Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle

Holiday-GrindIt’s Christmas in the city and Clare Cosi is busy experimenting with new holiday-themed frothy drinks. From fa-la-la-la lattes to candy cane cappuccinos, the Christmas-infused coffees must be better than ever in order to boost sales.  But all the caffeine-induced yultide cheer comes to a roaring stop when the local Santa is found dead in the snow.

As usual the lazy city cops claim it’s nothing more than a random mugging, leaving Clare with no other choice but to strap on her gumshoes and ferret out the killer herself. With some help from her hilariously sardonic barista, Esther, she traces Alf’s (aka Santa) last steps and discovers quite a few shady characters on top of his naughty list.

Things get complicated when Alf’s daughter, who happens to be a former Village Blend barista, asks Clare to investigate a blackmail scheme. Was Alf peeking inside an apartment building before the sniper took him out? And was he willing to commit extortion just to keep his failed restaurant afloat?  Seems like this Santa wasn’t all cookies and milk after all.

On top of solving her friend’s murder and keeping her own restaurant in the black, Clare is dealing with some serious man drama between her sexually frustrated ex-hubby and commitment-phobe boyfriend.  The ex is clearly hung up on her, but can she really get back together with the man who left her broke and heartbroken? He’s clearly unhappy with his socialite girlfriend and it’s only a matter of time until they both have a moment of weakness. As for the sexy NYPD boyfriend, he needs to stop putting his job in front of his lady – especially during the holidays. And what’s the deal with him hanging out with that mean red-haired supermodel?

Mmm...doesn't a peppermint mocha sound good right about now?

Mmm…doesn’t a peppermint mocha sound good right about now?

Clearly Clare has some investigating to do. And she better solve the mystery soon – before her own good is cooked! As she moves in on the killer, crazy things happen. Let me tell ya, there was one jaw-dropping moment that had me glued to the pages until the very end! I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that if I ever take a ride on a ferry in the icy Atlantic Ocean, I’m steering clear of the rails.

 Overall, this book is the perfect cozy holiday read. The author does a fine job gradually introducing readers to the eclectic mix of characters and Clare’s backstory. Her love for New York City really shines in her lyrical descriptions of the snow-covered cityscape and iconic landmarks. Although I’ve never been to New York, I can imagine the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers and the ice skating at Rockefeller Park. Since I loathe crowds and city transportation, I doubt I’ll ever experience Christmas in New York, but it’s fun imagining myself catching snowflakes in Central Park and sipping frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity.

Needless to say, I’m a fan of Cleo Coyle’s fun little coffeehouse mystery series. She can weave a tightly-plotted whodunit without skimping on the romance and cozy coffeeshop ambiance. If you’re in the mood for a holiday thriller, give this one a shot. I’m now on to her Haunted Bookshop mysteries, which should be a lot of good, cozy fun!

Friday Finds: Holiday Edition

i found you!It’s probably a tad bit selfish to treat myself to goodies during the season of giving, but I just couldn’t fight the gravitational pull toward the mall bookstore. All the new titles with glossy red and green covers were too hard to resist!

Although I didn’t make much progress on the holiday shopping list, I did procure a nice little bundle of Christmassy reads!  Thanks to MizB at Should Be Reading, I get to brag about my latest literary shopping spree in this Friday Finds post.

Which one shall I read first?

 Holiday Grind: A Coffeehouse Mystery, Book 8

6296907Clare’s grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who’s been using her coffeehouse as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds him gunned down in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that Alfred’s death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging, despite the conclusions of the police. More…

Silent Night: A Lady Julia Christmas Novella

16152023After a year of marriage – and numerous adventures – Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together – until they find themselves at her father’s ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals. Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering – but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs.  More…

 A Countess by Christmas

9427063The Earl of Bridgemere is happy to encourage his reputation as a curmudgeonly recluse if it repels the grasping females who usually attend his lavish Christmas parties. Helen Forrest is like a breath of fresh air, uninterested in his wealth and not cowed by his temper.  Bridgemere’s seasonal duty suddenly becomes a pleasure as he sets about making Helen his countess—by Christmas! More…

 A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella

118219558940165422_sykPUxdi_cAll Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.  Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame. More…

Friday Finds is a weekly meme spotlighting books you’ve bought or hope to buy in the future. Hop over to Should Be Reading for more details.

My Book Boyfriend: Rafe Bowman from A Wallflower Christmas


Meow! What could be more fun than pairing a literary hottie with a swoon-worthy celebrity? When I saw this meme, hosted by the Unread Reader,I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun! And it just so happens I just polished off A Wallflower Christmas, a historical romance featuring a dashing rogue named Rafe Bowman. I’ve got to hand it to Lisa Kleypas – that’s a great name for a hot male lead. While reading this book, I kept picturing Julian McMahon (also a hottie name!) from Nip Tuck. You might also remember him as that yummy district attorney boyfriend in Charmed.

About Rafe:

Tall, dark and ill-mannered, this sexy rake is known for his wild American ways. With his chiseled good looks and imposing physique, he shouldn’t have any trouble in the love department. Yet when he arrives in London to court his high society bride, his plans get derailed when he meets the sweet and strong-willed Hannah Appleton.

Accustomed to getting everything he wants, Rafe is intrigued by Hannah’s constant rejections. Hannah is determined to resist his persistent flirtations…at least at first. Soon sparks fly, witty banter ensues, a stolen kiss happens and Rafe’s cold, cynical heart melts into butter!

Drool-Worthy Quotes:

“Then I will have to show you what happens to women who stand in my way.” Before she could comprehend what was happening, one powerful arm had brought her against his hard masculine body. With his other hand, he grasped the nape of her neck, and tilted her head backward. And his mouth took hers.”

 “If only I could visit you as a foreigner goes into a new country, learn the language of you, wander past all borders into every private and secret place, I would stay forever. I would become a citizen of you.”

 “You would say it’s too soon to feel this way. You would ask how I could be so certain. But some things can’t be measured by time. Ask me an hour from now. Ask me a month from now. A year, ten years, a lifetime. The way I love you will outlast every calendar, clock, and every toll of every bell that will ever be cast.”
 
This is how we court girls in America. We grab them and kiss them. And if they don’t like it, we do it again, harder and longer, until they surrender. It saves us hours of witty repartee.

What do you think? Is this how you pictured Rafe Bowman? Who’s your favorite literary hottie? For more details about My Book Boyfriend, visit the Unread Reader.

Gizzy’s Pick: Decked with Folly by Kate Kingsbury

Sometimes I just want to run away screaming from our technology-obsessed world, and the madness of reality TV.  I long for the days when I could go out to lunch with a friend without being interrupted by a chirping smart phone.  Remember the good ol’ days when friends would actually pick up the phone to wish you a happy birthday rather than posting a quick and dirty greeting on your Facebook wall? Shoot – you don’t even have to remember your friends’ birthdays anymore because Facebook will do that for you!  Thanks to social media, we don’t have to stop thinking about ourselves for even a moment. 

So when I need a break from reality (which happens a lot!) I pick up one of Kate Kingsbury’s cozy Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries. Set in Edwardian England – an era devoid of all things electronic – her fun little whodunits surround a posh seaside country club filled with an eclectic mix of quirky characters. 

When Christmastime rolls around, there’s no better place to be than the Pennyfoot Hotel, where the comforting aromas of pine and cedar infuse the air and the halls are festooned with holiday cheer. But if you want to live to see the New Year, it might be a good idea to admire the resplendent hotel from afar! The dreaded “Christmas Curse” (aka somebody drops dead every December) strikes again. And this time the body of Ian Rossiter, a former employee of the Pennyfoot, is found floating in the hotel duck pond. Cecily Baxter – the hotel’s proprietress and part-time amateur sleuth – suspects foul play after she connects a missing candlestick to the bludgeoned dent in Ian’s head. 

All fingers point to the hotel’s head housemaid, Gertie, who threatened Ian with a kitchen knife after he tried to kidnap her twins in the middle of the night. But when Cecily discovers plenty of others wanted Ian dead, she makes it her mission to clear Gertie’s name and nab the killer before another dead body shows up under the tree. 

In true Agatha Christie style, our cunning sleuth investigates a slew of suspects and stumbles upon clues when their stories don’t add up. What really happened the night of Ian’s death when two gallant suitors came to Gerty’s rescue? Let’s take a look at our suspects, shall we!

Gertie: If anyone has motive to kill that wormy Ian, it’s Gertie! Not only did he dupe her into a false marriage, he skipped town right after the birth of their twins. What scum! 

Clyde: The hotel’s head groundskeeper. Tall, dark and mysterious, there seems to be a lot more to this guy than a toolbox and a strong pair of arms. Did anger get the best of him that fateful night when he protected Gertie from Ian’s attack?  

Dan: Gertie’s flakey boyfriend. Handsome, successful and emotionally stable, Dan is a real catch. Too bad he doesn’t seem interested in popping the question.  When Gertie finds out he had a row with Ian that ill-fated night,  she begins to wonder if he could be capable of murder. 

Mabel: A very unpopular housemaid who just can’t seem to do her job right. For some inexplicable reason, this melancholy lonewolf seems to be hiding something. Why is she so depressed? And why is she always caught wandering into guests’ rooms for no reason? 

Gloria: Ian’s other wife. With nowhere to go after her husband’s untimely death, she  has no other option but to live on the streets and beg for money. Overwhelmed by the widow’s desperation, Cecily offers to let her stay at the Pennyfoot until she can get back on her feet. She soon regrets her generous offer when she realizes that Gloria could make trouble for Gertie. Is this all an elaborate plan to get back at her no-good husband and his true love? And why did she lie about her whereabouts the night Ian was murdered? 

Sid: The Pennyfoot’s newest stable-boy.  This shady fellow has a way with the ladies, and boy does he have designs on Gertie. Although he may seem charming to the hotel’s chambermaids, Gertie’s onto his games. When his flirtations escalate to harassment, Gertie begins to wonder if he’s the one who’s trying to frame her for murder.

Archibald:  A very shady hotel guest who seems to show up at the most inopportune times.  This troublemaker, who claims to be an herbal-remedy specialist, seems to be dead-set on spreading hysteria by gossiping about the murder.  Who is he really – and why does he seem to be lurking around every dark corner? 

If you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned mystery that’ll get you in the mood for Christmas – take a little trip to the Pennyfoot Hotel! This book is best paired with a steaming mug of spiked eggnog and your silliest pair of fluffy slippers.  And don’t forget to turn off those incessant chirping gadgets!