Title: Honey Roasted (The Coffeehouse Mystery #19)
Author: Cleo Coyle
Publisher: February 1, 2022
Publication date: Berkley
Genre: Cozy Mystery
One Sentence Summary: With her wedding approaching, Clare is working on a special blend of honey and coffee, but never expected her coffeehouse to be swarmed with bees, nor for her fiance to start to lock her out of his personal and professional lives.
Warning: Spoilers for books 1-18 lie directly ahead.
Honey Roasted is #19 in the Coffeehouse Mystery series and dishes up a fun and twisty mystery centered around honeybees and, of course, coffee and food. While it could be read as a standalone as every book introduces a new mystery and new characters related to the mystery, the main characters grow with each book. This one is no exception, especially in terms of the relationship between Clare and Mike. Honey Roasted offered me everything I love about this series, from wonderful characters to cases that intersect to relationships that grow over time. Overall, it managed to feel comforting and refreshing to me and I enjoyed how smooth of a reading experience it offered.
With her wedding looming, Clare, manager of The Village Blend coffeehouse, is working on a special latte to serve, using the honey from special bees a friend of her former mother-in-law cultivates. But all is not quite as sweet as her fiance, Detective Mike Quinn, seems too busy with work to pay her any attention. When bees unexpectedly swarm her coffeehouse, the mystery of where they came from leads her to her former mother-in-law’s friend, Bea Hastings. But the mystery doesn’t stop there, because now Bea is in a coma and her niece is unreachable.
Clare’s mystery leads her and her ex-husband, and business partner, across NYC, crossing paths with the case her fiance is working on, and straight into a rising company with a new method of feeding people.
As a long-time reader of this series I am, of course, a little biased. But what I love about this series really shines through in Honey Roasted: an amazing cast of characters, a little sweet romance, a lot of food, and Clare’s and Mike’s cases crossing paths. There are also excellent appearances of Matt, Clare’s ex-husband, and Madame, Matt’s mother and Clare’s former mother-in-law. Honey Roasted offers a story full of real relationship ups and downs, plenty of food and coffee, and intriguing mysteries that prove to be quite dangerous. If there was anything I was missing, it was some dreamy discussions of how to prepare different coffee drinks, but I’m not a coffee drinker so I was just fine with that.
My favorite part of this series has always been, and will always be, the characters. No matter what mystery is thrown at them, they are all still so wonderful in their own unique ways. Clare is stubborn and doggedly pursues the mysteries that drop in her lap. It’s never what she sets out to do, but she has a strong sense of wanting to do what’s right and just ends up being dragged into a case. Now engaged to an NYPD detective, she’s picked up a lot of skills and intuition that really help her out, but danger is never out of the question no matter how hard her fiance, Mike, tries to keep her safe. Speaking of Mike, I adore everything about him. He really is one of the good guys and works hard to do everything by the book, even if it might hurt him. He has definitely been hurt before, but it doesn’t stop him from doing his best, though I think Honey Roasted saw him at one of his lower points as I can’t say I was a huge fan of him in this one. Still, I love Clare and Mike and it’s always such a thrill to read more about their relationship. It’s really one of the foundations and anchors of this series to me and, together, they never really can be steered wrong, personally and professionally. What I really liked about their relationship in Honey Roasted is that everything suddenly became very real with their wedding approaching. There are ups and downs, pushes and pulls, and a lot of hard words and decisions, as well as some surprise relationship advice.
I also adore the greater coffeehouse staff and Mike’s team, though they weren’t as present in this book. I was also sorely missing Joy, Clare’s grown daughter, but she doesn’t feature in every book. The Village Blend staff, though, are always a ton of fun. They each have their own distinct personality and, while they often bump heads, they also work really well together and there’s such a wonderful undercurrent of understanding between them all. They really feel like a family, and they always make me smile. I wish they had been more present in Honey Roasted, but the ones who were seen more often were two of my favorites and the story had some really fun things in store for them. But The Village Blend family also includes the actual family that owns it: Matt and his mother Madame. Matt is Clare’s ex-husband and current business partner. It’s been amazing getting to know him and his changing relationship with Clare over the previous 18 books, and Honey Roasted really had everything I love about him: his fearlessness and adventurous spirit and his willingness to do what he could to make Clare happy while also protecting her. Madame is, as always, absolutely fantastic and so classy I want to grow up to be her. She has such a big heart and is nearly as fearless as Clare and Matt. I adore everything about her and how sharp she is.
Of course the mystery is also a highlight for me. After eighteen books, I still look forward to what Coyle has to throw at Clare. This one involves a sudden swarm of honeybees, a friend of Madame’s, and a company reimagining how to feed people in NYC. Some mysteries are easier for me to figure out than others, but this one had so many wonderful twists and turns that I couldn’t really tell until it was unveiled. After so many books, Honey Roasted managed to feel really refreshing to me, offering a twisty mystery that did what I love best: making Clare’s and Mike’s cases cross. This happens so much that I know to expect it, but I’m always delighted in how it happens. The fact that they tend to cross is really one my favorite things even if it is unrealistic. I really had a lot of fun with this mystery and I really love how each book, each mystery, seems to teach me a little more about NYC.
NYC is such a big city with so many people that I always feel there can never be enough mysteries for Clare. I love that Honey Roasted managed to show me something new about the city even after 18 books. The city always comes alive in my mind, though it might also be because I’ve been reading this books for over 15 years so I think parts of the city and the usual settings like The Village Blend are just imprinted in my mind. Still, everything about it screams cozy and familiar to me.
Honey Roasted is a delightful addition to the series. While it could be read as a standalone as each book has a different mystery, the relationships between the characters really helps to tie it together and I feel a lot of it is built up over the course of the series. However, the mystery part of this book doesn’t require any previous knowledge as new characters and new circumstances are introduced in every book.
I am, of course, a little biased, but Honey Roasted really gave me just about everything I could want in a book in this series. I love all the food (and can’t wait to try some of the recipes that are included in every book) and the characters feel as familiar as good friends. I love the relationship between Clare and Mike, and her relationships with Matt and Madame. The mystery was a lot of fun and just twisty enough for me. I really enjoyed the layers and how wrong I was so many times. My favorite part of this series, though, is how much I learn about food, cooking, and coffee. This one did not disappoint in that it taught me a lot about honey. Overall, Honey Roasted is a really solid #19 and I can’t wait for more mysteries.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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