Cover Art by Vanessa Westermann is a breathtaking murder mystery in which wonderful characters bring small town secrets to light. While mostly cozy, this story doesn’t shy away from the darkness that is always present in small towns as well.
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the author per request of an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Cover Art by Vanessa Westermann
The story centers around two main characters; Charley and Matt.
Charley has come to town for the summer to open a pop up gallery. While she’s there, she plans to stay in her grandparents home that was left to her and her sister, but in which her sister now lives full time. Drawn back into the local charm of the town immediately, she also can’t help but get involved when things start going sideways.
Matt had come back to town months before Charley, but his focus was less fun. He was back in town originally to sort out his fathers belongings after the man passed away. But while doing that, he also opened up a chocolate shop that is a huge hit with the locals and the summer cottagers alike! When he’s not working at the shop, Matt is determined to uncover his fathers secrets as he just knows the man was hiding something from him.
In perfect cozy mystery fashion, these two have an adorable meet cute before their paths cross time and time again. The connection between them sparks immediately, causing readers to root for them from the very start!
The story starts out very warm and friendly, but soon tension begins to rise as various situations occur. Then a man dies and they suspect it wasn’t just an accident. This spins the tale into a tense and twisted path of secrets and coverups.
I was hooked immediately as I fell in love with all of the characters as soon as we met them. I loved really getting to know each of the characters and seeing their relationships with one another. I especially loved the sisterly bond between Charley and Meghan.
When the murder occurred, I could not put the story down. There were many scenes that had me hunching my shoulders as I read as quickly as I could to see what was about to happen next! The tension in many scenes really had my heart pounding!
I loved all of the curveballs that were thrown in along the way that make readers guess at the identity of the killer. For me, I couldn’t have pointed a finger in any one direction until the big reveal.
My Favorite Passages from Cover Art
Nothing like a little fresh air to clear the mind, take the edge off frustration.
When everything else turned to chaos, Meghan was the eye in the storm, the calm at the centre of it all. She didn’t waste time asking questions. Used to emergencies, she grabbed the car keys off the hook on her way into the living room.
All around them, flowerpots overflowed with bright blooms. Mason jar lights dangled from wires. The flickering flames danced shadows over the face of the terracotta archer, kneeling between sage and lavender. Past all those green leaves around them, beyond the yellow and red flowering spikes of gladiolus, the lake gleamed, smooth as glass. A white sail flashed. In the distance, a great blue heron rose up form the shore. With slow wingbeats, it flew overhead.
The street was cloudless and sun soaked. But on the best days, Oakcrest was pleasure and pain, mixed into one. Like biting your tongue and tasting blood and chocolate at the same time. All that quaint charm, along with the memories he’d rather forget.
A stainless-steel Thermos mug rattled in the cupholder between them, sloshing and probably more than half-full, from the sound of it. He hadn’t even finished his coffee before offering to help her.
The sliding door in the living room stood wide open to catch the breeze off the lake, tinged with a hint of burnt sugar and wood smoke from some distant bonfire. The water mirrored the thick brushstrokes of colour that deepened the evening sky to shades of violet and red.
Sparks flew in the shadows. Rising like ghosts from the past, striking flint rocks in the night. A glimmer at first, then more and more flickered through the wildflowers lining the roadside. Drifting through clusters of Queen Anne’s lace, glowing between the tiny white flowers.
Every move Matt made seemed to dredge up more secrets that muddied what should have been more clear as the lake on a summer day. But sometimes, when the silt settled, you found gold. And he was prepared to sift through the murk to find it.
“Life calls for many sacrifices, but a dream should not be one of them.”
My Final Thoughts on Cover Art
I had an absolute blast reading this! Everything is just perfect, from the description of the town and the character development, to the pacing and the plotting of the story overall.
Fans of cozy murder mysteries, you need to snag this one!
Pre-order a copy through Bookshop to help support local indie bookshops! This book is out May 17, 2022 from Cormorant Books: