The Cakes of Monte CristoHey. What’s up? I’m Wyndham Oxford III, but I never go by that name. Everybody just calls me Ox.

You want to know what it’s like spending a day in my shoes? That’s kinda weird, but okay. Whatever. I don’t mind telling you.

I’m usually at work by seven. Earlier on some days, especially around the holidays or when there’s a big order on the books. That means that most days I’m up around five-thirty. I grab a cup of coffee and then go for a run or lift some weights to keep in shape. No sense being lazy.

A quick shower, and I’m off to work.

Once there, I do whatever needs to be done. I’m a trained pastry chef and I’m good at what I do. Honestly, I’m the one who should be in charge there. When my friend, Philippe Renier, opened Zydeco Cakes, I thought I would be in charge if anything happened to Philippe. Not that I expected anything to happen. It was just the natural order of things. Philippe and I were in it together, so it seemed like the logical thing to expect.

Turns out I was wrong. Philippe died and his mother, Miss Frankie (you can meet her here), inherited the bakery. Instead of asking me to step up, she brought in Philippe’s ex-wife, Rita. Rita was Philippe’s almost ex-wife, anyway, which made her Miss Frankie’s almost ex-daughter-in-law. Who goes into business with somebody who’s trying to get out of your life? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Rita was in town to get Philippe’s signature on the divorce papers when he died. Before the dust had even settled, Miss Frankie handed over the reins to Rita (you can meet Rita here) as if I wasn’t even there, even though everybody knew I was the natural heir to the throne, so to speak.

I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t happy about that for a while. I’m over it now, though. I guess Rita’s a good boss and she’s good at what she does. Almost as good as me. We’ve been friends for years and, with a few notable exceptions, I agree with most of what he does.

The upcoming Belle Lune Ball job for the Crescent City Vintage Clothing Society is one of the things I didn’t agree with. First of all, it’s a huge job—much bigger than anything we’ve ever done at Zydeco. Second, Rita agreed to cater the banquet in addition to making the cakes (yes, cakes as in plural. Five to be exact.) It’s not that I can’t do it, but why should I? Especially since—third—the whole thing was so last-minute, it’ll take a miracle to pull it off.

Luckily, the crew at Zydeco is good at what they do—most of them, anyway. Our office manager, Edie, is on maternity leave, so there’s a new girl at her desk. Hiring Zoey was another of Rita’s decisions I’m not behind one-hundred percent, but what’s done is done. Nothing I can do about it now. The rest of the staff is great: Sparkle, Dwight, Estelle, and especially Isabeau. Besides me and, possibly, Rita, Isabeau is the most talented cake artist on staff. The fact that Isabeau and I are living together has nothing to do with how I feel about that. I never let personal feelings get in the way of the job.

All I can say is, it’s not my fault Rita and Zoey stumbled across that old necklace and nearly ruined everything in the process. And all that talk about a curse? Nobody in their right mind would believe that.


The Cakes of Monte Cristo is the sixth book in the “Piece of Cake” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime, January 2016.

All comments are welcomed.

About The Cakes of Monte Cristo

In the fresh new Piece of Cake Mystery from the national bestselling author of Rebel Without a Cake, a pastry chef becomes embroiled in a suspicious death as a mysterious curse casts a pall over an annual New Orleans ball.

Rita Lucero, co-owner of New Orleans’s Zydeco Cakes, is thrilled to be catering an annual ball held at the Monte Cristo Hotel. Designing the high-end desserts is her priority—until she stumbles upon a mystery long-buried at her shop. It’s an ornate ruby necklace, hidden underneath her staircase and rumored to be cursed.

After the gem’s appraiser suddenly drops dead and Rita herself is targeted by a menacing stranger, she’s no longer laughing at local superstition. Now with five cakes on order and an investigation into the necklace’s past revealing layers of unsettling clues, Rita has reason to keep looking over her shoulder while she’s frosting. Because any way you slice it, the next victim of the legendary curse could be her.

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About the author
Jacklyn Brady lives on the Gulf Coast and writes the “Piece of Cake” mystery series set in New Orleans, which features cake artist and trained pastry chef, Rita Lucero. The Cakes of Monte Cristo is the sixth book in the series. Previous books include A Sheetcake Named Desire, Cake on a Hot Tin Roof, Arsenic and Old Cake, The Cakes of Wrath, and Rebel Without a Cake. You can visit her at www.jacklynbrady.com or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Cakes of Monte Cristo. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end January 18 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

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