I finally had the opportunity to meet the lovely author, Marla Cooper, in Honolulu at Left Coast Crime last month. I had a very fun time listening to her play the ukulele for a group of us and chatting over drinks one evening. Smart, talented and humorous, Marla brings all of those qualities to her newest release, DYING ON THE VINE, the second book in her Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mystery series!
Kelsey McKenna is a destination wedding planner. Like her creator, Kelsey is also intelligent, artistic and funny, using those qualities while working with brides, wedding vendors and obnoxious wedding planners who feel like she’s the competition. When she finds the murdered body of one of her competitors, Kelsey suddenly discovers herself in the unwanted center of attention of the police. Worried that she will lose business she can ill-afford, Kelsey must solve the murder and clear her name. She readily admits that she really doesn’t know how to solve crimes and proves to everyone that it’s definitely not as easy as they make it seem on CSI reruns! This sets the stage for several laugh out moments along with the zingy little one liners Kelsey likes to throw in.
I adored the setting of Napa Valley for this destination mystery series! Having lived in Napa for a while in my early twenties, Marla perfectly captures the sights, sounds, and flavors of the valley. She also provides a little information on wineries and wine caves, which I found fascinating. Kelsey has a wonderful friendship with Brody, a wedding photographer, and her assistant, Laurel. They complement each other and the author has set up great dialog and repartee between the characters. The plot moved at a fast pace with plenty of suspects to keep the reader guessing and concludes with an exciting, suspenseful scene which wraps the story up nicely.
While there aren’t any recipes included with the book, there is plenty of yummy food mentioned. After discussing with Marla, I decided to create a recipe for White Cake with White Chocolate Ganache Frosting, based on a scene in DYING ON THE VINE. Kelsey is given a 6-inch sample cake from a bakery wanting some of her wedding business, but I made it an 8-inch cake so there is plenty to go around for family and friends. My taste testers oohed over the rich moistness of the cake and the unbelievably creamy frosting. The white chocolate adds just the right amount of flavor that compliments the vanilla cake. While my homemade White Cake recipe is deliciously yummy, the star is truly the White Chocolate Ganache Frosting! I’ve included a look at how to make a fondant ribbon flower at the end of the video tutorial below. It’s a quick and easy way to dress up any cake for any occasion!
When wedding planner Kelsey McKenna goes to the Wine Country Wedding Faire, the last thing she expects to do is take on new clients. After all, she’s just there to help out her friend Brody and maybe score some free cupcakes. But when a young couple in a pinch asks for her help, she just can’t say no.
There’s only one problem: they’d been working with Babs Norton, the self-proclaimed Queen of Wine Country Weddings―and things did not end well. Kelsey wants to make sure there are no hard feelings, but unfortunately she never gets the chance. When she goes to Babs’ office, she finds the wedding planner dead on the floor.
Babs’ high-strung assistant Stefan knows exactly who killed Babs: Kelsey. At least, that’s what he very publicly accuses her of at Babs’ funeral. When Kelsey decides to do a little sleuthing to clear her name, she uncovers a myriad of secrets and lies. And when a second wedding planner is attacked, Kelsey begins to wonder if she might be next.
A special thank you to Marla Cooper for providing a hardcover copy of DYING ON THE VINE for one lucky winner! Please use the Rafflecopter box located below the recipe to enter. Contest ends Monday, April 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm PST. Print limited to U.S. residents only. Winners will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
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I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.