When kindergarten teacher Charli Rae Warren hightailed it out of Hazel Rock, Texas, as a teen, she vowed to leave her hometown in the dust. A decade later, she’s braving the frontier of big hair and bigger gossip once again . . . but this time, she’s saddled with murder!
Charli agrees to sell off the family bookstore, housed in a barn, and settle her estranged dad’s debt—if only so she can ride into the sunset and cut ties with Hazel Rock forever. But the trip is extended when Charli finds her realtor dead in the store, strangled by a bedazzled belt. And with daddy suspiciously MIA, father and daughter are topping the most wanted list . . .
Forging an unlikely alliance with the town beauty queen, the old beau who tore her family apart, and one ugly armadillo, Charli’s intent on protecting what’s left of her past . . . and wrangling the lone killer who’s fixin’ to destroy her future . . .
Good Lord! When Charli Rae Warren accepted she had to come back home, she had no idea what kind of mess, nay disaster, she would be walking into. Her beloved family bookstore has been painted a horrifying shade of pink, there’s a pink armadillo running around who seems to have the run of the place, and there’s a dead woman in the office. And just because the day isn’t bad enough already, Charli is arrested for the murder and her daddy is missing. Yeah, going home is never easy.
Once the small matter of not being a murderer is cleared up, Charli sets out to clean up the mess left by her daddy so she can sell the bookstore and get back to her real life far, far away from Hazel Rock, Texas! Setting things right is going to be a monumental job since the bookstore is a mess, the buyer has backed out, Charli’s presence in town is now hot gossip, and the suspicion of murder had shifted from Charli to her still-missing daddy.
As it happens, Charli didn’t burn every bridge in town when she left a decade ago and she’s got some help sorting through the crap sundae that is currently her life. The delightful hairdresser across the street is a whiz with crafts and decorations which is exactly what the bookstore needs, the local football coach and his team are readily available for some light carpentry and heavy lifting, Charli’s still-sexy-ex-rat-bastard boyfriend is now the town’s mayor and willing to pitch in, and the sexy sheriff seems to be on hand quite a lot. Despite the death in her bookstore and her long absence, Charli finds herself welcomed back to her hometown, a feeling she never thought she would appreciate.
While Charli only meant to be in town for a few days, at best, a few days turns into a few more and a few more. Progress on the bookstore is coming along nicely and before long, Charli realizes she’s making long-term rather than short-term plans for the site. Huh? When did staying become a viable option? When she’s not putting her family livelihood to rights, Charli finds herself digging deeper into the mystery of the murdered woman. Turns out, she wasn’t exactly what everyone thought and there’s more than enough suspicion to go around. If Charli’s daddy would ever show his face in town again perhaps the whole mess could be cleared up and the murder solved!
The Bottom Line: Fatal Fiction really is a cozy mystery so I feel like I got exactly what I signed up for with this book. Charli is a stubborn woman who has held on to old hurts and betrayals for far, far too long. Coming home wasn’t meant to be a mending of fences reunion, but that’s precisely what it turns into which allows Charli to let go of some of those old hurts. She revives old friendships, struggles with old feelings, and finds you really can home again even if it takes a little work. The mystery is sufficiently strong yet not too intense and the reveal of the big bad and his/her motives doesn’t play out until the very last minute!! In all, Fatal Fiction has a little bit of everything including, tender moments, funny moments, drama, a pink armadillo, reunions and reconciliations, and even a little bit of danger. A good read and a decent start to a new series.
Charli Rae Warren is back home in Hazel Rock, Texas, spending her time reading, collecting, and selling books—at least, the ones that don’t get eaten first by her father’s pet armadillo. Running the family bookstore is a demanding job, but solving murders on the side can be flat out dangerous…
The Book Barn is more than just a shop, it’s a part of the community—and Charli is keeping busy with a fundraising auction and the big rodeo event that’s come to town. That includes dealing with the Texas-sized egos of some celebrity cowboys, including Dalton Hibbs, a blond, blue-eyed bull rider who gets overly rowdy one night with the local hairdresser . . . and soon afterward, disappears into thin air.
Dalton’s brother also vanished seven years ago—and Charli is thrown about whether Dalton is a villain or a victim. After a close call with an assailant wielding a branding iron (that plays havoc with her hair) and some strange vandalism on her property, she’s going to have to team up with the sheriff to untangle this mystery, before she gets gored . . .
For a small town, Hazel Rock, Texas sure does have its fair share of drama and no matter how hard she tries to avoid it, Charli Rae Warren keeps finding herself right in the middle of it all! To be sure, when Charli signed on to help with the annual fundraising rodeo, she didn’t expect to find herself smack in the middle of a double murder investigation and she sure as hell didn’t expect to find her best friend as the main suspect. Really, what does a girl have to do to stay out of trouble in Hazel Rock???
When Charli signed on to help with the annual rodeo, she had no idea she would bust wide open a cold case involving the disappearance of a rodeo star. All Charli wants to do is run her silent auction, complete her volunteer hours at the rodeo, and see a lot of money go to a good cause. Unfortunately, her best-friend is involved with one of the rodeo stars, the rodeo star, Dalton Hibbs who has a huge ego and propensity for causing trouble. Though Charli wants to support her best-friend and the happiness she’s clearly found with her rodeo man, Charli is distrustful and has real issues with his treatment of her friend.
As it happens, Charli has reason to be distrustful when Dalton goes missing just days before the rodeo is due to start. What’s more, as Charli begins asking questions, she once again finds herself in hot water. Her questions seem to be right on point if the man with the branding iron hell bent on hurting her can be used as proof. Her best friend’s home is broken into and when Charli and her friend track Dalton’s cell phone, they find the unthinkable, not one, but two graves and one of them is fresh. As you might well expect, the local law (the super-hot Mateo!) isn’t at all pleased with Charli’s meddling. Though she promises Mateo to stay out of the investigation, Charli is far too curious for her own good and finds herself even deeper in the mess than ever before. Before it’s all said and done, Charli finds herself in more danger than she’s ever been in before and with a new best-friend, the inflatable donut!
The Bottom Line: This series has found its feet for me and I liked this book even better than the first, Fatal Fiction. Charli is officially welcomed back to town and has worked tirelessly to make the Book Barn Princess an even larger and more successful part of the community. She’s on good terms with her dad, has accepted the fact she has a pink armadillo as a pet, and is eternally frustrated by two sexy men who can’t seem to figure out precisely what they want. One of my favorite parts of this book, and a quality I hope to see in later installments of the series, is Charli’s marked determination to stay out of trouble and then landing in the thick of it. She exasperates the cops, worries her father to no end, and pushes the limits of her health insurance. I’m sort of smitten with Charli Rae Warren and look forward to her next adventure 😊