Getting Cozy with Magnolia Smith
Romantic suspense author Magnolia Smith discovers the powerful allure of a cozy mystery and shares her favorites.
As a romance suspense writer, it may seem strange that I do not actually read romantic suspense. Many authors read outside of their genre at least part of the time, particularly when they’re writing. However, I do get my suspense fix in other ways. I am currently obsessed with cozy mysteries! I am so late to the genre, only discovering them last year.
In the past, I remember seeing the cozy mystery section in the bookstore, and wondering what’s up with all of the cats, bright colors and sometimes cartoon-ish looking covers. Even so, the foodie in me would focus on the cupcakes and other foods featured on the covers, just enough to wonder what these books were about, but I wasn’t interested enough to really research the genre or flip the books over and read the blurbs.
I think Twitter is great for discovering new books, and one day I saw a tweet for a book and the cover was all pastries and teacups. The foodie in me was intrigued. I clicked on the link, read the blurb and saw the words Charleston and tea and was sold! Didn’t really care about the mystery aspect but loved the setting and foodie theme.
Suspense-wise, I’ve typically been drawn to thrillers by writers like Brad Thor and Steve Berry, but never police procedurals or whodunits. However, I liked the idea of reading a book set in Charleston featuring tea…. A love for cozy mysteries was born. I read the first book in the Tea Shop Mysteries and was immediately hooked! I started burning through the series, read all the books and went searching for another series to begin.
I researched the genre and understood the hallmarks of a cozy: quaint setting, eccentric group of locals, amateur sleuth, good looking cop. I was amazed. How had I, an avid reader, missed this entire genre? And there are recipes? Wait – what? It’s a mystery! It’s a cookbook! No, it’s both! Reading cozies for me is like eating potato chips. It’s addictive and I can’t just read one!
If you’re interested in checking out a cozy mystery series, here are a few of my favorites:
A Novel Idea Mystery by Lucy Arlington – I love that this series is set in the mountains of North Carolina. Being a Carolina girl, I think NC is one of the most beautiful states in the union, and as such makes the perfect setting for a variety of stories. I particularly love the mountains – this story reminds me of the Asheville-area which is one of my favorite places to visit.
A Novel Idea series follows a literary agent, and as a writer I love the behind-the-scenes look at the agency and all the writing themed mysteries.
A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates – Another story set in North Carolina, this time at the beach – the Outer Banks area. Reading this story indulges my fantasy to live on the coast. The main character is a librarian, so again there is the books theme I love.
Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs – Tea Shop Mysteries is set in one of my favorite cities – Charleston, South Carolina. And like most cozy mysteries, the setting is a big part of the story, so you get an immense amount of southern culture and Charleston flavor when you read this series. Plus, I love drinking tea! This story is heavy on tea and the goodies that go along with it. It’s a given that the mystery is interesting and well-plotted. I’m just here for the tea,honestly!
A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery by Ellery Adams – I have not started this series yet, but I just ordered the first two books. Ellery Adams is an established cozy mystery author, so I know the writing will be solid. The idea of a magic pie shop has me charmed – no pun intended. I love whimsy and magical realism – add food? I’m there. I can’t wait to get started on this series!
My current novel, Tell Me No Lies is not a cozy. It’s a romantic suspense novel (the first in a series) set in North Carolina and includes lots of food porn. There’s also a mystery but it’s not of the whodunit variety, it deals with political intrigue and foreign affairs. There’s a gorgeous heroine who makes beignets and a sexy assassin with a heart of gold (my favorite trope!)
Sound improbable, right? But it is also (I hope) a satisfying read, and it was inspired by my love for James Bond and Jason Bourne films.
When Magnolia is not writing, you can find her visiting vineyards and Civil War battlegrounds, watching her favorite shows: Scandal and Homeland, practicing hot yoga and blending her own herbal teas. Learn more by visiting her website here.
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