Bubbles in Trouble (Bubbles Yablonsky Series #2)

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Overview

New troubles for Bubbles: Her friend, bride-to-be Janice, never showed up at the altar, and everybody's blaming Bubbles for singing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" at the bachelorette party the night before. Now Bubbles has just found Janice's uncle Elwood dead on his bathroom floor-his skull bashed in and his Rolls Royce missing. The baffling murder could be her Big Break as Bubbles goes deep undercover in Whoopee, Pennsylvania (located between Intercourse and Paradise) as a "plain girl from Ohio" boarding with a ...

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Overview

New troubles for Bubbles: Her friend, bride-to-be Janice, never showed up at the altar, and everybody's blaming Bubbles for singing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" at the bachelorette party the night before. Now Bubbles has just found Janice's uncle Elwood dead on his bathroom floor-his skull bashed in and his Rolls Royce missing. The baffling murder could be her Big Break as Bubbles goes deep undercover in Whoopee, Pennsylvania (located between Intercourse and Paradise) as a "plain girl from Ohio" boarding with a local Amish family. That means no spandex, no showers, and...no makeup. When she's not helping out on the farm, Bubbles searches for clues-with the usual hilarious results.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
You know you're in for one sexy, hilarious romp in this follow-up to Sarah Strohmeyer's debut mystery, Bubbles Unbound, as soon as you read the opening line: "This is how Steve Stiletto, drop-dead gorgeous, globe-trotting photographer, finally got me, Bubbles Yablonsky, Pennsylvania hairstylist and occasional newspaper reporter, to break my chastity vow...."

The adventure begins when Bubbles -- the valentine red Wonderbra–wearing reporter with a fondness for leopard print and stilettos -- shows up at her friend Janice's wedding only to find that the bride herself is a no-show. Thinking she's to blame (she did drunkenly perform Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" at the bachelorette party the night before), Bubbles tries to find Janice and get her to the church on time. But she discovers only foul play: Janice has disappeared, and her live-in uncle, Elwood, has been murdered. Finding out what happened to the AWOL bride requires Bubbles to go undercover in the unlikely guise of a single Amish woman. Riotous antics naturally ensue.

Like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum and the late Lawrence Sanders' Archy McNally, Bubbles Yablonsky may not seem like the sharpest tool in the shed -- but she's crafty and clever enough in her own right to get the job done. Bubbles in Trouble is a must-read for mystery fans who like their whodunits layered with a little bit of romance, a little bit of comedy, and a whole lot of fun. Tanya Chesterfield

Publishers Weekly
In her second novel featuring the high-energy beautician/rookie reporter, Bubbles Yablonsky (after 2001's Bubbles Unbound), Strohmeyer successfully navigates the fine line between humorous stereotype and sympathetic amateur investigator. As the novel opens, the tube top-wearing, Camaro-driving, self-described last "Polish-Lithuanian Barbie doll in Lehigh, Pennsylvania" is taking the blame for jinxing the nuptials of her shy friend, Janice, a records clerk in the local police department. Janice has not only gone missing but the uncle with whom she lives is soon found dead in his gated retirement home. Bubbles retraces Janice's last steps, which lead to some shady doings in Amish country. Bubbles goes undercover, frantically (and hilariously) shifting between her role as a sexy reporter and her cover as an Amish widow. Despite her bumbling in a foreign culture, Bubbles manages to win the friendship and trust of this tight-knit community, and her own respect and growing understanding of the Plain folk is nicely conveyed. Bubbles's hunky beau, photographer Steve Stiletto, makes a steamy appearance, along with many other well-wrought oddball characters, including Bubbles's mother, Lulu, who's going through a Jackie O. phase. The over-the-top force-of-nature protagonist and the lovingly detailed descriptions of clothing and hair styles make up for some gaps in logic and a slightly rushed ending. Also delightful are the useful recipes (hangover cure, cuticle softener, etc.) all involving vinegar sprinkled throughout. Agent, Heather Schroder. (July 1) FYI: At this past May's Malice Domestic convention, Bubbles Unbound won an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery Novel. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On the way to Paradise, hang a right at Intercourse and you'll find Whoopee-Whoopee, Pennsylvania, a bucolic town about to be disrupted in every way possible by ace cosmetologist Bubbles Yablonsky, who's trading her blow-dryer for a pitchfork as she goes undercover to convince sourball editor Dix Notch to give her a permanent berth on the Lehigh News-Times. She's tracking an exclusive on the Hochstetter twins, a couple of good old Amish boys picked up on I-78 for grand theft auto. But her interest in Lancaster County is personal as well, since it's also the childhood home of Bubbles's friend Janice Kramer, a runaway bride whose Uncle Elwood happened to turn up dead in his posh condo pretty much at the same time as Janice was stranding Mickey Sinkler at the altar. And in this week of the Pickle Fest, Bubbles's mom, Lulu, and Genevieve, her musket-toting sidekick, decide to tag along-a lucky thing, since their timeshare gives Bubbles the perfect place to squirm out of her apron and back into her favorite tube-top preparatory to bombing down the Lincoln Highway giving hot-oil treatments to calves, flagging down bulldozers with her bra, stopping land-grab schemes, smooching with sexy photojournalist Steve Stiletto, and, yes, solving both crimes. Strohmeyer's second is even more over the top than her debut (Bubbles Unbound, 2001), but with the funniest moments reserved for bit players like Genevieve. Instead of tickling gently, Bubbles smacks you with humor as broad as a whoopee pie in the kisser.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451208507
  • Publisher: Signet
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Series: Bubbles Yablonsky Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Strohmeyer is the bestselling author of Sweet Love, The Cinderella Pact, The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives, and the popular "Bubbles" series. She lives with her family outside Montpelier, Vermont.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

This is how Steve Stiletto, drop-dead gorgeous, globe-trotting photographer, finally got me, Bubbles Yablonsky, Pennsylvania hairstylist and occasional newspaper reporter, to break my chastity vow.

I was relaxing on the back porch one golden, late-summer evening, polishing my nails to a deep and glossy plum. A few of my neighbor Mrs. Hamel’s red tomatoes in our shared garden were plump on the vine. The tiny green grapes were coming into their own and the steel mill was closing down for the night with a pump, pump, pump.

Suddenly the backyard gate swung open and there stood Stiletto, tall and tanned from India’s hot sun. He was wearing tight jeans, the familiar worn leather bomber jacket over his broad shoulders, and those Mel Gibson eyes of his were twinkling their mischievous blue.

“You’re back,” I whispered, the nail polish bottle tumbling down the porch steps.

“Yablinko,” was all he said before leaning down to kiss me, hard and long. He smelled of dusty winds and brutal war. With one movement he swooped me up in his strong arms, and I felt helpless as he kicked open the screen door and carried me upstairs.

“But . . .” I protested weakly.

“Shhh.” He placed me gently on the bed and let his lips trace the curve of my neck. “Listen. I nearly went mad in the desert without you, Bubbles. Marry me.”

He had done it. Stiletto had uttered those two magic words and I was now released from my chastity vow, free to respond with a lusty abracadabra.

After our first, passionate moment of lovemaking, which was furtive and desperate, I ran my plum nails over his broad chest and down his muscular thighs, drinking in the warmth of him, the tingling satisfaction of our mingling.

“Oh, Steve, you’re so—”

“For the one thousandth time it’s Chip. Chip. Chip. Chip! When in the hell are you gonna get that straight, Bubbles?”

My eyelids flew open in a flash and I found myself staring into a fleshy, white shoulder.

“Aaaagh,” I screamed. My hands squeezed what they had been gripping under the covers. Not muscle. Flab. Mounds and mounds of gut.

“Oww, stop that. You’re hurting me.”

I bolted upright, pulling the sheets tightly around me. “Oh . . . my . . . God.”

Dan the Man, my fat, adulterous, ambulance-chasing lawyer of an ex-husband, lay next to me in bed, arms behind his head, a scowl on his face.

“No one calls me Dan anymore,” he said. “Everyone calls me Chip. All except you and those buffoons down at Legal Aid.”

“Where’s Steve?”

“Steve? You mean that punk photographer? How in the bejeezus am I supposed to know?”

Stiletto’s return from overseas must have been a dream. My stomach felt weak and nauseous. I was afraid I’d throw up, maybe. And a headache. Oh, such a headache, like I’d been crowned by an anvil.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” I croaked.

“Wouldn’t be surprised considering the condition you came in last night, Bubbles.” Dan threw back the covers, revealing his blubbery belly and a pair of ripped, yellow-striped boxer shorts. “Boy, were you sloshed. You passed out here, right on the convertible couch.”

“I was not sloshed,” I lied. “I was just very, very tired.”

“Right. And as a former Lehigh University frat boy I don’t know from tanked.” Dan snorted as he made his way to the bathroom. “Getting blotto was my major. I graduated summa cum laude in alcohol overload.”

Could Dan have been right? Could I, Bubbles Yablonsky, thirty-four-year-old single mother, hairdresser, aspiring investigative journalist and one of the few living Polish-Lithuanian Barbie dolls in Lehigh, Pennsylvania, have allowed myself to get, gasp, tipsy?

No. I never touch alcohol. It tastes gross and . . .

I dropped the sheet. I was still wearing my spiffy fire-engine-red sequined dress, now wrinkled and reeking of cigarette smoke. My black hose were bunched at the ankles and a gigantic run exposed my big toe.

Ohhh. I collapsed in a heap of self loathing, painfully recalling how I’d spent the night before—at the bachelorette party for Lehigh Police Department records clerk Janice Kramer, fiancée of Detective Mickey Sinkler and my best source for sealed search warrants.

It was those darn strawberry-kiwi Jell-O shots Janice’s coworkers at the police department brought to the party. They must’ve been spiked.

I winced at the memory of me howling Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” into the karaoke machine at Uncle Manny’s Bar and Grille, which had opened on a Sunday night just to host our festivities. Janice had covered her mouth first in shock and then in delight when I jumped onto the pool table to play air guitar while the other partygoers whooped and cheered. Only Manny had remained glum, his eyes glaring at my spiked heels digging into the green felt.

To top it off I had evidently teetered home and passed out next to my ex, Dan the Man, who—at the insistence of our daughter, Jane—had been sleeping on our pull-out couch ever since his socialite wife Wendy had given him the heave-ho two weeks ago. Of this I was certain, however: while I had slept with Dan, I had not slept with Dan. A bug trap full of Spanish flies couldn’t make me do that.

What I needed was sleep, a tall glass of ginger ale, two aspirin and a hot shower with plenty of Ivory soap. But mostly sleep. I closed my eyes and drifted off.

“Hey, aren’t you supposed to be getting ready for that wedding?” Dan was suited up for his Legal Aid job and munching on a hoagie. “I thought by the time I returned for lunch you’d be long gone. It’s eleven-thirty.”

Mickey and Janice’s wedding. It was supposed to be at noon. And I was the maid of honor!

“How long did I sleep?”

Dan checked his watch. “About four hours.”

“Why didn’t you wake me?”

“What do I look like? Your personal valet?”

I leapt out of bed. Here I was, unwashed and hungover, lazing about while Mickey’s sweet bride, a kind and shy woman who had trusted me to lead her down the aisle, was probably pacing the narthex in frantic worry. Ugh.

I pushed Dan aside and scrambled up the stairs to the bathroom. Usually a Bubbles Deluxe took a good forty-five minutes if my Sunshine Blonde Number Eight locks were to be teased and sprayed into an indestructible beehive. Eyebrow penciling alone could eat up five. I had, what, ten minutes tops to shower and change into a Bo Peep bridesmaid’s outfit complete with hoopskirt, bonnet and satin-covered staff.

There was no way I could get to the church in time. At best, I’d arrive right when Mickey and Janice were exchanging vows.

But I needn’t have rushed.

For as I was soon to discover, there would be no blushing bride and beaming groom emerging from St. Lenny’s South Side Catholic Church. No dollar dance at Walp’s and fancy smorgasbord. No four-night, three-day honeymoon in the Pocono Mountains sipping sparkling wine by a Hotel Paupack heart-shaped bathtub.

There would be no wedding. Only murder.

Looking back, I blame the Skynyrd.

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Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter 1

This is how Steve Stiletto, drop-dead gorgeous, globe-trotting photographer, finally got me, Bubbles Yablonsky, Pennsylvania hairstylist and occasional newspaper reporter, to break my chastity vow.

I was relaxing on the back porch one golden, late-summer evening, polishing my nails to a deep and glossy plum. A few of my neighbor Mrs. Hamel's red tomatoes in our shared garden were plump on the vine. The tiny green grapes were coming into their own and the steel mill was closing down for the night with a pump, pump, pump. Suddenly the backyard gate swung open and there stood Stiletto, tall and tanned from India's hot sun. He was wearing tight jeans, the familiar worn leather bomber jacket over his broad shoulders, and those Mel Gibson eyes of his were twinkling their mischievous blue.

"You're back," I whispered, the nail polish bottle tumbling down the porch steps.

"Yablinko," was all he said before leaning down to kiss me, hard and long. He smelled of dusty winds and brutal war. With one movement he swooped me up in his strong arms, and I felt helpless as he kicked open the screen door and carried me upstairs.

"But . . ." I protested weakly.

"Shhh." He placed me gently on the bed and let his lips trace the curve of my neck.

"Listen. I nearly went mad in the desert without you, Bubbles. Marry me."

He had done it. Stiletto had uttered those two magic words and I was now released from my chastity vow, free to respond with a lusty abracadabra.

After our first, passionate moment of lovemaking, which was furtive and desperate, I ran my plum nails over his broad chest and down his muscular thighs, drinking in the warmth of him, the tingling satisfaction of our mingling.

"Oh, Steve, you're so-"

"For the one thousandth time it's Chip. Chip. Chip. Chip! When in the hell are you gonna get that straight, Bubbles?"

My eyelids flew open in a flash and I found myself staring into a fleshy, white shoulder. "Aaaagh," I screamed. My hands squeezed what they had been gripping under the covers. Not muscle. Flab. Mounds and mounds of gut.

"Oww, stop that. You're hurting me."

I bolted upright, pulling the sheets tightly around me. "Oh . . . my . . . God."

Dan the Man, my fat, adulterous, ambulance-chasing lawyer of an ex-husband, lay next to me in bed, arms behind his head, a scowl on his face.

"No one calls me Dan anymore," he said. "Everyone calls me Chip. All except you and those buffoons down at Legal Aid."

"Where's Steve?"

"Steve? You mean that punk photographer? How in the bejeezus am I supposed to know?"

Stiletto's return from overseas must have been a dream. My stomach felt weak and nauseous. I was afraid I'd throw up, maybe. And a headache. Oh, such a headache, like I'd been crowned by an anvil.

"I think I'm going to be sick," I croaked.

"Wouldn't be surprised considering the condition you came in last night, Bubbles." Dan threw back the covers, revealing his blubbery belly and a pair of ripped, yellow-striped boxer shorts. "Boy, were you sloshed. You passed out here, right on the convertible couch."

"I was not sloshed," I lied. "I was just very, very tired."

"Right. And as a former Lehigh University frat boy I don't know from tanked." Dan snorted as he made his way to the bathroom. "Getting blotto was my major. I graduated summa cum laude in alcohol overload."

Could Dan have been right? Could I, Bubbles Yablonsky, thirty-four-year-old single mother, hairdresser, aspiring investigative journalist and one of the few living Polish-Lithuanian Barbie dolls in Lehigh, Pennsylvania, have allowed myself to get, gasp, tipsy?

No. I never touch alcohol. It tastes gross and . . .

I dropped the sheet. I was still wearing my spiffy fire-engine-red sequined dress, now wrinkled and reeking of cigarette smoke. My black hose were bunched at the ankles and a gigantic run exposed my big toe.

Ohhh. I collapsed in a heap of self loathing, painfully recalling how I'd spent the night before-at the bachelorette party for Lehigh Police Department records clerk Janice Kramer, fiancée of Detective Mickey Sinkler and my best source for sealed search warrants.

It was those darn strawberry-kiwi Jell-O shots Janice's coworkers at the police department brought to the party. They must've been spiked.

I winced at the memory of me howling Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" into the karaoke machine at Uncle Manny's Bar and Grille, which had opened on a Sunday night just to host our festivities. Janice had covered her mouth first in shock and then in delight when I jumped onto the pool table to play air guitar while the other partygoers whooped and cheered. Only Manny had remained glum, his eyes glaring at my spiked heels digging into the green felt.

To top it off I had evidently teetered home and passed out next to my ex, Dan the Man, who-at the insistence of our daughter, Jane-had been sleeping on our pull-out couch ever since his socialite wife Wendy had given him the heave-ho two weeks ago. Of this I was certain, however: while I had slept with Dan, I had not slept with Dan. A bug trap full of Spanish flies couldn't make me do that.

What I needed was sleep, a tall glass of ginger ale, two aspirin and a hot shower with plenty of Ivory soap. But mostly sleep. I closed my eyes and drifted off.

"Hey, aren't you supposed to be getting ready for that wedding?" Dan was suited up for his Legal Aid job and munching on a hoagie. "I thought by the time I returned for lunch you'd be long gone. It's eleven-thirty."

Mickey and Janice's wedding. It was supposed to be at noon. And I was the maid of honor!

"How long did I sleep?"

Dan checked his watch. "About four hours."

"Why didn't you wake me?"

"What do I look like? Your personal valet?"

I leapt out of bed. Here I was, unwashed and hungover, lazing about while Mickey's sweet bride, a kind and shy woman who had trusted me to lead her down the aisle, was probably pacing the narthex in frantic worry. Ugh.

I pushed Dan aside and scrambled up the stairs to the bathroom. Usually a Bubbles Deluxe took a good forty-five minutes if my Sunshine Blonde Number Eight locks were to be teased and sprayed into an indestructible beehive. Eyebrow penciling alone could eat up five. I had, what, ten minutes tops to shower and change into a Bo Peep bridesmaid's outfit complete with hoopskirt, bonnet and satin-covered staff.

There was no way I could get to the church in time. At best, I'd arrive right when Mickey and Janice were exchanging vows.

But I needn't have rushed.

For as I was soon to discover, there would be no blushing bride and beaming groom emerging from St. Lenny's South Side Catholic Church. No dollar dance at Walp's and fancy smorgasbord. No four-night, three-day honeymoon in the Pocono Mountains sipping sparkling wine by a Hotel Paupack heart-shaped bathtub.

There would be no wedding. Only murder.

Looking back, I blame the Skynyrd.

-- From Bubbles in Trouble by Sarah Strohmeyer (c) June 2002, used by permission.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2004

    If you like Janet you'll love Sarah.

    I found this book at the local book store and just reading the jacket cover had to find the first book in the series before I left the store. I am a BIG Janet Evanovich fan and was hoping this series could compare to her. It DOES!! Bubbles is a real delight to read and her mother is crazier than Grandma Mazur!!!! I found myself laughing out loud, just like I do when reading the Plum series. Her characters are very appealling and the beauty tips in the book are great. I hope Sarah keeps writing because I will keep reading!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2004

    Trying too hard to be Janet Evanovich

    I have to say I was a little disappointed in this book. I have read all of Janet Evanovich's books and I was looking for something else to read when I came across this at the book store. It has a cute gimmick with the beauty recipes and the main character being a hair dresser turned report/sleuth. However it is layed out exactly, and I mean exactly like a Janet Evanovich book. Crazy mom, nutty characters and a hot body boy friend that causes the same sexual tension. However it does not flow as well as Evanovich's books. It was very hard to get through. I am only a third of the way through the second one and I had to put it down and look for something else.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    light breezy amateur sleuth novel

    If one can get past Bubbles¿ bleached hair, heavy make up and tight clothes, it isn¿t hard to understand why the Lehigh, Pennsylvania hairdresser wants to be a reporter. A story is the furthest thing from Bubbles¿ mind when she arrives at the church to walk her best friend Janice Kramer down the aisle. When Janice fails to show up, Bubbles goes to her house where she finds her buddy¿s dead uncle but no bride. <P>Learning that Janice was brought up Amish, Bubbles heads for her hometown of Wheelie in Pennsylvania¿s Lancaster County to find her friend and clear her name. She goes undercover dressing Amish and living with an Amish family and gets involved in a different investigation, one that could get her killed if she¿s not careful. <P>BUBBLES IN TROUBLE is a light breezy amateur sleuth novel that doesn¿t take it self very seriously but is none the less a very entertaining mystery. The protagonist is totally refreshing as she stays true to herself while trying to better herself. Reading a Bubbles Yablonsky novel is like watching an episode of I love Lucy. <P>Harriet Klausner

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    Posted December 18, 2008

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    Posted June 20, 2009

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    Posted November 28, 2008

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    Posted December 3, 2009

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