Joanne Fluke, Hannah Swensen and the “triangle that needs to end”

Joanne Fluke was my first introduction to the world of cozy books. I read her 2nd book, Strawberry Shortcake Murder, and thought that it was quite enjoyable- a good town, nice characters, and a heroine who was funny, and charming in her own ways. She was a tad off-beat, not a size 6 and gorgeous character, and smart- something that, at the time, was a bit lacking in characters.

As I began to read the first book, and more in the series- I enjoyed Hannah and her family. The escapades, the small-town charms, and her dating life. She begun dating Norman Rhodes, the town dentist, and Mike Kingston, detective on Lake Eden’s police force, early in the series- and has continued to date both of the men throughout the series. Both men proposed to Hannah in Peach Cobbler Murder (the 7th book in the series) and she told them both she wasn’t ready and would let them know who she chooses when she’s ready. We’re now on book 18 and Hannah is still dating both men. This “triangle” was cute for awhile- but 11 books later0 it’s grown beyond old. Beyond.

And the romance- well neither romance is hot and heavy. At first, I appreciated that aspect- I don’t want to read a cozy where the “romance” scenes are hot and heavy all the time- I even thought it was refreshing to see a character that wasn’t bed-hopping, or had lewd references all the time. It even made sense for several books- Hannah had been involved in a brief affair with a college TA (with a fiancee) , and was still smarting from being duped by him. But, other cozy mystery writers (see Jenn McKinlay, Denise Swanson, Cleo Coyle) address the issue of romance, without it being lewd and bed-hopping- thus making the romance aspect more believable.

Now, I know cozy books usually have recipes mixed in with the plot, that the characters are part of the charm of the cozy world and the crimes are not graphic. This is what I like about the cozy series- but lately, it just seems that besides no movement on the romance front- that Joanne Fluke is more interested in writing a cookbook. So when she did write one- I thought “OK, maybe we’ll cut back just a teeny bit on the recipes”- but no, they have been increasing. Don’t get me wrong- they sound good for the most part. But at times it feels like they are “filler” to meet the quota of pages.

In the latest book, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder, the reader saw multiple mentions to the “chase” game that Moishe and Cuddles partake in each time they are together. I understand that for some readers this may have been the first book by her to read- so yes, you’d need to know about the game. But for long time readers, it’s getting old (although not as old as the “triangle”)- However, the ‘chase” game did not need to be mentioned multiple times in the same book. Once was sufficient to let new readers know, and then the continual description of what the cats were doing could have stopped.

One might wonder why I keep reading the books- I read forΒ 2 reasons: 1. Even with all the things I don’t care for about the book series now- they still have some good to them. They are like a big sweatshirt- cozy and comfy. and 2. because I want to know how this ends. I’ve invested time in Hannah and I want to see how the series will end.

Will ending the triangle breathe life back in this series? I don’t know. Sometimes I think it would. Sometimes, I think the series needs to take a break or end. These used to be pre-order on Amazon books- and now I just check them out from library.

Dear readers- what happens when a series you’ve been a faithful reader of starts to falter? Do you continue because you want to know what happens? Stop? Stop buying them and just borrow?

91 thoughts on “Joanne Fluke, Hannah Swensen and the “triangle that needs to end”

  1. melvin says:

    Hi, my first time here. And I completely agree with you about the Hannah Swanson mysteries – they’re fine and they’re comfortable but the triangle resolution is wayyyyyy overdue. Thing is I used to think Mike was a caricature of the handsome hunk that’s there in many romance novels and I used to think it was great that she kept showing that he was less than perfect, and that in the end,Hannah would choose Norman – hell I would’ve chosen Norman 10 books ago. But nope, book 18 and it’s still the same old, same old. It’s silly, because in most of the books, Joanne Fluke shows that Mike has time and time again proven unreliable and also a tad incompatible with Hannah but still she won’t dump him because his kisses make her knees tremble. And all this while Norman is being the perfect guy. I love this series, I adore the characters and the only thing that would make this series better would be if this old triangle was resolved and we could all move forward (like Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow mysteries). That or end the series (like the Anita Blake series should have long ago..

    • Exactly. You make some great points. I get that it’s a cozy and you have to suspend reality some- BUT this triangle has become beyond ridiculous. Even tho Norman is not a looker; nor makes Hannah’s knees weak- he’s the one to pick. It’s just time! While there is still some things I enjoy about this series, this series has now been relegated to the “check out from library” list or “borrow from someone else”. I’m not willing to spend my hard-earned book money on this series as it stands.

  2. I agree. The problem I have with the series is that Fluke describes Hannah as this independent, fiesty woman who is intelligent and a go-getter but yet still has “feelings” for a self-centered jerk who down plays her intelligence and contributions, sleeps around and treats her with a lack of respect. The Hannah she describes would have kicked Mike to the curb ages ago. I am sure kissing Robert Downey, Jr. would make me go weak in the knees too, but I certainly would not keep him around if he treated me with that lack of respect. Plus Mike is really not a likeable character. It almost feels like a game to him. Now I like Norman and earlier in the series, I was a total Norman fan. But she has drug this out for so long, that quite frankly, he really has been downgraded to friend status and I don’t see how she could rescue this relationship. Hannah has emotionally manipulated him throughout the series. She tells him she loves him, which, I don’t believe she has said to Mike ( I am only on the Apple Turnover Murder), she spends a good amount of time with him and has even spent the night with him. Fluke appears to lean more towards Norman as Hannah’s romantic equal. But now he seems to be a poor pathetic man who has bent over backwards to show her he loves her and she really doesn’t reciprocate in kind. She is turning Hannah into an unlikable character. Will I still read the books…yes because I want to see how this plays out. Do I still have the same respect for the series and Fluke, not really. But I am a fan of series books…so I will read on.

    • AGREED!!! Oh my gosh, I totally understand all of what you are saying! I don’t remember her saying exactly she loves Mike, either- I think she they may say things of how they care for each other, but actually using I love you- I don’t recall that.

      As the books go on, the leaning toward Norman becomes more prominent. Apple Turnover Murder is a bit fuzzy in my head- is that where Hannah’s ex, the professor, comes back? ( I think so!)

      I hope that somehow she manages to pull this series back to the fun series it used to be. But I doubt it’s possible!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • CINDY says:

        obsolutely agree that fluke needs to move on with Hannah. I stopped reading after cinnamon roll…just not exciting anymore. think she will be losing reader’s as she hems and haws over Hannah and her love interests. SORRY TO SAY i won’T BE READING ANYMORE FLUKE BOOKS.

      • I’m so tired of the never-ending triangle. I used to LOVE these books, now- not so much. I want this series to get back to a good point- instead of just dragggggggggging on! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Anne Brenner says:

    I agree with all of the above. I would add that Fluke has failed to develop these characters. None of them has grown or matured nor does any of them seem to have any self-awareness.

  4. Carrie-Anne Dallas says:

    I actually stumbled on this page because I was trying to find out if anyone else was as annoyed with this love triangle as I am. I used to absolutely love this series but now I’m so incredibly bored by the relationships. How can you possibly date 2 people at the same time for that amount of time and for everyone to just
    be ok with it? It’s weird! I was definitely on Hannah’s side but now that I’m on Devil’s Food Cake I’m more annoyed that Hannah is even remotely jealous of Norman’s ex fiancee. If she’s that in love with him isn’t this the time to make her move….wow didn’t realise I was that passionate about the books until now πŸ˜‰ xx

    • I’m so glad you found my blog! I can’t believe that Joanne Fluke has let this triangle go on as long as she has. And for Hannah to be jealous of Bev’s, Norman’s ex fiancΓ©e, well- that just takes the cake. I mean seriously.

      I used to LOVE these books. I bought all of them and happily read them. Then I bought them and thought “Maybe the next one will get better.” Now I just check them out from the library. In fact, her newest one released this week and I haven’t made it to the library to borrow it. And I’m not sure when I’ll do that.

      I hold out hope that this book will end the triangle- but who knows? Thanks for stopping by!

  5. SPOILER ALERT!!!!!! I just finished Double Fudge Brownie and I’ve never been as frustrated with an author as I am with Fluke. Seriously, she has been dragging us around with this love triangle and now she just decides to pop that Ross Barton character back in and she chooses him. The only thing I can hope for now is that he becomes the murder victim in the next book. Why any intelligent woman would have been running around after Mike while she had Norman there is beyond me! The fact that Fluke just threw this other man in there and became the chosen “finacee” just infuriates me!!!

    • ARGH! I read that on a review on Amazon and was so pissed. I mean, WTH, we haven’t heard from Ross in several books- I think he might have sent a text or letter in one of the last 5 maybe (and that’s just a maybe!) b/c the last one I do know he was in Cherry Cheesecake, right?

      I wanted the triangle to be over- NOT to end in some ridiculous way. I don’t even know if I can read this book now that I know this!

      • SPOILERS….You know, I read endings first…crazy I know. To tell the truth, I kinda liked what I read in the end. What I didn’t like was the wishy washy Hannah…after all the hee haw of Ross throughout the book and how she implies that our Puritanical Hannah has done the dirty deed with Ross, the dance scene with both Mike and Norman about made me scream.

        I think this book was a response to all the fans out there who have been clamoring for the love triangle to resolve. After all the books, I was never a Mike fan and as much as I liked Norman, he had become a bit boring and slightly obnoxious. For me Ross was refreshing and Hannah’s response to him more in line with the 21st century.

        The book is again stuffed full of recipes and sometimes it feels like the murder is almost in fourth place behind Hannah’s love life, her family and the recipes. I can’t stop reading a series and I didn’t dislike it enough to stop all together.

      • So, I haven’t read yet and I’m simply going on gut feelings based on what I know of the spoilers and of the previous Hannah books.

        I can totally agree with you on that Ross is probably in answer to all the cries for ending this triangle.
        I used to be a Mike fan- but he took a major ding during Peach Cobbler Murder (I believe that was book 6) and then Joanne just finished him for me when he was involved with the other girl that got killed (potentially Cream Puff Murder). Norman, while I didn’t just LOVE Norman for his personality (he can be a bit boring!) He always seemed to be the perfect companion to Hannah (because she can be a bit boring, at times).

        Now, I’ve felt that Hannah’s reaction to men was not always 21st century- so I’m curious to see how much her reaction changes from the Hannah of previous books.

        What I have a problem with is this: Ross. I remember Ross from many books ago- and while there was some good chemistry- I’m just disappointed that she just randomly seemed to choose Ross. Maybe if we had been seeing more of Ross in the last few books- I wouldn’t feel like he was such a left field character.

        I am going to go to the library this week (hopefully) and pick the book up. Based on how I feel at end of book will determine if I will read series more (even though I hate to abandon a series.)

  6. Barbara Luffman says:

    I am a new fan of Joanne Fluke’s murder series. I heard that Alison Sweeney was going to do a movie based on this series and that is when I started reading them, and in order, so I would have some background knowledge for the movie. As my favorite genre is romance, I keep hoping that Hannah will focus more on romance and make a choice between Mike and Norman, especially since it has dragged on so long! It seems more like Norman is a “best friend” and that Mike is the lover that would turn into a husband.

    • I love Alison Sweeney and will be curious to see how this movie looks! I like romance, too- but Hannah’s series focuses less on romance than many other cozy mystery series.

      I hope you enjoy reading all the books- they are very good for a long time- then the triangle kind of makes things annoying- but that is just my opinion!

  7. I’m still hoping Ross ends up a victim in the next book since that what seems to happen to new characters that show up.

    I agree though, the recipes seem to be taking center stage now. I really don’t like all the Mike/Norman/mother/Andrea comments in the ingredients…(Mike likes this recipe hot, mother not so much). What do I care whether or not fictional characters like the recipe??

    I don’t know if I’ll read the next one. At least I have a year to decide….

    • I just can’t wait to read this and see how much I’m going to dislike Ross for reals- b/c just knowing that Joanne took an easy way out is annoying the crap outta me!

      My gosh, the recipes!! It’s getting to be too much. And YES! The side notes are annoying- as well as the little jabs that she does to Andrea in the recipes. I don’t mind recipes, I don’t. BUT when they take up a significant portion of the book, it’s getting to be a problem.

      YES! That is the plus. You have a year πŸ™‚

  8. SaraMyers2011 says:

    Yes! I agree about the triangle. I just finished Peach Cobbler, where Mike & Norman both propose at the end, and I decided I needed to find out whether Hannah chooses the right guy before I read the next book. While I like the characters & the recipes were fun at first (now I just skip them), I am tired of the overexplaining, always with the same language. How many times per book does she need to tell us that Andrea is a real estate professional, chocolate gives you energy, Moishe is always hungry (& gets upset if he can see Garfield’s face at the bottom of his bowl), and Hannah is inordinately obsessed with grammar (“fun” has been an adjective for quite some time, Swensen…move on!)? There are so many examples of this and she overexplains a lot of basic concepts as though she expects her readers never to be able to infer anything. Does she think we’re all in 2nd grade?! Or maybe she’s just trying to make sure that readers for whom English is their second language don’t struggle. Sometimes, I wonder if she’s just trying to meet a word-count quota. Thanks for giving me a place to rant, and sharing the information I needed to decide to give up on these books. I really enjoyed them, at first, but now I’m so annoyed at the writing style, I would only be in it for the characyers. It sounds like they go nowhere fast, so I’m out. At least for awhile.

    • So much agreement with all you posted. Seriously. I 100% understand your feelings. If you are just in Peach a Cobbler Murder & are tired of Hannah, i highly advise you to move on/take a long break… Because all the things you mentioned only get worse. I keep reading b/c I keep hoping she ends this darn triangle.

    • Kym says:

      I felt the same way after completing the Peach Cobbler mystery! That is how I found his blog . I feel as though Norman would be the best fit for Hannah, and not combative Mike . And I really don’t want to “slog” through numerous mysteries and recipes ( just mix it with a fork!) to see who she finally ends up with ! Thank you for the opportunity to vent!

  9. SaraMyers2011 says:

    Btw, Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman series does the baker with a cat solving mysteries pretty well. I’ve only read the first book, Earthly Delights, but I’ve read all of Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series. There are some erotic moments in the books, but few, and not greatly explicit. If you haven’t, you might try them out.

  10. Bummer – just finished reading Fudge Cupcake Murder – and had to know how the love triangle was going to end….knowing it’s not anytime soon leaves me not wanting to read anymore….I think I’ll take a break and find something else.

    • I heard a rumor that it did end in the latest book- but I haven’t read yet to confirm. I forget exactly where I began to feel like enough was enough with the love triangle (I know it was a few books before I wrote this post!) Do you read Jenn McKinlay? Or Denise Swanson? Or Cleo Coyle? Lucy Burdette? I highly recommend those authors if you are looking for more cozy mystery reads!

  11. Kellie says:

    I have recently started reading her books; I’m the 8th book in and I couldn’t agree more with this whole love triangle relationship – now I just skip over anything relationship related. But I would like to vent a little to just get out of my system…I hope that whoever she chooses (if she did in fact choose in the latest book) turns her down.

    I found Hannah to have double standards w/her relationship w/Mike – Mike needs someone who is more appreciative and respectful of his job; a baker who constantly must outwit him (with help from family/friends) to prove she is better. She wouldn’t like it if he showed her up in baking. I do enjoy the murder mysteries & recipes, but it drives me crazy that she seeks help from family /friends to solve vs. sharing the crime solving with the detective, for what I see, she has more of a connection with Mike…but instead of sharing in this connection she has to up stage him.

    She doesn’t put this much time & energy in her relationship with Norman, he’s just too “safe”. So tired of hearing that…Norman needs someone who will appreciative for who he is and put him 1st and not string him along. He is a very interesting character with a lot to offer and I just don’t see it with Hannah.

    I’m tired of family/friends always trying to sway her relationship towards Norman and make Mike out to look like the bad guy all the time. It’s like Norman has no flaws and I am sorry to say there’s got to be something to make him a little more humanized. It seems like Hannah cares more about how Mike makes her feels; than Norman…so this makes me question how much she really cares about Norman.

    *Come on…the author has Norman depicted as Mr. perfect: a dentist, photographer, race car driver, @ one with the cat, builds the perfect dream house….Hannah never seems to get in an agruement or disagreement – how is that a healthy relationship? Where’s the passion, the romance, the spark????

    Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is, it is OK, for her to date 2 people at the same time, but if one of them shows interest in someone else, in her mind that is not acceptable….hello “double standard”; apparently, no one clued in Norman/Mike to the fact they are the ones in the monogamous relationship with her; but she can see whoever she wants…she just dates whoever she fancies or shows interest in her without considering how this makes either one of them feel by competing them against each other. And what two guys wouldn’t be jealous….seriously do you really believe that these guys would get along in real life (lol) and if they are that nice; shouldn’t one of them have backed down by now??? Just saying!

    As for the newest guy Ross, if you can call him that, because I have only heard of him in the one book so far, if he starts showing up in more books – all I can say is “run” she doesn’t know what she wants!!!!

    Whew..enough said!

    • YES. This all had me nodding along at all the points you made. I completely understand your feelings!
      I have heard (have not read, tho) that in the latest book- she has made a choice. I won’t spoil it for you- but if the spoilers I saw are correct- I’m not pleased with the choice and will need to go back and look over some old books for a new blog post. I plan to grab a copy from the library during the holidays!

      I kind of want to tell you to continue to see how much more ridiculous this triangle gets- and then I kinda wants to tell you to stop and save your time πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!!!

  12. I quit reading this series a few books ago. I like to listen to them on Audible and got tired of fast-forwarding through a recipe. Who wants to hear a recipe? anyway, I think Hannah should choose Mike. He always comes through in the end. and he is the one who makes Hannah’s heart go pitty-pat.

  13. Hope says:

    I have read the books but have watched the three made for TV versions of Murder she baked. I am already sick of Mike/Norman/Hannah triangle. I think both men are really nice in the show and wish she would just pick one.

  14. After reading all the way through book 16 (Red Velvet Cupcake Murder) I am really, really disappointed in the author for marrying Hannah off to a near stranger. I wanted her to end up with Norman. And she loved both Norman and Mike, so it’s ridiculous for her to suddenly jump into marriage with a crush she had from college.

    Not to mention…each book is set in a different month, it seems, and sometimes in a different season, and yet…by Sugar Cookie Murder, Lisa is still 19 (and never sounds like a 19 year old, ever, and in the previous book she said she was turning 20 very soon) and Hannah is not 30 yet.

    Are we supposed to believe these people don’t age? Or, are we supposed to believe that time passes differently here? I guess that’s it — time moves so slowly in this series, because 6 books seems to equal six months, but that doesn’t really make sense.

    Using the Books and the Internet, the Timeline Looks Like This…Going Back Through The Books: Fudge Cupcake is Halloween, Lemon Meringue is July, Blueberry Muffin Murder is in February, Strawberry Shortcake is in winter — so, by Sugar Cookie, it’s been a year! But no one’s aged? Wth? According to amazon and googlebooks, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is in September, so…clearly, by Sugar Cookie, it’s been at least a year.

    Also, Tracey’s supposed to be like five. Why does she speak like a ten year old?

    Anyways, I can’t keep reading these books. It makes me sad that Hannah is going to end up with some random dude that was never mentioned in the previous 16-17 books. Some random guy she had a crush on in college — which doesn’t really add up with her steamy relationship with the affair guy.

    I wanted her to end up with Norman. And it just sucks that it’s this other thing that doesn’t even make sense. *sighs*

    • I think for cozy mystery books- you have to give them a lot of leeway in things like “time”- it’s kind of like a soap opera- it could be the same day for 2 weeks. However, I do understand what you mean. What I’m most annoyed about is that she does wind up with a stranger (he was a character in the book after the Peach Cobbler Murder- right after the men proposed to her- that next book!) And I think she (Joanne) may have mentioned him 1 more time in a book- something about a text from him. I’m not a 100% sure about that.

      I was so Team Norman. I just can’t even anymore. SIGH.

  15. Elaine Smith says:

    I as well am stunned and feel betrayed as a reader that there has been such a contrived, haphazard ending to have Hannah marry Ross…..I would’ve rather read 10 more books with the triangle than have it end this way. He is a stranger to us and that is what Joanne doesn’t understand….there is no YEA! moment for any reader cos we have no investment in Ross and Hannah. We either wanted Norman (me and I think most people) or Mike for years and years….and now Ross??? And how likely is it that this young guy who is not even from Lake Eden and has spent a few days there filming is now Doc’s best man?? Does Doc, a 60 something man have no other friends his own age? Or if not, wouldn’t he have picked Norman or Mike ?? I hated hated hated this ending…..I as well want Ross to die in the next book…..if I even read any of these again.

    • The triangle on-going was better than her marrying Ross! I was a total #TeamNorman fan. I have not read Wedding Cake Murder (the latest). And I really have no plans to since the last book- the one where she said she would marry Ross was such a stinker that I was just UGH.

      I feel like Joanne is being such a sellout by picking Ross. UGH.

  16. Rai Launcelin says:

    I would like to see Hannah betrayed and dumped by Norman and Mike. My own love life hasn’t been perfect. Nobody’s is. Hers should be rough enough to make her appreciate what she has. And while we’re at it I’d like to see little sis flunk a class and Andrea have a temporary weight problem. I will continue reading the series because I am pleased with the most recent court problems she has. Reflects my own life a bit and isn’t that what we want out of our cozy books? Oh, to feel like we’re not alone and that even with our problems, we can appreciate life.

  17. Sue-Melissa Guillaume says:

    Oh man, thanks for this place to share my thoughts, or really my frustrations. I’m in the middle of Red Cupcake Murder, and I am tired of the never ending triangle. I was hoping for Hannah to choose Norman which made the most logical sense, however this did not seem like what was going to happen. So I Googled to see if Hannah ever married Norman and was shocked to find out that Ross had we entered the picture. I was already getting tired of all the recipes taking over the book, it felt like a recipe book with a story written around it. I also felt like Joanne was treating me like a child explaining everything to the nth degree. I don’t even think I can finish this book. I’m kind of upset, and it looks like I will be starting a new series.

    I started out really enjoying this series it was clean, it was fun, but the characters have stopped growing, and I feel trapped in a never-ending Loop. Any recommendations on what I should read next?

    Thanks

    • Sue,

      YES YES YES! So much yes. SO MUCH YES!

      Suggestions: Jenn McKinlay writes a cupcake and library lovers series (both are very good imo!) Lucy Burdette writes the Key West Mysteries (foodie!) Cleo Coyle writes the Coffeehouse Mysteries (Coffee in NYC!) and Kate Collins does the flower shop series- I like all of those books. I’ll try to think of some more cozy series that I enjoy!

  18. Candice says:

    Just finished the wedding cake murder and I am so disappointed in this series. I agree with everyone else that the love triangle went on for way too long, but the whole Ross thing was out of the blue. Why would you have to marry him within a few weeks? And why continue with th wedding after th new York “honeymoon” was basically cancelled bc it happened before the wedding?

    I was so hoping that somehow Ross was the killer and we could just get rid of him, but no such luck. Hopefully he will be our next murder victim though. Ugh.

    • I kept on reading the books because I was SO hoping that Hannah would chose Norman. But choosing Ross is utterly ridiculous. I did read the book where Hannah chooses- the one where they are in Vegas for a bit. But no more. I’m not giving Joanne Fluke one more dime since she obviously does not care what her fans think. If she had brought up Ross a bit more in previous books, then I could understand. But I am not PLEASED at all!

  19. Murder in the 1st says:

    Oh my goodness. Do none of you not realize that she may love the two guys she is not in love with either of them. If she was she would have chosen. The reason as I understand it that she doesn’t bed hop is that it’s a small smal town where reputation is a big deal. Her business would suffer if she did. Yes it’s annoying the triangle but if you really study it these books aren’t romance novels. And Mike is a sexist jackass. Leave the detecting to the men. He’s the one back in the good ole days. If he loved her he wouldn’t sleep around on her. Makes me feel sorry for his late wife. Also why would two reasonable men be happy with the run around they’re getting from Hannah? I think they don’t want to really commit either. Loose the recipes or relegate them to the end of the book. Keep the focus on solving the murders.

    • First- if Hannah is not in love with either of them, then that is something that the author should be dealing with in- instead of keeping a triangle drawn out for multiple books. Just my opinion.

      Second- yes, it’s a small town. Actually- MANY cozy mysteries are set in small towns and authors such as Jenn McKinlay, Denise Swanson, and others have dealt with the “romance” angle in a good way.

      Third- I never said that the books are romance books. They are cozy mysteries. But, and this cannot be said enough- she (Joanne Fluke) played up the romance and triangle between the characters for some time. While I don’t read them for the romance part, I do think that if you choose to have a romantic subplot- there NEEDS to be a resolution.

      Lastly- I do agree about putting the recipes in the back. That is what most other authors do and it makes for easier reading.

  20. Mystery Lover says:

    I’m reading Wedding Cake Murder right now and I’ve skipped to the back pages where she marries Ross several times like a double take, because I can’t believe it. I’ve read these books since the beginning and I cannot believe this is the route Fluke took to end the triangle. There’s a scene where she talks with Norman and he pledges his undying love to her – pathetic. They’ve been through so much together it’s kind of too much to see him suffer. Hannah has a similar moment with Mike and he’s pretty much “meh” about her marrying Ross, so I think we see that this really was kind of a game for him. He’s really just interested in getting his home-cooked dinners and cookies. He even throws in a creepy line about Michelle being a good baker. Gross, watch out Michelle.

    Anyways. This series has been tanking for a while. I don’t mind the recipes but I can’t figure out why none of them act like my contemporaries, which they are by age. Maybe it’s a small town thing, I don’t know.

    Does the end of the triangle signal the end of the series? Curious if Fluke will keep going.

    • I am just SO over this series. I won’t read Wedding Cake Murder. Out of all the ways to end the triangle- this! Ugh. I saw at the library yesterday she’ll have a new book- Caramel something coming out at Nov/Dec. But maybe this will be the last one?

  21. Angela Bohl says:

    I like Hannah and most of the characters but The author drags everything out by explaining every little stupid detail where it does not need to be done. The love triangle is way past a resolution. I hate to say it but one I would never waste money buying these books and two I am soo over this series.

    • YESSSSS! I used to buy these books- they were PRE-ORDER for me I enjoyed them so. Then I quit enjoying them and started getting them at the library. Now they are not even library books for me. So over it.

  22. Pat says:

    I completely agree. The love triangle thing was making me crazy. Yes, she wanted to be independent but to prove her independence doesn’t mean she has to constantly try and prove she is more intellegent or better than Mike at his own job. They are cozy mysteries but we are intelligent women just wanting light reading. That doesn’t make us stupid or that gullible. What man do any of us know, would put up with dating a woman for that long knowing that he is competing with another man. I sure don’t know one and if I did, I sure the heck would not date him. If he doesn’t have anymore self respect than that, I would only pity him. Mike is suppose to be a hot shot detective from a large city. A hunk of a man that turns the eyes of every woman he meets. Do we really believe he would be basically stalking Hannah? Especially knowing that she is dating other men. I think not. Then she is so suspicious of them every time they do anything at all. Worried if they are “cheating” on her. How about the fact that she has been cheating on both of them with the other all along. I think the perfect ending would have been for both men to give her a dose of her own medicine and dump her. Norman is the nicest guy ever. A dentist for goodness sakes. He can surely find someone that would appreciate him and be loyal to him. I wish women would realize that they can be strong without trying to make the male leads that weak. It really doesn’t make the women strong. It makes them pathetic. I read up through Peach Cobbler mystery and thought that’s it and then with the ending I had to see what happens next but within the first few chapters when Hannah is hanging all over Ross and Mike and Norman hear him ask her out at the town party and she accepts in front of the whole town, I just threw the book down and went to googling the ending so that i could find out the ending without suffering through another page. I began reading them because I saw the shows on Hallmark and thought they were humorous. I should have googled and found this blog before I wasted so much time. I feel cheated. Those are precious hours that none of us will get back! One more thing, If she is indeed worried about her reputation in such a small town, too late. What kind of reputation would one get in a small town where everyone knows that you are dating more than one man at a time?
    Thanks for the blog I just had to rant and say will never make the mistake again of not checking out a series and see what happens before I start. I will mark Joanne Fluke off my list of reads.

    • You have so echoed many of my thoughts of the series! I used to really enjoy them, then I got to where I was only mildly enjoying them and then it was reading to just see who she would pick and finally, I had enough. It was over. The thrill was gone.

      Other cozy mystery books to check out: Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lovers and Cupcake series, Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse series, Denise Swanson’s Scumble River series, and Kate Collins Flower Shop series. Thanks for dropping by!

  23. Carrie Kiphuth says:

    Thank you for your wonderful blog! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading every single persons comments and your replies. I could not agree more with everyone who weighed in. From the over-explaining what every character does, to the “rack in the middle position” at the beginning of every single recipe – this series has really taken a nosedive. I am currently on Cream Puff Murder, and the only reason I keep going is the same reason everyone else did – to find out who Hannah picks.

    This love triangle is so beyond ridiculous I dont even know what else to add that will be any different than what I’ve read here. No man, in his right mind, would ever put up with Hannah dating someone else for so long, and I sure would not date/string two guys along at the same time for this many books, or this much time.

    Furthermore, its becoming more and more unbelievable that a woman with such a weight problem, not to mention her lack of beauty (according to her own mother) is capable of two marriage proposals? And one from a guy whose obsessed with his own weight? (In one of the books, Mike says a few times that he gained a pound, or didnt want to gain weight.). Hannah is obviously mismatched with him.

    Lastly, just wanted to say that I was and still am a Huge Norman fan! He is the most kind, interesting, fun, loving, and totally marriage material man for Hannah. Its just so sad that Fluke is writing these characters based on some bizarre idea of what she “thinks” her readers like, or want in a man, or something. It feels to me that she is trying to copy Janet Evanovich’s very successful love triangle “Stephanie Plum” series, which is more realistic as far as the way she writes the characters and Stephanie gets to have sex from time to time.

    Thanks for letting me rant!
    Carrie K.

    • You SO have a place to vent here about Joanne Fluke’s books.

      I am SO disappointed with the turn that she has taken with the series and I really need to do another post about how disappointed I am- especially since I know who she picked, etc.

      I was fine with the love triangle for a long time- and then I was not fine for a long time. Agree- it’s beyond ridiculous. And I’m Team Norman all the way. He’s not the most exciting love interest, but he’s stood by Hannah’s side, proved that he loves her over and over, and he is def marriage material.They would have had such a nice life in the dream house with Moishe and Cuddles.

      I’m not sure if she’s trying to copy a Janet Evanovich style love-triangle or not, but a love triangle DOES make more sense when there is some ROMANCE happening and not just chaste kisses.

      Feel free to come back anytime for a vent session πŸ™‚ I’m always up for a good book talk!

      • Carrie Kiphuth says:

        Thank you for reading my comments and replying. I am really enjoying your website. I am just finishing Cream Puff Murder, and I have to admit, I am going to read the next book because I have already purchased it on my iPad a long time ago. I know, pathetic. I bought several and downloaded at the same time! I will never do that again. There is that part of me that keeps hoping something will change. Its not even just the love triangle, its the goodie two shoes feel of the whole thing that sometimes has me cringing. I do still like a lot of the characters, but I find Mike totally insufferable. He has been off this current case, yet he calls Hannah with stupid advice about how to solve it at midnight, knowing full well she has to get up early. He is completely inconsiderate. And what is more infuriating is that Hannah stupidly makes him thermoses of coffee every time! She is really lame. And yet, here I am, admitting I will still read the next one…ugh…

      • You are so welcome. So Cream Puff Murder was read by me some time ago, but I think that is the one where I really beginning to feel exhausted with this series (the Mike angle especially!)

        I would LOVE to tell you they change or get better- but imo, they really don’t.

        I hope, hope, hope that you enjoy the next books! Would love to hear your thoughts!

      • Lorraine Scott says:

        Many years ago Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard did a detective show called “Moonlighting”. They had amazing chemistry and made viewers long for a romp for the two of them. And when they finally got together, wow, it was so good!……. Then it was boring. Aw, how I wish I could have not seen that ending or could have ended it right there in the bedroom or office or wherever it took place. My point is that I’d really hate to see this happen to Hannah and her pick. Can’t we just pretend it’s only been a few months in the series?

      • I remember Moonlighting, but I was just a kid during that time.

        As to Hannah and her love triangle- at the time I wrote the blog post- we were 16-18 books into the series and I feel (STILL feel) Joanne Fluke had let the triangle go on too long, because (and I’m just being honest) The chemistry between Hannah/Mike/Norman was not sexy chemistry. It was fun, some love chemistry, etc. Not having watched Moonlighting- but watching many other shows like it where you want the 2 main characters to get together- Joanne never wrote her books in that type of “will they or won’t they” anticipation that we want to find out in TV.

        HOWEVER she did set up a love triangle. And it needed to have a conclusion. I won’t spoil for you in case you haven’t read- but apparently the triangle has ended and I feel super let-down over how she chose to end it.

        For me, the disappointment that you felt over Moonlighting has already happened. 😦 😦 😦

      • Carrie K. says:

        I hope I can at least enjoy the characters themselves and ignore the rest. I forgot to mention that what also caused me to buy so many future books was that most of them were only 1.99 to purchase from the iStore. I couldn’t resist such a low price. So, Im going to suck it up and read what I have already purchased. πŸ˜„

      • Carrie K. says:

        Moonlighting! I was a faithful watcher of that show, and once they finally put them together, it was ruined. I suppose joanne is thinking the same thing, that once she chooses Norman or Mike, the series will take a dive, thus she chose someone else entirely for Hannah to marry. Moonlighting built it up and up and up for the viewers, constantly keeping us on the edge of our seats and then when it finally happened, the shows that followed were flat. I would love your advice on other cozy mysteries that are a series. You’ve mentioned McKinley’s Library Lovers and Cupcake Series; Cleo Coyles Coffeehouse Series; Denise Swansons Scumble River Series and Kate Collins’ Flower Shop Series. Please let me know more about each series if you can, and also about any others, I would just hate to get involved in another series that resembled the love triangle fiasco of the Hannah Swensen series.

      • McKinlay’s Library Lover series is set in a library with best friends working together. The main character, Lindsey, is a library Nancy Drew πŸ™‚

        Cupcake series: Set in Arizona. Lots of humor.

        Coffeehouse series: Set in NYC. Clare loves coffee and solving mysteries. Large cast of characters!

        Scumble River: A good cast of characters. Romance. Family drama.

        Flower Shop: Abby is spirited and a do-gooder. She hates to see any type of injustice and loves to follow clues.

        Each of these have a romance angle or love triangle- but NONE have went on as long as Joanne’s.

      • Carrie K. says:

        Thank you for explaining each of the book series above. I will definitely download some new books from them.

  24. Kayla says:

    Well, I have not read the books yet. But I have just finished the third Hallmark adaptation and am VERY sick of the love triangle. However unlike what I was reading the posters above saying about the books, it almost seems as though the movies do not keep true to the characters. Because in the movies Norman is just so meh and boring and there doesn’t seem to be much connection and there seems to be a massive amount of chemistry between Hannah and Mike. Now this could be because of some chemistry between the actors which can show up! Or it could be that the directors were taking a different direction with the love triangle.. Either way if what they say is true about her choosing neither then I will NOT be reading this series. That being said I will continue to watch the rest of the movies and see what direction they choose to take..
    .
    This was quite the opposite of what I did with Cedar Cove. I read All of those books first and then when i saw how badly the series is NOT sticking at all with the storylines of very important characters. Some of the characters i loved in the books I hated in the series! So i stopped watching the series to not ruin the books πŸ™‚

    • I haven’t watched the Hallmark movies yet, but Allison Sweeney (who I loved on Days of Our Lives) is a great actress, although not who I would have cast as Hannah. The guy who plays Mike is also a soap-opera character, so I imagine they do have great on-screen chemistry.

      In the books, the first few, the chemistry is there between Hannah and Mike. Norman is more like a friend who she likes. But then it changes and while Norman is never the dashing handsome guy who has chemistry with Hannah- you can tell that he really cares for her and he would be the better choice.

      I’ll have to see if I can find the movies on Hallmark one day just to see what they are like!

  25. Patt Castro says:

    I am so glad to have found this blog, I wish I had found it years ago. I admit that I stopped at book #14, I was sick of the triangle and how it felt as though Joanne changed the Mike and Norman characters from how she originally started. I posted my thoughts on a Goodreads review and it was not well received, so I deleted it. Today, the most recent book was recommended in a newsletter and I thought I’d search to see if anyone else shared my feelings – yay! I’m not alone. Reading these posts made me shake my head about Hannah marrying Ross, and made me glad I gave up on the books when I did. Thank you for this thread, I feel validated – lol.

    • Please feel free to come here and vent anytime πŸ™‚

      I am done with her books. I read them because I used to like them. I found the sweet and charming and I liked both Mike and Norman. Then when Mike began to change and dating other women in town, I felt sure that Hannah would end up with Norman. To choose Ross, a man that us readers in the series has only heard of 1 time (maybe 2 times) before she decides to marry him- well it’s a slap in the face of long time readers. And I won’t waste my money anymore on her lack of caring for what the FANS wanted.

      • Carrie K. says:

        I was curious about Joanne Fluke herself, so I decided to YouTube any interviews with her. I was hoping for some sign of WHY she kept the love triangle for so long and why she chose Ross. I got through about three interviews and was dumbstruck that in all three she acts like a little teenage girl, with some bizarre fantasy about having two men want you. It just struck me that she is very out of touch with reality. She has got to be 60 at least, and she almost giggles her way through these interviews, but not quite. To quote Ms. Fluke, “Hannah has TWO boyfriends!” Said like she was just SO proud of her character for attracting two men. It’s like she is fantasizing about a reality that doesn’t exist. I want some sense of reality, not just all young girl fantasy, and it astonishes me that she thinks a woman would have two men after her, forever, when she’s not giving them any kind of sexual encouragement. It’s actually comical. I said it before in an earlier blog that no man in his right mind would keep asking Hannah out after being turned down for a marriage proposal. By now these two (Norman and Mike) would have found other women to date. It’s just so beyond silly.

      • YIKES. I read in an interview that she wouldn’t end the triangle to when Hannah decided who she wanted… and I know authors talk about their characters “speaking” to them, but that was taking it a bit tooooooooo far for me. Beyond silly sums up a lot of my feelings!

      • Rai Cobb says:

        I think a lot of writers must hate to see a character stop but I still think it could go in a different direction. While adding a connect to everyday troubles she could add some hot sex. Of course she’s have to have more than one partner but it wouldn’t have to be simultaneously.

      • You make some excellent points, BUT I don’t see her changing up the formula for her writing. I believe the books will be the same until the very end- and the end will only come when the publisher quits printing them.

  26. Rai Cobb says:

    I will keep reading the series. I love reading about the cookie making and midnight snacks for Mike. But Norman is so boring. Like I said a while back is I’d like to see Hannah’s family have some problems with weight, failing grades, infidelity and/or mental illness. Those are the things that real people experience and need to be able to laugh through. I’m not saying this would be an easy task but I do wish JoAnn would try it.

    • I would love for the books to get back to being good, but I feel as if I’ve wasted too much time, money on the series now. 😦 I’ll still cherish the good times with the earlier books….

      • momoftwoinva says:

        omgosh i’ve been wondering if i’m the only one who felt this way. totally agree with you on why hannah is such a great character–which is why i was terribly disappointed with allison sweeney playing hannah in the made-for-tv-movies. nothing against allison, but her physical characteristics just don’t match hannah at all & that takes something away from the character. curiously, the parts of norman & mike are played by actors with very similar traits. as the triangle, i’m totally over it but i do love a good mystery and i’m an avid cookbook collector so this series, along with the diane mott davidson series featuring goldy schultz, are right up my alley.

        so yes, i do continue to buy her books & will get banana cream pie at the end of the month, but the way that the love triangle was tediously drawn out and with everyone always getting along, and then having hannah marry ross…not cool! it was definitely getting tedious watching hannah walk all over norman & yank his chain, but mike admitted up front that he has a roving eye but i guess hannah thought she could somehow tame him. men are simply not that amenable, especially after “years” of toying. still in the end, i have to say i was disappointed that the author decided to have hannah marry a 3rd party but i’m sure that was to keep us readers hooked to see if it will last

      • I actually haven’t watched the movies yet. I love Allison Sweeney (been a long time fan of hers from her Days of Our Lives days) BUT she’s not anywhere like what I pictured Hannah or how Joanne describes her.

        I don’t mind some “cook book element” in the cozy mystery, but Joanne is really taking it too far- given that her books are around 300 pages and at (at least) around 50 pages are devoted to cookbook stuff. But that is just my opinion.

        I’m just done with her books. I had,in the past years, just started checking them out from the library, BUT I am so frustrated with the triangle and how it was resolved- I’m not even requesting at the library. Sigh.

        If Banana Cream Pie is good- report back πŸ™‚

  27. Carol says:

    Wedding Cake Murder – Hannah marries Ross. Next book, Christmas Caramel Murder, she doesn’t appear to be married. I must have missed something. Could someone explain, please?

  28. Cyn says:

    Wedding Cake Murder – Hannah marries Ross. Next book, Christmas Caramel Murder, she doesn’t appear to be married. I must have missed something. Could someone explain, please?

    Sorry but what was the answer to the above question. I’m a bit confused about it.

  29. Emma says:

    I’m in the middle of reading Wedding Cake murder (and believe me I use the term “read” very lightly) I have been skimming through the last 7 books or so. The repetitiveness of the books got super old after about the 4th or 5th book. I started skipping anything with the words “moishe” or “cat” in the paragraph or anything with a detailed description of rooms and what was going on in them. I also skip through any and all recipe descriptions or preparing of meals. lol The only reason I kept reading this series was because, like a lot of you here, I wanted to know who she chose in the end.

    Anyway, I decided I wanted to know if Hannah really ended up with Ross, so I google searched it and found this blog. It’s been very interesting to read that there are a lot of folks who feel the same as I do about this series. Needless to say I was very surprised and a little disappointed with the way Joanne Fluke decided to go with the triangle.

    I still can’t believe she married Ross after such a long ridiculous triangle with Norman and Mike. Because let’s be honest, it was truly ridiculous for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is how long it lasted. Like I said, the only reason I kept reading the books was because like everyone else I wanted to know who she chose. LOL Just wanted to say, I never spent a dime on these books, I borrowed them from the library on my kindle fire. But by Apple Turnover Murder I was over the whole triangle and just wish she’d pick someone already! lol I guess I was leaning more toward Norman for a husband, because Mike could be a real tool sometimes.

    That said, I will continue to skim through the other 2 books that have come out in the series, only because when I start something I feel like I have to finish it. These books stopped being a fun read a long, long time ago.

    • I’m so glad you stopped by to share your thoughts πŸ™‚ I am completely disappointed in who she chose and really feel very ugh about the books now. There are just so many other books out there so I have given up on reading these. Sad to think this used to be one of my fav series. 😦

  30. Joyce says:

    What I hate is an author who gets you hooked on a series and then suddenly puts it in a cupboard somewhere and goes off in another direction with a new series while there is still plenty of life in the ones he/she has been writing. David Baldacci has done this with both Maxwell and King and The Camel Club. He now has a series about some guy named Amos and for the life of me I can’t get into it and long to find out what my long time buddies in the others are up to.

  31. Freda Branch says:

    I’ve been enjoying my kindle and all the free books that are available, so much so that I haven’t been reading library books as often. So I was excited today to find “Banana Pie Murder”. I had to have missed a few books, because surprise, she’s married and on her honeymoon with a guy named Ross. Ross? There’s no description of him, so I can’t picture him at all. He seems like a doormat just like Norman and Mike. She’s married, so where is the passion? I don’t mean sexual passion, but there should be loving thoughts toward her husband, who, by the way, calls her “cookie”. They come home, and the family is explained again. I already know who they are! And another surprise, Norman and Mike have bought a wedding present together, and sit down with the new guy to assemble it. Are we going to have a menage a quatre? I had to stop reading and google this to find out what is happening here!?!?! I’m over 1/3 of the way through. Yes, there’s been a murder, but no one is trying to solve it. And although I’ve actually printed and used some of the recipes, please put them in the back!

    • Ross was brought up in Cherry Pie Murders (one or 2 books after both Mike and Norman proposed- and I *Think* that is the name of the book) He was a friend of Hannah’s in college ( if I remember right she had a bit of a crush on him) and THEN HE IS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN TILL THE BOOK BEFORE SHE MARRIES HIM. Sigh.

      These books have completely jumped the shark………

  32. momoftwoinva says:

    Banana Cream Pie Murder was on the disappointing side for me. I’ll admit that I probably didn’t go in with an open mind because Hannah had married Ross & I was hoping she & Norman would tie the knot, but I felt like I was reading a highly formulated novel: 1- find body; 2- Hannah investigates; 3- Hannah gets snared in danger position; 4- mike saves the day.

    It’s the same scenario over & over again. The only mild difference in this latest edition of the series is that Hannah’s new husband, Ross, has “skipped out” on her leaving an open-ended tale. There’s not enough antagonism in the Hannah-Norman-Mike triangle to make it a believable situation. Men don’t like to be played against each other and then Hannah marries someone else & they all get along? GET REAL! Ain’t gonna happen.

    • I had noticed in the upcoming book (Amazon still sends me emails about her books since I have bought so many in the past!) that Ross is “gone” and Hannah does not know what to think. I wonder if this in response to the backlash against Ross and Hannah marrying, but as for my thoughts, it was a cheap ploy for Hannah to marry Ross in the beginning SO her husband acting shady is not winning me back.

      The books are formulaic for sure and that’s ok-ish EXCEPT that there is NO progress made in other parts of these books. I mean it’s wash, rinse, repeat dialogue. Ugh.

  33. Debra Post says:

    I j finished Raspberry Danish Murder….still “reading” the series (I listen to the audiobooks while driving) because it’s hard to find series that continue to be put out on audio. I googled Hannah Swenson to see if the author had decided to off Ross because the fans didn’t like him orthat Hannah didn’t end up with one of her two admirers. I too, find a lot of the books redundant; the Moishe parts, the parts about how her niece is so smart, how Mike and Norman and now Ross are such good friends…..but I did like the way this one ends. not the murder, which was kind of stupid, but the relationship end. so read it, skim it, or listen to it…..

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