Book Review: Shade Grown by Heather Day Gilbert

Posted January 3, 2024 by meezcarrie in Book Review, contemporary, cozy mystery, Heather Day Gilbert, mystery/suspense / 0 Comments

Shade Grown book review

Shade Grown by Heather Day GilbertSHADE GROWN by Heather Day Gilbert
Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery #8

GENRE: Cozy Mystery (Clean)
PUBLISHER: WoodHaven Press
RELEASE DATE: December 11, 2023
PAGES: 192

Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java…and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

During Lewisburg’s popular summer home and garden tour, Macy and her brother Bo discover new aspects of their hometown’s history. One of the last homes they visit features a lush commemorative shade garden marking where a Civil War soldier’s bones were buried. As Macy pauses to admire a bed of blue hostas, she glimpses a shadowy shape lying beneath the dinner-plate leaves. It turns out to be the body of famed movie star Cody Franklin, who’d purchased the garden house as a quiet country retreat.

Back at the cafe, Macy speaks with Cody’s distraught sister, who lets slip that she’s afraid her brother’s killer will target her next. Macy’s heart goes out to the bereaved sibling, and she agrees to speak with Cody’s local acquaintances in hopes she’ll uncover some helpful backstory.

But someone powerful is lurking behind the scenes, and Macy has to zoom in on the killer before everything fades to black.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.


Other Books I’ve Featured In This Series


I enjoy whatever Heather Day Gilbert writes, and so I knew I would enjoy Shade Grown. I’ve only had time to read a couple of the books in her Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery series but it really is a delightful series. I love the sibling relationship between Macy and Bo, and I like the light bits of romance thrown in with Titan for Macy & Summer for Bo. (really… if you prefer your cozies to be more mystery without a lot of romance to distract you, this is a great choice for you! But the KissingBooks fan in me always looks for even the slightest hint of it so of course I’m going to point it out lol). The supporting characters are also interesting – particularly layered in Shade Grown – and I absolutely ADORE the dogs that grace the cafe. Macy’s Great Dane Cole is so fun with a ton of personality to match his size, and the shelter dogs that hang out at the cafe in hopes of being placed are always endearing.

But… the mystery. That’s why we’re here, right? Shade Grown has it all – celebrity gossip, small town drama, books, movies, mysterious strangers, stunning twists, and plenty of reasons to wait eagerly for the next book, too! I enjoy Macy’s investigative style – she knows when to bring in her former DEA brother or her FBI agent boyfriend or her law enforcement friend but she’s just curious (and persistent!) enough to turn up some good leads. Let me tell you, this mystery is not all it seems, and I was taken by surprise more than once – including by how it all played out. The turns it took weren’t on my radar at all, and I love books that can surprise me like that.

Bottom Line: Shade Grown is another entertaining visit with the Barks & Bean Cafe crew via the talented pen of author Heather Day Gilbert. Macy and Bo’s plan to spend a relaxing day doing the local home & garden tour turns anything but relaxing when they stumble on a body in the hostas. Which is good news for us since we get to tag along on Macy’s investigation and dig deeper into all the various layers she uncovers. The suspects range from drug dealers to contractors to landscapers/gardeners to talent agents to movie stars and more, so there’s no shortage of possibilities. I still managed to be stunned by the conclusion as well as all the more eager for the next book (which i think is my fave cover of them all) with what’s revealed in the end.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!

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Heather Day Gilbert

Heather Day Gilbert, an RWA Daphne du Maurier Award winner and 2-time ECPA Christy Award finalist, enjoys writing contemporary mysteries with unpredictable twists, much like the Agatha Christie books she read growing up. She also writes Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Find out more at

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What about you? What makes you want to read Shade Grown by Heather Day Gilbert?

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