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Deseret Book
"Wedding Cake" is the final and 12th book in Josi Kilpack's culinary mystery series.

Amateur sleuth and lucky-to-be-alive Sadie Hoffmiller loves Pete Cunningham and is finally ready to marry him in Utah author Josi S. Kilpack's "Wedding Cake" (Shadow Mountain, $17.99).

They've set the date, ordered the cake and bought the dress, but a person from Sadie's past is determined to mess things up.

In this final culinary mystery featuring the suburban lady who is good at everything but minding her own business, Sadie can't seem to catch a break.

Jane, the stalker reporter from books back, not only tries to ruin wedding plans but also threatens people Sadie loves.

It's a breakneck story that brings in characters from several of Kilpack's earlier books about Sadie.

More things go wrong than one could possibly imagine as the nuptials near, including identity theft, car bombs, dress destruction and cake mayhem.

Sadie can't get to her to-do list.

Kilpack says it's a fitting finale for her normally unflappable heroine, but she warns readers that if one hasn't read the first 11 books, each featuring a food title, this novel won't have the same impact.

The author of 22 books is also announcing the end of the culinary series — and "Sadie's Little Black Recipe Book" (Shadow Mountain, $15.99) is also available — and the start of a more serious romance series through Deseret Book's A Proper Romance label.

Kilpack says she is pleased with the way the series has been received and is happy to be winding it up before readers lose interest.

"This last book was kind of a spoiler," Kilpack said in a phone interview. "It's a little different, but it was really fun, so fun."

The villain is a woman who isn't afraid to try anything to hurt Sadie and stop the wedding, so there are a number of surprises — some pretty dark.

"Jane is terrible," Kilpack said. "She's pretty intense because she's crazy."

The series started when Kilpack entered a writing contest for the first chapter of a mystery novel, and her idea was about a woman who was baking lemon tarts when she was murdered, according to Kilpack's website at josiskilpack.com. The first chapter was all she had, and she slowly worked on it — and worked out who the culprit was — during the next 2½ years.

She was working on other novels with characters who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had signed one with Deseret Book when she was finally ready to pitch her mystery.

She showed it to her editor at Deseret Book, and she expected the publishing company to pass as it wasn't LDS-centric and included some less-than-savory aspects, including a murder, Kilpack wrote on her website.

The two things she needed to make sure of, Kilpack recently told a group of bloggers, was that she didn't graphically describe the murders or other violence and that the stories dealt with reasonable consequences for choices made.

Beyond that, there was a suggestion to include recipes for the food Sadie made with each chapter, and Kilpack figured she had ideas for another book. They agreed on three books, and the third book needed to have chocolate in the title, Kilpack told the bloggers.

And the series grew.

"It went from five to seven books to eight to 10 to 12," she said. "But I'm out ways to kill people."

She knows readers liked Sadie and will miss reading about her adventures, but she said in the interview that she feels like it's time to move on.

Kilpack also penned other novels while writing this series, including two books in the Newport Ladies Book Club series, and she contributed to the Timeless Romance Anthologies.

She has two new books ready for release: "A Heart Revealed" in April and another scheduled to come out in October. Both are Regency romance novels set in England in the early 19th century.

Her editors at Shadow Mountain, an imprint of Deseret Book, have encouraged her to try something new, Kilpack says.

"They've been wonderful. They haven't pushed," she said. "They've just encouraged."

Kilpack, a member of the LDS Church who lives with her husband and family in Willard, Box Elder County, says she always went with her instincts when it came to her plotlines and characters. Sadie isn't a Mormon, but she has character traits and a moral base that makes many of Kilpack's readers think she is one.

"My religion is so much a part of who I am that I think it just comes through," she said. "Sadie's a good person. She's not LDS, but she's generally Christian.

"It's funny. I've had some critics tell me she was way too Mormon and others who can't figure out why I didn't make her Mormon."

Kilpack listens to her critics and fans and then goes ahead with what she feels she should write.

"You have to write from a place where you are secure," she said. "I'm so happy where I'm at right now. I hope I will always be able to write."

Contributing: Christine Rappleye

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: [email protected]