A Curious Woman by Jess LeaA Curious Woman by Jess Lea is such a comical and delightful cozy mystery with a dash of romance between two endearing and headstrong women.

Bess Campbell has left her old life behind in the bustling cities she once loved in order to embrace the peaceful, close-knit, Australian seaside town of Port Bannir. She needed a new beginning in a place where nobody knew about the life-altering mistakes she had made. Bess’s new life has everything that she’s ever wanted or dreamed of because she lives in a snug farmhouse on a beautiful plot of land that she shares with her boisterous chickens. She has the coolest job ever at a funky and popular gallery and she possesses tons of self-help books that will help her to live her best life.

Margaret Gale is Port Bannir’s local grump and she runs the maritime museum and her staff like a captain in charge of a ship with an unruly and mutinous crew. She doesn’t care about the Cabinet of Curiosities and its eccentric owner and she’s not interested in someone like Bess, a woman with an affable personality and plain-talking ways. Besides, Bess is always getting into everyone’s business and peddling around town on her hippy bicycle.

Margaret and Bess will never be on the same page because they can’t even engage in any meaningful discussion about displaying an antique dildo in either of their respective businesses. A pointless murder shocks the sleepy town of Port Bannir and both women are high on the police’s suspect list.

Will Margaret and Bess be able to put their differences aside and work together to clear their names and bring the killer to justice before it is too late—or will their pursuit of truth and justice become a lethal affair?

The Characters

Bess Campbell works at the Cabinet of Curiosities and she is the owner’s right-hand lady when it comes to running his lucrative gallery. She is also the proud owner of four little chickens who aren’t afraid of protecting their homestead or their inquisitive owner. Bess has a big heart and she means well but she always manages to get herself into so much trouble whenever she tries to help a person in need. I’m going to boldly admit that I’ve never laughed until I cried but Bess’s peculiar adventures and her nosy ways made me chuckle so hard that I tumbled off my couch with my kindle held high.

Margaret Gale runs Port Bannir’s maritime museum. She takes great pleasure in making her staff and many people in her small, seaside community very uncomfortable. I’m not ashamed to say that I wasn’t a fan of Margaret at first because she came across as a really cold and unapproachable person with a razor sharp tongue that she wasn’t afraid of using on anyone who crossed her path. Margaret has a huge, soft heart that she hides beneath many layers of sarcasm, anger and resentment. My opinion of Margaret changed when I saw how much it cost her to take a chance on love and allow Bess into her life and I also admired the ways she tried to protect and care for her beloved sister, Deidre.

The Writing Style

Once again, Jess Lea has blown my mind with her captivating style of writing, the humorous and entertaining dialogue between the unforgettable characters she created and the vivid imagery of Port Bannir and the surrounding areas of the Australian landscape. This author has outdone herself with this lovely story because it is the perfect blend of comedy, mystery and romance. It is just the kind of novel that a book lover’s doctor would prescribe because it will have you doubled over with laughter and it will have you going around in circles and wondering who really committed the crime in the first place!

The Pros

Don’t you just love it when two awesome women decide to put their heads together to solve a bizarre mystery and find out who’s done it? Right here, right now, I’ve got both hands in the air because I am a huge fan of cozy mysteries and I’m an even bigger fan of quirky characters like Bess, who get into a world of trouble whenever they try to get the answers that they seek.

The Cons

Zero complaints!

aprils favourite booksThe Conclusion

I’ve learned my lesson with reading hilarious stories like this one in public so I did all of my one-sided debates and hearty chuckling at home! If you enjoy stories that contain beautiful images of a cozy coastal town, murder, mayhem, museums, priceless artefacts and a budding romance coupled with a heroic chicken or two, then this is definitely the story for you!

Excerpt from A Curious Woman by Jess Lea

Margaret fixed her guest with a look that would have frozen the beak off a penguin.

“Ms Campbell, I presume. If you’ve come about the matter you discussed with my assistant last week, I’m afraid you have had a wasted journey. Do feel free to take in the exhibits before you leave.” Margaret gave a thin smile. “Our gift shop has a charming picture book about a ship’s cat which you might enjoy.”

To her surprise, Bess Campbell did not crush easily. In fact, she seemed to have recovered from the boarding knife incident remarkably quickly. She had the nerve to smile and say “Actually, Ms Gale, I came to apologize. We went in too hard before, trying to persuade you to sell.”

“Indeed?” Margaret’s eyes narrowed.

“Of course. The artefact we discussed is unique and precious; I’m not surprised you won’t part with it. Something that unusual must be the centerpiece of your collection.” Bess looked around with an innocent expression, as if searching for the item.

Margaret growled inwardly. The little pest knew full well the thing wasn’t on display to the public. “It’s under restoration,” she snapped.

“Well, we at the Cabinet of Curiosities were wondering if we might come to a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Margaret turned away, snapped the cabinet shut, and locked it. “No.”

“A lease system…”

Unbelievable—the woman was still talking!

“We would pay a substantial premium to host the item, with full acknowledgement of its ownership here.” Bess had the nerve to step between Margaret and the cabinet, obliging Margaret to look at her. She had light freckles all over her face and throat, and pale pink lips. There was a delicate tattoo of a drifting dandelion peeking out from beneath the strap of her dress.

“The exposure of your item in our gallery might benefit your business here.” Bess was rude enough to glance around the almost empty room.

Margaret scowled. “I doubt that. The sort of people who enjoy your exhibits of exotic lavatories are unlikely to take much interest in our district’s seafaring heritage.”

“Actually, we’ve got a toilet seat from an old sailing ship,” Bess enthused.

She seemed on the verge of describing it, before Margaret’s look made her halt.

“We’d be more than happy to set up an exchange exhibit,” she said, changing track. “If there’s anything in our collection—”

“There is nothing,” Margaret said, “in that junk shop of Mr Powell’s that would be of the slightest use to us here. Now, if that is all…”

“Could I look at it?”

Dear God, this Bess Campbell was nothing if not hopeful. Hopeful in that bouncy, perky way that Margaret had always found intensely irritating.

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