Alma Lee, Episcopalian vicar, tries to be all things to all people. Which is why she’s at the closing party for the lesbian bar across the street from her church. The owner, Cindy, is a long-time friend, though they end the evening on a bad note. Alma meets the pretty Naomi, but things don’t go anywhere. She leaves the party, goes to bed, and wakes up the next morning to find Cindy dead on the steps of St. Giles church.
Cesar Garza is Alma’s ex-boyfriend and the homicide detective who investigates. The two clash every which way, their past both lending affection and exasperation to their dealings. But Alma can’t help poking her nose into the case. Not only was her friend murdered, but Naomi’s brother is the number one suspect. And besides, Alma knows the neighborhood like no one else, so her questions get them answers.
Things heat up with Naomi, but it’s not the time or the place. Not to mention, Rabbi Naomi intends to settle down with a nice Jewish girl. Alma is more than smitten despite that, but that’s not the only reason she won’t stop investigating. Alma believe Naomi’s brother is innocent, and she’s determined to find justice for her friend.
Alma’s hard work pays off, and though Cesar is more than reluctant about the help, it’s the reason the case is cleared for good. It has Cesar rethinking his past position about their relationship, but Alma is reluctant to start anything again. She has her parish and parishioners and they all have a lot of healing to do.
My recommendation fairy struck gold when she pointed me in the direction of this book for Self-Published Book Week here during Reading Challenge Month. She knows what I like, and this book fit the bill perfectly. It’s exactly everything a cozy mystery should be, and incredibly well written. I was on board from the first word, and absolutely know I’ll be picking up the rest of this series.
Alma is my kind of character. She’s brash and bold, but kind hearted and so giving. She wants to be all things, and maybe stretches herself a little too far. But she can handle it, even if others would rather she slow down a bit. I loved the character, and I loved the way she didn’t take no for an answer. But she was so big hearted, and her knowledge of people was what really gave her the edge. Not only does she have Mission Street down, but she just reads people well. She treats them like humans, no matter who they are, and I simply adored her.
The mystery was also fairly well done. I will say that I knew who the killer would be, as there was some definite telegraphing from early on. But that said, the motive and the process were wonderfully laid out and all tied up neatly at the end. It wasn’t a complete surprise, but I loved that all the clues added up and made perfect sense.
The writing was smooth and engaging, the characters well drawn, and the pacing was spot on. There was the right amount of tension between the characters, and the mystery worked. Even if this isn’t strictly a romance, in that there’s no romantic ending, the romance throughout the book was lovely, both as Alma dealt with her feelings for Cesar, and her budding feelings for Naomi. I loved that the character is unashamedly bi, and that not a huge deal is made out of it. Just about everything about this book worked for me, and I easily recommend it to you.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Self-Published Book Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of the great prize packs of self-published books donated by some very generous authors. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Self-Published Book Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.