Alicia Cunningham,
"Brownies and Broomsticks" is the first book in a new series by Bailey Cates.

"BROWNIES AND BROOMSTICKS: A Magical Baker Mystery," by Bailey Cates, Penguin, $7.99, 319 pages (f)

Katie Lightfoot is leaving her old life, including an ex-fiance, and starting anew at the beginning of the novel "Brownies and Broomsticks" by Bailey Cates.

Katie's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben are opening a shop, Honeybee Bakery, in downtown Savannah, Ga., and have asked their niece to come and help them. The timing for this new adventure is perfect. Having both a thankless job in a bakery as well as an ex-fiance she continually runs into, Katie happily makes the move.

Before Honeybee Bakery opens, they agree to cater breakfast for a group of downtown business owners. The bakery is in trouble before it even opens when a fight within the bakery leads to a murder outside, and Uncle Ben is a suspect.

While helping clear Uncle Ben's name, Katie discovers that she is a witch, just like her aunt. Specifically, she is a powerful catalyst, and she uses this new power as she searches out the real killer.

The cover art is very similar to the entertaining Lucy Valentine series by Heather Webber, and there are some similarities between these two books: fearless heroine, dashing and dangerous suitors, a discovered superpower, a mystery to solve, police officers that will not cooperate — lots of similarities.

The problem is that the Heather Webber series of books are much, much better. Their main heroine, Lucy Valentine, is laugh-out-loud funny. You quickly love Lucy. Katie Lightfoot is someone you want to buy a brownie from, but that's about it.

At the end of the book, Katie gets the bad guy and provides some recipes to make her fabulous peanut butter brownies and cheddar and sage scones, but she does not cook up many fans.

This book is a clean read with only the slightest instances of sexual innuendo and violence (someone does die in the book, after all), but in order to catch the killer, Katie performs a magic spell, which may be offensive to some readers.

Alicia Cunningham is a graduate of Brigham Young University and George Mason School of Law. She teaches American government and intellectual property law at Neumont University. She blogs at