For twenty-seven-year old witch Minnie Wells, when it rains murder and mayhem, it pours.
Minnie has high hopes for a relaxing weekend at a brand new, Jane Austen themed wellness retreat with her vampire beau and her paranormal co-workers from the tea room. A renovated manor house, stunning countryside, and farm fresh, chef-prepared cuisine —what could go wrong?
But Minnie’s zen is zapped when a vampire hunter shows up with his sights set on her fanged bestie, a fellow attendee is found dead in her locked room, and the whole group is trapped inside, without power, by a torrential storm.
When Minnie pieces together the clues and discovers the woman’s death was anything but natural, it’s up to the amateur sleuth to throw the vampire hunter off the trail, and catch the killer before they strike again. But with everyone keeping secrets —even her friends—this budding witch will have to summon all her mindfulness and magic to shine some light on the truth.
Can she solve the whodunnit and keep her friends safe, or will the murderer strike in the dark, making Minnie their next target?
Everyone is heading to the soft opening of Bulbrook Grove Wellness Spa. A free weekend offered in exchanged for promoting the new business. Gus drove Minnie and Fitz and the butlers were meeting them there. Of course, Fitz is worried leaving the contractors alone at the tearoom, but Minnie assures him everything will be fine. They couldn’t open with the renovation and plumbing work being done anyway, this will be the perfect getaway for Minnie, Fitz and the guys.
The first people they meet are Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Chang, one of the owners and Florence the manager. Minnie overhears a bit of an argument as they are waiting to check in. They also briefly meet Bobby Chang, the other owner and Ellie’s husband. He’s a famous chef and this is a new venture for them.
Once checked in Gus is lead to his room first and then Minnie and Fitz. They are sharing a room for the first time.
This is a favorite scene.
“This is the nicest place I’ve ever stayed.”
Fitz hovered near the window. “I’m honored to share it with you.”
Something about his more formal tone made another aspect of the room come into focus—the enormous king-sized bed that took up the majority of the room. Ice flooded my stomach, and I shifted on my feet, suddenly nervous. Oh, right. That thing I’d been fretting about but decided to push to the back of my mind came rushing back to the forefront. This would be our first night alone together, sleeping in the same bed.
I gulped, my throat suddenly dry. Sure, Fitz had fallen asleep on the couch with me at Gus’s a handful of times, but he’d never spent the night up in my attic room. It was too awkward with Gus liable to come home anytime. With his superior hearing, there really wasn’t any privacy there. And Fitz’s derelict place was out until he got it renovated.
Plus, with my vampire boyfriend’s old-fashioned manners and sense of propriety, I didn’t know quite where he stood on the whole intimacy thing. So instead of talking to him about it like an adult, I’d avoided the issue as a problem for future Minnie to figure out. Well, the future was now, and the bed suddenly felt like the proverbial elephant in the room.
“Uh…” I cast about for anything to talk about that didn’t involve sharing the room together for the first time. “I better check on Tilda.” Mim, my witchy mentor, had agreed to watch my cat for the long weekend. Besides me, she was the only witch who could telepathically speak with my familiar, and Mim treated Tilda like a precious baby. There was no one I’d trust more to look after her, but still, acting like a helicopter fur-mom provided a convenient excuse to avoid any potential awkwardness a little longer.
“Oh, yes, of course.” Fitz sounded almost as relieved as I was to not have to have “the talk.” “I’ll unpack.”
“Oh, good idea.”
He eagerly dug into his luggage—a leather train case and a literal steamer trunk (apparently he hadn’t purchased suitcases since the 1800s)—as I got comfy in the window seat and made a video call. After a couple of rings, Mim picked up. She smiled at me through the camera, her blue eyes twinkling, the low beams of her cottage store behind her dripping with dried herbs and flowers.
“Hello, pet! How is the place?”
I smiled back. “Good, good. We just got checked in, and I can’t wait to explore. It’s gorgeous. First, I wanted to check in on Tilda, though. How’s my little gal doing?”
“One moment, poppet.” The camera blurred with motion as she bent and scooped up my little black cat. “Say hello to your witch mummy.”
Tilda narrowed her bright yellow eyes. You abandoned me.
I blinked, surprised to find our telepathic communication worked through the phone.
She hissed, and I shot her an arch look. “Hardly. Mim’s going to spoil you rotten. And I’ll miss you, of course, but they have a strict no-pets rule here.”
She flattened her ears as Mim adjusted the phone to give me a better view of Tilda. I’m not a pet, I’m a familiar. Did you even try to explain that to them? What will you do without me when you get into trouble, hm?
I scoffed. “When I get into trouble? Come on, Tilda, I’m sure I can avoid a magical emergency during a retreat weekend—it’s all about relaxing and chilling out.”
Tilda sniffed. Doubtful. You’re always getting into trouble.
I gawked and looked to Mim for support, but my mentor sucked on her lips and looked away. I saw how it was.
“Look, I should go. We have orientation soon. But I’ll check in again later. You be good for Auntie Mim, okay?”
Tilda’s tail angrily swished behind her. Maybe I’ll stay with Mim and become her familiar and then you’ll be sorry.
Mim mouthed, “It’ll be fine.”
I gave her a little wave, then bid them both goodbye and hung up. I looked over at Fitz, who was hanging one of his white button-ups in the wardrobe. “Did you catch that? Tilda’s giving me all kinds of grief.”
He grinned. “I’d expect no less. I suppose you shall have to win her over with extra tuna when we return.”
“I think you’re right.” Movement outside the window caught my eye, and I glanced down at an old lady with white hair meandering across the lawn with her hands clasped behind her back. “I think I’ve spotted another guest.”
Although Fitz, the butlers, and I, as well as Gus, took up much of the space for the weekend, Florence had informed me they’d have some other comped guests staying here, as well.
“I wonder who they’ll be,” I mused. Florence had told me this was something of a soft launch for the retreat center. They’d invited others who, like us, could help promote the place. As marketing manager for the tearoom, I was curious about potentially meeting other local business owners we might be able to partner with.
The older lady seemed to be exploring the grounds and eventually wandered into the stables. I opened the white glossy packet Ellie had given us and pulled out the map of the estate, plus the itinerary and a list of various classes and services we could choose from.
“Looks like there’s a class about taking care of homestead animals—I wonder if that includes the horses.”
I glanced over to the stable again as the older woman reemerged, red-faced, arms pumping, and marched back toward the manor house with her back straight as a rod. I frowned and shifted in my seat to get a better view of everything down below. What had her practically fleeing the stable like that? A moment later, Florence and Bobby crept out of the stable.
I sucked in a breath. “Whoa—Fitz.” I waved him over to the window as Florence and Bobby, also red-faced, scanned the lawn, then parted ways. Bobby’s thick crop of black hair looked mussed, and Florence adjusted her rumpled blazer.
I flashed my eyes at my boyfriend. “I think the old lady might have interrupted those two together in the stable.”
Fitz frowned deeply. “They certainly appear flummoxed.”
My first thought was the old woman had caught them getting up to something romantic, but would they really do that right under Ellie’s nose? If not that, then what?
I turned my back to the window and tried to put it out of my mind. I was not going to let my imagination and sense of curiosity run amuck and prove Tilda right. I was determined to stay out of trouble this weekend.
For the next little while I perused the materials Ellie had given us, then unpacked, and Fitz and I took turns freshening up in the bathroom.
He checked his gold pocket watch. “It’s nearly three.”
I nodded and moved to the door to slip back into my booties. “Time for the welcome drinks.”
We stepped into the hall, made sure the door was locked behind us, then froze.
My mouth fell open. “Kurt?”
Fitz shot me a wide-eyed look full of fear, which I returned.
I stayed rooted in place as the tall man stomped toward us in his characteristic trench coat and tall combat boots. “What are you doing here?”
He seemed a bit surprised at my tone. He smirked. “You made the weekend sound so unmissable, I decided to book a room myself.”
I shook my head. No. No, this couldn’t be happening. He was staying here? The entire weekend? Nothing about this man, a rough around the edges vampire hunter, seemed congruent with a luxury spa retreat weekend.
He turned to Fitz. “Kurt Alpenjager. Pleased to meet you.” He shook my boyfriend’s hand as Fitz mumbled, “Fitzgerald Connors.”
Kurt frowned down at their hands. “Chilly.”
Oh no, he’d noticed Fitz’s cold touch, typical of vampires. “You can’t be here.” Maybe it was rude, but I didn’t care. “This is for industry professionals.”
My chest grew tight with fear for myself, my vampire boyfriend, and all my supernatural friends and butlers. What if this man, who was trained to sniff out and kill vampires, discovered our true natures and hunted us? It’d certainly be a lot easier for him with us all sharing a manor house for a three-night retreat. This was an unmitigated disaster, and he needed to leave now.
“Well, I may have fudged my credentials a bit.” He winked. “But in truth, I may have more industry connections than you might guess.”
Johnson, Erin. A Bitter Blend: A Magical Tea Room Mystery (The Magical Tea Room Mysteries Book 8). Kindle Locations (213-274). Kindle Edition.
Although Minnie was expecting it, the king size bed has both of them uncomfortable and a bit awkward. The conversation she has with Tillie on the phone is hysterical and then there’s some intrigue when they see another guest out the window rushing from the stable followed by Bobby and Florence.
However, nothing compares to the dismay when they discover Kurt, the vampire hunter, is staying there for the weekend as well. So much for a relaxing time.
Secret meetings, a suspicious death, a interesting connection between Gus and Kurt, plus a storm that knocks out the power out.
Plenty of intrigue and suspense as Minnie and the crew try to figure out who could possibly be the murderer, while also uncovering other suspicious things. Minnie also gets a hand with her magic from Al’s wife, Yasmine.
I really can’t wait for the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Erin!
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Tea Die For
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!