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Book Review: The Book Charmer – Sweet as Southern Tea Infused With Magic

The Book Charmer

By Karen Hawkins

Dove Pond, North Carolina is a dying town. Businesses have moved out taking many of the residents with them. Sarah, a member of one of the founding families is desperate to save her town. When she finds out a new family is moving into a house on her block, she is absolutely certain that Grace, one of the newcomers, is going to be Dove Pond’s salvation. She doesn’t know how or why, but Sarah is certain and is willing to do anything to help.

Sarah and her sisters are known for their ability to see, hear and feel things other people cannot. As the librarian in town, Sarah hears books. They quietly let her know who in town needs to read them. Not everyone believes her, but even after arguing that they don’t want or need the book, they always end up reading and benefiting from the knowledge or help they receive. Grace will be no exception.

Grace has moved to the town because her beloved foster mother, Mama G is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and her doctor felt going back to the town she grew up in would help slow down the progression of the disease. Giving up a great paying job, she packs up Mama G and her niece Daisy and moves into a rental home in the tiny town. Grace is determined to stay one year, and then go back to her old life. The problem is, Grace’s sister, recently died, leaving her daughter in Grace’s care – so now she is the mother of an angry child instead of a doting aunt.

Working for the mayor, Grace is expected to be in charge of a huge festival that the cash strapped Dove Pond does not have the resources to pull off. Can she actually save a town she doesn’t plan to stay in longer than a year? Grace needs the support of the longtime residents, and be able to work with them, especially Sarah. Grace is overloaded to say the least, and totally unsure of herself. She is a caregiver, an aunt turned parent and working for a mayor who cares more about fishing than his city. To add to her troubles, she is uncomfortably attracted to her new neighbor, Travis. Grace has way too much on her plate, and to top it off, Mama G has made several mysterious predictions about ghosts and Grace’s future.

 The Book Charmer is tale as sweet as southern tea and infused with a sprinkling of magic. The serious thread of Mama G battling Alzheimer’s is very true to life. The advice from the kindly town doctor and Travis, who even while fighting his own demons, takes time to be kind and help Mama G is heartwarming. This is a beautiful work of women’s fiction that brought tears to my eyes more than once.

Karen Hawkins is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She has published several books before The Book Charmer, but this is the first one I have read. I am delighted to find out it is the second one in the series, and can’t wait to read the first novel as well as anxiously anticipate the next one in the series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Bookish First in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Charlemagne Connection by RM Carmel: Savor Like a Fine Wine

The Charlemagne Connection

By R.M. Cartmel

263 pagesThe Charlemagne Connection

Commander Charlemagne Truchaud is back. After the Paris police detective deftly defused the killer in Cartmel’s debut novel, The Richebourg Affair, he assumed his life would more or less return to normal. He returned to his home in Paris, but soon learned that his father’s Alzheimer’s disease was quickly progressing so he must return to his family home in Nuits-Saint-George’s to help care for his dad.

Like many of us, Truchaud is torn. He realizes that his family has to take priority over his career. Unfortunately his decision will not come without a cost. His Divisional Commander willingly agrees that Truchaud needs to help his sister-in-law take care of his worsening father. Even though his boss tells him not to worry about his job in Paris, one of his ambitious co-workers may have another plan.

To complicate matters even more, as soon as the detective arrives at his family’s home and vineyards, he discovers the Nuits-saint-George’s police department has an urgent need he is expected to fill. Instead of interesting cases in Paris, he is now in charge of petty crimes and traffic altercations. But not for long.

The detective takes up residence in the small town, at the same time a young German girl and her friend come to town in search of her brother. He has been missing for months and the clues they found in his apartment have lead them to the tiny village.

Amidst language barriers, cold trails and raging hormones things go from calm to complicated faster than Constable Lenoir’s driving. Lucky for Truchaud, Sergeant Natalie Dutoit can speak to the Germans and comes to assist with the missing person case and often the driving.

The mystery deepens, dad gets worse, and Truchaud realizes he is in love but cannot bring himself to tell her.  The Charlemagne Connection has a lot going on, all of which is entertaining, interesting and intriguing. The end is perfect, and leads me to believe there will be another book in this series. I can’t wait.

As flavorful as a good vintage, with many complimentary layers that are subtle, yet elegant, Truchaud is the perfect detective. Reminiscent of a Parisian Poirot, Truchaud has a bit of Peter Faulk’s Colombo in his personality to balance his tenacity. A bit of bumbling at times makes him endearing as well has his love of Grateful Dead CDs.

Cartmel weaves a masterful tale. His plot is solid from the first word to the last, leaving no stone unturned in the telling of the mystery much like his hero, Commander Charlemagne Truchaud. The story twists and turns, wrapping around itself much like the beloved vines in the small village vineyards.

I highly recommend this series. I do suggest reading The Richebourg Affair first as there are spoiler alerts in The Charlemagne Connection. It will soon become obvious that you will want to read both of these mysteries anyway, so read them in order.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under alzheimers, Book Review, Mystery, Poirot, Wine