Book Review of The Angels’ Share by Ellen Crosby

Some mystery series’, as some television shows, lose the interest of readers/viewers over the years. Plot concepts become less compelling, more unrealistic. Not so with Ellen Crosby’s Wine Country Mysteries.

The Angels’ Share, the tenth in the series is the most captivating of them all, in my opinion. A lesson in history, food for thought regarding some intriguing controversies, in addition to a compelling murder mystery.

A local mega-wealthy nonagenarian art and artifact collector is murdered shortly after conversing with Lucie Montgomery, Virginia winery owner and main character. The conversation occurred privately, at an annual event at his expansive estate.

Was the culprit a member of the aging man’s family? A Washington Tribune associate upset with his plans to sell the paper? Someone from the community with an unknown motive? Lucie, as usual, must solve the mystery, as she and her family, fiancee’ and winemaker, Quinn, brother Eli and his family, and the winery staff prepare for the holiday season.

The dead man was a Freemason, who planned to share a history shattering revelation at an upcoming meeting. During his conversation with Lucie he made a request she was unable to fulfill, due to lack of knowledge of the location of a historic item reportedly owned by Lucie’s ancestors.

The most fascinating part of the story is Lucie’s pursuit of the truth regarding the question of whether Shakespeare or Francis Bacon was responsible for the writings attributed to Shakespeare.

Her quest for hidden papers which might reveal the truth about the mystery lead her to a lockbox, at the local bank, and a search of local historical sites. She also engaged in conversation with researchers at Historic Jamestowne and at the Folger library, where many original copies of Shakespearian plays are located.

The Dust Bunny Project, and the fact that Shakespearean classic, The Tempest may be based on the wreck of The Sea Venture, a ship on its way to Jamestowne, are fascinating. As the future advances, we gain more tools for learning about the past.

I do hope Shakespeare really did write “Shakespeare”, not Francis Bacon. The name “Shakespeare” sounds much more literary. I do believe in revealing the truth if it’s proven beyond doubt, but it’s sad so many cherished beliefs have been blown to bits in recent times.

History buffs, mystery lovers, wine aficianados, will find something to love in this story. The relationship between Quinn and Lucie continues to develop, delighting fans of romance, also. Can’t wait for the next book.

Book Review of Harvest of Secrets by Ellen Crosby

I’ve just returned from a virtual visit to the lovely area of Atoka/Middleburg, Virginia. From a visit to my friend Lucie Montgomery, owner of Montgomery Estate Vineyards. It was a lovely, inspirational experience, in spite of the murder which occurred on a neighboring vineyard, uncertainty concerning the approach of a potentially harvest devastating hurricane, a somewhat disturbing historic discovery and the appearance of a new family member.

Sorry for the run-on sentence, but Harvest of Secrets, a Wine Country Mystery, contains a lot of plots in a concise package. Oh, to possess the smooth writing ability of author Ellen Crosby. Her worldly knowledge from life experience pairs so well with her love of history and nature, her accurate portrayal of the trials of life we all must face, accept, rationalize in our own way.

Lucie and Quinn, her winemaker/fiancee have few secrets from each other, but Lucie takes her time in telling him and the rest of her family of the discovery she makes after a DNA test. Ever the investigator, Lucie is compelled to unravel the mystery behind the discovery unearthed by her vineyard staff and the murderer who may turn out to be a friend, relative, neighbor, valued employee.

This is, I believe, the ninth installment of the Wine Country Mystery series. How can I come close to describing the spirit of these stories? They are a bit melancholy, yet uplifting, educational, entertaining. The series began shortly after Leland, Lucie’s father’s passing. Twenty-something Lucie was burdened with the task of renewing the estate and the wine business.

She has fulfilled that role efficiently over the years and the relationship we readers hoped would form between Lucie and winemaker Quinn has come to fruition. The latest in the series will be one of my next reads. I haven’t yet found a story in this series which wasn’t superlative. They’re not your typical modern, lighthearted cozy. Still, they never fail to leave me feeling better.

Book Review of Dyeing Season by Karen MacInerney

What do you get when you cross a Texas tornado with a murder, add a relatively young woman and her menagerie of farm animals, an Easter craft sale, and an interesting array of friends and neighbors?

Another great cozy mystery from Karen MacInerney, of course.

The tornado tears things up as Dyeing Season begins, but that’s just the start of the chaos. A home health aide who is missing following the storm is soon discovered, dead. Her passing was not caused by the natural disaster, however.

Threats are scrawled on area barns and the chicken house that belongs to main character Lucy Resnick. Lucy is forced to deal with the problems of her friend and next door neighbor, who was formerly served by the now deceased home health aide, as she searches for a baby goat she hasn’t seen since the twister, replaces seedlings lost to the wind, prepares items for the Easter Market, and searches for Eva, the home health aide’s killer. Phew! Are you as tired as I am already?!

Obviously a page turner, this book had me hooked from the beginning and the momentum kept going straight through to the suspenseful and satisfying conclusion. Oh, and Lucy manages to cook some superior meals amid the myriad of responsibilities. Something I could certainly never accomplish. She shares recipes for some of the dishes at the end of the book, along with some creative ways to color eggs.

It may not be spring, but it’s a great time to read this story and dream that the approaching winter is over. Think what a fun Christmas gift it would make for a friend who enjoys cozies.

Book Review of A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Colette

This cozy mystery is from an author new to me. Abby Colette is a Cleveland, Ohio native and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of other mystery series’ but it was the title A Deadly Inside Scoop which intrigued me as it features a Chagrin Falls, Ohio ice cream shop.

A fictional shop, that is, but the town is a real place in the Northeastern Ohio snow-belt. Hailing from Ohio, that’s an area where I’ve always thought I’d like to live, for six months of the year, or if I was retired and didn’t have to go anywhere during the remainder.

But I digress. The book follows the classic process of a typical cozy. It begins with a day featuring details of the heroine, Bronwyn Crewse’s takeover of the historic family ice cream shop; her attempt to modernize the enterprise, which means taking in back to its roots of specializing in the title product, featuring flavors never imagined by its original proprietors.

Bronwyn is an unmarried, childless business major who left a successful career to be near her grandfather, parents and brothers and to save the heritage business.

The first day morphs into a stressful night as Bronwyn stays at the shop brainstorming ways to successfully launch a frozen treat business during a premature October blizzard. The discovery of a murder victim makes the night even more ominous.

A complex mix of suspects keeps readers on their toes through the body of the story featuring dramas involved in running a food business and solving the murder mystery in order to exonerate one of Bronwyn’s family members.   

The story closes with a nail-biting close call for Bronwyn and a friend who assists her in the final act of the murder investigation.

Grandma Kay’s Snow Ice Cream and several other recipes for frozen treats are included as a bonus at the book’s closing.

Oh, and I can’t forget – who could turn down a cozy featuring a cute white cat who is the ice cream shop mascot? Don’t tell the health department.

Book Review of The Vineyard Victims a Wine Country Mystery by Ellen Crosby


The first blush of spring is upon the hills on this slightly chill morning in mid-March. A great day to head outside with a good book if one dons a jacket and finds a spot in the sun. Crocus and snowdrops are up and a faint tint of green shines through the few spots of snow that linger in shady spots along the roadsides.

I highly recommend The Vineyard Victims: A Wine Country Mystery (Wine Country Mysteries) for a first spring read!

There’s a great lesson to be learned from this work of fiction-

Lucie Montgomery, owner of a winery founded by her family amid the lovely landscapes of Virginia experiences a bit of déjà vu as a car driven by a publicly prominent friend plows into the same pillar at the end of her estate’s lane that was the impact point of an accident she experienced ten years before.

The details behind this accident are gradually unearthed as Lucie launches an investigation into the puzzling request Jamie, the accident victim, makes of her just before the car catches fire and consumes his life.

A number of people Lucie knows are discovered to be involved in the events of another era that provoked the current situation leading to the fatal accident.

Quinn, the estate’s wine-maker, who now is engaged to Lucie, is supportive throughout the story. Those who have read the earlier works in the series know of the long winding road they followed before coming together as readers hoped they would.

Things became a bit unbelievable at the point where the answer to the mystery was revealed, but that’s really the only flaw I saw in the story.

I actually didn’t want the book to end, but loved the conclusion when Lucie learned a lesson we all should remember. It seems fate brought a few strange factors together to teach her. Synchronicities this intricately entwined are rare, but can be realities.

A book of inspiration as well as entertainment.  To view more, click the link below: 

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Keep Calm and Read On

Book Review of Caramel Crush, a Cupcake Bakery Mystery, by Jenn McKinlay

Caramel Crush (Cupcake Bakery Mystery)

My first Cupcake Bakery Mystery, though several years ago I read a great story set in a town on Chesapeake Bay where a young woman opened a cupcake bakery and commenced a romance. (Does that ring a bell with any readers who crave cupcake bakery mysteries?)

At first glance, I thought I would love this cute themed cozy, and indeed many of my readers may enjoy the story. As the tale begins, love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes, owned by Angie and Mel. Angie is preparing for her wedding.

But as Mel helps her old friend break up in dramatic fashion due to discoveries about her fiance’s motives, the plot gets wrapped up in a little too much social drama for my taste. Not my usual favorite lighthearted, dry humored, intelligent type of cozy like those by the likes of Leslie Meier, Kaitlyn Dunnett, Jane K. Cleland, M.C. Beaton . . .I suppose the murder mystery part of plot is satisfactory and the creative cupcake and icing recipes provided at the close of the book are an excellent bonus for us who crave creative sweets as much as good reads.

Other readers are invited to share their opinions (and their results of baking attempts).

To learn more about this book click the link below:

Caramel Crush (Cupcake Bakery Mystery)

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