Title: Cake and Punishment
Series: A Southern Cake Baker Mystery
By: Maymee Bell
ISBN: 1683315715 (ISBN13: 9781683315711)
Author’s Website: http://www.tonyakappes.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
In the first of a delectable new Southern-set baking cozy series, Sophia Cummings, pastry chef extraordinaire, must craft the perfect cake for an old friend’s wedding while sifting through the suspects in a murder.
Bucolic Rumford, Kentucky has glowing fields of bluegrass, a fine selection of bourbons, and now a professional pastry chef. Broken-hearted Sophia Cummings has come home from New York City. She’s not there a minute before she’s charmed into making her high school friend Charlotte’s wedding cake. The kitchen at the Rumford Country Club seems perfect until Chef Emile’s body is discovered, sprawled near the stove, a cast iron skillet on the floor close by.
With one look at the shiny, new frying pan, Sophia knows it’s not Emile’s. She offers her knowledge to Sheriff Carter and her talents to Evelyn, the manager, who needs an interim chef. The mood in the country club is grim: Emile’s peppery personality had burned members and staff alike. Sophia wonders which one of them burned him?
Cake and Punishment is the first book in the new ‘A Southern Cake Baker Mystery’ series. I found the characters, the setting, the mystery and the romance in the book came together to create an extraordinarily enjoyable read, in fact, one that has me now chomping at the bit for the next in this series.
Sophia Cummings is a broken hearted pastry chef returning to her hometown for a bit of a respite away from her busy life in Manhattan while nursing a broken heart. While back in Kentucky, she is talked into making a wedding cake for her high school chum (Charlotte). The wedding reception will be at the Rumford Country Club and while Sophia was checking the place out, what (or should I say who) is discovered? A dead chef…apparently by one swipe of his own cast iron skillet! This leads to not only Sophia working on the wedding cake but also running the country club’s kitchen until a replacement head chef can be found. And let me tell you… the replacement is not someone Sophia is ready to see.
Early one evening Sophia can’t sleep (she is staying at her parent’s home) so she is up late at night, baking cookies. Her dad walks in to the kitchen and they share stories, coffee and some heartfelt conversation – such as the following, which added depth beyond normal cozy mysteries (at least for me):
“Seriously, what was really my validation that my cookies were good was the look on people’s faces after they ate a cookie that I created from scratch, with these hands.”
And what would a mystery be without a romance or two. I quite enjoyed the sparks between Sophia and the local sheriff – Carter. Hmmm…will they or won’t they? That is for you to read and find out. Let’s just say that the path to romance is not always paved nor straight and narrow ☺. But the journey was enjoyable. Unfortunately, I will have to wait for the next book in the series to see where this romance may lead.
Another aspect of the story which grabbed me was the changes that were happening in Rumford (like the local bakery had closed or that Charlotte was a real estate agent) and how that set up nicely the reintegration of Sophia into the small town.
I did get a bit antsy when the cheatin’ ‘ex’ came into town. How dare he impinge on Sophie’s break away from Manhattan. I really wanted him to just go back home! Other events happened that added more depth into the storyline (as well as possible red herrings… or actual pieces of information which might help solve the mystery).
The bringing in of the “cozy mystery” discussion at the library was priceless…had my chuckling:
“You’ve been investigating?” Cat seemed interested. “That’s so fascinating. Kinda like the cozy mystery genre we have here at the library.”
“Cozy mystery?” I laughed at the name.
“Yeah. They are popular mysteries where the amateur sleuth has a job and happens upon a murder. Kinda like what you did. Then she takes the investigation into her own hands. Sorta like what you’re doing.”
The story flows effortlessly with many suspects to consider. Figuring out ‘whodunit’ was not an easy task and it wasn’t until the end that it all came together, which is just the way I like my cozy mysteries. With all of the depth and tangents that were intertwined in the story – it lead to a veritable cornucopia of reading fun. So much so that I had a difficult time putting the book down!
I am most assuredly waiting with baited breath for the next installment in the A Southern Cake Baker Mystery series. Well done Mayme Bell (aka Tonya Kappes) … well done.