"Had me in its spell from page one. Readers will love this." Leslie Meier
All appears peaceful in sleepy Port Quincy, Pennsylvaniabut in this small town, old grudges die hard. . .
After dumping her cheating fiancé and cancelling the wedding, Mallory Shepard can't bear another disaster. So when the former bride-to-be unexpectedly inherits Thistle Park, a ramshackle mansion in her ex's hometown of Port Quincy, it's a problem she can't affordliterally. Abound with stray cats, peeling wallpaper, and nosy neighbors, Mallory is dying to sell it offonce she finally fixes up both the place and her messy life. . .
Turns out, Thistle Park has its charms. But the honeymoon phase is abruptly cut short when an unwanted visitor is found dead on the front lawn. Enlisting the help of her sister Rachel, Mallory vows to unveil the killer before she herself becomes married to the suspect list. . .
"I had great fun reading the adventures of nouveau sleuth Mallory Shepard as she wrangles corpses, kittens, and a cheating fiancé in this charming debut mystery." Laura Levine, author of Death by Tiara
About the Author
A native Pittsburgher, Stephanie Blackmoore now lives in Missouri, with her husband, son and two spirited cats. She was an attorney in Pittsburgh and a librarian in Florida before becoming a writer. Stephanie is a fan of snow, pierogis, and everything black-and-yellow. She is hard at work on her next Wedding Planner mystery.
Read an Excerpt
Engaged in Death
By Stephanie Blackmoore
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Stephanie Hayes
All rights reserved.
"I'm going to kill your mother," I whispered, meaning every word.
My fiancé, Keith, offered me an indulgent smile. His mother, Helene, had hijacked us again. I was ready to call off the whole damn wedding.
"You and me both, Mallory."
We were getting married in three short weeks. Keith, his mother, and I were at the country club where we were going to hold the reception, in the sleepy town of Port Quincy, Pennsylvania. I munched on fusty shrimp cocktail. The grandeur was decaying. We were going over the final details before the big day, and Helene, my soon-to-be-mother-in-law, was taking over, as usual. She'd spent the afternoon ordering people around and unraveling all of my work in the final hour.
I liked to plan things out. Some would say I had an unhealthy fascination with structure and order, arranging my life just so. In my twenty-nine years, I'd managed to plan my life with great precision. That was, until I ran into Hurricane Helene.
"This beef is too rare. Look at the blood when I cut into it. And this soup has too much sherry." Helene tossed her spoon onto her plate with a clatter. She glared at the small sample of food as if it were laced with poison. "I doubt you'll be able to fix this abomination of a meal before the wedding."
"I'm sorry, ma'am." The server whisked away the offending dishes. "I'll let the chef know."
Helene was dressed impeccably, as always, in one of her exquisite Chanel jackets. Pearls gleamed in her ears and diamond tennis bracelets sparkled on her bony wrists. Helene favored these and other signs of 1980s splendor: primary-color power suits, shoulder pads, and her signature gray Dutch boy haircut, always perfectly sprayed into place.
"Are you okay?" Keith rubbed my back. "You haven't eaten anything."
I touched his arm. "It's nerves, I guess. I'll definitely have some cake."
Just then, the manager of the country club rolled the cake into the ballroom. A bead of sweat ran down his nose and dropped onto the carpet. He glanced at Helene and quickened his pace. He set the cake before us, a perfect replica of the real thing, in three-tiered miniature. Pink sugar crystals glittered on a background of pale green marzipan.
"Everything will be ready. This will be a lovely wedding." He offered Helene a worried smile.
She sniffed in response as he cut small slivers of cake and positioned them on little china plates. "Just make sure my corrections are duly noted."
What Helene wanted, Helene got. Too bad I was the one paying for the wedding.
"Of course." The manager fled. He cast a massive eye roll Helene's way. After an hour of this, I'd barely been able to suppress them myself.
"This looks incredible." My voice held a falsely cheery note, trying to smooth things over and make everything copacetic.
I tucked into the small slice of cake, which looked delicious. Never mind that Keith and I had picked devil's food with raspberry filling and Helene had nixed our choice.
"Wedding cake is white," she'd decreed. She immediately changed our cake to lemon chiffon with buttercream filling. After fighting with her over every detail, I was willing to concede.
"You did a great job with all of this." Keith gave my hand a squeeze. "You should be a wedding planner."
"Thanks." I returned his smile.
The truth was, though I loved to execute a plan, I was annoyed I'd carried out Helene's version of a perfect wedding. I'd actually had fun when I'd forgotten it was supposed to be my own wedding. I'd relished meeting with vendors and getting every detail just right. More than once over the past year of planning I'd fantasized about becoming a wedding planner, especially when things got hairy at my law firm. The only problem was, I felt like Helene's planner, not the bride. But that wasn't what mattered. What matters is I'm marrying the love of my life in just a few weeks.
"This cake is too dry. It crumbled to bits and pieces the instant I touched it with my fork." Helene got up to find the manager when he wasn't instantly at her beck and call.
"What happened?" I gestured around the empty ballroom with a helpless wave of my hand. "We wanted to get married at the courthouse, with a small reception on Mount Washington, overlooking the city. Or take up my mom and stepdad's offer and get married at their house in Florida. How did we end up here?"
"We can still elope." Keith's eyes twinkled.
Before I could ask if he was serious, his cell phone began to vibrate, dancing sideways across the white tablecloth. I glanced at the screen. Becca Cunningham, a first-year associate he worked with.
"Gotta take this. It's for the Emerson case." Keith stood and dropped a kiss on top of my head. He walked out to the country club's deck, overlooking the swollen Monongahela River, leaving me at the mercy of his mother.
I frowned. Keith and I were attorneys at different firms. I'd met all of the young attorneys he mentored, and I didn't trust Becca Cunningham. She was gushy and obsequious and had failed the bar twice. Ever since Keith made partner this past spring, she'd latched on to him and his cases. I suspected she'd made herself indispensable to avoid getting fired if she didn't pass the bar this summer on her final attempt.
I glanced out to the deck, where Keith was talking on the phone, animated and pacing in the July sunshine. A shadow passed behind me as Helene returned to the table.
"Watch your weight, dear. We wouldn't want you to stumble in the home stretch and undo all of your hard work. You need to fit into that dress." Helene snapped me back to reality. She didn't mean the "dear" part. Her eyes were all ice and daggers.
I had gotten out of shape from working long hours at the firm and dining out. I'd recently slimmed back down to the size I'd been in college, thanks to all of the early-morning runs I'd been squeezing in these past three months. Still, I couldn't get rid of my stubborn little belly, a vestige of cortisol and stress and all-nighters at the firm, fueled by takeout and lattes.
My reply stuck in my dry throat, so I washed down the last bite of cake with a swig of champagne. "Don't worry, Helene. The dress will fit just fine." I seethed, but I was determined to be civil. This is almost over.Three weeks, three weeks, three weeks.
Helene's flinty eyes skipped over my now-empty plate to my stomach. She reached down and pinched my side through my thin cotton dress.
"Ouch!" I tilted back, hooking my chair's legs on the faded green and pink rose carpet, barely catching myself as I started to fall backward.
Helene threw up her bejeweled hands. "Just be careful. You need to look perfect, and I can tell you don't have an inch to spare."
Keith chose that moment to walk back in. His face fell. "Everything okay?"
"I was just complimenting Mallory on her discipline with her figure. She'll be a magnificent bride."
I didn't say anything but gave Keith the "let's get the hell out of here" stare. We wrapped things up and Helene moved in for her obligatory air kiss. She stalked out of the ballroom, leaving her trademark trail of Calèche in her wake. The aldehydic shards of her perfume seemed to hang in the air and pursue me after she'd gone, like an angry pack of hornets. I slumped back into my chair, air whooshing out of my lungs. I could feel the waiters at the country club relax.
"I really am going to kill her before the wedding. I'm sure of it."
"I apologize, Mall. She's out of control. But in a few weeks, we'll finally be married." We had left the country club and were safely in Keith's car. He leaned over the center console and squeezed my knee.
"I know. And that's what's important. She just commandeers everything."
Keith frowned and turned east, instead of toward the highway.
I took a deep breath. "I want to have a good relationship with your mother, and I'm trying. It's just ... where are you going? This isn't the way to the nursing home. I thought we were going to visit Sylvia."
We were barely out of the confines of Port Quincy, heading in the opposite direction of the nursing home where Keith's grandma Sylvia lived, situated halfway between Port Quincy and Pittsburgh. No matter how crazy my schedule was, I stopped in to see Sylvia every other Sunday. I brought her a National Enquirer and little pastries from her favorite bakery. We ate and drank tea from an elaborate antique set from the grand old house she'd given up and gossiped about the reality TV show she was so fond of. Sylvia moved around her suite with surprising agility, dragging her oxygen tank behind her. She showed me articles she'd cut out of the newspaper and called people in from the hallway to chat with us.
Once in a while, I convinced Keith to join me. Sylvia claimed Helene had placed her in the Whispering Brook nursing home against her will and I was the only one who ever visited. I wasn't entirely convinced about her first claim, but I really was the only one who stopped in other than Helene's grudging biannual Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve visits and the few Sundays Keith accompanied me.
"You'll see where I'm going. It's a surprise." Keith had a mischievous smile. "We can see Sylvia next weekend."
My visit with Sylvia was off the table. I frowned and settled back into the buttery leather seat of his BMW. Sylvia was my only family left in western Pennsylvania, now that my mother, stepfather and sister moved to Pensacola three years ago. Sylvia wasn't technically my family yet, but she treated me like her own granddaughter. And unlike Helene, she was genuinely excited to have me join the family. There was no love lost between Sylvia and Helene. Since Sylvia was ninety-nine, she felt entitled to speak her mind. I tamped down a smile, remembering how Sylvia had gone on a diatribe about Helene just two weeks ago. Sylvia was pretty hard of hearing, so her criticisms had echoed down the halls of the nursing home. It was Sylvia who had told me I should trust my instincts and elope if I needed to call off this crazy wedding whirlwind.
"Just thinking about Sylvia and how she's such a ... piston. You never know what she's going to say."
"She loves you, Mallory. And I do too."
I rolled down the window and breathed in the fresh summer air. We made several turns and ended up far into the countryside, passing a rabbit warren of new housing developments cut into the hillsides, all with counterfeit names casting for a British air: Carrington Manor, Chichester Glen, Manchester Heights, though there was neither a manor nor glen in sight.
We turned into Windsor Meadows, which featured the biggest homes under construction of all the housing tracts. The development was about half finished, and we wended our way up a sharply sloping hill, past large new salmon and taupe-colored brick behemoths rising out of the mud, all sleek gables, peaks, and triangles. All vaguely alike. They sat close together on narrow lots, and new grass struggled to grow in front of them. Keith navigated a dead-end street and parked with a flourish in front of an empty lot, muddy and bare.
"Voilà!" He exited the BMW and rushed around to open my door.
"What is this?" Panic rose in my voice. "Why are we here?" This wasn't part of the plan. I fingered my watch and wondered if I should have called Sylvia to let her know we wouldn't be visiting today.
Keith's smile, which was threatening to crack his face, broke into pieces. "My mother feels bad about the friction between the two of you. She wanted to do something nice, so she purchased this lot as our wedding gift. We can build to suit as soon as we choose which house we want." The grin came back, triumphant.
"But ..." I leaned against the car door, woozy and shocked. "We talked about this. I thought you wanted to stay in the city, close to work and close to our friends. We're more than an hour from Pittsburgh out here." I gestured around me, trailing off into silence. I didn't add, out here, right under Helene's surgically enhanced nose.
"I know what we talked about, but we'll be married, so we need to think of our future. We'll need a safer place for our future kids. I had such a great childhood in Port Quincy, away from all the craziness of the city." He frowned. "We thought you'd be happy with this."
"We? Which we are you talking about?" I couldn't keep my voice from shaking. "You and Helene? I would never choose this. I see this as a way for Helene to keep tabs on us, to control us and to turn us into Mr. and Mrs. Cul-de-sac."
Keith took a step back, crossing his arms. "What's wrong with being Mr. and Mrs. Cul-de-sac?"
I didn't reply.
"Wow. I guess I'm really off base. With your mom in Florida" — he pinched the furrow between his brows — "my mother can help out with the children once we have them. We have to be realistic."
I stared at him in shock. My mouth opened and shut like a beached fish gasping for breath. Living in a McMansion on the outskirts of Port Quincy was the last place on earth I wanted to be. If we were stuck in Helene's backyard, she could monitor us or, worse, direct our lives. I'd suffocate under the pressure. This wasn't part of the carefully calibrated plan for our future I'd envisioned. I felt ambushed.
"What about the commute?" I tried to keep my fury in check. I'd convince Keith with logic, if not emotion. "What about the fact you love living in the city? That I love it?" Despite growing up in the suburbs, I was a city girl now. I gazed beyond the edge of the housing development, where undulating green hills were dotted with black and white cows and brown horses. I couldn't imagine leaving our bustling city neighborhood for a pastoral retreat located ten miles past the boundary of a sane commute into town. "What about consulting me on major decisions?"
Keith began to sweat profusely and ran a hand through his thinning hair. "Do you honestly think you'll continue to work after we have children? Maybe at first, but c'mon, Mallory, are you really partner material? Do you even like practicing law? You could do something else. Something less stressful. Something you really want to do, when you figure that out. And you can do that from Port Quincy. I wasn't kidding about becoming a wedding planner."
The world began to spin. It was too hot, too humid, and too muggy. It was all too much. I closed my eyes against a wave of vertigo and slid down the car door, kneeling unceremoniously in the dust-covered road.
The ride back to the city was tense. We rode in silence until we reached our apartment building.
"My mother can sell the lot in no time if you're going to insist on being unhappy about her wedding gift. But let's not be hasty. You might realize it's a great idea and come around."
"I'm not going to 'come around' to this idea, Keith. I'm upset you'd make a big decision without even mentioning it. We're getting married in a few weeks, but sometimes it's like I don't even know you anymore."
We stopped at the mailbox in the lobby, and Keith extracted our mail, averting his eyes. "It's just pre-wedding jitters. Everything will be fine. I made a mistake. No, my mother made a mistake. You don't want to live out in Port Quincy. I get it. It was a bad gesture."
He handed me my portion of the mail, which contained the usual bills and advertisements and a large brown padded envelope. He reddened as he separated his mail, shoving a glossy brochure for Windsor Meadows behind a letter. We began the torturously slow ascent to our apartment in the old brass elevator.
I sat at the dining room table and put my head in my hands, rubbing my temples to ease out the headache that had been building since we left Windsor Meadows. Keith rubbed my shoulders and, after initially tensing up, I felt the stress and misgivings begin to melt away.
"I love you. I want nothing more than for you to be my wife. We'll figure out where to live together. Everything will fall into place." He nuzzled my neck, making me laugh.
"It was a big shock. I thought it was a practical joke."
"Let me make you some tea." He looked at me with tenderness and concern as he padded into the kitchen.
Excerpted from Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore. Copyright © 2016 Stephanie Hayes. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A few weeks before her wedding, Mallory Shepard receives an envelope of pictures proving her fiancé, Keith, has been unfaithful. Cancelling the wedding, she goes into temporary seclusion when she receives word of the death of his grandmother, Sylvia, a favorite of hers. To her surprise and the shock of Keith and his meddlesome mother, Sylvia has left her mansion to Mallory. When Mallory and her sister move in, they are dismayed at the poor condition of it and while they may dream of turning it into a fashionable bed and breakfast, with a wedding planning sideline, monies are just not there. But the dead body on the front lawn the next day may put a crimp in all their plans. This is the 1st book in a new series and was a promising start. The characters of the sisters are interesting, as are the helpful attorney, Garrett and his daughter, Summer. And the adorable cats found on the mansion grounds were a nice touch. The plot had several interesting twists, that kept the reader guessing to the end. I also enjoyed learning more about fracking, a very topical subject. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a good cozy mystery with lots of twists to keep you wondering what might happen next. A few weeks before Mallory is to be married she gets pictures of her fiance, Keith, cheating on her so she cancelled the wedding. Her future mother-in-law was more upset about that than Mallory because she had taken over the wedding arrangements planning the wedding SHE wanted and was concerned about their reputation if it didn't take place. At about the same time Keith's grandmother died, leaving her mansion to Mallory - not Keith or his mother. This did not go over well. No sooner had Mallory moved in (with her sister, Rachel) when a dead man was found on her front lawn. Since she was a suspect she snooped around to find out who the real killer was, even though the police told her they were handling it and she should stay out of it. I like Stephanie Blackmoore's writing style. The plot was lively and fun, while it also kept me guessing. I was surprised at the end to find out who the murderer was. I loved the well developed characters. Mallory was an intelligent, thoughtful woman who was easy to like. Her younger sister, Rachel, was flighty and fun. It was good to see her taking care of Mallory when it had always been the other way around. I really didn't like Helene or Keith. We're not suppose to like them. My favourite character is the young girl living next door. Everybody loves her. I'm glad I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It took a very long time to get it but thanks to Goodreads customer support it finally arrived. This is a great book for cozy mystery fans.
I was hooked from the start! It will make you laugh, and cry. I didn't want it to end but I couldn't wait to see how it ended!
Great book! Very easy read that kept me interested and guessing the whole way through. A terrific book to curl up with on a day off!
Title: Engaged in Death - Wedding Planner Mystery Book 1 Author: Stephanie Blackmoore Published: 6-28-2016 Publisher: Kensinton Books Pages: 304 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub-Genre: Amateur Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Women Sleuth; Animals ISBN: 13: 9781496704788 ASIN: B0165HUWCC Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.75 I received a copy of "Engaged in Death" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Publisher's Description: All appears peaceful in sleepy Port Quincy, Pennsylvania--but in this small town, old grudges die hard. . . After dumping her cheating fiancé and cancelling the wedding, Mallory Shepard can't bear another disaster. So when the former bride-to-be unexpectedly inherits Thistle Park, a ramshackle mansion in her ex's hometown of Port Quincy, it's a problem she can't afford--literally. Abound with stray cats, peeling wallpaper, and nosy neighbors, Mallory is dying to sell it off--once she finally fixes up both the place and her messy life. . . Turns out, Thistle Park has its charms. But the honeymoon phase is abruptly cut short when an unwanted visitor is found dead on the front lawn. Enlisting the help of her sister Rachel, Mallory vows to unveil the killer before she herself becomes married to the suspect list. . . My Review: Mallory Shepherd is a woman of resilience and strength. Just weeks before her wedding to Keith Pierce she receives pictures of Keith and another woman in compromising and revealing poses. Being a smart woman she dumps him and breaks the engagement. Ironically on that same day she receives word that Sylvia Pierce, Keith's Grandmother, has died and left her Thistle Point. Which does not go over well with Keith and his demonic step-mother, Helene. They vow to fight Mallory and regain the estate from Mallory. Mallory and her sister, Rachel, move into the dilapidated mansion and begin renovations to turn Thistle Point into a Bed and Breakfast, with a side business of a wedding venue. The body of Shane Hartley, owner of a company using the controversial practice of fracking. Although told to keep out of the investigation, Mallory and Rachel can not help looking into the murder, unfortunately the list of suspects grows daily. Add in Helene's and Keith's vendetta causing problems with the renovations and Mallory's job and it is easy to understand why Mallory is stressed. There is so much going on in this book without becoming too busy and confusing. Mallory and the other characters are well rounded and likable. They hold your interest as you get to know them better. Port Quincy is a quaint small town where people know one another and their families have been their for generations. Stephanie Blackmoore has used her talents to bring this fictional town to life. Readers will be drawn into this fast paced story and not want to leave when the story ends. My rating of "Engaged in Death" is 4.75 out of 5 stars. A great start to a new series.
This is a great debut novel and I hope a long series! I loved meeting Mallory Shepard and her sister Rachel. Mallory is engaged to Keith, but it seems he is ruled by his overbearing mother Helene. Their small quaint wedding changed into an event for Helene to show off. Mallory decided to go with the flow. The one member of Keith's family that Mallory had a wonderful relationship was his grandmother Sybil. Unfortunately Sybil dies weeks before the wedding. Shortly after her death, Mallory received a brown envelop with pictures showing her fiancé with another woman. She calls off the wedding and goes into hiding. When her sister shows up to drag her back to the land of the living, she finds out that the lawyer that had been calling her was trying to inform her that she had inherited, Sybil's house, Thistle Park. The mansion needed many repairs and updates, but Rachel and Mallory have dreams of turning it into a Bed & Breakfast as well as a Wedding Venue. Sybil had also been against the gas companies fracking on the property. The day they arrive at the home, they are met by the face of the local company offering them a lucrative deal to lease the land. Mallory refuses and tells him to leave. They move in and after only one night at Thistle Park, they find a dead body in the front yard. When Mallory thinks she is a suspect, she decides to do some investigating of her own. There are so many people in town that have an issue with the murdered man, that the suspect pool is huge. Could her ex have been involved? What about his mother? The local environmental group were not happy with him, neither were several townspeople whose land was ruined by the fracking? So much happens in this story besides the initial murder, that I read this book in one day. The house that Mallory inherited could be amazing in the hands of the right person, but after being fired from her legal firm, can she possibly afford to fix it up and renovate? What do you do when your wedding is cancelled and the venue refuses to return your huge deposit? There is a little bit of romance brewing and the neighbour's daughter is a real sweetheart who I hope we see more of in future stories. Mallory starts out as a go with the flow, people pleasing type of woman, but you know the saying about a woman scorned? She is a lawyer who is smart and organized and she realizes that she does not need a man in her life right now. She begins to make decisions based on what she wants, not someone else. Her sister, Rachel, doesn't know what she wants out of life. She has several skills because she has tried so many different jobs, but has not been able to stick with anything. She has been living with, and is dependent on her mother and step-father, but would like to make a go of the business (Bed & Breakfast) with Mallory. They each bring something different to the relationship and will make a fantastic team. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out, real and believable. Keith, the ex and his mother Helene, are great villians and easy to dislike. The neighbors were an integral part of the story. The Chief of Police just happens to live in the house behind Thistle Park, with his son and granddaughter. I loved the way the Chief changed from the beginning of the story to the end. We saw the human side of him, even though his exasperation with Mallory was evident. I recommend this book to any cozy mystery lovers, the recipes look amazing.
Attorney Mallory Shepard has cancelled her wedding to her cheating fiance, Keith Pierce, just three weeks before the date. Good riddance to his overbearing mother, Helene Pierce, but Mallory is still crazy in love with Keith’s grandmother Sylvia. Suddenly, Sylvia passes away and leaves her decaying home of antiques to Mallory. Mallory moves to Port Quincy and finds out that the Port Quincy Country Club, to whom she has already paid for her reception, refuses to refund any money to her. Mallory’s sister, Rachel, comes to the rescue and moves into the dilapidated house. The plan is to fix up the house, try to get back her money from the country club and to also avoid Keith and his meddling mother! There is also not one, but two murders that turn up in Mallory and Rachel’s house. Engaged in Death is funny, charming and has a great story. I really enjoyed it and would definitely read any other books by Stephanie Blackmoore. Her characters are quick-witted, likable and believable. Engaged in Death will be published June 28, 2016. The advance galley was provided to me by its publisher, Kensington, in exchange for a honest review.
Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore is the first book in A Wedding Planner Mystery series. Mallory Shepard is engaged to Keith Pierce and busy planning her wedding with the “help” from Keith’s overbearing mother, Helene. Mallory may not love Helene, but she does adore Keith’s grandmother, Sylvia. Sylvia is 99 years old and has lived a full life (Mallory visits her frequently). One day Mallory receives an envelope (sent anonymously). When she opens it, she finds pictures of Keith in a compromising position with another woman. Mallory breaks off her engagement to Keith (talk about a lucky break). Then Sylvia passes away. Sylvia’s attorney, Garrett Davies asks to speak with Mallory. Sylvia cared for Mallory as much as Mallory cared for Sylvia and had deeded (instead of leaving it to her in her will) Mallory her home Thistle Park in Port Quincy, Pennsylvania. Thistle Park is in bad shape, but the home has great potential. This really puts Helene’s nose out of joint. Helene was counting on inheriting this home to sell the fracking rights (Sylvia was against it). Shane Harley of Lonestar Energy immediately approaches Mallory (she was just moving in) about selling the fracking rights on the property. Mallory refuses since it was not what Sylvia wanted. The next morning Mallory and her sister, Rachel (who moved into the house with her) finds Shane dead on the front lawn. Can anything else go wrong for Mallory? Well, it turns out that it is too late to cancel all aspects of her wedding reception (with all the hoopla that Helene wanted and Mallory did not). Mallory works to find someone that would like to use her reception (because Mallory was paying for the wedding even though Keith’s family has money). Helene is not done with Mallory. Helene is determined to get her hands on Thistle Park and is going out of her way to make Mallory’s life miserable (in her private and professional life). Mallory is going to have a busy time trying to get her name off the suspect list, find someone to take over her reception, and decide what to do with Thistle Park. Will she succeed? You will have to read Engaged in Death to get the answer. Engaged in Death was a good cozy mystery. There are actually two mysteries going on in the book. They are both interesting, complex, and fun to solve. I liked the characters and the home of Thistle Park. There is also some romance in Engaged in Death. I look forward to seeing how it develops during the course of the series. I will be curious to see what happens with Thistle Park. Engaged in Death drew me in right from the beginning and I did not want it to end. I give Engaged in Death 4.5 out of 5 stars (I loved it but downgraded since I did solve the mysteries). I cannot wait (but I know I have to) to read the next book in A Wedding Planner Mystery series. I received a complimentary copy of Engaged in Death from NetGalley (and Kensington) in exchange for an honest and fair evaluation of the novel.
This is a great book; this is the first book in the Wedding Planner Mystery series written by Stephanie Blackmoore. After dumping her cheating fiancé and cancelling the wedding, Mallory Shepard can't bear another disaster. So when the former bride-to-be unexpectedly inherits Thistle Park, a ramshackle mansion in her ex's hometown of Port Quincy, it's a problem she can't afford. Turns out, Thistle Park has its charms. But the honeymoon phase is abruptly cut short when an unwanted visitor is found dead on the front lawn. Enlisting the help of her sister Rachel, Mallory vows to unveil the killer before she herself becomes married to the suspect list. This is a great book with a wonderful story and well developed characters. This book will keep you reading long into the night. This was such a great read and full of surprises. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this great author. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore was an intriguing cozy mystery that I couldn't put down. Ms. Blackmoore is a "new to me" author; but I will definitely be looking for more books by this author. The characters were well developed and the plot was fast paced. There were plenty of twists, turns and red herrings to keep me turning the pages. I loved getting to know Mallory and her sister, Rachel. There were also many secondary characters, Summer, Garrett, Tabitha and Bev that were likeable and seemed like real down-to-earth people that I would enjoy meeting. Keith, Mallory's philandering ex-fiance' and his mother, Helene were two that added a lot of depth to the story line; but they aren't people I would want to meet. All in all, this was a clever cozy mystery that was a very satisfying read for me. I was given an eARC from Kensington via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
A promising debut to the new Wedding Planner Mystery series. All in all I enjoyed ENGAGED IN DEATH. It did take me a little while to get into it. Something with the characters just wasn’t clicking with me at first. But further into the story, as author Stephanie Blackmoore fleshed them out, the book started to move faster for me. Ms. Blackmoore has a flare for description. I could clearly visualize each scene as though I was in the room with the characters. I could hear the sounds, and smell the aromas. ENGAGED TO DEATH was a solid mystery, with a well done reveal. There were just enough suspects to get me guessing until the reveal. I was close, but has changed my mind at some point. That will teach me to second guess myself. ;-) Make sure to check out the back of the book where you will find some tasty recipes, and an excerpt of boo two in the Wedding Planner Mysteries, MURDER WEARS WHITE.
Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore is the first in a new series featuring Mallory Shepard and takes place in the quaint town of Port Quincy, Pennsylvania. I was hooked by the story from the very beginning. As the story opens, Mallory is just 3 weeks away from her wedding. Instead of being excited, Mallory just wants it to be over, her future mother-in-law is determined to have the wedding the way SHE wants it. When Mallory receives an anonymous package in the mail, it sets the course for disaster. When an unexpected inheritance comes her way, Mallory has high hopes, until she finds a dead body in her front yard. I found this book to be exciting and I could not put the book down. The author is new to me but I am hoping to see more in this fantastic series. The characters appeared very real and I found myself at the edge of my seat towards the end. I will be suggesting this book to other cozy mystery readers, I think they will enjoy this fast paced cozy mystery. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my fair and honest review.
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Loved it. So cute. A wonderfully entertaining summer read. Perfect for a day at the beach.