Release Date: Jan 28, 2020
Series: Secret, Book & Scone
Rainy and unseasonably cool weather in western North Carolina brings more customers than usual to Nora Pennington’s book store. One of those customers is Sheldon Vega who starts out helping Nora out at Miracle Books, but may turn out to be a permanent employee and also a new friend for Nora and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society. On a recent search for interesting items sell along with the books in her store, Nora meets a Cherokee potter and his pregnant wife. Nora is struck by the love between the couple so when Danny’s dead body is found and it’s ruled an accidental drowning, Nora insists on investigating to see if there is more to the young man’s death than it appears.
This is the third book in this series and the second I have read. It was easier to get to know the main characters in this book since I have read the previous book, but think it’s accessible to new readers. Nora, the main character, is strong, but vulnerable. She has made mistakes in her past and now can sometimes be too single-minded without thinking of the consequences of her actions. However, she is still a likable character because of her genuine concern for people, whether they’re her friends, her boyfriend, or strangers. I enjoy the camaraderie between Nora and her best friends June, Hester, and Estella. I have mixed feelings about Nora’s relationship with Jed. Sometimes I think the two are truly in love and are meant to be together, but at other times it seems like Jed is looking for more out of the relationship than Nora. It makes it hard to know if I should be rooting for the two of them or not. I really like their new friend Sheldon. He is charming, funny, and adds some lightness to store and the series, so I hope he sticks around for future books.
The complex characters are a highlight of this well-written book. The discussions Nora and her friends have regarding their pasts and what’s currently going on in their lives is well-done and more like conversations that would occur in a Women’s Fiction novel as opposed to a mystery. The mystery of Danny’s death, however, is interesting and Nora spends a lot of time talking to witnesses and suspects to find out the truth. Because of the rain and the atmosphere, the book has a gothic feel, with plenty of foreboding of the killer striking again. There are a few twists in the story and I wasn’t able to guess the solution.
Nora doesn’t just sell books, she helps certain customers with book therapy, healing their pain through individualize book recommendations. As an added gift to booklovers, several real books are mentioned throughout the story as Nora helps customers and friends find the perfect book. Nora and her friends also discuss books they have read. There is a readers’ guide with discussion questions for The Book of Candlelight that real life book clubs can use. One of Nora’s friends mentions that an incredible book is so disappointing if the ending falls flat. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with this book which ends on a charming, uplifting note. I look forward to spending more time with Nora and her friends in future installments.