Book Review: Barking up the Wrong Bakery (Happy Tails Dog Walking) by Stella St. Claire

Barking up the Wrong Bakery is the first book in the Happy Tails Dog Walking series by Stella St. Claire. Some people would kill for coffee, Olivia Rickard would kill to keep everything just the way it is. She’s got a gorgeous boyfriend who loves her, a supportive sister to lean on, and a dog walking business that’s briskly barking away. But just as she’s getting comfortable her sister suddenly wants to buy an entire brownstone with her and her boyfriend looks like he’s going to pop the question at every opportunity. Changing the status quo has always been disastrous for Olivia and now everything is changing at once. What Olivia needs is a distraction and she’s found one in stumbling upon Yvette Dunn dead in her coffee foodtruck—drowned in a vat of fresh coffee. Olivia starts out as an unlucky bystander to the crime, but she’s forced to dig in deeper when it looks like her sister could be involved in Yvette’s death. Olivia is running out of time in regards to the mystery, the mortgage, and the marriage. She’s going to have to solve all three problems—and quick—or face a future most foul.

Barking up the Wrong Bakery grabbed me right off the bat, but sadly I lost momentum quickly. I liked the set up, and initially found Olivia charming and fumblingly adorable. However, it was not long before I found myself wishing Olivia would grow up and actually talk to her boyfriend and sister, like an adult, rather than trying to avoid the future. I liked the mystery set up, and the quirky small town characters. I found the layers of building the town connections and characters that will be appearing later in the series to be handled well. I like that while I had a feeling about who committed the crime, the mystery was very tangled together and finding the path to a solution was entertaining. I liked most everything about the story, except for my gut reaction to Olivia. There were moments when she was amusing and cute, but others when I just wanted to shake her and tell her to use her words- much like I tell my kids and students to use their words if they have a problem or question rather than just ignoring it or running from it.

Barking up the Wrong Bakery is a fun cozy mystery, and the suspense and detective work is well done. The characters and setting were well written as well, I just happen to not click with the main character, but that might be more of a personality thing than anything else.

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