Lorraine Bartlett's Lotus Bay Mysteries: Technically books 1 & 2, "Panty Raid" & "With Baited Breath"

 First is this delightful short story that gave me quite a laugh, "Panty Raid" which is an introduction to Tori Cannon and Kathy Grant and how they became friends.

I totally loved this quirky and humorous introduction story. Kathy and Tori had been best friends and college roommates who swore they would stay in touch, but as usual, life had interfered and they usually only saw each other once a year.

Kathy, who went to business school and wanted to someday own her own Bed and Breakfast works in the Hospitality Industry. Tori is a school teacher who after 7 years teaching was losing her love for the job. Kids had just gotten too entitled and didn't care about learning as they had in the past. Or that is how it felt to her.

And the girls get together just before the start of summer when Kathy gives Tori a call with a problem that she is dealing with and was hoping for a little girl time with her bestie and maybe a bit of clue solving while they were together.

This story has the light feel of fun and a minor mystery to whet the whistle. It's a great introduction to the series. And the actual conclusion to the mystery will leave you laughing. It's an easy read and I had it done in under 2 hours. I highly recommend reading this as it really does help you to understand the dynamics better of the friends and their hopes and dreams when you get to the first novel in this series.

Which leads me to, "With Baited Breath" the first full story in this series. I loved this full story and it explains many of the things I was missing when I read the "A Reel Catch" first. It says a lot for a series that I could read it out of order and not feel super lost. At the same time, coming back and reading this story makes everything fall into place better.

This story opens with Tori and her grandfather, Herb Cannon, returning to the Cannon Compound after her grandmother's funeral. They are both sad and feeling strained from the emotions of the day. Herb is upset his children had come to the funeral and skedaddled out of there immediately after it was over. They hadn't even bothered to see if he was okay or needed anything. Tori was the only one still with him. And he is grateful she is there. Herb is a bit of a curmudgeon, loveable but irascible. The lodge, bait shop and boat house & Slips were really his wife's babies, he was never into working the businesses and thought she was foolish trying so hard to keep them running. When she was no longer able to keep up they closed up the lodge and it's rooms were used for storage. It had been 10 years since it had been used.

Tori is interested in getting everything fixed up and making the business a going concern again. She had spent summers there as a child and those are her happiest memories growing up. She loved helping her grandmother and now wants to make it all cleaned up and ready for business again. Herb can't see it and thinks she is a fool. He just wants to win the lottery and retire to Florida.

This is the set up for the start of the story and it's sadly sweet to start. While Tori and Herb are looking over the lodge and the grounds that are in serious need of clean up, mowing and repairs, she notices one of the lodge room doors is open. She goes to check what is up and discovers a dead body. The police are called and the Detective is less than friendly but eventually lets them go about their day.

Tori calls her friend Kathy for help in fixing up the Compound and helping her with her grandfather. And it turns out the dead man is Tori's childhood friends father. So this is how Anissa joins the story and we have the 3 women now together and helping each other toward their multiple goals. For Tori it is saving the business and making them all a going concern again. For Kathy it is buying the derelict old home across the street from the Lodge and next door to the Bay Bar. For Anissa it is to find her father's killer and start her own contracting business.

The story has a few unique twists and the actual killer comes out of left field on this one. And it's a doozy of a plot twist. Once again, Lorraine has managed to hit a topic that has had an effect in my own life in an equally unexpected way. So she sheds light into my own life while solving and helping the characters in her book. I loved this story and really am glad I got introduced to this series!

I am starting this short story now and will add it to the review when I finish. Which honestly should be later today. This third installment in the series is the short story "Christmas at Swans Nest" and picks up after "With Baited Breath" and Kathy is working hard to get her Bed and Breakfast up to code and fully remodeled from that derelict old home she bought just months before.

What a totally sweet story! No murder mystery this time. The mystery per se was lighter and this was more just a catch up with our three main gals, Tori, Kathy & Anissa. Add in Paul and Noreen from the Bay Bar next door to Kathy's soon to be Bed and Breakfast. Kathy finally named it Swan's Nest in honor of the swans who raise their cygnets in the marsh behind the house. Kathy is doing as much of the work as she can to keep the costs down. While stripping and sanding baseboards she comes across slip of paper under the wood that she has to work carefully to remove. It turns out to be a poem that might be the start of a treasure hunt. Right then Anissa comes to present her with a fabulous stove for her kitchen. She forgets about the slip of paper and goes to see this wonderful gift from her friend.

Since this takes place right at Christmas time, and anyone who has ever lived on the Great Lakes knows about Lake Effect Snow. And Lorraine sure shows how that snow can change best laid plans. And yet they have a happy adventure thanks to that snow!

Another wonderful read. And this one leads to the newest book, "A Reel Catch" which is coming out August 3rd. I have that review already written! It is the next review down on this blog!


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