The Book Barn is more than just a shop, it’s a part of the community—and Charli is keeping busy with a fundraising auction and the big rodeo event that’s come to town. That includes dealing with the Texas-sized egos of some celebrity cowboys, including Dalton Hibbs, a blond, blue-eyed bull rider who gets overly rowdy one night with the local hairdresser . . . and soon afterward, disappears into thin air.
Dalton’s brother also vanished seven years ago—and Charli is thrown about whether Dalton is a villain or a victim. After a close call with an assailant wielding a branding iron (that plays havoc with her hair), and some strange vandalism on her property, she’s going to have to team up with the sheriff to untangle this mystery, before she gets gored . . .
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A Reference to Murder
By Kym Richards
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Kym Roberts
All rights reserved.
My time was up.
Literally. The clock over the bookshelf struck six and the class was over. Thank God.
Sure it had been fun, but it was the end of a long day and I was ready to call it quits. The students were in a good mood and the whispered tidbits of gossip had been friendly all evening, with no tinge of envy or meanness attached. It was the type of camaraderie a teacher dreams about with her students.
Not that it ever happened in my former kindergarten classes, but I'd given up teaching in an elementary setting a few months back when I'd chosen to followed my heart on an emotional journey home to work in the family bookstore. That decision had been the best one I'd made in over a decade.
Now my students ranged from eighteen to eighty-seven and gathered in the loft of the historic barn that my parents had converted into The Book Barn Princess when I was a little girl. And once a week my class gathered to create something new out of something old. Specifically, old and/or damaged books. This week we were repurposing books into wall clocks for a local charity auction.
"We need to wind things up, ladies and gentlemen." I smiled as they groaned at my clock-based humor.
Scarlet, the owner of the Beaus and Beauties hair salon across the street, developed our program and was the creative genius behind every project. She was also the sassiest woman in town, which was saying a lot. Her flaming red hair, worn curly and wild today, bounced as she sauntered across the room and joined the conversation. "Time flies when you're having fun."
"Big time," replied Betty, the local quilt shop owner, her blue hair bobbing up and down as if she wore a helmet two sizes too big.
"Maybe we could turn back the hands of time," added Jessie, my oldest student.
Jessie's wife eyed the other women in class who had the audacity to smile in his direction. It didn't matter that they'd all known each other for years, Daisy had a habit of establishing ownership of her man — repeatedly. "That's my husband," she warned.
My dad decided to chime in. "You can't beat the clock."
I stood, debating if my dad was referring to Jessie's fifty-plus-year marriage to Daisy, or if he was adding his own pun to the mix, when two incredibly good-looking men climbed up the stairway to the loft. One of them was a staple in our town, but the other was new to the circuit and had been turning heads for the past two days. He joined the conversation without missing a tick — or a tock.
"Darn, I was hoping to kill some time with y'all." Rodeo star Dalton Hibbs smiled. His blond hair glistened under the fluorescent lights, and his deep blue eyes made every woman in the room drown in their cool depths. He had what it took to melt the coldest of hearts, and I had to admit, even though he wasn't my type, he gave me warm fuzzies whenever he winked in my direction.
"Which will put you behind bars, serving time," said our handsome sheriff, Mateo Espinosa, who'd walked into the room with Dalton and wore a light brown uniform shirt with dark brown pants. The outfit looked downright terrible on most officers — on Mateo it was dreamy and steamy earth tones that complemented his dark complexion. His presence served as a reminder of how complicated my love life was without adding another guy to the mix.
"Time's up!" Joellen added with the blushing grin of a teenager as Dalton turned his pearly whites on her.
"I think I'm going to be ill," grumbled Jessie, holding his chest.
A laugh traveled through the room as Scarlet snorted.
Daisy looked over the top of her glasses at my best friend, who seemed to be enjoying Jessie's humor more than the rest of us. "That's my husband," she reminded Scarlet.
Scarlet blushed, while our newcomer, Dalton, appeared somewhat confused by Daisy's jealous outburst.
Betty patted him on the shoulder as she stood up from the long wooden table where she'd been working. "Daisy has been reminding every woman in town that Jessie is her man for the past fifty years. We're beginning to think those are the only words she knows in the entire English language."
A grin spread across Dalton's face. "Let me guess, Daisy's used to reminding women that Jessie's married because Jessie's a bull rider?"
Jessie stood up tall, all five foot seven inches of lean cowboy in boots almost as old as him and showed off the worn buckle on the belt that cinched his jeans up around his ribs. "You're looking at the nineteen forty-seven Champion Bull Rider. The best in North America."
"That's my husband," Daisy added, her tone full of sarcasm.
This time, everyone laughed at Jessie's wife, leaving the grumpy old codger at a loss for words, but his disparaging expression was still intact. I secretly believed Jessie was laughing at all of us despite the permanent frown creasing his face.
I addressed the class as a whole. "If you're going to donate your clocks to the auction, please leave them here to dry. Dad added the new shelves on the side wall this week so we'd have more room. Just make sure they're high enough to be out of the reach of the preschoolers who will be making book collages tomorrow morning."
I set my project on the highest shelf I could reach without the ladder we had yet to install. I'd made my piece of book art out of a first edition of Nancy Drew's TheSecret of the Old Clock. Some readers might get their panties in a bunch and gasp at the destruction of such an iconic book, and believe I did something sacrilegious to a classic novel worth more in the world of literature than it was as a clock at auction. I would wholeheartedly agree, if my dad's pet armadillo, Princess, hadn't torn off the back cover and eaten a hole in the middle of the last thirty-seven pages of the book before I transformed it. As it turned out, my work was an improvement.
Princess, a nine-banded armadillo, was a freak of nature. Her pale pink coloring made it impossible for her to be let loose in the wild. She did, however, have her own pet door and roamed freely in the backyard behind our barn. She was also the reason we'd started the book art classes to begin with. She had a taste for books — too bad it had nothing to do with reading.
"You've got some mighty fine pieces of art downstairs for the auction." Dalton was talking to me, but his eyes roamed toward Scarlet, who turned as red as her name suggested.
"Thank you. We hope to make a little bit of money to add to all of the donations the rodeo stars are making to the cause." I was very aware of the members of the class watching our exchange. They couldn't help themselves. Dalton Hibbs was making small talk with a local girl and the town had dreams of him becoming one of our own. Except their eyes had gone to the wrong woman — they should have been watching Scarlet instead of me.
"Who made the incredible bull rider out of Zane Grey's Light of the Western Stars?" he asked.
I smiled, knowing I could direct Dalton's attention toward Scarlet, right where they both wanted it to be. "That would be Scarlet. She's the real artist. I'm just mildly crafty."
Dalton took advantage of the out I'd given him and gave Scarlet his full attention. "Is that so?"
All eyes pinged to my best friend, her skin now two shades closer to the color of her hair.
"I — I've always like sculpting," Scarlet stammered. Dang, if she didn't have it bad for the young rodeo star who was only in town for a couple weeks.
"You're good with your hands." Dalton's voice held all the innuendo a man of his looks and status could get away with, and the crowd was eating it up.
Including me. I couldn't help but envy all that charm directed at my friend. Not that I wanted Dalton flirting me up one side and down the other, but if those daring innuendos were thrown at me by someone else, it would be nice. I looked over at the sheriff, whose chocolate-brown eyes made me want to melt.
Dalton made his way across the room and stood in front of Scarlet. "I'd like to buy it."
Scarlet's disappointment was evident in the slight downward turn of her mouth as she shook her head, obviously saddened that she couldn't just give the piece of art to the sexy man in front of her. But the piece, like so many others in the store, was earmarked for auction.
"It's up for auction tomorrow," Scarlet said.
The annual Cowboy Ranch Auction ran in conjunction with the Cowboy Ranch Invitational, a rodeo that brought all the big names in the sport to our small town. Both events benefited injured and aging rodeo stars who'd given everything they had, and more, to the sport. It'd only been recently that the cowboys started making big money to put their lives, and health on the line. And even now, for every cowboy who made it rich, there were thousands working two and three jobs to make ends meet. The Cowboy Ranch stepped in to help those cowboys who'd suffered career, and life-altering injuries with no source of financial backing to get them through.
Dalton's charm, however, was a force to be reckoned with. His voice had a low register that made a woman's body stir. "Surely if I bid high enough now, I can bypass all the competition."
"There's no competition. Scarlet's single," interjected Jessie.
"That's right," added Betty, her bobblehead going so fast I thought for sure her wig was going to fly across the room. "If you plan on making a move, you better do it now. Otherwise, you never know who's going to be making a move in your direction."
Dalton laughed at the woman well past her prime. Betty had owned the quilt shop in town long before Dalton's momma was born. "I'd hate to turn down a woman with so much experience, but I'm afraid my heart has been roped," Dalton replied. He turned his eyes back toward Scarlet. "What's the opening bid?"
"Two hundred dollars," I replied before Scarlet sold it for less than half its worth. She'd worked on that particular sculpture for several months and had barely finished in time for the auction.
Dalton tipped his head in my direction. His eyes, however, never left Scarlet's face. He grabbed her hands and held them steadfast. "I'll give you two thousand for it."
"Unless you want Euros?" Dalton flashed his killer smile as he lifted her hands to his mouth and kissed the back of her knuckles. "Say yes."
Mateo cleared his throat and pulled at his collar. Betty sighed to my left.
"Yes," whispered Scarlet.
"What'd she say?" asked Jessie.
"Shhhh!" Daisy swiped at her husband's arm.
"How's a body supposed to keep up with these young 'uns if they whisper all the time?"
"Put your hearing aid in. Then maybe you'll find out what people are saying about you," Daisy replied.
"What?" Jessie looked over the top of his glasses, his stare landing on no one in particular.
"She said, put your hearing aid in!" Betty repeated.
Jessie turned his back on his wife and Betty, then winked at my dad. A look of pure devilry passed between them and I began to wonder if my dad would be torturing me in the same manner as he aged past his prime.
"Can I take you out for an early dinner?" Dalton asked Scarlet.
Jessie heard that proposition with no problem. He turned back toward the young couple and waited for Scarlet's response as if he had more riding on her answer than Dalton did.
"Well, I have to clean up —"
"It's my turn to pick up things around here," Dad interjected.
"I've got a roast in my Crock-Pot —" Scarlet protested.
"She makes the best roast this side of the Red River," I added.
"Are you asking me to have dinner with you, Scarlet?" Dalton was still holding her hands and gazing down into her eyes like the rest of us weren't even in the same universe.
Before Scarlet could say a word, Jessie chimed in with his two cents worth. "Are you waiting for the red carpet, son? The woman just said she had a roast on. She didn't tell any of us she was cooking."
Actually, she had. That was my Tuesday night girl's night out roast dinner going up in the sparks between them.
Scarlet glanced in my direction, and I immediately let her off the hook.
"We still on for dinner, Dad?" I asked.
My dad didn't miss a beat. "I've got a mighty big hankerin' for a Rocker Burger from the diner, and the sheriff said he was going to join us."
Mateo's jaw quirked before he dipped his dark head in agreement. Both men read the situation faster than I expected. But it was the look on Scarlet's face that nearly brought tears to my eyes. Her very own fairy tale was unfolding in Hazel Rock, Texas.
"Give me thirty minutes and I'll treat you to a home-cooked meal you'll never forget." Scarlet beamed up at Dalton as everyone turned away, pleased with their matchmaking skills.
I was the only one who saw the promise of so much more pass between the couple as Dalton kissed her cheek. Then he headed for the register with my dad to ring up the purchase of his book art. Two thousand dollars was a mighty big start to a week of fundraising for The Cowboy Ranch.
And that small kiss was going to lead to so much more. Too bad it was surrounded by trouble.CHAPTER 2
Scarlet's dinner had obviously gone well if the scene on the dance floor was any indication. Dressed in a black sheer mini dress with one bared shoulder, her two-stepping with Dalton had turned into pouty lips, swinging hips, and the full body contact dips of a country swing dance. It was sexier than all get out, and every woman at the Tool Shed Tavern wanted to be in Scarlet's black studded boots.
Except me. I currently had my hands full with the mayor, Cade Calloway. Cade was my high school sweetheart, who'd followed in his daddy's footsteps and run for political office after his professional football career fell through as a result of a serious back injury. The man lived to torture me with the possibilities of, "what if."
"Is that Dalton Hibbs dancing with Scarlet?" Cade asked, his hazel eyes narrowing in on the couple on the dance floor, instead of me. Not that it bothered me ... much.
"If you can call it dancing." Joe Buck's heavy girth leaned over the bar, the towel draped over his shoulder skirting the wooden surface that had been smoothed out by use and age, not a polyurethane finish. He owned the Tool Shed Tavern and bartended while stirring up trouble with his contagious smile and friendly wink. I'd fallen for his angelic demeanor a time or two in the past. Since I'd returned to Hazel Rock, however, I'd been leery of his dares to do something stupid that no one else would try ... or was stupid enough to do. I hoped I'd learned to refrain from making the same mistakes over and over, especially since those stunts had always come back to bite me on the backside in high school.
"Yes, and they seem rather smitten, don't you think?" I couldn't help the smile that spread across my face.
"That's more than smitten. Smitten is the way Princess follows you around the Barn," Cade said.
"Well, they've found something special. So leave Scarlet be," I warned.
Joe muttered something to Cade in reply, who stared him down as he took a swig of his beer. A silent communication passed between them and Joe laughed before he moved down the bar to a good-looking man in his early thirties who looked vaguely familiar.
Coming back to Texas after living in Colorado for a little over twelve years constantly played tricks on my memory. Placing names with faces was a chore. I constantly thought of a name from Denver, but the face never matched the person I was talking to. Bill was actually Ray, and Mistie was really Maureen. Or I'd remember the face from Hazel Rock High School, but the name never fell into place. It didn't help, that with time came age, and changes that I hadn't kept up with. I'd never friended anyone from my hometown on social media until the week I actually moved back to town. The years of growth and change were lost to me.
I stared at the man talking to Joe and I tried to picture what he would have looked like a dozen years ago. About my height with a solid tan and white teeth, his hair belonged on a television show with its expensive cut and perfect swoop across his tall forehead. His plaid shirt looked brand-new and straight from the dry cleaner with heavy starched creases running down the sleeves. His jeans also looked out of place for our local honky-tonk. The pressed lines down the middle of the legs were a shade lighter blue and started at his pockets and ended at his toes, accentuating his lean hips.
Joe pointed in our direction and the man looked toward us and nodded.
"Should I know that guy?" I asked Cade.
He turned and looked down the bar at the man, who was now walking toward us.
"If you watch the evening news, you should. That's Peter Kroft from CNCB News."
Excerpted from A Reference to Murder by Kym Richards. Copyright © 2017 Kym Roberts. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Initially I grabbed at the title based on the premise alone – I can’t resist a book-loving heroine, and with the pet pink armadillo, I was all in. And Princess the armadillo, with her penchant for eating books and generally being an armadillo was adorable. But, this is a story of Charli Rae and her return to her small Texas hometown to help her father run the Book Barn, the family business. Not having read the first in the series, I was grateful for the author’s ability to give a bit of background on the characters without overtaking the current story, and everyone is in the midst of preparing for the big town event, a rodeo with an auction that brings proceeds to help support aging and injured rodeo cowboys. Together with her best friend Scarlett, owner of the beauty shop, have been running classes for ‘book art’ to provide items for the auction. The big day dawns and everything is moving along despite the usual hiccups, and her friend Scarlett is upset since Dalton (a bull-rider she’s had her eye on for a while) seems to have disappeared without a trace, leaving her feeling abandoned. But there is opportunity for worry as well since seven years earlier Dalton’s brother disappeared at the same event in the same way. Charli is incensed for her friend, and intrigued by the mystery – so she just dives in and starts looking. Soon, she’s in over her head, and everyone, including the local sheriff and her ex-boyfriend the mayor, is worried for her safety. Twists, turns and laughs galore, Roberts infuses the story with plenty of unique characters who are all up in the local gossip, each with their own view of things and people. A solid friendship between Charli and Scarlett is clearly presented: while the two are supportive, loyal and above all, cleverly portrayed. Descriptions and presentations of scenes, people and moments are cleanly written and the mystery thread is perfectly twisty with plenty of options for suspects, tension and drama. A clever small town story that will provide a few hours respite and several laughs. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Enjoyed this book so much.......
What an interesting story. The atmosphere of a small town combined with crafty "princess", a rodeo, romance and murder make for a great read. Did I mention the pet armadillo? This book was enjoyable & kept me guessing up to the end. There's more than one mystery and more than one romance, but only one armadillo!
My initial reaction after finishing Kym Roberts's A Reference to Murder? I want a pet armadillo too! On a more serious note, however, A Reference to Murder was an incredibly engaging and fast paced read. Combining an intriguing mystery, charming main characters, and normal small town hijinks and quirks, A Reference to Murder is a book I just HAD to finish in one setting. It was a book that I actually fought sleep for just so I could figure out who-dun-it. Yes, it was THAT addictive! As anyone who reads my reviews and/or blog on a regular basis knows, I love a good twisty mystery, and thankfully, A Reference to Murder completely delivered in that regard. I enjoyed that Kym Roberts' combined a past unsolved disappearance to that of a current disappearance. It was interesting to see how the two lined up, especially considering the two missing persons were brothers & celebrity cowboys. Additionally, the mystery truly managed to keep me guessing...all the way up until the end, I wasn't completely sure who had done it, which really managed to add to my love of this book. I always dislike when the mystery is so easily solved in the beginning. An aspect that I found so utterly refreshing about this one? The lack of romance. This book primarily focuses on Charli's sleuthing ways as well as Charli continuing to figure out her role in her hometown, and I just loved it. Here's this main character who's not all that worried about romance, and while she does have some potential suitors, she's less worried about finding a serious relationship and more concerned about helping her best friend out of a bad situation. The characters in this were also a ton of fun. Charli was a ball of dynamite - I admired her determination to get justice for the ones she loved most while also continuing to successfully run her book barn. Charli's best friend Scarlet was another favorite of mine. Sometimes I just wanted to shake some sense into her regarding a certain celebrity cowboy, but I also just loved the loyalty she had for the people in her life. Here's a girl who will support you to the end if she thinks you're innocent. The rest of the town also proved a lot of fun, sass, and love...it was so easy to get caught up in the world of Hazel Rock - it made me actually wish this was a real town I could visit. If you're a fan of mystery, little romance, and one cute, sassy, and show-stealing armadillo, you simply must check out A Reference to Murder. I look forward to continuing with this series. Grade: A
Title: A Reference to Murder - Book Barn Mystery Book 2 Author: Kym Roberts Publisher: Kensington Books Published: 5-16-2017 Pages: 198 Genre: Mystery & Thrillers Sub-Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Suspense, Women's Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths ISBN: 9781601837332 ASIN: B01KRUMUZ0 Reviewed For NetGalley and Kensington Books Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.75 Stars Charli Rae Warren is back home in Hazel Rock, Texas, spending her time reading, collecting, and selling books—at least, the ones that don’t get eaten first by her father’s pet armadillo. Running the family bookstore is a demanding job, but solving murders on the side can be flat out dangerous . . . The Book Barn is more than just a shop, it’s a part of the community—and Charli is keeping busy with a fundraising auction and the big rodeo event that’s come to town. That includes dealing with the Texas-sized egos of some celebrity cowboys, including Dalton Hibbs, a blond, blue-eyed bull rider who gets overly rowdy one night with the local hairdresser . . . and soon afterward, disappears into thin air. Dalton’s brother also vanished seven years ago—and Charli is thrown about whether Dalton is a villain or a victim. After a close call with an assailant wielding a branding iron (that plays havoc with her hair), and some strange vandalism on her property, she’s going to have to team up with the sheriff to untangle this mystery, before she gets gored . . . Books in the Book Barn Series 1. Factal Fiction 2, A Reference to Murder 3. Perilous Poetry 4. Lethal Literature Al whole barn to explore and see what treasured authors or favored titles you could find in such a large building. I personally look at libraries like some look at museums. Making it natural that I would gravitate towards a series about books. A win-win situation. From the first I fell in love with Kym Roberts series. Filled with interesting well rounded, characters keep the story lively. The plot is thought out and intriguing. This is a great read for any cozy lover. My rating of "A Reference to Murder - Book Barn Mystery Book 2" is 4.75 out of 5 stars.
This series is adorable!! I received the first book through Netgalley & loved it so I bought A Reference to Murder about 5 minutes after I finished Fatal Fiction. This is a feel good series with a interesting mystery..... and a pink armadillo. What's not to love? Can't wait for the 3rd book in this series.
Charli Rae Warren is originally from Hazel Rock, TX and is back to run the family bookstore, “The Book Barn”. Charli and her father’s pink armadillo are roommate in the apartment above the bookstore. Scarlett, Charli’s best friend, seems to be drawn to rodeo cowboys. Hazel Rock is also a retirement ranch for rodeo cowboys that can no longer work the circuit. Scarlett has hooked up with a brother of someone she dated seven years ago; also missing. What is Scarlett up to? Charli and her friends try to solve the mysteries and stay out of trouble themselves! Well written with plenty of danger, suspense and humor. Great read!
The second book in Kym Robert's Book Barn Mystery series, A REFERENCE TO MURDER, is about danger and intrigue in a quirky and delightful small town. The heroine, Charli Rae Warren... or Princess, as most of the town calls her no matter how many times she asks them not to, is back in town to run her family's business, The Book Barn Princess. Charli shares her nickname and her apartment above the shop with her father's very pampered pet armadillo. Charli's best friend is Scarlett, who owns the local hair salon which is conveniently right next door to the Book Barn. Scarlett has a thing for bull riders, specifically Dalton Hibbs. Dalton just happens to be the younger brother of Wyatt Hibbs, also a bull rider, but he's been missing for the past seven years. The town is also home to a retirement ranch of sorts for rodeo cowboys no longer able to ride the circuit, due to injury or age. The ranch hosts a large annual rodeo as a fundraiser for expenses and the whole town does their part. The Cowboys that will be competing are in town to prepare and to help with promotion for the event. When Dalton goes missing, just like his brother had, everyone is looking at Scarlett. Charli can't have that so rather than wait for the Sheriff to clear her friend's name she starts investigating on her own. A Reference to Murder is a well written mystery with plenty of danger and suspense as Charli and her friends get their selves into all kinds of trouble while trying to solve the crime. There's also plenty of humor, loveable characters, and a little romance. Charli's habit of finding (or causing) trouble wherever she goes has more than one man completely frustrated with how to handle her... but also more than one who'd be more than happy to give it a shot if only Charli would notice. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for more Book Barn Princess mysteries. 4.5 stars ~Downloaded a copy from NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Hazel Rock Texas is hosting a fundraising rodeo and apparently a murderer. Charli Rae Warren is determined to make sure her best friend, Scarlet, doesn't get hurt by Dalton Hibbs. He's a bull rider with a big ego and lots of emotional baggage. When he goes missing, Scarlet becomes a person of interest. Is Dalton alive or dead? Charli is glad to be home and working at the family book shop. She missed her dad and the pace of life here. I liked Charli. She has spunk and nose for trouble. She plans to help the Sheriff find out what's going on even if it puts her in danger. Mateo with his protective attitude is a hero. I fell for him. I'm hoping that a romance will develop between these two. I enjoyed this suspenseful mystery. It is a rolling coaster ride that kept me guessing. A Reference To Murder has great dialogue and characters. I loved the touch of romance and the surprising twists. The Book Barn Mystery series pulled me in. I couldn't stop reading. I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed. My comments are my honest opinion.
Sometimes you have to just accept you’re a Princess and move on. Such is the case for Charli Rae Warren in the latest Book Barn mystery, A Reference to Murder. Charli has been trying to get the town of Hazel Rock to quit calling her Princess since she moved back. In this novel she finally realizes the futility of that effort and lets herself be the Princess they’ve always thought her to be. Though the road certainly isn’t easy. It is her involvement in the local Cowboy Invitational Rodeo that finally sets her on this path and not surprisingly there is a body or two along the way. I’m really enjoying this cozy series by Kym Roberts. It’s got great characters, fun characters, and a barn bookstore (how can you go wrong with a bookstore?). As a Colorado girl, I loved the amount of detail Roberts included about the rodeo; it the Cowboy Invitational isn’t real, I really wish it was. If you are looking for a great escapist read, this is a good place to start. I know I can’t wait for the next installment in this fun series. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this novel.
A Reference to Murder Author; Kym Roberts Publisher: Lyrical Underground Charli (Princess) Rae Warren is back home in Hazel Rock, Texas after many years. Working in her father’s bookshop, The Book Barn leaves her a lot of free time to buy and sell, as well as read book. She takes over the running the bookstore with gusto and is happy for most of the time, except when there is a murderer on the loose. Charli keeps busy with a fundraising auction and the big rodeo event that’s come to town. All of this means dealing with big egos, including that of the favorite cowboy Dalton Hibbs, a blond, blue-eyed bull rider who gets drunk and disappears. Dalton’s brother vanished seven years ago, and it looks like Dalton is following in his footsteps. She comes across two graves in the middle of nowhere while looking for him, she along with everyone else believes the bodies to be those of Dalton and his missing brother. But when fingers start pointing at her best friend, Scarlet she teams up with the local sheriff to find the killer. Kym Roberts has crafted a fast-paced, easy to follow the story. Her characters are rounded and developed and very believable and a good representation of the town and the main focus of the plot. Charli gets into more trouble than anyone could even imagine and this makes her very likable. She also puts her nose where it doesn’t belong and almost gets it cut off for the effort. The interaction between her, Scarlet and the principle characters is full of action It is difficult to figure out which of the men in her life, Cade or Mateo is the real love interest. Although both characters are interesting, they are both equally hard to understand where Charli is concerned. This situation is a real problem for Charli as she tries to figure out which man she wants to be with if either or any. Although the killer was somewhat obvious the villain's motive was not until the very end. This is an enjoyable read and should appeal to readers who like a bit of country and a cozy that lets your imagination roam. This book is recommended.
This is the second book in the series and I loved this one. It read easier than the first book and I was glued to pages before long. The Championship Bull Riding Rodeo is in Hazel Rock, Texas and everyone is geared up for a week of fun. The CBR donates proceeds to The Cowboy Ranch, owned by Mayor Cade Calloway. The small town is filled with fans and tourists, keeping the The Book Barn busy and keeping Charli on her toes. When Charli isn't busy in the book store, she can usually be found with Princess, her dad's armadillo. Charli's friend Scarlet has won the affection of Dalton Hibbs, the rodeo star. After a brief night together, Dalton disappears and Scarlet begs Charli to help her. Charli can't say no, and before long, Charli finds herself close to being branded, tossed in a pen with Twisted Mister and so much more. I really enjoyed this store, it was well written and there were plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.
Charli Rae is back! She has settled back into the nuttiness that is Hazel Rock. She is still wondering why she cares what Cade gets up to, when he has ignored her for months. Then there is Mateo, a man who makes a brown cop uniform look good! He seems to be interested in her but at the same time is keeping his distance. So at the moment the only man in her life is her dad. He helps around the store, helps with the craft classes and generally makes her life easier. The Cowboy Ranch Invitational is a big deal to the town and a much needed way to raise funds for a local charity. When Scarlett takes up with Dalton, one of the rising stars, she sets the town gossips jaws wagging. But not as much as they do when Dalton goes missing, just like his brother did after being seen with Scarlet several years before! Charli is quick to defend Scarlett and sets out to find Dalton and tear him a new one for what he has done to Scarlett. But has he really vanished? Is he hiding out? Is it a media stunt? As the story unfurls we learn that not every one is what they seem. Charli also seems to find herself with another potential beau to muddy the romantic pool further! I love this series so hard! Princess the armadillo is such a character herself! Eve's gate continues to weed out the bad eggs and Hazel Rock, population 2000 odd souls continues to rack up the dead bodies! Charli is in such a quandary over her love life, she just can't seem to decide what and who she wants. One of my favourite scenes is near the end of the book where 3 certain clowns entertain Charli and the masses. I just loved that even though they may have different opinions on what Charli means to them and how she fits in their lives, they are willing to work together to keep her happy, safe and cherished! I'm dreading the wait for book 3!!
This breathtaking mystery is second in the Book Barn Mystery series; A Reference to Murder surpasses the first in series with non-stop action, fascinating characters, and a layered mystery full of surprises. I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy mystery. Charli Rae manages The Book Barn Princess with the companionship of her dad’s pet armadillo Princess and her father, Bobby Ray. Charli’s best friend is the greatest hairstylist in Texas. Scarlet is owner of Beaus and Beauties, a full-service hair and nail salon. The annual Cowboy Ranch Auction and Cowboy Ranch Invitational is beginning. The auction and rodeo benefit the rodeo stars at the Ranch with career and life altering injuries who need assistance. One of the bull riders is Dalton, a blond-haired, blue-eyed local star bested only by his brother Wyatt, who disappeared seven years earlier. Scarlet and Dalton immediately become a “thing”, and go dancing at the Tool Shed Tavern days before the rodeo starts. Something was wrong with Dalton, and the promoters come to pick him up when he appears falling-down drunk after only a couple drinks. The promoters claim he has a pain pill problem that began with a back injury. Dalton was supposed to return to Scarlet’s that night, had even left his backpack at her place. A national TV news reporter was at the Tavern with his cameraman and was more than happy to take footage of Dalton and Scarlet. Liza, news woman from the local station is prepared also, with Aubrey, former employee at the Book Barn in tow as a summer intern. Dalton was a no-show and didn’t call or send word where he was. Charli was attacked twice – first by a maniac outside her store attempting to apply a red-hot branding iron to her face, then at the rodeo grounds where she was dumped into the stall of a bull she suspected of being drugged. The worst was the grisly find of two graves outside town, one very recent, with one bearing the buckle that had been Wyatt’s, the recent one with Dalton’s. Charli is very well-defined, and other characters are described as necessary. I like Charli and Scarlet. They are uniquely different in many ways, but Scarlet had believed in Charli when she first return to town and was accused of murder, and Charli will stand by her through her challenges. Scarlet is an amazing artisan when it comes to using repurposed, damaged books to make beautiful works. Bobby Ray is a pretty cool dad, demonstrating his love for Charli despite that she had left without looking back years ago. The cowboys are an interesting bunch of guys. At first they seem competitive to the exclusion of helping each other, but Charli begins to see several of them for who they really are. This has been a ride almost as exhilarating as a bull rider’s turn on the beast! It is a fast-moving without wasted words. There is so much to rodeos and the bull riding than one would anticipate; so many people can profit – or lose – through each venue that there is a passel of suspects. I admit, especially with the plot twists that brought this reader through a myriad of emotions, I didn’t see coming who the bad guy(s)/ gal(s) would be. The ending is satisfying, leaving no West Texas cacti unturned. I highly recommend A Reference to Murder to those who enjoy well-written cozy mysteries, the rodeo, romance, or bookstores! A great read for any time of year. From a grateful heart: I received this eBook from the publisher and NetGalley and this is my honest review.