Worried that Summer was the intended victim, Ellie vows to get to the truth so the beaming bride can walk down the aisle without fearing she'll never reach the altar . . .
“What places air force wife Ellie Avery at the top of my list are the poignant descriptions of what military families face every day.” —Katherine Hall Page
“Some cozies just hit on all cylinders, and Rosett’s Ellie Avery titles are among the best.” —Library Journal
Don’t miss Ellie Avery’s great tips for an organized wedding!
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Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder
An Ellie Avery Mystery
By Sara Rosett
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Sara Rosett
All rights reserved.
"Ellie, I need your help. Someone's going to get killed — I don't know who, but someone is gonna die," Summer said. "It may be me."
"That's a pretty extreme statement for a bride to make about her wedding," I said. When I first met Summer, my husband's younger sister, she had been a tad flighty and impulsive. She was also seventeen. Recently, she had settled down. Now twenty-six, she worked for a Florida state congressman and was engaged to Brian Abernathy, a contract lawyer.
"Okay, so I'm exaggerating a little bit, but only a little. They hate each other, they really do." The worry in Summer's voice came in loud and clear despite the hint of static on the hands-free device broadcasting her call from my minivan's dashboard.
I eased up on the brake and inched forward in the carpool line. "Who?"
"My mother-in-laws. Or is it mothers-in-law? I can't believe I have two of them. I'm beginning to appreciate the term monster-in-law."
"I thought you'd met them before."
"Yes." Summer's gusty sigh carried over the phone line. "But separately. Brian's mom, Yvonne, lives about an hour away on the Gulf so we've seen her a lot. His stepmom, Patricia, and dad live in Savannah. We all met for dinner last night, and it was a nightmare. That's why I need you. You're an organizer. You can help me figure out seating arrangements and, well, basically how to keep them apart. It could be a new niche for you, you know," she said in a wheedling tone.
"Keeping angry relatives apart?"
"No, wedding organizing."
"I don't know, Summer. I hate to say no to one of my favorite relatives, but I'm not a wedding planner."
"You wouldn't have to do any actual planning," she said quickly. "That's done. All the decisions have been made — invitations, food, bridesmaid dresses, hotel reservations, even the reception. Now it's just about checking and double-checking to make sure everything is delivered and set up. Detail stuff. You know I stink at that."
It was true. Summer took after her brother. Mitch always had the big picture in view. Unlike my husband, I was a detail person. I loved lists, and I especially loved lists with checkmarks. Finishing a to-do list really did make me happy. I'm weird that way.
"Anyway," Summer continued, "it could be a service you offer to brides, to give them peace of mind."
"Maybe an à la carte service," I murmured. I was always looking for innovative ways to grow my organizing business. Now that I wasn't the only organizer in North Dawkins, Georgia, I was more motivated than ever to explore new possibilities. I'd done many different types of organizing. Why not add organizing a wedding to the list? Helping Summer would be a good test run to see if the idea was feasible. "Okay, I'll help you out with the follow-up details and mother-in-law wrangling. You just need to keep them apart, you said?"
"Oh, thank you, Ellie. You have no idea how much better I feel. Yes, they're like two chemical compounds that are stable when they're separate, but put them together, and — boom! — they explode."
"So we're talking logistics." How hard could it be to keep two women apart during the rehearsal dinner and the wedding?
Summer said, "As far apart as possible. Dinner last night started okay, if a little awkward. There were lots of undercurrents and pointed looks, but things were tolerable until Yvonne — that's Brian's mom — mentioned her dress. She wants to wear red."
Surely I hadn't heard that right. "Did you say red?"
Summer's tone was exasperated. "Yes. Red. Her signature color, apparently. She always wears it."
"Well, I've heard that red is a bridal gown color in China," I said.
"But we're not in China, and she's not Chinese."
"Or the bride," I added. This might be harder than I thought.
Summer sighed. "I suppose I should have expected something like that. She's a little kooky. She teaches high school drama and spends her free time at the local community theater. She loves Shakespeare and is always dropping quotes into the conversation. Anyway, Brian's stepmom, Patricia, went ballistic. You would have thought Yvonne said she was going to show up naked. It went downhill from there."
"So what happened?"
"No actual punches were thrown, but it was close. Brian and his dad calmed everyone down. I told Yvonne that any pastel color would be fine."
"Do you know what your stepmother-in-law — Patricia, was it? — is wearing?"
"A blue Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress."
"Sounds appropriate," I said, eyeing the clock on the van's dashboard. One minute until the school bell rang.
"Of course. Everything Patricia does is perfect. Perfectly calculated." There was an abrupt silence, then Summer said, "Forget I ever said that. I can't believe I'm running on and on. I know you're busy, so I'll let you go."
"Summer, you can't stop there. If I'm going to help you, you have to let me know what I'm dealing with."
After a pause she said, "You're right. Okay, Yvonne is exotic and quirky. Patricia is rigidly controlled, and she's got one goal, to get into the cream of Savannah society. She spends all her time volunteering for causes and going to society galas."
"They have money?" I asked. Summer and I talked on the phone and e-mailed quite a bit, and the subject of Brian's family being well-off never came up. "I thought his family was ... I don't know ... comfortably middle-class."
"I did too. Until we drove up to Savannah for this dinner. Their house is a mansion. I'm not exaggerating. Thirteen bedrooms, fifteen baths, a pool with a separate pool house — and not a little dinky changing room with a shower. This pool house is bigger than your house, Ellie. They have three cars — a Jag and two Mercedes. Okay, I'm stopping because I'm beginning to sound like Patricia. She catalogued everything for us, house, cars, boat, and jewelry, even the place settings."
"I suppose when your bedrooms are in the double digits, you're doing pretty well," I said. "And Brian never mentioned this?"
The school bell rang, and kids flooded out the doors, a fast-moving tide of colorfully clad bodies surging to their appointed waiting zones on the sidewalk. The carpool pickup line worked like a well-oiled machine. Teachers and aides monitored the tsunami of students, communicating through walkie-talkies to summon the correct child to the pickup point at the front of the school when parents' cars pulled up.
"No, and when I asked him about it, he was surprised. Said he hadn't thought it was important." She blew out a sigh. "And he's right. It doesn't matter that his dad and stepmom are loaded. I love him for himself, not for his family or his family's money."
I'd met Brian once. "I didn't pick up on it either — the coming-from-money thing. He seems like a regular guy."
"Oh, he is. He didn't grow up with money. He told me all about it on our drive back to Tallahassee last night. His dad invented and patented a part that improves the water efficiency of sprinkler heads. If you see an underground sprinkler system, it has one of his parts on it. Up until about five years ago, before the invention caught on, Gus managed the electrical department in one of those big-box home improvement stores."
"And now he's attending society galas. Interesting."
"Only under duress. Gus doesn't really want to do anything besides improve his golf swing. He could care less about moving in the best circles. It's ironic that it was his golf buddy's cancellation that got us into the resort."
"Oh, is this about the honeymoon? Do you know where you're going?" The cars ahead of me moved, and I stopped even with the front doors of the school. The principal spoke into her walkie-talkie as she opened the minivan's door and waved hello to me.
"No, for the wedding," Summer said. "We were able to get into the resort on Camden."
My wrinkled forehead filled the rearview mirror. "A resort? I thought you were getting married on the beach."
"Well, we were. But how could we pass up Camden? It's beautiful and secluded. And it means a lot to Brian. His dad took him there several summers after the divorce. It was kind of their summer retreat."
"Wait. Camden as in Camden Island?"
"Yes. Can you believe it? To be able to get married at a historic Southern mansion on one of Georgia's most exclusive barrier islands — how lucky are we?"
"But you wanted a small ceremony, just family and close friends." I spotted Nathan, chugging along, his backpack bouncing with every step. Arms extended, he held a shoebox, which contained his show-and-tell item, an elaborate Lego spaceship. Livvy trailed along behind him and the aide, trying to read one book as she walked, while carrying several more in the crook of her arm.
"Originally, that was the plan," Summer said. Was there a note of wistfulness in her tone? If there was, it was gone the next moment as she added, "But the resort has everything, a spa, great restaurants, tours of the ruins of the original plantation house, lots of sports and activities. I guarantee that no one will be bored during the four days."
"Four days?" I asked faintly.
Nathan climbed in. "Hi, Mom. Justin brought a frog for show-and-tell."
Livvy dropped into her seat. "Hi," she mumbled, and turned a page.
"Is that Livvy and Nathan?" Summer's voice came from the hands- free device. "Hi there!"
Nathan bounced in his seat. Livvy looked up from her book. "Aunt Summer, is that you?"
Summer confirmed it was indeed her.
"A whole sentence," I informed Summer. "You should be impressed. Livvy actually stopped reading to talk to you." The kids buckled in, and I put the van in gear.
"I'm honored," Summer said. The kids had stayed with her for a few days during our last vacation. She knew how deeply Livvy could get into her books.
"So what's this about four days?" I asked.
"A long weekend over spring break. Guess what, guys?" Summer said, addressing the kids.
"What?" they chorused in their squeaky voices.
"Not only do you get to be my flower girl and my ring bearer, you get to spend four whole days on an island. You ride a ferry to get there, and it's really cool. There's a ruin, giant climbing trees covered with Spanish moss, and you can go swimming at the beach or ride a horse. It won't be during turtle season so we can have a bonfire on the beach one night. There's a huge pool and bike trails and even paintball."
"I think they're a little young for paintball," I said over the excited chatter from the backseat.
"Ellie, I feel so much better after talking to you. With you helping me, I know it will all work out."
"Glad I can help," I said, wondering what I'd gotten myself into. The organizing bit for the wedding wouldn't be a problem. I could do follow-up and confirmations, but dealing with the hostile mother and stepmother? I'd do my best, but I'd found that organizing people was a lot harder than organizing closets and schedules. "Send me the details on the wedding stuff," I said before we hung up.
And that's how I agreed to organize a four-day wedding for 250 people at Camden Island Resort.CHAPTER 2
"Where's the beach?" Nathan asked. "Mom, Aunt Summer said there was a beach." The Hot Wheels cars, action figures, books, and even the handheld electronic game console lay forgotten, strewn around the back of the van as Nathan strained against his seatbelt for a better view of Camden Island.
"The beaches are on the other side," I explained as the car ferry drew closer to the island.
We'd spent the majority of the short ferry ride from the mainland of Georgia to Camden Island out of the car with the kids draped over the ferry's railing as they licked ice cream cones. We were on spring break and the kids felt it was only right to begin our vacation with ice cream. Mitch agreed wholeheartedly and ordered a double scoop of dark chocolate. While he was normally an extremely healthy eater, ice cream was the one place Mitch indulged. Chocolate in any form is usually an automatic yes for me, but I had thought of the pale pink linen sheath dress I had packed for the wedding and requested a kid-size scoop of peach sherbet.
We were all in a vacation sort of mood. The kids were out of school for a week. Mitch had leave from the squadron for five days, and I had cleared my organizing schedule, except for Summer. Besides enjoying the wedding, following up on Summer's wedding tasks and keeping an eye on the mothers in the wedding party were the only things on my agenda.
I closed the thick white binder I'd spread out across the dashboard and tucked it into my large tote. "Did you get your list made?" Mitch asked.
"Yes. Today is all about getting the final head count to the catering staff, finalizing the seating chart, and reconfirming with the florist, the photographer, the minister, and the deejay."
Mitch shook his head. "I still can't believe Summer roped you into planning her wedding."
"It really hasn't been that bad." Summer had been true to her word. All the big decisions had been made. "So far, all I have had to do is make phone calls and send reminder e-mails. It's been easy."
"I have a feeling the hard part is about to start," Mitch said.
"The mother-in-law wrangling? Yeah, I am a little worried about that. Although, Summer says Brian has talked to both his mom and stepmom and they've agreed to a truce," I said doubtfully.
"You're afraid it won't hold?"
"Well, for a couple of hours, I'm sure they could do it, but four days ..."
"Whatever happens, I'll have your back."
"I know," I said, smiling at him.
"How much longer?" Nathan asked from the backseat. "I thought we had to get back in the car because we were almost there."
"We are," I answered as the ferry neared the island. "We're almost to the dock. Did you know we're on the first ferry of the day?" I asked to distract him. Until I became a parent, I'd forgotten the innate competitive nature of kids. Anything that could be claimed as first, oldest, or best was very important to the grade-school set. That news perked Nathan up, and I knew he was filing it away so he could inform various cousins of his arrival on the first ferry.
The car ferries usually ran three days during the week and daily on the weekends, but since it was spring break there were more runs scheduled. We'd caught the earliest one along with a few other people, who I assumed worked at the resort because of their bored expressions and lack of beach equipment visible through the windows of their cars.
Mitch winked at me as the ferry bumped against the dock. "If you'd been paying attention, Nathan, you'd know that this side of the island is mostly marsh."
I'd tried to read from the guidebook and tell the kids about the island on the drive over, but they hadn't seemed too interested in the history of Camden Island.
"I was paying attention," Nathan said. "It doesn't look like a bean to me."
Okay, maybe he had been listening. I glanced at Mitch and tried to keep the smile out of my voice as I said, "Shaped like a bean, honey. That means that the barrier islands are long and narrow. One side of Camden Island, the side next to the mainland, curves inland, but the side next to the ocean is more rounded. If you saw it from above it would look like a bean."
"Like a giant bean." Nathan wiggled in his seat. "And the forests are in the middle of the bean," he all but shouted.
Livvy's head, which had been bent over her book, popped up. "Would you be quiet? I can't read."
The cars ahead of us inched forward, down the ramp to the island. "Here we go," Mitch said, releasing the brake. "Hang on." His dramatic tone silenced the brewing fight in the backseat.
Mitch eased over a bump onto the ramp then punched the gas, and we sailed down to the asphalt road. A weathered sign with faded red letters on a white background welcomed us to Camden Island. The dock area consisted of a stand selling ferry tickets and a building with two gas pumps and a small convenience store with a sign proclaiming burgers, sandwiches, and ice cream could be found inside. The area had a no-frills vibe of a national park during the off-season.
"Nathan, how many roads are there on Camden Island?" Mitch asked.
"Very good. You were paying attention," Mitch said.
Excerpted from Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder by Sara Rosett. Copyright © 2016 Sara Rosett. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was my first book by Sara Rosett and I am a fan. Summer, Ellie's sister in law is getting married on a resort on an island in Georgia. Since Ellie is a professional organizer, Summer wants her to handle the details of making sure her wedding plans occur without a hitch. Unfortunately with a jealous ex attending the wedding and two obnoxious mother in laws it is a little beyond Ellie's control. When someone is killed, it only makes things worse. I enjoyed all the characters in this book. They were well developed, and even though I am new to the series, did not feel like I was missing anything to the story. I have added the first books to my list and will be catching up with the series before the next book comes out. This was quickly paced and kept me guessing to the end. Very well done. I did receive this book in exchange for an honest review, but all opinions are mine and mine alone.
Marriage, Monsters-in-Law and Murder by Sara Rosett is the ninth book in An Ellie Avery Mystery series. Ellie’s sister-in-law, Summer is getting married to Brian Abernathy. Their wedding will be a four day (wow) event on Camden Island (a barrier island off Georgia) at the Camden Island Resort. Everything is set up, but Summer could assistance with the last minute details and the handling of things on the island (and keeping Brian’s mother, Yvonne and his stepmother, Patricia apart). Ellie, an organizer by profession, has agreed to help her (could be a new venture for her business). It looks like it will be a beautiful weekend and then Graham Murphy, the groom’s cousin arrives with Julia Banning. Julia and Brian (the groom) dated for a time. Julia then became obsessed with Brian (very stalkerish). Shortly after arriving on the island, incidents begin happening to Summer. First she is attacked with a paintball gun (very painful) and then her “Bride” shirt is discovered to have been laced with ivy resulting in a terrible rash (which goes great with the bruises from the paintball gun pellets). They suspect Julia, but no one has caught her in the act. Then there is an incident with the golf cart. The photographer, Ned Blackson needed to return to the resort and borrowed the bride and groom’s golf cart (it was decorated just for them). On the way to the resort it flips over and Ned dies instantly. What if Summer and Brian had been in the golf cart? Detective Redding is assigned the case and he needs to work quickly. After four days all the suspects will disappear. Things are pointing to Julia until she is injured and in a coma. Who is behind these attacks? Ellie is determined to find the culprit so Summer can have her wedding. Will she succeed before the killer strikes again? Marriage, Monsters-in-Law and Murder was a good cozy mystery. I liked the characters, the pace, and the mystery as well as the lovely setting. It had humor but it was not over-the-top (it was just right). The author provided good clues for the reader to follow. The mystery will really have you thinking and analyzing the clues to find the killer. My favorite character was Ellie’s daughter, Livvy. She reminded me of myself at that age (she takes a book or two with her wherever she goes). I give Marriage, Monsters-in-Law and Murder 4.5 out of 5 stars (I more than liked it). I downgraded a little because I was able to solve the mystery early in the book. You can read this book without having enjoyed the previous novels in the series (like me). I had only read the first couple of books in this series. It does not hinder your enjoyment of the novel in any way. I will definitely be reading more books in An Ellie Avery Mystery series. I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.
Title: Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder - Mom Zone Mystery Book 9 Author: Sara Rosett Published: 6-28-2016 Publisher: Kensington Books Pages: 256 Genre: Mystery; Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Women Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuths ISBN: 13: 9781617731471 ASIN: B0165HVINY Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: I received a copy of "Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Description From the Publisher: Ellie Avery is a professional organizer, not a diplomat. But by agreeing to help organize a family wedding, she's basically signed on to prevent two mothers-in-law from killing each other. It comes as a complete surprise, then, when another member of the wedding party is the one who's actually murdered . . . Ellie's sister-in-law, Summer, has planned a four-day destination wedding at a posh private resort on one of Georgia's beautiful barrier islands, but it won't be a vacation for Ellie. Summer has asked her to assist with the last-minute details, which includes keeping the peace between the groom's mother and stepmother. The ladies are a handful, but the real problems are the ones Ellie and Summer haven't anticipated--like mysterious pranks directed toward the bride. When the best man shows up with the groom's gorgeous if unstable ex-girlfriend, she seems like an obvious suspect for the practical jokes. But when a suspicious death occurs, Ellie realizes there's more going on than mean-spirited pranks. Is Summer the killer's real target? And what could possibly be driving someone to murder? Ellie vows to get to the truth so the blushing bride can walk down the aisle without fearing she'll never reach the altar . . . My Review: Avery needs every bit of strength and patience she possesses in "Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder" to keep her sanity. Sara Rosett has used her enviable skill to create her and the other characters in Ellie Avery series to create bod, strong characters. Add in a well scripted plot that moves quickly and easily from scene to scene and you have a fun read. This is the ninth book in the series, but can be read as a stand alone. There is enough information given to bring new readers up to date with past events. My rating of "Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder" is 4.5 out of 5 stars.
199 pages. Very enjoyable. I look forward to more by this author.
A mom zone book by Sara Rosett is always a welcome sight to me. Another enjoyable visit with Ellie Avery and her family and friends makes me smile. Mitch's younger sister, Summer, is getting married. Although reluctant Ellie agrees to help Summer keep thing on track. But of course Ellie has no way to keep a murder organized, but she does run into more than her share of them. Although this is the 9th Ellie Avery book, Ms Rosett makes each one charming and entertaining. Although a series, I think that these books could also be read as a stand-alone. FTC Full Disclosure - A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Great Ellie Avery mystery. Someone is trying to kill Summer Avery.
I found Sara Rosett and this series several years ago after receiving a nook for a Christmas gift and have been a fan ever since. I love cozy mysteries and the escape entertainment that they provide. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching Ellie Avery and her family grow through this series. I love how Sara installs the family component in her books, while keeping us on our toes with the twists and turns as we try to solve the mystery. And please don't despair if you haven't read the rest of the series, you can still read any or all and be entertained. I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Plot: When Ellie agrees to help her sister-in-law, Summer, with her last minute wedding preparations, she figures it should not be a problem. Keeping an eye on the groom’s bickering mother and step mother makes the task a little harder, but she figures she can still handle it. When pranks against the bride-to-be begin happening, things get even more difficult. But when someone dies, the problems are impossible to ignore. Ellie will have to try to figure out who the killer is before the wedding is permanently postponed. Review: Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder by Sara Rosett is the 9th book in An Ellie Avery Mystery series, but it’s the first book in the series that I’ve had the pleasure to read. Although this is the 9th book, I did not feel lost. Rosett did a great job catching you up on the characters and how they fit into Ellie’s world. If you love coxy mysteries and organization (or aim to be more organized)...this book is for you! The story had plenty of possible suspects and kept you guessing. The description of one of Georgia’s barrier islands has you booking a vacation for yourself. And it includes organization tips! Great story, great writing and great tips-win win win! A review copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.
A secluded island, neurotic monsters-in-law and a jealous ex? What more could you want in a mystery! This was an excellent book - very well written and the characters were real. I enjoyed the book quite a bit even though this was the first of the series I've read. I didn't feel like I was missing any backstory, so it could definitely be a stand alone. I will most likely go back and read the first 8 in the series and may even pick up the other series Sara Rosett has written. I highly recommend!
This is a great book; this is the ninth book in the A Mom Zone Mystery series written by Sara Rosett. Ellie Avery is a professional organizer, when she agreed to help organize a family wedding, she’s basically signed on to prevent two mothers-in-law from killing each other. when another member of the wedding party is the one who's actually murdered. Ellie vows to find out the truth before the wedding. 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.
I am always excited when I find a new book series from an author whose work I am unfamiliar with. This is book nine in this series but it reads like a standalone volume. Kellie and Mitch are people I'd like to have as friends. Brian and Summer are delightfully in love and Graham is surprise villain. Join them all and immerse yourself in their story. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Marriage, Monsters-in-Law, and Murder by Sara Rosett featuring Ellie Avery is a winner. Ellie is a professional organizer, so when asked to help out at her sister-in-laws wedding, Ellie thinks this will be an easy task. It soon becomes apparent that trying to stop two future mothers-in-law from killing each other is not much fun. Ellie learns quickly to separate the two women, however, keeping the two apart is no easy feat. Just as things appear calm, the groom's cousin shows up, and guess who his +1 is?! OMG, it is the groom's unstable ex-girlfriend! When bizarre, random pranks begin everyone suspects the ex-girlfriend, but that would be too convenient. You won't want to miss this exciting story, it will keep you glued to your seat until you reach the last page. This is the first book I've read by this author and I can't wait to read the others. I couldn't stop reading and my heart was racing towards the end. I would like to thank Kensington Books and NetGalley for sending me an ARC to read and review in exchange for my fair and honest opinion. All thoughts expressed are my own.