Member Reviews

This is the first book I have read in this series. I enjoyed the premise and the setting of the story. The mystery was engaging. I collect Beatrix Potter figures, so the inclusion of the Peter Rabbit tea set as a plot device was an added bonus.

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This series has kept me interested from the beginning. I like that's set near the sea and you get to learn about how to serve a proper tea. It's something I have wanted to do and hope to some day. This author is one of my favorites and I like that it's something unique than what they've previously done. Also the play on words in the titles is something I enjoy as well. The cover art for this series is always so pretty!

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Steeped In Malice by Vicki Delany (Tea By the Sea Mystery #4) 4 stars

It all began with the breakage of teacups and ended in Murder. Operating a Tea shop comes with the hazard of customers breaking tea cups and Lily Roberts is perilously low on inventory. So a visit to a local antique mall is a must to replenish her cupboards. She finds some nice tea cups at one vendor and spots a lovely Peter Rabbit children’s set that she can’t resist. Unfortunately that purchase will bring several conflicts to her life, which include a bad ex-boyfriend and a murdered guest at her grandmother’s B&B. Now Lily must solve the murder in order to bring peace back into her life.
This was a fun mystery with plenty of red herrings, especially the horrible ex-boyfriend. In fact, I really wanted him to be the murderer because he was so obnoxious. I had a wonderful afternoon reading this and will look forward to the next entry, “Trouble is Brewing” coming out in July 2024.

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington Books for this ARC.

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Vicky Delaney’s A Tea by the Sea series is a favorite of mine! Actually, all of her series are favorites. This author always crafts interesting plots and mysteries, with plenty of clues and red-herrings to keep the reader interested and trying to solve the mystery along with Lily and friends.

In my opinion, the mark of a fantastic author is when the reader feels as if they are living the book as they read along. Being made to feel as if you are on the island, drinking tea, solving mysteries are part of the experience of reading favorite books. Make sure you have a pot of perfectly steeped tea and delicious scones and pastries to snack on as you read this book, and you’ll spend a perfect afternoon!

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This is one of my favorite cozy series. I love the setting (a tea room and associated Victorian B&B on Cape Cod), I like the main and secondary characters (relatable, nice, with just enough quirkiness to be realistic), and I like the writing (clean and simple) and pace. I particularly enjoy the series because Ms. Delany always takes care to make Lily's experiences as a small business owner realistic. To whit: the book begins with Lily off to an antique fair to replace the broken china that is an unavoidable part of owning a tea room. She has a budget that she has to keep in mind while shopping, but is so smitten with a children's Beatrix Potter tea set that she splurges on it. What follows is a good story with a slightly unbelievable premise (would the antiques seller really identify a client and/or provide contact information to someone. in this day and age?). I enjoyed learning a bit about Lily's past and why she left her pastry job in New York City to relocate to Cape Cod. I also enjoyed the role Rose played in this story, since she and her granddaughter Lily's relationship is one of the most pleasant aspects of the series. It's a fun, light read, and you don't have to have read the series in order to read this one. In fact, with some of Lily's background explained, it's a perfect place to step into the series.

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This was a fun, fast-paced mystery. I'm glad Lily wasn't such a pushover in this one and Rose was not so demanding of her. I enjoyed collecting clues along with Lily and her friends and learning more about her through her interactions with her ex-boyfriend, Wesley. The mystery itself was well plotted with plenty of suspects that kept me guessing until the very end. There were some questionable decisions made by Lily but, all in all, an intriguing mystery. Looking forward to the next one.

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Lily Roberts runs her tea shop with pure joy and loves to show off her various tea sets so when she purchases a special set starring Peter Rabbit for her Easter tea she isn't surprised when someone shows up claiming it was a family heirloom and wasn't meant to be sold. The ensuing drama and events were terrifically written and totally entertaining.

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Does this series involve murder? Yes

But does it also make me wish the “Tea by the Sea” tea shop was real so I could visit and/or own it? Also yes.

Throw in a meddling grandma, an excited friend & a hot Scottish gardener, and I can’t get enough of this series.

Thank you to @kensingtonbooks for the advanced copy of this latest installment!

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This is book 4 but it could be read as a standalone. It was a fun cozy mystery and I enjoyed the characters. Lily runs an afternoon tea shop and helps her grandmother with the breakfast part of her bed and breakfast. While replacing some china for her tea shop she finds a basket with some Peter rabbit china and despite it being more than she planned on spending she has to get it, Not long after not one but two women track her down demanding to buy the set, Lily soon finds herself stuck in their family drama, especially when one of those women is found dead at her grandmother’s bed and breakfast. I didn’t love Lily’s drama with her ex (‘he was awful) but understood how it fit into the whole story, I did figure out the guilty party but there were some interesting twists and turns in this one.

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Thanks to the Great Teacup Shortage, Cape Cod tearoom proprietress Lily Roberts is already feeling the strain. But when a family fracas turns deadly over an antique tea set, she’ll really have to pour through the clues before another crime is brewed up. I love this series! This author has created a world I want to live in....fun characters, a gentle but clever mystery and lots of small town charm.

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I have loved the books in the Tea by the Sea series! I want to travel to Rose’s B&B in Cape Cod (one of my favorite places to visit) and stop at Tea by the Sea for afternoon tea. The characters are well developed and the storyline will pull you in and have your attention from the first page. The murder mystery will have you guessing as you are presented with quite a few potential suspects, including a former love interest of Lily. I can’t wait to return for another adventure with Lily; her spunky grandmother, Rose; friend, Bernie; and potential love interest and gardener, Simon. While you could read this as a standalone, I would strongly encourage you to grab the first one in the series and get lost in the story.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Cozies for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

For more reviews, please visit my blog at: https://www.msladybugsbookreviews.com/. Over 1000 reviews posted!

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I enjoyed this book by Vicki Delany. I have read a few of them and this one so far was the best. I liked the part about Peter Rabbit you don't get to hear too much about children's books and toys to much in this day and age especially in books. So, it was a nice addition to the book. Vicky had me guessing till the end who the real killer is. I couldn't put the book down till I found out everything going on. Keep the books coming. I must read other books in the series. Thank You Net Gally for the book.

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Another great installment in the Tea By The Sea Mystery series. I love how invested Rose and Bernie are in helping Lily solve these murders, I hope I am that bada** when I am their age.

I was able to guess who the killer was ahead of the reveal but learning the motive was fun; the killer had some grand delusions of what they were owed. Looking forward to reading the next installment when it is released.

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Vicki Delany continues her Tea by the Sea mysteries with Steeped in Malice. Lily Roberts retired to Cape Cod and set up her tearoom after a messy end to a romantic episode with a Michelin restauranteur in New York. She has survived one murder case in her new home town and now an obnoxious client at her tea shop has been killed. Turns out the victim is the new wife of her old flame. Suspects pile up among those seeking a missing will which had been placed in a tea pot. Messy situation. Good plotting.

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This cozy mystery is a delightful visit to New England and includes detailed descriptions of food and tea that will make you hungry.

Steeped in Malice is the fourth book in the Tea by the Sea Mystery series. This series set in a small town on Cape Cod, where Lily owns the Tea by Sea tea shop and bakery next to her grandmother, Rose’s Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Supporting characters include mother and daughter teashop pair, Marybeth and Cheryl as well as Rose, Lily’s best friend/aspiring writer Bernie. Lily purchases a children's tea set, which leads to a fight between sister, the death of one sister, and a reappearance of someone from Lily's past.

I found the characters including Lily to be likeable and the dialogue to be realistic and relatable. I had not read all of the prior books in the series, but was able to follow and understand the story without issue. However, after reading Steeped in Malice, I started to read the first book in the series, Tea & Treachery in order to learn more about the characters' backstories.

4 stars! Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books for letting me check out this book! I will post reviews on post this review on Goodreads, Bookbub and Amazon.

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Princess Fuzzypants here: No one suspected that the antique Peter Rabbit tea service Lily buys at an antique fair could create such a kerfuffle. She is confronted by an irate and rude woman who insists Lily sell it back to her. The following day, a former business associate comes looking for the same item. It turns out the set was sold when their mother died by a third sibling. And when Lily returns the set to the first woman, all she really wanted was an envelope hidden in the lining of the basket in which it came.

The implications of what is written in the letter are far reaching. So far reaching that someone killed the first woman. It seems though the killer did not find the envelope which may contain a final will that will impact several people deeply. This was a dysfunctional family with a capital D. And Lily cannot seem to rid herself of them. What is worse, the deceased was married to Lily’s former beau who is a despicable piece of slime. Things continue to get worse until Lily and her grandmother figure out who is behind all the chaos.

This is always an interesting series with great regular characters. I love Rose, Lily’s grandmother, who is quirky but never a caricature nor certifiable. So often the elderly relative is a danger to themselves and everyone around them. Rose is not. I like that and I like the book. Five purrs and two paws up.

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Wonderful addition to the Tea By The Sea Cozy Mystery series. I love all the fun and quirky characters, and the mystery kept me guessing. I wish Lily and her tearoom were real. I've never had a proper tea and would love to visit.
I can't wait to read what's next.

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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Steeped in Malice is a perfect cozy for those tea loving and Victorian-esque B & B readers out their. It's complete with proper charm throughout. Which fits with the selective and elite Cape Cod setting.

Overall the mystery was 4/5 stars and had a intriguing plot line - I loved how it developed, the searching for multiple wills and the backstory behind the wills.. My difficulty was that I didn't really feel like I "liked" any of the characters. They were enjoyable, but I didn't attach to anyone - which was the greatest downfall of the book overall. This may be partially due to the fact that this is a mid-series books. So this book would be best read after the others; as it won't necessarily make a new reader apt to read the rest of the series.

There was quite an ensemble of characters, which was not difficult to follow. Although some of the character progressions (interactions between characters) - seemed just thrown in at the end for effect. (I don't want to give away any spoilers!)

This book - like many enjoyable cozy mysteries has recipes to try! I will list them below- with an attempt to update my review if any get tried (I am most interested in Gluten Free Pancakes!)
-Gluten Free Pancakes
-Blueberry Muffins
-Lemon Squares

Thank you Kensington Books for this advanced reader copy!

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Another great cozy mystery from this author. Steeped in Malice is #4 in this Tea by the Sea series. How I wish this inn and tea room were real. I’d book a week there with my Kindle and have the time of my life! Can’t wait for #5!

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Part of the duties of owning a tea room involve purchasing new tea services when the old ones can no longer be used, a task that Lily Roberts approaches with glee. When she spots a Beatrix Potter-themed children's tea set at an antiques fair, she can't resist adding it to her shop’s collection. After all, she serves plenty of children at Tea By The Sea, and knows that the little ones will be just as delighted by the adorable cups and plates as she is.

Little does she suspect what a headache this seemingly innocuous purchase will bring her. It begins when a woman barges into the tea room, demanding that the set be returned. A skeptical Lily asks for proof of ownership, forcing Kimberly Smithfield to sheepishly admit that the service was part of a recent inheritance that was accidentally sold off. Lily reluctantly agrees to sell the set back, but Kimberly only seems to be interested in something hidden in the lining of the box the set came in anyway. She snatches that mysterious something away, telling Lily to keep both the money she paid and the set itself.

Relieved to have weathered this tempest in a teacup, Lily is ready to focus on work when an old acquaintance comes knocking. Rachel Morrison is a highly sought after restaurant decorator: the two had met when Lily still worked in New York City’s high-end culinary scene. Tragedy brought Rachel to Cape Cod, where Lily now lives. Rachel’s mother passed away recently, but her final will has gone missing. In its absence, Rachel's half-sister will inherit everything. It's with a sinking feeling that Lily realizes that this half-sister is the obnoxious Kimberly.

The last thing Lily wants to do is get in the middle of a family feud, especially over something as fraught as an inheritance. But when she finds the corpse of one of the sisters and becomes implicated in the murder herself, she realizes she'll have to get to the bottom of things before anyone else gets hurt. How quickly will she be able to solve the mystery, though, when an ex fiance, a bitter rival and an arsonist all show up to make her life a misery?

This has definitely been my favorite so far of Vicki Delaney's Tea By The Sea mystery series, as Lily has to sort through multiple motives and machinations in order to bring a murderer to justice. The plot was nicely layered, with clues neatly obscured ahead of the a-ha moment. It's also a continuing delight to see how Lily appreciates her more laid-back life after the pressures of living in the Big Apple, and how both she and her best friend Bernie still manage to use their contacts in the city to uncover the truth.

There were three recipes for baked goods included here, and I decided to try out this one:

QUOTE
Lemon Squares

Base:
2 cups butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt

Topping:
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp grated lime zest
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together butter, confectioner’s sugar, flour, and salt until well blended. The mixture will look like fine breadcrumbs.

Pat into a 9 x 13-inch greased pan. Prick surface with a fork. Bake for twenty minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Beat together eggs, granulated sugar, flour, zests, and juices. Pour the mixture over the cooked base.

Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes until set.

Cut into squares and liberally dust with icing sugar.
END QUOTE

I love a good lemon squares recipe (as do my children, one of whom couldn’t resist putting his finger into the pan before I could take a picture,) and this is one of the finest I've tasted! The lime in the recipe really cuts down on the tartness without sacrificing too much acid, ensuring that the final product is bright without being puckering. The lime also bolsters the sweetness without making it too cloying, and is an inspired addition to the usual lemons and sugar used for recipes like this. I also liked how the zest was incorporated into this dessert, making good use of all the edible parts of the fruit.

Next week, we head to the Midwest to make a delightfully easy pie while investigating the death of a celebrity at a county fair. Do join me!

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