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Cozy up to the Devil in a Tank Top

A Saxee Contemporary Mystery Romance

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Rating 4 out of 5 stars

***Slight Spoilers Ahead****

The Devil Drinks Coffee and Wears Tank Tops. The Devil in Branson Falls is most definitely Kate Saxee, even if someone else is running around killing people and she’s the one trying to figure out whodunit.

It’s summer in Branson Falls, and it’s hot – not really to those of us who practically live on the equator, but I digress. So, like lots of reasonable women, Kate wears tanks tops. But that doesn’t fit in with the good Mormon values of Branson Falls, especially when teens in the area start following her sinful example. Neither does her drinking coffee or having a love life. As is typical in cozy mysteries, Kate is as sassy, smart, and fiery as they come. Besides the dangerous mystery at hand, she can’t decide between her two beaus – a choice made even harder this time around as the one she’d taken off the table becomes decidedly more attractive in this book. And no matter what she does, the Ladies of Branson Falls are prepared to take her to task for it – especially with their new fangled Facebook page devoted to spying and chronicling her many sins.

It’s time for the annual county fair, and people are turning up sick and acting wacky all over town. Almost like they’ve been dosed with drugs. Maybe exactly like they’ve been dosed with drugs. And once again it’s up to Branson Fall’s star newspaper editor to save the day. The second book in the Kate Saxee series features the same zany characters and cozy feel as the first one. Anyone from a small town – or the South – will likely recognize a cast of characters similar to those from their own hometowns. Though I’ve never been to Utah, it felt like any number of small Southern towns I’ve called home through the years.

The only thing that gave me pause about this one, making it a little less enjoyable than Kate’s debut was the slight “Reefer Madness,” drugs are always bad tone the book took on as Kate figured out the case. Sure, it’s completely logical that a hyper-religious town wouldn’t want even medical grade marijuana legalized. It’s less believable that Kate, billed as a liberal and educated rule-breaker, would be anti-marijuana in this day and age. When this book was published, Utah already allowed the medical use of CBD and THC. In 2018, their Senate passed a bill legalizing some medical usage. It felt a little like the writer wanted to promote the health benefits, but couldn’t quite stomach it. This is fine, but it stretched the Kate’s character in ways that didn’t feel true to her design.

Despite this strange trip down DARE memory lane, the book was quite enjoyable. Kate’s love triangle inched along, muddying the waters and offering no resolution, which is par for the course in the genre. I’ve seen some drag on for over ten books before offering any real resolution in the romance department. As long as you make it enjoyable – which the author has – it can be the best kind of torture. She teases us appropriately with the two love interests, who are both wrapped up in their own work, which leaves Kate plenty of time to have her own career and interests – like repeatedly getting threatened and almost killed by nefarious groups.

If you love cozy mysteries, you will love these books. Ford hints at naughtiness a little more than some other cozy mysteries I’ve read, which were all G-rated and ready for their Hallmark adaptation, but these characters stop only just shy of the naughty bits. So, if a thrilling mystery with a side of (mostly) clean romance is your preference, this will meet those criteria. If you’ve stumbled upon this one first, check out my review of Ford’s first in the Series “The Devil Drinks Coffee” here. I’m a big fan of the genre and am pleased that my Kindle advertised this to me.

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