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The Key to the Last House Before the Sea–developer versus locals

The Key to the Last House Before the Sea

by Liz Eeles

What do you do when you are a single mom in a small tourist town where rentals are sky high? Your mom and dad have both passed away and now you find yourself scattering the ashes of your beloved grandmother. You and your sweet five year old daughter are homeless, and your employer just closed his store, so you are also unemployed. Nessa is in this situation and feels she can rely on the generosity of kind friends for only so long.

She is helping out at Driftwood House, Rosie’s B&B, in an informal exchange for lodging when Gabriel in his suit and tie sweeps into town with plans to demolish “Ghost Village,” including Nessie’s family’s cottage. Nessa scrambles to find a way to stop the plans while still providing for her daughter’s future and happiness.

The story is told from the points of view of Nessa, Gabriel, and Valerie, the mother of Nessa’s ex-husband Jake. Jake is, depending on whom you talk to a star of industry in his new job (Valerie), an unreliable, rarely present or contributing father (Nessa), or a free spirit (Jake). All of the characters have secrets and problems. As they work through them, there are interesting plot twists that arise. Nessa is passionate about her family and their legacy and about doing her best and what is right for her daughter Lily who is an adorable child.

Without indulging in spoilers, I can say that this is a story that became a page turner for me, but not in the sense of a thriller. I became involved in the characters and wanted to see happy endings for them. Like the characters, I could not see how anything nearing bliss could be achieved.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Notes: #4 in the Heaven’s Cove Series. Although a few characters from previous books have minor roles, this book is basically a standalone. Each book in the series is good, but is different in main characters, plot, and themes. The setting provides the cohesiveness.

Publication: August 19, 2022—Bookouture

Memorable Lines:

She never used to be so nervous about life, but sometimes these days she hardly felt like herself at all. Perhaps it was hitting her mid-fifties and starting to feel the pull of old age. Perhaps that was why she veered between feeling murderous towards Alan and so sad that she could hardly get out of bed some mornings. Thank heavens for Lily, the one bright spot in her life.

He threw the clean towel onto his big, comfy bed and rushed down the stairs, faintly appalled that he felt so rattled by a conversation with a five-year-old. I’m a mature, successful businessman, he told himself, and the sooner I get back to London and my normal life, the better.

Nessa was trapped through financial insecurity and the responsibilities of single parenthood. His life was far more privileged but, in effect, he was trapped, too, by family expectations.

Buried in a Good Book–murder in the boonies

Buried in a Good Book

by Tamara Berry

For anyone who likes a good bookish story, you can’t get much more bookish than Tamara Berry’s new cozy mystery Buried in a Good Book. The main character, Tess Harrow, is a best selling mystery author. Another character is a librarian who operates a bookmobile in the remote area where Tess and her precocious teenage daughter Gertrude (Gertie) go to heal after a divorce. One of the deputies there has written a very long science fiction novel. Also, with no Internet, research and reading are done the old-fashioned way—from printed volumes.

The book begins with both a grizzly murder discovery and a lot of humor (written in such a way that it is not inappropriate) as Tess compares everything to a scenario or a character in one of her books. The local sheriff has enjoyed all of her books, but doesn’t agree with some of the police procedures Tess uses in her plots. He actually has a lot in common with her main character Detective Gonzales. As the action in Buried in a Good Book moves along, the plot becomes delightfully complicated, and Tess and Gertie become increasingly involved. The number of murders grows along with the number of suspects. Tess will not be deterred from trying to discover what is going on. There are odd exotic animal sightings, and Bigfoot is even seen roaming near the remote cabin Tess inherited from her grandfather. Someone appears to have been living in her grandfather’s hardware store. An upcoming election pits the current sheriff against a moneyed businessman with logging interests. After six months of no contact with his daughter (except for receiving palimony checks from Tess), the cheating ex-husband shows up.

Meanwhile, through all the complications and dangers, the story maintains the perfect level of humor. The identity of those behind the evil and plotting was a surprise to me until shortly before the reveal. I enjoyed this cozy and am looking forward to the second in the series to be published in November of 2022.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the By the Book Mystery Series

Publication: May 24, 2022—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

She’d toyed with the idea of prepping Gertrude ahead of time—warning her that the next month was going to be one of rusticity and a return to basics—but she was no fool. Nothing turned a fourteen-year-old against her mother faster than the threat of prolonged one-on-one time.

Until she saw that picture of the woman’s face, Tess hadn’t realized how real all this could feel. When the body was just a hypothetical and anonymous person, it had been easy to treat everything as a puzzle to be solved—a clue to discover….Seeing the woman’s smile, realizing just how young and alive she once was, changed everything.

She’d been warned by her literary agent, early on, to be wary of the line between author and fan….Requests for personal meetings, demands made under the guise of friendship, people showing up outside your remote grandfather’s cabin…those flags weren’t just red. They were crimson.

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