The Damsel in This Dress

The Damsel in This Dress

by Marianne Stillings

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062105813
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/31/2011
Series: The Port Henry Trilogy , #3
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,028,979
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Marianne Stillings has loved stories with happy endings since she was three years old and her mother read her The Little Golden Book of The Ugly Duckling. Originally from California, these days she lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she’s the single mom of two fantastic daughters, and where she takes shelter from the rain by writing happy endings of her own.

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The Damsel in This Dress

Chapter One

September
Seattle, Washington

Hold on while I get out my thesaurus; this review is going to require more words than my paltry vocabulary contains. Ah, here we go: junk, dross, rubbish, detritus (oh, that's a good one), baloney, claptrap, drivel . . .

To continue would require more space than this column allows, so let me simply conclude by saying that Strike Three for Death, J. Soldier McKennitt's latest so-called crime drama, is a waste of time and money. The plot is ludicrous, the characters stereotypical, the writing amateurish. What less could you ask for? This is the third installment in the Crimes of the Northwest series and while each entry has defied common sense and literary style, Strike Three for Death is the worst to date . . . "There's more. Wanna hear it?"

Soldier McKennitt sprawled on his brother's tanstriped couch, his long legs crossed at the ankles. Pinching his eyes closed, he rhythmically thumped his skull against the wall behind him. With each bump, the watercolor hanging above his head bounced.

Finally letting his head rest against the white plaster, he opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. "I think I've suffered enough," he sighed. "Besides, something tells me it doesn't get any better."

Soldier sent his brother a pleading look. "What in the hell does this woman have against me, Taylor? Six weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, but this, this broad hates everything I write!"

Taylor McKennitt grinned as he handed Soldier the bottle of beer he'd just popped open. "Where have you been, sonny? 'Broad' is politically incorrect when referring to the female gender."

Taking a long swig of beer, Soldier swallowed, then offered, "Okay then, how about 'bitch'?"

"Bitch works. Have you ever met Ms. Whatsername?"

"Tremaine. Elizabeth Carlisle Tremaine, and no, I've never had the pleasure."

Taylor tossed the Sunday paper onto the coffee table. "You live in north Seattle. What are you doing subscribing to the Port Henry Ledger? It's way the hell up on the peninsula."

"I don't subscribe. The lovely Ms. Tremaine sends me an edition whenever she trashes one of my books.

She calls them reviews. I call them literary castration."

Taylor dropped down on the couch next to Soldier. Grabbing a note pad and colored pencils from his desk, he flipped to a clean page.

"Okay, Detective McKennitt. Let's do a little artist's rendering here. Describe this flower of womanhood to me."

Soldier sat back and relaxed, closing his eyes again. As he took another pull of beer, he formed a wicked smile on his lips.

"Okay. She has a long, thin face. Rather bony."

Taylor dutifully began sketching.

"She's really old, maybe sixty—"

"Hey, Mom's sixty."

"Okay, sixty-one. And she's got carrot-orange hair that sticks out all over like she shoved her finger in a light socket. Her eyes are evil and black and too close together, and she has only one eyebrow, sort of shaped like a big M across her heavily wrinkled forehead."

"That's good. What else?"

Soldier sucked on the bottle for a second. "Her nose is long and thin with a bulb on the end. Oh, and don't forget the wart," he said, gesturing toward the paper with his beer bottle.

"Does the wart have hair on it?"

"It wouldn't be wart-worthy if it didn't."

"Right. Hair on the wart." Taylor's pencil scratched the paper in broad strokes.

Soldier contemplated his nemesis once more. "She has a blunt chin and a thin, cruel mouth. All tight and puckered like she just licked the bottom of somebody's shoe." He grinned. "And she's never had sex."

Taylor arched a dark brow. "Not even when she was young and wartless?"

"Nah. I don't see Ms. Tremaine letting a man near her," Soldier said through a vicious grin. Swallowing another gulp of beer, he mumbled, "But I'll bet she owns stock in Eveready batteries, if you get my drift."

Leaning over the sketch pad, he examined what Taylor had created. Gesturing with his index finger, he said, "You've got her tah-tahs too big. They should be more like prunes."

Taylor smirked. "She's beginning to look like my ex-wife."

"I never saw your ex-wife's prunes."

"Well, God knows every other man in town did."

Turning once again to the dour effigy Taylor had created, Soldier tapped his finger on the paper. With the beer bottle poised at his lips, he said, "Chin needs to be more mannish. And don't forget the scar . . ."

Betsy Tremaine rubbed her chin. It felt odd, as though somebody were tickling it. She wished. The stanza of an old song ran through her head: Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody . . . Except it was Sunday, but that didn't really matter, not when you were alone every night of the week.

Twenty-eight years old, and the only male in her life was Piddle, her mother's five-hundred-year-old Chihuahua. Even now, the ancient creature lay hairless and trembling at her feet beneath the kitchen table. She was careful to move slowly around him, for the slightest noise would shatter his tenuous control and he'd live up to his name all over her floor.

Scooping the last bite of chocolate mint chip ice cream into her mouth, Betsy tossed the empty container in the trash and her spoon into the sink. Gently lifting Piddle from the floor, she rose and padded toward the living room.

The Damsel in This Dress. Copyright © by Marianne Stillings. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Damsel in This Dress 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow in the beginning but its well worth the $0.99 in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most entertaining books I've read in a long time. Read this one first, then read "Sighs Matter". The two work off each other, but would also work as stand-alones. The quick-witted banter between the characters kept me chuckling, and their vivid descriptions made them seem realistic and personable. Totally love Soldier, and his brother. My only complaint -and this may be because of the Nook format- is the lack of division between scenes. Even an extra space between paragraphs would have helped with that. Not a big enough issue to detract from the awesome book, but a little confusing at times. 5 stars, highly recommend.
BellarosaMI More than 1 year ago
Aboslutely loved the book! The story, the characters - all charming. Ms. Stillings combines romance, mystery and humor to make a pleasurable read. This was my first book by this author and I will be sure to make it through her entire booklist!
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Stringer More than 1 year ago
The story line was believable, and the characters familar. I was looking for something light with some humor and teeth, and I was not disappointed. The language was fresh and not terribly deep, but again...a summer read for a long train trip? I found myself chuckling in spots, and then biting my lower lip, and then blushing just a little. (Did that lady behind me lean forward to read over my shoulder?) Oh, yessss! This was my first read for this author, and I must say I'm going back for more!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This author's style of writing reminds me of Julie Garwood, back when she wrote her wonderful historicals. (Think contemporary 'Ransom')Very fun; great quick-witted banter between the characters; sizzling chemistry; good flow; page-turning plot; and a strong, hot, sexy leading man who falls head-over-heels at first glance ... Loved it, wish the next one was coming sooner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If this is Ms. Stilling debut, I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. I really enjoyed this book, a real page-turner. The main characters¿ dialogue is hilarious and fast paced. The back and forth banter between them drew me in and I couldn¿t put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in Washington State. Detective J. Soldier McKennett has become a best selling author while he is on desk duty, after the death of his partner. Everyone seems to love his novels except the Port Henry Newspaper Editor Betsy Tremaine. She continues on her previous path and rips his fourth novel to shreds in his reviews. He and his brother concoct what this reviewer must look like and have a good laugh. Betsy lives alone in the house she grew up with. She is currently dog sitting her mothers Chihuahua ¿Piddle¿. She was promoted to Editor 5 months ago after the previous editor disappeared. She writes the book reviews on the side. She is very self conspicuous about her looks as she is not a ¿stick woman¿ which seems to be what everyone is looking for today. Even her mother says that her hourglass figure is not desirable. Just before Betsy leaves for the Northwest Crime and Punishment Writer's Conference it is determined that she has a stalker, which Betsy is trying to convince herself is not really happening. Betsy and Soldier meet up at the conference after being immediately attracted to each other only to figure out their connection. Soldier fights his attraction to Betsy as he has vowed that he will not be like his late partner and leave someone behind if there is an accident. But, as he protects her from the stalker he figures this is not going to happen. As things heat up both with the stalker and with their love life watch the sparks fly. Betsy is not afraid to tell Soldier when he is being stupid or not living in reality. Case in point is when he is determined to get her life history for background with the stalking and asks her about ¿her first time¿ she determines that he is not being as impersonal as he thinks he is and makes up wild stories that have him seeing cross-eyed. I found this book fantastic and fun to read start to finish. I also admit I didn¿t figure out who the stalker was until just before it is revealed. I like heroines that have a lot of spunk and are not ¿jellyfish¿ when their hero is around. I also like hero¿s who can be taken down a notch and still come back giving as good as they get. This book has all of that. While there is a frightening stalking sub plot there are enough other character interactions that made me find this book almost lighthearted while dealing with a dark subject. I highly recommend this new author. My only issue is that her next book does not come out until next year.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Seattle, mystery author and currently desk cop J. Soldier McKennett is annoyed that Port Henry Editor Betsy Tremaine rips his latest novel in her review. At the Northwest Crime and Punishment Writer¿s Conference in which Soldier will provide a talk he sees a woman who he immediately wants, a feeling he is unaccustomed to having. Betsy sees a man staring at her who she thinks is sexy, but wonders if this is her stalker.............................. When they finally meet, both obviously recognize the identity of the other with a sigh of resignation. At the events, the duo tries to trump one another. That changes when Betsy¿s stalker raises the ante by refrigerating her mother¿s dog that is staying with her. Soldier returns to active duty to protect Betsy, vowing what happened to his late partner, which he blames himself for, will not happen to the woman he loves................................. The lead couple makes this a fun police procedural romance. Betsy is not afraid to criticize (change that to rip off the skin) of her beloved when it comes to his ¿Crimes of the Northwest¿ novels while Soldier wishes she would appreciate his tales but does not sweat it as long as she loves him. Though intriguing, the stalker subplot pales next to the romance between these two likable protagonists............................... Harriet Klausner