A Valentine’s Day fundraiser is loaded with surprises, including murder.
Callie Aspen gave up her job as a worldwide tour guide to help her great aunt Iphy run her tea shop in Heart’s Harbor, Maine. After several dangerous adventures revolving around Haywood Hall (Sweet Tea and Secrets, 2019, etc.), Callie and Iphy have been appointed to keep the stately home running as a venue for town activities. They’ve cooked up a fundraiser featuring a book swap and sale complete with an expert appraiser, an area to meet and greet shelter pets, and a concert. The arrival of Sean Strong from Vienna as a last-minute replacement for the baritone originally scheduled gives Iphy a shock she refuses to explain. And Callie’s careful plans are undermined when her friend Quinn upsets his girlfriend, Peggy, who drives off, leaving her kids behind. Then the assistant to librarian Mrs. Forrester tells Callie she’s found Mr. King, the book expert, dead. Callie calls her boyfriend, Deputy Ace Falk, to the scene. Ace, who already has his hands full with the sheriff out sick, is never happy when Callie meddles in murder. The evidence suggests that Mrs. Forrester may have stabbed King with a pair of scissors. Certainly the man was arrogant and rude, but was his behavior enough to drive a stranger to murder him? Ace is furious when he finds out that Quinn upset his sister Peggy, who really likes Quinn but can’t get over the death of her husband. Despite Ace’s disapproval of her activities, Callie can’t help sleuthing, especially when she finds out that King may have been cheating people in his appraisals. She also wants to get to the bottom of Iphy’s relationship with Strong, who soon becomes a murder suspect. Risking her relationship with Ace, Callie continues to search for clues and question anyone who might have answers in her hunt for the truth.
Pleasing characters and romantic interludes brighten an otherwise mundane mystery.