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by Debbie Lum

Pub Date: April 17th, 2017
Publisher: DKLit

Fleeing an untrustworthy boyfriend, a woman moves from Richmond to Cory City, Virginia, and finds herself with new suitors and a small-town mystery on her hands in Lum’s (Plebeian Reborn, 2016, etc.) novel.

Kendra King, 26, is fearless and kindhearted, with a good moral compass. After discovering that her doctor boyfriend, Christopher Randall, has been involved in illegal activity, she leaves the city and rents an apartment in a small town an hour away. She moves to the same building as her good friends, engaged couple Davis Perkins and Susan Porter, and soon becomes acquainted with a third tenant—an irresistible firefighter named Matt Livingston who offers a welcome distraction from her troubles. He’s the perfect gentleman, but Nolan Ford, the chef at Seven Spoons Restaurant, is awfully charismatic as well, and he makes a mean blueberry pancake. Meanwhile, Lum seamlessly weaves in an account of the town’s underlying problems. For example, old man Ellis, Cory City’s beloved World War II veteran, has been uncharacteristically ill, and his visit to the local hospital reveals a waiting room overflowing with patients. Matt has been run ragged fixing the town’s busted fire hydrants, and the vines at the winery where Davis and Susan later swap vows are bone dry. Kendra and her friends suspect that the town’s elite, including the fire chief and mayor, are to blame for these issues, but only time and Kendra’s detective work will tell. Romance is at the forefront of this compact novel, but its mystery elements make it multidimensional. Lum is adept at creating suspense (What did Christopher do? Why is the town falling apart?) and maintains a rapid pace, culminating in an exciting night of undercover operations. Although the author relies on a few familiar tropes—Matt is late to a first date because he was rescuing a cat from a tree, for instance—she creates a fully believable world with fun inhabitants, such as Glen and Marvin, bickering middle-aged brothers with a permanent booth at Seven Spoons. Overall, readers will enjoy the novel’s lighthearted, funny narration, engaging plot, and likable characters.

A quick, satisfying romantic mystery.