My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won this one in a goodreads giveaway which in no way influenced my review. I'd rate this a 3.5. The beginning was rough, mostly because of how the protagonist related to the sheriff (it looked like it would be a hostile relationship which is a deal breaker for me in an amateur sleuth story but it wasn't) and how judgmental she started out with the young goth girl employee she inherited from her mother.
In many ways this felt like book number two, with so much backstory floating around but it wasn't. Sawyer has come to Sunset Cove CA from Chicago because of her mother's death. She has inherited her mother's bookstore (barely afloat) and her mother's trust which her greedy uncle wants to rob her of. If he can drive her off, it's his (literally my absolute least favorite part of the story). Sawyer was originally engaged to the sheriff who left her at the altar when they were much younger and at the time she had been in engineering school. She decided she hated it and became a chef (honestly I would have found her much more interesting as an engineer than yet another chef). She hopes to get around her uncle to use the trust, managed by the handsome lawyer, Gage, to turn the bookstore partly into a high end restaurant. Her other sister is a high powered surgeon who wants nothing to do with the trust, happy to leave it to Sawyer and she's married with kids to the sheriff's brother.
Sawyer's mother left her more than just that. She didn't want Sawyer to be lonely so she arranged to have a doodle pup delivered to her and also arranged to have several available men in town to be tossed in Sawyer's path. So immediately we have the triangle between Gage, Dylan the sheriff and Sawyer. If you're like me you're probably tired of love triangles especially since I know a cozy won't solve them like I'd prefer (i.e. polyamorous)
When someone is killed at the book club hosted by the store, Sawyer of course is dropped right into it. Dylan warns her off playing sleuth (another reason it felt like book #2) Of course, she ignores him especially when one of the suspects was an old enemy from high school and the root of the murder might be Mom's final gift, a scavenger hunt for 'treasure' (which naturally uncle is there trying to snake it away).
Overall, once we got past the beginning and Sawyer started being less judgy about the goth girl, Brittany, I liked her well enough. She's kind to dogs and at least isn't running around demanding answers like you see in some cozies. Dylan and Gage are interesting if a bit pushy in the love department, especially Dylan. On the other hand, Sawyer doesn't really have anything that stands out from the sea of other cozy chefs. There are no recipes in this for those who like that sort of thing. I'd read the next book.
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