Charmed Life, the second book in the Brass Monkey Series by Susan Wells Bennett, is a charming, highly readable delight. The Brass Monkey, a Sun City, Arizona bar, is the fulcrum for the series, published in paperback and e-book format by Inknbeans Press. Charmed Life swings around to focus mainly on the lives of two characters: Sax, the bar’s owner (an ex-cop from New Jersey), and his friend and patron, Sondra Lane, former soap opera diva and master of turning lemons into lemonade. Sondra, busted down to struggling for good roles in community theater, worries that the best of her days are behind her until what she’d considered an embarrassment from her past leads to a new fan base and a particularly interesting new fan.

As with the first book in the series, Wild Life, there’s also a mystery to be solved, and while doing so, Bennett draws us deep into Sondra’s and Sax’s histories: their triumphs, disappointments, the turning points that landed them where they’d never intended, and going forward, the deepening of their friendship. (Don’t despair, fans of Claire and Milo: they’re also part of the story.)

I read most of the book while traveling, had a wicked hard time putting it down, and even had to be reminded by a flight attendant to turn off my Kindle so the plane could land. What I admired most about Charmed Life, like Wild Life, is the compelling way Susan Wells Bennett draws a character. Each, even her minor players, are human, deeply flawed at times but in the end, endearing. I wanted all of them to find the love and happiness they deserved. Keep writing, Susan…I MUST know how this plays out!