by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to win an ebook copy of Between a Rock and a Hard Place, along with a link to purchase the book.
In the two years since Prunella “Pru” Parke moved from Texas to England to establish a career as a head gardener, she’s not only completed two successful gardening projects, she has helped to catch several murderers and a romantic partner. Pru’s life evolved from mourning the loss of her mother to finding a whole new family and reconnecting with the brother she never knew she had. The best part may be the marriage proposal by a Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector, Christopher Pearse.
Now Pru and Christopher face the enviable but still challenging task of choosing the step they each need to take next in their careers. Not to mention planning their wedding and deciding where they should live! Virtually falling into her lap is the opportunity for Pru to spend the next three months at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, where she will be helping verify the lost journals of eighteenth-century plant explorer Archibald Menzies. It also proves to be the ideal setting for Pru’s wedding, while her friend Jo has already set up an appointment with a couture designer for a wedding dress.
Unfortunately, all good plans go asunder when Pru is forced to work with a hostile historian, the designer has a vision for a gown that has Pru in tears, and Jo’s estranged husband may prove to be a repeat runaway minister. Murder is the topper on the still-unplanned wedding cake, and it is yet one more obstacle in proving Menzies’s journals’ authenticity.
While I identified the actual murderer quite early, that aspect is only one tiny piece of the puzzle in this delightfully charming mystery. Snippets of the journal have Pru empathizing with the writer’s combative interactions with the ship’s captain, as she feels not only unwelcome at the RBGE but unsure of the motivations behind her hiring in the first place. Just as vital a mystery is how and why that happened, and whether Pru will actually ever make it down the aisle. That the investigating detective sergeant is planning her own wedding provides Pru with a sympathetic shoulder, even as it alarms her about all that still needs to be done.
The romance between Pru and Christopher continues to be a highlight of this series, as this third installment reveals how a couple in their fifties can be as passionate and fiery as teenagers. Pru herself admits to having an inclination toward gullibility, but the reintroduction of a person from her past only reveals how much she has grown. Pru is very easy to love, and her passion for gardening only makes her more fascinating. She is vulnerable, very funny, and absolutely in love. She might confuse the Biblical tale of Jonah with Disney’s Pinocchio, but that only makes her more appealing. Gardening lore, an intelligent and professional heroine, and a realistic romance all integrate together perfectly in this strongly written, perfectly paced mystery.
To enter to win a copy of Between a Rock and a Hard Place, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Rock,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 15, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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