When Poppy and Aunt Ginny agreed to host a Wine and Cheese Happy Hour for a tour group at their Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast on the Jersey Shore, they never anticipated such a sour bunch. Grumpy guest Vince Baker should be in a better mood–he’s filthy rich and on his honeymoon with his much younger wife Sunny, who seems to dote on him almost as much as her high-spirited teacup Pomeranian, Tammy Faye Baker.
But the honeymoon is over when Vince drops dead the next day touring the Laughing Gull Winery. Turns out he’s been poisoned, and it seems like everybody on the tour is hiding something. Now Poppy has to put her gluten-free baking on the back burner and bottle up her feelings for the two men in her life while she charges after a bitter killer with a lethal case of sour grapes…
Book 5 of the author’s special writing style and that outrageous sense of humor has us wondering if the dreaded triangle will finally be over. More on that later. I started on the series in 2018 with Book 3 and 2019 with Book 4.
“Miss Thing mooned a grin at Gia like he was the last piece of chocolate cake on a PMS cruise.”
In this installment, protagonist Poppy McAllister will host a small happy hour of guests that will join a larger group tour of the Laughing Gull Winery, including a May-December couple, a couple on a “babymoon,” a single lady who arrives late, and a couple without reservations that apparently decided to follow the daughter’s powerful CEO daddy in the aforementioned marriage. Of course, those two ladies will clash from the beginning and continue throughout the narrative.
Poppy hosts her B&B along with her octogenarian Aunt Ginny who has obviously reverted—WAYYY back. She has a pack of cronies often referred to as “the biddies” that sets my teeth jangling every time I read it. Poppy has a kitty she calls Figaro who instantly takes a dislike to the pampered Pomeranian brought by the May side of the May-December marriage. In the meantime, her aunt is interviewing for a new chambermaid and hires Victoryna Rostyslavivna Yevtushenko—let’s go with Victoria. Victoria, it turns out has narcolepsy. Perhaps you are getting now that the narratives are loaded with unique and crisis-instigating support characters.
“He was stuck to him like the IRS on a small business.” (Boy, can we identify with THAT!)
Of course, there is a body, although it doesn’t occur until almost 28% into the novel. There are ample descriptions of cat-dog squabbles, broken china, stolen food. Red herrings are liberally scattered throughout. And the inevitable comparisons of the two men in the triangle, Gia or Tim, neither of whom I felt an appropriate match…the music swells…the dreaminess scenes begin…which one, which one? (I don’t care! Sorry, not sorry, I was over that in Book 3.)
By Book 5 you won’t have a lot of character development—lots of focus on food, most of which sounds delightful (and there are recipes at the back of the book). It’s fairly well paced, if not constantly interrupted, chaos, outrageous, slow to pull out the perp. The conclusion was somewhat a surprise—which was gratifying and not guessed correctly. And while it appears the eenie, meenie, minee, mo had been determined, the rug was then pulled out from under the reader. GEES! The obvious gotcha for Book 6. I’ll read it, NOT for the romance, but because the humor in the book is a hoot and I read it for the grins.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft & Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
- ASIN : B085LTRQ3P
Print Length: 311 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She loves to drink coffee, bake gluten free goodies, and befriend random fluffy cats. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.
©2020 V Williams