By Joanne Fluke

Kensington Books,

An imprint of Kensington Publishing

Feb. 23, 2016

Hardcover, 370 pages


Hannah Swensen is counting the days until she becomes Mrs. Ross Barton. If life wasn’t hectic enough for the Cookie Jar owner, she also has to dig deep in her family recipes for the best desserts to compete in the Food Channel’s dessert chef contest. She’s trying her best not to be nervous, but she and her sister, Michelle, are headed to New York for the first part of the competition and being shown live on television is a challenge even for the professionals. Ross and the TV station upgraded transportation, flight seating, and their hotel rooms. He’s accompanying them along with Lonnie, a cameraman, so they can cover the Swensen sister’s culinary efforts for WCOW-TV.

The cameras are on and the competition is fierce. Hannah, who is a self-taught baker, is up against experienced chefs. Though, her competitors: Brooke Jackman, Rodney Paloma, Gloria Berkeley, Loren Berringer, don’t know desserts like Hannah does. So when it’s time to be judged by Alain Duquesne, Christian Parker, Jeremy Zales, Helene Stone and LaVonna Brach, Hannah and Michelle whip up what is considered one of the most difficult desserts there is to make and a unique cake. To their surprise, they win the first and second round which is the Hometown Challenge. That means the show’s producers and contestants are flying to Lake Eden, Minnesota to film in Hannah’s town.

But even new celebrities have to practice every step of the way to keep up with the high bar the judges have set. So after arriving back home, Michelle and Hannah head out to Lake Eden Inn where the second portion of the show is going to be recorded. They want to work through the preparation so they go to Sally’s inn to work out every step of the dough. There’s one thing they didn’t anticipate in their recipe, finding one of the judges stone cold.

Of all the JoAnne Fluke Hannah Swensen novels, I enjoyed this one the most. It was more complex in Hannah’s investigation of the relationships of the contestants and judges. Planning for a wedding is difficult enough. Add into the mix that she and Michelle were contestants in a bakery chef competition and she clearly has her hands full.

I see WEDDING CAKE MURDER as a character driven book which never fails to entertain. With so many titles in the series, it’s like welcoming an old friend to dinner. Hannah’s life moves forward and you’re along for the ride. The storyline moved at a quick pace keeping me interested. I didn’t find any unresolved plot lines. Figuring out who the guilty party was, wasn’t easily solved. The characters are well developed and you can relate to their experiences. There’s more than enough happening to keep your attention. The recipes are an added bonus. A little disappointed that the biggest day of Hannah’s life wasn’t more drawn out. We’ve waited so long for her to get married. Wanted to sit back and enjoy the moment.

Four wedding cakes out of five

Denise Fleischer


April 30, 2016