To Love and To Perish

To Love and To Perish

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by Laura Durham

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Everyone knows that planning a wedding can be murder, but when top D.C. wedding planner Annabelle Archer finds an old nemesis hanging by a bridal veil in a hotel ballroom, she's shocked to discover that wedding planners can be murdered as well! Carolyn McCrabe was D.C.'s grande dame of wedding planning and made more than a few enemies in her day, but because many


Everyone knows that planning a wedding can be murder, but when top D.C. wedding planner Annabelle Archer finds an old nemesis hanging by a bridal veil in a hotel ballroom, she's shocked to discover that wedding planners can be murdered as well! Carolyn McCrabe was D.C.'s grande dame of wedding planning and made more than a few enemies in her day, but because many of the hotel staff saw Carolyn and Annabelle arguing only minutes before the aging diva's demise, Annabelle is immediately pegged as the prime suspect. Determined to shake the suspicion from their beloved colleague and friend, Annabelle's flirtatious assistant Kate, flamboyant caterer Richard, and the always–fabulous hairdresser Fern team up to investigate other suspects. But when another wedding planner is found murdered––strangled by a curling iron cord at an industry party––Annabelle realizes that she might not only be a suspect, but a crazed killer's next victim as well.

Editorial Reviews

Romantic Times BOOKclub
“Intriguing and downright delightful, Durham’s latest will have you in stitches...”
Romantic TimesBOOKclub
"Intriguing and downright delightful, Durham’s latest will have you in stitches..."

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Annabelle Archer Mysteries , #3
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To Love and To Perish

An Annabelle Archer Mystery
By Laura Durham

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Laura Durham
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060739089

Chapter One

"When you say that there's a bonfire in the ballroom, what do you mean exactly?" I asked my best friend, Richard Gerard. Even though he owned what was arguably the best catering company in Washington, D.C., and had plenty of weddings of his own, Richard had agreed to help me with the huge Persian wedding I was planning at the Mayflower Hotel.

The prestigious Grace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine was covering the event for its spring issue, and thanks to Richard the word had spread around town faster than it took for his spray-on tan to set. He said that if I could pull off a wedding this elaborate, it would put my company, Wedding Belles, on the Who's Who list of wedding planners for good. Naturally he would be the caterer of choice for all my weddings once I hit the big time.

"You know very well that I'm not given to dramatics, Annabelle." Richard fanned himself with a lime green and hot pink striped silk handkerchief. "I meant exactly what I said. The father of the groom is building himself a bonfire in the middle of the room."

I motioned for Richard to lower his voice. We stood near the bank of brass elevators in the brightly decorated hotel lobby. A lighted green garland was draped from the balconies that overlooked the gilded lobby, and a Christmas tree decorated entirely with wide swaths of deep redsilk and burgundy organza stood across from us, next to the wooden concierge desk. The hotel seemed even busier than usual with holiday visitors, and people were beginning to stare at us. I hoped they weren't wedding guests.

"Just when I thought this day couldn't get much worse," I grumbled. "I already had a run-in with Carolyn Crabbe."

Richard's eyes widened. "The Grand Dame of wedding planning spoke to you?"

"If you consider warning me to stay out of her way a conversation. This must be Wedding Planner Central today because I also bumped into Gail Gordan and Byron Wolfe."

Richard glanced around him and winced. "I hate it when there are multiple weddings at the same site. That means multiple brides and wedding planners."

"Hello?" I said. "I'm a wedding planner, remember?"

"I don't mean you, darling. You're perfection. But Gail and Byron are too puffed up for my taste. You'd think they were the only planners in town doing high-end parties."

"Well, they were both perfectly nice to me. Maybe a bit stressed, but their bride was running late to the church so I understood completely. Carolyn was out and out mean."

"Did she threaten you with her pointer?"

"She really uses a pointer? I thought that was just a story people had made up to make her seem scarier."

Richard leaned in. "The last I heard, she was still using one of those expandable metal pointers to direct vendors at weddings."

I gulped. "No, she didn't threaten me with her pointer. Yet."

"I wouldn't worry about her. She's just jealous that your wedding is getting media attention and her wedding is in the smallest ballroom in the hotel." Richard gave a dismissive wave with his hands. "All the big wigs in the industry earned their chops being tormented by her. Trust me, darling. Being threatened by Carolyn Crabbe is a step in the right direction."

"That's one way to look at it." I rubbed my temples. "I'm still going to steer clear of her. Now how far along has our father of the groom gotten with his bonfire?"

Richard placed a hand on his hip. "I don't know. He's got wood in a pile. Do I look like I was a Boy Scout to you?"

"Not exactly," I admitted.

"I mean, really." He gave a quiet snicker. "Can you imagine me in a green polyester uniform?"

"I think the Girl Scouts wear green, not the Boy Scouts."

"Then do I look like I was a Girl Scout?" Richard held up a hand before I could speak. "Don't even think of answering that. All I know is that the man is hell-bent on starting a fire."

"I guess he isn't in favor of the marriage." I tucked a few loose strands of long auburn hair back into my wilted French twist. We'd been running around the hotel for the past six hours getting ready for the wedding, and I knew I looked as frazzled as I felt. I was glad that I'd worn one of my comfortable and practical black pantsuits with a shimmery silk top the color of cranberries. I didn't think I could bear wearing a dress and heels for this long.

Richard ran a hand through his dark, choppy hair. "Apparently he's paying tribute to his ancient Zoroastrian heritage. A sacred flame is one of their wedding traditions."

"Whatever happened to traditions like throwing rice?" I muttered, wondering why I couldn't have one wedding where someone didn't forget the marriage license, leave the wedding dress in a taxi, or set the ballroom on fire.

"They're throwing rice?" My assistant, Kate, stepped out of the elevator in front of us with her ten page wedding schedule in hand. Kate's blond bob had lost its usual bounce and her pink lipstick had worn off. Although she also wore black, her short black cocktail dress and cropped jacket could never be considered conservative. No matter how many hours we were on our feet, Kate dressed to show off her legs and her absurdly expensive high heels. I could bet money that she was the only wedding planner in town who worked in Jimmy Choos. "When did that get added to the schedule?"

"I'd like to see people throw rice again." Richard tapped his chin. "Kitsch is in, you know."

I rolled my eyes. "There's no rice."

Kate shoved her schedule in the pocket of her black jacket. "Good. If I have to make any more marks on my timeline, I won't be able to see the paper."


Excerpted from To Love and To Perish by Laura Durham Copyright © 2007 by Laura Durham. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Laura Durham has been named Washington, D.C.'s top wedding planner for the past three years by Washingtonian magazine, has been featured in numerous national wedding magazines, and is the author of a wedding planning guide. After graduating from Duke University and stumbling into wedding planning nearly ten years ago, she's lost count of the number of weddings she's planned. So far, though, no one has been murdered at any of them. She is the author of two previous mysteries featuring Annabelle Archer: Better Off Wed, which won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and For Better or Hearse.

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To Love and to Perish: An Annabelle Archer Mystery 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Rockport_rocker More than 1 year ago
Another entertaining read by Laura Durham. I skipped some books, so now I have to go back and find out about her new boyfriend Ian. A couple of seriously unloved wedding planners meet their demise just moments before Annabelle and Kate walk into the room. Annabelle feels that she is justified in investigating this one because she could be the next one one the killers list. As a matter of fact, she is almost proven right! The best part of the books is the interaction of the crazy cast of characters; they are so much fun to watch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another excellent mystery in the Annabelle Archer series
Guest More than 1 year ago
Annabelle Archer, DC wedding planner extraordinaire, and Richard, a caterer and friend, are checking out the last minute details in the ballroom before their bride is set to go down the aisle when they find Carolyn Crabbe, a hot-tempered wedding planner, strangled to death with a bridal veil in a hotel ballroom. Carolyn was well-known but not well-liked. She was the Queen of Mean. Annabelle was seen arguing with Carolyn not long before she was killed, so she become a prime suspect. Then when another wedding planner is killed, Annabelle fears she may be next. She decides she had better find the killer and fast. But can she do that before anyone else is killed, namely herself? Annabelle is so much fun! I wish she'd been my wedding planner. Except that murder seems to follow her around! Kate, Annabelle's assistant, and Richard are wonderful characters in this series as well. They all complement each other, too. Having a wedding planner for a protagonist really provides a lot of wonderful storylines. The author has done such a fabulous job at creating and plotting this series. I highly recommend this book and series.