Ellery Adams has several other mystery series,some that focus on books such as Book Retreat and Books By the Bay and others on food like The Charmed Pie Shoppe. This particular one combines both of those loves and adds in an extra dash of personal intrigue.
The Secret,Book & Scone Society is set in the North Carolina town of Miracle Springs, where folks come to find a bit of physical and emotional healing. Most of the businesses in the area highlight that aspect such as Hester Winthrop at The Gingerbread House, who makes new customers "comfort scones" that perfectly suit their food memory needs.
However, thanks to the literary recommendations from a kindly nurse, Nora has become a bit of a bibliotherapist,who matches the right sort of reading for those in a quandary about their lives. Her choices range from fiction to nonfiction,with the former being preferred. Despite her reclusive demeanor, she can't resist reaching out to help people with the power of a good book in that enchanting Kathleen Kelly from You've Got Mail sort of way:
Neil's demise by train is quickly ruled as a suicide by the local sleazy sheriff Todd(called "Toad" behind his back for good reason) but Nora refuses to believe that and teams up with three other ladies in town to look into the matter further.
Hester is one of them,along with June Dixon, who works at the local spa and Estella, the only home town girl in their midst who runs the Magnolia beauty salon. I like all of these women who form the title club but Estella is a strong favorite with her flirtatious manners and easy charms that remind me a lot of Golden Girls' southern belle Blanche. Much like Blanche, Estella does enjoy the company of men yet has more emotional depth and insight than most people would think she has:
That spurs Nora,June and Hester to get bolder in their inquiries as well as Nora's new friends urging her to get a bit bolder in recognizing that the handsome new EMT,Jed, is interested in her as more than a friend and a bookseller.
While this is a mystery story, the novel feels more like a contemporary tale of female friendship and that's a great distinction in it's favor. By having each member of the group share a personal secret in order to build trust, all of the ladies are granted their emotional spotlight that allows both them and us as the reader to appreciate their character growth and depth all the more.
This is the first time that I've read Ellery Adams and it won't be the last as I already have the second book,The Whispered Word, in this series and will check out one or two other from her other works. For a starting point, Adams makes this group of ladies very grand company and this book alone would be a great pairing with a tasty scone of your choice:
The story in set in Ohio, where Lana Lee has returned to her family's restaurant after a bad break-up with both her last job and last boyfriend. When the sudden death of the owner of the shopping center that the family business is located in places the probable cause on the take out order that Lana delivered, she finds herself having to track down the real killer.
At this early stage in the story, there's a great blend of food and family love that has me already owning the second book, Dim Sum of All Fears, and eager to get the next couple of books in this series as well. A good punny title is as hard to resist as a good meal made with love, in my opinion: