by Cynthia Chow
In honor of Earth Day we are featuring only EBOOKS in this issue. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an EBOOK copy of Permanently Booked. We also have a link to order it from Amazon.
After being kicked out by her sister, finding her latest boss dead, and never managing to hold a job, the last place twenty-nine year-old Summer Sloan-Smythe ever expected to feel at home was in Southwest Florida’s Hibiscus Pointe Senior Living Community. She moved into the ritzy retirement community after her grandmother’s death, and now Summer volunteers as its aquatics director. It’s a scheme designed to bypass the fifty-five and over age requirement, and feeling at home, Summer decides to clean out her grandmother’s mystery book collection. Summer’s friend Dorothy Westin convinces her to donate the books to the Hibiscus Point Library, a good deed that results in Summer and Dorothy discovering the library in disarray and its new librarian Lorella Caldwell bludgeoned to death by a bookend.
With the relaunch of the Hibiscus Pointe book club in jeopardy, Summer finds herself volunteered not just as Dorothy’s detective partner but as a book club assistant. When not chasing down an RV-riding senior cowgirl who may have threatened Lorella, Summer and Dorothy must juggle the upcoming book club events. The mother of a villa owner happens to be a famous mystery author, so Summer and Dorothy enlist her as an attraction not just for book signings, but as a speaker for their club. Having a celebrity writer in their midst brings in another aspiring author intent on promoting her own books, not to mention a professor lugging his own epic novel in search of an agent. Summer delights in exasperating her perfect sister while romping through the investigation, but what truly annoys and intrigues Summer are the warnings by the handsome Detective Shane Donovan. Manipulating herself into an appealing and not pathetic dating status will require as many deft maneuvers as a chess match.
The Ladies Smythe & Westin is an absolutely delightful series that readers will be thrilled to discover. The characters are eccentric without being too over-the-top, and Summer and Dorothy have a friendship that surpasses their generational gaps. Summer’s immaturity stems from a spoiled upbringing by her Hollywood producer father, who has given her a luxurious but neglected and very lonely lifestyle. She barely remembers her mother, and has lost count of the number of stepmothers. It is Dorothy who seamlessly steps in as maternal figure, role model, and friend, and the chapters that alternate with both her and Summer’s viewpoints are refreshing and genuine.
Dorothy’s friendship with Ernie Conlon, whose wife has slid into Alzheimer’s, is uplifting with an undercurrent of heartbreak. Humor remains at the forefront of this novel though, as the exploits of writers, both successful and not-so-much, is an absolute delight and relatable for both readers and authors. The Florida setting takes advantage both of its trademark insanity—runaway snake, club hopping, senior Internet dating—and its heavily geriatric population. Watching Summer be taken under the wings of the Hibiscus family while she brings her own free spirit and unique outlook, is a thoroughly entertaining experience that should not be missed.
To enter to win an EBOOK copy of Permanently Books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “booked,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 22, 2017. US residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
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