Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner
Molly Elliott’s quiet life in Tallahassee, Florida, is disrupted when routine errands land her in the wrong place at the wrong time: the middle of a bank robbery. Accused and cleared of the crime, she flees both media attention and mysterious, threatening notes, to move across the country to Cranberry Cove, where she has inherited her Aunt Maggie’s bed and breakfast on the Northern California coast. Her new beginning is peaceful – that is, until five guests show up at the inn for a weekend, each with a hidden agenda.
Mix together one blushing honeymoon couple, one flamboyant boutique owner, a deadpan traveling salesman, and a charmingly handsome novelist, and there’s more than scones cooking at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. As true motives become apparent, will Molly’s past come back to haunt her or will she finally be able to leave it behind?
About the author
Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.
Molly dried the last of the breakfast dishes and put them away before sitting down to look over the inn’s schedule. No new arrivals were due that evening, or the next. But she had to do some shuffling to accommodate Bryce Winslow’s longer stay. She still couldn’t believe she hadn’t written down his departure date. That wasn’t like her. She always kept on top of the details in her reservation book. Had their phone conversation thrown her off-balance that much? Apparently it had.
She didn’t like feeling scattered, the way she’d felt when she left Tallahassee. Taking over Aunt Maggie’s bed and breakfast in Cranberry Cove had been a chance for her to reorganize her life, to start over. It was one of the main reasons she was there.
Molly shuddered, thinking about Florida. Her life there had been peaceful for so many years. She’d loved her job as an administrative assistant at a small advertising agency. Long work hours during the week were rewarded with free weekends. She didn’t have to put in the extra hours that the ad execs did. Saturdays and Sundays often found her enjoying the warm waters on a Gulf Coast beach or adventuring through swamp areas. She’d landed some impressive alligator pictures on one of those trips.
Her duties at the ad agency were basic, which suited her just fine. She handled incoming phone calls, made coffee, kept appointment calendars updated and ran errands when needed. Aside from the lack of romance in her life, it was a perfect existence. Until that day.
She hadn’t realized at the time that she’d walked into a bad situation. It was an ordinary morning. She’d stopped at FedEx to send out an overnight package, chatting about sports with the clerk, a college student. He was a Gators fan; she was a Seminoles fan. They had a long history of jovial teasing whenever she dropped off shipments.
From the FedEx office she’d stopped at a favorite coffee house, grabbing a decaf macchiato to go. Her next stop was a quick drive-through at the post office, where she dropped a batch of metered mailings in the driveway box. And then she went to the bank.
For the three years she’d worked for the ad agency, she’d taken a daily deposit to the bank. She was a stickler for accuracy, and the execs appreciated her efficient loyalty. She never thought twice about her quick jaunts in and out of the bank building. It was an errand, just like any other errand she had to run. At least it was, until the day a woman at the teller’s window next to her pulled out a gun. One minute Molly was thanking the teller for the ad agency’s deposit receipt. The next, she was sprawled out on the floor, like everyone else who had the misfortune to be in the bank at that moment.
It had all happened so quickly, though it didn’t seem like that at the time. The news reports later would say the robber was gone within six minutes. To Molly, face pressed against the bank’s cold, marble floor, it felt like hours.
That should have been the end of it. The whole episode should have gone down as a terrifying close call. She could have gone on with her life as it had been if not for a wild twist of fate. The robber had the same build, hair length and hair color as Molly, who had walked away quickly after the incident even before police arrived. She was shaken, but assumed the experience was over. Little did she know what was about to unfold.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I’d like to thank Kathy from I am a reader and the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this light mystery and think it was the perfect book to get me out of my reading slump. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like this book when I started it because of how short it was and how long it’s been since I’ve read a mystery, but I was pleasantly surprised. Deborah Garner created an intricate plot in a short time enveloping each and every character into the story nicely. The story is mainly told from Molly Eliot’s point of view, but contains the points of view of the other five main characters.
Molly is the main character who begins her life anew in Northern California after a bank robbery gone wrong in Florida. She is in charge of her late aunt’s bed and breakfast and wants nothing more than to leave her past behind. However, one weekend brings her past rushing back in an unexpected way when five guests stay at the inn that weekend. These five guests are all connected to each other and Molly’s past in twisting and surprising ways. The plot twist toward the end had me reeling and I’m sure I’m not the first.
However, the only reason I gave this book four stars and not five is because of the romance between Molly and Bryce, a guest at the inn. I liked how it played out in the end, but I think the execution in the beginning could have been better.
Overall, I really enjoyed this mystery and would like to read more of Garner’s boos. Side note: I love the recipe book at the end!
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