I finished this latest read tonight just so I could say I read 95 books in 2006. A nice number to be sure - but down from my reading total for 2005. I plan a more in depth analysis in the near future. Stay tuned.
The Basics: Bride And Doom by Deborah Donnelly, book 6 in her cozy mystery series about Seattle wedding planner Carnegie Kincaid.
The Plot: Carnegie takes a job as an underling for rival wedding planner Beau Paliere. Beau needs someone who knows Seattle and Carnegie needs the cash for her upcoming nuptials to reporter Aaron Gold. The Seattle Navigator's baseball team is pulling out all the stops for the wedding of new homerun king, Gordo Gutierrez and a Goth rocker who goes by the adorable stage name of Honeysuckle Hell. Beau is a major pain in Carnegie's ass, but hey - it's a living. Then a loathsome baseball writer turns up dead at the engagement party, Carnegie's good friend, Boris the Mad Russian Florist is arrested for the crime and all hell breaks loose.
The Good: I love this series. I love it so much that I ran out to Barnes and Noble on December 26 (the laydown date) and bought my copy. Donnelly's series works because she writes good, light mysteries, Carnegie is extremely likable, and the secondary characters are all colorful additions. Besides Boris there is Juice Nugent, a lesbian punk cake decorator and the Killer B's - former boisterous clients of Carnegie's. You also have the general insanity of weddings to serve as a back drop. Everything that can go wrong will.
The Carnegie/Aaron romance moves a major step forward - although bless her heart Carnegie is feeling neglected because Aaron is hooked on the World Series. Donnelly does write fiction, so the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins are in the Series and Carnegie just has no clue. Hello?! It's the Cubbies!
Also, no cliffhanger! Donnelly got in the habit of doing cliffhangers for several of the previous books and while it was exciting, it damn near killed me. I always read these books right when they are released and then the cliffhanger means I have to wait at least a year to get an "answer." No cliffhanger in this book means Wendy doesn't pull her hair out for the next year.
The Bad: At this point (we are in book 6), I think fans will get more out of this book than newcomers. That said, this entry does stand alone - although the character development is a bit light in the pants. Also, while the mystery here is stronger than the previous book I thought the author could have done more fleshing out motives. She latches on to one at about the halfway point in the story and sticks with it. That said, that one motive does give the reader several suspects to work with.
Final Verdict: I liked this one a lot, so it's a B. I think romance fans would enjoy this series quite a bit, although I encourage newcomers to start with the first book in the series, Veiled Threats. That said, the author does trample on cozy sensibilities in that book by killing a dog. I'm a heartless bitch and have no problem with dead dogs (in fiction anyway), but I know some readers got their panties in a wad over it.
Oh and like Happy New Year and stuff.