Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gilt by Association (A Caprice DeLuca Mystery #3)

Author:  Karen Rose Smith
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars

Caprice DeLuca's latest house staging is all about hearts, flowers, lace and chintz since Valentine's Day is around the corner. She never expects her client to be murdered in the greenhouse the day of the open house.

With her six-month-old pup Lady by her side and her own love life in disarray, Caprice ferrets out clues from the victim's best friend, Caprice's mother, the housekeeper and a special male friend who insists his relationship with the victim was platonic. However, as Caprice digs deeper, she finds the victim's past is filled with secrets that she kept from her husband for thirty years.

The past isn't merely history. The present isn't always what it seems. When hearts are involved, passion and even murder aren't far behind.


Caprice DeLuca is a home stager.  She takes homes that are for sale, and furnishes them in such a way that they will sell faster.  She does this by not only changing furnishings to suit the home, but also by having open houses, with her sister Nikki as a caterer, "theming' the food to the home (in this book, for example, one of the homes is rather rustic, so she and Nikki have 'themed' the home Sherwood Forest, with typical English food).

Her latest client, Louise, is a close friend of her mother's for around thirty years.  She and her husband are downsizing so they can travel.  Upon the afternoon of the open house, Caprice finds Louise in the greenhouse - dead.  Since this is the third book in the series, we already know that Caprice will agree to her mother's wishes that she look into the murder and find the killer.

I enjoyed reading the book, but there were a couple of things that bothered me:  First off, if you know there's a killer out there, why would you even ASK your own daughter to look into the murder?  Doesn't it occur to you that if someone has killed once, they might do so again, and your child could be the victim?  I would have been better pleased if one of the police officers asked her to do it on the sly (even though we know that probably shouldn't happen).

The second thing was Caprice was trying to decide if she wanted a relationship with Grant or not, but instead of pursuing it further and having "the conversation" with him, she treated him pretty cavalierly at times.  I understand his background of losing his child and his marriage falling apart, but if he's interested in her at all, tiptoeing around the subject isn't helping anyone.

And thirdly, when the killer was revealed, I felt that the author didn't give us any clues beforehand who it might have been.  And she didn't.  The mystery made sense, but the killer just seemed to be thrown in as if the author couldn't decide who to have the murderer be.

So you ask, if I found these problems, why did I still give the book four stars?  Because it was written well, and I enjoyed reading about the home staging and reading about the family dynamics.  Everyone has problems in their families, but it is still refreshing to read about two sisters who are close and share things with each other (I have much the same relationship with one of my own sisters).  I loved the fact that Caprice rescues animals and finds good homes for them.  Since I do this myself, I have a soft spot for it.  I also enjoyed the fact that Caprice wasn't a stick-thin protagonist who wears no makeup except "lip gloss."  I get very tired of hearing about characters who think lip gloss is all the makeup they need (if that were the case and most women thought that way, then the cosmetic industry wouldn't be as successful as it is.  The only people I know who wear nothing but lip gloss are thirteen-year-old girls).  Trust me, just throwing on an old pair of jeans, a tee shirt and lip gloss doesn't make you look irresistible, regardless of what some authors believe.  But I digress...

So finally, I found the book enjoyable and the ending satisfying, even with the problems I mentioned above.  I hope others will feel the same.  Recommended.  This book will be released January 27, 2015.

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