☆☆☆☆☆ (5 Stars)
Move aside Knives Out, there’s a new cozy mystery in town and it’s a good one.
Although I enjoyed Engagement and Espionage there was something missing in that book that I couldn’t quite explain. The tone was just a little bit off and I missed the incredible spark we got from Cletus and Jenn back in Beard Science. Well, there’s no need to fret, in Marriage and Murder that connection comes back with a vengeance.
Even though this is an incredibly well crafted mystery that would make Agatha Christie proud, the romance is still very much front and center. To balance the murdery bits, we are rewarded with witty dialogues, swoony declarations, and so many steamy scenes. Seriously, they are HOT. But only Penny Reid can also make them liberating, romantic, and incite a whole conversation about feeling free with the one you love. Chef’s Kiss.
Cletus is so much more Cletus. Being inside his head is insanely entertaining. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his character growth. In Beard Science he was his old self, a somewhat selfish plotter. In Engagement and Espionage he is trying hard to change his ways, but felt a bit muted. Here, he is his best version – smart as a whip, and still having “too many irons in the fire”, but sharing all parts of himself with Jenn. Also, he is distracted by her, and he needs to both cope with that and prepare for it. This inner struggle is cute and shows us that even Cletus has his blind spots.
Jenn also keeps evolving, she is still discovering who she is outside of her parents influence, and what it means to cope with her father’s death. She realises that it’s human to feel frustrated and angry, and that she’s not the perfectly sweet and polite Southern Bell all the time – and that’s absolutely ok.
The plot itself is interesting and captivating from the very first chapter. The twists and turns and the carefully sprinkled evidence will keep you wondering until the very end whodunit. And amidst everything that is going on you get to enjoy the whole gang – all the Winston’s coming together to support Cletus and Jenn. As always, this means a lot of charisma and emotional moments. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for anything better.
And this managed to make me even more excited for Totally Folked, the book about Jackson James. But, GAH, what we’re all going to be thinking about is a book about Isaac Sylvester aka Twilight.
Here are some thoughts that may be spoilery, so stop here if you haven’t read Marriage and Murder yet. But, go grab it and read it as soon as possible, because it’s worth it.
I love how this world is so incredibly connected. Back in Baking Me Crazy Joy is explaining that Cletus remodeled the Donner Bakery after Jenn was in a wheelchair for a while, and here we get to know why! And this was back in Smartypants Romance launch 1 – impressive.
Also, in the new The One That I Want a big part of the plot is around Diane Donner being MIA.
With the time jump we see at the end of the book, I’m guessing or mostly hoping that this series will end in the same timeframe as the future epilogue from Beard Necessities. Fingers Crossed.
This is not a spoiler at all, but back to the attention to details, Kip is murdered on March 2nd or the same as the release date for Marriage and Murder – so clever!
And Penny, if you ever read this, we were teased about a shower sex scene for a great part of this book and we need it! Maybe in a future newsletter, wink wink?
My God, here’s an honarable mention to THAT scene between Jenn and Repo… Just wow. Damn those invisible ninjas cutting onions while I was reading it.
And, to wrap it up, how could I not mention Ash and Drew’s wedding and their explanation for it not happening before? I know it was mentioned in previous books that they wanted to get married but Ash wouldn’t commit and I couldn’t understand why, but not only it made perfect sense in Marriage and Murder, but that’s also another scene that I would love to read about – their actual wedding day. Honestly, Ash was great in this book and I love her so much.
Final thoughts: if you enjoy anything by Penny Reid or the Winston’s at all, go pick this up.
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Thank you Social Butterfly PR for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.