Publication Date: April 2011
Publisher: St. Martain's Press
Pages: Hardcover, 352pp
(Received for review from St. Martin's Press)
Excerpt from Gone With a Handsomer Man
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
"All I ever wanted in life was true love, a set of copper cookware, and the perfect recipe for Red Velvet cake. The last thing I wanted was to end up on Charleston's six o'clock news, accused of murder and a slew of other crimes."
After Teeny Templeman catches her fiancée playing naked badminton with two other women, she finds herself in a whole lot of trouble. When he is found dead a few days later, all fingers point to her and Teeny's only hope is an old boyfriend-turned-lawyer. With evidence mounting and the heat turning up, Teeny must figure out where to live, how to support herself, how to clear her name, and how to protect her heart.
Hilarious, sexy and wise, this debut mystery from acclaimed author Michael Lee West is full of surprises.
Michael Lee West's trademark wit and humor is center stage in her latest book, Gone With a Handsomer Man. West's ability to make the sights and sounds of the south come alive is unprecedented. Readers will love her eccentric characters and this well thought out mystery that will keep them guessing all the way to the end. With everything from naked badminton to assault by peaches, Gone With a Handsomer Man is laugh out loud funny book that readers won't want to miss.
Teeny Templeman has her whole life thought out. All she wants is a great set of cookware, the perfect recipe for Red Velvet cake and true love. Two out of three ain't bad! When Teeny arrives home unexpectedly and finds her fiancée Bing Jackson playing naked badminton in the back yard with two other women, she takes matters into her own hands. Peaches! The perfect weapon in this case. On probation and facing a restraining order, Teeny must stay away from Bing. When she finds him dead she is the most obvious suspect. She has no choice but to trust her one time lover, Coop O'Malley with her defense. As she and Coop race against time to find the killer their feelings for each other start to grow. Will they be able to clear her name and find a future together?
Michael Lee West is a gifted author with several books to her credit. Gone With a Handsomer Man is a funny but realistic mystery that West fans will adore. She uses wit and humor to take the edge off murder and mayhem. This book is full of the charm of the south, with very likeable characters and some outrageous situations. West does a remarkable job of bringing her characters to life and making the reader feel a kinship with them. I thought this book was a really funny and enjoyable read. I wasn't sure the mystery aspect of the story would be able to hold it's own, but I was surprised at how well thought out and plotted that part of the book was. It kept me guessing to the very end, with a great surprise at the end that definitely suggests a sequel.
West's character development was flawless. It sets this book apart from the rest. Teeny is such a fun character. She is spunky and full of life. She seems to have her life all planned out, until her cheating boyfriend gets caught. I laughed quite heartily when she climbed the peach tree and started chucking those peaches. That was genius. I liked how the author was able to make Teeny come across as a genteel southern lady, but still gave her some eccentric ideas and plans. Teeny makes a great amateur sleuth and even finds herself in some tight scrapes as she tries to figure out who really killed Bing. Her character is very three-dimensional. There were layers to her that the reader continued to uncover throughout the book. I am glad to see that the author plans to write more about Teeny and Coop. Their relationship was believable and easy to get caught up in.
The great character development doesn't end with the main characters though. Each person in the book has their own story. Their own part to play from Bing to Miss Dora and even to Natalie. I liked the fact that the author wanted to let the reader get to know these people. To find things about them they liked or didn't like. It kept the mystery fresh and each person a possible suspect right up to the end. I thought I had it figured out a time or two but the twists and turns kept on coming and I was really happy with the ending. I think readers will enjoy this one to the hilt. The romance is sexy, the mystery is hard to figure out and the laughs just keep coming. This is definitely one my favorite mystery reads of the year.
I recommend this one to readers who enjoy a great mystery. It will appeal to cozy fans as well. The romantic suspense is well done and readers who enjoy that type of book will love this one. For readers who are new to Michael Lee West, this a great book to start with but she has several others to choose from as well. I look forward to more adventures with Teeny. If you love mystery mixed with humor you won't want to miss this one.
Gone With a Handsomer Man is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Michael Lee West is the author of six novels including, Crazy Ladies, Mad Girls in Love, American Pie, and She Flew the Coop, as well as a food memoir, Consuming Passions. She lives with her husband on a farm in Lebanon, Tennessee, with three bratty Yorkshire terriers, Chinese Crested, assorted donkeys, chickens, sheep, and African Pygmy goats. Her faithful dog, Zap was the inspiration of a character in Mermaids in the Basement.