I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Josie Bell is a pseudonym for Jenn McKinley, currently one of the best cozy mystery writers out there. I love her two other series and it really bothers me that I can't love this one as well.
What I absolutely can't stand about this book (and series): Maggie acts about as immature as is possible around Sam her high school sweetheart. It's screamingly obvious that he's crazy about her and she insists on acting like a stupid shrew during just about every encounter with him. It's annoying, not entertaining or endearing.
Summer - This character is just too stupid, too over the top, and too outrageous to be believable or entertaining. She's ridiculous and nobody actually acts like this over the age of 6. Why writers suddenly feel it's necessary to work a nemesis into every story/series is a mystery in and of itself, but if they have to do it, they could do it in a realistically humorous fashion, not in such an overblown characiture-ish fashion.
What kept me reading this book in spite of the above: I genuinely like most of the characters: Sam, Ginger, Max, even Maggie when she's not acting like a stupid shrew. I like the premise of the story and I like reading about Maggie getting her business up and running. The mystery was a good one - I am pretty good at guessing the murderer most of the time, but this plot had a good number of suspects, red herrings, clues-that-weren't and distractions aplenty. I still guessed a few things, but not at all with any certainty, and I was totally prepared to be wrong.
And last, but not least, I kept reading because I know this author is capable of writing absolutely excellent mysteries and I know it's in there somewhere. This book, like her first in this series 50% Off Murder, started off weak but got better as the story went along - Maggie calmed down and acted like a mature adult, her interactions with Sam took on a maturity and allowed a spark of sexual tension to show through - which really, it's what we're all looking for yes? - and become an enjoyable, engrossing read.
So, would I recommend this book? No. Maybe. With caveats. It does get much better as it goes. But I want her next book to be excellent from the start, like the other books this author writes. I'll be looking for it when it's published, with fingers crossed.