Review: Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin

43887554. sy475

A swanky job as a Michelin-Starred Sous Chef, a loving husband and future children scheduled for exactly January 2021.
 
That’s until she comes home one day to find her husband’s pre-packed bag and a confession that he’s had an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass (or three) of wine, only to discover the following morning that she has spontaneously invested in a bright pink campervan to facilitate her grand plans to travel the country.
 
Now, Rosie is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to change her life! With Poppy, her new-found traveling tea shop in tow, nothing could go wrong, could it…?

Source: NetGalley, HQ Digital, and Purchase Rating: 4½/5 stars

Rosie’s life has always been planned, her plans have plans, and her plans have back up plans and right up to the moment her husband walks out on her, Rosie thought all the plans were still totally acceptable to all involved.  Right up until the moment her rat bastard husband left her . . . .

With her life and all her plans turned completely upside down and inside out, Rosie must make some serious decisions about her future.  With more than a glass of wine or three in her, Rosie makes a most un-Rosie-like decision that involves a huge hit to her credit card and a bright pink campervan.  In the bright light of day, Rosie can’t believe what she’s done and one she realizes there’s no going back, she starts making plans and reaching out to others for advice. 

In short order, Rosie has a travel plan, a load of custom-made teas, and a load of fear that she won’t be able to make this new life plan work.  Though luck hasn’t often been with Rosie in the recent past, the universe does hand her a freebie in the form of the free-wheeling bookseller named Poppy.  Poppy has been living the traveler’s life far longer than Rosie and has many, many secrets, and tricks of the trade that she is more than willing to share with Rosie.  What’s more, Poppy’s books pair beautifully with Rosie’s teas and in no time flat, the two have a business plan in place that may just keep them both afloat.

Becoming a part of the traveler community is unlike anything Rosie has ever experienced.  She is welcomed by all and made to feel a part of the community immediately.  The others in the community share their best and worst travel tips with Rosie and after consulting with Poppy they plan their travels accordingly.  Along the way, Rosie experiences both the best and the worst of her new lifestyle.  Her teas are a wonderful success, and she sells out at nearly every stop, but her bright pink campervan has a lot of miles and frequently costs Rosie a chuck of her profits.  If it weren’t for the support of the community, Rosie may have called it quits after the first disaster, but her new life is interesting and not something she is willing to give up on so easily.

The Bottom Line:  Yet again, I am on the opposite side of others with my star rating.  I completely enjoyed this book and found it quite uplifting.  Rosie is forced into a life she never planned for and not only does she make the most of it, but she also succeeds in spectacular fashion.  With a few good friends, Rosie is able to overcome her obstacles and create a life for herself that is so much more fulfilling than what she once had and thought she couldn’t live without.  I had such respect for Rosie and the courage it took for her to take on her crazy adventure.  With the exception of a few little wonky moments, I quite enjoyed this read.  In fact, I read it in no time flat and wouldn’t mind a sequel to catch me up on Rosie’s life a year or so in the future.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback | Audible

Mini Review: Take the Lead (Book #2: Dance With Me Series) by Shelley Shepard Gray

50690045

Growing up in foster care, Officer Traci Lucky had a rough start to life, but things are looking up now that she’s found a place in Bridgeport with two sisters she never knew she had. One night while on the job Traci finds Gwen, a pregnant teen caught up in a dangerous world of drugs, and takes her straight to the hospital. There Traci encounters the oh-so-charming Dr. Matt Rossi, who surprises Traci with his compassion–and his movie-star good looks.

A busy ob-gyn with a huge, meddling Italian family, Matt Rossi hasn’t had much time for love in his life. All that changes when he meets the beautiful Officer Lucky. He’s intrigued by her strength and the kind heart she tries to hide beneath her tough exterior.

When Matt confides that he needs to learn to waltz for his brother’s wedding, Traci reveals that her sister happens to be a ballroom dance teacher. Next thing they know, Matt and Traci are juggling busy careers, helping young Gwen with her pregnancy and personal safety, and learning to waltz together. But when Gwen’s escalating problems threaten to put all of them in danger, they wonder if they’ll ever find time for a little romance too.

Source: NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing Rating: 3/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  This series really is a very sweet series with likeable characters you just want good things to happen to.  Int his installment, Officer Traci Lucky has the opportunity to face some of the demons of her own past while helping a young lady she knows has the ability and desire to turn her life around.  With the help of her sisters and the delectable Dr. Matt Rossi, Traci has a real opportunity to not only heal herself, but another person in desperate need of just one person caring for her.  As with the first book, I found Take the Lead to be a rather uplifting and heartwarming story that really hit the spot over the holidays.  I genuinely like this series and hope it will continue to produce good stories revolving around worthy characters.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback | Audible

Review: Reserved for Murder (Book #2: Booklovers B&B Mysteries Series) by Victoria Gilbert

55405970

Beaufort, North Carolina, is home to Chapters Bed and Breakfast, owned and operated by former schoolteacher Charlotte Reed. This historic 18th-century inn draws in voracious readers from far and wide with its lovingly curated special events celebrating a host of genres and authors.
On this sunny July weekend, a visit by one of the biggest names in romantic fantasy attracts throngs of admirers to the quaint coastal village. That’s not ideal, as the author retreated to Chapters to get away from it all for a while. No matter–she’ll appease her fans with a “Tea and Talk” meet-and-greet at the B&B celebrating her bestselling series (starring a devilishly dashing, time-traveling pirate), follow that up with a quick book signing at Bookwaves, the hip indie bookstore across town, and spend the remainder of the weekend in delightful repose.


But when the president of the reclusive writer’s fan club is found dead in the harbor by the Beaufort docks–done in by a blunt-force blow to the head–it’s up to Charlotte Reed, her neighbor Ellen, and Ellen’s trusty Yorkshire terrier to sniff out the killer. Because if they can’t, a spectacularly successful book series–and its author–may come to a sudden, lethal conclusion.

Source: NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books Rating: 4½/5 stars

Charlotte Reed has found her stride with her B&B, Chapters.  She’s got great help, an outstanding chef on standby, great ideas to keep her guests entertained, and a schedule that seems to get busier by the day.  If she can keep the bad at bay (recall that nasty murder?!) she’ll solidify her name in the industry. 

Charlotte’s next big hurdle is ensuring the privacy of a well-known author as she checks in for a bit of R&R between stops on her book tour.  The author’s presence isn’t a total secret as a select group of contest winners will also be in residence and in attendance for certain book-related events.  Though the group initially seems quite enthusiastic and excited, the cracks in the façade show themselves quickly and the situation becomes deadly. 

Once again, Charlotte has a house full of suspects and any one of them could be the culprit.  With her reputation and safety on the line, Charlotte turns to her crafty neighbor for advice and help.  Speaking of her neighbor, there a new resident at Ellen’s house and Charlotte isn’t buying the “distant relative” story.  With two mysteries to solve, Charlotte puts on her investigator hat and starts sorting through the clues.

As is her way, Charlotte begins poking around and prodding people for their respective stories.  While some are more than willing to talk, others are reluctant and clearly have something to hide.  What Charlotte eventually uncovers is a scandal that can ruin an author’s career and definitely put a person or two in jail for a very long time.  And that’s just one of her mysteries.  On the other case, Charlotte discovers a very old truth that could destroy the life of one of her dearest friends and the shatter the long-standing friendship of others.  To say Charlotte is between a rock and a hard place with both mysteries is putting it all very mildly.

The Bottom Line:  I feel like this series gained some strength with this read as Charlotte is surer of herself, Ellen is a bit more open, honest, and willing to help, the story got a bit darker.  While I liked the primary tale told in this book – the author’s scandal/story – I liked the secondary tale even more. The mystery man staying at Ellen’s is an intriguing character that is most certainly going to make appearances in later installments.  His presence makes both Charlotte and Ellen’s lives more interesting and will perhaps allow for the crafty women to do a bit more sleuthing in the future.  With this read, I have a bit more confidence in the series and can see an exciting future for Charlotte and Ellen.

Goodreads | Amazon | Hardcover

Mini Review: Ink and Shadows (Book #4: Secret, Book, & Scone Society Series) by Ellery Adams

53353930. sx318

Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, though, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products.

Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife—but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism.

The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation—before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all . . .

Source: NetGalley and Kensington Rating: 4½/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  I could go on and on about the plot and the characters and all the traditional stuff one finds in a book review, but that isn’t what stuck with and truly resonated with me in this read.  The thing that struck the loudest chord for me is Nora’s absolute belief and insistence on protecting her books and the rights of individuals to read what they want.  There have been too many times in history when books have been banned, labelled immoral, or just burned for their content and that chaps my ass much as it does Nora’s.  I was particularly struck by Nora’s continued commitment to helping her customers find the books that will allow them to heal or just providing a safe haven for a young girl whose family doesn’t approve of her reading choices.  Nora in no way does these things to turn a profit but to encourage reading and provide a safe and respectful place for readers of all ages, denomination, creeds, ethnicity, etc.  Nora is simply a book lover with a passion for getting her wares into the hands of those who both want and need them.  I admire and greatly respect this commitment, even in the face of adversity.  From beginning to end, I am going to recommend this series to all lovers of books, but particularly those who have often felt shy about the books they love to read or shamed by others for their reading choices.  Writing and reading are an art form and all who participate on any level are rewarded for their efforts.

Goodreads | Amazon | Hardcover| Audible

Review: Still as Death (Book #2: A Lucky Whiskey Mystery Series) by J.A. Kazimer

54973729. sy475

When she’s not busy dodging the killer alligators and small-town gossip of Gett, Florida, Charlotte Lucky has her hands full keeping the family distillery up and running and planning her grandfather’s seventy-fifth birthday celebration. Then an arrogant old flame from her Hollywood days comes to town to woo her back with a proposal of marriage, and she rejects his offer with a burst of anger and no regrets—until the celebrity heartthrob is found murdered and she’s fingered as the main suspect.

Certain that the town’s sheriff—a member of the rival Gett clan—would be more than happy to see her hang for the crime, Charlotte gets to work tracking down the real killer. Navigating her way through family secrets and her own simmering romantic feelings for a man who’s as dangerous as he is charming, Charlotte will put her neck on the line to unravel a sinister scheme before her next drink turns out to be her last . .

Source: Purchase Rating: 4/5 stars

Holy Hell!  If Charlotte Lucky could catch even the smallest of breaks, she might be able to get life and her family’s distillery on track.  Of course, that implies that a girl with the last name Lucky actually gets lucky. 

As it turns out, Charlotte is not at all lucky!  Mere weeks after getting her grandfather our of jail and taking down a stone-cold killer, her ex-boyfriend decides to make a surprise appearance in Gett with an offer most girls simply couldn’t refuse.  The slick star is back and looking to make Charlotte his forever girl.  Before Charlotte can even utter a stern “Hell no!” the star is slipping the ring on her finger in front of the whole town.  To make matters worse and with no time to correct the error, a man dies bringing an end to an otherwise lovely evening. 

Charlotte has no intention of marrying her bastard ex and in short order she makes her way to his hotel room to set the record straight.  Unfortunately, Charlotte’s ex has no intention of letting her go and even makes threats suggesting as much.   Seeing a losing battle ahead of her, Charlotte leaves the seedy hotel with every intention of kicking her ex to the curb as soon as possible.  As luck would have it, someone does the deed for Charlotte; as luck would not have it, Charlotte is the prime suspect in the damn case! 

Once again, Charlotte puts on her sleuthing hat and begins the arduous task of solving not one, nut two murders.  Though it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, the two crimes are linked to one another and Charlotte and Brodie (he won’t be left out!) have to figure out how before it’s too late.  The killer(s) have already proven he/she/they are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to protect themselves and are willing to kill again to accomplish their goals.  Charlotte and Brodie are both up to their ears in a mess and if they aren’t careful, they are both going to come out of this mess scathed, scratched, and very banged up and bruised.

The Bottom Line:  Once again, I was easily able to slide into this story/setting with little difficulty.  Charlotte is a spitfire, Brodie is brooding and sexy, both grandparents (Charlotte’s and Brodie’s) are forces to be reckoned with, and the local sheriff is still an idiot child.  As I demand from my books, there is definitely some character development going on and that enhances the story immensely.  Charlotte has still got a huge uphill battle ahead of her where the distillery is concerned, but I’m glad of that.  A lack of personal struggle would keep Charlotte from evolving and stagnate the upcoming books.  I’m looking forward to what comes next, gators and all!

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback

Review: A Shot of Murder (Book #1: A Lucky Whiskey Mystery Series) by J.A. Kazimer

42124420

Ten years after leaving the small town of Gett, Florida, for Hollywood stardom, Charlotte “Charms” Lucky–who has never quite lived up to her surname–returns home to run the Lucky Whiskey distillery while her grandfather recovers from a heart attack.

Making whiskey is harder than Charlotte imagined, especially with longtime rivals and resentful townsfolk interfering at every turn. She’ll need more than a lucky charm to keep the family afloat, especially when she discovers her high school boyfriend’s pickled corpse in a Lucky Whiskey cask and her grandfather is arrested for the murder. Charlotte has one shot to clear his name and save the family business, and that is to find the real killer among a town full of suspects.

Source: NetGalley and Midnight Ink Rating: 3½/5 stars

There is only one thing in the world Charlotte Lucky would lay down her life for and that thing is actually a who.  Charlotte’s grandfather, founder and head of Lucky Whiskey is in a bad way and if Charlotte doesn’t make some solid decisions soon, her grandfather is going to be worse off than he already is. 

In the face of heart attack recovery, Charlotte has packed up her Hollywood life and headed home to the small town of Gett, Florida.  With a population of roughly everyone knows everyone, Charlotte isn’t thrilled to be home, but she is thrilled to see her beloved grandfather.  With strict orders from the doctor and his home nurse to layoff the bad food, cigars, and whiskey, Charlotte has no choice but to take over the running of the distillery.  Though she was raised onsite, Charlotte isn’t a whiskey maker by nature so learning the ropes from the ground up is going to be a wild ride. 

As Charlotte begins to take over the family business, she immediately notices a huge problem, the company is on the verge of financial ruin.  Not wanting to upset her grandfather, Charlotte keeps the information to her herself and presses forward right on into the next huge problem, a dead man in one of her precious casks of whiskey.  To say this is a disaster as well as a tragedy doesn’t even come close and Charlotte can’t keep this from her grandfather since he’s the prime suspect!

Charlotte wasn’t thrilled about having to come home and she’s even less thrilled that the idiot child town sheriff has arrested her grandfather.  The idiot child doesn’t seem to want to see reason and listen to common sense, so Charlotte embarks on her own investigation into the heinous crime.  As Charlotte quickly discovers, not everyone in town is thrilled with her return while others seem a bit too enthused.  Sifting through friends and foes while trying to solve a murder isn’t going to be easy, but Charlotte would rather die than see her grandfather waste away in prison. 

The Bottom Line:  Oh, how I love a good small-town mystery!  When you add in the history and drama of everyone knowing everyone else, suddenly you have a much richer and more complex cast of characters and that I will always love and appreciate.  The only real issue I have with this book is Charlotte’s constant bad attitude toward Brodie Gett; while I appreciate, they have a somewhat contentious history, the middle of a murder investigation isn’t the time to be dredging up petty dramas from the past.  With that said, Charlotte’s attitude wasn’t enough to keep me from enjoying this book.  In fact, I was able to get through this rather quickly thanks to its pure entertainment value.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback

Review: The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks (Book #2: Village of Primm Series) by Julie Valerie

48663042

Holly Banks is on a desperate mission to have it all, but nothing in life goes according to plan. She’s quickly learning that keeping up with the Joneses is a full-time job, especially when the women of Primm, her new neighborhood, seem to have it together all the time.

With her husband’s job in flux, her daughter’s difficulty with learning to read, and her mother’s new zest for dating, Holly’s life is already anything but picture perfect. Then her dog digs up an old artifact in the village center, and the mishap draws the attention of local media. Because of course it would.

Holly finds herself at the center of a mystery between two rival towns that, if solved, could change the Village of Primm forever. Attention is the last thing she needs as she’s launching a new business, the village-wide “Parade of Homes” is approaching—though she’s hardly unpacked—and she needs to submit her entry for an upcoming film festival. Can Holly still create her perfect (looking) life? Or is fate about to go off script and give her a story she never could have imagined?

Source: NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing Rating: 4/5 stars

**SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE**

Inexplicably, Holly Banks has survived the first month-ish in her new town, new home, and new community.  Her mother is still in residence and acting weird, her daughter has mostly settled into Kindergarten, and Holly is looking to take back her life and put her film degree to good use. 

In Holly’s mind, she will launch a small film studio out of her kitchen and help the surrounding communities with their photographic, filming, and advertising needs.  All Holly needs is to clear out the kitchen, get a small business loan, buy all the equipment, and start marketing her skills to her friends and neighbors.  With her daughter in school all day, her husband away at work, and her mother expanding her social circle, Holly has time to accomplish all her goals.

Here’s the rub . . . .

Holly’s daughter is away at school all day, but she is at a very unique school that expects above and beyond from both students and parents alike.  Her mother is acting stranger than normal, and her husband is suddenly and mysteriously sick and staying home.  Additionally, Holly’s wayward dog, Struggle continues to sneak out of the house and cause all sorts of mischief in the neighborhood and Mary-Margaret, Holly’s nemesis has gone into hiding when the Village of Primm needs her most. 

Yes, the Village of Primm is on the verge of collapse and financial ruin if the newsletter and texts are to be believed.  The beloved botanical garden has been blow-torched and now all the plants have to be reseeded, replanted, and regrown.  Without the botanical garden, the community has lost one of its largest sources of income.  A lack of tourists and income means a marked lack of sales for other local businesses and the overall lowering of property values.  Did I mention it has become Holly’s job to fix all these issues all while trying to balance and organizing and improve her own life?

As always, Holly goes about things in the way she always does, with sheer panic and a sense of being totally out of control.  First up is trying to coax a devastated and humiliated Mary-Margaret out her she shed; next up is trying to decide if Struggle can be used to help solve a local town mystery; third up is organizing her daughter’s Kindergarten wedding; and finally, there is the small matter of overcoming her fear of flying to capture footage that will help launch her business and save the Village of Primm. Absolutely no pressure 😊

The Bottom Line: While I didn’t love this story as much as the first, I am still very drawn to the character that is Holly Banks.  Bless her heart, Holly has a way of getting pulled into situations not of her own making, immediately committing some huge faux pas, and then finding a way to save the day for everyone.  If you don’t laugh at the situations Holly finds herself in, you’re going to cry at the absolute overwhelming nature of the events.  Knowing everyone is going to come out a little worse for wear, but ultimately fine helps tremendously when starting this series.  I realize these two books haven’t fared well on Goodreads, but I have found them to be quite entertaining and certainly worth a go.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback | Audible

Mini Review: Holly Banks Full of Angst (Book #1: Village of Primm Series) by Julie Valerie

43970371. sy475

Holly Banks could not have made a worse first impression on the seemingly perfect moms in her new affluent community, the Village of Primm. Turns out wearing pink piggy pajama bottoms while dropping off her kindergartner late to the first day of school wasn’t her best look.

Not to mention Holly’s worried her husband may be having an affair, she can’t get her daughter to stop sucking her thumb, her hard-won film degree is collecting dust, and to top it all off, the power-hungry PTA president clearly has it in for her…

To make matters even worse, Holly’s natural eye for drama lands her smack-dab in the middle of a neighborhood mystery—right as her own crazy mother shows up in Primm “to help.” Through it all, Holly begins to realize her neighbors may be just as flawed as—and even wackier than—she is, leaving her to wonder: Is there such a thing as a perfect mom?

Source: Purchase Rating: 4½/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  Would it really be the start of a new year if I weren’t totally on the opposite side of the Goodreads star rating for a book??  Truly!!  Y’all would begin to wonder about an imposter running my blog if I agreed with the masses about a book 😊

I went into this book expecting nothing and came having read a really ridiculous book that had me laughing through most of the pages and chapters.  Once you realize and accept how absolutely over the top every aspect of this book is, you can simply sit back and enjoy the ride.  The Village of Primm is utterly out of control, Mary-Margaret is absolutely monstrous in her behavior, and Holly is often startling in her responses to events in her life.  I found Holly and her responses to be fascinating as well as often hilarious.  If I am completely honest, there was more than one occasion when I found myself thinking how much happier we’d all be if, just once in a while we just let go like Holly Banks.  To be sure, Holly is dealing with some crazy circumstances and her desire to fit in often trips her up and causes her to overreact to the situation at hand.  With time to ruminate on this book, I’ve come to the conclusion that Holly Banks Full of Angst is really a reflection of the modern world.  Holly resembles so many people in this world with her home, her financial situation, her fears and worries for her child, and her inclusion into a community that goes too far in an effort to appear perfect.  Holly doesn’t always react in the best way possible, but she is true to herself and her feelings and for that, I had to admire her.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback | Audible

Review: Dog-Gone Dead (Book #2: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery Series) by Jackie Layton

53825231. sy475

Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is happy to score some free mulch from one of her brother’s landscaping jobs—until she discovers the dead body buried beneath the bark.

Worse, her brother’s landscaping tools were used to commit the murder. Once the police arrest her brother and seem happy to have “caught their man,” Andi Grace has no choice but to track down the real killer. She’ll risk everything to prove her brother’s innocence. Even if it means turning over every rock in town.

Source: NetGalley and Bell Bridge Books Rating: 4/5 stars

**CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE**

In the span of a few weeks’ time, Andi Grace Scott has gone from being the proud and very happy owner of a small yet comfortable seaside home to the wary and uncertain owner of a large, old southern plantation.  With the help of her best-friend, Andi Grace has decided to convert the big house into a bed and breakfast and some of the outer buildings into sites appropriate for her own ever-expanding dog walking/care business. 

Andi Grace has no intention of running the B & B, but she is the ultimate owner and that means making sure everything is up to snuff for the grand opening.  With just a few days remaining and a tight budget, Andi Grace has bought her landscaping supplies from her brother’s business and intends to do the heavy lifting herself.  However, before Andi Grace can get to work shoveling mulch, she has to deal with the very dead body she’s stumbled upon and her completely disoriented and concussed brother.

With her new boyfriend by her side, Andi Grace dives into another murder investigation.  To be fair, Andi Grace didn’t go looking for the dead guy, but she certainly found him and, unfortunately all the evidence points to her younger brother being the killer.  With no doubt in her heart or mind about her brother’s innocence, Andi Grace has no choice but to get him out of the sheriff’s line of sight.  Given the identity of the victim, finding a football field’s worth of evidence shouldn’t be all that hard to do.  All Andi Grace must do is narrow down the suspect pool.

As Andi Grace and entourage investigate, they discover all kinds of dirty little secrets.  On top of the investigation, Andi Grace also has a business to run and expand and that’s taking up a tremendous amount of her time.  She’s burning the candle at both ends and that makes her deductive skills a bit sluggish which inevitably leads to Andi Grace being knee-deep in trouble. 

The Bottom Line:  The second installment of this series brought an ironing out of the rough patches from book one and I liked this story even more than the first.  The greatest distinction for me is the addition of the plantation to Andi Grace’s world.  The expansion of her life and businesses is going to make a great backdrop to later installments of the series.  What’s more, with every crime she solves, Andi Grace becomes a little better at sleuthing. I see a ton of potential in this series and sincerely hope the next installments can meet my expectations.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback

Review: Bite the Dust (Book #1: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery Series) by Jackie Layton

51031891. sy475

One steamy South Carolina morning, Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott discovers a client’s dead body. Police quickly decide she’s the prime suspect. Horrified, she knows she’ll have to turn detective if she’s going to convince them they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Proving her innocence could be a tall order. The local police never solved the hit-and-run that killed her parents; Andi Grace isn’t sure they’ll solve this crime either…not when they have a convenient suspect—one caught with the possible murder weapon in her hand. She’ll have to follow every clue and call in every favor, even if that puts her in danger.

Source: Purchase Rating: 3½/5 stars

Andi Grace has spent her life in service to others.  First, when her parents died tragically in a car wreck, she took over the care of her younger siblings and now, as an adult, she looks after other people’s pets through her dog walking business.  Though it isn’t the life she envisioned as a teenager, Andi Grace loves her life and wouldn’t trade 99% of it for the world.  The part she would trade, finding her dear friend dead in his palatial living room.

Andi Grace has spent her whole life in the same small town and rarely ever has there been a crime of this magnitude.  Not only was her friend killed, but he was seemingly killed by someone he either knew or trusted since there is no evidence of forced entry.  Andi Grace is horrified by the scene and to make matters worse, one of the newest members of the community walked in on the scene and now sees Andi Grace as a suspect.  Sadly, so does the local sheriff.  In the space of just a few minutes, Andi Grace’s peaceful life has turned upside down and inside out. 

With her name and freedom on the line, Andi Grace sets out to do what any sane person would, solve the crime for the police. As luck would have it, the new man in town quickly discovers Andi Grace is far, far from guilty and though he tries to weasel out of it, he becomes Andi Grace’s new lawyer.  As the two begin their now shared investigation, Andi Grace learns that she didn’t know her long-time friend nearly as well as she thought she did.  There were secrets and scandals in her friend’s past that nearly bring Andi Grace to her knees. 

The Bottom LineBite the Dust is a very clean cozy mystery that really ticks all the boxes for me.  Andi Grace is a fine main character, her partner in crime is a sexy, intelligent, caring man with nothing nut Andi Grace’s best interests at heart, and the plot is rooted deep in mystery and heartache.  I absolutely love the setting with the combination of old South charm and life by the water.  When you add in the horde of dogs Andi Grace cares for, there really isn’t much I can find to be upset about with this book.  I can’t say I was blown away by this book and some aspects were quite predictable, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying this read and plowing right on through the second book.

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback