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Cupcakes and Conspiracies

(Sweet Baked Mystery #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  984 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Welcome to Hanmer Springs. Small town. Big secrets.

With a divorce pending and her career hanging in the balance, Holly Waterston returns to her hometown of Hanmer Springs to lick her wounds. According to her accountant, she also needs to sell the cupcake bakery owned and operated by her family for three generations. The bakery is the only place Holly's younger sister Cr

Kindle Edition, 180 pages
Published November 27th 2017

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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  984 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Apr 28, 2020 rated it liked it
For my full review, visit me at

I love baking. I like to read cozy mysteries. So why not give this one a go, then? Alas, this was not the sweet success I was hoping for. I was left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth, a “soggy bottom” (a reference for any Bake Off fans out there), and a sunken middle. Yes, readers, this book was not my favourite.

For my full review, visit me at
Ann  L
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Fine for a quick evening read, but nothing spectacular. No real character development and a super quick resolution.
Sandy Digger
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cupcakes and conspiracies

This was a mystery with a bakery as the basis and two sisters as the main characters. Holly has come home to her childhood home where her sister is living alone. She has just separated from her husband after he has asked for a divorce. Crystal has been trying to hold the bakery together by herself and isn’t turning a profit. Humphrey, the accountant for the bakery sent Holly the figures because he thinks Crystal is going to lose the bakery. The story fills in background
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pre-2020-read
I read this through Amazon Prime. It sounded interesting and fun. This is a cozy mystery with a little more weight. It has the element of the inexperienced person trying to solve the crime, in this case it's Holly trying to clear her little sister of attempted murder. Crystal owns and operates a Bakery that is not doing as well as it appears. Or so Holly thinks. But, what I really like about this is that it also talks about addiction recovery. While that aspect is used to throw more suspicion on ...more
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Holly Waterston heads back to her home township of Hamner Springs to see her sister after their father's death. Holly is bringing bad news. Their family bakery is losing money and it's time to close and sell the bakery and their house to pay their debts. How can she break the news to her sister Crystal who runs the bakery singlehandedly? It is the only place Crystal had ever worked and been in their family for four generations. After arriving in Hamner Springs, Holly learns a surprising secret a ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Short and sweet cozy mystery. Less than 200 pages but it’s full of twists and turns, red-herrings abound. Overall, I enjoyed reading this new cozy mystery series.

My first book from Katherine Hayton. I didn’t know what to expect from this book and there’s always a certain degree of uncertainty and anxiety when starting a new series or a new author.
Nevertheless, it turned out a needless fear; this book, Cupcakes and Conspiracies entertained me from beginning to end, there wasn’t a dull moment -
Chelsie Reid
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
A short and sweet mystery story. I love that it takes place in a small town. I also love the relationship between the two sisters. Grab this book if you like mysteries because this one was well written.
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A yummy cozy mystery

Interesting storyline and intriguing characters. Add in the description of yummy desserts and you’ll be drooling. Just wish there were a few of those top secret bakery recipes included!
Dorothy Jensik
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing

I watched thru the pages as Holly and Crystal sorted all the hits they were taking from a hidden source. Holly was still trying to come to grips with the fallout from her crumbling marriage. I am sure that will be reckoned with in some upcoming books. Thank you, Katherine Hayton, for giving us a glimpse of your homeland.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great cozy mystery

Holly is facing a divorce, and possibly being fired from the law firm she currently works at. She decides to go home to reflect on the life decisions she's facing. While helping her sister run the family bakery, a man her sister had argued with just the night before, ends up being rushed to the hospital from a severe anaphylaxis shock. The culprit is of course the cupcake he had just eaten, a cupcake everyone was him but at the sister's family bakery just moments ago. Can Holly
Paula Shreckhise
Cupcakes and Conspiracies is the first offering in the Sweet Baked Mysteries by Katherine Hayton.
Holly Waterston has had a rude awakening. Her husband has left her. She decides to visit her sister Crystal in Hammer Springs just 90 minutes from her home in Christ Church, New Zealand.
She has come to see if she can help in the bakery that their father has left them. When a prominent landholder’s health is endangered from eating one of their cupcakes, accusations fly. Will they be arrested? Can Ho
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I liked this fine, but I didn't love it. I liked the mystery; I thought it was something interesting that I haven't seen before, though, to be honest, I haven't read a ton of cozy mysteries. The characters didn't feel developed to me, likely in part because the book was so short. This book also did something I feel like I see pretty often that often bothers me. The law enforcement officer invited Holly to come along while he was essentially checking her sister's alibi. That seems very farfetched ...more
Angela Griffin
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it

This has the potential to be a delightful cozy series. The characters are likable for the most part, law enforcement is reasonable and competent, the village offers plenty of scope for future installments, and the mystery is well-written. However, the descriptive imagery needed to offer an introduction to the reader is lacking. Where is Hanmer Springs? How old are Holly and Crystal, and what do they look like? What about Meggie and Matthewson? Are cupcakes the only confections? The mos
Margo James
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
As good as the cupcakes

Although this is a standard cozy mystery set in a small town with the main characters in a bit of trouble, there are interesting twists that make it even better. The sisters adventures lead them into life threatening danger and lots of bodily injuries. At last all the puzzle pieces fit together and the police nab the true criminals. This doesn’t solve problems for the sisters, but set up a sequel in a adept literary fashion.
The best part is the crimes were solved by math.
Holly A. Woodruff
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good start to another bakery based cozy series

I enjoyed this book. The characters are likeable and developed well enough for the first of a series. I love the setting Down Under and the use of colloquial dialogue. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the main character Holly and I share the same first name.☺ She and sister Crystal make a good team. The story was pretty good. I had part of it figured out early on, but not all of it. As with most cozies, there isn't any bad language or sex, and not muc
Marietta Slater
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had a hard time getting into this book. I normally love culinary mystery books but this one did not grab me. I did finish the book, but compared to other culinary mystery books, it fell short. The one sister comes back home after her father dies . According to the accountant both the house and bakery shop are about to be lost, but the figures are not adding up.
I noticed some loose ends in the book that wasn't tied up neatly at the end of the story. Will not be reading any more in the series.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Murder, larceny and deception in small town New Zealand.

This book Has an interesting story lines with a number of plot twists that keep it Interesting. I admit that the supposedly successful sister returning home to lick her wounds when her world falls apart is not unusual. It is what happens to the two sisters and how they react to one another during the stressful times that make this an interesting read. I do hope that Ms Hatton plans to write other books about the ongoing adventures of these
Bonnie Dale Keck
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was ok
Kindle unlimited, maybe

Understand red herrings etc when mystery, but the part about the guy with peanut allergies versus the 4 people what gamble still no not see connection, and if was, how come nothing about him and law, nothing substantial much as to how he was involved, nor how he got so much property, much less credits versus debits, nor why the conspirators ran the other off the road. As of Amazon 3 considered bad not just average, I can live with this time, except goodreads means higher,
Carol Darling
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Attempted murder in more than one form.

After separating from her husband , she returns home to the family bakery, the family home, and he younger sister. Thinking she was going to be closing it down and selling it due to losses. She finds a thriving business that doesn't match with the paperwork given her. Then a man almost does eating one of their cupcakes and the plot gets thicker. A page turner.
Gail Mathers
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Small town

Very well written. A great book. Lots of fun and loads of suspects. Some you won't guess or will think you are wrong. Enjoyed it very much and had a great time reading it. Just bought second one I like first so much. I have a lot of books to read but wAnted more of the sisters and what's going on. Lots of great characters and it's funny and has suspense and drama. I highly recommend it.
Chantal-Lise Mirman
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Home is Where the Hearth is!

Fast-paced whodunnit with several interlocking crimes and motives that don’t know when to quit. The small-town backdrop to two sisters’ personal drama and grief over their father’s death gives rise to unexpected mayhem. The only thing that might improve this book would be the addition of a recipe or two!
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great start for sweet series!

Very good read. Characters are so much like small towns I remember from my childhood. This one is was easy reading. Every page either made me laugh, gasp or get excited that I just couldn't put it down until I finished it! I can hardly wait to start the next one in this series.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Holly Waterston drives home to Hanmer Springs after leaving her job and ex husband to find out her sister Crystal is in debt at the Bakery. Crystal is accused of attempted murder because the man who holds the deeds to the bakery and home passed out after eating one of her cupcakes. Things happen that get Holly involved in solving the case to save her sister.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the first in the series and the first time reading this author. The main character is Holly who goes home to try to figure out what is going on with her sister Crystal and the family bakery. Within a few days her sister is accused of trying to kill someone and Holly is trying to figure out who really did it all. She is almost killed before she figures it all out.
Michelle Lynn Westmoreland
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good Story

This was a good story. I loved the characters and the plot. It did keep me interested. The only issue I had with the book, was the main character,Holly, was constantly blushing. I really don't know many women in the real world, that blush that often. Sometimes, the writing fell flat, but all in all, a good book.
K. Brown
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It was an easy read. It wasn't a thriller but that's not what a cozy is about. I gave it 4 stars because she was newly introducing these characters. I look forward

to the next book. Crystal and Holly are instantly believable characters. Crystal, the younger sister, has had a difficult past while her sister Holly became an attorney.

Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The story takes place in Hanmer Springs Australia. It is a small town just outside of Christchurch. Holly Waterston is the older sister and Chrystal is the younger.
Holly is a lawyer practicing in Christchurch while Crystal runs the family back shop. What brought Holly back was the fact that Chrystal was in financial straights. Why is the crux of the story ...
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Good first effort

I always try to be a bit sassier on the first book in a series, since there's a lot to establish. This had decent characters and an okay story. The twist-ish part on the love story was interesting.
Jeanne  Brewer
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Sweet little cozy mystery

Sisters reunited after their father's death unravel sinister goings-on in a small kiwi town. No real surprises here as they separate the good folk from the bad and try to establish a secure base for their futures.
Cathy Hooper
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Cute little cozy. I did figure out most of the whodunit before the end, and there were a few moments where the main characters did stupid things...hence only three stars. Not sure if I will read the next in the series.
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Sweet Baked Mystery (6 books)
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