Once Upon A Grind: A Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle: Review/Guest Post

Dec 13, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Lorie Lewis Ham, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Lorie Lewis Ham

What better mystery for the holidays than a Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle. This week we have a review of the brand new one Once Upon A Grind, a fun guest post from Cleo, and details at the end of this post to win a copy of the book, and to win a $20 Starbucks card! There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & support an indie bookstore.

Once Upon A Grind: A Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

I LOVE this series, and couldn’t wait for the new book to come out this month! The series is set at New York coffeehouse The Village Blend and features the Blend’s manager Clare Cosi and her eclectic group of employees, her boyfriend Detective Mike Quinn, her ex husband Matteo Allegro, and her ex mother in law Madame Dreyfus Allegro Dubois, who owns the coffeeshop.

In this the 14th book in the series, the Village Blend coffee truck is at New York’s fictional Storybook Kingdom, a festival in Central Park featuring fairytales come to life, including princesses and knights in armor. Things are going great until Clare is put in charge of Mike’s kids and they disappear. While frantically looking for the kids, they stumble across a princess who has been drugged, and Matteo was the last person seen with her. The police are determined that Matt is guilty. book

Determined to prove Matt is innocent, Clare sets out to find the real culprit, but things get even worse when another of the princesses ends up drugged, and this one dies. The investigation leads Clare to an underground club with special keys where Clare uncovers some dark secrets. Somehow Mike’s ex wife Leila is involved, making things even more complicated. Throw in the Russian mob, a CIA agent, and some relationship drama between two of Clare’s employee’s, and you have Once Upon A Grind. To top it all off Mike is pressuring Clare to move to Washington DC to be near him (he’s on a long term special assignment).

Every time I read a Coffeehouse mystery I feel like I’ve walked into my favorite coffee shop–with Cleo’s descriptions I can practically smell the coffee. These characters are a lot of fun and interesting, I love the New York setting, and the mysteries are always filled with great twists and turns. If you’re looking for a fun and interesting mystery for those cold winter evenings don’t miss Once Upon A Grind–and while you’re at it you can use some of the recipes in the back of the book to make yourself some wonderful coffee and delicious snacks!

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & it helps support an indie bookstore:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.

A Note From Cleo:

Coffee. It can get a girl killed. But can it also be magical? In Once Upon a Grind, our amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, begins to have visions after she drinks a rare coffee. Readers may think this “magical” coffee is fictional. But like most of the foods and drinks we feature in our mystery series, it’s real, based on a coffee that’s been grown in a region considered sacred for centuries.

Likewise, the settings in Once Upon a Grind are either real or based on real places. The first crime scene, for instance, takes place in Central Park’s Ramble, the oldest and spookiest section of America’s first landscaped park. book

Of course, everyone knows that truth is stranger than fiction—and we find it’s just as entertaining. That’s why the characters we create are authentic, based on three decades of living in New York City, and our storylines are almost always inspired by actual crimes.

Researching other aspects of our novels is second nature. My first job out of college was as a cub reporter for the New York Times, and Marc has researched and written nonfiction for decades.


Cleo Coyle aka Alice Alfonsi & husband Marc Cerasini

If you’re new to our Coffeehouse Mysteries, no worries. Once Upon a Grind can be read as a stand-alone novel; and if you enjoy it, you’ll have 13 more to choose from. Every entry in our series has a different focus—from food trucks to the fashion industry; from aphrodisiac coffee to a bridezilla’s wedding at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wherever you begin, we hope you’ll come back again and again to see what’s brewing at our Village Blend.

To download a free checklist of all 14 Coffeehouse Mystery titles with brief story summaries, click here.

To read the Prologue and First Chapter of Once Upon a Grind, click here.

To sample some of the book’s wicked good recipes click here.

May you read with joy and may your holidays be bright!


Pfeffernusse-Cookies-Photo-by-Alice-Alfonsi-Cleo-Coyle Gingerbread Snowballs are among the most popular cookies on my blog this season. The recipe is my “kinder, gentler” version of the German cookie pfeffernusse. If you’d like to download a free PDF of the recipe, click here. Or if you’d rather see it in its full blog post form, click here. May you eat with holiday joy.

To enter to win a copy of Once Upon A Grind, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Grind,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 20, 2014. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

To enter to win a $20 Starbucks gift card simply share this post on Facebook or Twitter and then email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Grind shared” or tag Kings River Life Magazine’s Facebook page or mention us on Twitter @Kingsriverlife, when you share.

Cleo Coyle is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of The Coffeehouse Mysteries, now celebrating over ten years in print. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together, including the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.


  1. Super! I love the addition of a checklist and a sample chapter too. Thank you.

  2. I really liked having a list of all the other books – I intend to start with this one, but I suspect I will want to read others!! Thanks!!

  3. Can’t wait to read the latest in the series Once Upon a Grind! What a great plot for this book. How do you think these up? And if it is anything like the last 13 books, it will be totally believable and keep me reading right past midnight! Thanks Alice and Mark, keep the books coming!


  5. I live these coffeehouse mysteries. Keep them coming!

  6. I agree, reading the coffeehouse books takes me to a familar place with characters that come to life. I love this series!

  7. This has a great plot. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  8. As always, I learn something new about this brilliant writing team and I think that is a perfect way for readers to enjoy a series even more.
    I hope to have a day where I can make these milder version of cookies that were previously too peppery for our grandchildren’s taste and I can just picture Claire and the other Village Blend customers enjoying them. Cleo has some GREAT recipes to share all the time as well as giving us readers a superior and savvy series. Believe me when I say that I have not missed even one word of any book in the Coffeehouse series…I make sure of that by reading them twice as I can’t bear the thought of missing even one thing . Fabulous ly written by fabulous authors.!!! Becoming the recipient of a signed hardcover would be the highlight of December, no wait, the highlight of the year!!!!!! Thank you for all the reading pleasure that your stories bring to my life.
    Merry Christmas. ????
    Cynthia B

  9. I started reading these books a few years ago. Hoping for a Christmas gift card to purchase the latest book. Other wise I’ll just buy it on my Kindle. The books are so realistic that I always think this coffee shop exist some place in NY city.

  10. Great series, great contest. grammyd01 (at) comcast (dot) net

  11. Those gingerbread snowballs sound absolutely delish!! A cup of good coffee and one of those cookies could send one to heaven, I think.

  12. I love this series! I can’t wait to read the latest (that’s where winning this contest would come in handy!) Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  13. I enjoy this series.

    dmskrug at hotmail dot com

  14. They all look like terrific reads —- the covers are all colorful also (just the way I like)!!!

  15. interesting myster

  16. Once Upon A Grind sounds like a great cozy mystery. I am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for the recipe and giveaway. Please enter me in the contest.
    Thank you.

  17. Thanks for all of the comments! We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher



  1. Best Books of 2014 | Kings River Life Magazine - […] Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle I love this series, every book is a winner! How can you…

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