Nora Pennington, owner of Miracle Books, believes that a well-chosen novel can bring healing and hope. But she and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society know that sometimes, practical help is needed too. Such is the case with the reed-thin girl hiding in the fiction section of Nora’s store, wearing a hospital ID and a patchwork of faded bruises. She calls herself Abilene, and though Nora and her friends offer work, shelter, and a supportive ear, their guest isn’t ready to divulge her secrets. But when a customer is found dead in an assumed suicide, Nora uncovers a connection that points to Abilene as either a suspect—or another target.
Summer’s end has brought other new arrivals to Miracle Springs too. Entrepreneur Griffin Kingsley opens Virtual Genie, a cyber business that unloads people’s unwanted goods for cash. With the town in an economic slump and folks hurting for money, Virtual Genie and its owner are both instantly popular. A patient listener, Griffin dispenses candy to children and strong coffee to adults, and seems like a bona fide gentleman. But Nora’s not inclined to judge a book by its cover. And when a second death hits town, Nora and her intrepid friends must help the new, greenhorn sheriff discern fact from fiction—and stop a killer intent on bringing another victim’s story to a close . . .
The women of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society have only just gotten themselves out of a mess and looking forward to some down time when trouble quite literally walks through their collective door. It’s just before closing time at Miracle Books when a gaunt young woman, clearly in need of help walks into the bookstore. With nothing else to do but help her, the woman jump into action.
Abilene is a hot mess and with very few words spoken, Nora and the girls know only the barest of facts about her. What they do know is this: Abilene has suffered severe trauma, she is wicked creative, she adores books in the same way Nora does, and her baking skills are on par with Hester’s. Each Society woman understands secrets and if they are going to help Abilene, they are going to have to help her feel secure and trust her new friends enough to open to up to them. Always easier said than done.
Coinciding with Abilene’s mysterious arrival is the death of a local woman and the arrival of Griffin Kingsley. The death is an apparent suicide and Griffin Kingsley is a huckster and a con man disguised as a legitimate businessman whose arrival is meant to help those in Miracle Springs struggling from recent tragic events. Though Nora is uncomfortable with all the sudden change, her first priority is Abilene. It isn’t until she and the Society begin investigating that they discover all three events are not only tied to one another, but intimately tied and bound to end in a very bad way.
As the Society women work to help Abilene, each discovers that the young woman’s story stirs their own demons. To silence their own demons, the Society women are going to have to help Abilene face hers, solve a murder, and reveal Griffin Kingsley for the fraud he truly is. As expected, none of this is going to be easy and it is going to put at least two of the group in serious danger before the whole mess can be handled and put to rest.
The Bottom Line: This second installment of the series is far more complex than the first with, essentially, three plots in one book that all come together in the end. Though they do all come together, it is a bit of a ride getting there. Once again, my favorite character is Nora, who, despite her internal struggles, has emerged as the leader of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society. With each new struggle and mystery, Nora comes a bit more out of her shell and into the light. Nora’s confidence is at an all-time high in this read and while it initially causes some friction among the group, it all works out in the end as Nora fights to help a new friend. Each of the women grows a bit in this book and I am so happy to see that kind of forward movement. While I liked this story, I’m not sure I liked it quite as much as the first; there me the tiniest bit of a sophomore slump happening but that slump isn’t enough to keep me from the third book in the series. Onwards and upwards, as the saying goes 😊