Cover Art by Vanessa Westermann
Please note I received a free digital copy of Cover Art in exchange for an honest review.
One of the lovely things about writing a book blog are the people you meet. I have been lucky enough to learn more about my favourite authors, meet new friends on Instagram and uncover new gems to read. Even better is when someone reaches out to you from the blue about a brand new series they are writing and are about to publish. And on reading this first book, feel lucky that you have had the opportunity to see something special right at the very beginning and are already looking forward to the next in the series.
It feels fitting that my last book review for the Shipyard Girls saw me saying a very tearful goodbye to a series I have truly loved, and now I am excited about a new location and a new set of characters. Best of all it includes a crime committed with chocolate and features a truly beautiful part of the world that I am now desperate to visit. In the words of Ina Garten, 'what is not to love?'
Death by chocolate may be a favourite fantasy but death by poisoned chocolate is a different matter entirely.
Charley Scott is thrilled to be running a summer pop-up gallery in Canada‘s cottage country. Returning to the lakeside village, not on vacation but as an artist, she’s determined to turn her hobby into a career. Joined by two other artists, including her childhood friend Kayla, the Cover Art Exhibit is a dream come true.
But, beneath the surface of this peaceful town, darkness lurks. There’s a history.
Local chocolatier, Matt Thorn, is struggling to come to terms with his father’s recent death and his legacy of deception. As Matt plans to expose his father’s secrets, Kayla’s husband is found dead, the result of eating Matt’s boutique chocolates.
The homicide investigation threatens to make Charley’s pop-up gallery a failure before it even begins. Luckily, art is all about perspective and she’s always had a keen eye. Can she see past the obvious and find the killer?
This is quite the little gem of a novel. First of all, can we talk about the gorgeous cover art of Cover Art. (See what I did there!). It screams hazy summers spent in an Adirondack chair sipping red wine, looking out onto the breathtaking lake views. And indeed the setting for the novel is as much a character in the books as the others. There is a sense of calm with this novel, that is reflected in the beautiful landscapes, even with a murder taking place.
The characters are quirky to say the very least, a man who can fix anything, a woman who watches everything, a belligerent builder and his long-suffering artist wife. All I could think about in my head was the beloved TV programme, Northern Exposure filled with warm, joyous characters and this novel reminded me of that.
Vanessa Westermann in her bio explains that she set out to write strong, female leads and this is certainly the case with Charley Scott. Charley is a great main character and will carry this series far. I love the bond she has with her sister, and the fact that the sister's boyfriend just lets them get on with it, even when he is supposed to be the one investigating the murder. I'm keen to learn more about Charley, about her past, and her future.
The book is a feast for the senses. Charley's romantic interest, Matt, owns a chocolate shop (he's a keeper already in my eyes). We learn about the chocolate-making process, the subtlety of flavours, and the sheer sensuousness of chocolate. I wanted to visit Matt's store and buy a bag of his wonderful chocolates. Even better the crime centres around death by chocolate. It's ingenious. Matt's difficult relationship with his father is explored sensitively and following a chance find, is made very touching.
And so, in conclusion, this is a great opener for a new series featuring a set of characters that already intrigue and delight us. I want to know more, I want to see what happens to Charley and Matt. And I definitely want more of Cocoa, Charley's wonderful dog, who steals the show in every scene she is in. The writing is intelligent, the crime ingenious and the location heaven. I'm already excited to see where this series goes.