Review: Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .  

Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Heather Day Gilbert. Book # 1 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter series. Published by Lyrical Underground, June 2019. I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Kensington Books and Netgalley.

As soon as I first heard about this new series debut, I was super excited! I love cozy mysteries that involve animals. For a long time now I’ve been dying to see a cozy mystery series that has other types of animals in it besides just a cat or a dog running the show. Don’t get me wrong. The cats and dogs are awesome, but other animals need the spotlight too! An exotic pet sitter sounded like just what I needed! I have my fingers crossed that one day, one of the books in the series will have a ferret! 😀

I really wanted to like this book. It starts out a little bit rough though. Just about as soon as the book begins, Belinda finds the dead body and then we are off and running. I don’t mind finding the body fast, but it feels like the book just zipped through plot point to plot point way too fast and never gave us much of a chance to really feel invested or engaged in what was going on in Belinda’s life.

Sometimes I liked Belinda and sometimes I didn’t. For the most part, she was pretty cool. A fellow introvert gamer who loved animals. She was kind and seemed like a nice person to get to know. BUT. Sometimes she drove me nuts. Ok, so, she just meets this guy for the first time, and starts paling around with him trying to solve the murder. She has literally only known him for a couple of days. She starts getting super pissy pants that he “lied” to her because he didn’t tell her all the deeper, embarrassing things he was going through. Uh, hello, he JUST met you. Of course he isn’t going to just come out and tell you every little thing about him! Especially if he finds it humiliating! And, Belinda is keeping things from him as well, so she was being pissy and a hypocrite. -.- Thankfully she only acted like this only a few times and it didn’t ruin the book or the character.

From about the half way point to the end, Snake in the Grass begins to redeem itself and turns in to an entertaining read. Just when you think you have the killer pegged, a nice little twist is there to show you how wrong you are. I enjoyed the snake’s role in the novel. He was a very fun character. 🙂 By the end of the book, I was enjoying myself and happy with the conclusion. I wouldn’t mind at all picking up the next book in the series and seeing what Belinda does next.

This book had a nice message about being brave enough to be independent and do things your own way instead of leaning on anyone else. While there was a little bit of love interest, it was not a huge part of the story. I liked that in the end Belinda was standing strong on her own, not with a guy, not with her family, but on her own two feet, doing things her way. I hope Belinda continues on like that and has less hot guy and less family interference.

Even though Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass started off a little rough, it really came through in the end. No need to rush through the plot without giving plot points enough time to hook you. Turned in to an enjoyable read with a nice twist at the end. This series has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing how Belinda does in book 2.

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