Welcome to the coziest, vampire-owned tea room in Bath! It’s steeped in magic and mystery.
You’d expect serving afternoon tea to a high-society ladies club to go smoothly, right?
Newbie witch and marketing whiz Minnie Wells thought so. She’s in need of some smooth sailing, considering her plate is full with magic lessons, marketing the tea room, and navigating a divorce during the most romantic time of the year. But the women’s “Galentine’s” Day celebration is thrown into chaos when their event coordinator is stabbed in the back with a pink stiletto.
Now her handsome boss (who Minnie might have a little crush on) is in hot water with the vampire council and the group’s down a guide.
When Minnie’s offered the position for the weekend, she eagerly agrees to show the women around the gorgeous city of Bath. Not only to make some extra cash so she and her black cat can stop crashing on her vampire bestie’s couch, but also because she’ll get an an all-access pass to snoop out the killer and clear her boss’s name.
When another body turns up though, Minnie suspects she may be in over her head!
Will Minnie figure out who’s got it out for these upper class ladies and save her boss from the vampire council’s wrath? Or will the killer tire of Minnie’s meddling, and have a score to kettle?
In the first book of this series, Minnie manages to convince Fitz to hire her. Now we get to see some of the results of her marketing ideas.
The Regency Ladies Club has booked the Butler’s Cafe for Galentine’s day. They would be doing a weekend of Regency themed activities for Valentine’s Day. Their tour guide Amanda is one of the people Minnie contacted to boost the cafe’s business.
The cafe is packed, everyone is running around and even Minnie is helping by busing tables. The club even has anonymous gift giving for this event, with pouches of gifts on the back of every chair.
One of the women received an extravagant gift, a first edition of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. When she held it up, Amelia notices the page edges are gilded in a bright emerald green. However, when she asks for a closer look the woman Julianne slaps her.
Composing herself Amelia leaves the room and heads outside. When their time to leave approaches, Renee, the organizer asks if Minnie’s seen Amelia. Things get interesting as Minnie finds Amelia’s body in the alley behind the Cafe.
However, this doesn’t end for Minnie with just a police interview. Renee asks her to lead the tour group through the rest of the weekend, but Minnie declines since the Cafe is too busy for her to take time off.
To top this day off the Vampire council wants to speak with her regarding the previous murder and this one and the connection to Fitz’s Cafe. They are convinced Fitz is killing these people and should be confined to their ‘nest’ and not free among humans.
This is a favorite scene.
Barry set his briefcase down beside him and spread his palms wide. “Allow me to assure you all that these fears of violence on my client’s part are completely baseless.”
Darius lifted a white, sculpted brow. He looked completely unmoved. If Gus was right, he’d probably already made up his mind to punish Fitz, whether he was guilty or not.
“Absolutely.” Barry nodded emphatically. “These humans who were killed on my client’s premises were murdered in events unrelated to vampire concerns.” He held up a finger. “In fact, the police already arrested the first perpetrator last month. The motive was determined to be of a personal nature. And while it’s true that, unfortunately, another woman was killed this afternoon, she firstly died in an alley—not even on Mr. Connors’s premises. And secondly, it had nothing to do with my client.”
“Oh?” Darius lifted a brow. “Have the human police already found her killer as well?”
Barry licked his lips. “Er, no, Councilor, they have not, as of yet.”
“Is that so?” Darius pressed his pale lips together and looked side to side at his fellow council members. He made a doubtful noise. “It seems to me highly unlikely that two human deaths at a vampire’s place of business are merely coincidence.”
The vampires around the pool murmured their agreement.
“And how are we to know that the police arrested the true culprit of the first murder? Might not it have been Mr. Connors? We know our kind is keen and clever at disguising our crimes. However, we cannot have one of ours garnering such attention, being involved in so many deaths. It will lead to all of us being exposed!”
Gasps and frightened murmurs sounded around the pool.
I clicked my tongue. Seriously? He thought Fitz was behind these deaths? I couldn’t believe the others were buying this.
Darius went on. “It seems to me that Fitzgerald may have blamed that first murder on a scapegoat. He may be a danger to humankind—to us all, really. If he exposed us and humans learned of our existence, we’d all be in danger. Hunted, once again, to near extinction.” Darius’s eyes grew round. “We can’t risk it. Especially not now, with rumors of a vampire hunter sniffing about.”
Come again? I shot a look at Gus. Clearly there was a lot he wasn’t telling me. He flashed his eyes back.
Fitz let out a shaky breath, his hands balled into tight fists, his knuckles white and blotchy.
“No,” Darius drawled. “It is my recommendation, Council, that Fitzgerald be ordered back into the nest where we may supervise him and prevent him from being a danger to our kind.”
I froze. Where the heck was this nest? How long would Fitz be held for? What would happen to the tearoom he loved so much? I didn’t like the sound of this and couldn’t stay quiet any longer. Barry had warned me not to speak unless spoken to, but I stepped forward and raised my chin.
“Councilmembers, I’d like to say something.” My voice came out shaky, but stronger than I felt.
I didn’t know if vampires had beating hearts, but it was as if they all stopped. Dozens of pale faces fixed on me, and the hairs rose on the back of my neck.
Darius’s lip curled. “And who is this?”
Fitz’s eyes blazed as he shot me a warning look—which I ignored. “My name is Minnie Wells. I’m a witch and an employee of Fit—I mean, Mr. Connors.”
Lady Cordelia, the beautiful redhead, shot me a saucy look and folded her arms.
Millie giggled. “A witch working for a vampire?” Her voice came out as sing-song. “That’s funny.”
Was it? I cleared my throat and opened my mouth to speak, but Barry threw an arm out, blocking me. He bared his teeth at me, then smiled back at the council. “Apologies for this witch speaking out of turn. I’m sure she means well, but—”
I stepped around his outstretched arm, closer to the council. Everything in me was telling me to run, but I held my ground. Partly because I wanted to help Fitz, and partly because my legs had turned to jelly. “No. I have something important to say. I know Fitz would never hurt a human. He cares about his tearoom too much to endanger it, and he’s a good person. Besides, I was nearly killed myself by the first murderer and even helped the police apprehend them, so I know for a fact that Fitz wasn’t the perpetrator.”
Darius fixed me with a murderous look. “Is. That. So?” he growled.
Yeep. “Yes.” My voice came out a squeak. I tried again. “Yes. And I’ll prove he didn’t kill the woman who died today, either.”
Lady Cordelia scoffed, and little Millie giggled again. Marcel, the guy in the track suit, lifted a dark brow, lowered his aviator sunglasses, and peered at me over the top of them.
“You’ll prove it?”
I nodded. “Like I said, I helped the police apprehend the first killer—I can do it again.” I hoped.
Darius stared me down, a muscle in his jaw twitching. His lips curled back, revealing pointed canines. It was a look that told me, quite clearly, that he wished to kill me. I, for one, hoped that wouldn’t happen.
Lady Cordelia lifted a pale shoulder. “I say let her try.”
Millie giggled. “Yeah, why not?” She grinned, dimples in her cheeks. “If she fails, we can drain her.”
I snapped my alarmed gaze to Gus, then Fitz. Oh boy. I was in trouble.
Marcel let out a deep chuckle, and even Balthazar, who hadn’t yet spoken, nodded, running his tongue over his teeth. “I like that idea.”
“No.” Fitz stepped forward, and Barry pinched the space between his brows. He shook his head and grumbled something about screening his clients better.
“Minnie’s not a vampire, and she’s not bound to our laws. She’s not part of this.”
Darius’s intense gaze swung from me to Fitz. He studied him for a long moment, and then his lips curled back from his teeth in a devilish grin. “On the contrary. Perhaps you’re more involved with her than we realized, which makes her involved with us.”
I’d swear Fitz blushed, which was saying something for a vampire.
Darius simpered at me. “I say we let this witch try. Minnie, you have three days to catch the real culprit, as you put it, and prove that Fitz is innocent.”
“NO!” Fitz growled.
“Yes,” Darius sneered.
The man with the scroll stepped forward and spoke in his high, sing-song voice. “Shall we vote?”
Lady Cordelia, Marcel, Darius, Balthazar, and Millie all cast their ayes.
The man with the scroll turned to the vampires gathered around the pool. “Minnie Wells has three days to prove Fitzgerald Connors innocent of murdering the woman found dead in his alley this afternoon. If she convinces the human police that another is guilty, the case shall be dropped and Mr. Connors shall remain a free vampire. Should she fail, Mr. Connors shall be put on nest arrest, forfeiting his freedom, and Miss Wells shall find herself exempt from the protections of the vampire statutes preventing the draining of witches.”
My shoulders slumped. Oh boy. I’d done it this time.
Johnson, Erin. With Scream and Sugar: A Magical Tea Room Mystery (The Magical Tea Room Mysteries Book 2). Kindle Locations (649-708). Kindle Edition.
After the council meeting Minnie has no choice but to agree to lead the tour group. That in itself is quite the experience as she also tries to get clues as to who had motive to kill Amelia.
There aren’t many clues here. The murder weapon was the very pregnant Bunny’s stiletto that she had taken off as soon as they arrived at the cafe and left by the door. Easy access for anyone. The other clue is the bookmark that fell out of the first edition Northanger Abbey.
Oh the twists and turns that Minnie has to follow in order to solve this intense mystery. Both her life and Fitz’s is on the line and she cannot fail.
I am loving this series and I’ve already started the next book.
5 Contented Purrs for Erin!
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A native of Arizona, Erin loves her new home in the Pacific Northwest! She writes paranormal cozy novels– stories that are mysterious, magical, and will hopefully make you laugh.
When not writing, she’s hiking, napping with her dogs, and losing at trivia night.
Erin’s had a ton of different jobs, from blackjack dealer to PA on a horror movie to Pilates instructor but has finally embraced her true calling as a writer. Thanks so much for your interest and for supporting her!