Vengeance Planning for Amateurs by Lee WinterVengeance Planning for Amateurs by Lee Winter is an ice queen, age-gap, rom-com, that is set in Melbourne. It is full of ridiculous schemes, a taxidermy penguin, and a lot of laughs.

Award-winning muffin maker, women in murder book club founder, and owner of Love Muffins has had enough of being taken advantage of. She has a string of exes who have all wronged her in some way. The final straw is when her most recent ex steals the beloved stuffed penguin that her nana left her. So, she does what anyone would do! Puts up an advertisement for a henchperson to seek vengeance.

Nothing too drastic, obviously.

To her astonishment, the mysterious and icy Dr Margaret Blackwood, owner of her favourite bookstore, recluse, and occasional book club heckler applies. Both are intelligent, capable, businesswomen, this should be a piece of cake. So why are they so bad at vegeancing? It makes no sense. But they seem to be very capable of falling in love with each other if only they’d stop being so clueless.


Rachel: This author has a talent for telling a story. In this book, Winter has taken that skill and given us a funny, witty, and dexterous comedy. She has turned what could have been two anguish-filled character arcs into a fun-filled adventure of mishaps, it’s genius. Yet, Winter still conveys all the emotions and sadness that Olivia and Margaret are feeling. There are still those sucker-punch moments that made me go ‘oof’, and the hold-your-breath moments while waiting for the ice queen to lower her walls.

Jenna: Lee Winter never ceases to amaze me with the caliber of stories she creates. She’s an incredibly versatile author whose books have all made an impact on my life. With Vengeance Planning for Amateurs, she’s written a deeply emotional story that is leveled out with humor. The characters are quirky and endearing and I loved being a part of their world even for a short amount of time.    

Rachel: Winter excels at plots and letting the reader work out the deeper meaning of an action without pointing a giant arrow at it. This book is no different. One of the smartest things about Vengeance Planning for Amateurs is Dr Margaret Blackwood’s journal/diary entries. They allow the reader to see what head space she is in. I loved reading these and re-read several of them. Keep an eye out for the subtle ways in which they change as the story progresses.

Jenna: I looked forward to reading Dr Blackwood’s diary entries not only because I enjoyed her snark but because they allow the reader to catch a glimpse inside the mind of the ever-elusive woman. Her commentary is witty, sarcastic, snarky, and 100% her!

Pros And My Favourite Parts

Rachel: Vengeance Planning for Amateurs is one of my new favourites. I finished reading it, sat thinking about it, then read it again. It’s lighter than what we usually get from Winter, yet no less brilliant and addictive. I stayed up until the early hours devouring it, because who needs sleep when you have a book like this to read?

Jenna: I too had a difficult time putting this book down. I found the plotline to be so completely bizarre and I was so there for it. It is lighter than we normally get from Winter but there are some difficult and emotional themes running through that left a real impact on me.

Rachel: Dr Margaret Blackwood is a quirky, icy recluse, with a vulnerable side. She is grieving the death of her wife and for three years has cut herself off from the world. Well almost. After leaving the world of academia behind, Dr B now owns a crime bookstore and while she spends most of her time in her office with the door shut, there is one exception. Once a week while the ‘women in crime’ book club meets, she opens her door to witness the spectacle that is the book club’s discussions. She has been doing it for two years, but in a new development, she suddenly can’t help but offer her acerbic comments.

Olivia Roberts is the proud proprietor of Love Muffins. She bakes and sells award-winning muffins all over Melbourne. Olivia is a sweet, caring character who likes to see the best in people. She loves literature and according to her the most beautiful place on earth is Mary Bugg’s bookstore and coffee house.  Within a couple of chapters, I felt the need to wrap her in a warm hug and protect her. She has had rotten luck when it comes to her love interests, each one viler than the last. Her heart is big, she is a romantic, and she never sees the bigger picture, her good nature means that she is easily taken advantage of.

After her most recent ex steels a family heirloom, her beloved taxidermy penguin, Trip, Olivia decides to take action. She advertises for a henchperson to help get revenge on those vile exes. However, with most of the applicants lacking the expertise she requires, Olivia has little choice but to hire the annoying, alluring bookstore owner who likes to heckle her during her beloved book club meetings.

So starts a journey of hilarious mishaps, failed henchpersoning, and moments of vulnerability that will leave you rooting for both MCs.

Olivia’s ex-love interests made me so angry, and their eventual demise made me first laugh out loud before being utterly satisfied. The fact that Margaret thought she would excel at vengeance planning and then just kept falling short of victory makes it all the more fun.

Jenna: Olivia is an absolutely wonderful human who would give anyone the shirt off her back. Yet, she’s been taken advantage of by everyone she’s dated. I guess they see her as a target, one that can easily be manipulated. Her exes have done some really despicable things to her and I have a difficult time understanding how people can be so awful to another human. Olivia’s fed up with being a doormat and takes matters into her own hands. Naturally, things never go according to plan and despite this, she perseveres and learns to stand up for herself and not allow anyone to make her feel less than.

Rachel: Margaret and Olivia are clueless idiots when it comes to realizing they are falling in love with each other. Their style of flirting is unconventional, and their banter is funny. The way Margaret has a need to protect Olivia is so sweet and cute (yes, I just called an ice queen cute, and I own it), that I couldn’t help but love her. Ice queens expect their wishes to be met, and Margaret is no different, yet she subtly always manages to give Olivia the power in the decision-making. Even though this is a slow-burn romance, the reader gets a familiarity between Margaret and Olivia from early in the book. This is due to the fact, that Margaret has already started to thaw towards Olivia, she has after all been ‘joining’ her book club for a long time, be it from afar. Olivia is just as protective of Margaret and when it is needed stands up for her in a spectacular display of loyalty and bravery.

I adore this pair; they are both in need of a person who wants them and loves them for who they are. Even though it takes them a while to realise it, this is exactly what they are to each other from the start. Once they get together it is brilliant and slightly chaotic, and they go from zero to a hundred very quickly. *swoony, swoony, happy sighs.

Jenna: One of my favorite parts of this book are the dynamics between Olivia and Margaret. Their witty banter and terrible vengeance executions kept me tearing through the pages. The fact that they’re clueless idiots made me love them even more! The two of them together are the epitome of a dynamic duo! Witnessing Margaret thaw towards Olivia made me swoon. Her little (not so subtle looks), her anger towards Olivia’s exes, her fear for Olivia’s safety shows just how deeply Olivia wormed her way into Margaret’s heart. Olivia’s vulnerability and honesty with Margaret throughout the course of the book shows how truly brave Olivia is. Their romance is a glacial burn that works so well and when they finally, finally kiss, my heart almost burst!

Rachel: Winter gives us a cast of extras in this book to love and loath. Book club is a delightful eclectic bunch that will have you giggling and rolling your eyes on more than one occasion. A big shout out to ten-year-old Emma. This child is delightful, clever, and observant, and like most ten-year-olds, she has no problem in pointing out what she sees.

Jenna: The supporting cast of characters are a crew that really enhanced the story. The book club members are an eclectic bunch who I wouldn’t mind “talking books” with. Emma is wonderful and is the most observant of them all. I enjoyed Olivia’s sister as their relationship is a pivotal element in Olivia’s life. Sacha, of the rippling muscles and incredible balance made me laugh out loud so many times!

Heads Up

None from me.

The Conclusion

Rach's Favourite BooksTara's Fanfic FaveRachel: Winter has used her incredible ability to tell a plotty story, added in a cup full of humour, more than a couple of ounces of wit, and brought us Vengeance Planning for Amateurs. A light romantic comedy that will give you plenty of laughs. I’ve already read it twice and it has become a new favourite. The characters are endearing, the plot is clever, and the romance is beautiful.

I fell in love with Margaret and Olivia. These intelligent, capable women won my heart through their complete cluelessness when it came to vengeance planning and their feelings for each other. This book is so much fun, I laughed repeatedly, snorted on several occasions, and at times was sad and angry about what both women were going through. It has all the plotty goodness that is expected from a Winter book as well as subtleties that are left for the reader to pick up on. The first kiss is hot and messy just like the MCs (because at times these ladies are a hot mess).  Oh, and the end is a staggered timeline of events that left me in a dreamy state of bliss. This is a must-read from me, quick what ya waiting for, go read it.

Jenna: I agree, Rach. I’m in awe of Lee Winter’s ability to pen original tales with captivating characters time after time. Vengeance Planning for Amateurs is a fun romantic comedy that captured my attention from the first page. The unique plot, witty dialogue, engaging characters, humor, and romance make this a real winner for me. Olivia and Margaret’s character arcs are perfectly described and I found myself falling more and more in love with them as the book progressed. The mishaps with vengeancing had me laughing out loud, shaking my head,  and cheering for them at the same time. There’s humor, compassion, honesty, loyalty, vulnerability, and romance. Honestly, this book has it all and I highly recommend it!

Excerpt from Vengeance Planning for Amateurs by Lee Winter

Wanted: One Henchperson

Duties: Assisting in vengeance planning and execution of a revenge bucket list.

Skills required: Sabotage, reconnaissance (not in a stalkery way), wet work, brainstorming, and implementing various schemes as required. Experience not necessary, but extreme annoyance at one’s exes a bonus.

Payment: Six months’ supply of assorted baked goods from Love Muffins.

Apply in person to: Olivia Roberts, c/o Women in Crime Book Club, Mary Bugg’s Bookstore and Coffee House. Next Tuesday, March 10, from 4pm.

Olivia pinned her ad on the community noticeboard that sat just inside the doors of Mary Bugg’s. It was the first thing customers would see as they entered. She attached a dozen application forms underneath the ad.

The noticeboard was supposed to be for customers offering piano classes or selling a bookcase, not soliciting henchpeople. Henchpersons? But desperate times etc., etc.

Her gaze fixed on her typed words. Funny how bold and challenging the ad looked now that it was up for all the world to see. But Olivia had tossed and turned all night last night over what had happened, her fury rising. Apparently, once she’d uncorked that bottle, there was no returning.

For most of the night, she’d relived, over and over, her visit to the spectacularly uninterested Victoria Police. They’d signed and dated her stolen penguin report before shooing her out, explaining that they had to focus on “important” matters.

Important. As though Trip wasn’t one of the most important people in her life. Well, companion. Whatever. They didn’t understand and weren’t interested in listening when she’d tried to explain his family heirloom status.

Pawn store staff had laughed outright when she’d called to see if anyone had tried to offload a penguin.

Olivia’s calls to Tina had gone unanswered, and she’d pretty much been stewing ever since. Yes, stewing was the word. All day yesterday and last night, she’d marinated in rage and a sense of injustice. She’d picked over every single former relationship in unflattering, excruciating detail.

By two this morning, she’d confirmed what she already knew: that everyone she’d ever seriously dated had either carelessly and callously hurt her or taken advantage of her—or both.

When Olivia stopped and fully took stock of those four disastrous exes, her anger grew to white-hot. Why did she attract such people? Why did none of them care about her enough to treat her better? Why had none of them cared that they had lost her?

Am I not worth wanting?

By four-thirty in the morning, when she rose to bake, utterly exhausted after twenty-four hours of fuming, she’d concluded their excuses were irrelevant. All that mattered was what she did about it. It was long past time to take action. Payback was on.

Of course, to actually have payback, one needed a plan. Olivia was self-aware enough to acknowledge she didn’t have a conniving bone in her body. She didn’t have even the first clue how to come up with clever schemes that “sure showed them”.

Okay, small setback. She slid the trays into the oven and set the timer just as the answer arrived. She needed a partner in crime as clever and cunning as Mary Ann Bugg to outwit her enemies and enact a little vengeance. How hard could it be to find someone like that?

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Bits and Bobs

Publisher: Ylva Publishing

Lee Winter Online


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