Charli agrees to sell off the family bookstore, housed in a barn, and settle her estranged dad’s debt—if only so she can ride into the sunset and cut ties with Hazel Rock forever. But the trip is extended when Charli finds her realtor dead in the store, strangled by a bedazzled belt. And with daddy suspiciously MIA, father and daughter are topping the most wanted list . . .
Forging an unlikely alliance with the town beauty queen, the old beau who tore her family apart, and one ugly armadillo, Charli’s intent on protecting what’s left of her past . . . and wrangling the lone killer who’s fixin’ to destroy her future . . .
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By Kym Roberts
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Kym Roberts
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Life has a way of putting some people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Take me, for example. I happen to be one of those unlucky souls who finds themselves in bad situations more often than not. My parents should have tattooed a bull's-eye of doom on my forehead at birth. My luck can be that bad, and today was proving how rotten my karma could be.
The cab ride to town cost thirty-eight dollars. I had forty-five dollars in my purse. There was one credit card in my matching leather wallet, but I'd charged it to the max when I'd purchased my plane ticket that morning. I'm sorry to say that tipping the cabby hurt — a lot. And my driver was less than happy with his two-dollar tip. He pulled away from the curb spitting gravel and dust all over my black dress, causing me to sputter and choke as dirt filled the dry, hot air. I turned away, hoping I still looked my best, and faced my childhood playground. The family business I swore I'd never come back to, yet here I was — standing in front of the biggest eyesore in town, while the rest of the shops looked like picturesque postcards.
Back when I was a kid, the store was kind of quaint. The Book Barn had been a blast from the past: a faded red dairy barn with the washed-out logo, "Livery & Feed Stable" painted across the face of the second-story hayloft door. It had fit in perfectly with the rest of the town's Wild West atmosphere. My parents had displayed the books in the old stable stalls, separating the categories and creating havens for me to disappear in for hours. The second-story hayloft was a thing of awe — a never-ending library of used books overlooking the center of the barn. The entire building had been decorated with antique western gear and paraphernalia. It was historic and allowed visitors to imagine what it must have been like for a cowboy who drifted into town. His first stop would be at the stable, where he'd drop off his horse for the night before crossing the dirt road to wet his whistle in the saloon.
The saloon, however, hadn't served drinks since the Prohibition era. It was now a salon that produced trademarked big Texas hairstyles and offered manis and pedis instead of shots of rotgut whiskey. No doubt they also had a tanning bed inside from the look of the leathery hide of the blonde currently exiting the store while talking on her cell phone.
My skin would never need a tanning bed, my ethnicity giving my complexion a naturally golden tone that had been the envy of every girl on the cheer squad in high school. But if I stayed in town too long, I'd have to revert back to my teen years and make an appointment for a hot oil treatment at the Beaus and Beauties salon to keep my brown curls from turning brittle in the dry Texas heat.
I turned my attention back to The Book Barn. Its newly remodeled exterior was an eye-catching monstrosity in a bright shade of fuchsia with glowing white trim. The fresh coat of paint erased all remnants of the stable's original logo and punctuated the store's new name, The Book Barn Princess. What made it unique was the cute — or tacky — armadillo that formed the letter i as it stood on its hind legs with a tiara dotting the letter, almost like a suspended halo. In effect, the new design ruined the Old West image the town had held for decades.
There was absolutely nothing picturesque about the store's current color, which was brighter than the pink purse draped across my chest. It was horrible, in a girlie kind of way ... and part of me melted. My dad had remodeled the family bookstore in my favorite color — despite the fact that the business was centrally located in the heart of downtown Hazel Rock, Texas, population 2,093, where the new color stuck out like a displaced neon sign in the middle of the Wild West show.
And he'd named it after me.
My eyes moistened. After a dozen-and-a-half-years, my dad was trying to make amends to his "little princess."
Then I remembered the cab ride that had cleaned out my wallet and allowed the pain from the past to close the door on my heart.
Pink won't erase the past, Daddy.
I ignored the speculative looks from two more blondes with big hair exiting the salon and stomped to the front door. I would've slammed the front door wide open and let it bang against the wall, but Dad had installed automatic doors that glided open with a soft swish. A little buzzer, low and unobtrusive, sounded as I stepped inside — nothing like the slap of my boots as I crossed the freshly stained concrete floor. The voice of a popular country singer who'd made it big on one of those reality TV talent search programs streamed through the store's deserted sales floor. Not a soul wandered through the rows of new and used books for sale.
Obviously some things never changed.
"Are you hiding from me? 'Cause if you brought me down here to make a laughingstock out of me, I will make sure you regret it ... Daddy." My tone wasn't pleasant. If anything, it was downright threatening.
I knew I shouldn't talk to my father that way, and part of me felt bad. The other part, the living-in-reality part, only remembered the pain I'd experienced during my junior year of high school and I couldn't let it slide. I leaned over the bright white counter, cluttered with princess knickknacks for sale in every shade of pink imaginable, expecting to find him cowering down behind it.
It was as empty as the dry creek bed I'd passed on the way into town.
I turned toward the back of the store, still stomping, making my way through the aisles of books that made me want to stop and browse. I resisted the temptation and headed for the storeroom, calling throughout the cavernous space on my way. "If you had Marlene call me so you could finally sell this place, why are you hiding?" My voice carried through the store, punctuating the fact that I was alone.
But I wasn't. I couldn't be. The store was open for business, a coffeepot was on behind the counter, and the place was filled with the aroma of my father's favorite vice: rich, dark Colombian coffee beans.
I yanked back the soft pink velvet curtain hanging across the doorway to the stockroom, the material heavy and luxurious in my hand, and got the shock of my life. Marlene Duncan, the Realtor who'd contacted me and convinced me to fly down and get my daddy out of the financial mess he'd created with the tacky remodel, was in front of me — wearing the pink bejeweled belt I'd cherished in high school.
But it wasn't around her waist. It was tightened around her neck and she was deader than a doornail.CHAPTER 2
I stood frozen to my spot. Unable to believe I was in my hometown looking at the body of the woman who'd been the only one able to convince me to return to Hazel Rock in over twelve years. A woman who had spoken with so much life and animation on the phone less than six hours before was now dead.
That's when I heard it. The sound of paper tearing. The slow, painful rip of someone maliciously destroying the work that had poured from an author's heart and soul. I looked up at the loft. A book slammed to the floor somewhere above me.
My feet thawed faster than an ice cube in July. I ran for the front of the store. The bell dinged, the doors swished, and I was down the two steps on the porch before I could scream. I did what came naturally — I ran for the salon across the street and burst through the door.
Six pairs of eyes turned and looked at me.
"Charli Rae Warren, is that you? There is no way I could ever forget those curls."
Trying to calm myself, I pulled my purse up on my shoulder and gulped the fresh scent of perm and fingernail polish. I swung around to the voice I should have recognized but didn't. The redhead with a pair of scissors in her hand looked vaguely familiar, but I didn't remember anyone with that vibrant hair color or that smile. Then I took another breath and realized her hair was probably chemically treated. I squinted, as if that would help me figure out who she was — but it wasn't helping in my current state.
"Welcome home, Princess."
"No one calls me Princess anymore. It's just Charli." I breathed, still unable to place her despite her bright smile. "Can I use your phone?"
She continued as if I hadn't said anything. "I didn't have red hair in high school. It was boring brown." She turned and started cutting the hair of the older woman in the chair in front of her. "Is that all you need, a phone? Or do you need to get your hair done?"
Unable to process a word she said, I dug in my purse for my cell. The woman I apparently should have recognized rambled on about me finally coming home to visit as I pulled my phone from my purse and dialed 911 with shaking hands.
I turned away and waited for the dispatcher to answer as my breathing slowed down. I stared out the front window toward the big pink barn. A deep voice answered my call and I found myself trying to convince the male dispatcher that there really was a dead body in the storage room across the street while keeping my voice low enough so the beauty shop occupants wouldn't hear about my gruesome discovery. The last thing I wanted to do was break the news of someone's death.
"Did Bobby Ray put you up to this? That guy is a regular prankster," the dispatcher said.
I lost it. The composure I'd struggled to maintain flew out the window and my angry tongue took over. About the time I blurted out my fourth expletive, he finally got a clue that I was telling the truth and that a killer could still be in the store. It was either that or he believed I was crazier than a two-headed sow eating out of a trough for one. He cleared his throat and advised me the sheriff would be "en route." He further directed me not to leave the salon. I was to sit and wait right where I was.
Considering my legs were wobbling like a newborn filly's, I didn't argue ... much. I plopped down in an empty chair and briefly closed my eyes as I hung up the phone. That's when I realized the background noise had disappeared. Voices were silent. Scissors weren't snipping, and the juiciest gossip that had hit this town in more than a decade was forming into front-page news right before the beauty crew's very eyes. I peeked through the slit of my left eyelid at the six women staring in my direction. They couldn't possibly have heard my conversation, but they definitely caught my cussing.
Suddenly the identity of the stunning redhead standing with her scissors frozen in midair hit me. It was the current faint smile she wore, the calm one that had lost some of its sparkle, kind of like Mona Lisa; she saw everything but gave nothing away. That coupled with the constant jibber-jabbering she'd done when I ran in knocked my memory into gear.
"Scarlet." My voice sounded a little breathless as I said her name. She had been the principal's assistant back in high school, the girl with the overbearing glasses, an IQ of about 180, who could talk your ear off about nothing and not hear a word you said in return. Scarlet Jenkins, little Miss Bookworm had transformed. She still wore glasses, but they were in vogue and trendy, and her hair was a gorgeous auburn with soft, short curls around her face that complimented her alabaster complexion, the exact opposite of my biracial heritage. Her sense of style was right out of a fashion magazine. She was beautiful, with curves I didn't have.
Then she smiled that five-hundred-watt smile again, the one she'd given me when I first walked in. The one I definitely wouldn't have forgotten if she'd used it back in high school, which she hadn't.
"You remembered! So are you in town to say good-bye to the store? It's a little different than what it used to be." The woman in the chair getting her hair cut snorted, but Scarlet continued. "I know it was probably a shock when you saw it. It pretty much shocks everyone, but people like to take their pictures in front of it, and for the most part it's been a good draw for tourists. Some of the locals grumble and complain ..." The woman in the chair snorted again and I wondered if I should know her, but my brain was focused on one thing:
Marlene was dead.
"Get her a cup of coffee, Joellen." Scarlet patted the bony shoulder of the older woman in her chair, who was eyeing me like a serial killer incarnate. Scarlet put her scissors down at her station and approached me while the blonde, Joellen, who'd been doing her own nails when I walked in, glanced down at her work and then jumped up and went into the back room.
Searching my face, Scarlet saw something. What, I'm not sure, but she suddenly turned toward the hairdresser applying the perm solution on her customer's hair. "Aubrey said she didn't go in to work at The Barn until after school, right, Mary?"
The beautician didn't look up from the bottle she was squirting on her customer's curlers. Her scratchy voice fit the wrinkles on her face, despite the fact that she couldn't have been more than forty. "Yes, she said she had a test this morning and she had a term paper to work on before she went to work at four."
Scarlet turned back to me, studying my expression, which I desperately tried to keep neutral ... I failed. She saw what the other women didn't and knew something was seriously wrong. The conclusion she came to, however, was awry. She pulled me into an embrace that felt awkward and comforting at the same time. Standing almost a head taller, I bent over to return it like we were long-lost buddies. That's when she whispered in my ear, "Is something wrong with your daddy? Do I need to go over to The Barn with you?"
My panicked outburst caused Mary's customer to jump. The hairdresser just rolled her eyes and continued wrapping a piece of the woman's hair in foil.
Scarlet pulled me close once more, her voice too low for the others to hear. "OMW. Charli, it's okay. Everything will be okay." Her voice hitched with emotion and she patted my back.
After I'd unleashed enough filth out of my mouth to fill the county sewage plant, Scarlet was using an acronym for "Oh my word." I cringed as she continued. "Don't you worry. Marlene will help make sure the sale of the store goes through. She's the best real estate woman this side of Abilene. She'll take care of you."
Nodding, I didn't say a word. Scarlet had obviously drawn the conclusion that something horrible had happened to my dad, and for some reason, I was content to let her believe it ... for now.
Then I remembered how Scarlet talked and talked while I sat in the principal's office as a kid. At the time I'd thought she was trying to get me to confess my sins, but all she did was fill the void my silence left. Just like she was doing now, and there was no way I was going to break the news to anyone that Marlene was the one who was dead. That the woman who had been a Realtor in Hazel Rock for as long as I could remember had been murdered in The Book Barn ... Princess.
I stared at the tiara on the front of the building. The new look was everything my mom would have hated, everything I might have loved as a teenager still trying to figure out my style. Or at least everything my dad would have thought I'd like.
Joellen came out of the back room with a steaming cup of coffee and I took it, attempting to smile at the young woman and grateful for something to do with my hands while Scarlet rambled on about Texas pecan coffee, which you could only find in the Lone Star State.
I thought about telling her, "It's available on Amazon," but kept my mouth shut and took a sip. If I was going to be stuck waiting for the county sheriff, who I'd been avoiding most of my life, while listening to Scarlet, I was going to do my best to get my thoughts in order. This fiasco was costing me a day's wages, a plane ticket, and cab fare my dad obviously wasn't going to reimburse me for. Even though Marlene had promised he would.
And the fact that I was worrying about money when poor Marlene was lying on the floor across the street in need of a makeover, a manicure, and a beating heart, made me feel about as low as cow manure smeared between the sole and heel of a cowboy boot.
Closing my eyes, I took another drink of the steaming brew, aware that even my lips were trembling. A glance at the clock told me it'd been seven minutes since I'd dialed 911. Scarlet continued talking through it all. She was currently touching on the subject of family plots in the town's cemetery while I convinced myself the killer had snuck out the back door and was long gone.
A police cruiser pulled up and parked two stores down. I watched a cop I didn't recognize cautiously enter The Book Barn with his gun drawn. He didn't wear the standard issue cowboy hat, and his uniform fit snuggly across a broad chest and chiseled physique.
All the women stopped what they were doing to watch the cop, who definitely wasn't the old-as-dirt sheriff I remembered, and then they turned to look at me. Waiting for me to answer the questions they weren't asking. Everyone, that is, except Scarlet. She'd returned to her customer and was cutting her hair as if nothing was wrong. Her sniffle proved otherwise.
Excerpted from Fatal Fiction by Kym Roberts. Copyright © 2016 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Omg- this was a fun read. So many things to love about the book- great characters, interesting story, second chances at love, & a pink armadillo. Kym Roberts is a fantastic story teller & I will be reading more by her! I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I love good mysteries about books and bookstores. For that reason alone I was excited to read Fatal Fiction. The fact that I thoroughly enjoy Kym Roberts writing style certainly counted in favor of picking this book up. I was not disappointed. Roberts creates a fun, smart main character and then peoples her world with other characters that I would want to hang out with in my spare time. To make things even better, this is the first in a hopefully very long running series. The first person POV will turn some readers off, but Roberts handled it well. There are a few lingering questions at the end, but that’s because we are seeing things through Charli’s eyes and not solving the crime. I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I definitely want to spend more time with this particular cast of characters. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this novel.
Title: Fatal Fiction - Book Barn Mystery Book 1 Author: Kym Roberts Published: 12-6-2016 Publisher: Kensington Books Pages: 226 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Women Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuths ISBN: 13: 9781601837318 ASIN: B01CWYTJVC Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.75 Stars I received a copy of "Fatal Fiction" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Description When kindergarten teacher Charli Rae Warren hightailed it out of Hazel Rock, Texas, as a teen, she vowed to leave her hometown in the dust. A decade later, she's braving the frontier of big hair and bigger gossip once again . . . but this time, she's saddled with murder! Charli agrees to sell off the family bookstore, housed in a barn, and settle her estranged dad's debt—if only so she can ride into the sunset and cut ties with Hazel Rock forever. But the trip is extended when Charli finds her realtor dead in the store, strangled by a bedazzled belt. And with daddy suspiciously MIA, father and daughter are topping the most wanted list . . . Forging an unlikely alliance with the town beauty queen, the old beau who tore her family apart, and one ugly armadillo, Charli's intent on protecting what's left of her past . . . and wrangling the lone killer who's fixin' to destroy her future . . . My review of "Fatal Fiction": A clean mystery about a pink bookshop, a pet armadillo named Princess and a dead realtor; What more could a lover of books ask for? Add in an old faithless beau and an ugly duckling turned swan. There is so much going on is this book that the reader doesn't have a chance to ever be bored. From the moment you open the first page, to the moment you turn the last, the people of Hazel Rock will welcome you like an old friend who has not visit for a while. Fast moving and with a writing style that makes you feel as though you are part of the drama as it unfolds. If you are looking for a great new series to try then check out Kym Roberts' "Fatal Fiction" I can hardly wait to see where she takes this series next. My rating is 4.75 out of 5 stars. I hope you find "Fatal Fiction" as wonderful as I did.
In Fatal Fiction, the first book in the Book Barn Mystery series, author Kym Roberts weaves an entertaining and fast-paced cozy mystery that follows the crazy adventures of kindergarten teacher Charli Rae Warren, when she finds herself a murder suspect after she stumbles upon the dead body of realtor Marlene Duncan in her father's bookstore, the Book Barn Princess. Set in Hazel Rock, Texas, Charli comes back her hometown to settle her estranged father's debt by selling off the family bookstore housed in a barn. But everything goes awry and Charli suddenly finds herself a suspect of murder when she finds realtor Marlene Duncan's dead body in the bookstore, and her father is is MIA. With a motley crew of helpers, Charli is determined to find her father, the real killer, and clear her name before her future goes down the drain. Fatal Fiction is a captivating and fast-paced cozy whodunit tale that has enough quirky characters, witty banter and humor, drama, danger, and intriguing twists and turns that will keep you guessing the identity of the murderer. You can't help but get caught up in the drama, calamity, mayhem, and cat-n-mouse games that ensues as Charli tries to solve the murder and clear her name. Charli's amateur sleuth adventure unfolds with a wonderful balance of comedy, drama, and suspense that easily kept me guessing, and left me wanting more. I can't wait to read the next book in this delightful new cozy mystery series! Fatal Fiction is a delightful first book in a new cozy mystery series that is sure to keep you engaged and eager to follow Charli's next amateur sleuth adventures! Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Estranged from her father since she was 18 years old Charli Rae receives an urgent phone call from hometown realtor Marlene Duncan. Marlene insists that she rush home to Texas and sign papers to sell The Book Barn Princess to get her father out of a financial mess. Instead she comes home to find Marlene's dead body in the bookstore and her father missing. Things get even more complicated when she finds out that her Dad was going to marry Marlene. This story is the perfect combination of cozy mystery, humor, compassion and a hint of romance. I look forward to the next installment of the Book Barn Mystery series.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Just a quick trip from Colorado to Texas, sign some papers, get out of town and get back to teaching those kindergartners. Big problem, Charli Rae Warren is only in town a few minutes and she finds a dead body. The woman she was meeting to put Hazel Rock in her rear view mirror permanently is deader than a door nail and the cops think she did it. When they find Charli’s dad is missing too, they both share the top a very short list of suspects. To get out of this mess she needs the help of the people she left behind. She also needs to make some money so she can afford her trip back to the new life she has made for herself. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, her father has a pet armadillo named Princess, and that is what he used to call Charli. He has renamed The Book Barn by adding the name Princess at the end. The inside may look like what she envisioned before she left town but the sign outside has that darn armadillo picture right on it. The story was so funny and unique and has a great mystery too. Kym Roberts takes on this small Texas town and gives us such rich characters. In this first installment she needs to reunite our main character with the people in her past. Some she barely recognizes and others she remembers way too well. She gives us enough back story to understand how much has changed and how much has stayed the same since Charli left town. She also creates a clever mystery that brings all the characters together. She fills the story with southern charm too. I mean seriously, a pet armadillo, maybe only in Texas. I enjoyed the way that even with the years the characters have been apart they rally together to help not only find a killer but reinvent the Book Barn so Charli can make money to go home but also help her dad out so that when he returns he may not have to sell the place. They bought out a real sense of community that small towns are famous for. My favorite character was Scarlett, a high school classmate of Charli’s, who stepped right up to help Charli from the moment she arrived in town. The pace was perfect, the twists are sharp, the hint of romance was just right and the humor was blended throughout the entire story with skilled precision. This is an absolutely delightful start for this new mystery series. I am excited to see what the author has up her sleeve for us and these characters next.
Fatal Fiction by Kym Roberts is the first in a new cozy series by Ms. Roberts. It was a smoothly paced plot with enough twists and turns that I never did know who the murderer was until the reveal. I was hooked from the first chapter and didn't put it down until the end. There's also a brief glimpse at the end of the book into the next book in the series. Charli was an interesting female lead. She had run away from Hazel Rock and her father's bookstore as a teenager. She's all grown up now and returns home to help her dad to sell the store. Unfortunately, that can't happen until the murder is solved. I have to confess that even though I liked Charli, I loved Scarlett. She is down-to-earth, intelligent and creative. She gives Charli her friendship from that first chapter and never wavers. Readers also get to meet the ex-boyfriend and a tall, dark and handsome sheriff who is investigating the case. The characters were all well developed and I felt like I would enjoy visiting Hazel Rock and the Book Barn Princess. I am already anxious to read the next one in this series. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Fatal Fiction’, first in the Book Barn Mystery series. The protagonist, Charli, is very likable in that she is like many of us. She made her share of teenage errors, then left home after a blowup with her dad, Bobby Ray, and never looked back. She returned to handle one thing only, planning to be back to work as a kindergarten teacher the following week. Life threw a curveball and she was stuck with Princess the pink armadillo (it is Hazel Rock, Texas, after all), she has a new best friend, Scarlet, and no money to get back to Denver with. Charli returned to Hazel Rock as her father’s realtor, Marlene Duncan, had called her to get her to sign off documents to sell the family business, The Book Barn Princess. It is, literally, a barn. Her parents had run it, using stalls for various book displays and the loft for used books. It was wonderful until Charli’s mother died. Charli and Bobby Ray then were a smaller family, until her dad humiliated and betrayed her. After entering the Book Barn Princess, she found the realtor, Marlene, dead in the shop, strangled by a belt that Charli had worn in high school. Life only goes downhill from there…Charli is arrested on suspicion of murder, in part because her father and Marlene were getting married and selling the beloved book store. It was only through the intervention of her ex-boyfriend Cade, now the mayor, and Scarlet, that she was released from jail. Unfortunately, her dad was now the only suspect, and he had disappeared. She wasn’t happy with Bobby Ray, but she knew he was not capable of murder. Charli began trying to determine who would kill Marlene…and the list grew with almost every person she met. With Scarlet’s help, she got back in the town’s good graces, and many people volunteered time and materials to finish the remodel on the Book Barn. She kept the store open in Bobby Ray’s absence in hopes of earning enough cash to return to Colorado. The characters are delightful and eccentric, as only a close-knit small town can be. We learn the most about Charli, who is very well defined. Others are described as necessary for their roles. As Charli and Scarlet’s friendship grows, we learn more about Scarlet. I like Scarlet as much as Charli; she proves herself as a loyal friend even though they barely knew each other in high school. She is the kind of friend that everyone wants and just who Charli needs. Cade and Bobby Ray are not my favorites, but I would have to see them in the next in series before a real decision. I have come to enjoy most of the townspeople, even the sheriff who was too willing to plop her in jail until he came to know Charli. The plot was intriguing, and the twists and steady action held my interest. Even when chasing after red herrings, I enjoyed the journey as it better acquainted me with the characters and Hazel Rock. Suspense builds throughout, especially with some of the unexpected traffic through the bookstore. There were so many suspects, so little time! I was somewhat surprised by who the real bad guy/ gal was. While I began to have a bit of inkling in that direction, it was still a surprise, especially when finding out the real motives. The end was satisfactory, and I am looking forward to the next in series. I highly recommend ‘Fatal Fiction’! With a grateful heart, I received an eARC from NetGalley; as a courtesy, I am posting my honest review for which no compensation was received.
Very enjoyable read!! Small town cozy mystery with the perfect amount of twists and turns to keep you guessing and wanting more. Charli was a great character and you could feel her frustration with being back in Hazel Rock and the current situation. Returning was never in her plan. Happy and content as a teacher in Colorado is where she wants to be but with her father missing and a murder to solve Hazel Rock is where she is stuck. The townspeople are hilarious and all the secondary characters are well developed which should give us many more great stories in the series. Definitely a recommended read.
I am ready for the next book in the series and Fatal Fiction hasn't even come out!!! I love light mysteries with a slightly different feel and Fatal Fiction has both the comfort of a small Texas town with which I can relate and elements that are unlike any other book I have read, in addition to the pink armadillo! I want to get to know these wonderful characters even better and to watch their lives develop. I have no doubt that this is a series that I will follow as long as Kym Roberts keeps creating new books for it. Charli plans to come to her home town and leave on the same day. Her memories have kept her away and she has no interest in facing the people who were cruel to her years ago, but that does not compare to her newest memory, a body she discovers in her father's bookstore. While that beginning might sound like many others books, the similarity ends there. Ms Roberts so well blends Charli's realization that other people have grown up too and seeing those who hurt her are willing to admit their mistakes with the current story that it goes beyond believable to understandable. The trail of the murder is complex and strewn with emotions and twists. When first Charli and then her dad face big problems, most of the people in the town step up to show their real small town character. Although I locked in on several suspects, I could not find the villain among the cast of characters with any level of assurance and that is rare. Is there maybe just a touch of fairy tale for this small town princess? Probably, but who doesn't want to see the good along with the bad. AND it is about a book store. People who love books deserve to have books written about them. AND a pink armadillo! I requested an advance reader copy of this book via NetGalley and reviewed it voluntarily. I always review books I love!
Fatal Fiction is the first in a new series by Kym Roberts. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Charli Rae Warren has returned to Hazel rock to sell The Book Barn, a family owned bookstore. She hasn't been back in years and the cool reception she receives wants to send her running away. When she discovers a dead body in the book store, she freaks out and of course is the first suspect. As a first in a new series, the story line was good. I didn't connect with Charli as much as I would have liked to, but that can change as the series goes on. I loved Princess the armadillo, she made the story unique and brought it to life. I will look forward to reading the next book. 3 likes
Fatal Fiction by Kym Roberts is the first book in A Book Barn Mystery series. Charli Rae Warren is returning home to Hazel Rock, Texas after having left over twelve years ago at age seventeen. Charlie Rae received a call from Marlene Duncan, a realtor. Marlene needs Charlie Rae’s signature in order to sell The Book Barn (families bookstore). Charlie Rae is surprised by the appearance of the bookstore. It is bright fuchsia (outside) and called The Book Barn Princess. The inside of the store is also pink (which happens to be Charlie Rae’s favorite color) and contains tacky princess items (which Charlie Rae liked when she was a teenager). This is her father’s attempt at making amends (the reason Charlie Rae left town at 17). Charlie Rae enters the store calling out for her father, Bobby Ray. Charlie Rae parts the curtain to the backroom and finds Marlene dead on the floor with a sparkly pink belt around her neck. Charlie Rae wants to leave town and head back to Denver, but she is broke (and Sheriff Espinosa insists she stay put). Bobby Ray ends up at the top of the suspect list (of course). It does not help that no one has been able to reach him or find him. Charlie Rae with help from her old high school beau, the football coach and his team, and the beauty shop owner revamps the shop to turn it back into a profitable enterprise. Charlie Rae also starts nosing around asking questions so she can clear her father’s name, and he can return home (and she can go home). But someone does not like Charlie Rae asking questions. Why was Marlene killed? Will Charlie Rae be able to find the culprit? Fatal Fiction is easy to read, but the humor is not the type I enjoy. Charlie Rae is a hard character to like or relate to (at least for me). She is either overreacting, acting idiotic, or admiring some man’s physique (or thinking about his kisses, touching him, etc.). Charlie Rae acted like an escaped psychiatric patient off her meds (especially after she finds the body). Charlie Rae is a college graduate and in her early 30s. I just expect more intelligence and adult behavior from her. I felt that there was too much quirkiness in the book. There is the pink armadillo (shop mascot), Charlie Rae’s uncooperative hair (mentioned more than once), Scarlet Jenkins who is always perfectly turned out and lives in an airstream behind her shop, the bouquets for Marlene that block the entrance to the store (and she feels she cannot move them aside so she can open the doors), Charlie Rae’s lack of clothing to wear while in town, and let us not forget Mr. Perfect—Cade. I only provided a few examples (I could go on). I give Fatal Fiction 2.5 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). The mystery was the best part of the book (and the only reason I kept reading). Many readers will not be able to figure out who killed Marlene. The mystery plays out over the course of the book (there is no real investigation and few clues). I liked that the book setting is a bookstore, but I just felt that Ms. Roberts needed to dial back the eccentric and silliness (at least for me).
I struggled through as far as page 79 before giving up. The story is tedious. I was already sick of the characters. None of them held any real appeal. Charli would have been okay if the author hadn't made her sound so whiny and wishy-washy. A main plot point deals with why she left town just after highschool and never returned. It's explained in bits and pieces as the story progresses, but it's awkwardly done. The author keeps repeating the same stuff over and over before giving a new tidbit. The whole story feels haphazard; as if, the author knew where she was headed with the story, but she wa unsure how to get there.
I read to chapter in 15 and skipped to last two chapters.