Cover Image: A Fatal Booking

A Fatal Booking

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Member Reviews

This mystery is set in the charming Chapters Bed and Breakfast, where book lover Charlotte and Ellen stumble into a murder mystery during a fairy tale-themed book club retreat.
First off, the B&B setting is just cozy perfection, giving the whole thing this warm and inviting vibe. The amateur sleuths, are bookish, smart, and super relatable. Things take a dark turn at a Mad Hatter tea party when one guest gets poisoned. Classic whodunit, right? Teaming up with the local police and agent Gavin Howard, Charlotte and Ellen blend classic children’s lit with a modern murder mystery, keeping you guessing until the very end.

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I really loved this book in a new to my series and author. I can't wait to read the next one. The characters and location really add to the plot. This book keeps you guessing until the end

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Book wasn't meant for me. Hopefully someone will enjoy it more. I will look into renting it in the future

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Love the setting ... a bookish B&B. The main characters/amateur sleuths are very likable. Bonus points for featuring an older main character who is sharp and smart.

I don't really have much to kvetch about - the plot was interesting, I appreciate the bookish discussions threaded throughout. The details were just complicated enough to keep me guessing, but didn't overwhelm me, which I appreciate!

I know we live in a modern age where cell phones can cause conflicts for plots in cozy mysteries, but I admit to being annoyed when characters forget their cell phones at home, especially when they are in law enforcement! I know, I know ... plot and human foible... but YAHHHHH. So much anxiety when that happens, lol.

Very enjoyable read, would absolutely recommend and read other books by the author!

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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 book club reserves the Chapters B&B for a special week of illustration and discussion. One member of the group is an old acquaintance of both Charlotte‘s deceased aunt and her neighbor, Ellen. Is this old acquaintance privy to the secret? He attended some of the noteworthy events at Chapters, where men were dressed rather dapper and ladies dripped with jewels. Oddly enough, this book club seems to have some contention amongst the members as things go from Grim to worse. Stolen designs, accusations of theft and suspected jewelry fencing are suspect as well as several of the club members and even a local charter captain. Red herrings and false trails, shine brightly in this cozy stand-alone tale that is sure to keep you entertained and turning pages.

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The idea of a Mad Hatter themed party sounds wonderful until a dead body makes an appearance. Charlotte, owner of the B&B hosting the event, and her neighbor Ellen set out to solve the mystery. Charlotte seems to hate being a B&B owner. She overlooks obvious clues. I am not sure I will continue with this series.

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What a delight it was to visit Chapters again, a B & B that caters to reading and literary groups! It sounds like a wonderful getaway in historic Beaufort with beaches, tourist attractions, and bookish atmosphere of this gorgeous Southern mansion. The author’s descriptions of the B & B, the gardens, and the surrounding area are excellent. She brings to life Charlotte and her friends, Alicia, and the guests. The mystery was riveting, especially as my “pet suspects” are taken off the list, one by one.

Charlotte is a middle-aged widow, having lost the love of her life five years earlier. She left behind her career as a teacher to run the B & B left to her by her great aunt Isabella. Alicia had worked alongside of Isabella for years as her right-hand person, housekeeper, and cook, and taught Charlotte about running the B & B.

This week, the guests are members of a book club who will look at classic children’s literature, especially Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales. Lora, who organized the retreat, had illustrated a new edition of the collection. She once taught at the school where Charlotte did, and since leaving there illustrates books on commission and makes a living designing and making jewelry.

The guests are an eclectic group. Stacey has a jewelry store in a nearby town; she sells Lora’s work and that of several other artisans, as well as estate jewelry. Lora’s uncle Arnie is also part of the group; he knew Isabella and attended some of her first-class parties many years ago. It seems that most of the six guests have differences with others, primarily with Stacy. When Lora and Charlotte met for lunch to discuss the retreat, a man at the next table became agitated when he heard Stacy’s name. Even he had a long-time grudge against her and wanted her kept away from him!

After the opening night social, Alicia discovered that at least three of Isabella’s framed photos from her elegant parties went missing. Charlotte found that someone had been up in the attic after finding the door unlocked and left ajar. Then, at the Mad Hatter Tea Party, Stacy is found dead in the garden, having been poisoned.

Charlotte and Ellen, her next-door neighbor and friend, have helped the police solve a couple murders in the past. The guests cannot leave town until the investigation is further along, and Charlotte doesn’t want to have a murderer under her roof, so she is going to do a little research into the backgrounds of her guests and the man from town who wanted Stacy to stay away from him.

There are many things I enjoyed in this novel, including the challenging mystery. The local history woven into the story and how well each character is defined through realistic conversation and behavior, are fabulous! The variety of ages of Charlotte, Ellen, and their friends, and the guests, was refreshing; I enjoy middle-age and mature protagonists. Plot twists are perfectly timed for the best effect, and there are enough suspects to keep my attention. Watching Charlotte, Ellen, and their friends in the local book club gather information and sort through clues kept me engaged, and I was somewhat surprised to learn whodunit and stunned with why! This is an excellent addition to the series, and I highly recommend it to fans of the author, of well-written cozy mysteries, charming Southern B & B’s, and literature of all kinds.

From a thankful heart: I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley, and this is my honest review.

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A Fatal Booking

by Victoria Gilbert

Charlotte Reed, a former high school teacher, inherited her great-aunt Isabella’s B&B and is trying to make a success of it to honor Isabella. Isabella was a beautiful, flamboyant socialite and also a spy! Charlotte has a penchant for getting to the truth and has formed bonds with Ellen, her next door neighbor and Isabella’s former handler, joining her in several investigations surrounding local murders. She works in concert with Detective Amber Johnson of the Beaufort police force and with her new boyfriend Gavin who spends a lot of time off the grid. He is a spy and has many useful contacts.

In A Fatal Booking, Chapters B&B is hosting a book club headed by an artist and former colleague Lora Kane. When one of the guests is murdered, Charlotte is drawn into the investigation to protect her B&B’s reputation and to prevent further murders. No one liked the victim, and they all seem to have motivation to kill her. All but one had the means to obtain deadly cyanide.

The plot is further complicated by infighting among the guests. There was no harmony to be found in that group. Also, someone is rummaging around in the off-limits, locked attic, and several framed pictures are missing from the library. Not a trained professional, Charlotte’s detection skills are honed as she sorts through the possibilities. Her physical and mental capacities are tested in the latter part of the book in dangerous scenes that will have you holding your breath. The cozy concludes with a wrap-up party for Charlotte’s friends and employees who stood by her during the ordeal and helped with the investigation. They deserved to hear the details, and several have personal announcements of big upcoming changes in their lives.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Booklover’s B&B Mystery Series, but it is acceptable as a standalone. The author jumps right into the current plot, but background details are provided as needed.

Publication: June 7, 2022—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

Officer Warren, who looked to be all of twenty-five, offered me a smile that told me she felt the need to reassure a nervous older woman. “Thanks.” I knew better than to try to correct her assumption. To be honest, I frequently found it useful to be underestimated.

“You were eavesdropping.” Linnea’s blue eyes glittered like shards of lapis.

“I love dogs,” Caitlin said, patting his head. I’d already figured that out, since I’d learned that Shandy had a sixth sense about people. He seemed to be able to instantly tell if someone disliked dogs and would either snap at the air or bark furiously at such misguided individuals.

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A book-themed bed & breakfast inn is probably every book lover’s dream. And Chapters has book-themed rooms, literary events, great food, and a kind owner. The only thing that might be a turn-off is those pesky murders that seem to constantly happen.

Part of the charm of this series are the descriptions of the literary events. In this book, the one that captured my imagination was the Mat Hatter tea party – it would be so fun to attend something like this in real life!

\What I really enjoy about the Booklover’s B&B series is the characters (and the B&B)!

Charlotte is a great protagonist – she’s smart and competent, although still haunted over the death of her husband 5 years ago. Unlike many other amateur sleuths in other cozy mysteries who arrive in town to start a new life, Charlotte isn’t entirely convinced that her new life is the one she wants. There’s a bit of uncertainty over her future, which is an interesting twist and something that I’m sure will be resolved in future books.

My favourite two characters are Charlotte’s strongest mystery-solving allies – her neighbour (and former agent) Ellen and Charlotte’s boyfriend (and current agent) Gavin. They add a lot of professional crime-solving to the mix, which is a nice change from other mysteries.

While A Fatal Booking can be read as a standalone, it’s much more enjoyable to read the whole series in order to get the full picture on these great characters. The pacing in the book is fantastic and I couldn’t put the book down until I had read the solution to the murder. I had guessed incorrectly several times – there were lots of twists and turns and some very plausible suspects.

I highly recommend A Fatal Booking and am really looking forward to the next book in the series!

*** Thank you to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with an e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Charlotte Reed, a former English teacher, manages Chapters, a North Carolina bed and breakfast in and around Morehead City and New Bern. In the third installment of the Booklover's B&B Mystery, Charlotte is hosting a weeklong event for a small group, with a focus on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales. When one member of the group is poisoned by cyanide, Charlotte puts on her amateur sleuth hat and teams up with her neighbor Ellen to assist the police in solving the murder without ruining the reputation of the B&B. A local fishing captain, jewelry makers, and a chemist are all possible assailants because of their access to cyanide, but so are some visitors who attended parties at the B&B, that was a private residence in the seventies when their were jewelry heists. Also add in a budding romance with Charlotte and Gavin, a U.S. intelligence agent. Overall, A Fatal Booking is a good read based on well-developed characters.

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Charlotte Reed owner of Chapters, a B&B in Beaufort, NC, is hosting a book retreat for a book club. Sounds easy enough until one of the members (not totally liked by all) is found poisoned in the back garden. Would someone really kill over a book or was there another motive? Charlotte needs to find out why this happened in her home and bring the killer to light.

The characters at Chapters are fun, diverse but likeable. The mystery was entertaining.

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Charlotte Reed, the owner of Chapters, a book-themed B&B, is hosting a weeklong literary event focusing on children’s books and fairy tales. The attendees are all members of the same book club and all but one are staying at the B&B. Stacy Wilkin, the murder victim, is the member who isn’t staying at the B&B but is commuting to the events from her home about 30 miles away.

Stacy is unpopular and argumentative with the other members of the group. The murder takes place during a costumed sit-down meal called, in keeping with the festival’s theme, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Suspects abound as all of the book club members, among others, had reason to hate Stacy. With the able assistance of Ellen, a retired spy who lives next door to Charlotte, Charlotte begins an investigation into Stacy’s murder.

The only issue I had with the book is that it seemed to get off to a slow start. However, once the plot took off, it really picked up speed with all of the twists and turns that are characteristic of the books in both this series and Ms. Gilbert’s other series, the Blue Ridge Library mysteries. If you’re looking for a book with interesting characters, a well-developed plot, and a great book-themed setting, I highly recommend both A Fatal Booking as well as the previous two books in the series, Reserved for Murder, and Booked to Death

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Charlotte owns a B&B and is hosting a book club from out of town when one of the visitors turns up dead. She and her ex-spy senior neighbor go about trying to solve the mystery. I find that some of the characters (e.g., the neighbor) quite interesting, but others seemed rather dull. The plot has a few red herrings, so it's good til the last page! A typical cozy mystery for fans of that genre.

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These mysteries are getting better and better!!! Charlotte and Ellen have the best adventures.

1) that the b&b is called Chapters. I feel like most book nerds hope to have some sort of book themed SOMETHING in their lives and this is definitely up there with a dream come true for me!
2) that even though it’s a bit Murder She Wrote-esque, it’s not cheesy
3) Gavin… he’s just enough. It’s just enough romance
4) their book club. I love that they have book club meetings and book themed events at Chapters

1) this was my first time listening and I didn’t fully enjoy this narrator. I usually read it and I did actually get approved for the ARC, but I didn’t download in time.

So I will still thank NetGalley and Crooked Lane for the ARC in exchange for an honest review! I love this book and can’t wait for the next one!

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1st Line: "The only thing constant in life is change."

Review: Book three in Gilbert's Booklovers B&B Mystery series finds Charlotte Reed - owner of Chapters, the book-themed bed-and-breakfast in Beaufort, North Carolina - a bit at odds when about to greet a group of book club members coming to stay ... who seem to have all their events and menus planned ahead, leaving a lot less work for her! Led by a former colleague from Charlotte's teaching days, the group is focused on kid-lit and children's classics, events for which include a tea party directly out of Alice in Wonderland. But right off, Charlotte realizes the atmosphere among the group members themselves is anything but cute and cuddly, much of the animosity focused on a particularly loud, opinionated and shady jewelry store owner who seems to delight in rubbing everyone the wrong way - and when she turns up poisoned in the lush gardens at Chapters, Charlotte has to take on the role of sleuth again if she wants to get her own happily ever after.

One thing that makes this series so original is that author Victoria Gilbert has expertly woven in a backstory that includes espionage, in the form of Charlotte's great-aunt (who left Charlotte the B&B in her will) as a spy, back in day, with Charlotte's neighbor Ellen her former handler. It lends more credence to why Charlotte and Ellen want to investigate these crimes, if not why they have a knack for it (in fact, a third character related to the spy game background - Gavin Howard - was introduced in book two). But here, I really felt like the spy stuff was pushed more to the background, letting the current mystery shine, and that - combined with particularly strong plotting that makes you really suspect everyone in the book group, at one point or another - makes this my favorite in the series so far. And as much as I enjoyed the first two, that's saying a lot. 4/5 stars

NOTE: I received a free ARC of this title from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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When one of Charlotte's guests is found dead in the garden, Charlotte and her neighbor starts questioning the other guests and locals to find out what happened and why.
This is a great story. It seemed a little long and drawn out to me, but it was full of complex characters with shady pasts where anyone could be a suspect.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!

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Charlotte is hosting a bookclub retreat at her bookish B&B. She is really excited to be planning and participating in all the fun events. When one of the members of the bookclub is found dead, Charlotte is determined to find out what actually happened.

I really enjoy this mystery series. I like Charlotte as a character. I like seeing her relationships grow with others in the town. I really would enjoy going to a book-themed B&B! I can't wait to read more from this series!

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I have enjoyed the “A Booklover's B&B Mystery” series since it started, and it just keeps getting better. In A Fatal Booking, Charlotte has her hands full at the B&B with a group of classic fairy tale enthusiasts and jewelry designers. But, when a mad hatter tea party turns fatal, Charlotte finds herself down a rabbit hole she may not be able to climb out of.

Chapter’s B&B has new guests that are varied in almost every except that they enjoy classic fairy tales, tea, and jewelry. Charlotte can’t blame them; what’s not to like. But something is off with one of the guests. Stacy seems to have stolen some jewelry designs from other guests, and no one is speaking up or confronting her with their suspicions or accusations. So, of course, that might be why Stacy is found murdered in the garden turning the mad hatter tea party into a homicide scene. It doesn’t take long for Charlotte and Ellen to find a house full of suspects and plenty of trouble to go along with it.

The suspects seem to just line up in this story without much work to find them or their motives. If you follow it closely, the evidence will lead readers straight to the killer, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to figure out the who-dun-it aspect of this mystery. However, everything is not what it seems, and no amount of tea or beautiful jewelry will change the fact that someone is hiding a terrible crime and rifling through Charlotte’s things in the attic and stealing photos.

I enjoyed the idea of a mad hatter tea party for adults. The jewelry designs sound divine; I would love to have one of those beautiful pieces. I love the B&B, I think it is absolutely delightful, and I would love to visit such a fun place. However, I did not like the constant harping about Charlotte returning to teaching; it was mentioned too often for my tastes. I also feel it would ruin the series if she suddenly returns to teaching and puts the B&B in a stranger's hands. The story is a bit slow to start but jumps into nonstop action as you get closer to revealing the killer. Of course, no story in this series id complete without Charlotte and Ellen putting their lives at risk. A Fatal Booking is an engaging read that will have readers speculating and worrying but ultimately happy.

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Charlotte has a Fairy Tale's book club coming to stay at her B&B, unfortunately during the Mad Hatter Tea Party one of the members is found dead in the garden. Apparently someone poisoned her tea!

For a group of readers who enjoy fairy tales, they are an unlikable group. Throughout the mystery there is a background thread of Charlotte not enjoying her job and wanting to go back to the classroom. I guess we will see where this series goes.

Personally I don't care for Charlotte, I continued with the series to see if my opinion would change, but unfortunately it hasn't.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read and review this series.

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