Professional pet sitter Daphne Templeton loves the holidays in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania. And nothing gets her into the spirit more than the town’s annual Bark the Halls Ball. The whole community will be there to wag their tails, especially this year’s special guest—Celeste “CeeCee” French, founder of a national chain of pet care franchises, who’s returning home to announce plans for a bright new flagship store.
But not everyone’s celebrating CeeCee’s homecoming. Daphne’s friend Moxie Bloom, owner of Spa and Paw, a unique salon for people and their pets, has plenty to growl about. So when CeeCee is found face down under Sylvan Creek's town Christmas tree, stabbed with a distinctive pair of professional-grade pet shears, suspicion lands squarely on Moxie. Despite Daphne’s promises to Detective Jonathan Black, she quickly reprises her role as amateur sleuth. Ably assisted by her basset hound sidekick, Socrates, she must hurry to prove her friend’s innocence before a killer barks again . . .
Includes recipes for homemade pet treats!
“Doggone charming from start to finish!”
—Cleo Coyle, New York Times bestselling author on Death by Chocolate Lab
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The weather outside was beyond frightful, with near-blizzard conditions pummeling the quaint, pet-friendly town of Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania, and burying the surrounding Pocono Mountains under a thick blanket of fine, icy snow.
But inside my snug little home, Plum Cottage, conditions were truly delightful as my sister Piper Templeton, my best friend Moxie Bloom and I prepared for Christmas and two of our hometown's favorite traditions: a free showing of It's a Wonderful Life at the old Bijoux theater and the local chamber of commerce's Bark the Halls Ball for people and pets. A fire crackled in the arched stone fireplace, bayberry-scented candles burned on the mantel, and mulled wine simmered in a Crock-Pot, the warm drink the perfect complement to a savory blue cheese and pecan strudel that waited on my kitchen counter. Soft, staticky Christmas music, which played on an ancient Bakelite radio left behind by my home's former tenant, added to the cozy, jolly ambiance.
Not that there weren't a few glitches as we jingled all the way toward the holidays.
"Um, can someone please help me?" Moxie asked from my tiny living room, where she was stringing big, colorful, old-fashioned lights onto the pint-sized, crooked, needle-challenged Christmas tree I'd found discarded behind the lot at Pinkney's Pines tree farm, just outside of town. Moxie's voice sounded a bit panicked when she requested, a second time, "A little help here, please!"
I was busy mixing dough to make several dozen dog-friendly Pupper- Mint Candy Cane Twists for the ball, which would be attended by most of Sylvan Creek's many canines, but I glanced over to see that Moxie had not only managed to wrap herself in the lights, but also plug herself in.
"Oh, good grief," Piper said, in suitable Charlie Brown fashion. My sensible sibling, who was sitting on the living room floor assembling goody bags for the dance, untwisted her crossed legs, rose, and went to unravel poor Moxie, who actually looked quite festive, in my opinion.
Vintage-loving Moxie wore a 1950s Nordic-patterned sweater with knitted reindeer prancing across the chest, and her short, spiky hair — dyed Santa-suit red — fairly glowed like the lights that were inexplicably looped around her body.
"How did this even happen?" Piper asked, unplugging my best friend and slowly spinning her, as a particularly strong gust of wind slammed into the cottage, causing the fire to nearly gutter out before it crackled merrily to life again. Outside in the darkness, the plum tree that lent my home its name rapped against one window, a sure sign that the weather was bad. Then Piper nodded at the indoor tree, which was surrounded by a dusting of newly fallen needles. "Moxie, why are you decorated, while the latest 'fir-ry' stray Daphne's brought home is still bare?"
Although she was a veterinarian and loved animals, Piper was sometimes frustrated by the fact that — as proprietor of Daphne Templeton's Lucky Paws Pet Sitting service — I was supposed to earn money by caring for pets, but often ended up taking in fosters for free. That wouldn't have been any of her business if Plum Cottage hadn't been located on her property, gorgeous Winding Hill Farm, making her my landlord. Not that I was too far behind on my rent anymore, since my other business, a mod-themed bakery for pets called Flour Power, was kind of booming.
"Seriously," Piper said, when Moxie was finally free. My sister stepped back and planted her hands on her hips. "What went wrong?"
"I have no idea," Moxie admitted, giving the lights, which lay tangled on the floor, a wary look, as if they were poisonous snakes. Or, worse yet, rabid turtles. She had a very bad case of chelonaphobia. "It just seems to happen every year!"
Piper clearly didn't know how to respond. But over by the fireplace, where he lay on his favorite Turkish rug, my taciturn basset hound sidekick, Socrates, rolled his eyes and thunked over sideways.
Socrates was often exasperated by Moxie Bloom. And he sometimes seemed disapproving of me, too. Especially when I got caught up in murder investigations — which would not happen again, after my last attempt to solve a homicide ended with my facing my own worst fear of getting locked in Flour Power's unpredictable walk-in refrigerator.
As I shaped plain and pink-tinted dough into cute candy-cane-shaped cookies, I thought back to that horrible evening, when Detective Jonathan Black had practically torn off the walk-in's heavy, metal door, and I'd tumbled into his arms, close to hyperventilating.
I hadn't run into the handsome, enigmatic former Navy SEAL since that fateful, somewhat embarrassing night, although I sometimes wondered how he was doing. In particular, I hoped that an illness he'd once battled remained at bay. And I kept my fingers crossed that he'd continued to bond with the dogs I'd sort of foisted upon him. I knew that, as a former handler in the Navy, he got along with Axis, a chocolate Lab with agility experience, but even I had to admit that reserved, thoughtful Jonathan was a strange match for one-eared, drooling, exuberant Artie the Chihuahua.
"So, do you think Detective Black will attend the ball?" Moxie asked, as if reading my mind, which I believed she could do. She seemed to have shaken off the light incident and had joined me in the kitchen, where she ladled wine into three waiting earthenware mugs. Apparently, she was done decorating for the evening. And I was almost finished with the cookies, too. Opening the door to my old gas oven, I slid a tray inside, then dusted flour off my hands before accepting one of the drinks from Moxie, whose green eyes were twinkling. "I would love to see Jonathan Black in a tux!"
"I have no idea if Jonathan will show up at the dance," I told her, setting the mug on the counter again, just for a minute, so I could put two of the already baked and cooled candy canes onto a plate, which I set on the floor in case Socrates got hungry. Spying a pair of orange eyes blinking at me from behind the herbs I grew on my windowsill, I also found a treat for my surly, black Persian boarder, Tinkleston, who was being his usual Scrooge self — although he didn't bite my hand when I offered him a Holly Jolly Chicken Muncher. We'd made a lot of progress since the days when he used to ambush everyone who came within a few feet of his deceptive puffball paws.
Daring to pat Tinks's head — and earning a halfhearted hiss — I again picked up my wine and the wooden tray that held the strudel. Leading the way to the living room, I set my mug and the log of crispy phyllo, stuffed with cream cheese, Roquefort, and candied pecans, onto a steamer trunk that served as my coffee table.
Moxie put Piper's wine on the trunk, too, before curling up on my loveseat, while my sister, who in two minutes had managed to artfully arrange the lights on the tree, stuck the plug back in the socket.
Suddenly, ringed with softly glowing red, orange, yellow, and blue lights, the little tree seemed more adorable than pathetic.
"I haven't seen Jonathan in months," I noted, taking a seat on a Moroccan floor pillow and cutting a few pieces of strudel. "But I guarantee you that, if he does attend, Axis and Artie, at least, will not be in formal wear."
Piper joined me on the floor, but she didn't take a break. She resumed assembling the goody bags, using scissors to curl red ribbons she'd tied to the handles of green paper sacks that were filled with local products and coupons for Sylvan Creek businesses. I'd contributed cat treats and a voucher for a dog walk, while Moxie, who owned a unique salon for people and pets, called Spa and Paw, had offered one free shampoo and blowout. The little card she'd created didn't make it clear if the treatments were for human or animal clients. Maybe both.
"I love this dance, but I have to agree with Detective Black about the wisdom of putting bow ties and ball gowns on dogs," Piper said, swiping at a ribbon and making a perfect spiral. The springy coils were like better versions of my long, curly, dirty-blond hair. Then she jerked the scissors toward Socrates. "I bet he's not wearing a suit!"
Socrates, who'd righted himself, hung his head and averted his gaze.
"Actually, he will wear a tie," I told Piper, whose brown eyes, very different from my grayish-green ones, widened with disbelief. "While he doesn't believe in tacky sweaters or costumes, he has a sense of decorum," I added. "He wouldn't show up at a black-tie affair naked!"
Socrates whined softly, as if he still felt uncomfortable about the prospect of wearing the very understated neckwear I'd purchased for him at my friend Tessie Flinchbaugh's pet emporium, Fetch!
"So, what are you wearing, Daphne?" Moxie asked, breaking off a tiny piece of phyllo and offering the treat to her white rat, Sebastian, who'd popped out of his mobile den — a furry white muff Moxie had left by the door — then trotted fearlessly across the floor and climbed onto the loveseat. I used to worry that Tinks would make a snack of Sebastian, but the two animals seemed to have reached a peace accord. That was probably Sebastian's doing. He was a very sweet rat. Moxie settled back, absently stroking Sebastian while he nibbled on the pastry. "More important, who are you going with? Gabriel?"
I occasionally dated the devilishly handsome owner of and sole reporter at the Sylvan Creek Weekly Gazette, but we kept things casual. In part, because Gabriel, while always funny and often charming, had a complicated past that had left him somewhat scarred and jaded.
Piper, who was getting serious with incredibly nice, uncomplicated Professor Roger Berendt, didn't hide the fact that she was wary of my sometime suitor.
"Yes, Daphne," my sister said, looking up from her task. The lenses of her eyeglasses glinted in the firelight. "Will you be attending the ball with your dashing, witty journalist friend?"
She made those compliments sound like insults. But I was more forgiving of Gabriel's sometimes acerbic, morbid sense of humor, because I knew its roots.
"Gabriel hasn't even mentioned the dance," I told Moxie and Piper, as I licked some cheese off my fingers. "He's swamped at the Gazette, and I've been busy, too, between pet-sitting gigs for holiday travelers and baking for Flour Power. Gabriel and I had a difficult enough time scheduling a quick cup of coffee tomorrow, at Oh, Beans." I shrugged. "Plus, I get the sense that he's not a big fan of yuletide traditions."
"Hmmm ..." Moxie had a funny gleam in her eyes again. The kind she got when she was thinking of a certain detective, upon whom she had an unabashed crush. "Daphne, since you probably aren't attending Bark the Halls with Gabriel, and we all know that poor little Artie would love to dress up, why don't you call Jonathan Black and offer to be in charge of Artie's attire? And if Detective Black wanted to tag along with you and the dogs —"
"No!" I protested, speaking over Moxie and Socrates, who was whining softly again, urging me not to meddle, although Artie was his best ... only ... canine buddy. "Jonathan allowed me to dress up Artie for Halloween and the Winterfest sled parade," I reminded Moxie, sort of cringing, myself, at the memories of the Chihuahua in a clown costume and an old-timey velvet dress. "I don't think I can offer again. And I'm not asking Jonathan to the dance!"
"Why not?" Piper asked, finally abandoning the goody bags and edging closer to the trunk. Although I felt like we were back in the 1950s, between Moxie's outfit and the soft, crackly version of "White Christmas" playing in the kitchen, she reminded me, "It is the twenty-first century. Women ask men out!"
That was true, and I was all for equality. But I still didn't plan to call Jonathan, who might very well have another date already. I looked to Moxie. "I was thinking maybe we could go together. Make it a girls' night out."
"Oh, I don't know. ..." The glimmer in Moxie's eyes suddenly faded. "While I'm definitely going to It's a Wonderful Life with you, Daph, I'm not sure about the ball this year."
Piper and I both reared back, because everyone went to Bark the Halls, and Moxie, in particular, loved the event, which gave her the opportunity to wear one of the many vintage gowns that were stored somewhere — I could never figure out the spot — in her tiny garret apartment above the Philosopher's Tome used bookstore.
Socrates also seemed baffled by Moxie's comment. His wrinkly brow was more furrowed than usual.
"Why in the world are you even thinking about skipping Bark the Halls?" I finally asked. "Did you accidentally schedule something else for that date? Because I'm sure you could get out of it. ..."
I gave up trying to persuade her, because Moxie was shaking her head. And she seemed a little confused, too.
"Haven't you heard the talk around town?" she asked me and Piper, although we were usually out of the loop when it came to local gossip, all of which passed through Spa and Paw. Seeing that we obviously didn't know what she was referring to, Moxie proceeded to fill us in, telling us, in dramatic fashion, "There's no way that I, of all people, can attend a holiday dance when Celeste French is going, too!"CHAPTER 2
"So, who in the world is Celeste French, and why does she inspire so much fear and loathing?" Gabriel Graham inquired, when we finally secured a free table at Oh, Beans, the morning after Moxie's surprising announcement about the ball. The tiny Market Street coffee shop was crowded — and, to my dismay, currently staffed by one of my former high school teachers, Bitsy Bickelheim.
For the last few weeks, I'd been trying to avoid Ms. Bickelheim, who was not only a barista, and slightly erratic since quitting Sylvan Creek High years ago, but also heavily involved in the Sylvan Creek Players community theater league. I'd heard she was desperate to cast the Ghost of Christmas Future for the Players' rapidly looming production of A Christmas Carol, and I did not want to be approached about taking on the role. I had a bad habit of agreeing to things without thinking them through.
Catching my eye, Ms. Bickelheim waved, and I waved back, then quickly averted my gaze, looking around at the café's honey-colored, shiplap walls, which were hung with pine wreaths. Hundreds of white twinkle lights glowed like stars in the rafters, and candles burned in the old wooden-framed windows, warding off the gloomy, gray weather outside.
Gabriel certainly seemed oblivious to the dismal day. Rubbing his goatee, he sat back in his chair and grinned at me. "It's not like you to hate anyone," he noted. "Yet you've mentioned this Celeste woman three times since we got here, and you don't seem happy that she's coming to Sylvan Creek."
"'Hate' and 'loathing' are strong words," I told him, breathing a sigh of relief, because Ms. Bickelheim apparently wasn't going to come over and ask me about the part. She likely recalled that I'd played a small, spectral role in a previous local production of that same play, with disastrous results. Shaking off the memory of myself swinging from the high school auditorium's rafters, I wrapped my hands around my red enamel mug, which contained a gingerbread house-blend latte, and focused on Gabriel, who was watching me intently with his dark, intelligent eyes. "And I don't feel either hatred or loathing toward Celeste," I assured him. "Those are not productive emotions."
The corners of Gabriel's mouth twitched. "I suppose you have a dozen philosophical quotes on the dangers of succumbing to even intense dislike."
He was mocking my PhD in philosophy. "I could give you fifty quotes from Socrates alone," I told him, referencing the ancient Greek, not the dog who'd wisely stayed home by the hearth. "Plus, I haven't seen Celeste in years. She might be perfectly nice these days."
"Then why are you so worried about her coming here?" Gabriel asked. He sipped his drink, a plain Colombian roast, one cream, two sugars. Then he leaned forward, studying me more closely. "What's the story?"
"There's no story," I told him, my gaze flicking again to Ms. Bickelheim, to make sure she couldn't overhear us talking about one of her former students. Fortunately, she was distracted, struggling to fill carafes with milk and cream, her progress hampered by an unwieldy, amorphous, somewhat "artsy" fringed poncho. I turned back to Gabriel, warning him, "At least, there's nothing you can print in the Gazette."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Midwinter's Tail"
Copyright © 2018 Beth Kaszuba.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
these are so much fun to read. a smile after every book is a promise.
Terrific read. Can’t wait for the next in the series.
I loved this book. I loved, loved, loved it! Bethany Blake's Lucky Paws Petsitting series is charming, funny, clever, and very cozy indeed. In A Midwinter's Tail, the fourth book in the series, pet sitter/pet bakery owner Daphne Templeton strives to discover who killed her former classmate at Sylvan Creek's annual Bark the Halls Ball. When her best friend, Moxie, is suspected of the dastardly deed, Daphne, along with her faithful sidekick, Socrates, is determined to use her sleuthing skills to discover the real culprit before the holiday! Out of 5 stars, I'm giving A Midwinter's Tail a 10 - did I mention that I loved this book?
Pet sitter Daphne Templeton loves the holidays in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania. And nothing gets her into the spirit more than the town’s annual Bark the Halls Ball. The whole community will be there to wag their tails, especially this year’s special guest—Celeste “CeeCee” French, founder of a national chain of pet care franchises, who is returning home to announce plans for a bright new flagship store. But not everyone’s celebrating CeeCee’s homecoming. Daphne’s friend Moxie Bloom, owner of Spa and Paw, a unique salon for people and their pets, has plenty to growl about. So, when CeeCee is found face down under Sylvan Creek's town Christmas tree, stabbed with a distinctive pair of professional-grade pet shears, suspicion lands squarely on Moxie. Despite Daphne’s promises to Detective Jonathan Black, she quickly reprises her role as an amateur sleuth. Ably assisted by her basset hound sidekick, Socrates, she must hurry to prove her friend’s innocence before a killer barks again. -- Series: Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery - Book 4 Author: Bethany Blake Genre: Cozy Mystery/Pet/Business Publisher: Kensington Books The Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series is a fun, happy set of books that any cozy lover will cherish. A Midwinter’s Tail is no exception. This is a fast-paced, enjoyable read in a wonderful pet-friendly town with tons of memorable moments and plenty of twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing. Daphne is a great character who is very much like many small-town shopkeepers. She is always trying to keep her head above water, and always wanting to help her fellow business neighbor. Unfortunately, she keeps having to find killers to help, and that lands her in trouble much of the time. Daphne loves and cares for her neighbors and friends and no matter what the cost to her personally, she will find a way to solve a murder to protect them. The characters in this story are truly dedicated to animals and their businesses. They are very robust, lifelike and pleasant. Even the murderer is not a horrible person, just one that has some issues that just about anyone could understand but still doesn’t excuse murder. However, the victim is not someone anyone would like and has no redeeming value. A Midwinter’s Tail is a page-turner. The writing is smooth without being too formulaic. The characters are believable, the location perfect and the murder unique. The dog treat recipes in the back are worth getting the book by themselves. This book can stand on its own without the need for a lot of background information. I highly recommend this series and this individual book to anyone who loves pets, and a wonderful who-done-it.
Dollycas’s Thoughts The people of Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania are wild about their pets. A pet bakery, a pet clothing store, a hair salon that has human and pet clients, and right now they are getting ready for the Bark the Halls Ball where people and their pets deck out in their finest attire to dance the night away and enjoy each other’s company. Former resident, Celeste “CeeCee” French is coming home to be the special guest for the affair. She has taken her love of pets nationally with her pet care franchises. But all the tails stop wagging when they learn she is about to set up a store in Sylvan Creek. That would put many town shops out of business. While the town is barking mad about the prospect of a big box pet store, someone has taken the matter into their own hands and presented the town with CeeCee’s dead body right under the town’s Christmas tree. The discovery is made by professional pet sitter Daphne Templeton and Detective Jonathan Black. Daphne later learns the woman was stabbed with a pair a pet shears. Pet shears that appear to have been taken from the Spa and Paw owned by her friend Moxie Bloom. The good detective asks Daphne to leave the investigation to him but a certain pet keeps dropping clues at her feet, literally. She knows Moxie is innocent so with the help of her basset hound, Socrates and another mysterious pup she sets out to find the real killer. This is such a fun series. Daphne is a fantastic protagonist, the “conversations” she has with Socrates are very realistic. I talk to my dogs all the time, never about anything as important as murder, but dogs are attentive and great sounding boards – sometimes they can sniff and lick and bark out the perfect answer. Moxie is a true gem. The friendship between her and Daphne always makes me smile. The “relationship” between Daphne and Jonathan is moving slowly but forward with itsy-bitsy steps. We are introduced to two new canines in this story and one is a real treasure/scene stealer and the other has quite the wardrobe. The animals bring so much to this story. They are not just pets that are fed and petted and left at home when their people go out or to work. They are involved in the mystery and play important roles. The author’s love for these wonderful creatures shines within her words. We met two very interesting and different pups this time and Socrates falls completely into puppy love. All the dogs in this series have found a place in my heart and it is now impossible to pick a favorite. There is another pet in this story that has not found a place in my heart but the owner seems very happy with it and that is what really matters. Cleverly written, Ms. Blake gives us another mystery to sink our teeth into, full of twists and turns, suspects with motives and opportunities, and a few red herrings to boot. I loved it! I didn’t solve this one early. I was completely captivated to the very end. I have enjoyed every book in this series. Bethany Blake is such a talented writer. Pet lovers will love this mystery, curl up with yours and enjoy this Midwinter’s Tail. You will thank your Lucky Paws that you did.
The characters of Sylvan Creek are at it again and I couldn't be more joyous! While getting ready for the annual holiday festivities, Daphne, Piper and Moxie look forward to an uneventful season, filled with friendship, hot chocolate and warm puppy company! Unfortunately, a quiet time just isn't in the cards for Daphne as she stumbles across another dead body at the local viewing of It's a Wonderful Life. Along with a dead body is a surprise dog, wearing a Christmas bah-humbug sweater, leaving the scene. We are quick to learn an old arch nemesis has arrived back in town and rumor has it, she's opening a rival pet store. Secrets of the past are quickly discovered and revealed, Moxie becomes a most wanted person, and Daphne feels the mysterious pug may be leading her in the right direction to help solve this case and is fascinated with finding out who the mysterious pug belongs to. A Midwinter's Tail keeps us on our own tails until the end with a fast paced, tightly woven, cozy mystery to keep us entertained in front of the fire this holiday season. So grab your slippers, your tea and a comfy chair because you won't be going anywhere until you reach the end! And don't let me forget, you don't want to miss out on Detective Black - he sure is showing a greater interest in Daphne this time around and you want a front row seat to the subtle romance between the two!
I really enjoy the Lucky Paws Petsitting books and find the main characters all endearing, but Socrates the basset hound totally makes this series for me. It’s already cute and a little campy but his almost-human antics and personality takes it from almost-a-smidge-too-campy to just plain adorable instead. His sighs, his helpful (and timely) nudges and his meaningful looks… and the plot line in this book with the diva poodle … I am Socrates’ biggest fan, I think. The mystery in A Midwinter’s Tail was very well played and, while I had an idea of the culprit pretty early into the investigation, I had no idea of the motive. This kept me fully engaged – along with the fact that I wasn’t entirely sure I was right about whodunit anyway. In addition to the mystery and the delightful small town dynamics, there are some relationship subthreads going on that add further dimension to the character and the story. As always, I am firmly in Detective Black’s corner when it comes to who I want Daphne to end up with, and I was pleased to see some progress in this department. Don’t worry, however, those of you who don’t want to be distracted by romance in your cozy mysteries – it’s a very mild thread, just enough to pacify someone like me who wants romance in everything. Bottom Line: This series continues to be consistently cute and charming, with Socrates stealing every scene he’s in. Daphne is quirky and endearing and feels like a character you’d want as a best friend, especially in this latest book where we really get to see the ‘best friend’ side of her. A nicely plotted mystery, further character development, and intriguing subthreads make this another entertaining trip to Sylvan Creek! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)
I have read all the books in the Lucky Paws Pet-Sitting Mysteries and each one seems to be better than the one before. The village of Sylvan Creek is a quaint small town that adores its pets, and includes them in all parts of their lives. This time, the town is in the middle of their Christmas preparations which include a local take on The Christmas Carol, and a ball for pets, the Bark the Halls Ball. Daphne, our protagonist, meets up with the handsome Detective Jonathan Black at the local park where they unfortunately discover a dead body beneath a large pine tree. The victim just happens to be a former resident who has come back to Sylvan Creek to open a large pet retail store? Would this store put the local merchants out of business? There are plenty of suspects but first on the list just happens to be Daphne's best friend, Moxie, who had a negative encounter with her in the past. I love so many of the characters from Sylvan Creek. Moxie is that quirky, unique character I love to see in cozies. She owns the salon that takes care of both people and pets. Daphne is a real animal lover who is always taking in stray dogs and cats. She owns the local pet bakery and runs a pet-sitting service. There are two male characters that Daphne is still trying to figure out her relationship with, but I am rooting for Detective Black. The pets are also main characters in this series. Moxie has a pet rat, Daphne has Socrates, her wise Bassett and her cat Tinkelstone while still pet sitting regularly for her favorite Detective's dogs, Axel and Artie. And this time around we get to meet Snowdrop - the spoiled poodle of the deceased whom Daphne ends up caring for. Finally we meet a sneaky little pug named Tiny Tim, who runs around town in a Bah Hum-Pug sweater sharing clues along the way. The book is full of clues, hints, and a few red herrings. I kept changing my mind about who I thought the murderer was. The reveal of the culprit did make sense, although I wouldn't have minded a few more hints in that direction. This book has a lot of twists and turns, that kept me reading page after page. I found this book to be a quick read, with a well developed plot and great pacing. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. If you like a good mystery, one that is hard to solve, wonderful pets, great characters and set in a quirky town, you can't go wrong with this series. I am anxiously waiting to see what the next book in this series brings to Sylvan Creek. The publisher, Kensington Publishing Corporation, generously provided me with a copy of this book upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
It's Christmas time in beautiful Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania and pet sitter Daphne Templeton is gearing up for the yearly community event Bark the Halls Ball. She will be taking her basset hound Socrates and joined by BFF Moxie and possible romantic interest Detective Jonathan Black. It is a very pet-friendly town and she is a proud owner of storefront Lucky Paws Pet Sitting Service and Flour Power. She also has a surly black Persian named Tinkleston, whom she calls Tink. At the annual showing of "It's a Wonderful Life," a successful local graduate, CeeCee French, comes back to town to make the announcement that she will open a large outlet of her pet supply franchise. The announcement is shocking and not met with a lot of excitement and she is later found murdered. As the owner of the Spa and Paw, it is Moxie who is the first person of interest followed by several others as the well-plotted and evenly paced story is laid out. This is an amazingly well projected anthropomorphic narrative with Daphne frequently speaking to her animals and their obvious telegraphed responses. I enjoyed the well-developed characters and although this is apparently the fourth in the series had no problem following the protagonist or the support characters. Also noted were the many cliffhanging chapter endings and humor infusions. I did, however, have a small problem with Moxie and her white rat Sebastian. Additionally, I am not usually a fan of romantic tension in a well-executed mystery. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review what appears to be a delightful cozy mystery series with some engaging characters. Recommended for the younger set who enjoy a cozy mystery they'll have to work hard to solve and then still may not guess correctly.
When the high school valedictorian/head cheerleader/mean girl returns to Sylvan Creek there are a whole lot of people that aren’t happy about her return. When she is found dead under the town Christmas tree, Daphne is given clues to follow the trail of the murderer, because she knows her BFF Moxie, while looking like the most likely suspect, wouldn’t hurt a fly. With so many suspects, Daphne finds that she’s not the only one trying to keep Moxie out of the pokey. Detective Jonathan Black also believes Moxie is not capable of murder, but he must follow the clues where they lead…and Daphne understands. Just as she understand that her casual dating friend must also report the news, whether he believes Moxie is innocent or not. It’s a tough spot for a gal to be in, especially when she has a personal relationship with both men. I have loved this series from the first one that I read. Bethany Blake makes each new book like a visit with good friends…and it is time well spent with the folks in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for Daphne, Moxie and the men in their life.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a fantastic cozy mystery. Daphne will make you laugh and possibly make you feel a little sorry for her (she's always finding dead bodies). This book is very well written, entertaining, and fun to read. The characters are a hoot. You will definitely enjoy this book, which is part of a series. Enjoy!
A cozy winter themed story with quirky characters and a clumsy, kind-hearted and intelligent protagonist. An animal menagerie including dogs, a cat and a rat add a special touch too. I love this series and am anxiously awaiting book #5 in the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series.. Thanks to Kensington and NetGalley for an ARC. The opinions expressed are my own.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it. I love this cozy mystery series and this book again reminded me why this is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. A Midwinter's Tail was again a great read, with lots of story, a touch of romance, a great mystery and an awesome cats of both human and animal characters. I really had a great time reading this book and had fun trying to solve the mystery alongside Daphne and spend some time in Sylvan Creek again around Christmas time. The mystery in this one was a great one. It kept me guessing for a long time. Around the halfway mark I took a moment to guess who I thought was the murderer and for a long time I thought I might be right. But eventually it turned out I was wrong, but another character I suspected was the murderer. The book is full with clues and hints, but it takes a while for everything to fall on it's place and make sense. The actual murderer did make sense, although I wouldn't have minded a few more hints in that direction as my guess for that person was mostly based on a short sentence that stuck with me somehow. I really enjoy following Daphne, Socrates and her friends as she solves another mystery. This book introduces two new animal side characters that are an important part of the story, Tiny Tim and Snowdrop. And a whole bunch of new side characters, most of which are potential suspects. I like Daphne's character and the way she gets involved in these mysteries and helps to solve them. I like how her snooping is well done and not too forced or awkward. She's fun to read about. There is also a great cast of side characters among which Moxie, Piper, Daphne's mom and Jonathan Black. I also love how the animals play a role in the story and how each animal has their own personality as much as the human characters. There's also an interesting development with a character who returns to Sylvan Creek and who was Moxie's boyfriend in high school. The romance also continues a bit in this book and I was quite excited to see how it developed. Daphne is still meeting with Gabriel, but I never had the feeling it was very serious. Nevertheless that part of the plot was handled well. I really liked her scenes with Jonathan Black and I am quite excited to see how the next book will continue that plot line with what happened in this book. To summarize: I was delighted to return to Sylvan Creek during Christmas time and follow Daphne as she solves another mystery. I really enjoy this awesome cozy mystery series and it's one of my favorite cozy mystery series. I love how the animal characters have as much personality as the human ones and even with a big cast of characters I hardly ever have trouble remembering who is who. This book is full of recurring characters and a whole bunch of new ones too. The mystery was a great one, with lots of clues and hints, but it took some time for it all to fall on it's place. I guessed the murderer wrong, but I did suspect the actual murderer too. And it only all falls om it's place toward the end, which was great, although I wouldn't have minded a few more hints in that direction. I also liked seeing how the romance developed in this book. All in all another great read and I can't wait for the next book.