We are the busy day before Thanksgiving. Have you gotten all your last minute items or are you planning on making one last dash to the grocery store? Are you traveling or staying home? Are you hosting or visiting someone for Thanksgiving? Here in Portland, I am happy to have my brother and his girlfriend visiting for the week. Today, I am busy
baking pies and pumpkin bread in preparation for tomorrow's feast. Tomorrow morning I will be making my Stupid Stuffing, if you missed yesterday's post, you can get the recipe and read the story behind my Stupid Stuffing. No matter what you are doing, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! I have a fun post today before we get to tomorrow, it is a book featuring food, appropriate right? I have author Bailey Cates here with the third book in her Brownies and Broomsticks Series: Charms and Chocolate Chips. This is a perfect little book when you are looking for something light, cozy and delicious. This is Bailey's first visit to Rainy Day Ramblings so let me introduce her:
Bailey Cates believes magic is all around us if we only look for it. Having apprenticed with a master herbalist for a year, she’s prone to concocting teas and tinctures for family and friends. Charms and Chocolate Chips is the third Magical Bakery Mystery, and she’s currently working on the fourth, Some Enchanted Éclair. Bailey also writes the Home Crafting Mysteries as Cricket McRae, and has a standalone western mystery as K.C. McRae. For more information about Bailey and her books please visit her website or find her on Twitter or on Facebook.
Bailey is here to talk about something most of us book bloggers abhor: the dreaded love triangle. Here is Bailey:
Love Triangles by Bailey Cates
Whether you love or hate them, love triangles seem to show up an awful lot in traditional mysteries, and even more often in young adult books these days. Bella and Edward and Jacob in Twilight come immediately to mind, of course. Katniss, Peeta and Gale in the Hunger Games. Etc. And, of course, they are frequently key in romance novels.
They typically feature a woman with two suitors, one of whom she might be particularly interested in or even already dating. The other guy is smitten beyond hope. In some cases of ongoing love triangles in series books, the woman constantly vacillates between the two men, first wanting one and then the other.
Some readers really like this. They actively seek out books that feature love triangles. This is evidenced by the Goodreads list of favorite love triangle books and the “love triangle” tag on Librarything.
Other readers – and reviewers – despise any hint of a love triangle. There is a blog called Love is Not a Triangle which is devoted to those who actively dislike the notion. One post I ran across there detailed the Love Triangle Rule Book – a real book for authors who want to know how to include love triangles in their stories. Honestly, I find the fact that there's a rule book for writing love triangles downright alarming.
One reason some hate triangles so much is because there can be cheating involved. So it’s a moral call, in those cases. I can say that in my Magical Bakery Mysteries, Katie Lightfoot is up front with both Declan McCarthy and Steve Dawes and doesn’t actively date – or cheat on – either of them.
My own opinion? When done well, a love triangle as part of a larger story can add intrigue, emotion and conflict. However, if they are poorly done, especially in non-romances or books where the romance is an ancillary subplot, a triangle can be at best distracting and at worst can completely ruin a story.
Still, let’s remember that triangles didn’t suddenly show up with Twilight or the Hunger Games or Stephanie Plum. This kind of interpersonal relationship has featured strongly in some real classics, including Gone with the Wind, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice (one of the best examples out there of it working), even Star Wars!
But how long can a love triangle realistically last in, say, a cozy mystery series like, say, mine? A while, certainly, and some authors have successfully given the triangle such much life for so long that if the female protagonist were to permanently choose one of her suitors it would cause great consternation among readers.
It didn’t strike me that Katie’s character would be so indecisive, however. She has good reasons at the beginning of the series for not choosing either of the men who are interested in her, the most significant of which is that she is on dating hiatus after breaking up with her fiancé. She simply knows she needs a break from men altogether, or she’s likely to boomerang into a potentially bad decision.
That time is up, however, and in Charms and Chocolate Chips, the third mystery in the series, she makes a decision. In fact, she’s already made a decision by the time the book begins – so no real spoiler there. Whether you love or hate love triangles, to my mind that was the organic flow of how her relationships would play out. In the Home Crafting Mysteries, which I write as Cricket McRae, the main character Sophie Mae would never vacillate between two men and the notion of a triangle never enters her story lines.
In one last note, I’ll share my absolutely favorite love triangle ever: Cate Blanchett, Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis in the movie Bandits. Cate plays such a marvelous character, and best friends and rivals Billy Bob and Bruce are so monumentally different from each other and at the same time each is so perfect for Cate’s character that I can’t help but root for both. The ending is perfect, but if you haven’t seen the movie I don’t want to give it away.
But it is perfect.
Thanks so much, Bailey. It is interesting to get an author's perspective on love triangles! Now since tomorrow is a big holiday, Bailey and her publisher wanted to host a giveaway. Thanks to the folks over at Penguin, I have a copy of Charms and Chocolate Chips up for grabs. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. To enter please read the Contest Policies and fill out the Rafflecopter! Good Luck!
Here is my review:
Charms and Chocolate Chips(Brownies and Broomsticks #3) by Bailey Cates
A HALF-BAKED HEX
Between brewing magically spiced treats at Honeybee Bakery and volunteering with a local conservation group, Katie Lightfoot barely has time to see her firefighter boyfriend, Declan McCarthy, much less delve further into her destiny as a witch.
But avoiding her fate won’t be as easy as whipping up a new recipe—especially when Katie finds herself once again mixed up in murder.
When a fellow volunteer for the conservation group is found dead, Katie’s mystical senses tell her that there’s more to the death than meets the eye.
Her suspicions are confirmed when members of her coven are targeted next.
Katie will have to embrace her powers quickly...
or she may find herself chewed up and spit out by some serious black magic.
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Signet (first published October 1st 2013)
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Three and a half stars: A cute cozy with a suspenseful mystery.
Katie has settled into her life in Savannah. She loves her job at the bakery, and she especially enjoys creating delicious pastries and baked goodies. Katie has made her decision between Declan and Steve and she is content with her choice. On top of the baking and her love life, Katie spends time volunteering for a cause whose purpose is to save endangered species and their habitats. Life is good, until the night that Katie shows up at Georgia Wilds to find the head of the charity dead. Katie quickly learns there are several people who have motives for murder. At the top of the list is the firm planning on buying a major portion of endangered swampland for a golf course. Once again, Katie finds herself smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation. Can Katie catch a killer?
What I Liked:
- A fun cozy mystery is always a nice way to relax, and I especially like the Brownies and Broomsticks cozies because I love the warm, cozy bakery with all the delectable baked goodies and the inclusion of witches and magic. It is fun to read a cozy with a dash of paranormal tossed in. If you are fan of cozy mysteries and you want one that adds in a pinch of magic, check out these books.
- I love reading about food as it seems to satisfy my craving for treats without actually eating them. Call me crazy but it works. The Honeybee Bakery is absolutely brimming with mouth watering treats. I was especially pleased to find a recipe for cookies and chocolate gingerbread at the end. I love when I get a couple of recipes.
- Katie's character is continuing to grow as she is not only developing her baking abilities but her magical witch powers as well. Katie is a light-witch and she has a talent for being able to infuse her baked goods with a bit of magic meant to help people. I enjoyed learning about the different properties of the ingredients and what they can do.
- I was pleased to see Katie working toward mending her relationship with her mother. They still have a tiny ways to go, but it looks like things are on a good course.
- The romance seems to have settled out. In the first two books of the series, Katie was caught between the handsome and kind firefighter Declan and the more dangerous Druid Steve. Katie has made her choice and the relationship is moving forward. I am never a fan of drawn out love triangles so I was relived to see it seemingly resolved.
- The murder mystery is interesting and somewhat plausible as Katie doesn't take on the role of solving the case on her own due to the inability of law enforcement. Katie instead works with the lead detective on the case which makes it more believable. There are plenty of red herrings and twists to draw your attention away from the real culprit so that you will be surprised at the final unmasking. I thought overall the mystery and suspense was well done.
- I appreciate that I can pick up a book in this series without having read all the predecessors. I have read the first book, but not the second. I wasn't lost at all because each book is a complete mystery and can stand alone. Not to mention that the author does a good job of providing details on past events so you aren't confused. Of course, reading the books in order does enrich the experience but don't feel like you have to read them in sequence. Furthermore, I like that each book has a neat resolution, no cliffhangers!
And The Not So Much:
- While the whole love triangle thing seems to be in the past, the romance still isn't on solid footing. Katie is a bit wishy washy, and I don't feel like she is fully committed. It feels as if there is still an attraction toward the man she didn't pick, and I am not convinced that she is content in her love life. She needs to make up her mind and put her whole heart into the relationship. In fact, I didn't exactly like the way she treated her boyfriend.
- The ex husband of the murder victim is particularly broken up over the death of his ex wife. When Katie encounters him, he is drowning in grief, but then by the end he seems back on track. I was drawn to this character and felt sorry for him. I wished that there was a bit more information on him.
- There is a group of Druids in Savannah. I was eager to learn more about the Druids and what type of magic they use and more about their powers, but there are hardly any details at all on the Druids. I want to know more.
- This is a tiny point, but I love books set in the South and Savannah is a particularly charming city, but the book doesn't take advantage of its famous historical backdrop. There is very little detail and mentions of the city. I want the city of Savannah to come alive in the book, and I want to experience all that Southern food and charm.
Charms and Chocolate Chips is a quick, easy mystery with plenty of baked treats that will make your mouth water. I love that it features a bunch of quirky witches and a cozy bakery. There is plenty of mystery and suspense to keep you entertained. This is a nice read for when you need something on the light and cozy side.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.