MARRIAGE AND MURDER by Penny Reid – double review!

The Devil is in the details . . .

Cletus Byron Winston wishes to marry Jennifer Anne Donner-Sylvester (aka The Banana Cake Queen) posthaste! He’s spent the last year wanting nothing more than for the celebrations to be brief, libations flowing, and BYOB (bring your own blueberries). His future mother-in-law has other plans, plans his intended has been willing to indulge, much to Cletus’s chagrin. Therefore, so must he. To a point. But truth be told, he wouldn’t mind if the meddlesome matriarch disappeared, at least until the nuptials are over.

On the night of Cletus and Jenn’s long-awaited engagement party, just when the surly schemer is of a mind to take matters into his own hands, a shocking event upends everyone’s best laid plans and sends the small hamlet of Green Valley into complete disarray. The final months leading up to Cletus and Jenn’s matrimonial bliss are plagued with chaos and uncertainty. Will Cletus and Jenn finally make it to the altar? Or will murder and mayhem derail their happily-ever-after?
And most importantly, who done it?

‘Marriage and Murder’ is the second book in the cozy mystery series Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries. It is best read after Winston Brothers #3, ‘Beard Science’ (which can be read as a standalone) and Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries #1, ‘Engagement and Espionage.’


Title : Marriage and Murder
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Solving for Pie : Cletus and Jenn Mysteries (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 347
Genre : romance/contemporary mystery
Publisher : Cipher-Naught
Release Date : March 2, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I snuck a peek at my review for book one of this series just to see if my feelings about this follow-up were on par and.. you know, mostly? Yes. Also it’s funny to see I had spent a sunday afternoon reading book one and here I spent a sunday morning reading this one. Sundays are for mysteries?

But to reiterate from my previous review, seriously, what is in the water in this town? I realize this is a “mystery” series spinoff from the main books but honestly. Town o’lunatics. Having said that, though, there were fewer characters who irritated me this time around (we love to see growth!) but the drama level is high. Even though I think this one was tamer.. in a few ways. Vague comments are vague.

Overall I find a lot of the conflicts in Reid’s books are a wee bit OTT but I think it feels manageable because her characters are also full of personality. So it all kind of feels on-par.. until you stop and think about it.

Cletus, one of the characters with the absolute most personality, however? He was really off his game in this one. There were reasons (excuses) given of course but it was interesting to see Reid put him through being.. well, fallible. Not quite the smartest in the room. I’m not sure I had many thoughts about Jenn, or about her realizations or the things she came to terms with, which may not be a good thing but neither was it bad. And, I mean, even though this is their series, overall it’s the ensemble that really sells this for me. As always.

Somewhat bonkers plot and conflict aside, even if my feelings overall are becoming bit muted about these books as time goes on, I still had a pretty good time being back in this world. And after all this time, and after all these books and spinoffs, it would take something pretty big to get me to stop reading at this point.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Shenanigans upon shenanigans
Family crises
Cue Barry White music

Marriage and Murder took me by surpise in a few ways. Things happened fast and I did not expect that to happen. Another thing I didn’t expect in this book was the pace change in terms of the intimacy between Jenn & Cletus. Book one was a desert and book two was a flood. All the mayhem was wrapped up in the usual tone of the Winstons, Cletus especially bringing that sanguine, dry wit.

I didn’t always love the story in this one but I will always love the Winstons per se and we got lots of side servings. I particularly loved the Ash side storyline in this one, it was pretty special and I have missed Ashley a little. I could have done with a bit more Drew, though. The Iron Wraiths are a necessary evil in this book but they always discomfort me and I think they’re supposed to.

I liked seeing Jenn’s self confidence rise but I also didn’t feel like I got enough of Jenn’s psyche in this book, especially considering how all the events would have had such an impact on her.

The pacing was fast to lull, then it picked up again. Sometimes I had to push a little reading but the culmination was a doozy (a good one). This series is definitely one for the fans and Penny Reid pulls off the suspense alongside keeping the wit and romance of the Winstons.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

ENGAGEMENT AND ESPIONAGE by Penny Reid – double review!

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.
Sabotage!
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. 


Title : Engagement and Espionage
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries Series #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 350
Genre : Cosy Mystery
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : July 14, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4 star review

What a delight it was to be back with Cletus and Jenn in ENGAGEMENT & ESPIONAGE. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the idea of a mystery series but it felt all the Winston familiarity I desired alongside a compelling set of circumstances. These characters (okay Cletus) had all the quirkiness and oddities you would expect, wrapped up in funny shennanigans. I was fully entertained from start to finish.

I love that Penny Reid has the confidence to drop you in a timeline you don’t expect and it 100% works. Cletus and Jenn weren’t that long past their origin story and I loved being able to pick back up with them there and see how they fared with the challenges that came. I hope you’re ready for the frustration and ancitipation of a sloooooowww burn.

This story had chickens as you might expect but it went from ooh to arghhh as the tale took some sinister turns. Cletus and Jenn made a great team, not quite in tune, not quite communicating brilliantly but with a connection that grounded them to a common goal…their bedroom. Jenn’s mother and father were central to events and they took some figuring out. The Winston brothers’ were ever present and I was pretty happy when they were on-page.

There were some fantastic moments involving emergency lasagna, rings, mistaken identities and bottoms. I laughed out loud many times and this was just ideal entertainment for my weekend.

“Bakers is one vowel away from being ‘bikers’.”

Penny Reid’s brand of humour, intelligent, odd and unusual totally floats my boat and I cannot wait for more from this series.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy




Hollis’ 3.5 star review

BEARD SCIENCE is one of my favourite Winston Brothers books so I was thrilled to hear that Reid was bringing Cletus and Jenn back into the forefront (though lets be honest, Cletus steals the show in pretty much all the books) for their own spinoff that bridges some of the time jumps in the main series.

Getting even was a waste of time. Why would I get even when I could get the advantage?

I think what I loved most, beyond being reunited with this family (even if it’s back in time and not everything is in the HEA-state that we’ve already seen), was the realism in the post-BEARD SCIENCE reality that just because the couple ended up together, doesn’t mean everything is magically perfect after the book closes. Jenn and Cletus are still working through some things, both individually and as a couple, and they are struggling to find time for each other, to keep to their commitments, to keep their promises. I liked that.

What I didn’t like? Jenn’s mother. Her father. The fact that the population of this town is 90% lunatic. Seriously, is there something in the water in Green Valley?

What’s the difference between the Emergency Lasagna and the Lasagna Emergency?
One fixes an emergency, the other causes an emergency.”

Everything not related to shitty parents and the mystery itself were great. I loved seeing old faces, the games Cletus plays, and I loved every page that featured Shelly (because of course I do). I also loved all the literal cock blocking, even the non-literal cocks that blocked, that set us on the road for a slow build to finally getting this couple to, well, couple.

Cletus, don’t you realize? You already have me. Stop being so careful.
And if I make a mistake?
Trust me to forgive you.

Overall this was a great way to spend a sunday and I have no doubt this will delight Jenntus fans and general Winston Brothers fans alike.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **