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Honeychurch Hall series by Hannah Dennison


Murder at Honeychurch Hall | Deadly Desire at Honeychurch Hall
May 13, 2014 | May 5, 2015
A BIG thank you to Minotaur for finished copies of both novels!

Long-time readers of the blog are well aware of my love of cozy mysteries – there’s just something about them that I can’t get enough of. Last year I received a finished copy of the first in the Honeychurch Hall series, Murder at Honeychurch Hall but put it off and put it off until the months turned into a year and the sequel, Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall showed up at my door. It was a perfectly rainy week and there’s nothing better for a rainy day than sinking into a good mystery – I immediately grabbed the first book off my shelf and haven’t looked back!

Kat Standford, host of the popular show Fakes & Treasures, has made the decision to step out of the spotlight and start up an antiques shop with her recently-widowed mother. Plans come to a grinding halt, however, when Kat discovers her mother has not only purchased a country house on the Honeychurch Hall estate, but she’s also the massively popular romance author Krystalle Storm whose bodice-rippers have become bestsellers around the world.

Determined to change her mother’s mind (especially after she sees the condition the Hall has fallen to – and maybe also to get away from her boyfriend’s so-to-be ex-wife) Kat leaves London behind for the countryside. When she arrives at Honeychurch Hall, however, she discovers life isn’t exactly what she expected. There’s a nasty feud with another resident (Kat’s mother is convinced he’s deliberately trying to get her to leave,) a missing nanny, a housekeeper with a treasure trove of Louboutins, a feisty 7-year-old obsessed with a fighter pilot, legends of ancient ancestors still roaming the halls – and to top it off, a body is discovered. Looks like Kat might have been better off battling the press back in London!

Murder at Honeychurch Hall starts with a bang and doesn’t let up until the last page. From the get-go, the characters are practically leaping off the page and I couldn’t get enough of them. Edith, the dowager countess who’s still a champion equestrian at 84. Harry, the Honeychurch heir who treats everything like a top secret mission (his interactions with Kat are the absolute best!) Iris, widow by day, steamy romance writer by night. Kat’s boyfriend David and his wife Trudy were excellent – I couldn’t help but hate them! Even the antiques are characters in their own right: there’s a bit about the Steiff Titanic mourning bear (in 2001, one sold at Christie’s for $18,500!!) that I found fascinating and actually stopped reading in order to discover more.

Though I was delighted by the mystery (which actually doesn’t happen until the very end of the novel) Murder at Honeychurch Hall had the one trope I cannot stand: the killer decided to tell Kat every single detail. Why, book, why?! Still, a solid start to what is turning out to be a fun and intriguing series! M. C. Beaton has a blurb featured on the cover stating this this novel is “just the thing to chase the blues away” and I have to say she’s right!

THE FUN DOESN’T STOP THERE, THOUGH! Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall picks up two months after the events of the first book and all my favorite characters are back! Harry, shipped off to boarding school has escaped more than once. There’s new staff, a mother-daughter hoarder team, a just-released-from-prison uncle, Kat finally comes to her senses about David, and everyone’s up in arms over a new train proposal. If approved, it’ll cut directly through the community – and many of Little Dipperton’s residents won’t receive compensation. They’ll simply be forced out of their homes with nowhere to go. It seems death has a way of following Kat, for there’s yet another body discovered – and the motive behind it is just as thrilling.

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, the Honeychurch Hall series is sure to please (it actually refers to the show numerous times!) A quirky cast of characters with compelling mysteries to boot, Honeychurch Hall is excellent and the perfect read for a rainy, gloomy weekend. I’m actually a little disappointed I put off the first novel for so long (though reading these two back-to-back was an absolute joy.) I’m eagerly awaiting the third installment, Ms. Dennison!

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