Friday, September 13, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star

The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star (Darling Dahlias - Book 4) by Susan Wittig Albert

Publication Date: 09/03/2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
ISBN-10: 0425260585
ISBN-13: 978-0425260586

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Susan Wittig Albert on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree (2010), The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies (2011), The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose (2012), The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star (2013)

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star, courtesy of the author's website.


National bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert returns to the small town of Darling, Alabama, in the 1930s—where the Darling Dahlias, the colorful ladies of a garden club, are anything but shrinking violets when it comes to rooting out criminals…

The Texas Star herself—Miss Lily Dare, the “fastest woman in the world”—is bringing her Dare Devils Flying Circus to Darling. Unfortunately, she’s also bringing a whole lot of trouble. As the Dahlias prepare for the annual Watermelon Festival—where they will present the famous female aviatrix with her own Texas Star hibiscus—rumors are flying.

Dahlias president Liz Lacy learns from newspaperman Charlie Dickens that Miss Dare has been threatened and her plane sabotaged. Apparently the bold and beautiful barnstormer has made plenty of enemies. And is it possible she may even be involved with the husband of one of Darling’s local ladies?

And speaking of wings, the new cook at Myra May’s Darling Diner can fry a chicken and whip up a sweet potato meringue pie like nobody’s business. But why is she keeping her past such a mystery?

As the Texas Star barnstorms into town, Liz and Verna Tidwell offer to help bring down a saboteur who may be propelled by revenge. Before it’s all over, there will be plenty of black eyes and dark secrets revealed…


The fourth book in The Darling Dahlias series, The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star is an excellent example of Susan Wittig Albert's storytelling abilities. She captivates readers with this series set in the 1930's during the Great Depression. Albert tells the story of the Darling Dahlias garden club and it's various members who not only garden but try to ease the way through the Depression for the inhabitants of Darling, Alabama. Albert's sense of history is amazing, as it her knack for characterization. This book is full of Southern charm and small town hospitality as well as a very interesting mystery.

Who would want to sabotage, stunt pilot Lily Dare? Lily is known as the Texas Star, the fastest woman in the world and she's bringing her Dare Devils Flying Circus to Darling. Albert excels at setting and place with all of the Darling Dahlias novels and this one is no exception. I loved the idea of the air show and the fact that star has a less than perfect reputation. During the 1930's, especially in the South, women were supposed to act a certain way and it's apparent that Lily Dare is far too daring and outspoken for most people's tastes. I enjoyed the fact that Albert is challenging the ideas of what women could do and how they could act during this time period. I thought she did an amazing job of characterization as well as easily making the reader feel like they had stepped into the 1930's as they read.

I also enjoyed the concept of the Watermelon Festival. Being from a small town myself and considering myself a southerner, I loved how Albert is able to capture the nuances and charm of the small town setting. In our little town, we had an annual Harvest Festival that will long live in my memory as one of the most enjoyable times of the year. The Watermelon Festival is obviously important to the townspeople of Darling, especially during this time of depression. I liked the fact that the Dahlias were hosting the festival and how it played into the overall plot of the book.

Albert's writing is exceptional in this series as well as her Chyna Bayles series. It is obvious that Albert is a gardener herself, whether it's flowers or herbs, she has certainly done her homework on that aspect of the story. One thing I truly enough about this series is how immersed the reader becomes in time period and the town itself. Darling is a place I would have loved to live. But this was a hard time for our country and Albert doesn't shy away from that in her stories. 

The mystery aspect of the novel is exactly what makes this series so enjoyable. Albert creates a colorful character in Lily Dare and puts the Dahlias in a position to try to help figure out who would want her dead. Her reputation appears to have earned her more than a few enemies, making the suspect list long and the motives a plenty. I was on the verge of figuring this one out toward the middle, but then Albert skillfully deters me and she probably will most readers. Leaving the big reveal a surprise that will allow readers to feel really satisfied with the outcome. 

This is such a great series and book, by a well respected author. I can't recommend it enough!

The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star is available in hardback from your favorite bookseller NOW.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

I live in the Hill Country of Central Texas, on 31 acres. I garden for food (passionately), raise chickens, and practice the fiber arts. I am concerned about issues of global warming, energy depletion, and food production.

In October, 2013, I'll publish A Wilder Rose, a novel about the mother-daughter team that produced the Little House books, based on the diaries and journals of Rose Wilder Lane and the letters of her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I am continuing my two mystery series: the China Bayles Herbal Mysteries and The Darling Dahlias, about a Southern garden club in the 1930s. You might also enjoy my eight-book series, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the series that my husband Bill Albert and I coauthored under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. You can find out more about my life in my memoirs: Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place; and An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star by Susan Wittig Albert.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, September 27th.

1. Please leave a comment describing your favorite food, drink or otherwise that features watermelon.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


traveler said...

Watermelon Salad and a watermelon smoothie is great. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I like just a nice cold slice of watermelon, can't beat it.

lag123 said...

I like watermelon rind pickles.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Carl Scott said...

Thanks for the intro to this previously unknown to me series. We eat a lot of watermelon just out of hand over the summer, sometimes we'll make fruit skewers for a potluck or occasionally a watermelon salad. You have to eat that right away though, while it's still cold is best.

I'm an email subscriber at: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

Rita Wray said...

I enjoy eating a cold slice of watermelon on a hot day.


Karen B said...

I like a dish of cold watermelon chunks the best!

Charlotte said...

Ate the last of the watermelon. Husband forgot to buy one at the store while he was there. I wanted more.

Brooke Showalter said...

As silly as it may be, I don't like watermelon, but I love watermelon flavored things. I think it's a texture issue for me. Anyhow, I like watermelon iced tea! Yummy.

bn100 said...

like cold watermelon slices

Nancy said...

Used to like to eat it plane but now I'm allergic to it.

cyn209 said...

i've only eaten watermelon one way & that's as is.....i'm not exotic enough to eat it any other way!!! LOL!!!!

thank you for the giveaway!!!

Jan Hougland said...

Well, watermelon. Hmmm I like watermelon margaritas. :-) Other than that, I love plain ol' cold watermelon in hunks that drip down my chin and elbows as I eat it. :-) This year it wasn't hot long enough to produce good watermelons here in Sacramento, CA, which usually has good watermelon. I was sure disappointed! I like stories about small towns as I grew up in one in Southern California on the desert. Now we had great watermelons when I was growing up down there! I liked how everyone helped everyone else in our small town. It was like a large, extended family.

Barbara T. said...

Watermelon with a light sprinkle of salt. Plain and simple.

ann said...

I like watermelon not to soft tho plain or sometimes maybe with a bit of salt too. When we were kids my dad would go down south and buy a truck load of cannon ball watermelons and we would sit along the road and sell them. What we didnt sell we sometimes would eat

Carol M said...

I like to eat watermelon in a salad mixed with other fruit.

Sue Farrell said...

I like to eat a whole personal sized seedless watermelon in one sitting---such a great treat with so few calories.

Linda said...

Try to go to the Luling TX Watermelon Thump in June every chance I get. Had my first watermelon margarita last summer! Cool, but I still think the best is eating ice cold slices with juice running down your arms (outside, of course). Just like we did at grandma's in Oklahoma. Cooled the watermelon in the horse tank first.

Michelle F. said...

I don't like watermelon or any melons for that matter. The only melony thing I have is a Sweet Magnolia Melon body wash from Bath & Body Works.

I've read some of the Robin Paige books and also a few in the Beatrix Potter series. This new series has a lot of characters in it.

Renee said...

Okay, I'm a purist. I love watermelon with a little salt. That is the perfect way to eat it. But I've never tried it any other way. Now I will have to make it into a mojito.