Death of a Red-Hot Rancher
Love is Murder Mystery #1
By Mimi Granger
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Love meets murder in this new cozy mystery series set in a quirky romance bookstore, with a heroine to die for.
Lizzie Hale may be the lucky owner of a successful romance bookshop, Love Under the Covers, but she’s decidedly un-lucky in love. Though she’s read almost every famous romance novelist, from Jane Austen to Nora Roberts, none have helped her figure out how to get–and keep–a man.
But Lizzie has bigger problems to worry about. Like murder.
When Brody Pierce, swoon-worthy ranch owner and resident bachelor, is found stabbed through the chest, hearts were heard breaking all over idyllic Tinker’s Creek. But when Lizzie’s aunt is implicated in the murder, she’s determined to clear her name. Lizzie quickly realizes that Brody was a hunk with many hidden secrets, and she’s soon leafing through a stack of suspects longer than Brody’s list of lovers.
With the killer still on the loose, Lizzie will have to find the truth before this act of passion ignites a fire she can’t put out. (Goodreads)
Death of a Red-Hot Rancher is the debut entry in the Love is Murder Mystery Series by Mimi Granger (aka Kylie Logan). It meets all of the requirements for the cozy mystery genre, and the hook of a romance bookseller who is unlucky in love drew me in.
Bookstore owner Lizzie Hale runs the Love Under the Covers romance book shop with her over-the-top Aunt Charmaine, and she is quite successful, at least as a businesswoman but not so much in her personal life. When she finds local celebrity hottie Brody Pierce stabbed to death in his barn, Lizzie is afraid her aunt played a role and does all she can to find the murderer before the police hone in on Charmaine.
I love the premise of this series. The small-town Ohio backdrop is great – the gossip is strong. Even though I am not a huge romance reader, Lizzie’s Victorian house-turned-shop sounds like the perfect place to hang out for the day browsing the shelves and chatting with other book lovers. That said Lizzie really bugs me. She claims to be “smart, logical, and pragmatic”, but for a good seventy percent of the book, she makes tons of assumptions and spins countless theories without many facts to back them up. She is awkward and comes across as weak. Most of the book relies on her theories about her aunt’s relationship with Brody, and it is not until she finally clears the air with Charmaine that Lizzie becomes much more confident and appealing. I was so frustrated waiting for her to talk to Charmaine about what really was going on, and I knocked a star off of the rating as a result. There are quite a few interesting characters introduced here, but none are fully fleshed out. Charmaine is a little too much for my taste, but I really want to get to know Lizzie’s potential love interest baseball player turned park ranger Max.
As much as I grew weary of reading how handsome and sexy the victim was (and Max, too, for that matter), I do feel it was important to the investigation. He was quite the ladies’ man so former girlfriends provide lots of suspects. Add a disgruntled neighbor, a cousin who has always been in Brody’s shadow, and an obsessed librarian, and Lizzie has plenty to investigate. There are sufficient clues and misdirection, but questions that nagged me throughout the book kept me from being too surprised by how the mystery played out. Seriously, the last quarter of the book saved it.
The Love as Murder series has potential; I just do not know if Death of a Red-Hot Rancher convinces me to read more. I will probably give the next book in the series a go before passing final judgment. Recommended to cozy fans that also enjoy heavy talk of romance.