Cover Image: Muffin But Trouble

Muffin But Trouble

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Muffins & Murder

As an avid reader of Cozy Mysteries, I was delighted to receive this book for review. 

I am new to Victoria Hamilton, but I must say she did not disappoint. Muffin But Trouble has a wonderful cast of loveable characters that help make for a real page turner. 

This installment of the Merry Muffin Mystery series, leaves readers wondering what kind of business a sinister "guru" is conducting. Is he or one of his followers responsible for the death of a young girl? If, so why would he/they do such a thing?

Not only was I left craving some muffin goodness while reading, I was left hungry for more of this delectable series. 

Get your copy today! You won't regret it.
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I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I jumped into this series on #6, but it did not keep me from enjoying this book.  Merry Wynter is remodeling the castle she inherited from her great uncle into an arts showplace, but, in the meantime, she is trying to figure out what is going on with the religious group that has moved into town and is harassing women on the streets, plus she is sure that the missing girls that her husband Virgil is helping to find have to have something to do with this new cult. 

I really enjoyed this book.  It is different than a lot of cozies in that there are POC, an LGBTQ character, some referenced intimacy, and even a couple swear words.  It was refreshing to see different kinds of people included, but I do think that the intimacy and swear words could bother some readers of cozies, if they prefer their cozies "super cozy."  However, as I said, I enjoyed it and will definitely look into more of this series.
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I want to start off by saying that I liked this book and will be keeping my eye out for the rest of the series. But i think there were some specific issues with the plot that I didn’t love. But I enjoyed the characters and the setting and will be returning to the series.

OK, so the plot follows Merry, who is a baker and castle owner who is turning her property into a veritable community center. One day, she’s accosted by a strange man preaching doom and gloom. Then she hears about friends and acquaintances joining the same cult in the woods, living rough and following archaic rules enforced by a core group of fervent believers. When a body turns up, Merry launches into action before it’s too late for even more people.

I loved the setting of the book, the small upstate New York town of Autumn Vale. It just seemed like a place I’d want to live and that’s really the marker of a great atmosphere. The whole turning the castle into a performing arts center thing is also really intriguing and I’ll be interested to see where that goes in the future.

What has me conflicted is the cult storyline. It’s a really interesting concept and I enjoyed the set-up, but it didn’t seem overly realistic, like the fact that Merry and her friends could just walk in and out of the compound at will. Or that people could leave without pressure or incidence. If you know anything about cults, that’s not the case at all. But I guess it needed to be that way for the plot to flow smoothly and not make the book into a thick tome. 

I also liked a lot of the characters in the book - like Merry, Virgil, Doc, etc. (I didn’t like Lizzie. But she’s a teenager and teenagers are pretty annoying, so I guess she’s written accurately!)

Anyway, I’ll be checking out more in this series, and would encourage others to do so as well. However, hopefully they’ll be better results.
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Merry Grace Wynter is an amazing lady. Her tenacity and level head inspires me to breathe deeply and count slowly when I would want to do otherwise. This was a very interesting story with a unique cast of characters. The best part, in my opinion, is the recipes at the end of the story that I cannot wait to test out in my kitchen.  Without giving too much of the plot away, I will say that it was developed at a nice even pace and I did not completely figure it out. So many possible suspects. I was also intrigued by the idea that this scenario could quite possibly take place in this day and age in or around any small town. Some authors use their books to make a statement about social injustices or their personal beliefs regarding politics or religion. When those ideals are very strong it can take away from the light-hearted aspect of a cozy mystery. I do not think that is the case with Muffin but Trouble. Much like a good recipe, the blending of the topics, the characters, and the plot created a wonderful final product. I look forward to reading more Merry Muffin Mysteries and trying out more Merry Muffin recipes in my new silicone muffin pans.
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I read the first book in this series and now, the sixth. There has been quite a change in things going on. Merry has remarried and has done a lot of work on the grounds of the castle she inherited, including moving houses slated for demolition. I definitely have some catching up to do. This did not diminish my enjoyment of this story. In this story, the local baker of muffins is investigating the disappearance of local girls as well as friends from town moving into the local compound. Is it a cult? Are they in danger? Are the missing girls there? With the help of her teenage friend Lizzie, her husband Virgil, the former sheriff now PI and Dwayne, Virgil's partner they sneak into the compound to see if they can talk to some of the residents and get information. When one of the missing girls ends up beaten to death and dumped at the side of the road, the investigation ramps up.

Merry is a great protagonist. She is still relatively new to town, yet is becoming a firm fixture. She and her friend Pish, are building a Performing Arts Center on the castle grounds and have developed a positive reputation in the town. She is a good friend, kind and caring to others, but is rather curious, bordering on nosy. That is how she gets answers and helps in the investigations going on in town. The local Sheriff seems to trust her judgement and is not one that tells her butt out. This is the third book I have read recently involving cult-like organizations. The leaders of this group are despicable and Victoria Hamilton did a good job writing characters that we disliked. The residents of the cult all seemed to be dealing with issues that made them targets for the recruiters and it was sad to see how they were afraid to break free. This book has some issues that were a bit strong for a cozy, yet there are a lot of cozy mystery characteristics. I enjoyed the plot and storylines included. The dialogue was well done, especially when dealing with the cult members. The story had me guessing who was really behind the group as there were a lot of strong personalities. I had no idea who murdered the missing teen, as there were so many suspects. I enjoyed following the investigation and seeing how the clues were put together. The final reveal was a bit touch and go and I liked how it was all pulled together at the end. Overall, a good mystery that borders on the cozy/regular mystery genre, at least in my opinion. I do recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers.
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Another excellent edition to a wonderful series! Full of twists and turns that leaves you wanting more and enjoying each moment until the end when the killer is caught!
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A religious cult near Wynter Castle is causing problems while Merry is busy with the construction of the new performing arts center.  Half the town loves the idea while the other half thinks it's a waste of time and money.  Now girls in town are disappearing and the cult leader seems to be involved.  This is book 6 in the Merry Muffin series and can be read as a stand alone. Set in New York, our middle aged Merry is a fun lady who loves to bake.  There are some yummy recipes included.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Not quite a cozy but not full on thrilling mystery, this story had it's moments but overall it was pass for me. I didn't really get into and it took me way too long to finish.
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This was a fun, cute cozy mystery! I love the theme of muffins throughout, and I will definitely be continuing with the series.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  I confess to being surprised with how gritty and serious this cozy was.  Even with heavy subject matter, there is often some lightening but this one steamed ahead and handled disturbing subject matter deftly.  Merry is confronted in the street by a misogynistic cult that not only verbally assaults women but is an ugly refuge for the odd balls around town.
When one of her friends joins the cult and several of Lizzie’s school chums are held captive there, they ladies must do all in their power to free the women who have become disillusioned but cannot get away.  As bad as that sounds, there is even more going on- evil and dark culminating in murder and torture.  
As the secrets are revealed, it truly is a bleak and nasty world but Merry and her friends and family are resourceful and capable.  The bad guys do not stand a chance.  But getting to the satisfying ending can be quite harrowing.  So if you are looking for some light reading, this is not your book.  But if you would enjoy a story with more grit, it well could entertain.
Four purrs and two paws up.
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Merry Wynter is concerned that some of her friends and missing girls might be caught up in what appears to be a religious cult called Light and the Way Ministry. When a young girls turns up dead at the side of the road and they visit the compound it feels like something fishy is going on. Can this all be connected and if so what else is going on? The 6th book in this cozy mystery series and it could be read as a stand-alone but I think it helps to know the back story of certain characters.

The story flows smoothly and I think it is a darker cozy mystery from others I have read. I enjoyed reading it. There are recipes included in the book which is a nice treat for those who enjoy trying to new things.
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Book 6 in the series. 

My rating, 1 of 5 stars, I didn't care for it.

It's good to see a new publisher picked this series up, but this wasn't my favorite book in the series. I had a hard time getting in to it, ended up putting it down for ages before I finally came back to finish. Slow to get started and darker than previous entries, it just wasn't for me.
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As Merry Wynter is planning the new performing arts center at Wynter Castle. She learns that some of her friends have joined a spiritual group just outside of town. Merry is worried that this group has cult-like characteristics and wants to get her friends out. When the body of a dead girl turns up near the community and there are several other missing young ladies Merry escalates her plans to get her friends out. 

I really enjoy this series and each book can be enjoyed as part of the series or as a stand-alone mystery. The characters are wonderful from Merry’s strong independence, to her husband Virgil policeman frame of thinking, to Lizzie’s feisty teen personality and all the others in between. The characters are complexed in their personalities which makes them realistic and relatable. The mystery has several twists and turns to keep the reader engaged until the end. The plot and storyline move at a good pace. There are recipes included at the end of the book. I recommend this book to mystery fans especially cozy mystery fans. 

I voluntarily agreed to read a copy of this book supplied by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own and in no way have been influenced.
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I have enjoyed this series from the beginning. This new installment add a little edgier feel with the spiritualist cult. I think this is my favorite book of the series. This could be read alone as there is some background here and there, but I am sure once anyone reads this one they will want to read this series from the beginning. By now the characters are becoming like old friend. Love this series and look forward to reading more.
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There are six mysteries in this series and each can be read as a stand alone. One wouldn't think that baking and selling muffins while trying to upgrade the Wynter Castle into an arts center would be anything more than business as usual. Unless you happen to be Merry Wynter Grace. She might be called a murder magnet, she has a knack for crossing paths with them. On a very nice October morning she crosses paths with a strange dude wearing a sandwich board and carrying a misspelled sign. Then he calls her a Jezebel and a harlot. Now that's just plain rude but it's all just words and she moves on with her day. It turns out that while she has been uber focused on Wynter Castle, a religious group has moved into the area and things are more than a bit strange out there. While it could be said that more people moving into the community would be good for the local economy, etc. this is way too strange - several young women disappear and a body turns up. Their small town of Ridley Ridge may need a lot of help - Merry has called it the center of hell - this isn't going to help anybody.
It's not very long before the goings on at the religious cult land square in front of Merry when she and her friend Lizzie make a trip out to the cult and find that all is not right, that many of the members are not free to leave. One thing leads to another and she, her husband (a PI) Lizzie, and various friends including the ADA and the sheriff, move to get to the bottom of the sinister goings on.
I have read the entire series and have enjoyed every one of them. They are well written, full of depth and great characters. All that I require of a satisfying mystery.
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Merry Wynter appreciates the wonderful things in her life: husband Virgil, inherited castle being renovated as the keystone of a new center for the performing arts and good friends in Autumn Vale. What she wasn't expecting was to be hassled on the street of her beloved town and called herbal by a weird older guy. Does he have an relationship with this new fundamentalist cult? And why are a number of young women disappearing from the surrounding towns? Then one missing girl strikes a little too close to home. Always a reliable series, this book lives up to expectations. While the topic of the cult was not my favorite, I still enjoyed my visit with Merry in Autumn Vale.
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This is the "6th" book in the popular "Merry Muffin Mystery Series"  by popular author Victoria Hamilton.. I had only read the first in series prior to this book however I was able to follow along . I do highly recommend the entire series .  Thank you to Net Galley and to the publisher. My opinions are my own.
Our Protagonist  baker Merry Wynter has her hands full as she is in charge of plans for a new performing arts center at Wynter Castle. When she is confronted by a street preacher she finds out a compound is near her castle and may be dangerous.   Merry begins to investigate and soon is involved in the murder of a young girl and others who have disappeared. She suspects the creepy compound members are responsible and fears that she and those she loves may be in danger.  
This was a very well crafted mystery with many differing elements that surprised me to the end. I love the setting of the castle and how independent and smart Merry is. She has proven to be a good investigator and gets along well with everyone in her small village.   A wonderful series I highly recommend.
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Merry was deeply involved in her life and the new aspects she and her husband wanted to introduce in their castle home. So it was quite shocking and unsettling when a strange,r a religious zealot, accosted her on the streets in town. It was only when talking with a few of the town folks did she became aware of a cult right on the outskirts of town. She was suspicious of any cult and when reports came to light about the missing girls and Lizzies insistence that something was wrong when her friend and mom up and disappeared, which sent her sleuthing motor into gear.  With the dead body of a young woman appearing, Merry and Lizzie go on the hunt in search of answers and their friends. Interesting and very entertaining.
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Muffin But Trouble by Victoria Hamilton is the 6th book in the Merry Muffin Mystery series, and I am very happy the series is back.  Merry Wynter is staying busy baking her muffins for local businesses, and helping her friend Pish complete their performing arts center at Wynter Castle.  When young women start disappearing from the area, Merry, and her out spoken young friend Lizzie, start looking into a cult compound.  Merry husband Virgil, former sheriff, now private eye and his partner join in the fun.  I really enjoy this book/series, they always have great plot and the best characters.  I strongly recommend this book.

I reviewed a digital arc provided by NetGalley and the publisher.  Thank you.
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Another superb book by Victoria Hamilton.  I love her series and it is always a pleasure to get the next book. Well developed, likable characters and the author doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult plot lines. In this book, is there a cult in the neighborhood? As the mystery of several missing girls is pursued, a troubling community comes to light. Weaving through the main plot are several sub plots around the community Merry herself is building with her husband Virgil. Highly recommend any Victoria Hamilton book and this one is no exception. 

Advance digital copy thanks to #netgalley but the opinion is my own.
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