Smugglers & Scones by Morgan C. Talbot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 3.75

*Thank you to the author for a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review.*

The first thing I noticed about this book was that the cover was very artistic, creative, and “cute” – it may seem odd to have this sort of cover for a mystery novel, but believe me, it definitely fits. Some people on Goodreads have placed this book into the cozy mystery genre, and I have to agree.

Smugglers & Scones details the adventure of Pippa Winterbourne, who runs Moorehaven, a bed-and-breakfast that specializes in allowing mystery authors to visit and write their own crime novels in the place where the famous author, A. Raymond Moore, lived. One day Pippa comes across an overturned boat and a handsome pilot named Lake enters her life. But things are changing and when people begin getting murdered, Pippa must hurry to stop them before another victim is added to the list.

I think the setting was a very strong part of this novel; because of the setting, the story had a unique tone to it and the way the author describes the visuals really helps. Smugglers & Scones takes place on the coast of Oregon, and the author describes different scenes, such as cliffs, lighthouses, abandoned structures, and rocky coastlines. For me, I think this really allowed the story come to life, because I could imagine the view that the characters themselves could see.

Right off the bat, I felt like Pippa would be a character that I could definitely relate to, since I too (obviously) love to read. The idea of a bed-and-breakfast specifically for mystery authors is very unique, and Pippa was definitely the right kind of character for this setting. She was not wildly outspoken like the typical female main characters in young adult novels, but she had sort of quiet and intellectual strength about her that made her even more likable. In addition, I really enjoyed her interactions with the other characters, such as the authors that stayed at her inn. Her relationship dynamic with Lake was adorable (and I have no words to describe how much I ship them); it was very curious to read about how they got to know each other under such odd circumstances, but I think the author planned the progression very well. However, in terms of characters, I do wish that I learned and read more about some of the side characters. Lake and Pippa definitely are in the spotlight throughout the entire book, and I wish that I had more background about the others, such as Chloe or Pippa’s best friend.

The story itself is definitely very strong and curiously rooted in history. It was interesting to see how the Prohibition – an important part of history – played a part; this also contributed to how the story had a much different atmosphere than mysteries typically do.

For me, the story was a little slow at the beginning, but it definitely sped up around the halfway mark and became hard to put down. The writing style itself was very engaging. I really enjoyed the gentle balance between romance, humor, and the mystery itself. Overall, I would say that the story was very was light and happy for me (despite it being about murders), but it sort of felt like the type of book that I could curl up with on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

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