When life gets tough, time to run your aunt’s bakery. Actually, when life gets tough, time to visit any bakery, anywhere, anytime! Today we have Valerie Burns new book, Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder. This much anticipated book is available for pre-order and will be officially out on August 30. I would also recommend this cozy mystery for when your stress levels are out pacing your “meditation moments”. See more about the book below as well as an excerpt that will leave you giggling!
When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their livestream wedding, it’s a disaster that no amount of filtering can fix. But a surprise inheritance offers a chance to regroup and rebrand—as long as Maddy is willing to live in her late, great-aunt Octavia’s house in New Bison, Michigan, for a year, running her bakery and caring for a 250-pound English mastiff named Baby.
Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs around Lake Michigan, but the locals are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. With help from her aunt’s loyal friends, aka the Baker Street Irregulars, Maddy feels ready to tackle any challenge, including Octavia’s award-winning cake recipes. That is, until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and Maddy’s fingerprints are found on the knife . . .
Something strange is going on in New Bison. It seems Aunt Octavia had her suspicions, too. But Maddy’s going to need a whole lot more than a trending hashtag to save her reputation—and her life.
Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder
Like a lemming, I followed the other condemned passengers through the door of our gate, down a flight of stairs, through a long corridor, and outside. A blast of arctic air hit me full in the face, and I stalled. You have got to be kidding. Surely, we aren’t going to be traveling during a snowstorm. However, the lemmings in front continued out onto the tarmac toward a small plane that looked like something out of a 1950s Doris Day movie. Those behind pushed and jostled around me, leaving me shivering in the doorway. I wrapped my pashmina more closely around my neck, braced myself against the wind, and made my way forward as fast as I could in my new Louboutin heels.
A set of rickety metal stairs had been pushed next to the aircraft, and I grabbed ahold of the handrail and hoisted myself up the steps. About halfway up, my heel slipped off the tread, and I nearly fell backward. The only thing that saved me from bashing my head on the ground was the person behind me, who blocked my fall.
“Whoa, are you okay?”
Am I okay? If I were okay, I wouldn’t be dangling ten feet in the air, hanging on to a steel pole for dear life in subzero temperatures in the middle of a blizzard. I prepared to deliver a sharp retort but was halted when I saw the black shirt and white collar of a priest. I wasn’t a religious person, but I felt confident cussing out a priest would send me straight to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Even if God wasn’t finished torturing me yet, I wasn’t prepared to test my luck before getting on an airplane in the middle of a snownado. Instead, I swallowed the profanity. “Thank you, Father.”
He helped me get my feet back on the stairs and gave me a gentle nudge in the back to get me moving. “Brrr . . . it’ll be nice and warm inside the plane.”
I would have resented the nudge if it hadn’t been so cold. Instead, I carefully climbed the remainder of the way up and took a few steps inside to my first-class seat. I glanced around, looking for the spacious leather seats I’d grown to love and expect. When I didn’t see them, I stopped so quickly that the priest bumped into me.
“Stewardess, there must be some problem here.” I stared at the front of the plane, blocking the one and only aisle.
A stewardess who looked a bit long in the tooth for flying, but well preserved, stepped from the shadows. “Can I help you?”
“Where’s first class?” I stared to my left, but that was clearly the plane’s cockpit.
“This is a regional plane. We don’t have a first-class section. May I see your ticket?” She held out her hand.
I rummaged through my purse for several moments before I remembered I’d stuck it in my pocket. I pulled it out and handed it over.
“You’re right here in front.” She pointed to a seat in the first row.
I wanted to protest, but she’d obviously been trained by the military to brook no opposition. Considering my dad was an admiral in the Navy, I recognized authority when I saw it. She took one step and maneuvered her body in a way that forced me to step toward the seat. Then she took my bag on the pretense of finding a place for it in an overhead bin. Before I knew what was happening, I was strapped in.
“But what kind of plane doesn’t have a first-class section?” I asked as she turned to leave.
“There are only twenty-eight seats total.”
“The flight time is thirty minutes. I’m sure you’ll be able to endure it for that short time frame.” She turned and walked away.
The priest sat in the seat next to mine. He fastened his seat belt, put his head back, reclined, and closed his eyes.
“Father, I need to confess.”
His eyes popped open. “Well, I don’t think this is the appropriate time or place.”
“But I need a priest.”
He gave me a hard stare. “Are you Catholic?”
“No. Do you only listen to confessions from Catholics?”
“Well, normally . . . yes. Other religions tend not to adhere to the same practices. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable talking to a minister from your own faith.” He smiled. “What faith are you?”
“I’m not very religious, but I feel like I need to change. I feel like I need a priest.”
He sighed and pulled his seat forward.
“Father, I need—”
He held up a hand to halt me.
The stewardess picked up a microphone and started her spiel about the airplane’s safety features, cabin pressure, and the instructions for using my seat as a flotation device in the unlikely event that we plummeted into Lake Michigan during our thirty-minute flight from Chicago to the airport in northwestern Indiana.
The priest wouldn’t allow me to speak until she finished and we made it into the air. Once the plane leveled out, he turned to me. “Now, what’s your name?”
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Father Calloway. How can I help you?”
“I need guidance.” I have a tendency to overshare when I’m nervous, and I must have been nervous because I shared how I was raised by my dad on military bases and how I was supposed to be going on my honeymoon but my fiancé had dumped me right before the wedding. I pulled up my cell phone and swiped a few images. “I had everything planned out. It was going to be live-streamed and now look.” I held up the phone so he could see. “That’s Brandy Denton.” I waited, but he just stared at me. “Brandy Denton? You know, she was friends with a friend of the Kardashians and almost got her own reality show, but the deal fell through at the last minute.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“I was, too, until I saw these pictures of her with Elliott, my former fiancé. She’s always been jealous of me, and now here she is making a move on the doctor that I was going to marry.” I heaved a sigh. “And he called me shallow. He said I was only marrying him because he was a doctor and didn’t really love him. Can you believe that? We were together for eight years.”
“Was I what?”
“Only marrying him because he was a doctor?”
“Of course not. Maybe, but . . . is that wrong? I mean we were perfect for each other, and we’ve been together ever since freshman year in college. All I ever wanted my entire life was to marry someone . . . like him.”
“Nooo . . . well, maybe, but it’s not just because he was a doctor. I mean, it’s the lifestyle. I did my research.”
He looked skeptical.
“Have you ever seen the movie How to Marry a Millionaire?”
He shook his head.
“Well, Lauren Bacall makes a really good point in that movie. She said, ‘Most women use more brains picking a horse in the third at Belmont than they do picking a husband.’ And I think she’s right. I think most people just wait for a feeling and that’s it. Hundreds of years ago, marriages were arranged. Parents looked for men who would be able to provide for their daughters.”
His lips twitched and he raised an eyebrow. “Most women nowadays prefer to pick their own husbands . . . at least I think they do.” He tugged at his collar.