I recommend this first installment in the Seaside Cottage Books cozy mystery series with a disclaimer. The series has potential, but some editing errors distracted me. For some people, it isn’t a problem, but for me, it disrupted the flow of the story. One was a timeline error — on one page it was after two o’clock when the main character left the book store, and on the next page, she runs into an ex and they talk about it being beautiful morning. Missing letters and repeated phrases were proofreading errors. Minor mistakes, but I felt the need to put out the disclaimer. I’m sure the author will fix these errors in future editions.

Whew! Now with that out of the way, let me talk about what was great about this cozy. Recently divorced Max has taken her divorce settlement and returned to Snug Harbor, Maine. Max spent blissful summers at a nearby campground with her family and could often be found hiding in Seaside Cottage Books with her nose buried in a novel. When her life had crumbled around her, Max was happy to leave Boston behind and purchase the bookstore from the previous owner, Loretta, before she died.

Max reopens with a book signing scheduled with a popular romance author. Imagine her surprise when the glamorous KT shows up with a date – Max’s ex-husband! To make matters worse, Scooter, her childhood arch nemesis, comes to the signing only to inform her that she doesn’t own the bookstore. There is a problem with the will. Loretta’s sister Agatha claims that she owns half of the bookstore, and Max needs to pay up or get out.

If Max thinks it can’t get any worse, she’s wrong. Cal Parker, newly elected to the town council, tells her that she’s violating all sorts of codes with her remodel and lack of permits. He threatens to shut her down before she’s even been open a full day. The only positive in the whole day is she spotted her old boyfriend, Nicholas, and the spark was still there.

The next morning, Max takes Winston, her rescue pup, for a walk on the beach behind her shop. Winston makes an unfortunate discovery — Cal Parker’s dead body, and next to him is the murder weapon — the iron doorstop from Max’s store!

Max is the primary suspect in Cal’s murder even though she had just met the slimy politician. Can she clear her name before she loses the store? Will she find that half her business is owned by Agatha? And most importantly, will she go on a date with the handsome Nicholas? Read this first installment in the series to find out.

Max was a relatable protagonist who showed intelligence and fortitude. Her relationship with her grown children and ex-husband were well-written and added great depth to her character. The cookie recipes in the back of the book sound scrumptious, and I already have a trip to the store planned so I can make the Chocolate Toffee Bar recipe.

I haven’t read other books by the author and was excited to find out she has quite a few other series. I plan to read her Gray Whale Inn series first since it has ten books already with another planned for release in 2021.

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