Book Review: CAKE ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Jacklyn Brady

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Series: A Piece of Cake Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Released: February 7, 2012
Source: Review copy from publisher

Pastry chef Rita Lucero’s Mardi Gras party turns funereal when one of her guests is found dead after a public fight with her uncle-leaving Rita no choice but to find the real killer and clear her uncle’s name…

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Though it lacked the endearing qualities I loved in the first book of the series, CAKE ON A HOT TIN ROOF highlights bakery owner Rita Lucero’s savvy for solving murders she unwittingly becomes involved in.

The story is set in New Orleans in the days leading up to Mardi Gras. Ms. Brady has a talent for bringing the vibrant qualities of the city to life. The rich descriptions of the colorful characters, the parties and the food really draw the reader into the story. I really wanted a slice of Rita’s special king cake. :)

I thought the mystery itself was pretty good. Big Daddy Boudreaux had more enemies than friends, so there were plenty of possible suspects. Rita had quite a time narrowing the list down. In the end, I can’t say that I was surprised by “who done it,” but it was interesting to hear what really happened.

I thought that the pacing was slow. It took a good ten chapters to get to the actual crime. Sure, there was some set up that the reader needed to see, but some of it just dragged the story down. Uncle Nestor was a big part of this book, and unfortunately I didn’t care for him at all. He was just too cantankerous for my taste. Rita was trying to help him *not* get arrested for murder, and he was simply rude and unhelpful. I guess he wasn’t the Uncle Nestor I expected to meet!

Though there were parts that didn’t work for me, CAKE ON A HOT TIN ROOF was a good continuation of the series. I’m hoping in the next book Rita and Detective Sullivan’s relationship will progress to the next level – like maybe a date? ;)

Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A SHEETCAKE NAMED DESIRE by Jacklyn Brady

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Series: A Piece of Cake Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Released: August 2, 2011
Source: Review copy from publisher

There aren’t many things pastry chef Rita Lucero hates more than losing. But two years after her marriage to fellow baker Philippe Renier fell apart, she’s still trying to get him to sign the divorce papers. Exasperated, Rita visits Philippe’s high-end New Orleans shop, Zydeco Cakes, to get his signature—and discovers that her marriage is already over when she finds Philippe dead with a chef’s knife in his chest.

Rita is shocked to discover the body, and overwhelmed to learn that since the divorce wasn’t final, she now inherits part ownership in Zydeco Cakes. But it’s a mixed blessing: the gorgeous shop is actually in financial trouble, and Rita’s windfall sets her up as a prime suspect in Philippe’s murder. Her former mother-in-law demands that Rita find out who killed her son, and his former employees don’t know whether to trust her. The feeling is mutual—especially since the real culprit is still out there, and Rita may be the next victim served.

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Jacklyn Brady is a new author to the cozy mystery genre, and her first offering, A SHEETCAKE NAMED DESIRE, is truly delectable. Brady’s amateur sleuth, pastry chef Rita Lucero, has made my list of favorites. Rita is fed up with getting the run around from her soon-to-be ex-husband Philippe Renier. After two years of being in divorce limbo, she travels to New Orleans to make him sign the papers and make it final. Not long after she arrives at his upscale bakery, Rita finds Philippe dead with a knife in his chest, making her the heir to his fortune. This fact doesn’t bode well with the police or with Philippe’s employees at Zydeco Cakes.

The one person who does have faith in Rita is Miss Frankie, Philippe’s mother. She asks Rita to take over Zydeco, at least temporarily, to scope things out. When Rita starts investigating, she discovers that in addition to murdering Philippe, someone has been sabotaging Zydeco’s business – stealing cake designs, destroying equipment, and ruining the finished cakes. Rita is determined to uncover the guilty party, because as Philippe’s heir, she could be next.

A SHEETCAKE NAMED DESIRE was a well-crafted murder mystery with a cast of colorful characters, from charming to down right detestable. Something that really stood out in this book was the character depth. I’m still fairly new to the cozy mystery genre, but in the ones I’ve read, usually the protagonist does not have an emotional attachment to the murder victim. This was not the case in this book. Though on the verge of divorce, it was clear that Rita still cared for Philippe and his mother, Miss Frankie. That added an extra layer of of emotional depth to the story. (Any cozy that makes me tear up a couple of times gets extra points in my book!)

In addition to the interesting mystery and great characters, I really enjoyed the rich descriptions of the sights and flavors of New Orleans. I could almost taste the jambalaya. I would recommend this book to any cozy mystery fan. Up next in the A Piece of Cake Mystery series: CAKE ON A HOT TIN ROOF with an expected publication date of 2/7/2012.

Rating: 4½ Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.