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Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged!
But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.
Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?
‘Engagement and Espionage’ is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after ‘Beard Science,’ Winston Brothers #3.
What can you do when there is a chicken choker on the lose? If you are Cletus Winston you will find yourself trying to solve a string of events that are hampering Jennifer Sylvester from baking her delectable treats.
Take a trip back to Green Valley brings all of the love for the Winston family front and center. However – this journey involves Jennifer Sylvester’s life at Donner Bakery and the family lodge. With the Donner family pulled apart by Jennifer’s parents’ pending divorce, things are bound to get interesting when delicious treats are involved.
Through it all – Jenn and Cletus are just trying to find a little quality time together. That is a feat that is proving harder than anyone could imagine. With all of Jenn’s suppliers tucking their tales and ‘running’, life just proved even more complex for a gal that only wants to find a few moments to relish in the face of love.
Engagement & Espionage is here!! I have waited for more Cletus and Jenn, so I couldn’t wait to dive into this new release! First – let me address the label of cozy mystery. There is barely any mystery involved in this book, but there is plenty of Winston mayhem to treat readers. This book falls in line after Beard Science, and I strongly suggest reading BS before diving into this spin off.
Now to the nitty gritty…..the plot in this story was very predictable. At times I found Jenn and Cletus’ characters not on the same page as their previous books. What do I mean? Well…..it’s almost like these two are completely different characters than the Jenn and Cletus that we all love. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I see my favorite characters peeking through the haze. Then at other times – I found the snark and conniving mind that I have come to expect from Cletus completely absent. What you will find is a string of events that fills in some gaps from the Winston Series.
There was one thing that stuck out in my peruse of the story…..you see…..when you live in a place that is called the Moonshine Capital of the World, you know a thing or two about the drink. When you have a county that built its legacy off illegal ‘shine you pick up on ‘city folks’ who don’t quite know the nuances of illegal spirits. So there is mention of banana moonshine in this book. Hhhmmmmm…..yeah…..ummmmm NOOOOOOO!!! That is the most sacrilegious thing one could come up with for moonshine. Besides the fact that you are talking about a fruit that will turn to mash during processing, the taste would be less than desired. I understand the connection to the Banana Queen, but you really don’t mess with greatness when you are talking about a legacy such as moonshine. So that was a huge ‘no go’ for me!!
All in all this mystery didn’t quite live up to the hype. It was a quick, easy read for a day of lounging. Engagement & Espionage just wasn’t up to the same level I would expect from my favorite Winston Brother of all time!! I have my fingers crossed that the rest of the series picks up the gusto and will deliver all of the nuances that I enjoy in a Reid Romance!
“Don’t stop.” She reached for my belt again, this time completely undoing it, the button of my pants, and my zipper at world-record speed.
Her phone buzzed. Then it chimed. Then it buzzed and chimed two more times. Then it rang again. Reba.
Cursing, Jenn pulled the phone from her pocket, once again her face illuminated, murderous rage in her eyes. Her finger moved to the power off button. She blinked, hesitating. Her eyes widened, her body stiffened, and she gasped.
Something about her tone, like she was horrified, and maybe a little afraid, cut through the heavy haze of lust inertia, and my hands stilled. Shaking myself, it took me a few moments to realize she was showing me the phone screen, and another few to bring the content of the text messages into focus.
Momma: Jennifer Anne Sylvester, pick up your phone. If you’re with Cletus, I need his help. Please.
Momma: ALL THE CHICKENS AND ROOSTERS ARE DEAD! PICK UP YOUR DAMN PHONE!
Momma: I’m calling you in a second, pick up the phone. Mr. Badcock’s chickens are dead. All of them. I got here and he’s running around, deranged, yelling about his dead chickens! I called the police and they’re on their way. Please, please, please pick up the phone!
At some point, I must’ve taken the phone from Jenn and stepped away, because I glanced up upon reading the messages for the third time, finding the phone in my hand and Jenn fixing her skirt.
“This is nuts.” Her big eyes searched mine imploringly. “Who could have done this?”
I shook my head, having not yet managed to fully shift head gears—you know, from that head to the one on my neck—and my gaze dropped to the wet patch on the front of her dress just visible in the swath of light. My erection throbbed.
So we’re . . . not having sex?
“Why? Why would they do it? And WHO?” She snatched her phone back, her tone bewildered, distracted, and distraught. She was distraught because of the dead chickens, like any normal person would be.
I was distraught also, but my distress had nothing to do with farm animals.
“We have to go.” Jenn grabbed my hand and began walking toward the direction of the hall. Meanwhile, it took me until her hand found the door handle to realize my zipper and belt were still undone.
“This is crazy.” She paused as I zipped up, her tone halting and distracted. “Poor Mr. Badcock. And those poor chickens.” A sound of distress escaped her throat. “This is terrible.”
It was terrible.
And I was going to hell.
Because all I could think was, Talk about a cock block.