Cover Image: Death a Sketch

Death a Sketch

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Title:  Death a Sketch
Author:  Cheryl Hollon


Pg:  266

Series: A Paint and Shine Mystery book 3

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Rating: 4 stars

Publisher: Kensington


Death a Sketch is the third book in the A Paint and Shine mystery series by Cheryl Hollon. Miranda Trent is still determined to get her moonshine distillery up and running to keep the family farm while running her painting business in the Kentucky mountains.

I have to say this one was my favorite of the series as the setting and the characters have been established and the reader gets to enjoy the mystery more. I can’t wait for the next one.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
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A corporate retreat turns deadly

“Death a Sketch” is part of the “Paint & Shine Mystery Series” but new readers will easily follow the action and antics. The book is a light-hearted story with some drama, tension, and lots of interesting people and relationships. Paint and Shine is a resort/retreat/workshop center immersed in the complex culture of Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio. While most groups come to relax, recharge, and enjoy themselves, the current “corporate retreat and team building exercise” is not going as planned.

Miranda Trent recently the farm from her late uncle with the stipulation that she have the distillery up and running within the first three months. She struggles to complete the restoration and expand her business to cover those costs. The narrative is filled with interesting and characters, both local personalities and those attending the corporate retreat. The narrative is filled with tension, suspicion, comradery, and competition. There is a convenient cast of characters for reference if needed. These few days of the “corporate retreat” are filled with accidents, sabotage, and a lot of fun, oh, and of course a body on a blood stained rock.

Hollon created of scenarios that keep readers looking for the next disaster or a cheerful, heartfelt moment.  The characters are genuine and easy to like and hate. The personal relationships are realistic and relatable. The conflicts are genuine and relevant. 

I received a review copy of “Death a Sketch” from Cheryl Hollon and Kensington Books. It is quick to read, and although there are surprises along the way, in the end, things all work themselves out.

“Death a Sketch” is now available in print, as an e-book, and on audio from independent bookstores, online booksellers, retail stores, public libraries and anywhere you get your books.
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2.5*/5. I'm in a minority here in that I got most of the way through before giving up on it. I DNF'd it so don't even know who did it. I found it well-written enough, but it started to slow down a bit for me, and a big glaring error towards the end - one character is supposed to be intolerant of rosemary, yet had no reaction when previously being presented with it - was the final straw, and I moved on to something else.

I just didn't connect well with the characters either, finding them all a bit...dull. But this is obviously a popular series, just not one for me and not one I'll be continuing with.
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Miranda Trent has a unique twist on her business. She lives in Appalachia and inherits her uncle’s house and moonshine business. It’s legal now so no high-speed chases in the middle of the night like shown in old movies. Shine is trendy. Miranda pairs the shine experience with the beautiful views at the nearby park. She takes groups for a hike, helps them paint or draw the scenery, then they return to her farmhouse for a country style meal.

This time she worries she’s bitten off more than she can manage—a corporate team building retreat. Of course, hearing team building, you’d think it means teaching employees to work together for the good of the company and their job satisfaction, but the exec in charge has more of a Survivor plan in mind. With him, everything is a competition. It only takes a minute to realize the odds are heavily weighted against the women in the group.

The employees are divided into two competing groups and word soon gets out the losing team will also lose their jobs. The exec also declares he can override Miranda’s decision about who won a challenge. When an employee is found dead, Miranda assumes the company will cancel the rest of the event. but no, the challenge must go on, even with bad feelings and sabotage. If Miranda didn’t have a deadline looming that the shine business has to show a profit in six months, she’d have told them all to take a hike—home.

This is book three in the series. Miranda has a good head for business, and an artist’s eye to see what’s important. There’s a nice surprise at the end. And she’s got a darn cute puppy! The mystery is good, the characters believable, and Miranda doesn’t take crazy risks, always a plus. It’s a series I enjoy and I’m looking forward to book four and more.

Recipes include moonshine cocktails the teams made for one of their challenges—honeysuckle fizz, lemon shine, RC shine. Food to go with homemade herb crackers, chicken noodle soup, three bean salad, chicken pot pie, candied sweet potatoes, and chocolate crème pie with whipped cream.
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I really enjoyed this next installment in the Paint and Sketch series. This still a favorite series of mine. I like getting to know Miranda a little more with each book. Can't wait for the next one!
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I really enjoyed this installment. It was well-written with fun characters. Cheryl Hollon does a great job of writing imagery so that I can visualize the picturesque scenery in the book. The mystery was fun to follow. I cannot wait for the next one!
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Miranda Trent runs a unique tour company called Paint & Shine in rural Kentucky. She combines Appalachian adventure tours with art and a bit of moonshine. Her fledgling business has been contracted by a sporting goods company to put on a teambuilding retreat. Miranda comes up with some great activities and is looking forward to the event, until the organizer makes some changes. It will now be a competition between two teams, teams he makes up. The losing team is in danger of receiving pink slips, so things become a bit tense. When one of the executives setting up the competition is found dead on the trails, another steps in and makes things worse. Who is the murderer? Will this workshop make or break Miranda's business?

I enjoyed another visit to the Appalachians to see what Miranda was up to. I enjoy the other regular characters, especially Austin, the ranger and possible love interest for Miranda. There was an administrator from the company, Rowena, who is an old friend of Miranda's and I really liked her character. She was a peace keeper and not only tried to keep the participants calm, but also worked with Miranda to try and solve the crime. She was also the main suspect for most of the book, which had Miranda working harder to find the real killer. It is almost a closed room mystery, with the suspects being someone on the retreat. I had no idea who the killer was, and was surprised when the reveal came, but the motive made sense and tied up the looks ends well. I really liked the ending of the story and look forward to the next in the series.
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We’ve all been there. Felt like we had to take on work or clients that we didn’t really like because we thought it would pay off for our career or business in the long run. This is where our Miranda finds herself as Death a Sketch begins. I thought hosting an employee retreat for team building and leadership skills was a unique expansion for her Paint & Shine tours, and it made for an interesting crew of supporting players too. A hodgepodge mix of personalities and backgrounds keep the suspect pool full, including a couple of characters who were abrasive enough for me to be tempted to murder them if forced into extended close proximity lol.

As always, Miranda is likable and easy to cheer for as she continues her tireless quest to meet the terms of her uncle’s will so she can remain in the family farmhouse. We didn’t focus too much on the distillery progress this time around, as the tour group & case were more labor intensive than usual, but I suspect it will be in the spotlight in the next book as that deadline is approaching! Her circle of friends and family remains highly entertaining and easy to love, too, and I loved the romance progress between Miranda and swoony neighbor & park ranger Austin.

Bottom Line: Death a Sketch is a fun and entertaining return to the Paint & Shine mysteries! Miranda remains a delightful and relatable protagonist and the bevy of recurring secondary characters are just as endearing. She has her work cut out for her this go-around, even before a murder makes things even more treacherous, and readers can definitely feel the tension emanating off the pages. Don’t worry, though, there’s also a little time for some swoony romance with hunky ranger Austin and time to sit a spell on the porch swing with precocious pup Sandy! While I felt like the big reveal was a little abrupt and without much warning for readers, I still found the mystery to be clever and engaging. Another great installment in this series – can’t wait for what’s next!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
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Death a Sketch by Cheryl Hollon is a lovely mystery set around Thanksgiving. There is always so much going on in this corner of Kentucky.

Will Miranda figure out who took out Mr. Burns before the end of the teambuilding conference?

Miranda Trent
Miranda is our sleuth. She is an entrepreneur running her tour business and start-up distillery, and it seems she has other plans in the works. Miranda is settling into a route, but she still worries about everything. Although, Austin does seem to help her stay grounded. Her mother isn't in this installment for the most part, but the Hobb sisters are there whipping up some fabulous food for our conference goers. Even the sheriff is coming around to allow Miranda to assist him with his investigation.

I really like Miranda. She is intelligent, hard-working, and knows what she wants in life. This lady is not afraid of going after her dreams. However, I do worry about her looming deadline. I hope in the next installment, she gets past it, and all is well.

The Mystery
While hiking back from one of her activities with the team building corporate executives, they find the administrative assistant bent over one of the bosses lying across the trail unconscious. This complicates things and takes time from the already busy schedule. However, Mr. Burns was a jerk and truly needed his comeuppance. I don't think killing him was fair, but sometimes it happens. At least in cozy mysteries.

Anyway, Miranda keeps going with the workshop even with all the demands and last minute changes that the corporate bigwigs keep adding. Austin and Miranda still find time to do a little investigating of their own and continue growing their relationship.

I enjoyed the story; I didn't figure out who did it. Although, now I can see the clues. Isn't that the way it goes?

Four Stars
My rating for Death a Sketch by Cheryl Hollon is four stars. While I enjoyed the mystery and the characters, I found a couple of timeline discrepancies that took me out of the story, making me question what I had read previously. Other than that, it's fantastic.

There these wonderful recipes at the back of the book. So, be sure to check it out. The recipes are Honeysuckle Fizz, Lemon Shine, RC Shine, Homemade Herb Crackers, Chicken Noodle Soup, Side Dish - Three Bean Salad, Chicken Pot Pie, Candied Sweet Potatoes, and Chocolate Creme Pie.

If you haven't started this series, I recommend that you do.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy from the Great Escapes Book Tour. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed this review of Death a Sketch by Cheryl Hollon.

Until the next time,

If you would like to see other reviews like this one, check out
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  In the beautiful hills of Kentucky, Miranda is building her Paint and Shine business.  She is contracted to run a corporate team building getaway.  She nervously wonders if she may have overstepped her abilities even before the event.  She does however get to reacquaint herself with her best friend from High School with whom she has drifted apart.  That is going to be one of the only good things about this job.

The cut-throat and antiquated corporate culture is difficult in itself.  But when one of the bigwigs is murdered on the trail on the first day and her friend is the prime suspect, things get exponentially worse.  Then the executive who steps in to monitor the proceedings is even worse, if possible, than the deceased.  Competition is one thing but when the losers are going to be fired, it means the stakes cannot be higher.  Somehow Miranda manages to get through the activities over the four days and there is a fair outcome in spite of the executive trying to “fix” the results.  Miranda figures out who did the deed and between Austin and herself, they bring the killer to justice.

She and Ranger Austin make a good team which by the end of the book, they both realize.  I can see more to come in future books.  It is stunning countryside and the reader is transported to its majestic beauty.  I do like this series.  Four purrs and two paws up.
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I enjoyed the premise of this book. I enjoy as Miranda learns the ins and outs of running her business and figures things out along the way. I love that she sees some of the not so mice aspects of the corporate world...sexism, racism, ageism, just to name a few. This book was well written and fun to read.
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Paint & Shine is entering its first fall and the end of the tourist season. Miranda, worried that times could be tight, decides to add corporate events to her offerings. Team building, art lessons, great food, and some shine cocktails sounds like a great combination, right? Upper management has other plans and team building becomes team demolition as the participating teams are set against each other in order to secure their jobs. On the bright side, Miranda is able to reunite with an old friend, on the dark side, that same friend is high on the suspect list for murder. Essentially everyone has a motive thanks to the crazy competition but who had the opportunity? Miranda teams up with Austin the forest ranger aka her romantic interest, to whittle down the suspect list. I am not sure how she finds the time to sleuth, what with the extremely busy days hosting a wide/wild variety of events for the two teams complete with good glass of shine and some excellent home-style cooking each day. Speaking of which, recipes for both shine-tails and great eats like the Homemade Herb Crackers which are found after the extremely cute ending of the story.
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Another retreat is ramping up, but the fun is being sucked out of it by a dead body, a tyrant and a saboteur! I absolutely love the characters and the plots in this series, but I am absolutely entranced by the idea of a food, painting, hiking, moonshine retreat! I would definitely sign right up if only this were a real thing! Once again this series welcomes us back with group of characters that feel like old friends rather than just characters on a page and I absolutely can't wait to visit again in the next book! Things are really starting to cook in some of these characters lives now!
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I read the first two books in the Paint & Shine series by Cheryl Hollon and really looked forward to where this series was going to go. The first two books were middle-of-the-road reads for me. I went into Death a Sketch with high hopes and was pleasantly surprised.

Tourist season is over, and Miranda needs to find a way to keep her business afloat and get her moonshine distillery up and running. She agrees to a team bonding retreat that ends up deadly, and Miranda can’t help but try to solve the mystery.

I like Miranda and the whole cast of characters around her. They’re diverse and totally support Miranda. Her relationship with Austin is budding and adds a nice touch of romance to fill out the story. Really the main cast of characters is the strong point of the series.

I liked the idea of the corporate team-building event turned competition. The murder and the reasoning behind it weren’t quite as developed and could have used a little more tweaking. The answer seemed to come out of left field, figured out during some research done off page. But the victim wasn’t well liked, and there were definitely plenty of suspects and motives.

Death a Sketch has been my favorite book in this series. The book does stand alone quite well. With solid characters and a good mystery, Cheryl Hollon succeeded in writing an enjoyable cozy mystery.
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Death a Sketch by Cheryl Hollon takes us to back to Kentucky where Miranda Trent runs Paint & Shine.  Her latest group is from Big Sky for a four-day team building experience.  Unfortunately, the man in charge, Mr. Burns decides to make a last-minute change.  Mr. Burns turns the team building retreat into a competition with serious consequences for the losers.  On the first day, Miranda takes the group along with Mr. Burns and his assistant, Rowena (who happens to be an old high school classmate of Miranda’s) on their first hike and competition.  After listening to a talk from Park Ranger Austin Morgan, Miranda leads the group down the trail.  The group encounters Mr. Burns dead on the ground with Rowena at his side holding a large rock.  Miranda wishes to cancel the retreat, but Mr. Burns replacement insists they continue.  Rowena is at the top of the sheriff’s suspect list.  Miranda knows her old friend could not have harmed her boss.  She sets out to prove Rowena’s innocence while continuing the competitive retreat.  Miranda finds it challenging because someone is intent on sabotage.  Death a Sketch is the third A Paint & Shine Mystery.  It can easily be read as a standalone.  Death a Sketch is well-written with realistic, developed characters.  The story does start off slowly as we are introduced to the retreat members.  I enjoyed the author’s vivid descriptions of that area of Kentucky.  The Daniel Boone National Forest is a picturesque region.  The depictions of the food will have your mouth watering.  It was interesting learning more about the making of moonshine.  The mystery was plotted out nicely.  There are good suspects along with misdirection.  There are clues to help readers solve the whodunit before the reveal (if you pay close attention).  Miranda asked questions, but she did little investigating.  There were various incidents along the way that kept things lively.   I did feel the reveal was a wee bit rushed along with the explanation.  Sandy, Miranda’s puppy, is adorable.  He helped reduce the stress of the participants.  Miranda’s mother only had a cameo in this book.  She had to go out of town to complete the sale of her home.  I like Miranda’s mother and I hope she will join her daughter in sleuthing in future books.  Miranda is slowly getting the distillery off the ground. I hope she makes the deadline.  Miranda is finding her place in the community and her romance with Austin is progressing nicely.  Death a Sketch is a lively cozy with workshop woes, moonshine mixing, an eliminated executive, a cuddly canine, contestant sabotage, a romantic park ranger, and a caught killer.
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I like this series that always made me wish I could travel the Appalacchians and I was glad to catch up with the characters.
Another entertaining and well plotted story, a solid mystery that kept me guessing.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Rounding up to a three on the assumption that the inaccuracies in the last quarter of the book were fixed before publishing. The moonshine part of the book was fun and I loved the inclusion of the recipes in the back for the cocktails.
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Exciting 3rd book in the Paint and Shine Mystery series. I love the idea of an outdoor team building event. Hiking and painting and learning how to make moonshine all sound so fun! Of course, I could do without the cut-throat opportunists and murder.

Loved this book! The setting, the characters, the mystery...they all kept me highly entertained. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put the book down (who needs sleep, amirite?). I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Many thanks to Kensington Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are my own and without bias or favor or expectation.
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Poor Miranda. She is trying to get her paint and shine business up and running successfully but people keep getting murdered. This is the third book in the series which is set in Kentucky.

What is supposed to be a corporate team building workshop turns into a nasty competition. I felt like the criminal unveiling was really rushed towards the end.

This is currently one of my favorite series. It combines the outdoors, art and moonshine. I thought I couldn't wait for the next one but the ending was super cheesy so a break will be good.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington books for access to a copy of the book so I could give an honest review.
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Death a Sketch by Cheryl Hollon is a very entertaining short cozy featuring Miranda and her Paint and Shine Kentucky arts and tourism company. She has had a pretty good year and now the season is over. She has contracted for one list event: a team building workshop for ten management candidates for a sportswear company. It culminates by cooking Thanksgiving dinner. She is excited and nervous. On their first drawing outing, the management representative hits his head on a rock, but Rowena, the scorekeeper, is standing over him holding the rock. Oh, yeah, forgot to mention: the team-building had been turned into a competition with an administrative assistant appointed to keep score and notes. It turned out she was a friend of Miranda’s from high school so she stayed in the farmhouse with Miranda. She wouldn’t remember what had happened, but Miranda never believed she hit him over the head. A day or so later, they got the news he had died. He was replaced by another corporate bigwig: a real jerk. Quite a good character.

Miranda and Austin tried to help the sheriff investigate the murder but they were coming up empty. Meanwhile, the workshop must go on. All kinds of things happen, including food-poisoning. The rumor was that the losing team would all be fired. Was one team this desperate to win? While Miranda and Austin were observing, the sheriff was doing background checks. Miranda is a good character: a small town girl who has returned from her stint in New York City to take over her uncle’s small farm and still. In order to keep it she must have her own still up and running in three months and be producing moonshine within a year. Only Miranda would combing her love for the visual arts and making moonshine into a business. The mystery was a decent one and the investigation comprehensive. The characters are well written and interesting. The whole thing is a joy to read. 

I was invited to read a free e-ARC of Death a Sketch by Kensington, through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #netgalley #kensington #cherylhollon #deathasketch
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