Publication: April 23, 2020 by Acorn Book Services
Page Count: 232
Format: eARC, Paperback
Goodreads Synopsis: Folks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant a top investigative journalist.
When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.
But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?
With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki intends to chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes.
My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. The cover threw me off at first, but the blurb had me hooked immediately. In this case, I’m glad I ignored the fact that the cover doesn’t look like something I’d enjoy. The book was the perfect mix of mystery and humor.
With most murder mysteries, it’s quite easy to guess the killer. However, with this book, I couldn’t figure it out no matter how hard I tried. It got even more difficult when a second murder was revealed, and through most of the book, I found myself attempting to connect them along with the characters. When the true murderer was revealed, I was completely shocked.
Besides the murders, the book also focused on Nikki’s crush on her stepbrother, Ryan. This was a bit odd to me at first, but after a while, I began to warm up to the whole idea. By the end of the book, I still hadn’t figured out how I truly felt about their relationship.
The book also brings up Nikki’s online friendship with a stranger under the name “NerdyGuy.” This storyline has some stalker-type vibes, and I was expecting another murder at some point, or at the very least an attack. About halfway through I began to notice a few clues to lead me to the true identity of her friend, but again, by the time it was truly revealed, I was a little shocked.
I actually really liked almost every character. Some of them were amazing. Others, however, were annoying and obnoxious, but since it helped add to the story and move it along, I ultimately loved them as well. Lauren Carr did a wonderful job at creating their personalities.
One of the best parts about this book was the dog, Elmo. He was a boxer who was trained to quite literally do almost anything a human can do. While the main focus was on the murders and relationships, in the background, Elmo would just go about cleaning everything up. In addition to housekeeping, he’s also really good at catching murderers and humiliating them.
If you like purely clean mysteries with a mix of romance, I’d absolutely suggest you read this book. The only thing stopping me from rating it with five stars is the confusion with Nikki’s relationship with Ryan. Otherwise, the characters were lovable – or at the very least amusingly obnoxious. Plus, there’s a really smart dog who helps solve murders; how could you resist that?
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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*Available for free with Kindle Unlimited