Comfort and Joy Trilogy, #1
Women's Fiction / Later-In-Life Romance
Second-Chance Romance / Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Fish Tales
Page Count: 359 pages
Publication Date: January 21, 2023
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Welcome to the hometown everyone wants to call their own.
Gloria Bachman, a retired bank executive, has eight weeks to flip a location on Comfort’s High Street into a boutique chocolate shop. Defying expectations for “women of a certain age,” Gloria rediscovers talents and a sharpening of skills. If only she could read people as well as she does a spreadsheet. Even with the renovation in good hands, the subsequent struggle to name the shop brings Gloria and her business partner into conflict with a shady citizen. While Gloria is capable of remaining in her retirement rut while opening a business, two competing social groups try to lure her into their networks, causing Gloria to wonder if she ever knew Comfort at all. A murder rocks the community and revives investigative instincts honed by years in the banking industry.
Mason Lassiter, a disgraced CEO, has his own dramas to escape and the offbeat town seems the perfect place to recover his self-esteem. What was to be a quick reversal of fortunes becomes a quest to right a deeply felt injustice. Fascinated by the women driving the energy of Comfort, he extends his stay to find out why the small town is the backdrop to their best tales. Tangling with his neighbor Gloria becomes his favorite pastime and the key to unlocking the mystery of his past—if he can convince her to trust him.
Chocolate and joy become the glue bringing an unlikely cast together, which just might change Gloria’s and Mason’s course for the better. With characters familiar from previous Comfort novels and introducing fresh names, Sweet Comfort will entertain those who like their stories seasoned with coziness and sweet, second chances.
Came for the chocolate, stayed for the relationships.
Sweet Comfort is the first book in author Kimberly Fish’s spin-off series, Comfort and Joy, and I can’t think of a more descriptive or appropriate moniker for the series. While I was initially attracted to the book because of the promise of gourmet chocolate, it was the characters’ relationships that pulled me deep into the story. This is one of the best buildups of the community of characters for a series that I think I’ve ever encountered.
The main character Gloria Bachman is a woman of a certain age and well-regarded in her adopted hometown of Comfort, Texas. She’s suffered some hard knocks in her life and career, but she’s a survivor. To her chagrin, perhaps, her younger women friends have seemed to have placed her on a pedestal, and she certainly doesn’t view herself in that light. They hold her in high esteem and aspire to emulate her take-charge and take-no-prisoners demeanor that got her to where she ended up: a bank president. I liked seeing her opening this new chapter in her life and trying something entirely different with her friend and business partner, Kali. Then it was also good to see an older woman exhibiting realistic attitudes toward a possible romantic partner and relationship.
Besides the second chance storyline, there is the chocolate business to drool over. And while I enjoyed every virtual morsel, I also liked all the details about renovating the old building slated to house the new shop. I appreciate all the research the author must have done before putting pen to paper. There is even a mention of the traffic snafu caused by the crane that was needed for some of the work! True to life. And there was still so much more that had me turning pages: the mysterious death of the estranged wife of the successful Dallas businessman, the murder of a local contractor, and of course, learning everyone in Comfort’s business. As always, it was fun to have a fictional story set in the very real town of Comfort, Texas.
The author’s writing style is easy to read yet compelling. I was immediately drawn into Gloria Bachman’s life and soon felt like I knew her and her many friends and acquaintances. The dialogue sparkled, with some real laugh-out-loud moments and situations that were Pure D entertainment. (Yes, we say that in Texas.)
Although this is the first book in this series, there are hints that certain characters or couples have backstories featured in the author’s previous works. However, I didn’t need to have read those to become immediately invested in this current tale. The bonus is that there is backstory gold just waiting to be discovered.
I recommend SWEET COMFORT to readers who enjoy women’s fiction, later-in-life and second-chance romances, cozy mysteries, chocolate themes, stories set in Texas, especially the Hill Country, and fans of the author’s previous novels.
Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction novels and novellas, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of the novels have won distinguished awards. Sweet Comfort is her latest novel, the first book in the Comfort and Joy Trilogy.
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