Nora Pennington, owner of Miracle Books, believes that a well-chosen novel can bring healing and hope. But she and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society know that sometimes, practical help is needed too. Such is the case with the reed-thin girl hiding in the fiction section of Nora’s store, wearing a hospital ID and a patchwork of faded bruises. She calls herself Abilene, and though Nora and her friends offer work, shelter, and a supportive ear, their guest isn’t ready to divulge her secrets. But when a customer is found dead in an assumed suicide, Nora uncovers a connection that points to Abilene as either a suspect—or another target.
Summer’s end has brought other new arrivals to Miracle Springs too. Entrepreneur Griffin Kingsley opens Virtual Genie, a cyber business that unloads people’s unwanted goods for cash. With the town in an economic slump and folks hurting for money, Virtual Genie and its owner are both instantly popular. A patient listener, Griffin dispenses candy to children and strong coffee to adults, and seems like a bona fide gentleman. But Nora’s not inclined to judge a book by its cover. And when a second death hits town, Nora and her intrepid friends must help the new, greenhorn sheriff discern fact from fiction—and stop a killer intent on bringing another victim’s story to a close . . .
Ever since I read the first book in this series, The Secret, Book and Scone Society, I have been waiting for the sequel and when I saw this on Netgalley, I was ecstatic. Also, please do look at that gorgeous cover… it’s so beautiful and yummy. And the book totally lived up to my expectations.
Nora, our wonderful owner of Miracle Books is as excited as ever trying to help her customers with the healing that they need. However, she finds it difficult to completely trust Abilene or have her stay at her home because she has become used to living on her own. However, all her friends pitch in help Abilene, letting her bake in Hester’s Gingerbread House, find her living accomodations and help her be more independent. It was absolutely endearing to see none of the women really push Abilene to divulge her secrets because they all have had their fair share of trauma in life and really just want the best for her. It’s the strength and friendship of these women that forms the backbone of this story.
The murder mystery in this novel is quite interesting and I couldn’t really figure out how the murders were connected or who might have the motive. Nora obviously suspects that not everything is as it seems and does some investigating on her own, but what I really liked was that she never put herself in unnecessary danger and was always ready to share her concerns with the police. I also really enjoy the community aspect of Miracle Springs, and how everyone is very supportive and friendly, especially in trying times.
I love the writing in this book. It’s a murder mystery, so we tend to expect something darker but this book never stops being heartwarming and full of charm. The emotional content, especially the traumatic backstories of Abilene and Nora’s love interest Jed are described with so much feeling that we can’t stop being sad too and just wanting everything to be okay for them. It’s this instant connect that we feel for all the characters that’s the author’s best skill and I didn’t want the book to end. And I obviously have to mention Nora’s bookstore – it’s probably my favorite bookstore ever and I really wish it were real and I could spend days on end over there. Every single description of the store, the books, her book themed coffees and pastries, the shelf enhancers; they all make me so so happy. And Hester’s baked goodies are too yummy to even read about and I was craving a dessert all while reading the book. Kudos to Ellery for bringing this charming little tourist town to life.
If you love mysteries but like them on the cozier side, with wonderful endearing characters, then this book is perfect for you. And be prepared for the abundance of book recommendations and quotes that you are going to find inside this gem.