out of 5
Review by Mandolin
Marital bliss is only a few short days away for China Bayles and Mike McQuaid, who have finally agreed to tie the knot after months of rehabilitation following Mike's gunshot wound and China's near-death experience. The garden is ready, the guests have been invited and China's new tea-room is in the final stages of preparation for the big day...until their plans get derailed by the brutal murder of one of Pecan Springs' most disliked citizens. Edgar Coleman, a real estate developer known for philandering and bribery, is found shot at point-blank range at his home in one of the town's upscale communities. As the interim police chief, Mike is responsible for solving the murder and bringing the perpetrator to trial. Though she loves him and respects his abilities, China doesn't trust Mike to solve the case (or bring in back-up) in time for the upcoming nuptials. With the help of her mystery-loving, Tarot-touting sidekick Ruby Wilcox, China sets out to determine which of Coleman's blackmail victims or lovers had something big enough to hide that they would resort to murder to preserve their secret. As she probes further into Coleman's shady dealings, more and more of the town's respectable citizens, including many of the women's friends, become suspects. With a list of suspects with great motives and poor alibis growing by the minute and no good clues, China feels like throwing up her hands in defeat. Plus, as Murphy's law would have it, murder isn't the only thing that goes wrong as the week quickly marches on to the big day. A hurricane is looming on the horizon and China becomes involved in a sad case of kidnapping as well. Will China and McQuaid make it to the altar and to their honeymoon in Hawaii?
The best part of this series to date is watching the transformation in China's life and perspective. Seeing the changes in her relationships with McQuaid and her mother is wonderful. Add to that a well-crafted mystery, a plethora of herbal folklore and a great cast of characters and you have everything you could want in a cozy and more. I really appreciate the little tidbits that Ms. Albert includes at the beginning of each chapter. I don't know much about herbs and learning these little facts has been wonderful. My only complaint with this book was the number of typographical errors that I found. I just couldn't believe how many obvious ones were missed by the editors. That's sad to see in a book by such a popular author. Otherwise, however, it's a great read and I highly recommend it. (But read the others in the series first or you won't be able to appreciate the relationship dynamics that you'll see in this one!)