Comfort and Joy Trilogy, Book Two
Women’s Fiction / Contemporary / Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
Date of Publication: September 1, 2023
Number of Pages: 312 pages
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Even with all her experience, Gloria Bachman, retired banker and candy entrepreneur, didn’t see this coming.
Sweeties, the beloved Comfort chocolate shop, was ready for its cameo in advertising extraordinaire Jazzy Mezcal’s famous travel and food show! Comfort town folks had worked hard all summer to get their shops Hallmark-movie ready. On the eve of the TV crews overtaking the town, Gloria’s Chamber of Commerce welcome party gets drenched in a wicked rainstorm. Locals call it a “blue norther,” and a dreaded agent of change. Flooding seems like the worst of their problems until the celebrity TV host turns up dead.
In shock, Gloria’s friends turn to her to figure out who could be responsible for such a disaster. With the TV crew and guests in town for the 8th Street Market’s annual shopping event, suspects are endless. Reluctant to get involved, Gloria would much rather focus on the delicious romance with Mason Lassiter. And she would if a frenemy from Kerrville didn’t haunt her every step. Now as Gardner Rogers treads on her turf, everything feels suspicious.
With all eyes on Gloria to find the truth behind Jazzy Mezcal’s untimely death, she indulges her curiosity for problem solving while trying to disguise how unsure she is about the future with her boyfriend. Disruption in Mason’s world, mayhem in Comfort, and one epic chocolate disaster rouse Gloria to action and make her decide what’s worth fighting for. All she can say for sure, is that no one is finding any comfort in Comfort.
The best thing about the books set in Comfort Texas is the cast of characters. Gloria Bachman leads that lineup, and in this story she gets pulled into the mystery of how a social influencer named Jazzy Mescal died. Gloria really doesn’t want to investigate, she’s a chocolatier for heavens sake, not a trained detective, but her friend Drue makes it impossible to say no.
The characters are all so real, and well defined, and I enjoy all their unique personalities and the roles they play in the story so much. Gloria has a heart of gold and will help anyone, anytime, but when her nemesis, Gardner, comes to town pretending to want to be friends again, Gloria is able to hold a boundary with her, sensing that all is not as it appears. Or as Gardner wants it to appear. The Bunko ladies feud with the knitters, but when one of them, like Wanda who collapses one day, is in need, they all step up to help.
And when disaster hits the shop, Sweeties, all the ladies are willing to put their personal rivalries aside and pitch in to make more chocolate and fulfill orders. The way the community pulls together for each other is such a hallmark of small town living and very real. I know. I’ve experienced it myself.
In this book, the budding romance between Mason Lassiter and Gloria gets full-bloom status, even though she’s not always sure they can build a future together. There are so many complications on his end – his former wife who was thought to be dead, as well as problems with his son. Facing those complications, Mason is honest in saying he just doesn’t know what the future holds.
Some of my favorite scenes in the book are those between Mason and Gloria. The conversations are what mature people have with each other, with less dancing around issues than what younger people might do. With only a few exceptions of one of them holding back on something, they are open and honest with each other.
This is a sweet romance, so there is no sex, but there is plenty of attraction. Gloria worries about her older body that has bulges where curves used to be. When, and if, they ever do the deed, what will Mason think of her body?
Even though Gloria is concerned about that, and whether Mason really loves her, she really has nothing to worry about. Easy for us, the readers, to say, right? But it’s obvious how much he cares when he has her back all the time, from helping to clean up after the horrible storm that blew in the evening of the big party to celebrate the arrival of the TV crew, to helping her solve the mystery of who killed Jazzy.
Mason always goes the extra mile, and that is so important in a lasting relationship. I know. I’ve experienced it myself.
Ms. Fish handles that romance so well and showcases the fact that love at any age can be so satisfying on all levels.
It was also such a delight to see Gloria’s grit come to the surface in a moment of danger for her. I won’t say more about that because I don’t want to give anything away, but some very bad people misjudged what a 60ish woman might be able to do when her back was against a wall.
Comfort as a setting lives up to its name, and I would love to visit a place like that someday. The fact that people find comfort in Comfort, Texas, is an endearing part of the stories set there, and when a book satisfies the title like that it adds a deeper level of enjoyment for me.
There were some places in this story where continuity got a little off, and the behavior of detective Winters didn’t always come across as the way a police officer would act. That, and some awkward word usage, jolted me from time to time and kept this from being a five-star read for me.
But those are minor glitches that didn’t keep me from enjoying this sweet, cozy mystery. Folks who like stories with great characters, strong bonds of friendship, a sweet romance, and a mystery that will keep them guessing, will enjoy reading Finding Comfort.
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. Finding Comfort is her latest novel, the second book in the Comfort and Joy Trilogy.
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