Book Review and Giveaway: A Chocolate Is Announced by Amber Royer

A CHOCOLATE IS ANNOUNCED

Bean to Bar Mystery, #7

By Amber Royer

Cozy Mystery / Culinary Mystery / Women Sleuths

Publisher: Golden Tip Press

Pages: 277

Publication Date: June 25, 2024

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SYNOPSIS

Felicity Koerber is finally getting her life together.  She has a fiancé, her bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has become a gathering spot for the community, and she is ready to embrace whatever the future holds.  She’s ready for another launch party – despite the disaster at her grand opening, when she’d first gotten involved with solving a murder.  And this time she’s embracing her status as a sleuth.  She’s hosting a murder mystery weekend to celebrate the new Mystery Flavor line of craft chocolate bars.  She’s held a contest to choose the attendees, who will all stay at her aunt’s flip hotel and enjoy the island.  It’s all supposed to be perfectly random – only, Felicity starts to uncover connections between her guests.  When one of them winds up murdered, Felicity has to keep her aunt from becoming the main suspect.

The killer is very clearly calling Felicity out, leaving clues that mean little to anyone other than her.  But that doesn’t narrow down the suspect pool.  Her guests are there because they love the true crime podcast she’s been featured on.  And she can’t decide whether the killer wants her to catch them – or just wants to taunt her.

Meanwhile, Felicity is also playing host to her future in-laws and discovers that her fiancé’s sister, who is also a cop, is very competitive.  Can Felicity hold her own and make a good impression, while keeping her business together and her aunt out of jail?  And can Felicity solve it in time to protect the people she cares about from becoming additional victims?   

Satchmo the retired police dog turned therapy dog returns to help her sniff out a few clues, and one of the guests brings along a ferret named Cheeseburger, who keeps showing up in the most unexpected places.

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I love Amber Royer’s Bean to Bar Mysteries! (You can see my reviews of previous books here.) But I think A Chocolate Is Announced may be the best so far. Felicity is engaged to Logan, Greetings and Felicitations is doing well, and renovations are proceeding nicely on the hotel her aunt plans to flip. Logan is getting more involved in the chocolate-making side of the business, and they’re hosting a murder mystery weekend to introduce the bars he’s created.

The contestants are supposed to be randomly selected. But as they arrive and the contest begins, connections between the participants start to come to light. Ted seems to be the man everyone has a reason to hate. Felicity’s Aunt Naomi even has a past history with him. And when Ted ends up dead for real, Felicity has to do some investigating to keep her aunt from topping the list of suspects.

This is a locked room mystery twice! Ted’s body is discovered in his hotel room, no visible signs of anyone else having been in the room with him. And the hotel where everyone is staying is also locked down! The killer has made it a requirement that only four people are allowed to leave and return to the property, presumably so they can investigate. If anyone else leaves, the killer says more people will die. This makes for some tense moments and people getting sick of each other’s company in a hurry, as they all try to congregate in the main areas of the hotel as much as possible.

We get to meet Logan’s parents and sister under these less than ideal circumstances, and Felicity has some doubts about how well she’s going to fit in with the family. And once Logan tells her his parents want to buy them a house, she jumps to some conclusions that make her a little anxious about the security of their relationship. (Felicity, don’t jump to conclusions!) We also get to see Felicity and Arlo thrown together. You’d think it would be super awkward, working to solve a crime with the man you didn’t choose and his girlfriend on the premises, but surprisingly, they’re able to work together pretty well.

We don’t see much of Felicity’s beloved bunny Knightly in this story, but that’s because he’s out of the reach of the ferret, Cheeseburger, brought by one of the contestants. Felicity knows ferrets and rabbits generally don’t do well together, so she has Knightly in someone else’s care for the weekend. Cheeseburger’s shenanigans are engaging, though, and one wonders whether his owner was somehow involved with the murder.

And the mystery! Royer kept me guessing, with plenty of twists and turns and red herrings. There’s the tie-in t0 a classic novel, although this time it wasn’t a straight-up mystery novel. It was interesting to see how Royer connected the novel to the story and worked the mystery around it.

Another winner in the Bean to Bar series, and this one left us with lots of little details about what might come next! I’ll be waiting anxiously for the eighth book in the series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach.

Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape, architecture, and wildlife photographs.

If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs
about creative writing technique and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com.

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4 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: A Chocolate Is Announced by Amber Royer

  1. Love, love this review and look forward to a new mystery (mysteries?) and the ferret, Cheeseburger! Thanks for sharing your thoughts so enthusiastically. Can’t wait to dive in.

  2. Cindy Davis says:

    What a cute cover and awesome title! Great review!

  3. Amber Royer says:

    Thanks for such a kind and thoughtful review! I am currently outlining Book 8, and I think you will enjoy the little field trip the characters are going on to a chocolate festival in Tokyo.

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