My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 stars to Carolyn L. Dean‘s BED, BREAKFAST, and BONES: A Ravenwood Cove Cozy Mystery, the first in this series about Amanda Graham’s adventures in opening up a bed and breakfast on the coastal shores of Oregon.
When Amanda Graham inherits an old bed and breakfast from her uncle who recently passed away, and she ends a relationship with a cheating boyfriend, a move from LA to a small sleepy town sounds exactly like what she needs. After arriving, she quickly learns it’s anything but sleepy. The new mayor has it out for her, the town won’t let her re-open the inn and a dead body turns up in her garden. After getting to know the various villagers, Amanda falls in love with Ravenwood Cove but she can’t afford to stay unless she can open the inn for business. She quickly finds her allies, determines who may be out to stop her and solves the mystery of who put the dead body in her garden. Along the way, she learns her uncle was not a well-liked man, and she has a mysterious neighbor who has something to hide…
For a debut cozy, this story sets up a wonderful little town full of good characters and lots of potential for drama, conflict and depth. The various shop owners’ plights make you root for them to survive in a town where tourism is non-existent, but they have a hope for it to change. The history and relationships of all the villagers are intricate and appear to have some traction for future stories. Amanda’s immediate ties to the town are strong and give you a good sense of why she wants to make this new life work.
Often in cozies, the protagonist talks a lot about how (s)he has no experience in searching for the killer — almost to the point of it being too direct; however, in this series, even though it’s obvious she’s not trained in detective work, Amanda’s instinctual skills and talents kick in very naturally. I never questioned why she was searching for the killer because it just happened along the way in a very realistic manner. I liked this change in a cozy.
The introduction of her potential suitors went well — and I’m actually rooting for two men she has interacted with thus far – James and his brother Derek. It was only a small introduction, but fighting over 2 brothers would definitely be a good setup of trouble for the future.
I’d like to know more about her uncle and what happened to push him out of the town 8 years ago. I’m not sure if this was deliberately left open in book 1 to have a story to reveal in a future book or if this was just not anything of importance, but I found myself wanting a stronger and more immediate conclusion to this part.
This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I definitely enjoyed it and will read another one soon. It has a lot of potential as a debut novel in this series, especially with likable characters, a strong background and setting to tell a story and a direct plot with some hidden clues and some guess-work. You can read it in a few hours one afternoon and walk away with a smile and a wish to visit your own sleepy little town. (But don’t go finding your own dead body!)