review: Cake Popped Off (book #2: Cupcake Catering Mystery series) by Kim Davis

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Cupcake caterer Emory Martinez is hosting a Halloween bash alongside her octogenarian employer, Tillie. With guests dressed in elaborate costumes, the band is rocking, the cocktails are flowing, and tempers are flaring when the hired Bavarian Barmaid tries to hook a rich, hapless husband. Except one of her targets happens to be Emory’s brother-in-law, which bodes ill for his pregnant wife. When Emory tracks down the distraught barmaid, instead of finding the young woman in tears, she finds her dead. Can she explain to the new detective on the scene why the Bavarian Barmaid was murdered in Emory’s bathtub with Emory’s Poison Apple Cake Pops stuffed into her mouth?

With an angry pregnant sister to contend with, she promises to clear her brother-in-law’s name. As Emory starts asking questions and tracking down the identity of the costumed guests, she finds reasons to suspect her brother-in-law has been hiding a guilty secret. Her search leads her to a web of blackmail and betrayal amongst the posh setting of the local country club crowd. Can Emory sift through the lies she’s being told and find the killer? She’ll need to step up her investigation before another victim is sent to the great pumpkin patch in the sky.

Source: NetGalley and Cinnamon & Sugar Press Rating: 4/5 stars

Emory Martinez has absolutely settled into her new life.  Her cupcake catering business has really taken off, she loves working with Tillie, and her home in Tillie’s pool house is the perfect place for she and her little dog.  With her life seemingly settled, Emory and Tillie undertake their greatest event to date, a costumed Halloween party.  With high hopes for the event, neither suspects murder is on the menu alongside Emory’s new Poison Apple Cake Pops.

Just as the party is in full swing, with all the social elites in attendance, and the cocktails flowing Emory sees a bit of kerfuffle near her pool house.  Dismissing the scene for the time being Emory is later shocked to find a very deceased body in her pool house.  As if the dead body weren’t enough of a surprise, Tillie’s son has a whopper as well.  Shortly after the founding and reporting of the body, Tillie’s son presents to his gathered family his new bride!  YIKES!!!  Immediately, Tillie and Emory are on guard as the new bride is about as kind as pissed off snake and has no intention of playing second-fiddle to anyone, not even the matriarch of the family. 

Clearly, Tillie and Emory have work to do including solving the on-site murder, keeping the details of their antics from Tillie’s erratic and volatile son, and sussing out the issues related to the new bride in the family.  Though Emory doesn’t want to put Tillie in harm’s way, Tillie has no interest in being left behind and out of the action.  In truth, Emory needs Tillie and her social connections if she’s going to make any headway.  The social elite only like giving up their secrets when it suits them, but Tillie has a way of getting people to open up and share their darkest secrets. 

As the secrets begin to spill out, Tillie and Emory discover a web of lies, deceit, and blackmail.  The number of people caught up in the blackmail is truly stunning and the nefarious act is striking a little closer to home than either Tillie or Emory are comfortable with.  In order to break the case wide open, protect themselves, and save those closest to them, Tillie and Emory are going to have to defy the police, place their own lives in danger, and be braver than they ever though themselves capable of being.  Before all is said and done, Tillie and Emory just may lose everything.

The Bottom Line:  I am quite glad I gave this series a second chance.  I wasn’t tremendously pleased with the first book, but this second book has really stepped up and delivered.  Emory and Tillie as a team are just wonderful and I particularly enjoy the age gap between them.  Tillie is wise, clever, slyly witty, and very sure of her own skills and competence.  Emory is younger, learning all she can from Tillie, and determined to protect the people she loves.  Together, the two are ridiculously fun and really the stars of the series.  With this second, more developed book, I have greater confidence in this series and look forward to Emory and Tillie’s next outing.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback

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