The fall harvest may be just about over, but orchard owner Meg Corey is busier than ever planning her wedding to Seth Chapin. Who knew picking apples would be less work than picking out rings and a dress? And even though the happy couple has invited most of Granford, Massachusetts, to the ceremony, they might have to make room for one more guest....
Ex-con Aaron Eastman has unexpectedly reappeared in his hometown, searching for answers to the tragic fire in his family's past that put him behind bars 25 years ago. Moved by his sincerity, Meg vows to do everything she can to help him solve the cold case. As she cobbles together the clues, it becomes increasingly clear that Aaron may have been considered the bad seed of the family, but someone else was one bad apple.
©2015 Sheila Connolly (P)2016 Tantor
The likeable characters and engaging description of family dynamics, both functional and dys-.
I enjoyed the author's switching things up by placing a cold case at the centre. Also, cozies such as this one attract me and keep my attention because of who & what surrounds the crime. As such, I am delighted that Meg & Seth have evolved into a more natural and believable couple. And it is a joy to become ever better acquainted with the cast of family & friends.
In sharp contrast to the previous narrator, Ms Gavin succeeds in making Meg and Seth sound like the 30-somethings they are supposed to be. I've always found it jarring that the two protagonists used to sound 20+ years older than the story would have them be.
The first book was slow. The next few picked up a bit. This one? I think all of the "action" takes place in about a week of time, and it takes longer than that to get through the audiobook! Our Heroine and Seth are finally about to wed. Hardly any plans are made, but they have a date and location. A Stranger shows up, fresh out of prison, questioning whether he was rightly convicted. Our Heroine gets distracted by his story and keeps putting off wedding stuff. What feels like 100 years later, mystery solved. And Seth installed a bathroom. Oh yah, and there was a wedding. After all that build up (books and books), the actual wedding was covered in a few pages. Presumably, they all live happily ever after.
Alas, the first 8 books were produced by Audible, and were fabulously narrated by Robin Miles. Ms. Miles "did" the voices in a lovely New England accent (is that the right term?). Nothing overdone. Just perfect! I could almost see the people, and feel how they felt about their small town.
Unfortunately, Marguerite Gavin is either unable or unwilling to continue with the accents for the New Englanders. The men might have been from Maryland, for all the accent they had. Bree, the orchard manager, is a young woman of Jamaican decent, who was born in the US and raised by her Jamaican grandmother. She's from rural Massachusetts and attended an ag program at U Mass. WHY does Ms Gavin feel she should have a bit stereotypical urban "black" sound to her voice? Forgive me, but I almost expected her to blurt, "Whatchew talkin about, Willis?" No no no.
Sheila Connolly stories are usually interesting with well thought out mysteries. However I was barely able to finish this story. I found the reasoning behind the investigation weak an unrealistic. Meg's character is annoying and dry. The supporting characters more likeable than Meg, and, I have know idea they continue to hang out with her. There is also no resolution to the story, other than Meg pulling strings. I would have rather seen how the devastated family resolved their issues. I'm beginning to think that Meg has a hero complex in which she feels like she has to solve everyone's problem, except her own. In this case, her own wedding. It boggles the mind the effort and time she put puts into planning her wedding. I hope the next story in this series is better than this one.
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