Book Reviews

Book Review: Steeped in Secrets

By Lauren Elliott

Published November 2022

306 Pages

This is the first installment in the Crystals and CuriosiTEAS series, a cozy mystery series touched with a little bit of magic.  My favorite kind.

In it, we meet Shay Myers, in her mid-thirties, going through a divorce that cost her her business, and forced to move back to her hometown of Bray Harbor.  At least she has her sister to fall back on for support and an unexpected inheritance: a New Age tea shop and an adjacent sea-side cottage.  The only question is, why did the previous owner leave it to her?

On her first walkthrough of the shop, she finds a body on the roof.  Who is it?  Does his death have anything to do with the somewhat mysterious death of the previous owner?  How is Shay involved and possibly more importantly, is the handsome pub owner who lives next to Shay single?

“Steeped in Secrets” interpreted by Wombo Dream

This has the set up for a great cozy mystery.  Quaint sea-side town (second only to a quaint English village), a mysterious inheritance, a full backstory (for a good series character arc), lovable side characters, and charming but roguish potential love inheritance.  Oh yes, let’s not forget a body and some magic.  Everything was in place and I was intrigued going in. Unfortunately, the magic waned for me pretty early on.

I hate giving overtly critical reviews but sometimes they’re unavoidable.  If nothing I mention would bother you, you’ll probably really enjoy this book because overall, it was cute.  But some specific things had me rolling my eyes – a lot.  First of all, Shay is an “intuitive gemologist.” Intriguing.  Unfortunately, her intuitive hunches tended to be described as her nerve endings tingling for the most part.  I honestly couldn’t figure out where her intuition came into play because she seemed pretty lost in that department for the majority of the book.  

Secondly, a lot of the character traits were rough, like they needed to be worked out a bit more.  I’ll use Shay’s sister, Jen, as an example.  From what the author said, Jen cared about Shay and wanted the best for her.  To me, she came across as overbearing, almost a bully.  She didn’t support Shay in her new endeavor and would change her tune on a dime with no rational explanation of why.  I nearly had whiplash trying to keep up with what the sister was going to do or say next that ran contrary to something that had just happened.  Honestly, she treated Shay like she was twelve.  Also, it was suggested that the sisters were close, yet they hadn’t talked enough over the past decade for Shay to know basic things about her sister’s life.  Just huge gaps in their relationship that I couldn’t bridge and it left me feeling like maybe this book needed a little more work done on it before it was published.

Still, I’m giving props for a great premise so I ended up with 2.75/5 stars ⭐⭐+

Until next time, thank you for visiting.


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