"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." So says Teeny Templeton on the back cover of GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN.
Teeny Templeton is a wonderfully conceived, engaging heroine in this cozy mystery by Michael Lee West. Fans will be delighted with the spicy new offering by this author of six previous books about Southern women and their unique way of looking at life. This is her first mystery, and it begs for a sequel.
Folks who enjoy mysteries often like books that have an element of humor --- not necessarily the laugh-out-loud Evanovichesque craziness, but at least the chuckle-and-smile kind. GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN has all the varieties. For example, Teeny explains her reluctance to live with her fiancé: "My Baptist guilt had prevented me from living with a man who wasn't my lawfully wedded husband...I bargained with Jesus and asked him to cut me some slack." Romantic mysteries are also popular as are those with exciting action and thought-provoking themes, of which all will be found in this book. West has the talent it takes to combine all of these features into a fast-paced story full of believable characters.
When Teeny comes home to find her fiancé playing naked badminton with two sexy young things, her life is left in limbo: no job, nowhere to live, no lovely marriage to the charming Bing Jackson. When Bing turns up murdered a few days later, Teeny is the obvious suspect. However, when one is as kind and as cute as Teeny, there are bound to be people around willing to help you. For example, Bing's elderly Aunt Dora offers her a place to stay in one of the family homes and recommends her to a local caterer so she can earn some money.
Circumstances also bring Cooper O'Malley back into Teeny's life. Cooper was her first true love until his ex-girlfriend got him to renew their relationship. He is now a lawyer and offers to help Teeny defend herself against murder charges, if it comes to that. Perhaps one of the best drawn characters is Red Butler, a curmudgeon of a private eye who Coop pays to keep an eye on Teeny. Since she didn't kill Bing, whoever did may be out to get her, too. Red takes an immediate dislike to Teeny, but her Southern charm and gracious ways win him over in record time despite his reluctance.
Lest you get the impression that there is not much action here, wait until you experience the harrowing dangers that Teeny faces as she and Coop get closer to solving the mystery of who killed Bing and several other people in this normally sedate suburb. The climax will have you flipping pages as any good thriller would.
If you like all things Southern fried, GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN will definitely be your cup of sweet tea. And you will want to start watching for a sequel to this hopefully new series.
Gone With a Handsomer Man