on 28 October 2011
This is light-hearted and fun and fluffy and yet I managed to care deeply for the characters and what was happening to them. It's contemporary romance mostly with a light smattering of suspense to keep the story rolling.
There's a strong theme of people being falsely accused throughout the whole novel and that's how we meet our heroine Nikki Hunt - an impoverished artist going to meet her ex-husband Jack Leon for dinner. He's been begging her for a reconciliation since she discovered him indulging in a bit of How's Your Father on her prized antique sofa with the hired help a year ago. She's finally agreed to meet him for dinner thinking she can go back to him because she's hard up and he can probably pay her Nana's cable bill. We'll get to Nana in a bit. One look at him and she realises that she can't not even for Nana's cable - he promptly abandons her at the restaurant and saddles her with a $200 bill that she can ill afford.
Nikki manages to tell just about everyone she encounters in the next hour that she's gonna kill her ex just as said ex turns up very much murdered in the boot of her car.
Now we get to meet our hero - an ex-cop-ex-con-turned-PI Dallas O'Connor. He's with his homicide detective brother Tony when he gets the call about Jack's unfortunate demise and attends the scene with him. He instinctively thinks "the ex did it" until he notices she's rather green around the gills and goes to steady her when she promptly vomits all over first his shoes and then square in the middle of the chest. Despite this inauspicious beginning, he is very taken with her and decides to take her case as she is suspect no 1 and he specialises in people wrongly accused having done time himself for a murder he didn't commit.
To go any further would be to spoil the plot but it was the richness of the characters including all the background stories that made this story so unputdownable. Nikki's Nana was a total scene stealer always managing to crash a scene with the rest of her Ol' Timers having been dragged away from Annie Oakley dress rehearsals in full costume. I could just see it!!
There's also a very touching secondary love story between Dallas's brother Tony and his estranged wife LeAnn who separated 9 months ago in the most tragic of circumstances. They really tugged on my heart strings and I desperately wanted them to get past their issues.
We also have Dallas's widowed father who's in a sad and lonely place but is about to get hoovered up and dragged back to happiness by Nana's Ol'Timers not to mention Bud, the coffin-dwelling flatulent dog!
Best of all Dallas has 2 ex-cop-ex-con-turned PI drooltastic partners who are both waiting for their tortuous path to a HEA in future books.
It's a whole lot of fun - there's serious issues of false accusation and betrayal and guilt but there's also a lot of humour. Just think cupcakes and bedbugs. I think this is pretty much close to perfection as far as contemporary romances goes.
Can't wait for the next book - bring it on!!
5 stars - contemporary romance