Juliette “Jules” Bridge prides herself on the tender rehabilitation she provides for injured or abused rabbits on her New Hampshire rescue farm, but she has a very special relationship with one bunny in particular. Bun is a black-and-white rabbit who happens to have the ability to communicate through mental telepathy. Once she got over the shock, Jules found her furry friend had a lot to say.
One frigid March morning on their walk together, Bun spots a body. The police identify the frozen stiff as Arthur Freeman, aka Arty the Mime. Jules and Arty knew each other on the children’s party circuit, where he’d perform magic tricks and she had an educational rabbit petting pen. With Bun egging her on, Jules decides it’s time they hop to it and put their heads together to discover who silenced the mime. But their investigation leads them down a rabbit hole of more suspects and lies, while a killer sets a trap for them…
As a survivor of a horrific car accident that left her near death, Jules Bridge understands the value of and protecting life more than most. Since her accident and long recovery, Jules has dedicated her life, time, energy, and love into rescuing, rehabbing, and rehoming bunnies. Fur Bridge Farm is well-known in the area and Jules works tirelessly to promote her cause and her bunnies. What Jules doesn’t do is solve crimes.
Jules constant and faithful companion is a recued bunny affectionately known as Bun. Though he is like most other bunnies, Bun is special in one very important way, he is able to communicate with Jules and that is just what he does the morning he and Jules stumble upon a dead body. Though Jules is initially happy to leave the investigating to the police, Bun has other ideas; according to Bun only he and Jules can uncover the truth and with their combined skills they can most certainly suss out who killed Arty the Mime.
As Jules and Bun begin their investigation, they discover two things: 1) there are times when they are completely out of their depth and, 2) there are things they can do and people they can access that the police simply can’t. What’s more, with Bun’s superhero level hearing and ability to maneuver where humans cannot, there’s a great deal of information and pieces of the puzzle that Bun and Jules are pulling together.
The more puzzle pieces Jules and Bun pull together, the more confusing the whole mess becomes. The more puzzle pieces Jules and Bun pull together, the more dangerous the whole mess becomes for them and for the farm. With each new bit of information and each new incident, Jules becomes more and more determined to find out the truth behind Arty’s death. What’s more, Jules is determined to protect her bunnies, her farm, and her life.
The Bottom Line: I am always going to be a fan of any book with a talking animal and Left Fur Dead is no exception. I found both Jules and Bun to be wonderfully quirky, smart, fun, funny, and intelligent characters who certainly do their part to carry off this story! Bun is simply wonderful and crazily determined to solve a crime and he simply can’t do it without Jules’ help. To be completely fair, this is the first in a series book and there were a few slower spots that were meant to lay the groundwork for the rest of the series. If you can muddle through those spots and focus on the characters and the beatific setting, then you’ll find a delightful little cozy mystery.
When Juliette “Jules” Bridge began caring for rabbits on her beloved Fur Bridge Farm in rural New Hampshire, she never imagined she’d be solving murders with one of them. Not only can her black-and-white rabbit, Bun, communicate with her telepathically, he happens to be a pretty sharp sleuth. Bun comes along as part of a petting pen for a birthday celebration—but for one of the guests, the fun is soon over. Evelyn Montgomery is found lying in the bushes with a knife in her chest, and the distraught hostess begs Jules to help . . .
To her surprise, so does Sheriff Jack Carver—who usually discourages Jules from getting involved in criminal investigations. But now she’s drafted at the last minute to fill in for Evelyn as a judge at a rabbit show, and Jack wants her to go undercover. Yet as she and Bun expose the dark—albeit fluffy—underbelly of the world of rabbit competition, a killer is ready to act as judge, jury, and executioner . . .
Jules Bridge is not a cop, nor is she a detective, yet, much to the great consternation of the local sheriff, she is a curious human with a knack for sussing out the truth of a situation. To be fair, some of her sussing out is aided by her constant companion, Bun, a rescued rabbit who can communicate telepathically with Jules. While the sheriff has often warned Jules off her investigations and poking about, he has also had to admit there are simply things she can do and find out that he cannot.
While the sheriff isn’t happy about bringing a civilian into his investigations, he currently has a case on his hands that is going nowhere quickly. While no one in town particularly misses Evelyn Montgomery, they do want to know who plunged a knife deep into her chest during a child’s birthday party. Jules and Bun were at the party so, to the sheriff’s way of thinking, they are the perfect pair to start asking questions and rooting out information. What’s more, Evelyn Montgomery was actively involved in the local, upcoming rabbit show which gives Jules and Bun a perfect place to start asking their questions.
The rabbit show is truly an eye-opener for both Jules and Bun. Not only do they discover how awful the shows can be, but they also discover that no one liked Evelyn Montgomery, especially not her colleagues. In fact, the more digging Jules does, the more suspects she uncovers. Narrowing down the field of suspects is going to take some super-sleuthing which leads Jules and Bun to a little breaking and entering, a little kidnapping, a little rescuing, and a lot of blackmail. Yes, Evelyn Montgomery was not a nice person and, even in death she is causing awful things to happen.
The Bottom Line: Round two of the Jules and Bun Mystery series was even more entertaining than the first. The training wheels have come off and Jules and Bun are officially sleuths! I found this book to be a bit more complex than the first and that is because the author has already largely set the scene in the first book. This time around, there is not as much to explain and describe which leaves more time and space for sleuthing and shenanigans. With that said, this isn’t a frivolous read at all, simply a more detailed and complex story that I found wholly engaging. The characters – especially Bun! – are evolving and growing in their confidence and are supported by a cast of generally likeable minor characters. Once again, the setting is idyllic, the pace is just the right speed, the story is just complex enough to keep you guessing, and the characters are the highlight of the whole shebang! I am absolutely on board with this series and can’t wait to see what kind of mischief Bun and Jules get into next.
Edie has enough on her plate keeping her tyrannical boss happy at Moira’s Wedding Shop. So when society bride Tia begs Edie to design her wedding dress – and keep it a secret from the domineering mother-in-law to be – Edie reluctantly says ‘I will’ to making Tia’s dream come true. If her deception is found out, though, it would mean losing her job…
Meanwhile best man James has his eye on Edie and he’s proving ever harder for her to resist. James is upper-crust and Edie’s one unexpected bill away from the breadline – they’re from completely different worlds and there’s no way it can ever work between them … right?
I knew that second book was just a blip on the radar and not the start of downward trend!! I. Knew. It. Book three of the Tanglewood Village series is every bit as good as the first book with fantastic characters, a lovely story, and a setting that is just to die for.
Edie has devoted her life to two things, her young son and her work. Edie’s work is like oxygen, she needs it to survive, but the shop she works in is killing her spirit. Edie is a topnotch designer and seamstress who specializes in one-of-a-kind wedding dresses that are not only beautiful but elegant and perfectly designed for the bride, her body, and her personality. Edie is a magician with needles, thread, and fabric, but her boss never allows her to shine. In fact, Edie is so demoralized she rarely ever speaks in her boss’s presence, never contradicts her, never takes credit for her own work, and lives in fear of losing her job.
Since her accident, Tia has had to learn to adjust to life a bit lower to the ground. She may be wheelchair-bound but that certainly hasn’t dampened her personality. With her wedding coming up, Tia has had to learn the fine art of not speaking her mind. Her mother-in-law is quite big for her britches and has very distinct ideas about the way her son’s wedding should look and play out. While Tia doesn’t care about most of the details, her dress is one thing her MIL will not have a say in, at least as far as her MIL believes.
On the day of Tia’s wedding dress consultation, all goes exactly as Tia’s MIL and Edie’s boss expect; between the two of them, they run roughshod over Tia and Edie and all is right with the world. To Edie’s surprise, it isn’t a week later when she is secretly approached by Tia’s spy, James to make Tia the dress she actually wants. In secret, of course. Though Edie is deservedly worried about losing her job, she is more concerned with Tia not having the dress she wants and thus begins the project that will change a lot of lives.
As the weeks leading up to the wedding go by, Edie and her son become totally smitten with James and Tia. Edie admires Tia’s gumption and her willingness to take all the blame should things go wrong. She and her son adore James for very different though equally good reasons. Their time together may be limited, but it is always uniquely spent, fun, and all-inclusive. Edie adores James’ willingness to accept her son and include him and his willingness to help a friend (Tia) in need. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and when they do, it is a spectacular end.
The Bottom Line: Oh, boy! What a story this was, and I enjoyed every single word! Edie, James, Mary the bunny, and Tia were all fantastic characters that just wrapped me around their respective fingers and paws. There were moments of hilarity, moments of pure joy, moments of profound sadness, and straight up shenanigans. There was also, Betty and y’all know how I feel about her 😊 More than all of that, I loved how much Edie changed and evolved. She went from a scared young woman to a confident and happy woman and that was so lovely to see. I also very much loved the descriptions of the gowns she designed and made. While I know nothing of fashion and haute couture, I know what Edie was designing was top of the line. In all, I found this book to be utterly wonderful and I sure hope the small village of Tanglewood has a few more shops with single ladies!
When Tanglewood flower shop owner Leanne enters Budding Stars – a floristry TV competition – she’s shocked to make it through to the televised stages where the pressure grows to prove herself a success.
Luckily for Leanne, new Tanglewood park ranger, Rex, is a rose among the thorns as he provides support and friendship that could blossom into something more…
But Rex’s ex-girlfriend appears with some shocking news, and between busy schedules and the occasional mountain rescue, Leanne can’t see how romance could possibly bloom. And with a new job opportunity suddenly sprouting up, will she need to uproot her life and leave Tanglewood entirely?
Leanne’s life isn’t complicated or overwhelming, but it isn’t the most exciting life either. In the small village of Tanglewood, there is only so much mischief a girl can get up to. For Leanne, most of her mischief is in the form of nights out with her girlfriends and the very occasional date. Most of Leanne’s life is spent in two places, her successful flower shop or her home which doubles as her family’s farm.
While Leanne certainly loves her family and her friends, even she has to admit, her life is getting the tiniest bit boring. Her girlfriends are beginning to pair off and look towards their respective weddings and her flower shop practically runs itself. Leanne is bored and looking for a new adventure. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for!
On a whim, Leanne applies for a new reality TV competition revolving flowers and flower design. Though she doesn’t think she’ll get far, it is a challenge and that is exactly what she’s looking for. Coinciding with the reality show is Leanne’s introduction to the hot new park ranger, Rex. Leanne is definitely interested in Rex, but she doesn’t seem to get the same vibe from him. What she gets is good conversation, great ideas for her competition projects, and some quality time in the great outdoors. Though she would like more than just friendship with Rex, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Rex is new to Tanglewood and though he came here to escape an awful recent past, the past doesn’t seem to want to leave him alone. Just as Rex is getting settled, learning the lay of his new land, and finding friendship among some of the locals, his past comes screaming back in the most horrific way imaginable. To make matters worse, the past comes a calling just as Rex was beginning to truly enjoy his time with Leanne and see a possible future with her. In an effort to be fair to Leanne, Rex does what he thinks is best; unfortunately, Rex’s best comes at a very high price.
The Bottom Line: This sophomore effort from Lilac Mills wasn’t quite as good for me as book one was. I absolutely loved Rex and his story – WOW is that a big tragedy with all the feels – but I didn’t love Leanne and her story. I feel like the whole reality TV competition and the possible fancy, new job was more of a bunny trail than an integral part of the story. I often found myself skimming these sections so I could get back to Rex, his story, and the story as it unfolded in Tanglewood. I appreciated the attendance of many of the characters (BETTY!) from the first story and how they reinforced the sense of small-town life and community. While I didn’t love this book in the same way I did the first book, I think this may just be a blip rather than an indicator of future of the series. One thing’s for sure, I’m hoping it’s a blip because I kind of adore Tanglewood 😊
Patisserie-Chef Stevie is stuck in a rut. Her beloved Great Aunt Peggy has passed away, she’s been fired from her job and the love of her life has walked out the door. But when she’s called to the solicitor’s office to hear the reading of Peggy’s will, Stevie’s life begins to change.
Left with a large amount of money, Stevie is determined to take Peggy’s advice and turn her life around. The quirky tea shop that she sees up for sale in the beautiful village of Tanglewood must be a sign, and Stevie can’t wait to make it her new home.
But what happens after your dreams come true? It turns out that life in the village isn’t as idyllic as it may have seemed. With local mums waging war against sugar, a tea shop and its patisserie-chef owner are definitely not welcome.
When the gorgeous but grouchy local stable-owner, Nick, shows up he seems like just another fly in the pastry batter but as the two grow closer, Stevie realises he might just be the perfect reason to stay and win over the village…
Stevie never saw herself working in a tea shop, let alone owning one! In fact, Stevie never saw herself doing a lot of things like being hit by a bus, breaking her leg, losing her job, and moving away from her beloved London, but, as the saying goes, needs must!
For Stevie, the need to own the little tea shop in Tanglewood is paramount. Her mother and sister are disasters with mouths and legs, her dream of working in a Michelin-starred restaurant is gone thanks to her vindictive ex-boss, and her only opportunity to get out and strike out on her own is thanks to the death and generosity of her wonderful great aunt Peggy. With great aunt Peggy’s money in her pocket and nothing left to lose, Stevie takes the plunge and buys the darling little shop in Tanglewood.
For weeks, Stevie brings the little shop back to life with nothing but hard work and determination. When opening day rolls around, Stevie is blown away by the reception she gets from the sleepy little village. Her cakes, cupcakes, croissants, teas, and specialty baked goods are a hit and within weeks, Stevie is seeing a profit on her returns. What she isn’t seeing is a good amount of sleep or a social life; if Stevie wants to truly become a part of the Tanglewood community, she’s going to have to find some help.
May I introduce to you, Betty 😊
When Betty comes on board at Peggy’s Tea Shop, she is more than Stevie could have ever hoped for in an assistant. Despite her advanced age, Betty is anything but old, she has mad baking skills, and she knows a thing or two about life and love. Almost instantly, Betty begins to encourage Stevie and her developing feelings for a certain, handsome yet broody horse trainer, Nick. Though Stevie isn’t at all as certain as Betty is about her relationship to and with Nick, she does know she’s interested in knowing him better.
Since his sister’s accident, Nick hasn’t been the same. He has quit dating, quit socializing, and virtually given up on anything and everyone that isn’t a horse or his sister. Trouble is, Stevie won’t leave his thoughts and he has no idea what to do about his little dilemma. As the weeks go by, Nick sees Stevie become more involved in the community, more involved with the locals, and more a part of his own world through his sister. If it weren’t for his obligations to his sister and his stable, Stevie might just be the exact kind of woman he is looking for in his life.
May I introduce to you, Betty 😊
Though Betty certainly wouldn’t call herself a meddler, she does have a load of life experience and she isn’t about to let Stevie and Nick make the same mistakes she made. Betty isn’t interested in seeing Nick and Stevie walk away from one another before they really have a chance at loving each other and so, with that in mind, Betty sets her plan into motion. By the end of one magical evening, Betty has not only brought one couple together, but two!
The Bottom Line: What a wonderful read! The minute I started this book, I didn’t want to put it down and I barely did, if I’m being honest. So much of this story was made better by the setting and the scrummy (Thank you, Mary Berry for that lovely British word!) descriptions of Stevie’s culinary efforts. I do love a good pastry 😊 When you add into a wonderful and richly described setting, characters that are equally as wonderful, well, you have a recipe (HA! Pun intended!) for a truly lovely read. Of the main characters, there isn’t one I didn’t thoroughly enjoy and root for, but I will admit to a soft spot for certain elderly meddler. Nick and Stevie’s story is so sweet (Oh, another pun!) and their happy ending is so well-deserved. I can assure you, it took me less than a minute after finishing this read to dive into book two, The Tanglewood Flower Shop.
“And I would like to be more.” He began scooping the mac and cheese into the bowls. “I would like to be a lot more. Do a lot more—with you.” With two filled bowls, he turned around and made his way toward the kitchen table, but before he got there, he stopped just behind her. “Do you want more, Eva?” His warm breath against her neck had her fighting the urge to shiver. But she couldn’t shiver. A reaction like that would only feed into his game. She wanted to make him work for it.
Whatever it was.
“Hmm, Eva. Just Eva. Do you want more?”
Hell, yes, she wanted more. She wanted all of it.
She gulped again.
“I want more, Scott,” she whispered, not ready to turn around.
She didn’t have to see him to know he was smiling. Warm lips landed on her neck, and she lost the battle with her urges and allowed her eyes to flutter shut.
“We’ll start slow,” he murmured, peppering more kisses along the back of her shoulders to the other side of her neck. “First, tell me your last name, your favorite color, and one secret about yourself hardly anyone else knows. Then we’ll decide how much more we can handle.”
“Marchand,” she breathed. “Eva Danielle Marchand. I went back to my maiden name.”
“Eva Marchand. Very French.” His tongue danced just below her ear. “I like it.”
“Green. Like the trees and the grass and all the plants. It’s the color of Earth, of life, of all things new.”
“And the color of your amazing eyes.”
The warmth of him behind her had her entire body blushing. Need pooled in her belly, and a rush of wetness coated her panties. She was practically breathless, yet she hadn’t moved an inch.
After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup then move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.
Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.
With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.
I have to say clearly from the beginning, I don’t understand the Goodreads rating for this book at all ☹ This book is far better than its rating, in my humble opinion.
Here we go . . . .
Going home is hard to do; going home with your tail firmly tucked between your legs is damn-near impossible. When you add total humiliation, the possibility of jailtime thanks to the shady company you worked for, a complete lack of funds, and an estrangement from your mother whose house you need to return to, well, going home is most certainly a level of Hell. After a very, very long drive, being robbed, and generally dreading her reception, Alyssa Harrison is now firmly ensconced in her own personal level of Hell.
Alyssa has no intention of staying in her hometown for more than the summer, she has no intention of making nice with her mother, and she has no intention of going to jail. As the old saying goes, we plan, and God laughs! The first bit of laughter comes when Alyssa is forced, by her dad, to return to her childhood home where her mother still lives; the second bit of laughter comes when Alyssa’s car breaks down and she is forced to work off the repairs at the local service station, and yet another bit of laughter comes when Alyssa realizes the FBI has interviewed everyone but her and they have yet to reach out regarding her old company. To add insult to injury, as the days move forward, there’s a load more laughter coming Alyssa’s way before she finally gets her sh*t together.
One of the ways in which Alyssa finally begins to pull her life together is helping her friends with their accounting. One of Alyssa’s greatest strengths is her ability to see and understand numbers in a way many others cannot. To that end, her best friend not only hits her with a harsh dose of reality but employs her to review her restaurant’s numbers and see how and where they can improve their overall spending and saving. What’s more, Alyssa’s best friend also encourages her to do the same thing for the new local coffee shop owner, Jeremy Mitchell, whose grand new coffee shop is failing miserably, and he has no idea why.
Alyssa’s time at home is an awakening on so many levels. Though she spends a great deal of her initial weeks at home fighting everything and everyone, Alyssa has a scary moment of reality when she lands herself in the hospital. From that moment on, Alyssa truly begins to reassess her life, her position in other’s lives, and how she has behaved and contributed to her own situation. Once Alyssa makes the decision to right the wrongs of the past, her future suddenly becomes far more realistic and potentially very happy.
The Bottom Line: I reiterate, I feel like this book is far better than its star rating on Goodreads. I read this book cover to cover in a single sitting and regret nothing. While I have focused my review exclusively on Alyssa, this book is also the story of coffee shop owner Jeremy Mitchell and I found his story to be just as appealing and interesting as Alyssa’s. When their stories begin to cross over, the story becomes even more interesting and well-rounded. Make no mistake, this isn’t a silly or frivolous story, but the story of two very broken people trying to make sense of their lives and put all the wrongs to right. When you add in the minor characters, there’s a depth to this story that I really appreciated. In all, a fine read that is worth more than its rating suggests.