I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
The second book in the series, this one was just o.k.
The author writes characters well, but struggles with dialogue and narration. Jenna was likeable, but she kept blatantly and awkwardly inserting herself into situations that were none of her business, making her come across as the worst kind of nosey pest. The setting is crisply and colourfully described though, so perhaps the author just hasn't found her groove with this new cast of characters yet.
The MC, Jenna, co-owns a Cookbook Shop and cafe with her Aunt Vera. Is it just me, or is there an inordinate number of Aunt Vera's running around the written world? Anyway, the author does a lot of title dropping into the first third of the book, and because she tries to pry incredibly long titles, then descriptions of each book, into casual conversations between the MC and her employees, it comes across awkward, clumsy and jarring. It reads like a sales pitch, so it could have worked really well, say, in a conversation between Jenna or Aunt Vera and a customer, or in dialogue taking place during the cooking contest.
The mystery plot was well crafted and written with nice slight of hand; more than one plausible suspect, and the author nicely leads the reader in one direction while dropping clues for the observant in another. However, Jenna's connection to the mystery is tenuous at best and it seemed to me that the author made Jenna such a nosey Parker in an attempt to continue the justification for her involvement.
There's a second mystery, concerning Jenna's late husband, running throughout the background that was interesting. It felt at times like the author sort of forgot about it, then would rush to move the sub-plot along, only to let it languish again. That sounds like a harsher criticism that I meant it to be, but while it was interesting, it could have been more smoothly woven into the overall story. I also think we've not heard the last from Jenna's husband.
The awkward writing would stop me from recommending this book to others. It's not a bad read by any means, and I'll probably pick up the next book in the series when it's published. It's just not a great read.