Comfort and Joy Trilogy, #1
Women’s Fiction / Cozy Mystery / Later-In-Life Romance / Sweet Second-Chance Romance
Publisher: Fish Tales
Page Count: 359 pages
Publication Date: January 21, 2023
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Welcome to the hometown everyone wants to call their own.
Gloria Bachman, a retired bank executive, has eight weeks to flip a location on Comfort’s High Street into a boutique chocolate shop. Defying expectations for “women of a certain age,” Gloria rediscovers talents and a sharpening of skills. If only she could read people as well as she does a spreadsheet. Even with the renovation in good hands, the subsequent struggle to name the shop brings Gloria and her business partner into conflict with a shady citizen. While Gloria is capable of remaining in her retirement rut while opening a business, two competing social groups try to lure her into their networks, causing Gloria to wonder if she ever knew Comfort at all. A murder rocks the community and revives investigative instincts honed by years in the banking industry.
Mason Lassiter, a disgraced CEO, has his own dramas to escape and the offbeat town seems the perfect place to recover his self-esteem. What was to be a quick reversal of fortunes becomes a quest to right a deeply felt injustice. Fascinated by the women driving the energy of Comfort, he extends his stay to find out why the small town is the backdrop to their best tales. Tangling with his neighbor Gloria becomes his favorite pastime and the key to unlocking the mystery of his past—if he can convince her to trust him.
Chocolate and joy become the glue bringing an unlikely cast together, which just might change Gloria’s and Mason’s course for the better. With characters familiar from previous Comfort novels and introducing fresh names, Sweet Comfort will entertain those who like their stories seasoned with coziness and sweet, second chances.
***** Purchase on Amazon *****
I’ve read several of the Comfort, Texas books, and readers can always count on terrific characters in these stories, and that’s definitely true with this first book in a new series from Kimberly Fish.
The characters are wonderfully drawn while not being perfect people. Gloria and Mason have good hearts, and an awareness of the attraction is evident to both of them early on in the story, but Gloria, especially, is afraid of opening her heart to someone new. She’s also leery of offers of new friendships from ladies in the knitting and bunco clubs in town. She’s not a knitter and has never played bunco, so why should she bother? Plus, she has enough to do to get the chocolate shop ready to open, which entails a major renovation of the building she and her partner, Kali, will be renting from the cantankerous man, Ted.
Fans who are familiar with previous stories will be pleased to see people from past books featured in this one, smoothly joining new ones like Wanda, who really wants Gloria to join the knitters. When Wanda first showed up on the scene, she came across as incredibly pushy and irritating, and I wondered why Gloria didn’t just avoid her. Then I realized that Gloria didn’t have the heart to be that rude to the woman. It just isn’t part of Gloria’s MO to be rude to anyone, even the other woman who tries to disrupt her business.
But Gloria isn’t a softie to be taken advantage of, nor does she step down from a challenge. She’s a strong woman who handles the details of taking care of the business she’s starting with her friend.
Kali, who is expecting a baby in a few months, is in charge of making the chocolates, and Gloria’s responsible for overseeing the renovation of the old building and negotiating with Ted over the lease agreement. He wants the shop to be named for him, and neither partner is thrilled with his suggestions. That impasse nearly scuttles the whole deal.
When Mason Lassiter shows up on the scene, there’s a lot of speculation as to why the owner of the prominent, upscale clothing store in Dallas has come to this small town. Gloria pretends she doesn’t care. Pretends she isn’t aware of a growing attraction. But…
As uncertain as Gloria is about new romance, Mason is likewise wary, and the slow-dance that takes place between the characters goes on just long enough. The future is left open at the end of this book, but that is a satisfying conclusion, as the reader knows that there is a future for these two people.
Kimberly Fish’s strength is definitely in writing wonderful characters and delightful situations for the romances to develop, but some of the mystery elements needed shoring up in this story. For instance, the thread of what happened to Mason’s former wife, who was believed to be dead but might have staged the death to disappear, is left dangling. It might be tied up in a future story, but for me it was a major plot issue that I’d hoped to see settled.
While reading, I highlighted a few sentences that I wanted to remember. Like this one from early on in the book. Gloria is recalling a her grandmother always said, “It will all work out in the end, And if it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end.” That’s a good mantra to live by but Gloria isn’t loving it after a difficult meeting with Ted.
This thought Gloria has about her home in Comfort also resonated with me, “…the address filled a spot in her heart where she laid her welcome mat.” What a terrific way to show how at-home Gloria feels.
It’s that strong narrative, the wonderful three-dimensional characters, and the sweet romance that keeps me coming back to read more books by this author.
Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction novels and novellas, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of the novels have won distinguished awards. Sweet Comfort is her latest novel, the first book in the Comfort and Joy Trilogy.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Two winners each receive a signed copy of Sweet Comfort plus a box of Sweet Shop USA candies!
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 3/31/23)
***** A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY *****
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