For Batter or Worse

Cupcake Bakery Mystery

By Jenn McKinlay

ISBN 9780593333372

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


The Fairy Tale Cupcake crew must discover the truth behind a death sprinkled with suspicion before Mel and Joe can say I do”, in the thirteenth Cupcake Bakery Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay.

Life is sweet and business is booming at the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery–and the fact that Mel and Joe are getting married is the icing on the cake. Their reception will be held at the swanky resort where Oz works as the pastry chef. The wedding planning is all fun-fetti and games until Mel and Joe meet the head chef at the resort who has been making Oz’s life miserable. When the eccentric chef insults Mel’s bakery, Oz gets into a blowout argument with the culinary prima donna.

Things turn extra sour when the chef is murdered, and Oz is the police’s main suspect. As the countdown to the wedding day begins, Mel, Joe, and the rest of the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew must sift through clues to catch the real killer and clear Oz’s name before their wedding plans are totally battered and baked. (from Goodreads)


This is one of the most exciting novels in the series, and I enjoyed every minute of it! The characters are an eclectic mix of well-defined personalities. The mystery is plotted and executed flawlessly, as is the surrounding preparation for the day of Melanie’s – Mel’s major event as well as Angie and Tate’s upcoming special delivery. And the cupcakes from Fairy Tale cupcakes? They sound amazing! For those who love to bake, there are recipes for several of the featured cupcakes.

Oz has grown and matured during the time he worked for Mel and Angie, partners at Fairy Tale Brownies along with Tate, Angie’s husband. Oz attended and graduated from culinary school and has his own baking kitchen now at Sun Dial Resort. He will be baking the cupcakes for Mel and Joe’s wedding reception, only a couple weeks away.

Yes, Mel and county assistant DA Joe are getting married, a day she feared would never come. She had a crush on him for nearly 20 years before they began to date! Mel’s mom has called him “Dear Joe” ever since. Angie and Mel have their own milestone event – their first baby is due about four weeks after the wedding. Angie is confident they won’t need a backup matron of honor and best man.

They just might need to rely on a backup baker, though, due to totally unanticipated events. Mel has made several trips to the resort to finalize things with the event coordinator and Oz. After hearing Miles, the executive chef, cause problems for Oz a few days earlier, Mel and Joe stopped in the bakery kitchen to see how he was doing. Mel was stunned to see Miles lying on the floor with blood around his head, and Oz leaning over him with blood on his hands. They believed what Oz told them, but there were a couple other people willing to see Oz wearing an orange jumpsuit, accused of the murder, one of them being the wife of the resort owner. Fortunately, Mel has much experience helping find killers over the past few years, and when it comes to her friends, she doesn’t give up.

Author Jenn McKinlay presents an excellent cast of characters!  I especially enjoy Mel, Angie, and Oz, all of whom have changed in so many ways since first being in the series. “The brothers”, comprised of six of Angie’s seven brothers and Mel’s almost brothers-in-laws, are quirky and unique. It is fun to see them in action to protect a friend and get to the truth. While this reader could almost picture the characters physically, their attitudes give the third, living dimension to their appearance.

The mystery, as others in the series, has enough plot twists and turns that the reader begins to feel as if riding a tilt-a-whirl. The pace is perfect; as often feels in real life, time speeds up as the big event nears. The murder must be solved before the wedding day! I couldn’t guess who the bad guy was almost until the actual reveal. Honestly, I didn’t realize that professional kitchens were such hotbeds of creative, edgy chefs! Maybe it’s a good thing I can’t cook. . . The story ends very well, with even more surprises that make the wedding day incredibly memorable. I highly recommend this mystery, and the series!