The mountain resort of Serenity is holding its Winter Carnival, and TJ Jensen has a busy schedule in Snowmen in Paradise by Kathi Daley. For one thing, the high school ski team she coaches has a major competition that will influence its official standings. Then TJ learns that the top-ranked snowboarder who came from Serenity before turning his back on those who supported him has been asked by the mayor to serve as honorary host of the Carnival. Travis has made a lot of enemies in Serenity, so it comes as no surprise to the reader when he turns up in his hotel room, murdered. And even worse, TJ’s friend Chelsea gets arrested for the crime even though TJ is certain she did not do it, giving TJ a reason to investigate on Chelsea’s behalf.
The more TJ looks into Travis and possible suspects, the more she realizes the man was a total creep, who has a history of sexual assault and blackmail. Further, Travis committed arson by burning down the administration building. Another curious thing is that TJ notices a woman dressed up to look like Dolly Parton everywhere she sees man who has now taken Travis’s place as the top nationally ranked snowboarder, but the two do not acknowledge each other.
In the meantime, TJ has a busy life as the high school ski coach, the head of the new school choir (not something she volunteered for), and the new legal guardian of her two young half-sisters, 8-year-old Ashley and 5-year-old Gracie. Six months after the death of their mother, TJ and the girls are starting to really bond and TJ comes to understand the joys and challenges of motherhood. Fortunately, her best friend, Jenna, has two girls about the same age as Ashley and Gracie, so she has someone to give advice, along with TJ’s father and grandfather, who have eagerly taken in Ashley and Gracie despite the fact that the girls do not share any blood ties with them.
This book is enjoyable, with a creative plot and some fun characters. But one problem I found was that there were so many characters in the book that I got confused about them. Daley is so good at describing situations and characters like TJ and her sisters that she has strong potential for being able to draw the other characters memorably. So I hope that her other books differentiate among the characters more effectively. I also loved the mountain setting that Daley made me picture so vividly. I read a lot of cozy mysteries, but I have read very few set in such a location.
Colleen Marlo does a great job of narrating this book. She helped me a lot in recognizing the characters and does great voices while bringing out the emotions of the writing too.
Despite my difficulty with following the many characters throughout the book, I really enjoyed Snowmen in Paradise. The plot was creative, the setting amazing, and the narration well-done. I give this book four stars!
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