Friday, February 1, 2019

Engaged in Death (A Wedding Planner Mystery #1)

Author:  Stephanie Blackmoore
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496704788
Kensington Publishing
304 Pages
$7.19; $5.99 Amazon
June 28, 2016


After dumping her cheating fiancé and cancelling wedding, Mallory Shepard can't bear another disaster.  So when the former bride-to-be unexpectedly inherits Thistle Park, a ramshackle mansion in her ex's hometown of Port Quincy, it's a problem she can't afford - literally.  Abound with stray cats, peeling wallpaper, and nosy neighbors, Mallory is dying to sell it off - once she finally fixes up both the place and her messy life...

Turns out, Thistle Park has its charms.  But the honeymoon phase is abruptly cut short when an unwanted visitor is found dead on the front lawn.  Enlisting the help of her sister Rachel, Mallory vows to unveil the killer before she herself becomes married to the suspect list...


Mallory Shepard and her fiancé Keith are both attorneys planning their wedding.  Unfortunately, what was supposed to be fairly simple is now over-the-top thanks his interfering social-climbing mother Helene, who has hijacked it.  After leaving the country club where the reception is to be, she thinks they're going to visit his grandmother Sylvia, the only member of the family she truly likes and who adores her, but Keith has other plans: he takes her to a vacant plot of land that Helene has purchased in Port Quincy, an hour away from Pittsburgh, where both she and Keith work, to build them a home.  Naturally, she's becoming more and more upset by the way things are turning out.

But when they get home there's a call from the nursing home that Sylvia lives in stating she's passed away, and Mallory is more than saddened that they didn't visit her that day.  To make things even more depressing, she opens a manila envelope that has come in the mail and inside are pictures of Keith and a young woman from his office - doing things he only should be doing with Mallory.

She immediately leaves and holes up in a motel room, not returning calls and not leaving until her younger sister Rachel shows up at the place, forcing her to reenter life again.  In doing so, she realizes she needs to return phone calls, especially many left by Sylvia's attorney.  When she finally goes to see the man, Garrett Davies, she discovers that Sylvia has deeded her home to her - free and clear.  Stunned, Rachel and Mallory go to the home in an old stately area of Port Quincy.

While the house is dilapidated, Rachel sees possibilities, and Mallory sees a headache that she'll need to get rid of.  But what she doesn't expect is the man who shows up on her doorstep wanting to buy the house - now.  He wants the land to frack, and Mallory knows that Sylvia was totally against that, and tells him no, getting into a confrontation before sending him on his way.  But just when she thinks things can't get any worse, the next morning Rachel wakes her telling her that the man is dead on their front lawn.

Though Mallory insists she's going to stay out of the investigation and allow the police to handle things, it becomes difficult when it's obvious someone wants her out of the way.  Now she's involved in trying to keep her head above water financially, and altogether trying to keep the rest of her from being killed...

This is the first in a new series and I found it delightful.  While there were a couple of things that bothered me, I didn't allow it to spoil my enjoyment of the book.  I may as well list them and get it out of the way.  I felt that for an attorney - even a corporate one - Mallory had very little backbone.  She couldn't make decisions and allowed her younger sister to run roughshod over her.  She even allowed Helene to take over her wedding, though she was paying for it.  I would have told her if she wanted the wedding her way, then she could pay for it.

I also didn't care for how selfish and self-centered Rachel was.  She seemed more of a spoiled child than an adult who could come in and take charge of the situation.  Below are spoilers (one to a crucial point of the book), but they grated on me a bit:

Anyway, aside from those two things, I think the mystery was written well.  I felt there was enough intrigue to keep the story interesting, and there was a surprise to the ending, which made it all the more pleasurable to read.  Just when you think you've put it all together (and pretty much have), there was something else coming.  All in all, a very satisfying ending to a decent mystery.

I do like the idea of them opening a B&B; there are a lot of possibilities for future books, which I look forward to reading.  Also included are a few recipes in the back which sound delicious.  Recommended.


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