Well, I have to say that I found this one to be the best of the series so far. Now reader take note...this series of cozy mysteries is not for everyone. For lack of a better word to describe them I am forced to use the words "a cozy, cozy." By that I mean they are as about a cozy as you can get. I love these books. They fall into the category I call my comfort reads.
In this tale our heroine, Hannah Swensen is faced with competition from a new bakery that has been established across the street. Simply put, since the bakery is owned and operated by two sisters who are willing to operate at a loss for at least a year, they are driving Hannah out of business. To make matters worse, there are strong indications that one of the two men in Hannah's life, Mike the cop, is becoming or has been involved with one of the sisters! Of course there is the problem of Hannah finding one of the sisters murdered, shot, lying on the floor of her rival bakery and Hannah becomes a suspect herself...along with about half of the town. Will the Magnolia Blossom Bakery put Hannah's bakery The Cookie Jar out of business? Will Mike be lured away from Hannah? Who killed one of the owners of the rival bakery? Will Mike the cop or Norman the town Dentist ask for Hannah's hand in marriage and more importantly, will Hannah accept either offer? Will Hannah's mother be swept off her feet by the English Nobleman she is infatuated with? Will Hannah's cat manage to finally dig through the locked closet and have unlimited access to the cat food (The Mother Load) stashed there and is her cat actually keeping pet mice in Hannah's closet and feeding them? These are some of the issues being faced by our rather unique baker.
Now for my take on some of the critical comments this series has received: Yes, Hannah can be annoying at times. To be quite frank, I know of no one in real life who is not annoying from time to time. The author has been quite persistent in keeping all of her characters true to form throughout the book. This is one of the things I like; one of the things I look for, i.e. consistency. I know what I am getting. Secondly, I not that a lot of people find the fact that Hannah has two men on the line and is string both of them along not realistic, or at the very least, tiresome and a bit odd. I have no problems with this. I read literally hundreds of book in this genre where a man strings along multiple women and no one seems to find this a bit put offish. A good example is the wonderful cozy Hamish Macbeth Series by M.C. Beaton. Our intrepid Scottish policeman has been stinging the same multiple women and a new one each book, along for at least 26 novels now and no one seems to blink over that. Thirdly, folks seem to be annoyed over the lack of any blatant sexual activity in these books; as a matter of fact, they are indeed rather prudish. I find this wonderfully refreshing in so many ways. Hey, I enjoy a good read dealing with vivid sex and violence every now and then and goodness knows I have enough to choose from if that strikes my fancy at any given time. Like most things though, that gets old real fast too. Forth...No Hannah is not a beauty queen. She is a bit over weight, has wild red hair, no taste in clothing what so ever and is indeed quite outspoken and a bit of a know it all; in other words, she is about like 90 percent of most of the people I know, myself included. As to the main characters aversion to cell phones, computers, fancy cars, etc., well to be quite frank, I share those very feelings and if I could run my life without them as Hannah seems able to do, then I would be right there with her.
This work, like the others in the series is well written. Violence is kept to a very minimum, there is no profanity (again, refreshing), the characters are quite believable and the mystery portion of the story, which is quite secondary to these books, is logical. We are also treated to fourteen new recipes, two of which I have tried and they are delicious. It is filled with the old regular cast of characters with a few new ones thrown in. Again, it is like reading about family after three or four books in the series.
Again, these books are not for everyone. We certainly are not talking the Bronte Sisters here or the works of someone like Jane Austen, no far from it. But what we are given is a few hours of delightful reading that is simply fun! You really do not have to expend a lot of thought energy with these books; they are sort of a type of mind candy...or in this case, brain cookies. These books are a wonderful escape into a far mellower world than we live in. I like that.
And by the way...I am pulling for Norman the Dentist.