Death of a Bachelorette

Death of a Bachelorette

by Laura Levine

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496708472
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 05/29/2018
Series: A Jaine Austen Mystery Series , #15
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 69,063
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

LAURA LEVINE is a comedy writer whose television credits include The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne & Shirley, The Love Boat, The Jeffersons, Three’s Company, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Her work has been published in The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. She lives in Los Angeles, and is currently working on the next Jaine Austen mystery. Readers can reach her at Jaineausten@aol.com, or her website: www.JaineAustenMysteries.com. 

Read an Excerpt

Death of a Bachelorette

A Jaine Austen Mystery


By LAURA LEVINE

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Levine
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4967-0846-5


CHAPTER 1

It took about nine hours to fly from L.A. to Tahiti — nine of the most harrowing hours of my life.

All that training I'd done with Prozac, getting her used to her carrier, keeping her calm and relaxed, worked like a dream — until we actually boarded the plane.

After which she began yowling at the top of her lungs, a cry so piercing, so decibel-shattering in the narrow confines of our crowded coach cabin, even the cranky toddler across the aisle was giving me the stink eye — pissed, no doubt, that Prozac had robbed him of his title as the Most Aggravating Passenger on board.

The whole plane was buzzing with annoyance as Prozac's shrieks ricocheted around the cabin.

I even heard one of the flight attendants mumble to her partner as they rolled the drink cart down the aisle, "It's days like this I wish I'd kept my job at KFC. Those paper hats weren't so bad after all."

Prozac's nonstop wails were silenced only by a steady succession of kitty treats and, as it turned out, a good portion of my in-flight meal. Finally, when my eardrums could stand it no longer, I fell back on the pet owner's last resort in times of crisis: a healthy dose of valium.

And I'm happy to report it put me down for two hours.

When I woke, I discovered Prozac and her cat carrier were gone.

Oh, heavens. Had some furious passenger spirited her off to the lav and done away with her?

No, it turned out that the coach passengers had taken up a collection to move Prozac to first class, where I found her sprawled out on a plush leather seat, nibbling at a plate of caviar.

Desperate to shut her up, the flight attendants had taken her out of her carrier and given her what she'd wanted all along: a nice comfy chair all to herself, away from the plebes in coach.

At which point, she'd apparently switched to full-tilt Adorable Mode, cocking her head at a rakish angle, purring happily, and batting her baby greens.

At least that's how I found her when I came bursting through the curtain to first class.

"Prozac!" I cried. "I was worried sick. I thought someone had kidnapped you."

She looked up at me lazily.

Oh, hello there. Don't you belong in coach?

"I hope she hasn't been any trouble," I said to the aristocratic lady sitting next to her.

"No, no trouble at all," the grand dame replied, cheekbones sharp as Ginsu knives. "Bad behavior is never the fault of the cat. It's always the owner."

From her lap of luxury, Prozac gave an appreciative meow.

How true. How true.

Eventually, we began our descent to Tahiti, and Prozac was returned to coach and placed in her carrier, howling every minute of the way.

When we finally taxied up to the gate at around noon Tahiti time, Prozac and I were the first to leave the plane, escorted by the captain with a cordial warning to never again step foot in his aircraft.

After bidding him a hasty toodle-oo, I hurried off to the gate, where I was greeted by a burly islander with gold front teeth and muscles the size of rump roasts.

And, as promised by the producer of Some Day My Prince Will Come, I was whisked past customs and their animal quarantine department straight out to the tarmac and into a golf cart that zipped us over to a small airplane hangar.

At first, I thought we were at some sort of aeronautical graveyard where ancient aircraft came to die.

The plane standing before us in front of the hangar was old. Really old. Amelia Earhart and goggles old.

"Here you go, missy," my gold-toothed guide said, pointing to a rusty set of steps leading up to the decrepit plane.

Seeing the fear in my eyes, my rump-roast guide assured me, "Plane very safe, missy. Made by Boeing Corporation."

No doubt in their Popsicle stick division.

Taking a deep breath, I climbed on board to meet the pilot, a doddering fellow with a matchstick dangling from his lips and a disconcertingly rheumy look in his eyes.

It was a half-hour trip to our destination, Paratito Island, and once again there was nonstop howling. This time from me.

Never had I experienced a more bumpy flight.

Honestly, I felt like I was in the spin cycle of my washer.

But at last we landed, and I climbed down the rickety steps, thrilled to have survived the flight.

The first thing that greeted me when I stepped on terra firma was a blast of furnace-hot humid air. I'd gone from the spin cycle straight to the dryer.

Already I could feel my hair frizzing like an overfertil-ized Chia Pet.

Looking around, all I could see was a small shack, a few dusty palms, and floating clouds of gnats. Then suddenly a lanky, twentysomething guy came charging out of the shack, whooshing past me onto the steps of the plane, a feverish look in his eyes.

He stopped halfway up and turned to me.

"So you're the patsy they roped into the job," he said, staring at me with unabashed pity.

"Patsy?"

"You're the new writer, right?"

"Guilty as charged," I nodded.

"They hired you to take my place. The show's already chewed up three writers. If you know what's good for you, you'll get back on this plane and get the heck out of here."

Of course, if I knew then what I know now, I would've hustled up those steps ipso pronto.

But at the time I thought he was just a Negative Nelly. Surely the job couldn't be that bad. He was probably one of those writers with a giant ego, who got all hot and bothered if a single syllable of his lines was rewritten.

No way was I about to pass up a TV writer's salary.

And besides, I simply couldn't face another nine-hour plane trip with Prozac.

"Thanks, but I think I'll stay."

"Then take this," he said, tossing me a can of bug spray. "You're going to need it."

With that, he hustled off into the plane.

Minutes later, the plane took off with a sputtering roar, leaving me alone on the tarmac with my suitcase and Prozac, who, exhausted from her in-flight wailathon, was at last asleep in her carrier.

My gold-toothed guide in Tahiti had told me someone would be picking me up at the airport, but so far, my only greeters had been these damn gnats. I was beginning to feel a bit like Cary Grant stranded in the cornfields in North by Northwest, when suddenly a Jeep came roaring onto the tarmac.

And things brightened considerably when I checked out the guy behind the wheel — a handsome native dude with rippling muscles, jet black hair, and amazing brown eyes.

"Jaine Austen?" he asked, hopping down from the Jeep in shorts and tank top, exposing thighs to die for. "I'm Tai, your driver."

He flashed me a megawatt smile, almost blinding me in the process.

"So nice to meet you," I managed to sputter, sucking drool back into my mouth.

"Let me get your things," he said, hoisting my suitcase onto the backseat of the Jeep.

"And who's this?" he asked, gazing at Prozac, still snoring and barely visible behind the mesh in her carrier.

"It's my cat. She's exhausted after the flight."

"Poor little thing," he tsked.

Save your pity for me, I felt like saying, but instead offered up what I hoped was an incandescent smile.

"Well, hop in," he said, opening the passenger door of the Jeep for me.

Oh, lord. Is there anything more awkward, more tush-exposing, than climbing into the front seat of a Jeep? Honestly, I bet pole dancers show less tush in their routines.

I only hoped my fanny didn't look too ginormous as I climbed on board.

Tai handed me Prozac in her carrier, then hopped in beside me and took off.

"How interesting that you have a cat," he said as Prozac's snores filled the air. "Cats have played a large part in my tribe's cultural mythology."

"Is that so?" I said, eyeing his thighs and hoping my hair hadn't mushroomed into too much of a frizzfest.

"You must be a noble person to keep such a treasured animal in your life."

"Kinda sorta," I said.

After what I'd just been through on that plane, I was ready to nominate myself for sainthood.

"Anyhow, welcome to Paratito Island," Tai grinned. "Did you know that Paratito is Tahitian for 'paradise'?"

And indeed, as the roads wound away from the airport, the scenery had become lush and verdant, with swaying palms and bushes laden with a riot of brightly colored blossoms.

"Yes," I said, sneaking a peek at the muscles popping out from under Tai's tank top. "It sure looks like paradise to me."


* * *

We rode along for a while, me admiring the view, sometimes even the one out the window.

"So do you work on Some Day My Prince Will Come?" I asked.

"Part-time," Tai replied. "I drop off and pick up things from the airport. Mainly I'm in charge of picking up Manny's pastrami."

"Manny's pastrami?"

"Manny Kaminsky. The show's executive producer. He has pastrami flown in fresh from New York every week."

"Wow, that must cost a fortune."

"Manny can afford it. Wait'll you see his mansion where the show's being shot. What a palace. We're almost there now."

He turned off onto a pitted dirt road and began an ascent through dense brush dotted with run-down wooden cottages. I didn't know what Tai's idea of a mansion was, but these sure weren't it.

Then at the crest of the road, the mansion appeared — a sprawling extravaganza studded with Moorish archways, room-sized balconies, and a wide verandah — all set on a sea of velvet green grass.

Tai drove up a circular driveway to the mansion's front entrance and then hopped out from the Jeep, retrieving my suitcase from the backseat.

"Well, it's been fun talking," he said, flashing me another toe-tingling grin. "Hope I'll see you around."

With my usual cool and collected sangfroid, I shrieked, "Heck, yes! Me, too!"

Then Tai hopped back in the Jeep, muscles rippling, and tore off down the driveway.

And I couldn't help thinking about that foolish writer urging me to go back to the States. What a ridiculous idea. If Tai was any indication of the working conditions here on Paratito Island, I was clearly in for the job of my dreams.

I was standing there watching a butterfly flit from one hibiscus blossom to another, dreaming of moonlit kisses with my colorful native driver, when I heard:

"You must be Jaine. Thank goodness you arrived in one piece!"

I turned to see a wiry slip of a thing, her brown hair swept up in a ponytail, black-framed glasses slipping down the bridge of nose, her forehead obscured by a carpet of shaggy bangs.

"I'm always afraid that codger of a pilot is going to crash the plane smack into the Pacific!"

Clad in jeans and a T-shirt, she carried a clipboard clutched to her flat chest.

"I'm Polly Reilly," she said with a welcoming grin. "The show's production assistant/slave laborer. Come on in."

I followed her onto the mansion's verandah and past a massive front door into an open foyer with a view clear through to the other end of the house. Beyond the foyer was a spectacular living room furnished with designer sofas, island-themed knickknacks, and what looked like a couple of genuine Gauguins on the wall.

Sliding glass doors at the far end of the living room revealed a patio, pool, and another vast green carpet of grass beyond. I stood there, gaping at the wonderfulness of it all.

"It's quite a place, isn't it?" said Polly. "What God would build if He owned a hedge fund."

No doubt sensing she had arrived at deluxe accommodations, Prozac began meowing in her carrier, demanding to be set free.

"This must be your cat," Polly said. "Manny told me you'd be bringing her. Let's get her out of that icky-smelling carrier."

So much for the Triple Strength Odor Eater potty liners I'd spent a fortune on.

"Aren't you the cutest thing ever?" Polly said, taking my pampered princess from her carrier.

Prozac purred in ecstasy.

I like to think so.

"C'mon," Polly said, handing Prozac to me and grabbing my suitcase. "Let me take you to your room."

With that, she led me to a grand staircase at the far end of the foyer.

"It's so sweet of you to carry my suitcase," I said. "You sure you don't mind?"

"Not a problem, hon. You must be exhausted from your flight."

"Yes, it was a bit trying," I said, glaring down at Prozac.

Who just glared right back up at me.

I'll say. I can't take her anywhere.

"There are only three bachelorettes left on the show," Polly said as we started up the stairs. "All the others have been eliminated. You should have seen those gals go at each other. It was like World War III with push-up bras."

Following Polly, I came puffing up to the second floor, which seemed to stretch out as long as a hotel corridor, lined with rooms on each side and huge double doors at each end.

"That's Manny's suite," Polly said, pointing to the doors at the far end of the corridor. "And this suite," she said, pointing to the double doors near us, belongs to the prince of Some Day My Prince Will Come. Who, by the way, isn't really a prince. Spencer Dalworth VII is an earl from some county deep in the backwoods of Great Britain. But he's eighty-seventh in line to inherit the throne, so I guess you could say he's a prince-in-waiting.

"The rest of the bedrooms belong to the bitchlorettes. I mean, bachelorettes. Now that the others have gone, they each have a room to themselves. As long as we're here, you may as well meet them.

"Here's Brianna's room," she said, turning into the first room along the corridor, a large bedroom with four single beds, bare mattresses on three of them. Only one of them was made up, and a statuesque redhead in a tank top and leggings sat on it, polishing her toenails. A tall drink of estrogen, with volleyball boobs and legs that went on forever, the woman was a Playboy centerfold come to life.

A delicate blonde with her hair pulled back in a demure headband sat next to the redhead on the bed, an open yearbook between them. The blonde wore shorts and a halter top. Not a speck of fat visible on her. Or cellulite. Heck, I was having a hard time even finding a mole.

I couldn't help hating them both just a tad.

"Hey, girls!" Polly said. "Say hello to Jaine Austen, the new writer. Jaine, this is Brianna Scott."

The redhead looked up from her toenails and lobbed me a weak smile.

"And I'm Hope Harper!" the blonde chirped. "Great to have you on board! Oh, look!" she said, catching sight of Prozac. "A kitty! Isn't she adorable!"

Her little pink ears always on the alert for praise, Prozac preened in my arms.

So I've been told.

"I was just showing Brianna my yearbook," Hope babbled on. "I was voted class president, treasurer, and the girl most likely to succeed!"

She whipped her yearbook off the bed and proudly showed me her "Girl Most Likely to Succeed" photo. It was a younger version of her current self, but the eager smile and determined thrust of her pointy chin was still the same.

"Very impressive," I said.

Brianna stifled a yawn.

"Well, I'd better show Jaine to her room," Polly broke in, cutting short our trip down high school memory lane.

"I hope you brought plenty of bug spray" were Brianna's parting words to me as we started for the door.

How odd. First the fleeing writer. Now Brianna. Why were they warning me about bugs? It was delightfully air-conditioned here in the mansion, not a bug in sight.

But before I got a chance to ask exactly why I'd need bug spray, all hell broke loose.

A stunning brunette with lush chestnut hair cascading down her back came storming into the room, oozing fury from every pore.

"Which one of you bitches stole my hair extensions?" she shrieked in a heavy Texan drawl.

Why on earth this woman with a head full of shampoo-commercial hair would need hair extensions was beyond me. But apparently she needed them, and felt their absence strongly.

"Jaine," Polly broke in, eager to staunch any possible flow of blood, "meet Dallas, our third remaining bachelorette."

The brunette took a break to flash me a smile almost as dazzling as Tai's, after which she returned to her tirade.

"So who's got my hair?" she demanded of her fellow contestants.

"I have no idea what happened to your stupid extensions," Brianna said, sploshing polish on her big toe.

Dallas whirled on Hope.

"I bet it was you, you calculating little twerp. You'd do anything to lure Spencer away from me. But it won't work," she added with a confident grin. "He already told me I'm the one he wants to marry."

A tremor of shock flitted across Hope's face.

"He did?" she asked.

"He did!" Dallas crowed in triumph. "And stealing my hair extensions isn't going to get him to change his mind. I'm beautiful with or without them."

Indeed she was.

"But I'm warning you guys. When I find out who took them, there'll be hell to pay."

Then she turned on her heel and marched out the door, her glossy hair bouncing with every angry stomp of her feet.

"And this," Polly whispered, "is one of the good days."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Death of a Bachelorette by LAURA LEVINE. Copyright © 2017 Laura Levine. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.

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Death of a Bachelorette 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jaine Austin series is great jaine is hired as TV script writer in tonga. Good mystery with lots of humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another funny, entertaining read!
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
It’s No Bachelor or Bachelorette in Paradise, Especially for the Murder Victim As I often say, I read for fun. Yes, some of the books I read and enjoy are more serious and I learn something. But for pure smiles and laughs per page it is hard to top Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen series. Death of a Bachelorette is the fifteenth in the series, and it is as much of a pure delight as the earlier books. Jaine thinks her fortunes have finally changed when she gets hired to be the writer for reality TV show Some Day My Prince Will Come. Think The Bachelor, but with a very minor British royal as the bachelor. She and her cat are both being flown down to an island near Tahiti for the job, and all Jaine has to do is write some suggested dialogue for the bachelor and contestants and enjoy the setting. If you are at all familiar with the series, you know immediately that things don’t go the way Jaine expects them to. Spencer, the bachelor, is dumb as a rock (actually, I think I just insulted rocks) and can’t remember more than a few stock phrases. The location is a nightmare, and Jaine’s cat makes trouble for her. And that doesn’t count the contestants who are at each other’s throats on and off camera. By the time Jaine arrives, the show is nearing its climax, and the tension between the women left is huge. So, when one of them winds up dead, the list of suspects is long. Since no one can leave the island until the killer is found, Jaine starts talking to the cast and crew, hoping to find the killer. Can she do it? I haven’t even touched on the sub-plots. We still get the latest antics from Jaine’s parents in their retirement community in Florida. Jaine’s neighbor Lance also gets into the e-mail act this time around since he can’t pop into the book in person. All of these sub-plots add a lot of humor to the book. Not that the book needs more humor. Jaine and Prozac are a riot on their own. The lines Jaine figures Prozac must be thinking are hilarious, and Jaine finds herself in some pretty funny predicaments. The suspects are funny in their own right, so if I wasn’t laughing I was smiling. And that’s why I love this series; it’s just so much fun. As I’ve often said, the characters in this series are drawn more for their humor potential than to be completely realistic. Think sitcom character rather than drama show character. However, for this series it works perfectly. The murder happens later than I would normally enjoy, but that time is used to start the sub-plots and set up suspects and motivation. With all the humor, I was never bored. Don’t let my talk of humor make you think we don’t get a good mystery. I actually had no idea who the killer was until the end of the book. Along the way, we get a number of solid suspects with secrets and motives of their own. These books are fast reads and are over all too soon. Death of a Bachelorette will delight Jaine’s fans. And if you haven’t started this series yet, don’t wait any longer.
LisaKsBooksReviews More than 1 year ago
While DEATH OF A BACHELORETTE wasn’t my favorite book in this series, I have no doubt diehard fans of author Laura Levine are going to love it. My favorite part of the entire Jaine Austen Mystery series, is Jaine’s cat, Prozac. And, the airplane scene in this book involving Prozac had me cracking up. Since I’m not a fan at all of shows like The Bachelorette, scenes dealing with the show Jaine was to write for didn’t really grab me. And, I didn’t find many likeable characters at all in this story. Two big, huge saving graces of DEATH OF A BACHELORETTE for me both focus around author Lavine’s writing style. 1) As with her other books, this one had a nice flow to it making it easy to go from scene to scene and chapter to chapter. 2) Lavine has an amazing sense of humor that can result in some very LOL moments. If you’re a fan of this series, you’ll want to get a copy of DEATH OF A BACHELORETTE. If you’re new to the series, I would suggest starting at the beginning with book one, THIS PEN FOR HIRE.
CozyMysteryLover1 More than 1 year ago
Jaine Austin is without a doubt my favorite character. She isn't even a character, but a real person, who unfortunately has a knack for finding dead bodies. Her sarcastic diva cat, Prozac, makes this witty story even better. One of these days Jaine is going to make it big! Someone is going to recognize her talent and make her the superstar she was born to be, it just won't happen in this book. Jaine is off on an adventure, writing the dialogue for an up and coming new reality show. As Jaine and Prozac head to the tropics, Jaine dreams of the endless possibilities this job offers her. When jealousy rears its ugly head, Jaine finds herself in the middle of a love triangle and will soon be investigating another murder. Jaine isn't the only one having an adventure, her parents are too, and as we all know, Hank Austin always makes a smashing appearance. Lance is still searching for love and Jaine's car becomes an innocent victim in his latest love escapade. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.
CozyMysteryLover1 More than 1 year ago
Jaine Austin is without a doubt my favorite character. She isn't even a character, but a real person, who unfortunately has a knack for finding dead bodies. Her sarcastic diva cat, Prozac, makes this witty story even better. One of these days Jaine is going to make it big! Someone is going to recognize her talent and make her the superstar she was born to be, it just won't happen in this book. Jaine is off on an adventure, writing the dialogue for an up and coming new reality show. As Jaine and Prozac head to the tropics, Jaine dreams of the endless possibilities this job offers her. When jealousy rears its ugly head, Jaine finds herself in the middle of a love triangle and will soon be investigating another murder. Jaine isn't the only one having an adventure, her parents are too, and as we all know, Hank Austin always makes a smashing appearance. Lance is still searching for love and Jaine's car becomes an innocent victim in his latest love escapade. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.