In an old Victorian in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson and her aunt Iris serve soups, scones, and soothing teas to tourists and locals—but a murder in their garden has them in hot water . . .
Daisy, a widowed mom of two teenagers, is used to feeling protective—so when Iris started dating the wealthy and not-quite-divorced Harvey Fitz, she worried . . . especially after his bitter ex stormed in and caused a scene at the party Daisy’s Tea Garden was catering. Then there was the gossip she overheard about Harvey’s grown children being cut out of his will. Daisy didn’t want her aunt to wind up with a broken heart—but she never expected Iris to wind up a suspect in Harvey’s murder.
Now the apple bread and orange pekoe is on the back burner while the cops treat the shop like a crime scene—and Daisy hopes that Jonas Groft, a former detective from Philadelphia, can help her clear her aunt’s name and bag the real killer before things boil over . . .
Includes delicious recipes for Iris’s Lemon Tea Cakes and more!
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"Harvey, that's so kind of you to say." An almost giggle escaped from Daisy Swanson's Aunt Iris.
Daisy watched her aunt as she set a hand-painted porcelain teapot that was steeping blackberry black tea before a man Iris had dated merely a month. Yes, her aunt was acting like a teenager, and Daisy definitely knew teenagers. Her own daughters giggled like that around guys they deemed crush-worthy. Her aunt practically twittered like an adolescent when she was around Harvey Fitz, owner of Men's Trends in the small town of Willow Creek, Pennsylvania.
Business at Daisy's Tea Garden was slowing down for the day. Willow Creek was a semi-busy tourist town set in the midst of Amish country near Lancaster. It was a town where neighbors knew neighbors, talked about neighbors, and proved there might be less than six degrees of separation between everyone.
Her aunt's ash-blond, short curls bounced as she slid a bone china sugar bowl painted with a rose design near Harvey's cup.
"Half a teaspoon should be just right," he said, looking at the blushing older woman as if she was more important than any tea brew.
Harvey was tall and thin, with a shock of silver hair still thick and long enough to give him a distinguished look. It even turned up at his neck in the back.
Daisy had to wonder if he'd had hair plugs transplanted on the top of his head. That hair looked too good for a man of his age. He had to be seventy, about ten years older than her aunt.
She wanted to break into their conversation to find out how far into dating they'd gotten. She didn't want her aunt to get hurt. They hadn't known Harvey very long, and they didn't know him nearly well enough. As far as Daisy was concerned, Iris should stay far away from him because he was still married.
Separated, but married.
That was trouble, no matter how you looked at it.
Keeping her ear tilted toward the couple's conversation, Daisy glanced around the business she and Iris had grown from scratch. Well, not exactly from scratch. There had been a bakery on the first floor of an old Victorian before they'd bought it. Now they rented the upstairs to a high school friend of Daisy's, Tessa Miller, chef and kitchen manager of the tea garden. They'd developed the downstairs into a tea, baked goods, and soup business.
The interior wasn't froufrou like many tea rooms, though it did have a subtle flower theme. They'd considered the fact that they'd wanted men to feel comfortable here as well as women. Besides merely drawing from Willow Creek's tourist trade — Lancaster County Amish country was a popular get-away destination — they wanted to draw from the professional offices in Willow Creek and Lancaster too.
In keeping with that plan, they'd decorated the walk-in "be served or buy-it-and-go" room with oak, glass-topped tables and mismatched antique oak, hand-carved chairs. A yellow bud vase adorned each table. The walls had been painted the palest green in the walk-in tea-serving area because Daisy believed the color green promoted calming qualities, just as tea did.
In contrast, the more private room was a spillover area. On specified days, it was also the room where they scheduled reservations for afternoon tea which included multiple courses. The space reflected the best qualities of a Victorian with a bay window, window seats, crown molding, and diamond-cut glass. In that room, the walls were the palest yellow. The tables were white and the chairs wore seat cushions in blue, green, and yellow pinstripes.
Tessa emerged from the kitchen with a bright smile and a serving dish in her hand.
Tessa was Daisy's age — thirty-seven — with rich caramel-colored hair that she wore in a braid. She always dressed like the artiste she was with colorful and flowy tops and skirts. She wore smocks to work in lieu of the usual chef's coat. Today, in tribute to the fall weather, her smock was adorned with bright swirls of orange and rust. She set a cut-glass plate filled with cookies in front of Harvey. On the top of the plate perched a lemon tea cake fresh from the oven.
"My favorite," Harvey announced, picking it up and taking a large bite. "I don't know how you do it, but every one of your cookies is delicious, not to mention your scones. You are going to have the lemon tea cakes at my celebration this weekend, aren't you?"
One of the reasons Harvey had stopped in today was to consult with her and Iris about his store's twenty-fifth anniversary celebration. That would be a big to-do, with engraved invitations that the manager of Men's Trends had sent out. It was a large party for Daisy and her staff to cater. Besides the main event here at the tea garden on Sunday, tomorrow — on the store's actual anniversary date — Men's Trends would be serving tea and accompanying snacks to any of their customers who wandered in during the afternoon.
"We'll have lemon tea cakes at your store tomorrow too," Daisy assured him.
Harvey finished his cookie, wiped his fingers on his napkin, then gazed once more at Iris. "Will you be at Men's Trends tomorrow, or do you have to stay here to hold down the fort for Daisy?"
"I'll be holding down the fort here," Iris responded.
"But you will be here to celebrate with me on Sunday, won't you?" Harvey asked. "A celebration is only a celebration if you have the people around you who matter."
Iris's cheeks reddened. She said in a low voice, "I'll be here. You matter to me too."
Warning bells went off in Daisy's head. Harvey had not signed his final divorce papers. Trying to be realistic, she knew her Aunt Iris didn't run in Harvey's social set by any means. His friends played golf at Willow Creek Country Club. The women in his soon-to-be ex-wife's circle shopped in New York, Baltimore, and D.C. They might live in Willow Creek, but they were world travelers, food connoisseurs, and wine aficionados.
Her aunt was a tea aficionado.
Yet when Harvey and Iris gazed at each other, Daisy saw something genuine there. Maybe when one reached a certain age, all the rest didn't matter. Maybe when one reached a certain age, one could learn to live with loss and move on.
Daisy knew she hadn't moved on from her husband's death three years ago. Thank goodness, she had her girls and Aunt Iris, her mom and dad, and her sister. Thank goodness, she'd moved back to Willow Creek and started this new venture with her aunt. Come to think of it, in some ways she had moved on. In others —
One step at a time.
"I'll go over the list with Harvey for tomorrow and the weekend if you want to work in the kitchen with Tessa and Eva," Iris said to Daisy.
Eva Conner, who was nearing her forty-fifth birthday, was their dishwasher and girl Friday.
Studying her aunt, Daisy suspected Iris might be trying to get rid of her. Did this meeting of hers with Harvey really include business?
"Have a wonderful celebration tomorrow," Tessa said as she excused herself and crossed to the doorway that led to the kitchen. Daisy was about to do the same when the front door of the tea garden opened and her daughter Jazzi blew in with the end of September breeze. A few dried leaves did too.
Unlike herself and Daisy's oldest daughter, Violet, who both had honey-blond hair, Jazzi's hair was black, thick, glossy, and straight. Jazzi glanced at Harvey and her aunt and the few other customers in the tea room. Then she shifted her backpack from her shoulders and swung it into one hand. She was frowning, and that wasn't unusual these days. Daisy wasn't exactly sure what was going on with her fifteen-year-old.
There was a tradition in Daisy's family that all the women were given flower names. Her mother's name was Rose, her aunt's name was Iris, and Daisy's sister's name was Camellia. Daisy had named her daughters Violet and Jasmine. But Jazzi never used her full name. She preferred her nickname.
Now Daisy went toward her to greet her with a hug. Her daughter slipped out of her hold.
Daisy studied the sullen expression on her daughter's face and said, "Just in time to help Tessa with a batch of scones to refrigerate for tomorrow."
"Maybe I don't feel like making scones," Jazzi returned as she ducked her pretty face and didn't look at her mother.
"Do you have lots of homework?"
Daisy wrapped her arm around her daughter and guided her over to a quiet corner of the tea room. Jazzi had been unreliable and rebellious lately. There could be any number of reasons for that, but Daisy suspected the main one. Violet had gone off to college at the end of August, and Jazzi didn't seem to know how to deal with her sister's absence.
"I know you miss Vi."
Jazzi shrugged. "I don't. She's not around lording it over me."
"She's not around for you to talk to or borrow clothes from or ask for advice on makeup. When your Aunt Camellia moved to New York, I felt lost without her. Our lifestyles became very different, and I didn't know if we'd ever have common interests again. Your relationship with Vi will change, but you can still be close."
"Easy for you to say," Jazzi muttered.
Daisy gave her a long look. "If you don't want to help Tessa with the dough for scones, you can work on the cookbook."
Daisy's office was located beside the kitchen, and Jazzi was familiar with her computer. This was a family business, and Jazzi was supposed to be taking over collating recipes for this year's Daisy's Tea Garden cookbook. But she hadn't gotten very far.
"That's like doing schoolwork. I'll help Tessa with the scones."
With that announcement, Jazzi spun on her espadrilles and headed for the kitchen. With her slim-legged jeans, her long, tunic-style sweater, and her black hair flowing down her back, Jazzi looked older than fifteen. Daisy wished she could keep her from growing up altogether, but she couldn't. Just as she couldn't keep Violet tied to Willow Creek after college.
Daisy was about to ask Harvey if he'd like her to pour him a second type of tea. Okay, she was nosy and wanted to know what his conversation with Iris was about. But the glass door to the tea garden was suddenly pulled open. As the bell rang, Cade Bankert strode in.
Daisy stopped in mid-step to gaze at him a couple of seconds longer than she should. He too had been a high school classmate. When she'd moved back to Willow Creek and she and her aunt had decided to look for a place to buy for the tea garden, as well as a second property for her and her girls, she'd consulted Cade, who was a real estate agent. She'd always liked him. He'd taken her to their high school prom. But then she'd left for college, and they'd gone their separate ways. Whenever she saw him, sparks of male and female interest seemed to cross over between them. But neither of them had let a spark ignite, maybe because Cade had realized she hadn't been ready for that.
When Cade saw her, he smiled and headed for a table for two. She smiled back and approached him, noticing how well his charcoal suit fit his broad shoulders. His long legs stretched out under the table as if he could finally relax after a long day.
He often stopped in for a snack and a respite before going back to his agency's office for the night. She knew he worked long hours. What self-employed person didn't?
She could let Cora Sue Bauer, the middle-aged bottle redhead with a bubbly personality, serve him. However, she signaled to Cora Sue that she'd take care of their latest tea connoisseur. As she neared his table, his gaze swept over her royal blue sweater and slacks, and the yellow apron with the daisy emblem for Daisy's Tea Garden stamped on the front. Cade ran his hand through his dark brown hair, putting it in some order after the wind had disturbed it.
He glanced around, noticing tables with other customers sampling Daisy's baked goods. "You're busy. A cup of hot tea hits the spot at the end of a day."
"If I remember correctly," she teased, "when we first opened the tea garden, you didn't know black tea from white tea, or what a tisane was."
"And you've educated me," he responded. "I've become a tea lover. How about orange pekoe today."
"Coming right up. We have fresh baked lemon tea cakes too."
"Three of those," he said with a smile. "On second thought, make that six to go. For a change, I'm headed home at a reasonable hour."
"Yes, it was. House sales have picked up. I have two new listings and closed on another. How about you? Satisfying day?"
"Steadily busy with lots of tourists out on a drive enjoying the fall weather and the countryside. We do have beautiful scenery in Pennsylvania."
"Yes, we do. Did you miss it when you left?"
"I did. I didn't realize until I moved back here that Florida never really felt like home, not in the way Willow Creek does. Maybe it was the lizards and alligators. I prefer squirrels and fox and deer."
He laughed. "Or two feet of snow in the winter."
"Only some winters," she joked.
She heard her aunt laugh again. Harvey did that for Iris, and maybe Daisy was being too protective of her aunt. The same way she was protective of Violet and Jazzi?
As she thought of her older daughter, her heart hurt a little. Vi was making her way through the maze of classes and friendships at Lehigh University. Daisy missed her. And Jazzi — she was growing up too. It was hard to believe three years had passed since Ryan had died. Maybe there was a more substantial way for Daisy to move on besides checking her daily balance sheets at the tea garden.
She could fetch Cade that pot of orange pekoe tea and his lemon tea cakes or ...
"If you have the evening free," she began and then stopped. Her mouth suddenly went dry. Still she plunged ahead. "I started stew in the slow cooker this morning before I left. How would you like to come home with Jazzi and me and have a home-cooked meal?"
Cade's brown eyes didn't waver from her blue ones. "You've just made my day."
His expression told her there could be more than friendship on his mind. Had she just made a mistake?
Daisy's house was different than most. It once had been a barn!
She parked on the gravel in front of the building that had once been an equipment shed. Now it served as a detached two-car garage. Cade pulled up beside her. They'd agreed to meet here at seven-fifteen, and he was right on time.
"How come you asked him to dinner?" Jazzi asked from the passenger seat, curiosity in her voice.
Daisy switched off the ignition of her purple PT Cruiser and gave her daughter her full attention. "I've known Cade for years. He went out of his way to negotiate the best deal for the barn and for the tea garden property. Asking him tonight was just an impulsive decision. Do you mind?"
Jazzi gave her a one-shouldered teenage shrug. "I guess not. I have friends over. You can have friends over. I just wondered if you're ... forgetting about Dad."
Daisy reached out and put her hand on Jazzi's arm. "I will never forget about your dad. I promise." This particular subject had never come up between her and her daughters. She was glad Jazzi felt so deeply about her father. Where Violet had been born from Daisy's womb, Jazzi had been adopted. She and Ryan had worked hard to make sure Jazzi knew she was a child of their hearts as much as Violet was.
Jazzi pulled away, unfastened her seat belt and opened her car door. "I'm not going to hang with you guys anyway. I have a paper due in a few days."
She was out of the car before Daisy could take another breath. Just what was going on with her? Fifteen-year-old angst? Or something else?
As Cade joined Daisy and walked with her up the path leading to the house, he glanced up at the multi-paned window that had once been a hay hatch where hay bales had been hauled into the barn and out. A smaller window above that one let light into the attic space. A floodlight at the peak of the roof had gone on with dusk, and Daisy could catch a glimpse of the blue plaid curtain that draped the window in Jazzi's room. The second floor had been divided into two bedrooms with a bath and had suited her daughters perfectly. Jazzi had chosen whitewashed furniture as well as a spread that was blue trimmed in white. Violet's room, however, was less country and more contemporary, with sleek-lined walnut furniture. The drapes and spread were hues of green.
"You know," Cade said, "I couldn't envision this the way you did. I can't wait to see the inside."
Cade had witnessed the outside makeover with its barn-red siding and repointed and cleaned stone base. White trimmed the windows as well as the dormers. But he hadn't seen the structural changes inside. Ryan's insurance money had made this new life in Willow Creek possible. She'd always be grateful for that.
"You can have the five-cent tour. Anyone who comes to dinner gets it."
Jazzi had her own key. She'd already unlocked the wide white front door and punched in the code to switch off the security alarm.
Excerpted from "Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes"
Copyright © 2018 Karen Rose Smith.
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
Enjoyed characters and storyline
Karen Rose Smith’s Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes Daisy Swanson and her daughters have moved back to Willow Creek, Pennsylvania after the death of her husband. Daisy and her Aunt Iris have started a Tea Garden which serves a large variety of teas, scones, tea cakes plus other goodies depending on the time and day of the week. The story is set the Amish Country of Lancaster County. Daisy and Aunt Iris use the available fruits and vegetables from the locals. They provide parking places for horse and buggies at Daisy’s Tea Garden in addition to the regular area for cars and buses. Aunt Iris has been dating a man separated from his wife for about three years and in the final stages of his divorce. The man has disinherited his children and has the reputation of being a relentless business man. Aunt Iris discovers his dead body in their tea garden. Who would have killed him? When a Aunt Iris becomes the main suspect, Daisy decides to investigate on her own. Great array of well-defined, well developed characters involved in an unpredictable plot. Moves at a steady pace with vivid descriptions of the houses and area where Daisy lives and works. Plus lots of food ideas with recipes after the book ends. I also learned about a variety of teas. Daisy has two cats: Marjoram, a tortoiseshell with unmistakably unique markings and Pepper, a black with white fluffy spots on her chest. Murder, house trashing, suspense with many suspects all combined with some humor, family issues and a hint of romance to make this a good read.
Predictable but entertaining.
This is a cute cozy mystery but it was just an OK read for me. Daisy and her Aunt Iris own and operate Daisy's Tea Garden in Pennsylvania. Her aunt is dating a local store owner Harvey while Daisy a widow is still healing her broken heart. When Harvey is found dead in their garden her Aunt is the prime suspect. Daisy tries to the solve murder to clear her aunt. The author does a good job with the small town setting and the tea room background. The mystery however was weak. Daisy did not solve the crime. There were not any real suspects. It was easy to figure out the killer. The author also spent way too much time describing clothes and appearances of very minor characters. Recipes are included in the back.
I absolutely loved reading this book, and had my suspicions about who the killer would be, but I kept changing my mind. I enjoyed the atmospheres created in the book. I wish I could visit Daisy's Tea Room (in real life my favorite tea house is closing). All of the characters are very well described and rounded. I also enjoy the closeness of Daisy's family. Since I loved this book I will be sure to grab book 2 in the series!
What a great start to new series! Daisy Swanson is a recently widowed mother of two. She moves back to Amish country with her girls to open a tea house with her Aunt Iris. Daisy not only has to worry about her oldest daughter going off to collage and her younger adopted daughter wanting to find her birth mother, her Aunt Iris is dating a rich man that has not yet signed his divorce papers. When he is found dead in the back yard of the tea house Iris becomes a suspect and the tea house becomes a crime scene. Daisy finds a friend in Jonas, a retired police officer who helps her uncover the clues to the murder. I really enjoyed this book and was instantly drawn to the characters. They seem so real and have real life problems and concerns. The many emotions running through each is palpable and the reader is engrossed in the story every step of the way.
Dollycas’s Thoughts I was captivated by this cozy from the first chapter. Daisy Swanson’s husband Ryan, passed away about 3 years ago. She and her daughters have moved to Willow Creek so Daisy can partner with her Aunt Iris owning and operating Daisy’s Tea Garden. Daisy also purchased and renovated an old barn into an extraordinary home. Iris is dating Harvey Fitz, owner of the men’s clothing store down the street, a very wealthy man. The problem is that while he is separated he is not yet divorced making people a little uncomfortable with the arrangement. Plus his wife appears to not be giving in without a fight. Harvey may have changed his will cutting off his adult children too. Before the divorce is final Iris finds Harvey dead on the tea garden patio and she and Daisy become the police’s prime suspects. Daisy is going to need a little help but she is going to try to find the real killer. I love the strong family bonds in this story. They are very believable. Daisy has a very strong bond with her aunt. Iris and her sister, Daisy’s mom, have a lifelike sisterly bond on well. They have no trouble telling each other what they think. Daisy is a great mom but her daughters, Violet and Jasmine are dealing with being separated since Vi is now in college and there is something else bothering Jazzi. Daisy also has a sister Camellia. As you can see, flower names are a family tradition. The author has set the story in the beautiful Amish Lancaster County. Iris and Daisy use fruits and vegetables from the farmers at the restaurant and the town has places for buggies as well as cars and trucks. Daisy’s home has me wishing for something just like it. The tea garden seems like a place I would want to visit every day. The mystery was harder to solve than I initially thought it would be. I had my suspects down to two when more suspects were brought forward for consideration. A shocking twist turned my thinking completely inside out. An inviting setting, engaging characters, and a well-plotted mystery made this a story I didn’t want to put down. Ms. Smith really intrigued with this book. I want to get to know these characters better and visit Willow Creek again soon and often. This series is off to an excellent start.
In this new book we meet Daisy the owner of Daisy's Tea Garden. Her aunt begins dating a man who is not only well known in the community but still married leaving Daisy feeling very apprehensive about all that could go wrong. When the man in question is murdered and things start pointing in Iris's direction Daisy hopes that she will be able to help solve the mystery of who killed Harvey and why. Follow along and see of you can solve the mystery!!! What a lovely start to a series, Karen didn't disappoint with this new book and I look forward to seeing where these characters progress.
Daisy Swanson is a smart business woman and a caring person. She loves her family and will do whatever is necessary to protect them. When her Aunt Iris is suspected of murdering her boyfriend, Daisy starts investigating to clear her aunt. Can she find the real culprit? Karen Rose Smith is a talented author who creates likeable characters that the reader cares about. In addition I love how she includes animals in her story. It makes me feel comfy and right at home. The small town setting filled with caring people adds to the suspenseful mystery. A touch of romance is a sweet addition and balances the action. With two handsome men interested in Daisy I just need to wait and see who she chooses. As a bonus I learned so much about brewing teas. Who could ask for more? Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes is the first book in a new series. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Fans of cozy mysteries know that a tea shop is the ideal setting for murder, and Karen Rose Smith's Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes, the first installment in the Daisy's Tea Garden Mystery series, is a perfect example! Widow Daisy Swanson and her aunt, Iris, have gone into business together in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania, as the proud owners of Daisy's Tea Shop, situated in an old Victorian home in the heart of town. Iris's beau, the not quite divorced Harvey Fitz, is found bludgeoned to death in their garden, and Daisy must investigate to find the murderer so that life can get back to normal (even though murder is surprising good for business in this case!). There are plenty of suspects - the aforementioned wife, two greedy children, and disgruntled employees just to name a few! Poor Iris is also the victim of Harvey's very angry wife's verbal lashings, and the ransacking of her home. Raising two young women, and thinking about dating again, also keep Daisy quite busy. A nice, quick read, the author has created memorable characters, and really did a great job of leading Daisy (and the reader) along the path to discovering the murderer. I'm looking forward to the next installment in this series - Murder with Cinnamon Scones! A+
Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith is the first book in A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series. Daisy Swanson co-owns Daisy’s Tea Garden (housed in a beautiful old Victorian) with her aunt, Iris Albright in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania. Iris has been dating Harvey Fisk who is working to obtain a divorce from his wife, Monica. At a party honoring the 25th anniversary of Harvey’s store, Men’s Trends at Daisy’s Tea Garden, Monica storms in and accuses Harvey of hiding assets (talk about a party pooper). Iris leaves to meet Harvey for a date and Daisy hears a scream. Harvey is dead in their herb garden from blunt force trauma and one of their statues is missing. Detective Rappaport is on the case, and he has decided Iris is the culprit. Daisy with the help of former detective, Jonas Groft query the various suspects. It turns out that Harvey had recently changed his will which angered his children. Could one of them have murdered Harvey? Daisy is worried about her youngest daughter, Jazzi. She has been acting out lately, and Daisy discovers that Jazzi wants to locate her biological mother. Daisy knows she needs to support Jazzi’s decision and help her in any way she can. Business is booming at the tea garden courtesy of Harvey’s murder and Daisy brings on additional staff. Daisy follows the clues in the hopes of catching the real killer and removing Aunt Iris from the suspect list. Who murdered Harvey? Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes is nicely written and has a good pace. The author sets the stage in this book for the series. She establishes the characters, Daisy’s Tea Garden, and the town. I found the characters to be congenial and relatable (except for Detective Rappaport). Daisy is a smart, strong and caring woman who loves her family and is striving to make a success of her new business. She is a widow with two daughters (one biological and one adopted). Thanks to Karen Rose Smith’s description, I can picture Daisy’s Tea Garden in my head. She provides sumptuous descriptions of the tea and food served at the tea garden (recipes at the end of the book). I was not a fan of cantankerous Detective Rappaport, but their does need to be one disagreeable character (someone who readers love to hate). He was like a dog with a bone. He gets a hold of an idea and does not let go. The mystery was appealing with several suspects and misdirection. The investigation mostly consisted of questioning (I wish there had been more action). The murder was not the prominent part of the story. The mystery can be solved before the reveal if pay careful attention to the clues. More time is devoted to the tea garden, Daisy’s family, food descriptions, tea, talking, cats and flirting. There are two possible romantic partners for Daisy. I am sincerely hoping that this will not result in a love triangle in future books in the series. Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes is a lovely cozy mystery, and I will be reading the next book in A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series. Fans of Karen Rose Smith and A Caprice De Luca Mystery series will be entertained by Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes.
Review Daisy Swanson is concerned that her Aunt Iris is going to get hurt in her relationship with Harvey Fitz. After all, he is still technically married, and even though Iris has assured her that he is separated and arranging to sign the divorce papers, Daisy still has her doubts. But when Harvey's dead body is found in the garden of their tea shop, and her aunt is the prime suspect, Daisy knows she has to snoop around to help prove her innocence. This is the first in a new series by author Karen Rose Smith and provides the reader with a strong female lead (widowed with two teenaged daughters). If you like the Caprice DeLuca mysteries, then you will enjoy this series. Family support and ties with one another are stressed in both series, as well as presenting an interesting mystery with several suspects and varying motives. Disclosure: I am voluntarily reviewing an advance reading copy of this book.
Karen Rose Smith has hit a grand slam homer with her fabulous first in a new series, Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes! I thoroughly enjoyed it and am eagerly looking forward to the next one. The author has the perfect elements – very likable characters, a lovely Tea Garden with scrumptious-sounding food, and a mystery that will stump some of the most diligent readers. Daisy Swanson wears many hats – widowed mother to teen girls Violet and Jazzi, as well as daughter, sister, niece, and business owner/ manager. Her beloved Ryan passed away three years earlier, and she packed up and returned to Willow Creek, Pennsylvania. She and Aunt Iris found the perfect location for a tea shop that also sells pastries baked in-house and serves proper afternoon tea. Tessa, her best friend since high school, is her chef, who also rents the second floor of the Victorian home housing Daisy’s Tea Garden. Iris is dating a man who treats her as she deserves to be in every way except one. Harvey is still married, although is only weeks away from the divorce being final. While Daisy wished he was already divorced, she is not as outspoken about it as her mother, Iris’ sister. Harvey is a wealthy man, owning a specialty store called Men’s Trends for twenty-five years. Harvey rented the tearoom for a full Sunday for an invitation-only celebration of the stores’s anniversary. His adult son and daughter attend and have a mild spat, and Harvey’s soon to be ex-wife crashes the party but is quickly led out by another attendee. Based on things that Harvey tells Iris, she knows he wants to discuss their future as soon as his divorce is final. Iris is excited to meet Harvey one evening after work. It begins no different from others in that Harvey will meet Iris in the garden at the Tea Garden. When Iris sees Harvey, however, he is dead, having clearly been murdered. The detective in charge of the case believes Iris killed Harvey, perhaps in collusion with Daisy. I find the relationships between family members and loved ones fascinating. I learn the most about the ladies in Daisy’s family from the challenges between sisters and how one’s mother can help them grow closer or farther apart. Daisy helps each daughter see her strengths as equal to her sister’s, and she shows Vi and Jazzi that they are equally her beloved daughters, whether by birth or adoption. I really like Daisy and Iris, and Daisy’s new acquaintance, Jonas, and his helpfulness in her family’s needs . There are unique elements to the plot, including twists that change the course of the investigation or how dangerous the bad guy/ gal is. Determining who might be the killer is a challenge, as there is little evidence. I had a tiny suspicion at one point, yet also considered red herrings when they looked better than my guess. The solution was surprising as I had so readily discarded the person. I appreciate seeing that there is more in Daisy’s life than work and finding a killer. The author demonstrates sensitivity through Daisy’s familial relationships and the needs of her daughters. There is a depth to Daisy and Iris that makes them fully three-dimensional, and I am looking forward to getting to know them better in upcoming mysteries. I highly recommend Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes; it is one of my favorite new series in 2017! From a grateful heart: I received a copy of this from the publisher and NetGalley, and here is my honest review.