I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Tracy Gardner
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Publish Date: August 11, 2020
Series: Shepard Sisters Mysteries #2
This book is perfect for those that like: Loving Families, Swoony Doctors Who Fly Back From NYC, and Mystery Brothers.
You might not like this book if you aren’t into: Terrible Parents, Characters With Terrible Timing When Other Characters Are About to Kiss, or ALMOST KISSES.
From Goodreads: Savanna Shepherd, an art expert turned elementary art teacher, is planning the Art in the Park festival for her hometown of Carson. But apparently, someone isn’t happy that Carson got to host the event: the beloved statue in the park is destroyed. Not long after, Savanna finds the dead body of one of the people on the planning committee. Savanna and her sisters are convinced that the arrested murder suspect didn’t do it, despite strong evidence to the contrary. With the help of Dr. Aidan Gallagher, Savanna’s new romantic interest, they uncover hidden resentments and intrigue. Several people in Carson had a motive for the murder. Can they find out which one of them is behind the framing of an innocent person?
From the moment I finished Tracy Gardner’s Out of the Picture, the first cozy mystery published by Hallmark Publishing, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the second book in the series, Behind the Frame. I couldn’t wait to catch up with the Shepherd Sisters and Dr. Gallagher (although, tbh, I was hoping for a love triangle with a certain School Librarian, but it’s fine. I’m fine. I STILL LOVE YOU JACK CARSON), and all of the other residents of Carson, Michigan.
And was it worth the wait?? YES. YES IT WAS.
Y’all, it’s official. I LOVE this series. It’s always a worry when you find a good first book in a new series that the second won’t live up to the charm, but y’all, this second installment not only hit every note for me mystery-wise but offered so much character insight and just overall felt like a much more developed world.
First off, the Shepherd Family. Oh, how I love this family. Their weekly dinners, their snarky, but loving interactions, their genuine care for one another, they all leave me smiling during their scenes. They speak to each other like a real family would and are always there for one another when they need to be. Not to mention that while Harlan and Charlotte, parents to the three sisters, Savanna, Skylar, and Sydney, obviously want their children to be safe, they do let them make their own decisions throughout these stories. The sisters aren’t ever really made to feel guilty for their choices and I can’t say enough about how much I love their whole family dynamic.
Then there’s Dr. Aidan Gallagher, who’s obviously dreamy, but like Harlan and Charlotte, he doesn’t stand in the way of Savanna (or her sister’s) sleuthing. In fact, he even helps out and goes with Savanna on her fact-finding missions. Their romance is slow (which I won’t lie, I was yelling at my book to JUST KISS ALREADY) but their story is worth the wait. And when the moment comes I was like, SHUTUP, NO HE DIDN’T.
The actual mystery left me guessing until the end and I very much enjoyed the big reveal and having it all come together. The final moment wasn’t as intense as the first book, but it made sense, which I always appreciate. I also liked the fact that Savanna wasn’t drawn into another forgery scenario. Her character, a former art authenticator, has an eye for detail, which is helpful for solving crimes, but could very easily get into cliche territory should each mystery be artwork-based. Sure, there’s an art-based storyline in Behind the Frame, but instead of relying on the art itself as a motive for murder, the story uses Savanna’s same instincts in a new way. This successfully moved her beyond only working with art and into more of the world where she can continue sleuthing- perhaps even with Detective Jordan’s approval?? (EEP.) Time will tell though and now I’m even more excited for Book Three, Still Life and Death coming August 2021.
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