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by Eve Calder
St. Martin's Paperbacks , April 2021
341 pages
ISBN: 1250313031

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Kate McGuire is living the dream in Coral Cay; the junior partner in a bakery specializing in cookies, she's helping a newly retired friend plan a beach wedding when the groom is a last-minute no-show.

Desiree Goldsmith is Kate McGuire's friend from a previous life, when they both live in New York and had jobs with some stress connected. Kate has picked up and moved to Coral Cay in Florida, where she is the junior partner in The Cookie House, the local bakery. She's loving her job and the friends she's made. Desiree has decided, rather abruptly, to retire and get married to a celebrity: Judson Cooper, the globe-trotting marine biologist millionaire. And they have decided that Coral Cay is the perfect place for a barefoot wedding on the beach. Everything is going swimmingly until the last minute. The groom and the officiate are both missing at the very last minute.

At first, in spite of Desiree's insistence that Judd would never do this, that something dreadful must have happened, that he's been kidnapped or injured - there is skepticism. Apparently he's done this kind of thing before, although he's never actually gone quite this far. His two kids don't want him to marry Desiree, or anyone else. An old flame, in town for a reality television show, turns up and throws fuel on the fire that Desiree is desperate to put out. If he's just a missing groom, the police won't look for him; he's a grown man and can go where he pleases. Having seen Judd and Desiree together, Kate is far more inclined to believe Desiree's fears than the local scuttlebutt. She and her friend Maxi begin to investigate the few leads there are.

This is the third "Cookie House" mystery; cookie lovers might want to check out the first two in the series if for no other reason than the recipes in the back of the book. Calder is quick to give credit where credit is due for the recipes. Kate is an on-the-ball detective, willing to entertain all kinds of ideas and follow the clues where they lead. Maxi and the supporting cast are also believable. Oliver, the dog of unknown parentage and age, is a character in himself, although only minimally connected to the case. The whole "price of fame" sub-plot is realistic and is enough to make anyone with a grain of sense want to remain less than notorious. Kate's faith in Desiree is well-founded, which is great. All in all, a pleasant read for a summer weekend at the beach, if one is lucky enough to find space on the sand.

PJ Coldren has been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and reads broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. She lives in Northern lower Michigan with her spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, May 2021

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