Welcome to FAB Lovelies!

A Lifestyle blog that focuses on all things from fashion to beauty; fitness to weight loss; recipes to coupons; books to movies; travels to entertainment; and everything in between.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Stabbed in the Tart by Carol E. Ayer - Book Tour - Book Review - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hi, lovelies!!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Carol E. Ayer and her new book, “Stabbed in the Tart,” here on FAB!!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Carol and to increase your chances of winning!!

Thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all lots of good luck in this fabulous giveaway!!

Stabbed in the Tart

The HSP Mysteries Book Series

Book Two

by Carol E. Ayer


GENRE:  Cozy Mystery



Home bakery owner and Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Kayla Jeffries has been hired for the Gourmet and Stay Valentine's Weekend at the historic Countryside Inn in Los Robles, CA. When one of her fellow cooks is murdered during dinner service, she becomes a person of interest-and a possible suspect.



My first orders came in. I whipped egg whites and scooped the foam onto eight cherry-filled tarts I’d finished earlier. Five minutes later, I retrieved the batch from the oven, pleased to see the meringues on top were nicely browned. I’d practiced my recipes many times over the last few days to the point that I had them memorized, but you never knew what could happen with an unfamiliar oven.

I removed the tarts from their pans, plated each dessert onto a red dish, and added a dollop of whipped cream to the side. Brenda gave me an appreciative glance as the waitstaff took them away.

Conrad came into the kitchen, beamed a smile at us, and said, “Well done, everyone. The guests are thoroughly enjoying their meals. I’ve never seen the dining room in such high spirits or the hotel so well-showcased. This weekend is going to be great for business.”

An hour later, I was feeling pretty good and Conrad once more was raving to us about how well everything was going. Then the wind howled, the windows shook, and all the lights went out. I almost dropped the cupcakes I’d just removed from the oven. I managed to slip the pan onto the counter.

“No one panic,” Conrad said into the darkness. “The generator will kick on soon. It’s a good one. It powers most of the hotel.”

Sure enough, a few seconds later, the lights came back on. Unfortunately, one light perfectly illuminated Edward facedown on the floor near the center island, the kitchen shears lodged in the back of his neck.



This book is an interesting, intriguing, and stimulating cozy mystery read!!

This book follows the main character, Kayla Jeffries, a small, home baker, who agrees to fill in for a friend as a guest dessert chef at the famous Countryside Inn for a Valentines weekend special event.  Kayla, an introvert with a personality trait of HSP, aka Highly Sensitive Person, prefers to be more in the background, not the center of attention.  Kayla describes HSP as someone who is always at risk for overstimulation – “We process sounds, sights, smells, and tastes deeply.  We take rejection and criticism especially hard but tend to be conscientious, empathetic, and creative.”  While HSP may occasionally put Kayla on the sidelines, she seems to be thriving with her own business, a boyfriend, two adorable cats, many friends, and now this exciting “Gourmet and Stay,” opportunity that was sure to put a spotlight on her baking talents and possibly bring in new clients.  Kayla and three other chefs, Christine, Edward, and Hugo, who are also part of the special event are setting up and working away in the kitchen, when all of a sudden the lights go out due to a storm, but within moments the generator kicks in, relighting the kitchen, and unveiling one of the chefs, Edward, dead on the ground!!!  The murder weapon happens to be a pair of shears that all the chefs had recently used and with only the three remaining chefs, the kitchen manager, Brenda, and the tech billionaire/hotel owner, Conrad, in the kitchen at the time of the murder, it seems one of them must be the killer!!

Even though Kayla is struggling with all the stress and anxiety from witnessing a murder and being considered a possible suspect, she decides she must help solve this case.  The media has quickly picked up on the story and even publicly named her as a person of interest, which unfortunately, leads to her business downfall with clients canceling and distancing themselves from her.  This is after all her second association with a murder.  Kayla must quickly find the killer so she can clear her name, get her clients back, and return to her normal life.

I really enjoyed the story line of this book.  I found the concept interesting, and full of intriguing mystery plot points that also offered a few surprises along the way.

I really liked Kayla as the main character.  She was smart, talented, sweet, courteous, kindhearted, and thoughtful.  I adored her cats, Sugar and Flour and as a fellow cat owner, especially also with a sick cat, I appreciated her diligence of making sure someone could check in on her furbabies since she wasn’t able to come home to care for them.  Even though I wasn’t as familiar with HSP, I felt Kayla’s character was genuine and relatable.  Plus, I thought this added an interesting aspect since Kayla’s jumpy, fidgety nerves clearly observed by the police, cast doubt and suspicion of her innocence.

I also really enjoyed learning about HSP, and how it effects 15-20% of the population!!  We all probably know at least someone with HSP, but might not be aware of it and/or know that that person may interpret and experience things differently.  I appreciated learning about this community, and am thankful for the author, also an HSP, to shine light on this sensitive personality trait.  I feel like I gained a better insight and understanding after reading this book.

However, I felt this book had a few too many slower paced sections, which is disappointing, because within the first chapter the murder occurs.  It seemed like the story was going to take off from there, but instead got bogged down by repetitive scenes and conversations that felt tedious.  The author created a strong story line that holds up and the whodunit mystery was surprising!!  Even though there seemed to only be five possible suspects, each one kept looking guiltier as evidence piled up, and it became exciting trying to figure out who the killer was.

Also, I have to point out that it felt a bit awkward and very unlikely that Kayla was allowed to just leave the hotel the way she did.  Each suspect was given a personal security guard to keep an eye on them overnight since the police were unable to arrive until the next morning.  Then after the detectives had individually questioned each suspect, ushering them back into the conference room, it is announced that they must continue to stay at the hotel, and are sent back to their rooms accompanied by their security guard.  After an undisclosed amount of time goes by, Kayla’s dad leaves the room to go for a walk, gleefully returning only ten minutes later, and basically says, “the police can’t hold you indefinitely…” and “you can just go home and put this all behind you..” and then they pretty much just leave the hotel.  What happened to Nina, Kayla’s security guard that was supposed to be outside her room watching??  Why didn’t the police actually tell the chefs they could leave or why didn’t they stop Kayla and her dad from leaving??  How long did the other suspects stick around for or did they just walk out too??  Now, I understand and agree that the police can’t keep them indefinitely, but I would never just up and walk out after being told that I needed to stay for a while longer.  This and a couple other scenes sadly lacked authenticity and detracted from the story.

One other important tidbit I feel must be addressed, is the timeline.  So, the murder occurs the first night (Saturday) of the “Gourmet and Stay,” event.  Everyone is kept overnight due to the storm and of course the murder.  Kayla arrives home the next afternoon, Sunday.  The police detective calls her that evening and asks her to come in for more questions, which she agrees to.  However, she says she’ll stop by on Thursday since that’s the day of Edward’s funeral service and she’ll be on that side of town.  Murder investigations often move quite fast especially during the first 72 hours.  So, if it’s Sunday evening, and a primary person of interest isn’t available to come in to answer questions until THURSDAY?!?!  That certainly seems suspicious to me!!  I can’t realistically imagine a detective allowing four days to go by before bringing someone in for questioning, especially if that held up the investigation.

This book is Book Two in the HSP Mystery Book Series, and while I had not previously read the first book, I had no trouble following along.  This book can easily be read as a standalone.

Even though I found a few disappointing procedural/technical errors and felt some scenes were a bit repetitive, overall, I still enjoyed this book.  My favorites were Kayla, the main character, the baker aspect with the fun “Gourmet and Stay,” theme, the renewed (and repaired) relationship with Kayla’s dad, the HSP informative character angle, and the creative whodunit mystery plot.  This book has a lot to offer a cozy mystery fan, but may not hold up for a diehard crime solving buff.

All in all, for the most part I enjoyed reading this book and would still recommend it!!  I think all cozy mystery readers and amateur sleuthing fans will like this book too!!  So, add it to your TBR List and get to reading - you won't be disappointed!!

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book and have voluntarily provided an honest, and unbiased review in accordance with FTC regulations**



Carol Ayer, a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), lives halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento with her cat, Rainn. When she’s not writing, she’s reading mysteries and thrillers or watching movies and cooking shows. As a native Californian, she visits the ocean as often as possible.











BookBub Author Page:


BookBub Book Page:


Goodreads Author Page:


Goodreads Book Page:




Amazon US Kindle eBook:


Amazon US Paperback:


Amazon CA Kindle eBook:


Amazon CA Paperback:


Barnes and Noble NOOK eBook:


Barnes and Noble Paperback:


Book Depository Paperback:


Books-A-Million Paperback:


Kobo US eBook:


Kobo CA eBook:




Carol E. Ayer will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card (Winner’s Choice!!!) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those fabulous community outreach projects and awesome giveaways on here**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.


  1. Carol ~ Good morning!! Welcome to FAB!! It is so great to have you here!! Congrats on your new book and good luck on the book tour!! I enjoyed reading and reviewing your book, thanks for providing the copy!! :)

  2. Thank you, Ally! I very much appreciate the review. Thank you for taking the time to be so thorough with your thoughts and I am so glad you liked it. Very happy to be here!

  3. Thank you for the review and excerpt. Sounds like a good read.

  4. I love this SO hard!! The cover, the excerpt! Sounds fun!!

  5. Replies
    1. P.S. Scott Book and Melissa Vail Coffman designed the cover for Camel Press.

  6. This sounds like a wonderful book.

  7. Hi Tracie! Thanks for the question. I am a big fan of the advice "write what you know," so usually my books have a good amount of personal experience in them. Like my protagonist Kayla, I am a Highly Sensitive Person, so I felt I could draw upon my own experiences when I created her. Unlike Kayla, I've fortunately never had to solve a murder or been a suspect in one, so that had to come from my imagination.

    Stabbed in the Tart was originally set on a train because I am a big fan of train travel. However, my editor and I decided the train wasn't going to work so I switched to a hotel instead. One of the themes of this book is dealing with the past in various ways (e.g., Kayla's relationship with her father), so I decided to make the setting a venerable old hotel (it's fictional but I loosely based it on The Inn at Death Valley in California).

  8. What is your favorite type of music?

  9. As an HSP, I'm a little weird with music. Because I'm so sensitive to noise, if a song grates on me, I'm going to be unhappy. On the other hand, if I love a song, I really love it! In general, I like soft rock. What about you?

  10. I enjoyed the excerpt, thanks for sharing

  11. This looks like a fun read. Love the cover!

  12. Thank you! Scott Book and Melissa Vail Coffman designed the cover.

  13. What is your favorite place to do your writing?

    1. I usually just write on the couch! It's more comfortable for me than sitting at a desk. When I told a writer friend that I like to be comfortable when I'm writing, he said that writing is supposed to be *un*comfortable. I think it's hard enough as it is without being physically uncomfortable, too!

  14. Do you prefer mountains or beaches?

  15. Do you have a favorite way to relax?

  16. Do enjoy watching or playing sports?

  17. Do you prefer colder or warmer climates?

  18. Do you have a favorite type of fruit?

  19. Did you celebrate Valentines Day?