If, from a bibliophilic perspective, the unthinkable should happen, and I was only able to follow 10 cozy series, this would definitely be one of the keepers. There's just something wonderfully competent and enjoyable about Kendel Lynn's writing; the characters she's created feel like the kind of people I grew up with and the community resembles the kind I grew up in.
Having said that, this one didn't work quite as well as the rest. It was still better than your average cozy, but she didn't hit it out of the ballpark. The plot felt scattered, but as I write this I wonder if that wasn't part of the point. Elliott feels scattered and disconnected to her own life and job in this book, wondering what happened to her focus; the plot definitely mirrored her inner turmoil, so perhaps that was the point. If so, I still maintain the book wasn't all it could be if I didn't feel emotionally invested enough to immediately see the connection.
I'm also a little bummed at the lack of romantic spark in this one. She's got all the elements at hand, and she spent the last three books setting it up, but either she's got us in a holding pattern, or she's jumped past all the good stuff. I hope it's the former; I'd definitely like Ransom to play a more active role next time around.
For all the grumbling though, I'd still recommend this series in a New York minute. It's solidly plotted, with an intelligent female lead who is surrounded by strong intelligent women and interesting (and intelligent) men. Very few stereotypes, no caricatures. Moderate humor. I'm a solid fan.