Gotta Love Small Towns

It is always fun to come across authors that are new to me.  Especially books others have been enjoying for what appears to quite some time based on the number of books written by the authors.

Better Late than Never is part of the Library Lover’s Mysteries series.  Two things led me to selecting it:  the cover art showing library steps with tons of books plus the fact this title was brand new and I was the first to take it out.

The purpose of the cover art came to life once I started reading.  It was amnesty day at the Briar Creek Public Library.  Fines were being waived by director Lindsey Norris.  It did not even matter the condition of the returned overdue book.

Hundreds of books came rolling into the library much to the displeasure of librarian Mrs. Cole.  Mrs. Cole thinks rules are rules.  Waiving fines goes against how she believes.

As the books were being sorted, one book, J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, was returned in pristine condition and 20 years overdue.  Mrs. Cole, who has always kept meticulous records, headed straight to her old files located in a dark windowless room.

Mrs. Cole was visibility shaken by what she found.  The book had been checked out by high school English teacher Candice Whitley on the very same day she had been murdered!  Who had returned the book?  Where had it been all this time?  Lindsey hopes to find the answers.  She takes the book to Chief Emma Plewicki, police chief of Briar Creek.

Lindsey, being Lindsey, could not stop thinking about the book.  Why did Candice even have the book since that title would have been available at the school.  She is hoping they will open this cold case even though several burglaries are top priority at the moment for the police department.

Emma told Lindsey to be sure and give her copies of any information she might find in the archives.  Emma, and most of the town, know Lindsey is curious, nosy, a buttinsky…or all the above.  She just cannot let it go, at least when she is searching for an answer.  Must be the librarian in her.

Aside from the break-ins and the mysterious appearance of the book connected to a murder, a love interest is part of Better Late than Ever.  Of course, if I had read the first six books in the series, I would have known that fact.  The triangle is between Lindsey, Mike Sullivan (Sully), and Robbie Vine.  Sully is a local who is a boat captain.  He and Lindsey have a history.  Robbie is a British actor, who can be quite funny, but a bit irritating at times.

I have not read a cozy in quite some time.  This was an enjoyable read for me.  It seemed like a real place with authentic characters.  Briar Creek felt like a comfortable place to visit with folks you might like to get to know.

Time to buckle up!  We are leaving the small town of Briar Creek in Connecticut and heading to Texas through the pages of Mornings on Main (2018) by Jodi Thomas.   Jillian James has landed in the small town of Laurel Springs hoping to find some kind of clue to the whereabouts of her father Jefferson James.

Jillian has not heard from her father since he dropped her off at college about 12 years ago.  The money ran out lone before she would have graduated.  Since that point in time she has been traveling solo in search of the man who left her.  Working odd jobs as her only source of income.

Laurel Falls was chosen because she found a journal of sorts that listed zip codes of places her father had been.  She does not know his connection to this small town.  It may have been associated with his work in the oil fields.

After locating an inexpensive room at Mrs. Kelly’s B & B, Jillian then heads out to explore the town.  She spots a help-wanted sign in the window of the Laurel Springs Daily.  This is where she meets Connor Larady.  Connor also is the town’s mayor, owns the property with all the long-forgotten factories, and is a father of a teenage daughter.  He also likes to write books although none have ever been published.

Turns out the job is not at the newspaper, but across the street at the quilt shop.  Jillian does not how to sew and was about to leave the office.  Connor offers her a short-term job at $15 an hour to inventory, catalog, and photograph his grandmother’s quilts for the county museum.  Jillian said she would do it for $20 an hour.  Connor hires her.

So begins Jillian’s short stay in Laurel Springs and her time in the quilt shop, A Stitch in Time, which has been Gram’s for over 50 years.  Jillian is greeted by Gram with a friendly wink and says, “Call me Gram if you like.  All Connor’s friends do.”

At closing time that first day at the shop, Jillian and Connor end up walking home together.  Turns out Connor lives near the B & B where Jillian is renting the room.  The next morning Jillian unexpectedly meets Sunnie, Connor’s daughter, at the shop.  Sunnie is anything but a ray of sunshine dressed all in black.  Jillian thought Stormy or Scary might be better names for this sullen looking teenager.  She also meets Joe Dunaway, a dear friend of Gram’s.

Jillian continues to search for clues that might lead to her father.  As time passes, she learns more and more about the town.  She finds she enjoys the stories told by the quilting ladies.  Like it or not, attachments with the town are developing along with the people and Connor in particular, are growing.  It frightens Jillian and at the same time touches a place in her heart.

Sunnie, whose given name is Sunshine, is dealing with being a teenager.  She is to help out in the shop but popular high school senior Derrick has set his sights on Sunnie.  Everything did not work out as Sunnie had hoped.  Jillian’s quick thinking helps open Sunnie’s eyes to an unpleasant side of Derrick.  And then along came Reese.

I found Mornings on Main a gentle book with humor, a touch of mystery, and love as viewed through the eyes of different ages:  Sunnie and Reese and their time together; Connor and Jillian as they grow closer; and Joe and Gram, in their 80s, caring for one another.

You will have to read this for yourself to find out if Jillian finds her father and/or decides to take a chance on Connor and Laurel Springs, a small town that is coming back to life.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about nice people who seemed so real.

 

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