Heavenly Hazelnut Murder by CC Dragon

Heavenly Hazelnut Murder by CC Dragon
Publisher: Totally Entwined
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Everyone has secrets…even a pastor.

Life had been back to normal in Sweet Grove, with smoothie sales up and murders down to zero. With Gran’s shop doing well, Belle helps her best friend by tending bar at the Honey Buckle whenever needed. Belle tries her best to like Pastor Luke, who she’s been dating for the last few weeks, but when she finds out he’s been less than genuine, things end badly. Their break-up is epic gossip all around the small town.

When the pastor turns up dead, people rush to suspect her. Apparently, their fight about her spending so much time in a bar was overheard. Belle knows she didn’t do it, but who would kill a pastor? Who else would have a motive? With the handsome but romantically complicated sheriff asking her a lot of questions, Belle decides she needs to get to the bottom of it, ASAP.

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Who would ever want to harm a pastor?

Once again, I was impressed with the world building. Sweet Grove embodied both the best and worst parts of small town life. It had a strong sense of community and a tight-knit and well-meaning group of characters living there who occasionally spent a bit too much time meddling in each other’s affairs. I say that with an understanding smile on my face as someone who once lived in a small town. There was something endearing about how much the characters genuinely loved each other in romantic and platonic ways even if I sometimes wished they’d be more mindful of respecting each other’s boundaries and privacy. That is an inescapable part of living in a rural area, though, and including it only made this town feel more genuine.

I would have liked to see more attention paid to the mystery elements of the plot. As interesting as the multiple subplots about romance, farm animals, and baked goods were, there were times when they stole attention from the question of who killed Pastor Luke and what their motive might have been. There was room here for more development, although I did still enjoy what was written.

It was nice to begin seeing some character development in this series, especially when it came to Belle. She had matured since I last read about her. It was cool to see how all of her responsibilities from her multiple jobs, caretaking duties, and urge to solve local crimes were slowly shaping her into a better version of herself. This was especially true when it came to her dating life and what her expectations were of any man who wanted to take up some of her limited free time.

This was the second instalment in the Southern Belle Cozy Mystery series. It can be read as a standalone work, but I sure do recommend checking out The Mint Julep Murder as well to anyone who likes the sequel.

Heavenly Hazelnut Murder should be read by anyone who likes reading about delicious homemade goods while trying to piece clues together.

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