After years of being unable to decide between Norman Rhodes and Mike Kingston, Hannah Swenson is finally getting married - to Ross Barton. Hannah is busy not only with wedding details but as a contestant on the Food Channel's Dessert Chef Competition. The last thing she needs is to have to investigate a murder, but that is just what she ends up doing when one of the judges for the competition is murdered. Will Hannah be able to handle everything she has on her plate?
I admit that I have had a kind of love/hate relationship with Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries - I love the cozy mystery aspects and Hannah as an amateur sleuth; I hate the Hannah/Mike/Norman love triangle that often overtook the mysteries (I was pulling for Norman). I had hoped that in "A Wedding Cake Murder", Hannah's upcoming marriage would finally settle the romance angle down so I could enjoy the mystery but instead, while reading the book, I found myself thinking of how the Hannah/Ross relationship didn't work for me. Outside of the fact that we are told that Hannah smiles every time she talks about Ross, I felt zero chemistry between the two. Hannah seems to know little about him and rarely questions him about anything, including his finances. There is a telling scene where Hannah recognizes the knocks of everyone including Mike and Norman but not Ross's knock which makes me wonder what kind of plans Fluke has for Ross in future books. Also Hannah shows a surprising lack of interest in her wedding preparations, letting her family do much of the work.
As for the mystery itself, it was okay. I did like the food show competition - it was interesting (there are a lot of recipes included in the book), provided plenty of suspects, and a surprise or two along the way. But the mystery, like the entire book, isn't all that well thought out. There is very little reaction when the judge is murdered - no mention or discussion as to whether the competition would be canceled, no discussion of having a replacement judge, no mention of media coverage (surely this murder would be newsworthy). I read two or three cozy mysteries a week, so I am used to suspending belief when it comes to an amateur sleuth solving mysteries, but Hannah's actions in this book were a bit too much for me. She kept insisting that SHE was the one that had to solve the mystery as if the police weren't involved in the case at all. And she unfortunately became one of those Too Stupid To Live characters when she finally did figure out who the killer was (this part of the book had me rolling my eyes at times).
The Hannah Swensen books are now a series of TV movies which I think is a good thing - the more notice cozy mystery books get the better. However, halfway through this book I began to feel like it was written as part of the TV series rather than the book series (especially the scene where she confronts the killer). I will probably read the next book in the series but I am not sure how many more chances I will give Hannah.