Settling into her new life and career in small-town Indigo Gap, North Carolina, Cora Chevalier is preparing to host a “wildcrafting” retreat at her Victorian home. But a specter hangs over the venture when beloved local nanny Gracie Wyke goes missing. Amidst leading their guests in nature hikes, rock painting and making clay charms, Cora and her business partner, Jane, team up with Gracie’s boyfriend, Paul, to launch their own investigation into her disappearance when the local police prove unhelpful.
Cora and her crafters take Paul in, believing he is in danger and not the suspect police have made him out to be. However as they uncover new clues and a body turns up at a local abandoned amusement park, Cora and Jane begin to question their decision. With more questions than answers arising, is Cora crafty enough to untangle a knot that could put an innocent in jail—and permanently destroy her reputation?
Praise for Mollie Cox Bryan’s Mysteries
“Scrapbookers and hobby cozy fans will enjoy this delightful holiday escape.” —Library Journal on A Crafty Christmas
“Light and full of positive solutions… A great entry in a fun series.” --RT Book Reviews on Death of an Irish Diva
“A font of ingenuity…superb entertainment.” —Mystery Scene Magazine on Scrapbook of Secrets
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No Charm Intended
By Mollie Cox Bryan
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Mollie Cox Bryan
All rights reserved.
I kidnapped her.
Cora blinked and reread the message. It had been sent early this morning. She hadn't checked her phone all day. Between looking over supplies for the next craft retreat, making certain Kildare House was spotless and ready for the arrival of her teachers and crafters, and writing her next blog post, checking her own messages had slipped through the cracks of a very hectic day.
No name was attached to the text.
Her heart raced as she clicked and scrolled and tried to find out who sent such a message to her.
Could this have been an errant text? A complete mistake? Or, had one of her previous clients tracked her down in her new home?
Switching states and getting new phone numbers sometimes just wasn't enough. She had been warned. But she tried to sort through the Rolodex in her mind of clients this could possibly be — and didn't come up with a thing. Did anybody ever mention kidnapping to her?
Not in so many words. But parents often took children from other parents — this she knew. Cora remembered one case where a grandmother stepped in and took her grandson. The mother hadn't realized it for a few days — she'd been on a heroin binge. It was best for the child to be removed from her care, but the grandmother still had faced kidnapping charges. You had to follow the letter of the law when you took a child from his or her home, even if it was a bad home.
Cora sighed and vowed to break out the thumb drives where she stored all her ex-clients as soon as she had a moment.
"Okay, calm down," she said out loud. Luna's ears twitched and she glanced at Cora as if to say, "Are you talking to me?" The cat blinked in disgust when she realized Cora wasn't speaking to her.
It was probably a wrong number. It probably was not an exclient. It had been almost a year now that she held her post as a counselor at the Sunny Street Women's Shelter in Pittsburgh. Surely none of them would contact her at this point. Cora's life was now in Indigo Gap, North Carolina, in the craft retreat business. This was her new life.
Still, the text chilled her.
Should she tell someone? The police?
And what would she say? "I've got this weird text message ..." As if she hadn't already had a snootful of the local police.
No, she'd let it rest for now. It wasn't the first strange text message she'd ever gotten. Besides, she had enough to do to prepare for the Spring Fling Retreat. Her teachers were already here. The retreaters were arriving tomorrow.
Cora glanced at her watch. She was already a little behind. She allowed herself one quick check in the mirror. Her 1970s blue minidress suited her more than she thought it would, and the white go-go boots were perfect. She smoothed her pink lipstick on her lips, ran a comb through her red curls, and she was ready for dinner with her guest teachers.
She opened her door and walked to the half flight of stairs to the third floor, where she almost bumped into Jane.
"What are you doing here?" Cora said.
"I have weird news." Jane's eyes were wide and she grabbed on to Cora's arm.
"What?" Cora said, thinking this retreat could not be any worse than the last one, where a teacher slept with her students and a murder happened right down the street. But the look in her best friend and business partner's eyes gave her pause.
"Gracie who?" The name seemed familiar, but Cora wasn't making the connection.
"She babysat London a few times. She's her friend's nanny, remember?"
"Oh yes," Cora said. "We better get going. Can this wait?" she said, pulling away from Jane and walking down the hall.
"No," Jane said with urgency, grabbing her arm, stopping her. "You need to know this."
"What is it? Spill it. C'mon, woman," she said.
"She's missing," Jane said.
"Missing?" Cora's heart skipped a beat. "What do you mean?"
"She was supposed to babysit London tonight, so I called Jillie's mom because she never showed up," she said. "She's gone."
"Do you mean she took off?"
"Jillie's mom is calling the police. She says she's not been there all day. Her stuff is still there. Her car is still there. Everything. So I either have to bring London with us tonight or stay at home."
"I don't think London will be a problem — just bring her along," Cora said after a moment. The child was the most well-behaved child Cora had ever known — a bit precocious, but manageable.
Cora stopped in her tracks, remembering the strange text. It wouldn't have anything to do with the missing girl, would it? She didn't even really know her. Why would someone send her a text?
"What's wrong?" Jane said.
"I just remembered this weird text I've gotten," Cora said.
"Hey, Cora. Hey, Jane. You about ready? We're starving!" Ruby said as she walked up the stairs toward them. Sitting in the foyer just below them was a group of crafting teachers. Cora took in the foyer of Kildare House, a large, old-fashioned room. The Victorians knew how to welcome guests, especially rich Victorians.
Cora smiled. "We're here. Everybody ready?"
London was also sitting in the foyer and peeked up as they came toward her. She hopped up out of the chair and ran to Cora, who scooped her up in her arms. Jane's daughter had seen way too much change in her short life and yet seemed to have kept it together. Cora was in awe of her.
"Are you ready to eat?" Cora said.
"Yep," London replied, sliding out of Cora's arms. "I'm in the mood for pizza."
"You're always in the mood for pizza," Jane said.
"No pizza tonight," Cora said as she walked toward the door, the group following close behind her. When she opened the door, she gasped — Officer Glass was standing there, about ready to ring the doorbell. They'd gotten to know him very well during the last craft retreat, when he was investigating a local murder.
"Can I help you?" Cora asked. "We were just leaving."
"Hello, ladies," he said. "Cora, can we speak for a moment?"
"Is this important? As I said, we're leaving for dinner. We have reservations," she replied.
"It's about a text message," he said with a lowered voice.
"What? How did —"
"There were several sent today and the digital forensics team sent me over here to discuss it with you," he said.
Jane sighed. "Good Lord, what have you gotten yourself into?" she whispered.
"It's getting late," Jane said.
Cora took in the group. They were a famished, weary lot. "Why don't you all go ahead. I'll meet you there." Despite her own hunger pangs, she supposed it was the right thing to do — after all, she couldn't help wanting to help, even if it was the local police, who seemed to be always under her feet.CHAPTER 2
As Cora watched the group leave, her heart sank. She thought this Wednesday evening dinner before the retreaters arrived was important to establishing ground rules and camaraderie among the teachers. How would it look if she didn't show up?
"What is it, Officer Glass?" she asked, hoping to cut to the chase.
"First, let me ask if you did indeed receive this text message," he said, holding up a phone with the same text she'd gotten earlier.
"Yes," she said. "I've gotten it. Actually, I just got it. I hadn't had a chance to check my messages earlier."
He slipped the phone back into his pocket.
"How did you know?" she asked.
"We've gotten about twelve reports about it, but there are more recipients than those who reported it," he stated.
"How did you know who the recipients are? I mean, I tried to see who sent it and — I don't know — there was nothing there," she said.
He eyed the area, making a big show of searching. Was he trying to impress her? What was he up to? They were still standing on the front porch and Cora's stomach was still empty.
"Can we go inside?" he asked.
She dreaded the thought. She and Officer Glass had coffee together once and she really thought the married man was coming on to her. He made her uncomfortable. Where was his partner? Didn't they always travel in twos?
"Okay," she said, "but I really have to get going."
"I know," he said. "This won't take long."
She decided to stand at the banister, hoping he would take the hint they would not be sitting down and getting comfortable. But he walked into the sitting area and sat on the red velvet couch, surrounded by her upscale craft décor.
She sighed. What could this be about? Why was he insisting on taking up her time over an obvious prank text message?
"We're investigating a possible kidnapping," he said.
She gasped. But what could this possibly have to do with her?
Glass fished around in his pockets and pulled out a rumpled piece of paper. "Do you know this young woman?"
Cora sat next to him. "Yes," she said. "She babysat London a few times." Cora scanned the photo of Gracie. It was just as Jane had feared: Gracie was missing. Maybe kidnapped. Cora's stomach tightened.
"How about this person?" he asked. He showed her a photo of a young man. Skinny, pimple-faced but handsome, the man had a cocky grin plastered on his face.
"Yes, I think this is her boyfriend, isn't it?" she said. He'd hung around Jane's a bit helping her with odd jobs and painting her kitchen. Seemed like a nice young man.
"We're not sure," he replied. "He claims he is."
They sat in silence a few beats.
"I don't understand why you're here. What does any of this have to do with me?" Cora asked.
"You received the same text message from the same source as this other group of people," he said.
"How do you know all this?"
"We're just forming this unbelievable cybercrimes unit. I don't really understand the technospeak," he explained. "Anyway, one person brought their phone in and the unit was able to get a group of names from that. They can also tell us the text came from the same source."
"Him?" she said, and pointed at the boyfriend.
"No," he responded. "I wish it were that easy."
"I do know that Gracie was supposed to babysit London tonight and she didn't show up. So Jane called and Gracie's employer said she was missing," she said, glancing at her phone to see the time. Late! She was very late.
"Is there anything else?" she said, standing, rubbing her hands across her skirt.
"Why would Gracie have your number?" the officer asked as he stood up.
"I have no idea. Unless it was to use as an emergency when she was sitting with London," Cora said, not wanting to be impolite, but at the same time her stomach growled loudly. How embarrassing.
"I'm sorry. I'm keeping you from dinner," he said. "Please just don't leave town. We may have more questions."
"I'm hosting a four-day retreat weekend. I'm not going anywhere," she assured him as she attempted to usher him out. As if she'd have anything to add to this investigation. She really didn't know the young woman and certainly didn't know her boyfriend.
"Good to know you'll be around," he said with a warmth and familiarity in his voice that made Cora cringe. Why couldn't he just be businesslike? Matter-of-fact? "Do you need a ride downtown? I'm heading back to the station."
"No," she said a little too quickly. "Thanks so much for asking me, but I really need to walk."
He glanced away, sheepish, then back at her. "Okay."
She watched as he opened the car door and gave a little wave as he drove away.
Cora grabbed her purse and made a run for downtown.
As she walked toward the diner, she thought about the oddness of her text message, then the even odder appearance of the police, showing up right away and asking her about it. It was scary how easily the police could trace people — even scarier when she thought about criminals being able to do the same thing.
As she drew closer to the diner, she stopped to take in the little town of Indigo Gap, so lovely, historic, and quaint, built right along a ridge in the surrounding mountains that dipped and rolled all around the historically accurate streetlights, cobblestone streets, and pretty storefronts. She saw the steep gabled roof of the home where a woman and her ex-husband were murdered a few months back, a harsh reminder that even in a place like Indigo Gap, darkness existed. She whispered a wish that they would find Gracie soon.CHAPTER 3
Jane tried to focus on the people around her, but she couldn't help but be worried about Cora. What exactly did the police want with her? After their last near disaster, with Jane being accused of murdering the town librarian, she was a little suspicious of the local police force. She didn't share Cora's almost blind belief in the justice system, with all its flaws.
She took in the place to ground herself. She wanted to stop thinking of all the bad possibilities. The same red-checked curtains as always hung in the windows. Familiar faces moved in and out of her vision. Even a few unfamiliar ones — a man stood at the register and caught her looking at him, then shifted his focus quickly. With stringy, long brown hair, thick glasses, donning his favorite old gray sweatpants, the man came across like a reject from Wayne's World. Must be a tourist, she thought.
"So, Jane, I have one of your pieces," said Sheila Rogers, a scrapbooking expert, paper crafter, and award-winning paper doll designer. She was small and wiry, with blue glasses framing light brown eyes, and had a wide smile. "The Venus vase. It sits in my foyer. I love the way you combine mythology, artistry, and utility."
Jane smiled as she felt a blush coming on. "Thank you."
The waitress walked up to their table. "Have you made up your mind?"
Jane hoped Cora would show up in time to order with the others. But she could see that the group was hungry and she could no longer delay ordering.
"Yes, I think we're ready," Jane said. London snuggled up to her as the others placed their orders.
"I don't feel good, Mommy," she said. "I'm so tired."
Sheila was ordering a Greek salad and asking about the dressing. Jane's hand went to London's head. She was warm — not hot, but still, she'd take her temperature when they could get home.
"Oh, sugar, I'm sorry. How tired are you? Do you need to go home? We can go home as soon as Cora gets here," Jane said.
Sheila's daughter, Donna, was asking about the strawberry-walnut-spinach salad. Did it have feta cheese or blue cheese in it?
But Jane focused on London. The child's eyes appeared glassy. If she was sick, what would Jane do? She was scheduled to teach a class this weekend. Who could she call to watch her? Gracie was supposed to sit with her. Normally, London could just tag along during class. But not if she was sick. Could Jane cancel her class? Oh no, that would be letting down Cora and the crafters who were coming here, paying good money, just for her class. Shoot.
"Let's get something to eat and see how you feel," Jane said.
London nodded. "Okay," she said.
"What can I get you," the waitress said to Ruby, who had been in what appeared to be in an intense conversation with Marianne Wolfe, the basket maker. Jane had taken a weird dislike to the basket maker. This was a rarity, but something disturbed Jane about her. Off-putting. She held herself with a stiffness that made Jane uncomfortable. True, she made some gorgeous baskets — but Jane found herself wondering how such a cold and stiff woman could fashion such lovely things.
Ruby, the other regular teacher in the craft retreat, was spouting off her order when Cora walked into the restaurant, flushed and overheated. She must have been running to get there. What was so important that Officer Glass kept her so long?
"Glad to see you could make it," Ruby muttered under her breath. Ruby was an acquired taste. She was grandfathered into the contracts when Cora purchased the house, as Ruby had worked for the previous owners. Good thing her talents as an herbalist, crafter, and gardener aligned with Cora's goals. Otherwise, they'd have their hands full with an opinionated woman of a certain age living on the property.
Cora took a chair next to Jane, her red face almost matching her red curls. "I'm sorry I'm so late," Cora said, sitting down next to Marianne, who was quiet, unassuming, and probably the most gifted person at the table. Jane reminded herself of this and tried to tamp down any unwarranted bad feelings about the woman.
"It's okay," Jane said quietly. "We're just now ordering. No worries."
"Can we get a couple bottles of house wine? One red and one white," Cora said as the waitress approached her. "And I'll have the veggie burger on a whole wheat bun."
Few places in Indigo Gap offered vegetarian options, but this place did, which is why Cora liked it so much. She wanted to make certain everybody could get something.
Excerpted from No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan. Copyright © 2017 Mollie Cox Bryan. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
No Charm Intended Intended is the second book in the Cora Crafts Mystery series by Millie Cox Bryan. While I have not read the first book in the series in in no way hindered my enjoyment of this book. What a delightful cozy! I thoroughly enjoyed the crafting elements. And I loved the paper dolls, and all their history. The addition of the crafting instructions at the end of the book are wonderful. The characters are well developed and interesting, they pulled me into the story, I actually felt as if I were there on the retreat with them. These are characters, that I want to visit with again. I will definitely be going back and picking up the first book in the series, as well as any future books that are released in this series. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book from the author , the opinions are my own.
No Charm Intended: A Cora Crafts Mystery Author: Mollie Cox Bryan Publisher: Kensington Cora has a new life in a new home with new friends, in Indigo Gap, North Carolina. She and her business partner and friend, Jane are preparing to host their second “wildcrafting” retreat at her Victorian home. But a when local nanny Gracie Wyke goes missing everything gets turned upside down. While trying to lead their guests on nature hikes, rock painting and making clay charms, Cora and Jane, team up to do their own investigation into her disappearance. Cora takes Paul, Gracie's lovestruck boyfriend in, believing he is in danger from whoever took Gracie. But as new clues are uncovered, and the body of Paul’s best friend, Henry turns up at a local abandoned Wizard of Oz amusement park, Cora and Jane worry that they may be harboring a dangerous criminal. __ There is no doubt that Mollie Cox Bryan is a talented and creative writer. The crafting basis of her story is interesting and contains a bit of magic. However, picking a particular character that stands out from all the others is almost impossible, and at times can be confusing as to who the main character even is. The main characters have distinct personalities that for the most part are likable. Yet Cora seems to panic over the past and men, whereas Jane is frightened by even a hint of trusting anyone, including Cora. The writing flows but is a bit too slow paced. The mystery gets lost in the crafting, and the clues to the identity of the killer are too subtle. When it becomes apparent who the killer is there is no logical reason to suspect the character or to give the killer any credence. A better explanation needs to be given to accept who the killer is and the motive for the brutal murder of a young man and the abduction of a quiet, beautiful young woman. All books, including those in a series, must stand alone. If not they fail to capture the audience's attention and hold it over the course of several books. This book would benefit from giving a quick background on the main characters at the beginning of the story so that the reader doesn’t sit and scratch their head in confusion. The ending is satisfying but brief. The story has appeal, the primary setting has promise, and the crafting angle is well thought out and entertaining. Readers who enjoy craft related stories will enjoy this book and the crafting projects that are included. In conclusion, I like the writing of the author, and although the story is long and a bit too complicated for a quick read, the series has great potential for future books.
Title: No Charm Intended - -Cora Craft Mystery Book 2 Author: Mollie Cox Bryan Publisher: Kensington Books Published: 4-25-2017 Pages: 320 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub-Genre: Amateur Sleuths; Crafts & Hobbies; Women Sleuths ISBN: 9781496794665 ASIN: B01JEJC8W0 Reviewed For NetGalley and Kensington Books Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.25 Starts With a complex cast of characters that pull together to provide various personalities to keep things interesting. Mollie Cox Bryan's writing style has woven a story that will keep readers on their toes and guessing until the very end. Save for one small scene that seems a bit forced the book flows quickly and relatively smoothly. The story and characters continue to grow and mature with each new offering. My rating of "No Charm Intended" is 4.25 out of 5 stars.
No Charm Intended was a delightful read. I was a little bit leery when I picked it up because I hadn't really enjoyed the first book of the series, but this one was definitely better and I enjoyed reading it. There were three reasons this book did not get a 4.5 or 5 star rating. 1) It lagged a bit in the middle section, though it does pick up speed again. 2) There just isn't that extra "pizzazz" that I need for 5 stars. 3) The way mental illness was dealt with in this book, which I explain below. While we do end up with a murder in this one, the main story line is that of an abduction. I was thrilled with that. Sure, murder makes one of the more "tantalizing" mysteries, but I'm always thrilled when an author decides to go with an abduction or a robbery so something besides just murder as it's a nice change of pace. I enjoy our main characters for the most part. They're well-developed and complex characters. I enjoyed some of the side characters in this book as well. The setting descriptions are adequate. I wouldn't have minded a few more details, but it wasn't too sparse. I was able to imagine most of the places described in the book. The plot line moved along mostly at a steady pace. There was a small section in the middle where it seemed to lag, but then it picked up again. The biggest issue I had is with Jane's reaction to the news of the abducted young woman having a mental illness. We're made to understood that if Jane had known, she wouldn't have hired the young lady. Now, I understand that she's worried about the safety of her daughter, but having a mental illness should NOT be the sole reason you don't hire someone. I have five mental illnesses. Yes, five. Yet, I spent many years babysitting children and still babysit from time to time with no issues. I understand wanting assurance that the person watching your child isn't going to have a meltdown. However, instead of just dismissing them out of hand, talk to the person. Is the person taking their meds as prescribed? Are they seeking help for their condition? If they are, there's very little to worry about. Would you dismiss someone just because they're diagnosed with cancer or diabetes? Probably not. Those with mental illnesses deserve the same respect. Other than that, this was a fun book to read and I'm now looking forward to more in the series. :) *** I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. ***
Set in Indigo Gap, North Carolina, a small town is where our main character, Cora Chevalier is trying to set up a new life. Cora and her business partner, Jane tackle the mystery of the missing nanny; Gracie Wyke. Gracie’s boyfriend Paul joins the rag-tag group as they stumble through the police investigation and question….who is innocent and who isn’t? Light hearted, fast paced, fun loving book. My first read in the “Cora Craft Mystery” series. While some mental illness references are brought into the book, I feel it brings a bit of realism to the storyline.
Cora and Jane are welcoming their second group of crafters to their retreat, this time using nature as part of a ‘wildcrafting’ experience. When a local nanny and sometimes babysitter for Jane’s daughter London disappears, Cora winds up befriending and aiding Gracie’s boyfriend Paul as they look for clues to her disappearance. I wasn’t too sure about veering into the dark web in this story. I think that may have been a little too much for Cora and the gaming world was portrayed very darkly in this story. The clues about the game and the Wizard of Oz were too few, so I was definitely surprised at the outcome overall. I really enjoyed this group of crafters, they contributed a lot to the story considering they won’t appear again.
Cora is living her dream. She and her good friend Jane have established a craft retreat at Kildare House in Indigo Gap, North Carolina. As they prepare for a new group of crafters to arrive, Jane's babysitter goes missing and Cora receives an unsettling email on the crime. What happens next is a mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat. I love the connection I feel with these characters. It's like visiting old friends. Their dialogue is always interesting and realistic. This is a suspenseful cozy that kept me guessing. I never got a handle on who the bad guy was. Believe me I kept trying, but was I off base. Molly Cox Bryan has a unique writing style that pulls me into her books. I wish that Indigo Gap existed. I would love to visit. An added bonus is crafting ideas the author included. I'm anxiously awaiting the next Cora Crafts Mystery. I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read. My comments are my honest opinion.
No Charm Intended is the second book in the Cora Crafts Mystery series by Mollie Cox Bryan, and it was a delightful read. I was a little bit leery when I picked it up because I hadn't really enjoyed the first book of the series, but this one was definitely better and I enjoyed reading it. There were three reasons this book did not get a 4.5 or 5 star rating. 1) It lagged a bit in the middle section, though it does pick up speed again. 2) There just isn't that extra "pizzazz" that I need for 5 stars. 3) The way mental illness was dealt with in this book, which I explain below. While we do end up with a murder in this one, the main story line is that of an abduction. I was thrilled with that. Sure, murder makes one of the more "tantalizing" mysteries, but I'm always thrilled when an author decides to go with an abduction or a robbery so something besides just murder as it's a nice change of pace. I enjoy our main characters for the most part. They're well-developed and complex characters. I enjoyed some of the side characters in this book as well. The setting descriptions are adequate. I wouldn't have minded a few more details, but it wasn't too sparse. I was able to imagine most of the places described in the book. The plot line moved along mostly at a steady pace. There was a small section in the middle where it seemed to lag, but then it picked up again. The biggest issue I had is with Jane's reaction to the news of the abducted young woman having a mental illness. We're made to understood that if Jane had known, she wouldn't have hired the young lady. Now, I understand that she's worried about the safety of her daughter, but having a mental illness should NOT be the sole reason you don't hire someone. I have five mental illnesses. Yes, five. Yet, I spent many years babysitting children and still babysit from time to time with no issues. I understand wanting assurance that the person watching your child isn't going to have a meltdown. However, instead of just dismissing them out of hand, talk to the person. Is the person taking their meds as prescribed? Are they seeking help for their condition? If they are, there's very little to worry about. Would you dismiss someone just because they're diagnosed with cancer or diabetes? Probably not. Those with mental illnesses deserve the same respect. Other than that, this was a fun book to read and I'm now looking forward to more in the series. :) *** I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. ***
No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan is the second book in the Cora Cafts series. I enjoy the setting of Indigo Gap for this cozy mystery. It sounds like a a great place to not only visit but to live as well. This time the retreat at Kildare House is called "wildcrafting" which introduced me to many new ideas for use in traditional crafts. Jane and Cora seem to be strong and remarkably resilient young women. The retreats are providing both of them with a new lease on life. However, I confess that I am having trouble connecting with either one of them in this series. The mystery contains a theme that is darker than usually found in most cozy mysteries but the steady pace and the clues kept me turning the pages. I was proud of myself at the reveal when I realized that I had figured out who was behind all of the mystery and mayhem before Cora. I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader copy of this book from Kensington Press via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own. My rating is 3 1/2 stars.
Crafting and computers and cybercrimes, oh my! No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan immediately grabbed my attention when Cora received an anonymous text about a kidnapping and then learned about the disappearance of her friend Gracie, a local nanny. As Cora tries to focus on her Spring Fling Retreat, she finds out that Gracie has been playing an online Wizard of Oz game, which soon has Cora and her friends sleuthing in the gaming world. While the retreat gets underway, the crafters are soon pressing flowers, painting rocks, basket making, and even making pom-poms. These types of crafts brought me back to my childhood crafting at summer day camp. The nostalgia of the retreat was a pleasant twist to the frightening reality of cybercrimes. I appreciated how authentic Mollie Cox Bryan was in writing about the use of technology throughout the book. I have enjoyed reading both of the Cora Crafts mysteries, and I look forward to the series as it continues to develop. I received an advanced reader copy in return for my honest review.
‘No Charm Intended’ is one of the most intriguing cozy mysteries I will read this year. Mollie Cox Bryan’s first novel in the Cora Crafts Mystery series is so good that I had to read this one, which is incredibly fabulous! The layers of mystery lead to an explosive ending as we see how online computer gamers may unwittingly get too involved off screen. ‘No Charm Intended’ elevates the series to a new level. Savor the moments in historic, gorgeous North Carolina, where Cora’s craft blog bloomed into a gorgeous Victorian home where she and best friend Jane lead craft retreats. The first one was successful, and Spring Fling is set to begin. I envy the talent and imagination they have, to do so many crafts and repurpose items! Jane and her daughter London live in the carriage house, remodeled with a pottery studio on the first floor and living quarters upstairs. Gracie, the nanny of London’s close friend Jillie, sometimes sits with London, who adores her. Gracie was to spend time with London during the retreat. At least, until Grace disappeared and several people received anonymous texts saying ‘I Kidnapped Her’. Gracie’s boyfriend Paul and his friend/roommate Henry tried to find her. As the retreat begins, Henry disappears. Paul, Gracie, and Henry were very close friends, and play a Darknet online game, The Wizard of Oz. Whether Gracie was kidnapped and by whom had frightening possibilities when Henry is found dead at the closed-down theme park, Oz. Cora tries to keep a handle on the investigation, help Paul, and lead the retreat. Jane leads her part of the retreat and tries to keep Cora from getting too involved in the mystery. As the plot twists and turns, some of the women at the retreat try their hand as sounding boards and share suggestions. Sheila, scrapbook maven of the author’s Cumberland Creek Mystery series, is a guest instructor; it may take their combined talents to solve these mysteries. Included are directions for each of the crafts taught during the retreat. Jane is the more practical partner when it comes to protecting their home and her daughter. Cora had left her position as counselor at a women’s shelter due to overwhelming panic attacks; her caring heart often overrules her head. That is a wonderful trait if it is tempered by self-care. Her caring heart leads the way in this mystery. I like Jane and Cora best, then Ruby, who leads craft and herbal classes. Ruby is still an enigma although is slowly opening up; Cora and Jane are three-dimensional. I also like Sheila and her daughter Donna, and hope we see more of them in future novels. There is an eclectic mixture of talented artisans and crafters. When it comes to facing the bad guy/ gal, Cora and Sheila rock! The plot is fresh yet scary, ripping open what most of us are unaware of that could become a real, threatening event. The mystery is very volatile, with plot twists that often change the direction. There are a few possible suspects, each adding to the intrigue and tension. There is no way to figure out who the bad guy/ gal is or what the cops are or aren’t doing, which is how I like it. The end is stunning, intense, and altogether surprising. I am hooked on this series! For the readers who enjoy well-written, intriguing cozy mysteries with heightened suspense and crafts, I highly recommend ‘No Charm Intended’! Excellent read!! From a grateful heart: I received this eBook from NetGalley and this is my honest review.
No Charm Intended is the second book in the A Cora Crafts Mystery series. Another engaging visit to Indigo Gap and a chance to take part in another crafting retreat with Cora and Jane. Time is drawing near for the Spring Fling Retreat a wildcrafting retreat, when Cora gets a frightening text saying “I have kidnapped her”. Cora has no idea who the message is from or who had been kidnapped, then Jane arrives and informs Cora that her sitter, Gracie has disappeared. As they are getting ready to head to dinner Officer Glass stops by and informs Cora that the police are investigating a possible kidnapping of Gracie. The next day Paul, Gracie’s boyfriend, and Henry, Paul’s friend stop by Cora’s to see if she knows where Gracie might be. From talking with Paul and Henry Cora soon learns that the three of them have been playing a computer game call. Gracie is the only one that has hit the top level. Paul also informs Cora that after reaching the top level, Gracie was also receiving threatening messages. Then when Henry is found dead, they believe that Paul knows more than he is willing to share and becomes a prime suspect. So while the police cyberspace unit attempts to uncover more information, Cora and her friends also go on the hunt to find the murderer. This series provides the reader with a very interesting mystery and touches, not too heavily, on different types of craft projects. Also included are several craft projects for one so inclined to try.
No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan is filled with murder, secrets and more twists and turns than a roller coaster. The very first line in the book had me sold. As soon as I read it, I knew I was headed for a wild adventure. A craft retreat sounds wonderful. I love the idea of seeing myself sitting at the table surrounded by friends, chatting and creating something beautiful. Add in a gaming community, an obsessive game fan, a young woman and her disappearance and you have the ingredients for a great cozy mystery. Ms. Bryan created a wonderful cast of characters and the idea of this mystery taking place during a craft retreat makes for an even more intriguing story. I am patiently waiting for the next book. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.