Brownies and Broomsticks: A Magical Bakery Mystery
Author: Bailey Cates
ISBN: 978-0-451-23663-0
Published: May 2012
Available at Half-Price books and online book retailers.

Brownies and Broomsticks: What’s it about?

This is the debut entry in Cates’ Magical Bakery Mystery series. Heroine Katie Lightfoot has moved to Savannah, Georgia to start a bakery with her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben. She’s determined to focus on work after coming off a failed engagement and a bad job in Ohio. But fate appears to have a different plan.

Katie soon learns from her aunt Lucy that she comes from a line of witches. Then two intriguing bachelors begin vying for her attention, whether she wants them to or not. To top it off, a customer has been murdered outside the bakery. Witnesses describe the culprit as looking like Uncle Ben. Now Katie must tap into her abilities, both practical and magical, to help clear Ben’s name.

The characters

Cates fleshes out Katie, Lucy, Ben, and the other magically-gifted individuals well. They all have distinct personalities and defining characteristics. They’re perfectly imperfect and you’re sure to find at least one character you can relate to. Katie is likable and comes to logical conclusions using deduction and a dash of spell work. She doesn’t presume herself to above reproach or becoming a victim. This results in her never being without a companion in dangerous situations. I found that refreshing.

Katie and her suitors Declan and Steve form the classic love triangle. While they dislike each other, they’re charming and kind around Katie. Their behavior was believable and their motivations were pure. Neither man came across as creepy or overbearing.

The mechanics and details

Katie tells us the story in first person. The writing has no noticeable spelling or grammar mistakes. The plot is believable, moves at a steady pace, and has plenty of suspense. The killer isn’t predicable or easy to determine either. Additionally, Cates’ provides two recipes used in the story at the end of the book. One is for peanut butter swirl brownies and the other is for cheddar-sage scones.

Final Thoughts

Brownies and Broomsticks is a fun, enjoyable read. Polishing it off in a day is doable. This is a strong debut novel for the Magical Baking Mystery series. It has me looking forward to reading the next book in the series, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti.”