Christmas Trifle (A Snow Lake Romantic Suspense Mystery)
Romantic Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Wives of Bath Press (September 1, 2019)
When chefs Charly and Cliff Harding divorce, she gets custody of their upscale restaurant and its namesake, Felix, the cat. He gets custody of their dog, Oscar. What they both still have custody of is each other’s heart. But they seem to be the only two people in the small ski resort town of Snow Lake, Nevada, that don’t know it.
When Cliff opens his own restaurant in direct competition with Charly, bad things start to happen. Death threats, accidents, and murder are now on the menu. Their ‘if-you-can’t-take-the-heat-then-get-out-of-the-kitchen’ battles are backfiring, and regrets consume the two of them. But can they find their way back to each other? Or is it too late? Because they just might spend the rest of their lives in prison unjustly accused of killing someone. Or can love triumph over even murder?
I really enjoyed this Romantic Suspense story with a bit of cozy mystery thrown in. Charly and Cliff Harding are both chefs who opened Chez Felix. The story begins with them getting a divorce and Charly getting the restaurant. Cliff was off being “The Restaurant Guru” for a television show and had left Charly home to hold down the fort. When she had enough, she filed for divorce. An accident on his way to the final meeting with the lawyers prevented him from getting there to stop the divorce and then it was too late. There is also an unsolved double homicide that plays a part in the story.
Charly, the female protagonist, is shy and lacks self-esteem at the beginning of the story, but she develops a backbone and stands up for herself by the end. She is also the victim of a stalker and doesn’t make the best decisions where that is concerned. I wanted to grab her and make her go to the police, but that probably wouldn’t have worked with her stubborn nature. Cliff, the male protagonist, is arrogant, has a huge ego, and has a very short temper. He also realizes that he is hurting himself and the ones he loves with his behaviour and I went from disliking him at the beginning of the story to rooting for him by the end. There are some wonderful secondary characters that add some humour to the story along the way. Then there are the pets, Felix and Oscar. They play a large part in the story helping to bring Cliff and Charly back together. There are a lot of bumps along the way, a lot of hurt feelings, some accidents and even another murder before these two realize what everyone else knew. The mystery itself is not front and center, but it is a large part of the story. It is well-plotted, and there were several red herrings along the way. I had no idea who the culprit was. My only complaint was this person wasn’t even on my radar and didn’t seem to be someone who was suspect, until the reveal and once all the details were out there, it made for a plausible ending. I received a copy of this book from Great Escapes Book Tours upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
Heather Haven, in the midst of writing her fourteenth novel, has also written short stories, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and plays. She has won numerous awards for her Silicon Valley-based Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries; Manhattan-based WWII Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries; Ringling Brothers’ Circus mystery noir, Death of a Clown; and Corliss and Other Award-Winning Stories. She has two romantic suspense series: Love Can be Murder Mystery Novellas with Lee Alvarez and Gurn Hanson, the Nick and Nora Charles of Silicon Valley, and the new Snow Lake Romantic Suspense Novels, of which Christmas Trifle is Book One.
She and her husband of thirty-four years are allowed to live with their two cats, Ellie and Yulie, in the foothills of San Jose, California.
Purchase Link – Amazon
Christmas Trifle, Book One of the Snow Lake Romantic Suspense Novels, features two rescue animals, Felix and Oscar. Felix is a tuxedo cat, so adored by his chef owners they name their new upscale restaurant, Chez Felix, after him. Then along came another rescue, a Golden Retriever they called Oscar. Felix and Oscar became bosom buddies.
When their two married owners decide to go their separate ways each taking one of the animals, another restaurant, Chez Oscar, comes into being. But that’s not the end of the story. Not by a long shot. Felix and Oscar will not be parted, even when you name a restaurant after each of them.
As important as the two animals are to the plot, I try to keep the behavior of dogs and cats in my stories more or less like dogs and cats in real life. They don’t talk in complete sentences to their masters or to each other, for that matter. They don’t try to figure out whodunnit, like some animals do in other series.
But Felix and Oscar still have their magical qualities. Every loving animal does. I don’t think anyone who’s been fortunate enough to have a rescue animal in their lives, be it dog, cat, llama, donkey, chicken or whatever, would doubt it becomes a question of just which one rescued the other.
In any event, the storyline is led quite a bit by Felix and Oscar’s behavior. These two animals will not settle for the choices their owners are making. Rascally behavior takes place. There is an innocence, charm and, upon occasion, devilish behavior in most animals. This is especially true when humans are being foolish. And Charlotte “Charly” and Cliff Harding lead the way in being foolish. But not to worry. Felix and Oscar are on the case. And rescuing is their game.
That’s the premise of Christmas Trifle. Oh yes, and there are a few murders to solve, as well.