Alexandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.
Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.
Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.
As Alex Daniels once again finds herself mourning for the loss of a parent, and the loss of a job, she decides to take her misery to Bellamy Bay and the family she hasn’t seen in years. She figured that a bit of relaxing by the ocean and catching up with her aunt and cousins was exactly what she needed. What she didn’t need, however, was a murder. Or for her aunt to be arrested for it.
Alex is an enjoyable character, even when she succumbs to the traditional cozy-lead syndrome and starts meddling even though she knows she shouldn’t. I do give her credit for at least trying to stay out of it at times, despite getting drawn back in immediately. Can’t really blame her, if a family member of mine was in Lidia’s situation, I probably couldn’t have kept my nose out of it either. Her cousins, Minka and Kamila, are great sidekicks as well, with Minka being more of an enabler than Kamila. I ran hot and cold on Lidia, however, but she loosened up by the end and I warmed up to her a bit before the end.
The mystery was well-done and kept me guessing throughout. I’m never been very good at guessing who the bad guy is, but I did have this one figured out early on. To the credit of the author though, I started to doubt myself several times during the course of my reading. Which is a good thing, in my opinion.
I do have to wonder what it is with cozies and love triangles. On the average, I don’t mind them if they’re done well. In A Spell for Trouble, I think that it started out well and fell apart a bit once the mystery ensued. Now, I have to admit, I have my favorite of the two and I’m already starting to wonder if I picked the wrong one. Time will tell, I suppose, because there has got to be a sequel to this fantastic novel. I’m excited to return to Bellamy Bay and visit all the residents once again.
*Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.