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Serena Jones Mystery #1

A Fool and His Monet

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Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art--one that's surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She's joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother's pleas to do something safer--like get married--Serena's learning how to go undercover to catch thieves and black market traders.

When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Jones leaps into action. The clues point in different directions, and her boss orders her to cease investigating her most promising suspect. But determined to solve the case and perhaps discover another clue in her grandfather's murder, she pushes ahead, regardless of the danger.

336 pages, Paperback

First published February 23, 2016

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About the author

Sandra Orchard

43 books267 followers
Sandra leaps off the garden trails of her herbal-researcher-turned-amateur-sleuth (Port Aster Secrets) series, to the museum corridors of her plucky FBI art crime agent Serena Jones, in A Fool and His Monet.

When not plotting crimes, Sandra plays make-believe with her grandchildren or hikes with her hubby along the escarpment, near their home in Niagara, Canada.

Her novels have garnered numerous awards, including the National Readers' Choice Award, a Holt Medallion Award of Merit, an RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Award, the Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence and five national Canadian Awards.

Learn more about Sandra’s books and fun bonus features at www.sandraorchard.com

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5 stars
413 (28%)
4 stars
475 (33%)
3 stars
373 (25%)
2 stars
112 (7%)
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66 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 266 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Grace Grzy.
629 reviews836 followers
January 23, 2018
Wow. Gobsmacked is a good word for what I'm feeling right now. I initially wasn't super interested in this book, but saw some of my GR friends reading it, and it was free on Amazon kindle, so I thought, why not?

And boy am I glad I did! This is pretty high up there with my favorite mystery series!

For me, I find it especially hard to find clean, innocent, 'light-hearted' mysteries that suit my standard of "cleanliness". And this one totally did. I even handed it off to my little sister with no hesitation. There wasn't anything overly violent, no sexual content, romance was EXTREMELY low-key, and there is zero swearing.

I think what makes Orchard's novels is her fantastical characters. I know that's what made the book for me. Serena Jones, the MC, is completely unlike any other character or person I have ever known. With so many hilarious and endearing quirks and idiosyncrasies, I just couldn't get enough of her! Everything from her claustrophobia, to her ignorance of any romantic attention given her just makes her character so amazing. Even the secondary characters. Was there any cookie-cutter secondary characters for Orchard? No. From crazy Aunt Martha, to tough FBI agent Tanner, to apartment super Nate, to Zoe, head security at an art museum. All are so unique and fascinating.

Sandra Orchard's writing style is the other thing that makes these books for me. Incredibly witty and hilarious in her dialogue and descriptions, I found myself in stitches more than once! I could happily lose myself in a million books like this one. She balances humor, action, and heartwarming story lines all in an intriguing, captivating way.

All in all, I am so glad I picked this up, and can't wait to finish the series! I'd gladly recommend this to ages 14-15+.

CONTENT NOTE: While I would gladly recommend this for mid-teens and up, there is some things that would make me hesitate to hand this to a younger child or suggest it as a family read. Serena is an FBI agent, so there is a fair-to-middling amount of violence, gunplay, not-described-barely-mentioned murder, etc, etc. Also there is technically a love triangle throughout the series, but really, the romance is SO on the back burner, it's really not an issue. And as I said previously, even the violence isn't described hardly at all.
Profile Image for Hannah.
2,440 reviews1,339 followers
March 19, 2016
This one had me from the title...and then the cover was irresistible, too. I'm trying not to buy any more books for a couple of months to catch up on my to-be-read stack, but I requested this from the library and they bought the ebook the very day it came out (See how I get around my own rules? TBR stack still huge.)! So, naturally, I had to read it right away. I actually got to the end of this with my phone propped up on a chair while I ran a bunch of copies at work--it is hard to put down! I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series and have already recommended it to others.

The writing style is easy to read and flows well, along with characters that pop off the page and a plot with more twists than a roller coaster. However Orchard managed to dream up such a complex crime I don't know, but I am impressed. Normally I can figure out the crime, but this one had me baffled.

Serena is dealing with issues from her past...severe claustrophobia from watching her grandfather's murder from a secret passage is the first we encounter. She's a new FBI agent hoping to use her job and her art knowledge to finally solve her grandfather's cold case. She's still figuring out the job, trying to decide how paranoid she ought to be, trying to find her place in her new team and how she feels about her nice, protective, brusque partner Tanner. She isn't fearless, but she is brave, and she views life with a pleasant vein of humor.

*This is not a book saturated with Christian talk. It is clean and Serena is patently a moral woman who believes in the God of the Bible. Don't expect a Bible study here...this one's a good solid clean mystery.
Profile Image for Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls).
1,641 reviews3,631 followers
July 2, 2017
{{This is an updated review. Originally posted March 14th, 2016, it was updated on July 1st, 2017 to the Official Rating System.}}

About this book:

“Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art--one that's surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She's joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother's pleas to do something safer--like get married--Serena's learning how to go undercover to catch thieves and black market traders.
When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Serena leaps into action—and a whole lot of trouble.”

Series: Book #1 in the “Serena Jones Mystery” series. Review of Book #2 Here!

Spiritual Content- Prayers; A Scripture is quoted and mentioned; Mentions of prayers, praying, bargaining with God, thanking God, & blessings over food; Mentions of church, church going, & church members; A few mentions of God; A few mentions of those in the Bible; A couple mentions of worship bands; A few mentions of nuns; A mention of a church’s youth group; A mention of divine judgement; A mention of Mother Teresa;
*Note: the phase “guilty as sin” is said once.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘blast’, a ‘deep doo-doo’, a ‘kick-butt’, a ‘moron’, a ‘shut up’, a ‘what a crock’, a ‘wuss’, two ‘crud’s, four ‘stupid’s, eight forms of ‘idiot’s; A mention of a curse (said, not written); A mention of a rude gesture; Some eye rolling; Fighting, Pain & Blood/Bleeding (up to semi-detailed): Guns are aimed & fists are thrown (up to semi-detailed); All about mentions of felonies, stolen art, stealing, thieves & burglaries; Many mentions of murders, attempted murders, killing a partner, dead bodies, shooting, deaths, criminals, kidnapping, blood, knives & threats (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of pain, blood, injuries, & stitches; Mentions of hit-and-runs & setups; Mentions of fighting, fights, hitting, abuse, & bullies; Mentions of (what looks like) suicides, overdosing, & carbon monoxide poisoning; Mentions of drugs, dealers, & users (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of the Mafia, mobsters, mob hits, & loan sharks (and one that is rumored to have killed those who owe him); Mentions of people selling & buying organs illegally (barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of a black market adoption agency; Mentions of being run off the road; Mentions of break-ins & stealing; Mentions of blackmail & threats; Mentions of prisons; Mentions of debts & gambling; Mentions of bars/pubs, bottles of alcohol, drinking, drinkers, & parties; Mentions of lies, lying, & liars; Mentions of divorces; Mentions of gossip; Mentions of rotting meat, blood & a butcher (some of it is from a nightmare); Mentions of cat catching mice (barely-above-not-detailed); A couple mentions of gangs; A couple mentions of passing out; A couple mentions of tattoos; A couple mentions of piercings; A couple mentions of smokers & smoking; A couple mentions of throwing up; A couple mentions of a knitting needle in someone’s eye; A mention of horror movies;
*Note: Mentions of actors, actresses, singers, & movies; Mentions of brands (Gucci, Prada, Armani, Boglioli, ); A mention of Sears; A mention of the Boy Scouts.

Sexual Content- Remembering a kiss (up to semi-detailed); Touches & Embraces (up to semi-detailed); Noticing & Nearness; Blushes, Flutters, & Winks; Serena says, of course, to getting married first, then having kids; Many mentions of dating, dates, exes, girlfriends, boyfriends, wannabe-boyfriends, & being interested in someone; Mentions of unmarried couples living together; Mentions of winks, flirting, touches, & blushes; Mentions of crush & a Casanova; A few mentions of gold diggers; A few mentions of young girls getting giddy over the thought of holding hands with a crush; A couple mentions of smelling someone; A mention of a hint that a man had company part of the night; A mention of a (single) pastor running off with his (married) secretary; A mention of women getting off on guys with accents;
*Note: A couple mentions of shirtless men; A mention of testosterone; A mention of a man zipping his pants after using the bathroom; A mention of a dead naked body (no details); A mention of a man paying attention to a woman’s curvy body; A mention of a “friendly” woman in a skimpy outfit; A mention of a long-legged woman.

-Serena Jones, age 28
1st person P.O.V. of Serena
323 pages

Pre Teens- One Star
New Teens- One Star (and a half)
Early High School Teens- Three Stars
Older High School Teens- Four Stars
My personal Rating- Four Stars
Okay, that was fun. Can I say that about a murder mystery? Hang on, let me explain: the back cover makes it sound like her grandfather’s murder is a large part of this book. While it shaped Serena’s career choice and is mentioned a handful of times, I wouldn’t say it was the main part of this story. Truly, the murder parts and such were really light and pretty clean...more about the art thieves & paintings. It was really interesting with neat tidbits thrown in. I really enjoyed the first person POV and humor. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the series! Also, #TeamNate all the way! Hahaha! ;)

Link to review:

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.
*I received this book for free from the Publisher (Revell) for this honest review.
Profile Image for Kellyn Roth.
Author 27 books907 followers
November 19, 2017
That was pretty good! Funny and exciting.

I was annoyed by the love triangle/every guy in the world being into Serena even though she claims to be some forgotten old maid, though. SERIOUSLY. Is there a guy in this book that is not attracted to Serena? So tempted to rate it three stars just for that except it was super low-key and romance was not the focus.

Other than that, it was fun.

My favorite character was probably Serena's grandmother. She was just awesome. I actually didn't find her that annoying at all? I mean, yes, she does some stupid, annoying things, but ...? Didn't annoy me so much as make me crack up. I just have a high tolerance for stupid characters as long as they're matchmaking-stupid-characters. Don't ask me why. :P

I'm definitely prefer Tanner over Nate if I must make a choice in another stupid love triangle which I don't give a monkey's pajamas about. Tanner is the obvious choice. He's awesome and relates to Serena's work. Nate is plainly just handsome and handsome and ... what else is he, really? Likes painting and old movies? Uh-uh.

Tanner is hardcore. He's FBI. That alone makes him the Top Pick. Who cares about some dumb guy who owns an apartment building? That job isn't glamorous at all! *would totally pick her husband based on job alone* *is going to eat crow someday* *will probably marry a hobo* *except I would never do that* *says the liar* *I don't even know what the point of this is anymore*

And ... that is all.

Because I read this so long ago (well, a little over a month, but whatever) that I can't remember it, and reviewing is really falling to the side this year.

~Kellyn Roth, Reveries Reviews
Profile Image for Kate Willis.
Author 19 books509 followers
June 6, 2018
This looked like a pretty fun concept, so I decided to borrow it from my library and give it a try. As, I mentioned in my original “I-just-finished-this-let-me-think” mini-review, my star ratings and I are still pretty confused. ;)

I loved the theme of art crime investigation. I liked the movie “Woman in Gold”, and while this was a little different side of things, it was along the same lines and pretty interesting. I got really happy when she was actually handling the art. Definitely made me want to study up on all the different artists!

Serena was fun. Not your usual heroine (although, extraordinarily clueless?), kinda a klutz, and pretty down-to-earth. Especially when talking to her cat or being jumpy. XD At least in this first book, I did like Aunt Martha. She reminded me a lot of someone I’ve known before, and it was fun when she was innocently curious and trying to help. :D Zoe was also a great side character. I think she’s actually the character I’m most like, to be honest. :D My favorite scene was when . It was really realistic, a culmination of everyone’s fears actually, and the aftermath was really sweet.

I actually didn’t enjoy the mystery that much, though. Because Serena herself was so scattered, I couldn’t do much theorizing which took some of the joy out of it for me. I like being the detective along with the book detective. It always blows my mind and thrills me when the author lets me in on things, then sweeps the rug out from under me with the “big reveal”. I almost felt as if, in this book, I was kept too much in the dark to enjoy the big reveal.

There were also some pretty dark crimes I was uncomfortable with even being mentioned. I’m gonna mark them as a spoiler, so you don’t have to read them unless you want to. ;) Supposedly Also, I was shocked and disturbed that the villain Like I get that the villain is reeeeaaallly evil, especially after but I picked this book up for entertainment. So I found that disturbing.

There were also a lot of jokes or hints at impurity. There were times I’d see it coming, but other times I was just blindsided by someone thinking about another person physically or something really awkward being said. Not my favorite. ;)

I saved the best for last--the love triangle. I appreciated how lowkey it was in this book. Like it was barely even one. ;) It did find it semi-irritating that Serena had guys falling for her right and left, was clueless, and could possibly lead all of them on. But besides that, it was pretty good. I liked Tanner a lot. He was really matter-of-fact, loyal, and went out of his way to protect her. There were mentions of him being good-looking, but my mind was drawn more toward the easy banter between them and the loyalty. That was nice. ;) (Also, they have a nice age gap. :D And it was really cute that her daddy likes him. Daddies for the win!) Nate, not so much. I realize he was meant to be just a normal, sweet guy, but I felt like that was a bit overdone what with the baking, classic movies, and pet-sitting and all. And, maybe because Serena is so career-oriented (also not my favorite), he doesn’t seem to fit into her life at all. I did think he was somewhat cool in his own way, but I drew back from liking him just because it felt like I as the reader was being pushed toward him. (I’m ornery like that.)

I did enjoy this book though. It was a light read (most of the time) and kept my interest! I skimmed the second book and decided against reviewing it, but I may try the third book sometime. One of the elements I’ve been most interested in is the investigation of her grandfather’s murder (), and it sounds like that comes to a head in the last one. ;)

Anyways, my thoughts.
Profile Image for Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...).
1,513 reviews449 followers
May 3, 2017
I was in the mood for something light and quippy, not too much angst, and boy did this book deliver! I never would have thought I'd call a suspense novel "delightful" but the main character Serena sure makes it that way! She's the type that you'd love to have for a best friend. She's a perfect blend of intelligence and naivete. Even though she's an FBI special agent, you see the details of how she works the case and doesn't always get things right or perfect- which made it so much more realistic. It was fun to follow the clues with her, and even though I tend to prefer more romance, the plot held its own and the quick pace kept me reading. Interspersed are cute and fun moments with different men in her life that interact with her in ways where the reader can see that they like her, but she's rather oblivious to it... most of the time ;) Such a great dynamic between Serena and Tanner, and also Serena and Nate. But there's no love triangle drama here, which I was relieved to avoid. It may come to that in later books but this was a perfect introduction to characters that I'm happy to read more of! Serena's meddlesome great-aunt was another favorite that provided some more quirky humor... and you can see where Serena gets hers :)

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
Profile Image for Allison Tebo.
Author 19 books350 followers
August 18, 2017
It's been a long time since I read a contemporary book - I usually stick with 'dead authors' - and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this.

What I Liked:

Christian without being shoehorned in or preachy. I guess people would probably characterize it more as 'religious' than Christian - because other a brief references to pray or being grateful to God or going to Church, not a lot of Christianity. But for me, Christianity in a book is a lot about what an author DOESN'T write about and this authoress kept things much more clean than most 'Christian authors'.

The story: Though I could get a little bit lost sometimes, this book was actually clearly written and really kept me guessing throughout. For the most part I was able to follow all the 'knowing that he knew that we knew what he knew' plot twists. And then it's about the FBI - what's not to like? - and that fact that it is about art recovery makes it even more fascinating. That's a sub-genre of thrillers that (I think?) is rarely delved into, plus as an artist, I found it cool.

The Narrative: Though I felt like there could have been more 'voice' (sometimes it felt like a long recitation of every single step in Serena's investigative process - like a field agents report, than a field narrative) - still - it was quiet funny and easy to read.

Serena: It was nice to read about a female FBI agent who was so human - instead of being an ice maiden, she is just a normal, intelligent person who has struggles and quirks like everyone else. And any parts where she had to fight where much more believable as well, none of that absurd "kick your teeth in" stuff - but more of her catching people off guard and relying on training and speed.

Carmen: The sweet, surprising and sympathetic mafia guy. <3 <3 Hilarious and intriguing.

Her Neighbors: I just wish there had been MORE about these quirky individuals.

What I Was 'Meh' About:

Her Family: I really had the feeling of 'seen this before' with the parents and aunt.

What I Didn't Like:

Neither of the guys in the book have any faults. I really hate this 'perfect guy syndrome' - it's a lie. Nate conveniently pops up to make her heart race, get ride of mice, fix her tea, quote poetry and basically check all the boxes for "dream guy". I personally found him annoying to begin with and I kept getting more and more annoyed with him throughout.

Tanner is a smidge better - at least we see him working and doing something with his life instead of living to for Serena - but again, other than being teasing, he doesn't have any faults either.

Which brings me to the love triangle; didn't like it. I could have liked Serena's character more if there hadn't been constant comments from her friends like: "You have to beat off guys with a stick." And it was kind of true - random guys on a park bench had a romantic interest in her, basically.

I would have preferred no romance AT ALL. For once, I would like to read a book where the main girl is content and focused and has an arc that doesn't involve a guy. She has only just begun her career as an agent, it seems a shame that she would give it up so quickly.


I hope Serena remains an agent - for a long time.
I hope she remains SINGLE - but since that isn't like to happen, I would have to pick Tanner.
But she'll probably get Nate - those types are usually the ones that "win". 'grinds teeth'

In Summary: I'm impatiently waiting for Book 2 to become available at my library!

Content: Very brief references about suspects living together. One motel owner makes an insinuation about this subject. Very brief references from a guy about a girl being hot or describing her physique. Some brief violence but not extreme.
Profile Image for Jason McIntire.
Author 2 books61 followers
September 21, 2017
This is the kind of book I would only read if it was on a free Kindle promotion, which it was. It was generally well-written and entertaining, and I liked the realistic, informative aspects of the FBI story element. I agree with previous reviewers that the infamous love triangle is unrealistic, contrived, and distracting - nothing but a cheesy device to dress up the story, as evidenced by the fact that the book closes with an opportunity for readers to vote on whom Serena will marry(!).

"A Fool and his Monet" is fairly clean, with the exception of a few thoughts Serena has about her multiple would-be boyfriends that I do not think should be spelled out.

I found the plot confusing at times, but I was following along okay by the end and went away feeling like it made sense. As others have noted previously, Aunt Martha is indescribably over the top and irritating.

If you liked "Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye" - especially if you liked the episodes featuring more romance and less law enforcement - you'll probably enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Staci.
1,785 reviews542 followers
October 25, 2016
Wow! Is this the same author?

I've also read Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchard and found that suspense novel to be just o.k. Clearly, she has found her sweet spot in comedic mystery. A Fool and His Monet was super cute.

Main character Serena Jones is an FBI Agent that specializes in art crimes. While solving the mystery was a strong part of the novel, the characters were even stronger. Serena's mom just wants her to be safe and get married. Serena's Aunt Martha is a hoot. She involves herself how she can in solving crimes. And then there were the numerous men in Serena's life that could be viable mates for her.

It was just plain fun to read this novel and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Mikayla.
954 reviews
September 13, 2017
I love mystery's, so I was really happy when I had the chance to get one my friends had raved about so much.

What I liked:
1. Serena being an FBI agent made it super believable how she gets cases. And the way this author showed her job made it seem more real then how most people portray the FBI.
2. The mystery was well done. I only had a couple points that I had trouble following, but I caught on pretty quickly.
3. Nate, he was very nice.
4. The book was really clean. There are some things mentioned in passing, but they are so small that I really don't even notice them to much.

What I didn't like:
1. There was a lot of tension built all the time, and it always dissipated really fast. It was like nothing was ever really a reason to worry.
2. Her aunt. Goodness she was beyond annoying, and I thought she was a little over the top.
3. Everyone loves Serena. Every guy flirts with her, but she doesn't want to date. And for not wanting to date, she sure does hang out with guys a lot.

What I laughed super hard at:
I'm going to start with a disclaimer. This was not something I thought was really wrong with the book, just the more I thought about it, the more I laughed.
Serena has four guys. Yes, four. Two that she likes, and two that like her. Since this is not a love triangle I have daubed it a love fan.
We've got the hot FBI agent who is mysterious and super charming. We've got the pretty normal guy who suns her apartment, and he is swoon worthy to Serena. We've got the guy she jogs with who likes her. We've got her best friends cousin who was her childhood crush. All of which have some weird habits which might include watching Serena's apartment to make sure she's safe. Also they all trip over each other trying to keep her safe.

Overall, this was a cute book, I liked the mystery. I am not a fan of the love-tringle (Or fan) element and the characters were not my favorite. If I am given the chance, I might finish the series, but I'm not sure yet.
3,025 reviews1,731 followers
March 7, 2016
Campy and fun and chock-full of mystery -- an incredible beginning to a new series. And I just love this retro-style cover. Fits the book's ambiance to a T.

Serena has enough quirks to keep a reader smiling in the midst of an intense art theft investigation. The perfect blend of action, suspense and the hint of romantic entanglement...only, oh dear, there seem to be a number of eligible candidates. Time...and a few more books should set us straight on that score.

And her family likes to stir things up a bit -- especially Aunt Martha who has an interesting past. Orchard hasn't shared it yet, but I'm betting on something knock-your-socks-off surprising. There's another character, Nate, who is much more than he seems -- I'm sure of it. Two subtle clues set my reader spidey senses on edge and I can't wait to see if I'm right. Another reason to anxiously await the next installment which comes out in September.

Like most cozy mysteries, A Fool & His Monet is written in first person point of view. We're in Serena's headspace all the way. I know a lot of people don't like this POV, but I think it worked really well in this case. It's kind of fun to see everything through Serena's eyes only, including some interesting men who just might be thinking of her as more than a friend.

And I could tell the author really did her research when it comes to police and FBI procedure and that results in a fascinating journey into the inner workings of an investigation. Honestly, I don't know how Orchard kept all the intricate nuances straight! Spectacularly done.

I have only one complaint and that is the lack of any kind of faith thread. I know this is becoming more commonplace among Christian publishers but it still makes my heart hurt. Especially from a big name publisher like Revell. It is clear that Serena is a Christian through simple things like blessing the food at a family meal but an actual inspirational thread just isn't there. :-(

Still, this is a splendid start to a promising new series -- witty, upbeat and full of the unexpected. Sweet perfection for the avid cozy mystery fan.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Rachel McMillan.
Author 25 books1,078 followers
March 8, 2016
A zippy, unique spin on the CBA mystery genre, Orchard uses her romantic suspense chops for lighter fare. An intriguing premise sees Serena Jones tackle the art world with two (or more ) eligible men in her near periphery.

I hope Serena decides to go it alone and rise to the top of the FBI scene -- men will only hold a girl with her pluck back ;)

An engaging, quick read that will definitely whet the appetite of fans of White Collar :)
Profile Image for Hope.
317 reviews38 followers
July 6, 2020
3.5 stars

Did y’all know Hallmark makes their own mysteries? I recently learned this fact. This book is how I would imagine a Hallmark mystery. It’s clean, has a strong female FBI detective, a somewhat compelling mystery, and just enough action to rate it PG but not PG-13.

Oh, and there’s a bit of a love triangle.

It also has some art references (thanks, art history for telling me who these people are). Based on the pun in the title, you could probably figure that one out. (Don’t worry, there aren’t many art puns actually in the book. Just so you know. And maybe a warning if you have an aversion to puns.)

The mystery aspect was just what I wanted. It had lots of narrowing down the suspects, doing foolish things for the sake of getting the info, and sitting in cars shadowing people (I love a good stakeout). Plus there were plenty of car chase sequences, attacks from strange men, and mice invasions to keep me on my toes.

The personal life of Serena wasn’t as interesting to me. And, since this took up a large portion of the book, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. While she did spend quite a bit of time on the case, she also spent a bit more time than I wanted with her two potential boyfriends. This is just not really my thing so feel free to discard this rant, but I was just not exactly here for it. She was constantly caught off guard by these two dudes, plus that guy she jogs with, oh, and her friend’s brother . . . So I guess most of the guys in the book. Hmm. So that part was weird and vaguely Hallmark like. Anyway, I was just not a fan of the romance portions.

Okay, they weren’t romantic per-say, but in the next couple of books I’m sure they will be. It was setting up for a romance.

So, all in all, I enjoyed the ride. This book was fun and just what I was wishing for at the time. If you like Hallmark mysteries (or what I suppose Hallmark mysteries are like), then you might want to try these books.

Profile Image for Carrie Schmidt.
Author 1 book365 followers
April 5, 2016
From the very first chapter, Sandra Orchard immerses her readers into the action, and the atmosphere of suspense remains high throughout A Fool and His Monet. So does the humor. The first person POV allows readers not only to see the action solely from Serena’s perspective but also to peek inside the wry hilarity of her thoughts. The possible secrets surrounding both Great Aunt Martha & Nate - as well as the continuing arc of the cold case murder of Serena's grandfather add to the suspense - and insure that readers will be waiting impatiently for book 2's arrival.

Cozy mystery fans, don’t miss this new series by Sandra Orchard! It’s campy. It’s quirky. It’s full of opportunities to smile. You may even laugh out loud. A hint of a brewing love triangle, plus a bit of intrigue surrounding one of the potential beaus, will appeal to people who also like some romance with their sleuthing. Great-Aunt Martha is quite simply a hoot and will delight readers with her Jessica Fletcher-ing, while Serena wins them over with her endearing personality that’s full of wit and eccentricities. In fact, Serena Jones may be one of my favorite FBI agents to date because she feels real and human and like someone I would want as a friend. While A Fool and His Monet is lighter on the “Christian” and heavier on the “fiction” than most in the genre, sometimes – and in this case – I think that’s totally okay. I highly recommend this book to readers in both the Christian fiction and general fiction markets!

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

Read my full review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Profile Image for Caitlyn Santi.
Author 4 books78 followers
March 13, 2016
This was my first read by Sandra Orchard, and I can tell you right now that it will not be my last! I loved this book! I was totally hooked from page one! It was such a fun ride, several moments had me on the edge of my seat, there was some sweet romance and I laughed my way through the book at the numerous funny scenes and lines! I really liked the main character, Serena. And I am not usually a fan of love triangles but I have to say that this one (Or I should say the start of this one!) was just pure fun to read about, I can see the merits of both guys and look forward to learning more about them as the series progresses and I can't wait to see who Serena ends up with! This was such a unique story, I don't think I've ever before read about an FBI agent who specializes in finding stolen art, and I found Serena's job to be absolutely fascinating. Something else I loved was how Serena decided on a celebrity that each person in her life looks like, that was such a fun quirk of hers. Another quirky thing I loved about the book was Serena's sleuthing, mystery-loving Aunt Martha, she was just so great, yes some of her theories were outlandish but I loved that Serena actually listened to her at times and discovered things she may not have thought to try in working on solving the case! I am a pretty observant reader so few things usually surprise me, but I will say that there were several twists in this book that totally took me by surprise, I loved that!
Overall, I loved this book and I highly recommend it! I am so glad that I read it and I very much look forward to reading the next book in the series!

I was honored to receive a review copy of this amazing book from Revell publishers in exchange for my honest review!
Profile Image for Dawn.
781 reviews76 followers
March 31, 2016
I'm in a minority here, but I couldn't get into the book. The characters are quirky, which always makes for entertaining reading, but I was very easily distracted with this book. I frequently found myself putting it down and not coming back to it.

Still, I enjoyed the mystery part of the book. I enjoy mysteries. But I'm not sure on the whole love triangle thing.

When book 2 comes out, I might give it a try, but I might not too.

I received this book for free from Revell Books for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommend to fans of mysteries

Rating - 3 stars
Profile Image for Lisa Johnson.
2,629 reviews36 followers
March 25, 2016
Title: A Fool and His Monet (A Serena Jones Mystery #1)
Author: Sandra Orchard
Pages: 336
Year: 2016
Publisher: Revell
Serena Jones is an FBI Agent working in the art crimes area. She has been an agent for about a year and still works closely with her mentor, Tanner. Her best friend is in charge of security at the local art museum in St. Louis and makes a startling discovery. Two paintings have gone missing from inventory, but no one knows just when the paintings were stolen. Serena takes on the case and begins questioning all the museum employees. She sets her eyes on a particular suspect and soon thereafter events begin to get more personal and escalate.
As her investigation leads her to a John Doe in a local morgue, she also is dealing with her mother and aunt who are trying to get her married off. Tanner and the superintendent in her apartment building, Nate, are two potential suitors that Serena kind of likes, but isn’t interested in getting married right now. She is focused on her job. She also has the ever-present task she has assigned herself of finding her grandfather’s missing painting and the person who murdered him to get it. That is why she became an agent.
This was an interesting mystery that I couldn’t put down. From the clever title to likeable characters to an intriguing plot, this story is a winner! I just loved Aunt Martha! She was a great addition to the story for comedy relief. She was well intentioned and actually had some good thoughts on Serena’s case every once in a while. I liked that Serena was tough, but willing to accept help. She is a loving daughter and values her family. There is potential romance in the air that I hope develops more in book two that will be released this fall, so look here for my review. This is a great start to a new series!!
My rating is 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Profile Image for Kara.
760 reviews
September 8, 2016
*Read in March 2016, Re reading in Sept. 2016* *my rating goes up to 4.5 stars, loved this the second time better! actors mentioned are Richard Gere, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Vin Diesel*

Go Serena, what a great book! Special Agent Serena Jones is on a case to find two stolen art
paintings from her best friend's museum. Should've been simple and effortless, but it becomes much more complicated than Serena anticipates and we end up with a great page turner with lots of humor mixed in!

Loved Aunt Martha and Harold the cat; Billy, Zoe's cousin and their bodyguard for one great scene; LOTS of movie references that were so fun, and Serena's personality all the while balancing her personal life with her job finding the bad guys kept me WELL entertained the entire time :) Orchard has brilliantly compared Serena Jones as a "cross between Miss Congeniality and Stephanie Plum" and I agree with that PERFECTLY! *I'm also a movie buff and loved the actors Serena comes up with in every clue of the case*

"Harold!" I strode to the bedroom and found the freeloader curled up in the middle of my bed. I scooped him up and carried him back with me to the kitchen. "Here's the deal. I ward off two-legged intruders. You handle the four-legged ones. Okay?"
Harold meowed, but it didn't sound like he agreed.
Too bad. I was trained to take down two-hundred-pound men, not two-ounce rodents. I held Harold up to the cupboard and gingerly opened the door.

This is definitely Orchard's best book to date and NOT to be missed! Also, the author has included a survey on her website for readers to decide which of the two guys Serena should end up with for the series making this even MORE fun. Don't miss out, see where Serena's case leads her in this clean action story!

I want to thank the author for the gift copy I was given for review purposes. These comments are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Angie Thompson.
Author 31 books1,079 followers
August 3, 2018
Oh. My. Word. Where do I even start?

For once, I didn't read the reviews before I started this book, so I had no idea what I was getting into. Honestly, when I pick up a free FBI-mystery novel off a promotion, "hilarious" is about the last word on my list of expectations.

But this book was just that. Entirely hilarious. I was in stitches for almost the whole book as I watched the antics of the whole gang of quirky characters revolving around Serena (who's pretty quirky herself) as she tries to track down the truth behind a theft from a local art museum.

The mystery itself had plenty of twists and turns that I didn't expect. I'll admit that I don't have a very good track record in that area, so that doesn't necessarily say much, but I'm guessing even bigger mystery buffs than I am would have a hard time figuring this one out. Things did get a little more serious at times as the trail led from simple theft to murder, but there were times I almost forgot the mystery as Serena tried to make her cat deal with an invading mouse or fend off her mother's attempts at matchmaking or rein in amateur-sleuth Aunt Martha.

Oh, my word, Aunt Martha! That woman was something else and then some! Honestly, there were no boring characters in this book, but Aunt Martha takes the cake! And for once in my life, I'm seriously conflicted on a love triangle (okay, at this point more of an interest triangle). But I adore both of these guys--how am I supposed to choose? Let's just say that whichever one doesn't end up with Serena better find another seriously nice girl!

I give this one 4.5 stars, but just because I'm not a huge fan of murder plots. I'll definitely be reading it again (and again and again) and checking out the rest of the series, too. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Ferne.
1,242 reviews34 followers
May 29, 2022
What a wonderful beginning to the series! With the characterization of Serena Jones, recently graduated and new member of the FBI's Art Crime Team, the reader tags along on Serena's first undercover assignment. On arrival back in St. Louis, we meet best friend Zoe that needs Serena's expertise as it appears paintings have been stolen from in-house storage at the local art museum. This leads introduction to Serena's family that includes her worry-wart Mother, university professor Dad, and outrageous and sleuthing Aunt Martha. Serena lives in Aunt Martha's former residence with her cat Harold. The retired English professor Sutton who makes it his mission to help everyone in the neighborhood expand their vocabulary adds another fun element. There's also a host of male characters that add a sparkle in various ways to Serena's life but especially FBI supervisor Tanner and apartment building superintendent Nate.

As some of the characterizations progressed I thought of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich particularly thinking of the outrageous "ready-for-anything" Grandma Mazur who in this series is definitely Aunt Martha. The age old question whether Stephanie would be happier with Joe Morelli or Ranger now has me asking about Serena with Tanner or Nate.

A light fun beginning that leads me to wanting more.
Profile Image for Nan Williams.
1,459 reviews76 followers
May 13, 2020
I’ll have to admit that the title was what made me pick up this book. Also the “cutsieness” of the title sent me directly to the reviews at GoodReads before I ever started it. I can not imagine how in the world it got all these 4 and 5* reviews. And I don’t want to rain on anyone’s picnic here, but … IMHO this was a total waste of time.

The protagonist, Serena, who is an FBI agent in the art crimes division is a real insult to our skilled and dedicated men and women not just in the FBI, but in all law enforcement. She’s portrayed as totally incompetent, irresponsible and ignores the orders of her superior. I’m not sure what the author’s plan was here – maybe to portray her as an American female Clouseau? She just fumbles and bumbles around and interviews suspects in a most unprofessional manner.

This was written at about a 3rd grade level, but I can’t imagine that my grammar school aged grandchildren would enjoy it. Don’t waste your time. I didn’t finish. I suffered through over half of it before putting it down. Nothing, nothing at all, to hold my interest.

I will definitely not be reading more from this author.
Profile Image for Amanda Tero.
Author 25 books523 followers
September 1, 2019
I read book three, and decided I absolutely had to read book one. I enjoyed Sandra Orchard’s writing for this book. At times, it seemed a little shallow, but for just a light-hearted read with a few laughs, this is exactly what I wanted.

I love the FBI side. And unlike some mystery books I’ve read, this one wasn’t dark. Yes, there were murders, and they weren’t made light of, but the mood of the book wasn’t depressing at all.

Reading this as a writer, I have to admire the character depth that Ms. Orchard gives. All of the characters—good, bad, and “in between”—were well thought-out and had their individual personalities.

Now for the two points I usually look for…
Romance—there is a love triangle (as I think I mentioned in book three—so apparently this love triangle lasts the full series). Serena is beginning to feel emotions towards two different men, but nothing obsessive or overboard. She’s actually kind of clueless.

Christianity…as much as I enjoy the style and cleanness of this series, it really doesn’t come across as a solid, Christian book. God is mentioned, going to church is mentioned, but that is about the extent of Christianity.
Profile Image for Lydia Howe.
Author 4 books74 followers
September 20, 2017
I generally don't read a lot of mysteries that aren't meant for kids, because I don't like violence at all. This book had some violence, but it was kept to a minimum, or at least the details were, so that was nice.

This book made me roll my eyes quite a bit because of being cheesy, and there was some stuff I didn't appreciate, but for the most part, it was a nice, kinda laidback type mystery. I enjoyed it and might read another book by the same author in the future, although I wouldn't count on it.
Profile Image for Sarah Monzon.
Author 22 books450 followers
March 30, 2017
I loved this book. The characters were quirky and loveable (Aunt Martha's a riot) and the plot and pacing progressed nicely for me. I liked the first person POV but I am on the fence as to if I'm #teamTanner or #teamNate. Guess I'll have to read the next book to cement my feelings!
Profile Image for Gina Beirne.
407 reviews83 followers
August 2, 2016
I think Serena Jones is the most inept fictional FBI agent ever. Convoluted plot. Poor writing. I'm not even sure why I finished this.
Profile Image for Amanda (BookLoverAmanda).
343 reviews286 followers
September 23, 2023
A Fool and His Monet - Sandra Orchard - 4 Stars - A great start to a Christian mystery series! (Book 1)

This book was a lot of fun! My first book by Sandra and I'm excited to continue in the series. A little bit of a love triangle, some mystery - past and present - and fun loveable characters make for a really fun start to this series. Serena Jones - part of the FBI Art Crime Team - is working to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. But in the middle of this cold case, she is going undercover to catch thieves and other black market traders. When prized art paintings go missing form the local art museum, Serena finds herself searching for answers and the thieves.

The love triangle was interesting - not a ton of romance - this was mostly a mystery plot driven story - BUT I am excited to see where it goes. I don't think I have a decision on who I prefer yet but interested to continue in the series.

Her aunt was also HILARIOUS!

If you enjoy a good balance of mystery, suspense, humor and intrigue, read this!
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