Raspberry Crush
Jill Winters
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Raspberry Crush

Jill Winters
New American Library
339 pages
September 2004
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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The job of cake decorator at the Bella Donna bakery proves so satisfying artistically as well as scrumptiously that Belinda "Billy" Cabot finds she is reluctant to return to her original career as a web designer. Despite growing doubts about the stalled nature of her relationship with salesman Mark Warner, Billy still hopes they can make a go of it. But all her plans, feelings and thoughts are thrown into utter disarray when her ex-boyfriend Seth Lannigan, who once broke her tender heart, comes back into her life, hotter, sexier and a lot more tempting than even the bakery’s delicious calorie-laden pastries.

Just as things are heating up between them, a guest drops dead at an event catered by the bakery, and Billy is convinced it’s a murder. Now with two attractive men lusting after her, her overbearing mother constantly pestering her about her career, her divorced sister being her usual caustic self about men and fidelity, her psycho neighbor carrying a vendetta against her over some tomatoes, and her career as an artist finally taking off, the very last thing Billy needs are chillingly anonymous threats. Can Billy solve the case and find the true man of her dreams before she ends up the next victim?

Author Jill Winters has put this formula of a bubbly and curvaceous heroine with an interfering mother and a sister who accidentally stumbles upon a murder mystery to good use before and does so again in Raspberry Crush. The plot, which appears deceptively simple, turns out surprisingly complex as not only the murder mystery grows increasingly perplexing and terrifying, but also the love lives of the characters turns progressively complicated.

Billy, with her engaging ways and grounded personality, is a refreshing central character who provides great entertainment whether she’s trying to figure out which man is right for her or struggling to solve the mystery. Sexy Seth and cheerful Mark are complete contrasts to one another, and the suspense over who Billy will ultimately end up also adds to the general drama. Billy’s mom, with her obsession of dieting and constant interfering in both her daughters’ lives, will surely strike a chord with readers, as will Billy’s sister whom a divorce has left bitter and with trust issues. The story has more than one romance going on and also has some interesting side plots. In short, readers will find time indeed flies as this snazzy and light-hearted story holds them captive until the very end.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Rashmi Srinivas, 2004

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