From a Mother’s Day mystery and random dinosaurs to a contemporary cozy mystery based around the owner of a bakery whose best friend and soon to be employ is embroiled in the murder of her previous boss at the local bank. Vanilla Bean Murder by Deany Ray is the second in her Ouna Bay Cozy Mysteries series. This lucky free find was a lovely novella length mystery with a touch of romance and a dash of humour.
Now keep in mind this is a second book in the series (I really lucked out with a freebie), so there are some moments where you feel you are missing a bit of information. The relationships are more defined and there is a hint of that being something that came out of the previous book so I won’t give names and details.
What I really enjoyed about this one is that I didn’t see the murderer coming… I mean, towards the end I was getting the feeling that something wasn’t quite right but I was just as surprised as the main characters (Becky) as to who did it and why.
I am definitely interested in taking a look at the first novel in the series as well as continuing on (once the book budget allows of course…). Deany Ray does a terrific job creating interesting characters. The story felt well thought through and had a great pace. The mystery, as I mentioned, was intriguing and unexpected. Definitely a fun read out in the hammock on a warm afternoon, especially since that is exactly what I did! And who doesn’t love a title like Vanilla Bean Murder. It sounds so… scrumptious.
Well, I am finding more and more that my random story choices is teaching me quite a lot about my personal tastes. This book has reinforced that I enjoy my Regency romance and my stories with a strong faith element SEPARATELY. I feel like I am looking for something very specific when I pick up a Regency romance, a sweet story with gentile people, maybe not EXACTLY period correct but most often at least period close…
With The Nanny Arrangement by Lily George you do get some of the period feel, a lot of the romance of the era, but I found the way faith was included – bible studies, and the situations the two main characters are in – often alone, unchaperoned was a bit too much for me. But the imagery was lovely, the characters well thought out and the story interesting. I just found I had to suspend my Regency sensibilities at times (not to say I am educated in perfect Regency era rules and regulations, but I do love the genre and have read pretty much everything I can get my hands on).
The Nanny Arrangement is not the first in a series, but focuses on the middle sister of 3 who helps her younger sister run a hat shop. The elder has married up and is happy in her home but still in contact. The younger two do not get along overly well without the third to balance them out. Cue the needy gentlemen, known to the elder and her husband as a good friend. His estranged (badly married) sister has perished leaving her only child – a daughter. In order to solve everyone’s problems Becky, the middle sister, becomes the nanny.
There is a lot more than simple romance going on. Paul Holmes has lost his faith, and is not reconciled to his sister’s death or her daughter’s appearance in his life. Becky is unsure of her future as she longs for more than her place in the hat store and has been newly jilted (or at least the man in question never realized her interest). All in all a fun read just more of a faith story than a period piece. I can recommend a second book by the same author – Healing the Soldier’s Heart which is a bit more in the period correct feel. But both have great merits!