Wednesday, February 1, 2023

ARC Review: Murder at an Irish Castle by Ellie Brannigan

Murder at an Irish Castle

Ellie Brannigan
Series: An Irish Castle Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (February 7, 2023)

Description: Rodeo Drive bridalwear designer Rayne McGrath expected her thirtieth birthday to start with a power lunch and end with champagne, lobster, and a diamond engagement ring from her fiancĂ©. Instead, flat-broke and busted, she’s on a plane to Ireland where she discovers that she’s inherited a run-down family castle. Uncle Nevin’s will contains a few caveats—for example, if Rayne doesn’t turn McGrath Castle around within a year, the entire village will be financially destroyed.

With the fate of the town in her hands, and rumors that Rayne’s uncle’s death wasn’t actually an accident, she can’t possibly go back to her old life in L.A. As the devastating truth about her uncle dawns on Rayne, it’s not just her reputation that’s on the line, it’s her life.

Featuring a sharp and endearing protagonist, a colorful and quirky locale, and replete with twists and turns befitting an old Irish village, the first in Brannigan’s mystery series transports us to a milieu as romantic as it is deadly.

My Thoughts: Rayne McGrath had a really awful 30th birthday. She was expecting a ring from her fiancé and news that he had secured a loan to let them move her designer wedding gown business to Rodeo Drive in LA. Instead, she found that he had taken everything she owned including wedding dresses and their joint bank account and disappeared. Then she learns that her Uncle Nevin in Ireland has passed away and she's required to come there for the reading of the will.

Rayne borrows the money from her mother who is an actress who stars in a long-running sit com. When she arrives in Ireland, she's picked up at the airport by a cousin she didn't know she had. Ciara is Uncle Nevin's illegitimate daughter. And after visiting the lawyer, she learns that she has inherited the castle but with conditions.

Rayne has to stay in Ireland for a year and turn the castle into a money-making operation or the castle will be sold and everyone who lives there will be displaced. Ciara is supposed to manage the estate in order to get her share at the end of the year. Rayne is torn. Her business is in LA and needs her. But she doesn't want to be responsible for putting so many people out of work.

Adding to this stress is that Ciara is convinced that the accident the ended Uncle Nevin's life wasn't an accident at all but was instead murder. Unfortunately, the suspect pool includes all of the people at the castle none of whom Rayne wants to believe is guilty of murder.

The story was engaging. I liked watching LA girl Rayne adapt to the much more rural and laid back atmosphere in Ireland. I liked the way she managed to build a relationship with Ciara. I also liked that she used her business skills and career to find a way to save the castle.

Fans of cozy mysteries will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
Rayne felt ridiculous for not seeing it sooner. It hadn't been Amos's idea either. "Snickerdoodle."


She peeked up at him. "My mom isn't allowed to swear on set, so we used different ways to curse."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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