, the previous book in the series, which I didn’t enjoy as much. But this book came back strong and enjoyable. The new character of Holly was a great addition to the book, and I hope we get to see more of her. I love the way that we see Holly through Mel’s eyes, first experiencing some prejudice towards this showgirl and then coming to appreciate her. As usual, the secondary characters of Marty and Oz provide fun comic relief.
I really enjoyed the narration of Susan Boyce, who continues to make this series really delightful to listen to. The books already are well written, and Boyce’s performance serves to add to the quality of the experience.
Vanilla Beaned comes as a great addition to the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series. It kept me guessing throughout and entertained me the whole way. I highly recommend this book. But if you want to have the best experience possible, you should start with the first book, Sprinkle with Murder. I give this book five stars!
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