What I Read in June 2016 Part II. . .Copy Cap Murder by Jenn McKinlay (Hat Shop #4)--Cozy Mystery
Scarlett Parker is feeling homesick after 8 months in London. Fall is in the air and that reminds her of Thanksgiving. She's also regretting her "no dating" pledge because she really fancies Harrison! Harrison tries to cheer her up by inviting her to a posh work party at his boss's home. The Viv, Fee, Nick and Andre are all invited too which doesn't thrill Scarlett who was kinda sorta hoping for a date. At the party Scarlett meets Harrison's ex-girlfriend, the polished and glamorous Tuesday Blount. The woman is poison and Scarlett knows better to take her eyes off Harrison or Tuesday will move in for the kill. Scarlett also runs afoul of Harrison's office rival, Winthrop Dashavoy, a thoroughly unpleasant man who thinks nothing of taking what he wants and hurting people on purpose. when Win ends up deader than a Guy Fawkes dummy, Harrison becomes the chief suspect. Scarlett knows he's innocent and will do anything to prove it.
I waited a long time for this book and it was well worth the wait. I never ever guessed "whodunnit" - never! It was a huge shock and then there was a plot twist that also took me by surprise. The story starts off a little slow and I had to go back and remind myself who some of the characters were. On the plus side- the romance heats up and sizzles without even being really sensual or any more than PG-13 kissing. I especially loved the romance plot. I was happy to see things progressing.
I didn't care for Scarlett's homesickness much. I'd jump at the chance to go live in England and leave my family far behind! Maybe at Christmas I'd feel homesick but I wouldn't miss Thanksgiving, so that was a part of the story I couldn't relate to. I could relate to Scarlett's intense desire to protect her loved ones. This leads to a semi-ridiculous denouement which was a bit too unrealistic (hence the 4 stars).
There are a LOT of new people here from Harrison's investment firm. Harrison is pretty much a copy of Tate in Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery mysteries but that's OK. Instead of old movies, this trio of friends shares puns. He's a pretty swoony sort of leading man - a bit more than Tate who is a little needy and annoying at times. The people Harrison works with are awful and I didn't care for any of them one bit. Win was especially loathsome and he took advantage of people because of his money and social status yet he was a terrible investment banker so why was he still at the firm? he's one of those nasty weasel-like characters who manages to get out of trouble. Of course his luck ran out and it was about time. I don't condone murder at all but if any character in the novel deserved to be murdered, it was Win. I can't say any more about the new supporting characters but some of them had surprising depth and the identity of the murderer was never on my radar at all.
Scarlett, Viv, Harrison, Nick and Andre continue to be delightful. I love Nick and Andre's relationship. They are so sweet, funny and caring. They are good friends and neighbors to have. It's nice to see a pleasant core group of friends appear so consistently in a series. There's a bit of tension between Scarlett and Viv in this book but not too much and Viv does eventually confide in Scarlett. This leads to a possibility for the next novel! I can't wait to read it!
Magic and Macaroons by Bailey Cates (Magical Bakery #5)--Cozy Mystery/Fantasy
When a strange woman shows up at the Honeybee after hours looking for Katie claiming her uncle sent her and then collapses, Katie is perplexed. When she discovers the woman is the niece of Franklin Tate, Katie feels it's up to her to help. She goes searching for answers as to what happened to Taite, what exactly is a lightwitch and what is wrong with Ms. Taite. She discovers a dangerous voodoo practitioner has it out for the Taites and for Katie. It's going to take the whole spellbook club to get to the bottom of this mystery.
I really liked the mystery except that at the end, the magic element of the story ruins the suspense that comes in a normal mystery. I also wasn't entirely surprised at the reveal. I was partly surprised and partly not. I did like learning about voodoo and the different types and being introduced to new and fun secondary characters. I liked the romance aspect now that Katie has settled on Declan and now the angst has stopped. The romance is very sweet- and clean though Declan does spend the night at Katie's. It's only mentioned that he's snoring beside her but if that bothers you, don't read the book because it is a key scene in the story. There's some cute humor to balance out the dark mystery. I also enjoyed learning about different herbs and their non-magical but beneficial uses. I didn't like the Cookie-Oscar drama plot. It padded the story too much. I also didn't like the Steve romance drama either.
If I describe the characters then it will spoil the mystery but I'll make it general. There are a couple of voodoo practitioners in the story. I liked meeting them and seeing how they helped the other characters come to an understanding about their own gifts and in Cookie's case, her past. The ladies of the coven are very kind and caring towards Katie and their love shows in this book more than in the past. I'm still indifferent towards Katie. I am on board with the hedgewitch thing but the lightwitch thing I don't get or find interesting. The new employee, Iris, seems like a fun character and I hope she plays a larger role in the next book.
Murder Most Howl by Krista Davis--Cozy Mystery
Holly's Oma is finally off for a little vacation, leaving Holly in charge of the Inn. No problem! Holly has everything under control- until a fun murder mystery/pet adoption weekend turns into a real murder mystery when she discovers another body. Someone is leaving nasty clues about the residents of wagtail for the game participants and Holly is certain they are tied to the killer. A blizzard shuts down the mountain and everyone is stuck in Wagtail - with a killer on the loose. Someone has also been stealing expensive items from the Inn's guests. Guess Holly's dream of some alone time with her love interest is not going to happen but she has everything under control... right?
It's not Agatha Christie but the famous author does get a mention. The mystery was complicated and I never ever guessed who did what! The clues were just not there. I don't know if that's good or bad. It's obvious that everyone hated the victim and though they didn't deserve to die, they did deserve a bit of revenge. I was not surprised by the stealing plot. That was obvious and Holly would have thought of it if she hadn't been preoccupied. I had a hard time keeping the guests straight. They all blended together and sounded alike- rich, pretty, spoiled women and their husbands; older gossips and hateful old ladies. Another new human character is introduced-Shadow- the young handyman with a mysterious background. The other new human character to play a role in the story is Val, owner of the Hair of the Dog pub. Her story added another dimension to the mystery but the whole thing relied on a lot of coincidences.
All other new characters not mentioned above are animal companions and they are the real stars of the mystery. I just ADORE Wagtail and I want to go there in the worst way! (Just not in winter) I love the idea of a pet adoption weekend held at a pet-friendly inn.
Holly's romance doesn't get off the ground but Ben pays a visit and forces Holly to evaluate her feelings. She's a great character. She's not overly smart or really stupid. She doesn't do anything dumb and knows when to let the cops handle investigating. She gets spooked a little easily but that's understandable given the theme of the weekend. She's eager to prove herself to her grandmother and she did well. The only thing I questioned was how she could live in Wagtail and not know everyone and every place. How big is it?
I love this series and I want more and more! If I can't go there in real life, the next best thing is reading these books.