Brownies and Betrayal

Brownies & Betrayal: A Sweet Bites Mystery, Book 1

Written by: Heather B. Justesen
Narrated by: Pamela Almand
Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
Series: Sweet Bites, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook
Whispersync for Voice-ready

Publishers' Summary

Pastry chef Tess Crawford thought moving from Chicago to quiet Silver Springs, Arizona would simplify her life. That was before she found the body of a woman with whom she had traded heated words the previous night, left her fingerprints on the murder weapon, and came under attack for trying to clear her name. When her cheating ex-fiance shows up, intent on convincing her to come back to work for him, Tess - armed with an extra batch of eclairs - decides to take control and solve the mystery herself, with the help of friends and frenemies alike. But will that be enough to save her when she gets too close and the killer decides it's safer to get her out of the way?
©2012 Heather Justesen (P)2013 Heather Justesen.

My Review

It was her cheating Fiancé, Bronson, who drove her from her job as a fashionable and sought after high flying pastry chef. Her talents, which had so recently earned her the big city prices, were now employed in attempting to start her own small town business.
Tess was busy turning her Grandmas old restaurant into an upmarket cake shop. Meanwhile, she was catering a wedding rehearsal meal. This is where it all begins.....
At the wedding venue Tess is lovingly arranging her award winning rocky road brownies, these she had baked at the special request of the bride to be. Along comes the brides' Matron of Honour, the glamorous Valerie who wastes no time in telling Tess that she had advised the bride to employ another fashionable pastry chef, Roscoe Marks. Valerie disparages the brownies saying Roscoe could bake rings around Tess. Not feeling too well disposed towards the vile Valerie, Tess keeps her remarks in check.
The next day, the day of the wedding, Tess is assembling the wedding cake when she discovers Valeries' body underneath the table.
For some reason, Tess feels she is the main suspect and fears imminent arrest, this drives her to decide that she, like all the best cozy mystery heroines, must solve this murder herself.
This first part of the story is quite slow, a little dull and a little predictable, however, the story soon gathers some momentum and interest is garnered.
Pompous Bronson arrives in town, he'd hoped to persuade Tess to return with him, he tells her she is obligated to complete the cakes that were ordered prior to her departure. He also wants her back swearing the other woman meant nothing. Meanwhile, Tess seems to be stirring up the interest of other eligible males, but she is just so busy!
There's a little romance, there's jealousy, suspicion, treachery and violence, and yes, there's mystery. All this and throw in a little violence, it makes for a story that does hold ones interest, and, for me at least, holds a couple of surprises.
Of course, this review would be incomplete without mentioning the recipes. I don't much care for recipes in an audiobook, I find they interrupt the smooth flow of the story and would be better if left to a section at the end of the recording. Also, the way a recipe is written, sans prepositions, makes them a cumbersome read. I admire the narrator who can read what sounds like pidgin English, aloud, and with all due seriousness: "two teaspoon cinnamon; one cup sugar", I'm afraid I would be able to resist chucking in an "of"!
This book is whispersync ready, so, if you really like the recipes, get the book for reference.
To summarise, I found this a slow starter, but it did rev up the interest levels enough to keep me listening to an enjoyable story.

The Narrator

Pamela Almand is a very good narrator, in no time at all I was recognising all the characters, all of whom were portrayed well. She has a pleasant voice which is easy on the ear, both tempo and rythymn of speech were perfect. I liked the way that in the early part of the story, she perfectly captured the slight condescension in Tess', speaking manner, portraying Tess as one who had yet to come to terms with the loss of the social status she had once enjoyed as a super star chef.
This book was gifted to me in return for this, my honest opinion

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