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In the first of a delectable new Southern-set baking cozy series, Sophia Cummings, pastry chef extraordinaire, must craft the perfect cake for an old friend’s wedding while sifting through the suspects in a murder.

Bucolic Rumford, Kentucky has glowing fields of bluegrass, a fine selection of bourbons, and now a professional pastry chef. Broken-hearted Sophia Cummings has come home from New York City. She’s not there a minute before she’s charmed into making her high school friend Charlotte’s wedding cake. The kitchen at the Rumford Country Club seems perfect until Chef Emile’s body is discovered, sprawled near the stove, a cast iron skillet on the floor close by.

With one look at the shiny, new frying pan, Sophia knows it’s not Emile’s. She offers her knowledge to Sheriff Carter and her talents to Evelyn, the manager, who needs an interim chef. The mood in the country club is grim: Emile’s peppery personality had burned members and staff alike. Sophia wonders which one of them burned him?

Perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and JoAnna Carl, Cake and Punishment―with authentic Southern recipes!―will satisfy your sweet tooth.

311 pages, Hardcover

First published November 13, 2018

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About the author

Maymee Bell

2 books91 followers
Pseudonym of Tonya Kappes

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 215 reviews
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
602 reviews18.8k followers
December 19, 2017
This book was a fun and delicious read! It has everything a light-hearted mystery should have: some romance, some mystery, and humor.

Sophia Cummings is a pastry chef in a upscale restaurant in New York. After finding her boyfriend in a compromising position with another woman, she decides to go back home to Rumford, Kentucky, just for a few days. Back home her friend Charlotte is getting married and Sophia agrees to bake her wedding cake, for this task she will use the Rumford Country Club's kitchen.

All is well until the main chef at the country club is found dead and Sophia decides she will do everything possible to find out who committed the murder.

The story is light-hearted and fast-paced. The author did an excellent job with the imagery and description of scenes. The main character in the novel is a chef and she explained some of the cooking and baking processes in a fictional setting, for those of us who love cooking this is great.

There are some recipes included at the end of the book, these delicious treats were mentioned throughout the story.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and recommend it to mystery lovers.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,090 reviews1,508 followers
April 16, 2018
Cake and Punishment by Maymee Bell is the first book in the new cozy A Southern Cake Baker Mystery series. In this series Sophia Cummings has returned to her hometown of Bucolic Rumford, Kentucky from New York to nurse her broken heart with family and old friends.

No sooner that Sophia arrives home though she finds that her old high school friend, Charlotte, is getting married and is without a cake baker. Since Sophia is a pastry chef back in New York Charlotte does her best to convince her to take over the job for the wedding.

Just as soon as Sophia agrees to do the wedding and goes to check out the Rumford Country Club kitchen she however end up finding a bit more than pots and pans when she stumbles on the body of the chef. Since a kitchen is Sophia’s comfort zone she immediately jumps in to help point out clues at the scene when the law arrives.

Cake and Punishment by Maymee Bell was a solid opener for this new cozy series infused with southern charm. The author seemed to do a good job giving it that southern vibe along with plenty of talk of mouth watering treats to set the scene. What I found a bit lacking on my side though was any real unique quirkiness to the characters to truly make the book stand out a bit more to me. I’m always looking for that bit of spark to really wow me and with this one I didn’t quite find it yet although I did enjoy the mystery.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Chatting About Cozies.
1,138 reviews48 followers
May 15, 2018
Sophia Cummings left the hustle and bustle of New York City for much slower paced Rumford, Kentucky. Her relationship is in ruins, and resulted in her being fired from her job as a successful pastry chef. Sophia agrees to help bake pastries for several local events although she only plans to stay about a week longer. When Chef Emile at the country club is apparently murdered in cold blood; gossip says he had affairs with several of the club members, with or without their husbands’ knowledge. The number of people who disliked Emile is enormous and the suspect list is long. When Sophia casually starts snooping and asking questions, her life is threatened. Can the handsome Police Chief Carter pinpoint a killer and keep Sophia safe from harm?

I found this story a scrumptious debut cozy from Maymee Bell (aka Tonya Kappes). It’s a well written and polished Southern cozy and I felt right at home and immediately immersed in the dialogue and scenes. The pacing is steady and held my interest at all times. I like when the protagonist finds what they’ve been looking for right in front of their eyes. I believe readers who are fans of culinary Cozies will love Cake and Punishment! I look forward to reading book two. The author includes some delicious sounding, down-home recipes!

Profile Image for LORI CASWELL.
2,379 reviews270 followers
May 12, 2018
Dollycas’s Thoughts

When I first saw the cover of this book I didn’t know the author was a pseudonym for Tonya Kappes, but as soon as I read the first page, I knew I was reading a book by Tonya Kappes. She has a distinctive writing style and her characters are so much fun.

This new cozy series introduces us to Sophia Cummings, a pastry chef at a top Manhattan restaurant. That is until she finds her boyfriend, also a chef at the same restaurant, cheating on her. She decides to head home to Rumford, Kentucky to get a break. She quickly runs into a friend from high school and finds herself making her wedding cake. The reception is being held at the Rumford Country Club where Sophia used to work. She knows she will have everything she needs there to create the wedding cake of her friend’s dreams. Unfortunately, when she arrives she finds the club’s head chef, Emile, dead on the floor with a cast iron skillet nearby. She notices something about the pan and informs Sheriff Carter. The next thing she knows she has accepted the job as an interim chef for the club. Maybe while working there she can find out who clobbered the chef, but her main concern is that her friend’s wedding goes on without any more interruptions or dead bodies.

This series is off to a divine start. Sophia is a talented chef with a huge heart. She loves creating desserts that make people happy. She couldn’t say “no” to anyone, which is why she ends up committed to baking things even after the date she plans to return to Manhattan. Her mother, on the other hand, is demanding, bossy, and you know a mom that really loves her daughter. She is also not beyond a little matchmaking. Her father does his best to keep the peace and has a strong bond with his daughter. It was great to meet all of Sophia’s high school friends, even the one she doesn’t recognize. These characters are so well developed already in this first book. I am excited to see the beyond high school relationships grow and evolve. Their Southern charm shines throughout the whole story.

The author has filled these pages with a great whodunit too with plenty of suspects and twists galore. So well-plotted and full of clues and just the perfect amount of humor.

Ms. Bell’s descriptive talents set the scene perfectly. She has created this wonderful little town of Rumford and I escaped away right into it.

Southern charm, mystery, great characters, fantastic dialogue, and a bit of comedy make Cake and Punishment a must read! The talk of sweet treats will also have your mouth watering.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,126 reviews724 followers
April 13, 2019
YAY!! I’ve finally found a new bakery cozy mystery series to adore after falling out of love with a long time favorite. I loved this one and can’t wait to dig into book 2. I’m so blown away with how GOOD this one is - smart and modern and so much Southern small town charm.
Profile Image for PugMom.
494 reviews3 followers
May 8, 2018
A fun first in series mystery by Maymee Bell with recipes, romance and murder!
Sophia Cummings is a pastry chef who goes back to her hometown in Kentucky after a bad breakup.
Before she has time to wallow in self pity or her own delectable desserts, she's recruited by the country club to fill in for the murdered chef who was cooking for her friend's wedding. Not only does Sophia take charge of creating a spectacular wedding cake, she also takes it upon herself to help solve the murder case! If she doesn't act fast, her friend Charlotte might not be able to have the wedding of her dreams. With the help of southern spy girls and a VERY friendly (and handsome!) detective, Sophia the CSI baker knows she has to sift out the killer or she will have baked her last batch of Red Velvet Crunchies!

I thought this was an entertaining start to a new series. Engaging and relateable characters full of Southern quirks! A few predictable elements but still an entertaining cozy mystery. The author went above and beyond when she included LOTS of tempting recipes! I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
I voluntarily reviewed an ARC from the author.
Profile Image for Elle G. Reads.
1,514 reviews714 followers
March 30, 2018
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Actual Rating: 5 stars

Wohoo! This book is the PERFECT southern, cozy mystery. And, it's the first in a brand new series- one of which I am very much anticipating for the future (can I have it now, please!?!). Also, this book is a culinary cozy, meaning a lot of it revolves around a murder AND delicious desserts, which is an absolute FAVORITE of mine. If any of this sounds good to you, then this is a must read! Even if you aren't a fan of the genre or are new to it, I would highly recommend starting it with this one. It's delightful, fun, and scrumptious! I can't wait to try some of the recipes from the book.

Without getting to deep into the plot, I'll give a little summary of what to expect. Sophia Cummings is a pasty chef who lives in NYC. However, after finding her boyfriend in a compromising position with a woman they both work with, she returns home to Rumford, Kentucky for some much needed down time. But this down time that she craves comes to a sudden halt when a murder takes place at the beloved country club! Not wanting to get involved, but having so choice because her instincts are too sharp, Sophia finds herself searching for the killer with a little help from old friends and a new flame. Will she make it back to Manhattan alive? Or will something/someone make her see that being back in her old stomping ground is what she really needs? How about that killer? Will she find out who it is before she's next? You'll have to read to find out!

With a little romance, some sleuthing, delicious desserts, and a TON of charm, Cake and Punishment is going to be a hit with readers! Mystery lovers will be delighted in the sleuthing and those who love to bake are going to want to try these recipes! It's an all around PERFECT cozy, and such a fun book to read. I highly recommend it .

PS: Did you know that Maymee Bell is bestselling author, Tonya Kappes? I didn't. But because I was so enthralled in this book I went out and immediately purchased some of her older titles. I can't get enough!
Profile Image for Tari.
2,135 reviews68 followers
May 9, 2018
I did not want this book to end, that's how good it was! From the small town Southern setting to the amazing characters and their overall chemistry with one another, I loved everything there was about this mystery. I do admit that I was able to guess the killer but it was fun seeing how that person got caught. Retribution came swiftly to the killer at the end, but to me it was very satisfying.

Sophia Cummings was head pastry chef for The Manhattan, an exclusive New York restaurant, who, after finding her boyfriend Noah, their main chef, with the hostess, needed some time away to keep herself sane. She came back to her hometown of Rumford, KY where just about right away she found herself the cake baker for her good friend Charlotte's wedding. The more word spread about Sophia's amazing desserts, the more people just assumed she would be staying. Sophia even let herself dream about staying every so often when she saw that the local bakery had closed. Conveniently, her friend Madison was the listing agent for it as well as a very cute little cottage.

Sophia didn't think there would ever be a murder in this small town but when the country club chef was found dead and Evelyn, the general manager became the main suspect, Sophia felt it was only right to clear her longtime friend who had given her her first job right there at the country club. Hopefully Sophia and her other friend Madison can figure out who the killer is before Sophia becomes the next one killed!

This book had so many fun and likable characters! Sophia's mom, Bitsy, was a real trip! She had a way of getting her way all the time but everyone loved her for the kind person she was. I felt like any of the main characters would make for some really good friends especially Madison and Charlotte. At first I wasn't sure whether to trust Charlotte's fiance Brett or some of the other suspects to choose from. I did pick the correct one but I feel like the author helped a lot by planting clues that I picked up on.

I could totally picture this book as a TV mystery movie since it has everything they look for in a very sweet but compelling mystery. There was a wedding, a budding romance, a few tense or scary moments but the very happy ending that I always love when I read a cozy mystery. This book fit everything I have come to expect in a great cozy! I absolutely cannot wait for the next book!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance e-copy of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.
Profile Image for beachbum bookworm.
333 reviews318 followers
April 11, 2020
Newest assignment details:

Where- Rumford, Kentucky

Who- Sophia Cummings- a pastry chef who has come home (or escaped) New York City to lick her wounds after finding her chef boyfriend is cheating on her

Upon arriving in Rumford, Kentucky I met up with Sophia Cummings who insisted the moment I met her...she was just taking a short vacation from the City and the mess of her love life. Her mother (who was thrilled to have Sophie home, and took it as a personal offense to her that she left) insisted we head to the Rumford Country club (or RCC for short) for a junior league meeting. The country club set isn’t all bad we did run into a couple of Sophie’s close friends from high school. Charlotte and Madison. It was like they were back in high school, and the ten years since had never happened. After hearing about Charlotte’s baker cancelling on making her wedding cake….Sophie is convinced to step in and do the job. She doesn’t want Charlotte’s big day ruined. Sophie worked at the RCC during high school, which is good because she needs their equipment to bake a cake this large and elaborate.

Next thing we know the head chef at RCC is murdered, and with a skillet (talk about insult to injury). Sophie goes from baking Charlotte’s cake to filling in as the interim chef, and amateur investigator. Well maybe this will take her mind of cheating boyfriend Noah…

My thoughts:

This is my kind of cozy. It combined two of my favorite themes' small Southern towns and culinary cozies!! This first book in Maymee Bell’s new southern cake baker series….and it is delicious!! Wait...just looked up the second book, and it’s already out?? How did I miss this scrumptious series?? Well that will be rectified shortly!!

I thought Bell’s character development was amazing for book 1 of a series, and I loved all the southern charm sprinkled in!! The mystery was done very well. Lots of suspects and just the right amount of twists and turns.

Cozy lovers if you're like me and missed this series….PLEASE put this at the top of your TBR pile!! Make sure you get yourself a glass of southern style sweet iced tea because once you get started you won’t want to put this book down...unless it’s to debate whether you should make one of the mouth-watering sounding recipes included!!

For more book fun check out my blog @: http://beachbumbookworm.com/
Profile Image for Lisa Ks Book Reviews.
843 reviews105 followers
May 19, 2018
Southern cozy at it’s finest, author Maymee Bell has penned what is sure to be one of the top new cozy mysteries of 2018.

As a lover of culinary cozies, I had been looking forward to CAKE & PUNISHMENT since I first heard about it. Starting a new series can be a bit dicey. You’re never sure if it will live up to your expectations. I’m happy to say, this book did that and more!

CAKE & PUNISHMENT drew me in immediately. Great characters, southern charm, detailed descriptions that made me feel like I was part of the story, and a truly wonderful murder mystery all kept me turning page after page until I was blindsided by the clever reveal.

If you have to be choosy about what books you can buy, make sure CAKE & PUNISHMENT is one of the ones you choose. Seriously, a fabulous mystery, and tasty recipes, you won’t go wrong with this one!
5,559 reviews51 followers
May 23, 2018
Pastry chef Sophia comes back to her privileged background for a mini-breakdown after she catches her chef-boyfriend cheating. Her high school bestie is getting married, and Sophia promises to bake the cake of her dreams. When she goes to check out the country club kitchen, their chef is lying bludgeoned on the ground, and she ends up promising to help out, both with the kitchen and--to herself--with clearing the lead suspect, the woman who hired her for her first cooking job. Of course, the handsome sheriff who seems to remember her--but she doesn't remember him!--and her high school friends who want her to stay around complicate matters. Unfortunately, sloppy copy editing and lapses in continuity had me shaking my head in puzzlement; get someone to read the next one in this proposed series before putting it out for sale.
Profile Image for Micky Cox.
1,605 reviews14 followers
August 3, 2018
A cozy mystery wrapped in southern charm and humor! What's a girl to do when she gets her heart broken, why visit her hometown of course! However, as with most journey's this one opens up a crossroads in the life journey for the main character especially after finding a dead body may mean disrupting a friend's happily ever after! Characters full of wit, charm and interest to keep you connected to the plot and entertained for hours this is definitely a new series that I can't wait to read more of!
Profile Image for Ell.
459 reviews53 followers
January 15, 2018
This is an enjoyable start to a new series. Cake and Punishment is the debut book in A Southern Cake Baker Mystery series. Sophia, a pastry chef in NYC, discovers her boyfriend Noah has been cheating on her, so she heads home to bucolic Rumford, Kentucky. But things aren’t as peaceful as they appear to be. A pastry chef turns up dead and there are quite a few people who wanted him that way. This book is perfect for readers who love quirky characters and thick southern charm. I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley. This did not affect my rating. I have provided an unbiased and honest review.
Profile Image for Jessica Robbins.
2,593 reviews41 followers
April 26, 2018
*I recieved a free copy of this book from Netgalley which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.

Incredible start to a brand new series. We get to follow Sofia as returns home to Kentucky after being cheated on in order to heal. She just happens to get wrap up in a murder while shes there. I was loving the Southern charm and all the coming she does to distress herself. It kept making me hungry even while we learned more about the murder. Add some colorful characters and you end up with a cozy mystery that you won't be able to put down. A must read for fans of culinary cozy mysteries. I absolutely loved it so I give it 5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Michelle Stagg.
63 reviews20 followers
July 3, 2022
I loved this book. It kept me guessing right up until the end.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,958 reviews1,478 followers
February 4, 2020
Sophia Cummings is hiding out in her hometown of Rumford, Kentucky after catching her chef boyfriend with another co-worker at the swanky Manhattan restaurant where Sophia is the pastry chef. While staying with her parents Sophia becomes involved in her mother's endless round of club meetings and reconnects with old friends. After learning her best friend Charlotte's wedding baker has quit with the wedding only days away, Sophia offers to bake Charlotte's dream wedding cake. Then disaster happens before Sophia can even get in the kitchen. The country club chef, Emile, was murdered in his own kitchen. Sophia's former boss, the club's general manager is the chief suspect and if so, Charlotte's wedding will put on hold. Sophia knows her old friend could never have done such a thing, picking up on a clue the police wouldn't understand. Sophia is determined to find out who killed Emile and save her friend's wedding. Sophia doesn't plan on the sheriff being so attractive or striking up a mild flirtation. She also doesn't plan on family and friends pressuring her to stay and reopen the local bakery. Sophia tries to stay focused. Can she solve the mystery and give Charlotte the wedding of her dreams before her vacation time runs out and she has to return to Manhattan?

This is a cute, cozy mystery. It's pretty typical of the genre but not as well written as some others I enjoy. Mystery-wise I figured out who the murderer was in the middle of the book but I wasn't sure because I didn't have a motive. I stayed up late reading to be sure. There are some inconsistencies in the minor details of the plot that didn't make sense to me. I didn't like how Sophia never even had a clue as to who did it. I prefer my heroines to be more clever. Cozy-wise, the setting is fun. I couldn't live in a small town where everyone else knows everyone's business and where wealthy people spend their days at country clubs and various club meetings. The older generation of people just don't appeal to me. The younger generation has a purpose and drive to make their lives, and the town, better. I liked that. I LOVED the baking that goes on in the novel. I was so happy recipes were included in the back because I am dying to try the Red Velvet crunchies and some of the others.

Sophia isn't a bad heroine. She's pretty typical of a cozy mystery heroine- left home for bigger and better things (check), moved to the big city (check), had her heart broken (check), moves back to charming hometown (check), family or friend is accused of murder so she sticks her nose in (check) and starts to find love again (check). I found Sophia a little annoying at times in her insistence in investigating. Her methods need some work if she's going to continue. The romantic subplot was a little too much for one book. I prefer more of a slow burn romance. Noah was a jerk to cheat on her and his attitude towards Sophia's Kentucky home town is insulting YET I agree with him and I would be more than happy to return to New York until I could resign from my job and open a bakery outside of the city. Compromise sometimes works. Sophia may be a trained pastry chef but she's not a cake baker. She agrees to make a Big Bird cake for her friend's son's birthday yet she doesn't know how to make it tall or have any help. She needs some PVC pipe, a carpenter and an assistant. I watch enough baking shows to know that.

Living with or near my mother would drive me insane if I were Sophia. Bitsy is a Southern Belle. She has a fancy kitchen but never uses it and doesn't darken the doorstep of the grocery store. How is that even possible? Bitsy belongs to numerous clubs and social organizations and has her pulse on all the town gossip. She tries to draw her daughter into that idle way of life. Bitsy did not approve of Sophia's chosen career yet she apparently brags to everyone she knows about her daughter's success. Sophia's dad is more appealing. He's a lawyer who appreciates the simple things in life. He loves and supports Sophia's baking because sometimes it benefits him. They have a cat, Duchess, who tries to avoid Bitsy's smothering love. ugh. I'm not a fan of cats and I don't like Bitsy much but it sounds like Duchess would be happier and nicer away from Bitsy. She's a house cat and has nothing to do with the actual story. Dogs are better, they can be worked into the story more but Bitsy is the type of have a spoiled lap dog she carries in her purse so that's probably not a good idea.

Sophia's friends are a bit too much for me. Charlotte is sweet, kind and helpful but Madison is a bit of a bully. She hangs out with Sophia to achieve her own ends- keeping Sophia in town to open the bakery AND earning commission from the sale of the bakery and a house so she can buy a new car. Madison doesn't accept Sophia's buts for an answer. Charlotte's fiance sounds kind of jerky. He won't sign off on the wedding menu because it's full of fancy French foods he can't pronounce. Therefore, he says, no one will eat them and he will have wasted money. I liked him as chief suspect for murderer. All one has to do is ASK and one will discover that fancy French food is just dressed up versions of things you already eat. I've even been in that situation when I explained what something on the dessert menu was. The attitude of these southerners is appalling. Don't they learn foreign languages in school? Haven't they ever been to Europe or a city with a fancy restaurant? Honestly. I'm the world's pickiest eater but even I don't reject food just because I don't know what the name means and anyone I know would ask "what is? what's in?" and go "Oh that sounds good like fancy ___". While I personally wouldn't like the wedding menu, I bet others would. At the end of the book, someone said some things about Brett that tell a different story about him but he mostly rubbed me the wrong way. Also, I disliked how he bought up some condemned houses that were about to be turned into government housing, fixed them up and sells them. That happened in a nearby community where I live decades ago and it's still contentious because the people of color who lived there were kicked out and only ultra wealthy people can afford to live there now. I wouldn't care to live in this Rumford which seems to be populated by too many people with too much money.

Sheriff Carter comes on a little too strong to Sophia for my liking. I don't believe in love at first sight or flirting with a woman you only just met. There are hints that they may have met before but they're just meeting as adults for the first time. Carter likes Sophia and they have chemistry but she's just had her heart broken, man! Give her some time and space and don't swoop in unless you want to be the rebound guy. He's a good southern boy which means he's a mama's boy and tells her everything. His mother proceeds to tell Sophia's mother and then Bitsy tells all the other nosy old gossips. I couldn't date a man with such a gossipy mother. The people in this town just make my skin crawl.

Chef Emile meant different things to different people. He was temperamental and not a great boss but he also had high standards and liked to see everyone fulfill their potential. His sous chef Nick prefers to be in the background, out of the spotlight. He seems nice enough and capable in the kitchen. Evelyn Moss, the general manager of the Rumford Country Club, is also a difficult person to get along with. I think that makes her a good manager. It shows she's tough and won't back down for anything. Unfortunately, because of her strong-willed temperament and Emilie's prima dona nature, they clashed and the police think Evelyn is the murderer. I don't know why Sophia insists Evelyn didn't do it. She hasn't seen Evelyn in 10 years at least. Of course since this is a novel, Evelyn probably didn't do it since that would be too easy. Another suspect on Sophia's list is Natalie Devlin who may have had an affair with Emile. She is not a nice woman and neither is her husband. Now he's retired they can't spend money like water and they can't participate in all the luxury add-ons the country club has to offer. Oh boohoo woe is us! Perhaps the husband found out his wife was cheating. He has another reason to bump him to the top of the suspect list. Please let it be one or both of them who killed Emile! Another woman, Ella Capshaw, was also seen having a fling with the chef. Could she have found out about Natalie and killed her lover? Ella seems cold and calculating. I don't know if she's passionate enough to kill. The final two suspects are teenage busboy Patrick and his dad. Patrick has a bad attitude in the kitchen. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder, as many teen boys do. Nick accuses Patrick of being incompetent in the kitchen and Emile always yelled at the boy. Patrick's dad wants his son to become a pro baseball player and not a "sissy" chef. Patrick's dad is a nasty bully. The family needs the money desperately and Patrick is doing honest work to get it. I think the dad is capable of murder. What about the baseball coach who would prefer Patrick to spend more time practicing and less time in the kitchen?

I liked this story well enough to want to read the sequel. It's not one of my top favorites though. I'd read more if they contained as many amazing recipes as this book though. I have to go now and hunt down some cocoa powder!
Profile Image for Karen.
503 reviews54 followers
May 1, 2018
Cake & Punishment by Maymee Bell is coming out in May, published by Crooked Lane Books and it made me Ugly Cry! I loved this book. Maymee Bell has set up a truly wonderful southern cozy town in Kentucky and in a great cozy way. I love the way she wrote this book and the setting for main character Sophia to come home too. While some of the book is set up so you know and hope what is going to happen, the mystery and murderer actually caught me off guard. I found that I was so involved in how the wedding was going to get off the ground, kept me perfectly distracted from the clues Maymee gave of the Killer!
It was so easy to picture the town and the homes that are described in the story as well as the country club. I truly enjoyed this mystery and cannot wait to see what happens in the next one. This book actually made me feel like yes sometimes you can truly go home again. Great first in series Maymee Bell you have a reader in me!
Profile Image for Sandy Bartles.
1,395 reviews36 followers
May 8, 2018
This is the first book in "A Southern Cake Baker Mystery" and it is a very enjoyable read. The author puts in just the right amount of fun and mystery and tops it off with a lovable cat. Sophia Cummings is the head pastry chef at a big-time restaurant in Manhattan and has come home to Rumford, Kentucky, for a break after finding her now ex-boyfriend in a compromising position. One thing leads to another and she finds herself filling in temporarily as a chef at the country club after the murder of their head chef. The book has a lot of laughs and the author even throws in a mighty handsome sheriff to top everything off.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.
Profile Image for Patty.
1,553 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2019
Cake and Punishment by Maymee Bell, aka Tonya Kappes, is the 1st book in A Southern Cake Baker Mystery series, and it is wonderful. Sophia Cummings works as a pastry chef in New York City, but when she catches her boyfriend, a chef, with their co-worker she goes back home to Rumford, Kentucky to regroup. When her friend Charlotte from high school needs someone to make her wedding cake she agrees. When the head chef for the wedding is found dead, Sophia rushes to find the killer. I strongly recommend this book. This book is a quick read, that I could not put down. I am anxiously waiting the next adventure for Sophia.

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
May 16, 2018
What a fun cozy mystery with a southern drawl! A Kentucky drawl, to be precise, so you know I love it. Perfect for the armchair sleuth with a sweet tooth, this new series is off to a great start!

Sophia is a little bit ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, returning home to small town Kentucky from her high-profile job as a pastry chef for an elite restaurant in Manhattan after she catches her chef boyfriend cheating on her with the hostess. Her group of long-time friends, not to mention her colorful mother, are the perfect counterparts to Sophia – not to mention the swoony sheriff Carter with the slow drawl who is smitten with Sophia from the get-go. Loved the romance angle to this story! (I’m sure none of you are surprised lol) It’s just so tender while at the same time completely knee-weakening.

The mystery is very well-plotted and is the perfect blend of amateur sleuthing and consulting with the swoony sheriff. I thought I had it figured out a couple of times, only to discover that I didn’t. By the end, I knew who the murderer was before Sophia did – or at least I thought I did – but the story itself is so enjoyable that it really didn’t matter.

Bottom Line: Nobody does small town Kentucky quite like Maymee Bell and her alter ego, Tonya Kappes. Add in a delightful cast of quirky and endearing characters, one swoony sheriff, delectable baked goods, and an intriguing cozy mystery with a whole menu of suspects. Stir things up a bit with a no-good ex. Blend in the perfect amount of nostalgia, wit, and some gorgeous Kentucky scenery and Voila! A delicious first book in what proves to be a wonderful new series!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)

first seen at Reading Is My SuperPower
Profile Image for Daniele.
1,032 reviews28 followers
May 9, 2018
3.5 stars = I liked it quite a bit

CAKE AND PUNISHMENT, the first book in the Southern Cake Baker Mystery series, is a quick read, as fluffy as the finest buttercream frosting.

Here we meet head pastry chef Sophia Cummings as she comes home to lick her wounds after discovering that her chef boyfriend Noah has been cheating and she is apparently the last to know. She keeps telling herself that she is only going to stay for a couple of weeks but is more than willing to step up and bake her childhood friend’s wedding cake after the original baker cancels. Things run awry when Emile, the country club’s chef is found dead in the club’s kitchen.

Maymee Bell’s breezy, conversational writing style makes the pages fly by and is enormously entertaining. Bell writes what she knows best, small southern towns with quirky residents and even quirkier vernacular. The characters here are likable, if not very deep, and Sophia makes a competent amateur sleuth. The mystery is a tad predictable, but there are a few twists thrown in to keep it interesting. As one might expect, there are plenty of descriptions of delicious sounding baked goods, and the recipes included at the back of the book are appealing.

Overall, CAKE AND PUNISHMENT is a good start to the new series that fans of culinary cozy mysteries will want to seek out.

I received an ARC of this title from the author/publisher and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.
Profile Image for Lisa Currier.
1,673 reviews46 followers
April 14, 2018
I always enjoy reading other reviews, so imagine my surprise to find out Maymee Bell is a pen name for Tonya Kappes! Holy Moly, I was so excited. Tonya is a fun writer who surely knows how to write a good story.
When pastry chef Sophia Cummings returns to Rumford, Kentucky, it's to help heal her broken heart.
Finding her fiance in the arms of another woman has destroyed her, so returning to her hometown is a good solution.

Unfortunately for Sophia, things go awry and she finds herself baking her best friends fairy tail wedding cake, filling in as chef at the country club and solving a murder.

Don't miss this exciting book! Grab your copy on May i8th from Crooked Lane Books
#CakeAndPunishment #NetGalley
I volunteered to read and review and ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.
Profile Image for RO G'ma.
1,003 reviews35 followers
April 18, 2018
Cake and Punishment is the debut book in Maymee Bell’s (Maymee Bell is the pen name of Tonya Kappes) Southern Cake Baker Mystery series. I read an ARC of this book and noted several inconsistencies in the storyline, but am sure they will be corrected prior to publication. The writing style flows smoothly, the book is an easy read, and the characters are well developed and well rounded. The author is a gifted storyteller who is very talented in descriptive writing and she’s created a perfect Southern small town, with the expected traditions, nosiness and helpfulness of neighbors. The mystery is well plotted and steadily paced. There are enough suspects and clues to sift through to keep the reader engaged. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

After Sophia Cummings finds her boyfriend, Noah, cheating with a co-worker, she takes a leave of absence from her prestigious job as a New York City head pastry chef and returns to her hometown of Rumford, Kentucky. Even though Sophia lived in New York for ten years, she’s really a southern girl at heart and quickly realizes how much she missed her hometown, family, and friends. While attending a Junior League meeting with her mother, Elizabeth “Bitsy” Cummings, she reconnects with high school girlfriends and when she learns Charlotte Harrington’s baker up and cancelled on her, she agrees to prepare an elaborate wedding cake for her. A scream interrupts their planning; they rush to the Rumford Country Club’s kitchen and find the body of Emile, the head chef and Charlotte’s wedding chef. Sheriff Carter Kincaid believes Evelyn Moss, the country club’s manager, is responsible, but Sophia disagrees and pleads with him find another suspect or, at the very least, not to arrest her until after the wedding. Sophia worked in the country club’s kitchen as a teenager and offers to help for a few days. Sophia and her friend, Madison Quinn-Ridge decide to put on sleuthing hats because she wants to lend her assistance to the local sheriff and while he’s not pleased, he does acknowledge some of her thoughts have validity.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
Profile Image for Mary Brown.
1,212 reviews48 followers
December 12, 2017
Cake and Punishment
A Southern Cake Baker Mystery, Book #1
Tonya Kappes
5 Stars


In the first of a delectable new Southern-set baking cozy series, Sophia Cummings, pastry chef extraordinaire, must craft the perfect cake for an old friend’s wedding while sifting through the suspects in a murder.

Bucolic Rumford, Kentucky has glowing fields of bluegrass, a fine selection of bourbons, and now a professional pastry chef. Broken-hearted Sophia Cummings has come home from New York City. She’s not there a minute before she’s charmed into making her high school friend Charlotte’s wedding cake. The kitchen at the Rumford Country Club seems perfect until Chef Emile’s body is discovered, sprawled near the stove, a cast iron skillet on the floor close by.

With one look at the shiny, new frying pan, Sophia knows it’s not Emile’s. She offers her knowledge to Sheriff Carter and her talents to Evelyn, the manager, who needs an interim chef. The mood in the country club is grim: Emile’s peppery personality had burned members and staff alike. Sophia wonders which one of them burned him?

Perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and JoAnna Carl, Cake and Punishment―with authentic Southern recipes!―will satisfy your sweet tooth. (Goodreads)


When reading anything written by this author, there are a few things you can be certain of: exceptional characters, a homey setting, humor and a great mystery. And of course all of those things are found in this book.

Sophia is a hardworking, honest, funny woman. She is a great pastry chef and when she makes creations that others enjoy, that makes her very happy. She has returned home from Manhattan after she caught her boyfriend cheating on her to try and heal her heart and head. She is not planning on staying, only visiting. But somehow she finds herself agreeing to making the wedding cake for one of her highschool friends. Then she finds herself agreeing to help out her old boss by being the chef for the country club until they can find a replacement. The regular chef has been murdered. As if that is not enough on her plate, she decides that she has to figure out who the murderer is.

The characters are well developed and well rounded. I enjoyed getting to know Sophia and her family and friends. Her mother is a real piece of work, bossy and meddling, but she sure does love Sophia. Sophia enjoys spending time with some of her friends from highschool, and the longer she visits, the more she realizes that she misses her hometown.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. Although there is a lot of action in this book, it is as much character and dialogue driven as it is action driven. The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and she knows how to create the perfect Southern small town, with the traditions and the nosiness and the helpfulness of neighbors.

The mystery was well plotted and well paced. There were enough suspects to consider and clues to sift through and that made this mystery difficult to solve.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery. I think this author has another great series to add to her name.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. I would like to thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Kristina.
3,390 reviews59 followers
May 8, 2018
Cake and Punishment by Maymee Bell is the first tale in A Southern Cake Baker Mystery series. Sophia Cummings, a pastry chef, has returned home for a visit to Rumford, Kentucky after finding her boyfriend, Noah in a compromising position with the maître d’ where they work. At the Rumford Country Club (RCC) she encounters her friend, Charlotte Harrington who is getting married in a few days. Charlotte’s cake baker has quit, and Sophia offers to make her a beautiful wedding cake. The next day they head to the RCC kitchen and find Chef Emile dead on the floor with a new cast iron skillet nearby. When Evelyn Moss, the RCC manager, becomes the primary suspect, Sophia sets out to prove her innocence (plus she is plain curious). To help out Evelyn and for a chance to snoop, Sophia agrees to be Emile’s replacement until a new chef can be hired (oh dear—can you see where this is heading). Emile may have been a good chef, but he was lacking in the personality department. Sheriff Carter Kincaid may wish Sophia would keep her nose out of his investigation, but he does enjoy spending time with her and Sophia does uncover some helpful information. Which one of the people Chef Emile antagonized whacked him with an iron skillet? Sophia needs to work quickly, or she will find herself the latest resident of the Rumford cemetery!

Cake and Punishment is a humorous new Southern cozy mystery written by Tonya Kappes using the non de plume of Maymee Bell. It is a light-hearted story full of quirky characters and small-town charm. Gossip spreads faster than a forest fire during a dry spell in Rumford, Kentucky. Sophia’s mother, Bitsy is a force to be reckoned with. When she sets her mind upon a task, people need to watch out (especially Sophia). Sophia is a pastry chef who loves to bake and goes around with baked goods in her bag (which makes her a very popular person). It was entertaining to see her get pulled back into her hometown and the subtle hints from friends about how they would like her to stay. I thought Cake and Punishment contained good writing and a steady pace. I would like for better character development. We get to know very little about Sophia’s past and we are not given the last names of many characters. The mystery had misdirection and a few suspects. Avid mystery readers will have no problem pinning down the killer’s identity. There is flirtation and attraction between Sophia and Carter which is helped along by Bitsy Cummings. There are delectable baked good descriptions included in the book with recipes at the end. I appreciated the addition of little libraries in the story. They are a great way to get people of all ages to read. We have several in my community with one being just down in the street in my local park (I am a frequent visitor). Cake and Punishment is an entertaining story that will have you chuckling frequently.
Profile Image for ☆☆Hannah☆☆.
2,938 reviews38 followers
February 2, 2019
This was a nice beginning to the series. I liked the small town and the characters. It was nice that while Sophia was back she reconnected with an old friend. I was also happy to see that she has a new love interest. I was surprised by who did it. Which is always nice. I don't like being able to figure it out right away. I just hope that the next book will be just as good.
Profile Image for Taryn.
808 reviews20 followers
May 3, 2018
Sophia Cummings has come back to her hometown of Bucolic Rumford, Kentucky to take a much needed breather from her everyday life. She found out that the man she was seeing was cheating on her and needed to get away, not only do they work together but they live together too. While in town her friend asks her to make her wedding cake, you see Sophia is a very talented pastry chef and she immediately says yes. The kitchen at the local Country Club has agreed to let Sophia make the cake there and she can't wait to get started but when she finds the body of the chef she doesn't know what to do. It looks like the man has been knocked over the head with a frying pan, but who would do such a thing and why? Sophia decides she must find out and before her friends wedding, she doesn't want anything to overshadow that day. Join in as Sophia asks questions to find out who had something against the chef that would cause them to commit murder. Along the way she is asked by several people to provide pastries for different occasions, that has her wondering does she want to return to her life or start anew in her home town. This was an amusing read that had me laughing throughout. Sophia is a truly wonderful character filled with plenty of spark and determination. I loved the relationship between her and her parents, the southern style made me think of parts of my own upbringing. I can't wait for the author to write the next chapter in Sophia's life!!!

I received an ARC of this book, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for JoAn.
2,060 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2018
Cake and Punishment by Maymee Bell (Tonya Kappes) was a lovely new beginning to a new cozy series. I loved Ms. Kappes' writing voice because her descriptions of small town life in Kentucky always make me feel as if I've been invited into a friend's home. I feel comfortable and welcome as I meet the characters and get to know them while the story progresses. With a fast paced plot, several suspects and enough twists to keep me on the edge of my seat, I was rooting for Sophia to solve the murder and finish the perfect wedding cake. I look forward to more adventures with Sophia in her hometown.
Profile Image for Sarah Dykes.
128 reviews5 followers
August 26, 2018
Maymee Bell's Cake and Punishment is the first in a new cozy mystery series and is a light and easy read. Sophia Cummings, pastry chef extraordinaire, returns home to small town Kentucky for a break after she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her. One of her friends is about to get married, and Sophia agrees to bake her wedding cake. While looking at the country club kitchen, she discovers the body of the head chef. Sophia quickly gets involved in solving the murder while baking delicious treats for Rumford residents.

This is a quick and light hearted read - the setting and many of the characters are delightful. The mystery moves along at a good pace, although I did find it a bit predictable. While this is a promising start to a great southern cozy mystery series, it did lack a little bit of substance and detail, which I was looking for to set it apart from other cozies.

Thank you to Crooked Lane Publishers and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for review.
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