Charlotte Bessette is preparing for the annual town's Winter
Wonderland fair when an old friend of her mother visits with
memories of when Charlotte was young and her parents death are
brought up though they haven't talked much about it because
the next thing Charlotte knows, Kaitlyn is found dead in
Charlotte's assistant's cottage. Suspicion falls on the
assistant's boyfriend, who has every motive to murder her,
since if Kaitlyn would really develop a honeybee farm, then
the boyfriend who is a farmer too, might lose everything.
Charlotte who thinks he's innocent decides to investigate
the matter herself. Disregarding the advice of the people
who care for her, she ventures into a murder adventure,
where she might be risking her own life just to save an
innocent and bring justice to Kaitlyn.
This is the third book in The Cheese Shop series and I do
wonder what other mysteries Charlotte has encountered. And
I'll admit that I was lost with the sudden mass of
characters. All of which apparently don'tneed to be
introduced except for a newbie in this series like me. But
soon enough, things started getting clearer in my head, and
I'm good to go along with the story.
CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT has lots of unbelievable and crazy things
for a small town. It made me laugh when Charlotte chased
this guy, she doesn't even care if he has a weapon. She has
him down, pinned at his wrist and then here comes the cop
that did nothing but argue with her while she's on top of
the supposed to be bad guy. What? He's a guy right, and he
hasn't enough strength to remove her from his wrists even
when she's busy talking to someone. And the cop should have
helped her. Well, oh well.
I know I probably don't have the right to judge the
characters, but Rebecca just got on my nerves. Who does she
think she is, or rather who does she think Charlotte is, a
powerful hero that could free her boyfriend from jail?
Instead of being bossy, hysterical and demanding, she should
have considered that Charlotte has things to do, most
especially her love life. And oh, the story ends in a
I think CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT is a good mystery, I actually didn't
guess right who the murderer is, not until the same time
Charlotte realizes who the murder is.
The writing is good, the story flows smoothly, although I
expect more action and plot development and not talking and
internal conflict. There are the interesting suspects,
tension, conflicts, a vivid description of winter, county fairs and
I believe the author has great potential, this book isn't
perfect, but it also has good attributes. CLOBBERED BY
CAMEMBERT is a fast, clean read, has a good mystery coupled
with love conflicts, drama, intrigue and murder. I would love
to read more mystery from this author.
Charlotte Bessette—proprietor of Fromagerie
Bessette, affectionately known in Providence,
Ohio, as the Cheese Shop—is setting up her tent
for the town's Winter Wonderland faire, where she'll
offer fine wines and scrumptious cheeses. In the
midst of the preparations, Charlotte meets an old
friend of her mother, Kaitlyn Clydesdale, who has
come back to Providence with plans to start a new
When Kaitlyn is found dead in the cottage of
Charlotte's assistant Rebecca, suspicion falls on
Rebecca's boyfriend, a honeybee farmer himself.
Charlotte knows this beekeeper wouldn't hurt a fly,
so she decides to find the real killer. While the town
buzzes with gossip, can Charlotte catch the culprit
without getting stung herself?
"I thought I'd seen a ghost, Charlotte," Matthew said.
"It wasn't Chip." I popped off the lid of another
Tupperware box of decorations we'd lugged from The Cheese
Shop. "Chip lives in France, not Providence."
"He was blond, broad-shouldered, and fast."
"So are you."
"I'm telling you, the guy could run. What if it was him?"
I blew a stray hair off my face. "My ex-fiancé is not
loping through the Winter Wonderland faire in the middle of
February. Last I heard, he hated winter." And hated me, but
that was water over the falls.
"I worry that he'll hurt—"
"It wasn't him. We have tourists. Lots and lots of
tourists. One looked like him, that's all." A fog of breath
wisped out of my mouth. I buttoned my pearl-colored sweater
and tightened the gold filigree scarf around my neck to
ward off the morning chill. Wearing corduroys, a
turtleneck, and extra socks beneath my boots wasn't doing
Every year, in celebration of Providence's Founder's
Day, the Village Green transformed itself into a Winter
Wonderland faire. Farmers, vintners, and crafters from all
over Holmes County and beyond joined in the weekend fun
that would officially start on Friday evening. It was a
tourist draw in a season when tourists should have been
scarce. Overnight, small white tents with picture windows,
peaked roofs, swinging doors, and fake green grass floors
appeared. Twinkling white lights outlined each tent.
I stood in the middle of ours and removed glittery wedge-
shaped ornaments from the decoration box. "Let's change the
"Okay, Miss Touchy." A grin inched up the right side of
my cousin's handsome face. He could be such a joker. He
plucked another taste of what I called ambrosia—he'd
already eaten three—from a small platter of cheeses
that I'd brought to sample while we worked. "Hungry?" He
waved it under my nose. "Mm-mmm. This is a delicious
cheese. What is it?"
"Zamorano. A sheep's cheese from Zamora, Spain. Sort of
like Manchego. The milk comes from Churra sheep." I'd eaten
my fair share as an early morning snack.
"It's nutty and sort of buttery."
"Your new favorite," I teased.
"How'd you guess?" He slipped the cheese into his mouth
and hummed his appreciation.
While I decorated the tent with gold and burgundy ribbon
looped through crystal wedge-shaped cheese ornaments,
Matthew hoisted a box of wineglasses onto the antique
buffet that I'd brought in to serve as our cheese counter
and started to unpack them. We were setting up Fromagerie
Bessette, or La Petite Fromagerie as we were calling our
little enterprise, primarily as a cheese- and wine-tasting
venue. For the first day we would offer Vacherin Fribourg,
a yummy cheese that's perfect for fondue, Haloumi from
Greece, which sort of tastes like a Mozzarella, and the
Zamorano. Our wines would include a creamy Mount Eden
chardonnay from Santa Cruz, a peppery Bordeaux, and the
boisterous but not over-the-top Sin Zin zinfandel. Each
customer would receive a burgundy souvenir plate embossed
in gold with the words: Say cheese. For larger cheese
purchases, we would direct eager customers back to
Fromagerie Bessette. Gift items, crackers, and jams were
In between unpacking boxes, Matthew filched another
sliver of cheese. "The Zamorano would pair well with the
zinfandel, don't you think?"
I laughed. "It's good with all reds and even sherry."
"Hmph. Showing off?"
Matthew, a former sommelier and now my business partner,
was doing his best to learn about cheese. In exchange, he
instructed me about the complexities of wine. Our
arrangement was what you would call a delicious swap.
"Well, it's killer," he said. "Truly killer."
A chill shimmied through the tent. I twisted the knob on
the standing heater beneath the buffet table and cozied up
to it. Once we opened the tent to customers, we'd have the
heater on all the time.
The front door flew open and a dash of yesterday's
featherlight snow fluttered inside.
Then Sylvie, Matthew's buxom ex-wife, entered. "Hello,
love!" She bolted toward us, waving a handful of glossy
flyers. A cool breeze swirled through the tent until the
door swung shut.
"Speaking of exes," I said dryly as I felt my eyebrows
"What are you . . . ?" Matthew sputtered. "Why . . . ?"
He gaped at Sylvie with outright shock.
I didn't do much better. The lacy purple teddy Sylvie
wore barely covered her ample chest and her you-know-what.
I couldn't imagine that the purple muffler and ankle-high
Uggs she was wearing provided enough warmth to bear the nip
in the air. Her shoulders were dimpled with goose bumps.
"Did you forget to put on clothes?" Matthew managed to
"I'm advertising, love," Sylvie announced in her clipped
British accent as she waved the flyers.
Advertising what? I pressed my lips together to keep the
snarky comment from escaping my lips. Good business
required tact, even with ex-in-laws. Sylvie owned a women's
boutique called Under Wraps. Many of the items in the
store's window would make the sultriest vixen blush. A few
years back, Sylvie abandoned Matthew and their girls to
live with Mumsie and Dad in merry old England. A couple of
months ago, she returned to Providence. Much to Matthew's
vexation, she had wheedled her way back into their nine-
soon-to-be-ten-year-old twins' lives.
"I've rented the tent next to yours." Sylvie fluffed her
acid-white hair. Static electricity in the air made it
stick straight up on top, but I didn't tell her, my silence
giving me a wicked pleasure. "What better lure than the
aromas of cinnamon and hot spun sugar from the neighboring
tents, right, love?"
To increase business during winter months, the Igloo Ice
Cream Parlor made all sorts of delectable treats. The Igloo
had rented a tent near ours, and though the faire wasn't
officially open, the shop was already selling its spicy
winter version of cotton candy. Other scents like pine
trees, cocoa, and brandy-laced crepes filled the air as
"C'mon, Mattie-Matt, sales are down," Sylvie said. "I've
got to do something to make customers flock to my tent."
"Aren't you jumping the gun?" Matthew said.
"I like to be prepared." She sidled up to Matthew and
ran a chocolate-colored fingernail down his sleeve. "Admit
it. You always liked how I could coax a cow to croon."
Matthew's eyes turned as dark as lava. "Stop it." He
nudged her away.
Coming to his rescue, I gripped Sylvie by the elbow and
steered her toward the exit. "Sylvie, give me some of those
flyers. I'll be glad to post these."
Some place. Maybe in Timbuktu.
"Thanks, Charlotte. Oh, did you hear—?"
"No time to gossip." I prodded her forward. "We're busy-
Sylvie frowned. She prided herself on being Providence's
gossipmonger extraordinaire. Gossip, according to her, flew
rampant around a women's boutique. "But—"
"We've got to get back to decorating. Bye-bye!"
Before she could protest, I propelled her into the cold,
not thinking twice about how she would keep warm. She was
an adult—or at least she liked to think so.
The door lingered before closing, and I caught the
strains of Kenny G's melodic saxophone playing a jazzy
rendition of "My Funny Valentine." Our mayor—my
darling, eclectic grandmother—insisted that easy
listening music play nonstop during the Winter Wonderland
celebration. Speakers had been set up at the corner of
Matthew returned to the task of unpacking glasses and
muttered, "Can you believe it? Sylvie rented the tent next
to ours." On a normal day, my cousin was the most laid-
back, generous man on the planet. But when it came to
Sylvie, he turned sour. "Next to ours!" he repeated.
"Intimate, but not horrible."
"She's nuts. Certifiable. It's supposed to snow again."
"Not heavily." Another gentle storm was due tomorrow,
the kind that would entice children to walk around with
chins upturned, mouths open, and would make our white tents
glisten with frost.
Matthew mumbled, "Looney Tunes," and I couldn't
disagree. When Sylvie ran out on Matthew, he and the twins
moved in to my Victorian home with me. Matthew and I had
spent many nights discussing the repercussions of Sylvie's
return. He worried that his children, by association, would
start acting as crazy as she did. I assured him they
"C'mon, cuz." I nudged him on the shoulder. "No
"Yeah, yeah." Matthew brushed a thatch of tawny hair off
his forehead and grumbled his dismay. Our new Briard
pup—a surprise gift to the twins from their
capricious mother—couldn't have looked more
chastised. "Found anybody to hire at The Cheese Shop?"
Matthew asked as he inspected stemware for smudges.
Business at Fromagerie Bessette—or The Cheese
Shop, as the locals call it—was increasing at a
steady clip, thanks to our burgeoning Internet business,
multiple orders for gift baskets, and thriving wine sales.
Taking off days to run La Petite Fromagerie at the faire
was making it nearly impossible for us to swing vacation
time, even with the temporary help of my industrious
grandfather. A few people had applied for the sales job,
but none seemed like a good fit. I don't consider myself
particular, but I do want whoever works for me to feel like
family. Call me crazy.
"Say, did you see that ice sculpture shaped like a
hound's tooth?" Matthew asked.
To lure more tourists to town, my grandmother had cooked
up an ice-sculpting contest. Ten artists had signed up for
the event. Two days ago, a truck delivered huge blocks of
ice, and the artists set to work. The weather, as crisp as
always in February, was cooperating and keeping the ice
"It's whimsical," he added.
"That's an understatement." The tooth sculpture was ten
feet tall. I had a sneaking suspicion that the bubbly
hygienist, a vocal advocate for flossing, was the
artist. "Did you see the knight on horseback sculpture?"
"My personal favorite is the Great Dane cuddling a
litter of kittens."
"It definitely wins the ‘aw' factor."
The sculpture entries didn't have to be completed until
Sunday, when the winner of the contest would be announced.
I looked forward to seeing the other designs.
"Shoot." Matthew swatted the counter. "I left the wine
openers in my car. I'll be right back."
As he exited through the tent door, Rebecca, my coltish
young assistant, hustled in. Her long ponytail flew behind
her like a jet stream. "Alert! Alert!" Her pretty face was
flushed the color of Edam wax, her sweet forehead crimped
with worry. She skidded to a stop on the fake grass.
"What's wrong?" I braced her slim shoulder.
"She's . . . she's . . ." Rebecca swallowed hard and
caught her breath. "A woman bought the property next to
Quail Ridge Honeybee Farm, and she's . . . she's—"
I cuffed her on the back. "Calm down."
"She's starting a honeybee farm, too."
I understood her concern. Rebecca had a crush on our
local beekeeper. To hear her talk, Ipo Ho had created the
moon and the stars.
"She's going to ruin him."
"Relax. There's enough room in Providence for two
honeybee farms. Ipo's honeybees dine on clover. Maybe the
new owner will feed her bees wildflowers." Honey, with all
its healing properties, had turned into a big business.
Jars of Quail Ridge honey flew off The Cheese Shop's
"She's trouble, you watch."
Two years ago, Rebecca left her Amish community and
moved to Providence with a rosy picture of what the "real
world" would be. After a steady dose of Internet news and
TV murder mysteries, she admitted that living in the modern
world could be a challenge. But she wasn't leaving. Not any
time soon. Because of Ipo Ho.
"Howdy-doo." A handsome and very tall woman in her
fifties, wearing a jeans outfit and turquoise-studded
cowboy hat and boots, ducked beneath the scalloped
doorframe. Where was her horse? I mused. "Nice place," the
woman said with a drawl as she dusted lacy snow that had
fallen from the door's edge off her shoulders. "I'm Kaitlyn
Aha! I stifled a giggle. She was the horse, complete
with a cascading mane of straw blonde hair and a square jaw.
Rebecca gasped. "That's . . . that's her." She slunk
back a few paces, as if standing near to the woman would
mark her as a traitor.
"You're Charlotte, aren't you?" Kaitlyn jutted out a
Instinctively, I shook with her. Strong grip, perceptive
eyes. I liked her. At least I thought I did. She radiated
energy and enthusiasm.
Kaitlyn Clydesdale released my hand and roamed the tent,
fingering the cheese ornaments and wine bottle labels. "Ah,
the aromas. Love 'em. Exactly like I remember as a girl."
"Are you from around here?" I asked. I couldn't recall
having seen her before, and she would be hard to forget.
"Lived here years ago. Moved to Texas in my twenties
when I got married."
She wasn't wearing a wedding ring now.
Kaitlyn plucked a cheese card from a wheel of Vacherin
Fribourg and read: "Nutty. Melts great for soups,
raclettes, and gratins. Sounds fab." Over her shoulder, she
said, "Maybe I could entice you to put together a cheese
tasting party for my crew when we pass through town in a
I'd heard about the Do-Gooders, a volunteer organization
that restored historic buildings in the Midwest. All the
women wore turquoise-studded hats and turquoise-studded
clothing. Their show of unity reminded me of the fabulous
Red Hat Society ladies.
Rebecca whispered, "She's lying."
Undaunted, she pinched my arm. "Ask her what's she doing
buying the farm next to Ipo's."
I shot Rebecca a look. It wasn't like her to detest
someone so out of hand, and truthfully I wasn't picking up
any bad vibes from our visitor.
"Charlotte," Kaitlyn swiveled and met my gaze. "I knew
"Achoo!" A fine-boned young woman with matted black
curls scuttled into the tent. Her classic black wool coat
swallowed her up; her five-inch platform-heel boots looked
as clumsy as army boots.
"Bless you," I said.
"Sorry." Seeming as miserable as a wet poodle, the young
woman dabbed her chapped nose with a wadded-up tissue and
gripped her coat at her throat.
"I told you not to come inside, Georgia," Kaitlyn
said. "Go back to the car."
The young woman flinched at the imperious tone but
obediently shuffled out. How she balanced on those heels
was beyond me.
"Forgive me," Kaitlyn said. "That was my CFO. She's
under the weather. No need to be spreading germs."
"You hired a CFO for the Do-Gooders?" I said. Having one
sounded pretty formal for a regional organization.
"Oh, no. She works for Clydesdale Enterprises." Kaitlyn
replaced the Vacherin Fribourg cheese information
card. "That's my main business."
Rebecca elbowed me. "Told you so."
Kaitlyn eyed Rebecca. "Am I missing something? Why are
you upset with me? Who are you?"
"Rebecca Zook." Rebecca threw back her shoulders with
youthful exuberance. "And you—"
I rested my hand on her forearm. "My assistant believes
you've purchased the cattle farm next to the Quail Ridge
Kaitlyn smiled shrewdly. "We're in negotiations."
Her revelation surprised me. Information about a place
for sale should have surfaced in The Cheese Shop, if not
from Sylvie, then from any of the dozen other people who
liked to congregate at the shop to swap stories.
" ‘We'?" I said. "There's more than one of you at
"My business partner and I. The seller is rather eager
to close, so it should be final soon."
"You can't," Rebecca blurted.
"Young lady, I can do as I please."
Kaitlyn looked down her nose at Rebecca with a
maliciousness that bordered on evil, and in a snap, my
opinion of her changed. How rude. Nobody talked to my young
friend that way. I got a weird feeling in the pit of my
stomach. Maybe Rebecca's concerns were well founded. Maybe
Kaitlyn intended to bury Quail Ridge Honeybee Farm. But
why, for heaven's sake?
"Now, where was I?" Kaitlyn shook her head like a horse
disgruntled with its rider and drew in a deep breath. "Oh,
yes. Charlotte, as I was saying before, when we were
interrupted." She glowered at Rebecca as though she were a
gnat. "I knew your parents."
I fell back a step, shocked. Was that why she had come
into our tent? Not to set up a cheese tasting for her crew
but to talk about my folks? Most of what I remembered about
them, I had learned from my grandparents. I was three when
they died. I kept a hope chest filled with
memories—my mother's linens, a copy of Wuthering
Heights, my father's box of fishing lures, LPs of the
Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis. A therapist had
told me that with time the loss would soften, but I could
feel my eyes welling with moisture.
"Such a tragedy." Kaitlyn strolled to me and patted my
upper arm. "That darned cat."
I stiffened. "What are you talking about?"
Kaitlyn placed her hand on her chest; her mouth drew
into a thin line. "Didn't you know?"
"People, including your grandmother, said your cat was
roaming around the car and distracted your father."
My stomach clenched as a streak of orange and white
zipped across my mind. Sherbet. My cat. We'd owned a cat.
Until now, I'd blocked the memory from my mind. Images
flickered before my eyes. I was sitting in the backseat of
our Chevrolet. Sherbet was nestled in my lap. My father was
driving fast and laughing. My mother laughed, too. Wind
blasted through the car. We took one of the hills like a
roller coaster, and my mother said, "Whee!" I whispered to
Sherbet not to be scared. My father looked over the seat
and winked at me. His face was full of lightness and joy.
When he turned back to face the road, there was a
blur. "Horses," my mother screamed. My father swerved.
I glowered at Kaitlyn Clydesdale. "No, that's not what
happened. Sherbet was in the car, yes, but she was clutched
in my arms."
"Are you sure?"
I willed away tears threatening to fall. Could I be
sure? Had I forged my own memory? Had I blanked out the
possibility that Sherbet had bolted from my arms and made
my father swerve? Any reminder of Sherbet had been removed
from my grandparents' photograph albums. Had my grandmother
believed Sherbet was to blame? It was my fault that we'd
had a cat at all. For months, I'd begged for a kitty. I'd
whined until my parents had caved. Oh, Sherbet. What
happened to you?
"Your mother was a darling friend," Kaitlyn went on
glibly, as if she hadn't thrown an emotional boomerang into
my life, and once again I grew uneasy. Who was she, anyway?
Was Rebecca right to mistrust her? "We had such romps, she
and I. She was a gifted singer, did you know? She would
have been very proud of you and your accomplishments.
Fromagerie Bessette is renowned." An alarm sounded from
inside Kaitlyn's purse. She pulled out her cell
phone. "Sorry, I must go. I have an appointment."
"Wait," I called, eager—even if I was put off by
the woman—to know more about my mother, but Kaitlyn
strode through the tent door without a look back.
No sooner had the door clicked shut than it reopened,
and Sylvie sashayed in. At least this time she had the
sense to wear a robe.
"I know something you don't know," Sylvie sang.
Refusing to rise to the bait and eager not to dwell on
the event that led to my parents' deaths until I could talk
to my grandmother and glean the truth, I said, "Rebecca, go
back to the shop and get those platters I need for the
photography shoot. We'll figure out what's up with Kaitlyn
Clydesdale's plans later."
"You bet you will," Sylvie said, triumph in her tone.
At times I wished I could pull out her wispy hair,
strand by strand.
"You're not going to like who her business partner is,"
she went on.
I strode to the buffet table cheese counter, removed
everything from it, and polished it to a gleam.
Sylvie trailed me like a hard-to-lose shadow. "I heard
they want to take over Providence."
" ‘They' who?" Rebecca said.
Sylvie kept mute. Obviously she wanted me to be the one
to beg for the answer. Well, she could choke on her gossip,
for all I cared. She didn't give a whit about Providence.
Her main thrill in life was to upset Matthew and her twins'
lives. Selfish, that's what she was. Maybe she was the
partner. I could see her begging her doting mother and
father for cash to buy the property so she could make a
name for herself in a town that had snubbed her. Except,
thanks to reckless business judgment, her parents were