My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway (which in no way influenced my review) but I was a little hesitant. I’m not a huge fan of Amish anything (for a specific reason) but I’ve read other books by the author and liked them. I was happy to find I did enjoy this. My reason for not enjoying Amish related literature in part is the tendency to glorify Amish life as some perfect ideal. I live in Amish country and can tell you from experience that isn’t true. The Amish here are as flawed as anyone, making this a much more realistic portrayal in my opinion.
Bailey King has entered the ACC, the Amish Confectionery Competition much to the ire of some of the other Amish competitors. Bailey isn’t Amish but her late grandfather, who was originally entered into the contest, was. (Bailey’s parent was the one who left the Amish to enter the English world, not Bailey herself). Bailey is a NYC trained chocolatier now living with her grandmother, Clara, in Harvest, Ohio, in part to soothe her own heart after breaking up with her boss back in NYC and in part to help her Grandma cope with the loss of Bailey’s granddad.
Obviously there are reasons to see Bailey as unfit for the contest but her assistant, Emily is Amish as is her grandmother so she was allowed to stay. Josephine Weaver, the forerunner in the competition wants her gone. Bailey, however, is more concerned with helping Juliet (mother to the deputy, Aiden Brody) find her pet pig, Jethro before Margot, the town leader who wants this competition to bring big tourist bucks to Harvest, gets upset the pig is running loose. What she finds instead is a young Amish woman, Charlotte, playing the church organ surprisingly badly and that’s when they find Josephine dead inside it.
But the show must go on. Bailey tries to balance being there for the various competitions so Swissmen’s Sweets isn’t kicked out while investigating who killed Josephine because not only could she have had a motive so could Charlotte who was Josephine’s niece and to Bailey’s surprise, Bailey’s cousin. And here’s where some of the not-so-pretty aspects of Amish life crops up. Some Amish districts are more permissive than others (They’re pretty lack here where I’m at) but Charlotte’s is very strict, especially with women. They’re a no music allowed (other than singing) sort so Charlotte, still in her rumspringa, has to decide does she stay or does she leave and her aunt was leading the charge on forbidding her the use of the organ. Really, Josephine wasn’t that nice of a woman and that leaves Bailey with a lot of suspects to sort through.
Overall, I liked the characters and I enjoyed this a lot. I wasn’t sure I would. One thing I don’t like in cozies personally is the type where the amateur detective is at odds with/forbidden by local law enforcement to investigate (If you think about it, a lot of cozy detectives could be jailed for obstruction or interfering with a police investigation so it doesn’t work for me when the cops hate our protagonist). Aiden doesn’t really want her to be doing it but he’s also sort of falling for her so it works (the sheriff is another thing all together and another all-around not nice guy). I’m not sure I’d read the first one (points to the sheriff who obviously has it in for Bailey) but I’d probably read more of this. It was fun.
Mild spoilers here as there were a few things that bugged me and part of that was the competition itself. At one point Margot told Bailey she should have dressed up as Amish and Bailey rightly points out that would be offensive. On the other hand, Margot had a point that Bailey’s outfit was out of line. She went dressed up in bright purples and wearing feather earrings and at an Amish event that seems a little disrespectful. Dressing down a bit would have been less like waving a red flag at a bull. I was more concerned with why her grandmother wasn’t running this. Had I read book one I would have realized (which I did but not until almost two-thirds the way through) that this was only a few weeks after the death of Bailey’s grandfather so I can see why grandma wasn’t there but I would have liked that to be clearer.
View all my reviews