In Lethal Licorice by Amanda Flower, Harvest, Ohio is hosting the Amish Confectionery Competition, a highly prestigious competition that is expected to bring many tourists to their small town. Bailey King, who has just moved to Harvest from a job as chief assistant chocolatier in order to help her newly widowed Amish grandmother, has been allowed to take her late grandfather’s place in the competition. But then the morning of the competition, Josephine Weaver, a candy maker from 10 miles away, challenges Bailey’s right to be in the contest because she isn’t Amish. This is despite the fact that Bailey represents Swissman Sweets, an Amish candy shop, and is using Amish methods of cooking.
After her licorice has been made and is setting, Bailey gets approached by her friend Juliet, who can’t find her pet pot- bellied pig. Together they go into the church to see if Jethro, the polka dotted pig, might have gone inside. There, the pair see an Amish young woman playing the organ, but it doesn’t sound right. So the young woman checks the internal workings of the organ, only to scream as she finds the dead body of Josephine, who has died of her allergy to anise, the flavoring in licorice.
Bailey finds out that the young organist is Charlotte Weaver, the niece of Josephine and a cousin Bailey doesn’t even know she has. Deputy Aiden Brody, the son of Juliet, tries to keep Bailey out of the investigation, but it seems that someone is trying to frame Bailey for the murder. So she finds herself involved in seeking out the truth behind the murder as well as her own family history.
I really appreciated the first book in this series, Assaulted Caramel, so I was excited to try Lethal Licorice, and the book did not disappoint. It had a great plot with a fascinating setting that kept me enthralled throughout. I really had fun with the candy contest, as Bailey and her Amish neighbor, Emily, make licorice, taffy, peanut brittle, and fudge. It was fun to see more than just chocolate, which was what the previous book focused on. The mystery plot may not have been quite as exciting as in the previous book, but the whole setting kept me riveted. It made the book move very quickly.
This series has very strong character developments, with each one having such a well- rounded nature. We appreciate the personal dilemmas of Bailey and Charlotte as they each seek the truth of what they want for their lives. Bailey tries to determine how to maneuver between both worlds of Amish and English, the term that the Amish use for anyone not Amish. Charlotte is struggling to decide what to believe for herself, especially when she loves music so much but is told that playing the organ is a sin. We appreciate the other characters as well as these two.
Rebecca Mitchell performs the audio edition of this book and makes it very fun to listen to. She uses expressive voices for her characters, and when we hear the anger, almost hatred, of those upset that Charlotte is considering leaving the Amish life, we find ourselves cringe. We also appreciate the desperation in Charlotte’s voice and the joy of Emily to get to help Bailey in the Amish Confectionery Competition. I truly enjoyed the narration of Mitchell in this book.
Lethal Licorice was a joy to listen to. It kept me happily focused on the situation in the book and drew me in to the lives of the characters. I loved the plot, the situation, and the characters throughout. The book was especially fun. I give it five stars.
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