I first “found” Yasmine Galenorn on the Witchy Chicks blog, but I thought from the books listed there that she was the author of fantasy and vampire books (I’m more into psychics and witches). However, when I was looking on the Cozy Mystery Blog, I discovered that she also has a cozy mystery series (themed paranormal) called The Chintz ‘n China Mystery series. I couldn’t wait to begin this series and to add another book to my cozy mystery challenge list. I found it at the Sony eReader story.
The first book in the series is Ghost of a Chance. The product description is as follows.
Emerald O’Brien is the owner of the Chintz ‘n China Tea Room where guests are served the perfect blend of tea and tarot reading. She never set out to be a detective, but once word gets out that she can communicate with the dead, there’s no turning back…
When the ghost of Susan Mitchell asks for Emerald’s help in convicting her own murderer, Emerald can’t refuse. Along with her friends-an ex-supermodel and a cop-and her new love interest, Emerald must search for clues to put the killer behind bars-and this tortured soul to rest.
I liked this book, and I liked Emerald O’Brien. So, first the negative: I did expect more tarot reading, since the description included the notion that guests were served tarot readings, and in fact, no guests were in this book (maybe in future series books?). I have learned some about Tarot, so I was very interested in seeing it included and it really wasn’t. In fact, much of her work was passed off to employees so that she could be free to solve the mystery.
The positives. First, it was a good mystery, and the suspense was uncanny. In fact, while I was reading a scene in which items are flying around Emerald’s house, a magazine slid off a table near me, and I jumped out of my seat! I have not had a cozy mystery ever do that for me. It was a nice moment. In addition, the mystery was not too easy to solve. In fact, I had the wrong person pegged for 90% of my read, which actually made it creepier.
Second, Emerald is a single mom, and not a young lady starting out on her own as many of the series I have read lately have featured. I enjoyed a more mature hero, and I liked reading about her dealing with her sometimes petulant children. I think that I will enjoy watching the children grow and develop in future books as much as I will like following Emerald. I do wish that she had not shipped her kids off during the tense moments, but since she checked in with them often and visited and thought about them all of the time (as a real mom would), it was okay.
Third, Emerald has friends that are pretty screwed up. Sometimes, witchy women characters are too perfect and have too perfect friends (everyone is beautiful and sexy and kicks butt). Emerald has a friend with very real problems and issues (that I won’t tell you about!) that makes her intriguing and real.
Again, I liked this book. I think if you like Annette Blair, Madelyn Alt, Juliet Blackwell, Candace Havens, etc., this is right up your alley. I will say, though, that I was surprised by the sex scenes, since they aren’t the norm for cozies. I didn’t mind them; I just didn’t expect them. I have heard cozies with minor sex scenes are often called “sophisticated cozies.” I don’t know if it applies here or not, but reader beware. They are two heavy making out scenes. 🙂 I will be reading the next one in the series–soon.