"Precisely written and highly addictive!"
Reviewed by Annie Tegelan
Posted April 23, 2019
Lee Hollis is one of my all-time favorite Cozy Mystery authors and with
DEATH OF A WEDDING CAKE
BAKER, they show exactly why they are the best! When Hayley
Powell's best friend, Liddy Crawfield, is set to get married, the question
of who will be baking her wedding cake is still up for discussion. Liddy's
mother wants her cousin to do it because she is a renowned baker,
famous for her cakes. However, Liddy has not been on good terms with
her cousin for some time and doesn't like the idea of something she
doesn't like baking her cake for her. With this tension and other
conflicts within the book, Hayley has her hands full with trying to keep
this wedding afloat.
Precisely written and highly addictive, this book totally blew me away. It
was one of those reads that I breezed through and left me wanting
more. I can't recommend Lee Hollis and the Hayley Powell Food and
Cocktail Mystery series enough! It's full of great characters, amazing
mystery, as well as interesting recipes to try. I always have a grand time
when picking up a Lee Hollis book and I promise you that you will not
regret your decision to try one!
For Matron of Honor Hayley Powell, catching a half-baked
poisoner before her friend's wedding will be icing on the
cake . . .
Liddy Crawford, best friend of food and cocktails columnist
Hayley Powell, is getting married. The wedding is the talk
of the town in Bar Harbor, Maine, including snide gossip
about the age gap between the bride and her groom, local
lawyer Sonny Lipton. But the cruelty of the comments is
nothing compared to the nasty wedding cake baker, Liddy's
quarrelsome cousin Lisa.
So when the belligerent baker is found facedown in a
three-tier cake, the victim of a poisoned slice, there are
more suspects in town than names on the guest list. With
Sonny getting cold feet, Liddy getting hot under the frilly
collar of her wedding gown, and a killer possibly crashing
the ceremony, Hayley vows to solve the crime before her
friend walks down the aisle . . .
Includes seven delectable recipes from Hayley’s kitchen!
Excerpt“I’d like to propose a toast,” Hayley Powell announced,
raising her fizzy glass of champagne.
The twelve other women in the room obediently lifted their
flutes, all beaming and excited and aflutter. Hayley stood
in the middle of a pile of discarded gift wrapping paper
that littered the floor just in front of a mountain of
wedding shower gifts that were piled high on top of an oak
end table in the living room of this well-appointed,
tastefully decorated, otherwise neat and tidy, immaculately
“To my BFF, Liddy Crawford, let me speak for everyone when
I say our hearts are full of love for you today as you soon
begin this new and exciting journey. As most of us already
know and can attest to, marriage isn’t always an easy road,
but it can be the most rewarding trip of your life. As a
famous writer once said, and forgive me, I can’t for the
life of me remember who exactly said it, but I’m sure it
was someone famous, always remember, ‘A successful marriage
requires falling in love many times, always with the same
person.’ Here’s to you, Liddy, and a long and bright future
There were a lot of “ooohs” and “aaahs” before the roomful
of women cheered and happily gulped down their champagne.
Not bad, Hayley thought.
The quote seemed to work.
She would probably regurgitate it when she gave the matron
of honor toast that would be required at the actual wedding
reception in a few weeks.
If only she could remember who had said it so she could
give proper credit.
It was a woman.
Of that she was certain.
A journalist from the 1950s, or sometime around then.
No, it wasn’t a common name.
It was something more exotic.
It didn’t really matter.
Whoever said it was long dead and could hardly object to
Hayley borrowing the quote for her own speech.
“What a lovely toast,” Celeste, a very regal, proper,
fashion-conscious, impeccably made-up older woman said,
smiling at Hayley. Celeste was the mother of the bride and
the host of today’s wedding shower.
Mona Barnes, the third member of Hayley’s close-knit trio,
including herself and the bride-to-be, polished off the
rest of her champagne and reached out for one of the
bottles with some remaining bubbly to refill her glass.
Mona, who mostly wore sweatshirts and blue jeans in her
daily life, had made a halfhearted attempt to dress up for
this frilly affair, at Hayley’s urging. Although her slacks
were unironed and her off-the-rack embroidered paisley top
was a bit ill fitting, Hayley was proud of her for trying.
“Say, Liddy, what’d you have to do to get Sonny to go along
with this whole circus?” Mona joked as she upended the
bottle of champagne and emptied the rest of it into her
flute. “Drug him?”
Celeste stiffened, appalled by the joke, but the bride, now
used to Mona’s peculiar sense of humor,
took it all in stride.
“Yes, Mona, I have enough Ambien to keep Sonny sedated
until well after the honeymoon,” Liddy said.
Hayley had to admit to herself that she had been somewhat
surprised when Liddy posted photos of herself on Instagram
and Facebook flashing an expensive-looking engagement ring
while on a Hawaiian getaway with her boyfriend, the much-
younger Sonny Lipton, a local lawyer in Bar Harbor. How on
earth did she ever rope him into proposing? Frankly, not a
lot of people thought their volatile relationship would
last. A few mean-spirited gossips in town were quick to
blame the free-flowing, potent mai tais at the all-
inclusive Maui resort to explain why Sonny decided to pop
the question. But Liddy insisted it was all Sonny’s idea,
and she was quick to point out that the proposal involved
rose petals on the bed, an expensive bottle of Dom Pérignon
on ice, and a twenty-four-carat diamond ring at the bottom
of her champagne glass. The entire evening was swoon-
worthy, to say the least. And she had the pictures on her
iPhone and on all of her social media accounts to prove it.
Still, there were a lot of skeptics who doubted Sonny
possessed the kind of imagination to plan such a perfect
proposal. Of course, that said, no one dared to publicly
dispute Liddy’s colorful version of events after the happy
couple arrived home.
Although Sonny wanted a long and leisurely engagement,
Liddy’s mother was having none of it. Before the engagement
was even announced on the happy couple’s newly posted
Facebook wedding page, Celeste was already pressuring them
to set a date. Sonny, true to form, dragged his heels for a
month or so before finally caving in, and a date in June
was quickly set. Now, with only a few weeks to go before
the big day, there were a lot of wedding details still to
be worked out.
As matron of honor, Hayley was already overwhelmed with her
own responsibilities of helping the bride plan the event,
so the time crunch was only adding to her stress. But at
least today she could enjoy a little bubbly and relish some
diverting girl time with her close friends at Celeste’s
beautifully decorated seaside home in Hulls Cove, situated
just outside of town.
The shower had been moving along swimmingly, the gift-
giving portion of the afternoon had been raucous and fun,
Hayley’s toast had luckily gone over well, and the bride-
to-be looked radiant and happy. There had been one
uncomfortable incident where Celeste caught Liddy’s adopted
black Lab dog, Poppyseed, or Poppy for short, chewing on
her brand-new Oriental rug she had bought in a spice and
textiles market on a recent trip to Istanbul, but overall,
the gathering was on the verge of going down as a major
But that was before Celeste swallowed one glass of
champagne too many, slammed her flute down on the coffee
table, and slurred, “I still can’t believe you refused to
invite your cousin Lisa to your wedding shower!”
Hayley knew from the sour look on Liddy’s face that the
perfectly lovely afternoon was about to take a sharp turn
toward Disaster Alley.
“I told you, Mother, I only wanted friends who love and
support me at my shower, and we all know that Lisa despises
me,” Liddy said evenly. “And frankly, I can’t stand her, so
why should either of us pretend otherwise?”
“Because she’s your cousin, she’s part of the family, and
she should be here!” Celeste spit out, nearly clocking the
cheek of the young receptionist at the real estate office
where Liddy worked with some flying saliva.
“I don’t want to have this discussion right now, if that’s
okay with you, all right, Mother?”
“Fine,” Celeste said, scowling as she grabbed the bottle of
champagne from Mona and tried pouring some into her own
glass before finally realizing it was empty.
She cast the bottle aside. “But I did promise her that she
would be baking the wedding cake.”
All the guests suddenly froze, and there was a staggeringly
Lisa Crawford, Liddy’s first cousin from her father’s side,
owned a bakery in town. Although Lisa had a reputation for
being difficult and ill-tempered, no one could dispute her
talent as a master baker. She had honed her skills at
dozens of restaurants and bakeries in Boston for years
before finally moving back to Bar Harbor to open up her own
shop. After one of her three-tier cakes had been
prominently featured on a Food Network show called
Ridiculous Cakes, and after she advertised that fact with a
big window display, her business started booming,
especially with tourists who loved the fact that they were
frequenting a bakery that was, in their minds,famous for
being on TV.
So Lisa’s bakery, which was called Cake Walk, was a natural
choice for many special events in Bar Harbor, such as
weddings, birthdays, Super Bowl parties—you name it.
However, Liddy had made it abundantly clear after her
engagement became public that she would not be hiring Lisa
to bake her wedding cake. The only problem was, Celeste
rarely listened to a word Liddy had to say.
“Mother, how could you do that? I told you a dozen times I
don’t want that crude, awful ogre Lisa involved with my
wedding in any capacity.”
“Well, that’s just nonsense. She’s your cousin,” Celeste
said, glancing around the room for support.
She didn’t get any.
All of the wedding shower guests sat frozen, as if
petrified in suspended animation, like those poor residents
of Pompeii after Mount Vesuvius blew up and covered
everything in lava.
“I don’t care that she’s my cousin. She’s mean and spiteful
and she’s not baking my cake,” Liddy said, determined to
stand up to her mother and not let her get her way this one
But as strong-willed and bullheaded as Liddy was, the
undisputable fact was that she inherited those traits from
her domineering mother.
And let’s face it, Celeste was a force to be reckoned with,
and one not easily defeated.
“I see,” Celeste said quietly. “If you feel that way . . .”
“I do,” Liddy quickly added.
“Then perhaps I should reconsider paying for the wedding.”
Hayley knew Liddy was cash-poor ever since a recent
downturn in the local real estate market and too many
weekend shopping sprees to New York. She was drowning in
credit card debt and hadn’t sold a house in months.
Celeste had magnanimously swooped in and insisted upon
covering all expenses for the wedding, since it was, after
all, traditionally the family of the bride’s
responsibility. If it were up to Sonny, they would just
elope to Vegas, but neither mother nor daughter ever wanted
to see that scenario unfold, so Liddy quickly accepted
Celeste’s kind and generous offer.
Celeste, sensing an opportunity for controlling her
daughter’s big day, whipped out her checkbook while
promising the wedding would be a first-class affair.
However, it was dangerously naive on Liddy’s part to ever
assume Celeste’s generosity would not come with strings
And those strings were finally coming into focus. Liddy
refused to acquiesce and humiliate herself in front of her
wedding shower guests. But Hayley knew the argument was
over. Celeste was going to get her way.
And like it or not, “that crude, awful ogre Lisa”—Liddy’s
words, not Hayley’s—was going to design and bake Liddy
Crawford’s wedding cake.
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