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Caramel Crush By Jenn McKinlay: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post


FROM THE 2017 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andFood Fun,
andMysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Jenn McKinlay

This week we have a review of Jenn McKinlay’s latest food mystery, Caramel Crush, along with a fun guest post from Jenn about characters. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Caramel Crush. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.

Caramel Crush: A Cupcake Bakery Mystery by Jenn McKinlay
Review by Cynthia Chow

The path towards love often is a rocky one, and as evidence one needs only to look within the doors of Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery. Melanie Cooper’s best friend and business partner Tate Harper is finally marrying Angie DeLaura, but her uncharacteristic transformation into a bridezilla has everyone ducking for cover. Even more unsettling is the demand by Mel’s former UCLA roommate, Diane Earnest, to create and deliver engagement breakup cupcakes to her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. Diane is calling in a debt from college, and as a result Mel finds herself on the doorstep of Party On! supply company with a delivery intended to embarrass Mike Bordow at his workplace. Facing a dead body is perhaps slightly less preferable than an infuriated fiancé, but that’s what Mel finds in Mike’s office. When Diane becomes implicated she continues to call in her favor, pressuring Mel to investigate and once again be in the middle of a murder.

bookAs Mel looks into the reasons why someone would have wanted to murder this prospective groom, she digs up his very lurid shenanigans and even more possible suspects. Marrying Diane for her money is the least of his crimes, as Mike may have been having affairs with coworkers, bridesmaids, and even Diane’s mother. The one benefit of mingling with the distinctly unpleasant bridal party is that it at least gives Mel an excuse to avoid Angie and her ceaseless demands and indecisiveness. Mel worries that there is a reason Angie seems unable to commit to making decisions in her upcoming wedding, but she may drive everyone insane before revealing it.

Except for the central characters, this latest installment features an abundance of enormously self-centered and rather abhorrent characters. Mel’s own engagement to the love of her life, assistant county attorney Joe DeLaura, is on the back burner as she allows Angie to have her moment in the sun. An investigating detective’s obvious crush on Joe makes her completely resistant to helping Mel in any way, and even Diane is less than cooperative as an unpaying client. The debt that Mel owes to Diane remains a secret shame, and Mel worries that it could change Joe’s opinion of her.

Readers who have grown to love these residents of the charming Arizona town will be fascinated by the further examination of their personal lives and the inner struggles. The affection and genial nature of Mel and her friends bring enough levity to ensure for a satisfying read, although a final twist may have readers feeling that Mel is far too generous. This series continues to take its characters in unexpected directions, guaranteeing that readers will look forward to see where they go next.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

By Jenn McKinlay

Where do your characters come from? Are they really based on you? I get this question a lot. I mean A LOT. Here’s the short answer—No, they aren’t me. I mean, I don’t think they’re me. Maybe just parts of me? When I step back and look at the characters in the cupcake bakery mystery series, I see glimmers of myself in all of them. So, I suppose it’s sort of like your children, you know, when you don’t see yourself in them, but people keep telling you that the toddler—usually, when he’s screaming his head off —looks just like you. Um…thanks?

Melanie Cooper, the chief baker of Fairy Tale Cupcakes, is tall, okay, that’s me, blond, nope, not me, and very self-conscious, ha, totally not me. Her partner in baked goods, Angie DeLaura, is short, nope, not me, Italian, sadly, not me, and has a wicked temper as is evidenced if you mess with the people she cares about, okay, there I am! And then there’s Tate Harper, their male counterpart. Tate is brilliant in business, laughably no, not me. He’s level-headed and reasonable, okay, sometimes I can pull that off with three days warning and lots of practice. And he’s a dude, nope, not me.


Jenn McKinlay

Moving on to the entourage of side characters in the cupcake bakery series, there’s octogenarian Marty, who is a cranky curmudgeon. I am working my way there in another forty years or so. Marty is my hero! And there’s Oz, a young Hispanic skater dude and wannabe chef. We do share a love of the Ramones, skateboards, and baked goods, so while Oz is not me, he clearly is my people.

Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The bad people and the victims in my books are usually loosely based on people I do not like. They may be the jerk who cheated on my friend, the woman who slept through the green arrow when I was in a hurry, the boss I did not enjoy working for back when I had a real job, or the news story that caught my attention about a reprehensible human who was cruel to an animal who I desperately want to slap until my arm gives out…ahem. So, that’s the birth place of the bad people.

And lastly, how do I come up with what my characters look like? Magazines. Mel and Angie in particular came off the cover of Prevention Magazine back when I was working as a librarian at the Scottsdale Hospital and cobbling together the very first proposal for Sprinkle with Murder. I was doing some reference work for a doctor on bone spurs and my mind wandered—it happens—and I started thinking about what those two cupcake bakers would look like when I glanced down at Prevention Magazine, and there they were on the cover. Yes, sometimes it is just that easy.

So, that’s the long answer to the question of whether my characters are me. I guess I have to change my original answer. In a way, they are all me, but they are also all of the people in my life, good and bad. The shenanigans my people get up to are frequently turned into something the characters in the books would do. And sometimes when I meet a particularly interesting person, I take their whole backstory and use it for a character or two or three. I believe the moral of this tale is be careful what you say and do around a writer because you just might find yourself in a book.

Pro tip: You don’t want to be the dead guy.

Thanks for letting me visit! Happy Reading! Jenn

To enter to win a copy of Caramel Crush, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “caramel,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 15, 2017. US residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Click on this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:


Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of several mystery series and will be debuting her women’s fiction series on May 30, 2017, starting with the title About a Dog. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets and her husband’s guitars. Visit her website at: www.jennmckinlay.com.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cecilia April 8, 2017 at 8:59am

This is a great series! I would love to see what happens to Mel next!


2 Peggy Hyndman April 8, 2017 at 9:01am

Caramel Crush sounds great. Thank yo for this chance.


3 Cheryl Shields April 8, 2017 at 9:12am

Oh I want this book too much !!!!!!!


4 Melissa Castor April 8, 2017 at 9:13am

I love this series and would love the chance to win a copy of the book. Thanks!


5 Kristi Lewis
Twitter: @Kristilynn001
April 8, 2017 at 9:49am

This book sounds delightful. Food and reading are two of my favorite things!


6 Barbara Pacific April 8, 2017 at 10:09am

The more reviews I read about Caramel Crush the more I wish I had the money to buy a copy!


7 Pat Dupuy April 8, 2017 at 10:34am

This sounds like a lovely bridal disaster story. I am SO in! And I crave something caramel. Anything.



8 Alisha Collins April 8, 2017 at 10:43am

Love this series!!! When I first found it I had to mass check out every one the library had to catch up on the everyone!


9 Lin Casteel-Butler
Twitter: @Lin
April 8, 2017 at 10:44am

Eager to read this book. Love caramel.


10 Lin Casteel-Butler
Twitter: @Lin
April 8, 2017 at 10:45am

Eager to read this book. Love caramel anything.


11 Eileen Wells April 8, 2017 at 10:52am

I love this series!! I wondered about that background of characters, Jenn. Thanks so much.


12 Celia Fowler April 8, 2017 at 11:01am

I enjoyed the review of Caramel Crush and the interview with Jenn McKinlay — she is so charming. Thanks so much for the giveaway!


13 Linda Herold
Twitter: @Linda
April 8, 2017 at 11:07am

Great series and great author! I’d love to win! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com


14 Jess D April 8, 2017 at 11:10am

Sounds like another great read. Maceoindo(at)yahoo(dot)com


15 Kathleen Kendler
Twitter: @Kathleen
April 8, 2017 at 12:02pm

Sounds great. Loved the interview.


16 Kathleen Kendler
Twitter: @Kathleen
April 8, 2017 at 12:08pm

kckendler at gmail dot com


17 Melissa Lipscomb April 8, 2017 at 7:10pm

This was the first series of Jenn’s that I fell in love with. All of her characters become people in your life that you “know”!! ?


18 BJMarley April 8, 2017 at 7:52pm

I’d love to read this.


19 Donamae
Twitter: @donamaekutska
April 8, 2017 at 11:06pm

Love this author! This book looks so inviting, thank you


20 Donamae
Twitter: @donamaekutska
April 8, 2017 at 11:07pm

Love this author! This book looks so inviting, thank you so much


21 Jennifer Hansen April 8, 2017 at 11:15pm

One of my favorite cozy authors!
parkeremma2003 at yahoo dot com


22 Bertha Hammond April 9, 2017 at 4:02am

Thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book. Sounds like a great story.


23 Nora-Adrienne
Twitter: @NoraAdrienne
April 9, 2017 at 7:05am

I’m a HUUUGE McKinlay fan and she knows it. I own many of her books and would kill to own this one (figure of speech).
A recent post from Nora-Adrienne: It’s almost April so here are the upcoming releasesMy Profile


24 Judy Weaver April 9, 2017 at 7:17am

I believe this is a must read!


25 Donna Gantt April 9, 2017 at 9:08am

I’ve enjoyed the books by Jenn McKinlay that I’ve already read. This one sounds like a winner too! Thanks for a chance to win.


26 Jill Broussard April 9, 2017 at 12:06pm

I would love to read this book. Thankyou for the opportunity! Jill.


27 Lorraine Bowen April 10, 2017 at 10:10am

Would love to read this book.
raineybird at yahoo dot com


28 SHELLEY S April 10, 2017 at 11:04am



29 johnna smith
Twitter: @johnnabooks135
April 10, 2017 at 1:41pm

I have followed this author and series for a while and very much enjoy them. Thank you for the chance to win a copy



30 Elaine
Twitter: @elainecharton
April 10, 2017 at 3:14pm

I love this series and all its charachters and can not wait to read thisl


31 Margaret Rushton
Twitter: @cupcake5858
April 10, 2017 at 5:16pm

I can’t wait to read this book. Such a great series.


32 Doward Wilson April 10, 2017 at 6:40pm

Love this series!


33 Meg C April 11, 2017 at 11:35am

Fabulous series by a fabulous author. I always look forward to Jenn’s books coming out and Caramel Crush is no different. I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for the chance to win it. robbfan141729(at)yahoo(dot)com


34 Dianne Casey April 11, 2017 at 2:00pm

Love the Cupcake Bakery series and I really can’t wait to read “Carmel Crush”.


35 Kelly Braun
Twitter: @69steelers2
April 14, 2017 at 1:52pm

This sounds like a great read- Thanks for the chance!
Kelly Braun


36 Shannon M.
Twitter: @SMU51992
April 14, 2017 at 2:09pm

Thanks for the giveaway! This is one of my favorite series and Jenn McKinlay is one of my favorite authors! smmolloy1105@yahoo.com


37 Kristina M. Anderson
Twitter: @booklover43
April 14, 2017 at 2:10pm

I just love A Cupcake Bakery Mystery series. I am looking forward to reading Caramel Crush. Jenn McKinlay’s writes delightful cozy mysteries. Thank you for your review! Doodlesink@hotmail.com
A recent post from Kristina M. Anderson: A Dream of Home: Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel seriesMy Profile


38 Sharon Guagliardo
Twitter: @catwoman1a
April 14, 2017 at 2:48pm

Jenn is a new author to me and I look forward to reading her books. Thanks for the great review.


39 Sharon Guagliardo
Twitter: @catwoman1a
April 14, 2017 at 2:49pm

Oh, my email is catwoman-1(at)comcast(dot)net


40 Linda May April 14, 2017 at 4:27pm

I can’t wait to read this one, it’s an amazing series. Thanks for this generous chance. lindamay4852@yahoo.com


41 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
April 17, 2017 at 12:00pm

We have a winner!


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