YULE BE DEAD by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson {Christmas Cozy Mystery Review}

Series: Victoria Square, #5
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾

A Christmas crime shocks the merchants of a quaint shopping district in this latest installment of The New York Times bestselling Victoria Square series.

It’s Christmastime, but not everyone is jolly–especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found in Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne’s mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many–but the clues are few. A broken teacup leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a murderer, but time is ticking because the murderer is definitely closing in on her.

Yule be dead — is that a great Christmas cozy mystery title, or what? This is the fifth book in the Victoria Square series, with Katie Bonner and her Artisan’s Alley merchants gearing up for the busy holiday season. Things get even more hectic when the tea shop owner’s daughter is murdered, and the questions Katie starts asking put her in hot water.

I’ve read one previous book from this series, so it was a delight to reunite with these characters. YULE BE DEAD is part mystery and part Victoria Square saga. Katie has so much going on in her life. She’s managing her business, entertaining her visiting mother-in-law (mother of her late husband), dealing with two romantic interests, and eyeing the tea shop that’s now for sale. While I enjoyed reading about all of those elements, I felt that the murder mystery got somewhat lost in the shuffle, and Katie’s investigation didn’t actually lead to the killer’s identity.

While I was hoping for a stronger mystery, I still greatly enjoyed this book. The characters and their relationships are real and complex, and I’m also looking forward to seeing where Katie’s new venture takes her.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Publisher: Berkley
Released: November 3, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

In Rudolph, New York, it’s Christmastime all year long. But this December, while the snow-lined streets seem merry and bright, a murder is about to ruin everyone’s holiday cheer…

As the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows how to decorate homes for the holidays. That’s why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoe-in for best in show. But when the tractor pulling Merry’s float is sabotaged, she has to face facts: there’s a Scrooge in Christmas Town.

Merry isn’t ready to point fingers, especially with a journalist in town writing a puff piece about Rudolph’s Christmas spirit. But when she stumbles upon the reporter’s body on a late night dog walk—and police suspect he was poisoned by a gingerbread cookie crafted by her best friend, Vicky—Merry will have to put down the jingle bells and figure out who’s really been grinching about town, before Vicky ends up on Santa’s naughty list.

REST YE MURDERED GENTLEMEN is a fun cozy mystery set in the quirky town of Rudolph, New York. In Rudolph, it’s Christmas all year round, which brings in a steady stream of tourists — until a poisoned cookie kills a journalist doing a feature on the town. Who would want to crush Rudolph’s Christmas spirit and hurt business? It’s up to shop owner Merry Wilkinson and best friend Vicky (the baker of the bad cookie) to figure it all out.

This is the first book in the Year-Round Christmas Mystery series, and the author did a great job setting the foundation for the series, introducing readers to the cast of characters, and crafting a puzzling mystery. In the end, the culprit surprised me, but also made sense.  There was plenty of humor throughout the book that had me snickering. This would be a great read any time of year for lovers of Christmas-themed cozies.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: SNOW ANGEL COVE by RaeAnne Thayne

Series: Haven Point, #1
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Released: October 28, 2014
Source: Review copy through NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne welcomes you to a small town full of big surprises that are both merry and bright…

Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward’s Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she’s stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a helping hand…for her sick young daughter’s sake as well as her own. But she’s not expecting her holiday hero to almost run her down with his car!

Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza’s hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew that what his life was missing was Eliza and her little girl. But is he willing to risk hoping for a yuletide romance that could lead to forever?

A heartwarming Christmas romance set in snowy Idaho kicks off RaeAnne Thayne’s Haven Point series. Eliza Hayward has had a string of bad luck, beginning with the death of her husband three years earlier. Wanting a fresh start for her daughter and herself, Eliza heads to Haven Point to manage a local inn. However, fate has other plans. Billionaire tech geek, Aidan Caine, crashes into her life, and he knocks all of her best laid plans off course.

SNOW ANGEL COVE is a sweet story with relatable characters who are easy to root for. Sure, Aidan is super rich, but he’s also kind and compassionate, having come from a close-knit, down to earth family. He’s not perfect though – Aidan is a workaholic who’s been hiding a major secret from his family. He needs a strong woman to bring him out of his funk, and luckily for Aidan, he runs right into her. Eliza was amazing. Life kept kicking her when she was down, but she always fought back, especially for her daughter. She most definitely deserved a happy ending.

Though I dislike the billionaire hero trope, I loved Aidan, and this love story worked for me. This was a cozy Christmas read, and I’m looking forward to visiting Haven Point again.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.




Series: Friday Harbor, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: October 26, 2010
Source: Borrowed from the library

One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.

The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.

Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.

Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home.


Dear Santa,

I want just one thing this year. A mom. Please don’t forget I live in Friday Harbor now. Thank you.

Love, Holly

That opening tugs at the heartstrings, doesn’t it? I’ve heard so many wonderful things about the Friday Harbor series. Since the first book is holiday-themed, I thought now would be the perfect time to start!

CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR was a quick and easy read, but also a heartwarming story. Mark Nolan, the eldest of four, becomes the guardian of his niece when his sister dies in a car accident. He’s very protective of Holly, and takes his new role as father seriously. As much as Holly loves Mark, he knows that she longs to have a mother again.

Holly takes a liking to a young widow named Maggie who owns a toy store. Maggie is fairly new to Friday Harbor, moving to San Juan Island for a fresh start. Though her husband died two years ago, she’s still burdened with grief over the loss. She guards her heart carefully, not wanting fall in love with someone else, only to lose him too.

Through Holly, Maggie and Mark get closer, but their relationship develops slow and steady. Aside from Maggie’s emotional baggage, Mark has an issue to deal with too – a serious girlfriend. Nothing is ever easy!

This was a sweet romance with a touching story, cozy setting and likable characters. There were no big surprises in the plot, but for an uplifting holiday read, it was spot on. Renfield, the not-so-attractive but super lovable bulldog, was a hoot. You should read the book just to meet Renfield! Definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

Rating: 4 Stars