ARC Review: “Deadly Ever After,” by Eva Gates

Another day, another awesome cozy set in a seaside town replete with books and a faithful cat. When the formula works, it works! Deadly Ever After is book eight in the Lighthouse Library series, and is the fourth ARC in a row I am late on. However, I am honored to receive it, as Eva Gates is one of (if not number one) my favorite cozy authors right now. So thank you, Netgalley and Crooked Lane for the opportunity!


From the Publisher:

Librarian Lucy’s wedding is at stake when a murder interrupts her engagement celebrations. To make it down the aisle, she’ll have to find the killer to save the date in the 8th book in the Lighthouse Library mysteries.

They’re getting married! Lucy Richardson and Connor McNeil have announced their engagement. Their friends throw a party for the couple at Coquina Beach, close to Lucy’s beloved Bodie Island Lighthouse Library.

As they’re packing up the presents and the (few) leftovers from Josie’s Cozy Bakery, who should arrive, but Richard Eric Lewiston III, Lucy’s former almost-fiancé and his overbearing mother Evangeline. Push comes to love when Evangeline makes no secret of why she’s here: to get Lucy and Ricky back together.

Lucy isn’t temped in the least, and Ricky is nothing but embarrassed at his mother’s desperate ploy. Before returning to Boston Evangeline throws a dinner party at Jake’s Seafood Bar for a reluctant Lucy and her family. Lucy hopes to get the dinner over with and see Evangeline and Ricky returning to Boson. But when a body is found at the restaurant’s kitchen door, Lucy is again forced to unwillingly put on her detective’s hat and do what she can to save her family and her engagement. Meanwhile, the classic novel reading club is reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, and open war breaks out in the Lighthouse Library when Lucy agrees to temporarily take care of a dog named Fluffy, but Charles the library cat has other ideas.


What I Loved:

  • Boston meets OBX. We don’t often get to see Lucy’s family or hear much about her life pre-Bodie Head Lighthouse. Lucy left her fiancé and cushy job at the Harvard Library and moved to a small library in a lighthouse, and the rest is history (heh). However, it was so much fun having Lucy’s past and present collide. First of all, it was great seeing Lucy’s parents being so supportive of her life in OBX and the rare moments of affection between them all. In prior books, the tension is always shown, but here, Lucy’s parents really show the power of family and forgiveness. Second, it is so much fun seeing Lucy’s trashy ex and his controlling mother make fools of themselves. As a proud Scorpio, I take great joy in a good “revenge by living a better life” arc, and Lucy showing Ricky her amazing new life is so satisfying. Last, I am a northeast girl myself (New York strong, etc.) and a lawyer, to boot, but I can appreciate the digs at stuffy New England law firms and the toxic masculinity present in big board room firms. Having the murder victim be a sleazy New England lawyer who fell to the wayside was satisfying.
  • Lucy and Detective Watson. One of my biggest pet peeves with cozies is the often bumbling police force and racist/sexist lead detective. There is none of that in the Lighthouse Library series. Detective Sam Watson is sharp, kind, hard working, and a loving husband who occasionally joins the town’s book club. Him and Lucy have a great rapport, where he regularly reminds her that civilian snooping can get her in trouble/danger while also valuing her keen observation skills and ability to get people to talk to her. Deadly Ever After accentuates their unique relationship even more, with the victim being someone Lucy knew and all of the suspects people Lucy grew up with. I love how much Detective Watson trusts her judgment, while also being constantly worried that Lucy is going to get herself killed.
  • Fluffy the Dog. Because Charles the cat needed a sidekick and Lucy needed a puppy to save her life.

What Didn’t Work As Well:

  • Evangeline. As much as I hypothetically know that some people are as odious and money grabbing as people like Ricky’s mom Evangeline, she is almost comically ridiculous here. Talk about monster in law! It was almost exhausting how bad she was.
  • The murder mystery. With all of the potential killers that seemed too convenient, I ended up guessing who the killer was based on the Agatha Christie method – who was least likely / not suspected? I am not usually good at discovering the killer, so actually getting this time right was a little off putting. The mystery felt ancillary to showing Lucy’s past and her and Ricky resolving their unfinished business. This is less of a detractor for me because I love these characters, but someone who hasn’t read the whole series probably won’t like this as a mystery.

Conclusion:

Another awesome installation in the Lighthouse Library series! My only regret is that a place like this doesn’t actually exist. Four waves out of five! This will be you perfect beach read. For those of you who haven’t read this series yet, please check out book one, By Book or By Crook, and grab your copy here (available on sale in paperback!) If you are an Eva Gates devotee, come buy Deadly Ever After here!

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