Book Review: Peaches and Schemes by Anna Gerard
Though this is the third book in the series about the owner of a small Georgia B&B which seems prone to being at the centre of murder investigations, I don’t think you miss out on too much background if you step into the series here. It was pretty easy for me to get a handle on Nina (pronounced NINE-ah - which I confess made me suspect her of pretentiousness right from the first page). Formerly married to a successful pro golfer, she got enough money in the divorce settlement to purchase Fleet House, her B&B, and is now working on making a go of it… which leads her to attend the local bridal expo as a stallholder, trying to promote her B&B as a charming wedding venue. When Nina’s friend, wedding planner Roxanne, is found dead at the climax of the bridal show, Nina’s already involved, like it or not, because just a little while earlier Nina heard a row between Roxanne and bridal shop owner Virgie. A row which could provide a motive for murder.
This is multi-layered, more so than most cozy mysteries I’ve met, without losing any of the charm they’re generally known for. There were a lot of moving parts in play which the author very deftly managed, not allowing the reader to find out until the climax what was a red herring and what was a crucial plot point. There’s also something which might be a very slow-burn romance going on between Nina and sort-of-tenant Harry, but frankly I don’t think Nina’s in the right headspace for a relationship at the present time. Maybe it’ll come to fruition in later books… once Nina’s managed to get past the specter of her ex’s high-profile wedding.
The only thing I had a bit of an issue with was Nina herself; the name pronunciation thing put my back up a bit right at the beginning because it felt so pretentious, and then the name of actress Sofía Vergara was mis-spelt as Sophia on the second page, which also made me feel kind of twitchy. This isn’t one of those romances set in the South which turns out to be inexplicably all-white in casting, thankfully; it’s actually a pretty diverse cast with representation from multiple characters of color, LGBT characters, and even a character with a significant disability who has a major part to play in the plot finale.
Overall this is well-written, but I did struggle to engage with Nina as the protagonist; she came off pretentious and privileged. I’ll give it four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.