Wedding Bel Blues (Belfast McGrath Mystery #1)by Maggie McConnon

Published May 31st 2016 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

5 Stars

Synopsis: Are they tying the knot?
Belfast McGrath has spent the last fifteen years avoiding her big, bustling, brash Irish family. But when her five-star culinary career goes up in flames, she retreats to Foster’s Landing—where she’s immediately tapped as her cousin Caleigh’s maid-of-honor. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster…especially when Bel learns that the wedding preparations included Caleigh having one last one-night stand.
Or the noose?
When Caleigh’s lover plunges from the second-floor balcony during the reception, Bel can’t help but think his death was no accident. Soon Detective Kevin Hanson, who just happens to be Bel’s long-ago love, arrives on the scene—looking hotter than ever. Heartbreak and homicide hardly help Bel to feel more at home, but if she is going to make a new beginning for herself, including putting the past behind her, she must first steer clear of a cold-hearted killer.

My Review: When I started to read this book, I was prepared for a simple cozy mystery. I was looking for a light read. What I got was a lot more than that. Yes it is a cozy, but there was a lot of suspense, some romance, a lot of family drama and even some humour. The story was very well developed and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. There was a lot that drew me in, and this bodes well for the series.

Belfast (Bel) McGrath has returned home to Foster’s Landing after suffering a major incident both personal and career ending. Bel is an award winning chef, but does she want to cook for her parent’s wedding banquet business. When Bel left town years before, her best friend had disappeared after a fight and she and her boyfriend had a falling out. She was not sure what she was coming back to, but she was going home. Two months after her return, she is the maid of honor in her cousin’s wedding and a young man is killed, in fact, he is thrown over a bannister from the second floor and lands on a bust of FDR. The mystery begins. This is not the only mystery in the book. There is the mysterious Uncle, but who is he really and why is he there? There is the slow-witted brother that everyone seems to be protecting, but does he need the protection? And, the mystery of why Bel was so quick to leave her hometown of Foster’s Landing after Amy disappears, and where is she?

Then there is the romance. Bel meets and starts to fall for Brandon, a boy she went to school with and thinks she might just be able to trust. But when Kevin, the old boyfriend, and her kiss, she is not sure where this is going? We find that there is love and loyalty within this loud Irish family that lives and runs the manor house after immigrating from Ireland. There are also many secrets that cause more problems than they solve. I really enjoyed the character of Bel. She was smart, loyal and did not give up. She wanted to find out what was going on no matter what, but she can keep a secret as well when she needs to. Her cousin, Caleigh, I didn’t like so much. She was selfish and self-centered. I hope to see more of Brandon in the next book and that things progress between him and Bel, they both deserve some good luck in relationships.

I definitely recommend this book not only to cozy mystery lovers, but to anyone who likes a mystery without a lot of blood, guts and gore as well as someone who likes the family drama of a large immigrant family.