Duo New Release Review | Secrets and Scrabble by Josh Lanyon

Pirate CoveMurder at Pirate’s Cove by Josh Lanyon
Secrets and Scrabble #1
Cozy Mystery M/M
JustJoshin Publishing | February 29, 2020

About the Book:

Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!

Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller–and head of the unwelcoming-committee–Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.

Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.

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It took me a while to start this series. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I’ve enjoyed Josh Lanyon’s recent books, but not at the same level as her early series like Holmes & Moriarity, or the Adrian English Mysteries.

There wasn’t that spark.

I found the spark when I started Murder at Pirate’s Cove. In this book she brought us home to what she’s truly best at: Cozy Mysteries.

Cozy Mysteries aren’t thrillers. They’re not suspense, not really. They’re comfortable mysteries with heart and warmth. There’s a great cast of side characters, and a mystery that’s more intriguing than it is scary. Then, the best cozy mysteries have a very slow growing relationship, with very little to no sexual interactions at all.

Now, take all those adjectives and turn them into my very complimentary review. They’re all the same descriptors I’d use for this book.

Ellery (love his name) was kind, handsome, intelligent, and funny. He was a great protagonist to follow through the story. Jack was perfect gruff, mildly flirtations, chief of police. The mystery was perfectly paced, with Ellery stumbling over the killer in a style that was throwback to Jessica Fletcher and Murder She Wrote.

I was hooked, 100%.

I had no reservations about moving on to book two immediately.


Skull HouseSecret at Skull House by Josh Lanyon
Secrets and Scrabble #2
Cozy Mystery M/M
JustJoshin Publishing | April 28, 2020

About the Book:

Ellery Page is back–and in hot water again!

Unlike everyone else in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he’s purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.

Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up–especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn’t all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?

Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson’s first–and only–suspect.

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It’s always hardest to write a positive review, knowing there will be one small negative. So, before I dive in, remember this:

I adored both of these books.

Everything I said about Murder at Pirate’s Cove remains true about Secret at Skull House. All those glowing adjectives still describe Josh’s writing. In fact, I would even say that all those same adjectives were even grander in this installment. The mystery was absolutely perfect. I never saw it coming. Ellery’s friendships are heartwarming. I freaking adore Watson. And the best part of all, there’s no rush for their to be an immediate romance. The slow burn is VERY slow, and I fricking adore every second of it. My mantra is “Best friends first, then lovers” and Josh Lanyon got the memo.

My one and only little critique of Josh Lanyon’s mystery series is that I worry she relies on the same relationship angst tropes to fuel her characters. Three different conflicts were used in this book that she previously used in at least 2 others. My minor complaints were balanced by how everything else was better. I’m so excited for book three.

I already looked on Netgalley to see if it’s requestable.

It’s not.

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

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