Rummanah Aasi
 Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can't bring herself to open her new cafe after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt's Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie's Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started.
  To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila's little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago--a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case--because it looks like one of them might be next.

Review: One of my reading goals for this year is to rekindle my love of mysteries and thrillers. I read my first culinary cozy mystery, Arsenic and Adobo, and really enjoyed it. I was hoping to enjoy the second book in the series just as much, but unfortunately it didn't work for me.
  Lila Macapagal is an extremely likable character who suddenly found herself to be an amateur sleuth in order to protect her family's Filipino's restaurant and reputation. This time around she is reluctantly involved in a local beauty pageant, which had a history of souring her relationship with her cousin Bernadette. I enjoyed the set up for the mystery and getting to know more about Lila's past, however, the bulk of the book is really examining where Lila is mentally after being traumatized during her first murder case. I found the tonal shift quite jarring, not that I don't think this is an important topic to discuss. Due to the tonal shift, we don't get to see Lila do really any of the sleuthing, which becomes the subplot of the book. By the time the pieces to the mystery began to come together, I was taken out of the story and found myself not really caring all that much. I had expected the mystery to take center stage, but because I really enjoyed the series' cast of characters I hung around but was ultimately underwhelmed and disappointed. Still I do plan on reading the third book in the series and hope to see more sleuthing done by Lila and company. I would also continue to recommend it by its excellent diverse cast of characters, light humor, and warmth.  

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is discussion of post traumatic disorder and the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues. There is also some minor language.

If you like this book try: Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chen and A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette
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