4-STAR REVIEW: CANDY, CIGARETTES, AND MURDER by Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell

About The Book

Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery: Book 1
Publication Date: March 7, 2023

It’s a birthday weekend with the gift of murder.

Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.

Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.

Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?

The Review

Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder is the first book in the Chocolate Martini Sisters series by Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell, and I look forward to reading more. 

Amateur sleuths and sisters Emma and Nicole are one step ahead of the police when there are murders and other incidents at the hotel they are staying in. There are a lot of characters to sift through and tons of clues as well.

We get to know the characters a little at a time, but at times, I felt the authors thought we already knew them and their histories. Many details and descriptions are sprinkled throughout, and many clues take us in various directions. 

The story has twists and turns as suspects are ruled out or brought back to the forefront. Multiple stories are being told, woven together, with every detail playing a role in helping find the murderer and others involved. 

This cozy mystery has good guys and bad, along with needless violence. There is some predictability but also surprises along the way. There were a few loose ends in my eyes, along with solving the whodunnit. I like the title, which ties into the story as well as the particulars of the cover.  

Ms. Proell and Ms. Whiteside are new-to-me authors, and I look forward to reading more of their books, not just those in this series. Attention to detail and character development are things I look for when reading, and Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder had me turning the pages in this cozy mystery to see whodunnit.

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Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield Mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.


Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.


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JoAnne Weiss, nee Montalbano, was born and raised in NYC until moving to CT with her family when she was 16 and she's never left. Married for 41 years with one grown son, she works in an elementary school office where she's been since it opened in 2003. Prior to that, she was an accountant in several corporations before becoming a stay at home mom for 12 years. JoAnne enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with her family, and extended family as well as with friends. She enjoys cooking and rarely uses a recipe the way it was intended but instead uses them and cooking shows to give her new ideas and suggestions. JoAnne has a huge bucket list of places she'd like to visit but has been lucky enough to travel to England, Italy, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, and many states in the U.S. including Hawaii, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Maine among others. Some of JoAnne's favorite genres include contemporary romance, chick-lit, romantic suspense, and historical romances including regency and those set in the west. JoAnne is on several author's street teams and enjoys interacting with many of them on Facebook as well as reading their newsletters. She has been lucky enough to meet some of her favorite authors among them Susan Mallery, Debbie Macomber, Nora Roberts, Meg Tilly, Beatriz Williams, and Marie Bostwick. JoAnne took a road trip with her sister in the fall of 2019 and visited Nora Roberts' bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland for an authors' signing. She hopes to do more of this in the future. JoAnne leaves reviews for all books she reads on Goodreads and her reviews can be found at https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5001736?ref=nav_mybooks JoAnne currently reviews for - NovelsAlive.com and RomanceJunkies.com which is on hiatus. Previously she reviewed for Romancing-the-Book.com which has since closed. Payment is in the form of receiving free books to read and review. Her mantra is too many books and not enough time!


  1. Now I’m seeing JoAnne as the reviewer so I’m sorry for saying Diane. Don’t know what I was reading yesterday. So…thank you JoAnne!

    • Glad you liked it. There was a glitch on posting who wrote the review. It’s all good now. I look forward to reading more!


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