Carol Weaver escapes from prison, where she was serving time for killing her husband, and runs straight to her former manicurist, Bubbles Yablonsky, for help. Thus the scene is set for the plotting and pacing of this wacky fourth novel in Sarah Strohmeyer's amusing series. But, strange as it may seem, Bubbles is not such a bizarre choice. Since our heroine is trying to earn a permanent slot writing for the News-Times, and has been doing some feature stories on the mysterious death of another Lehigh Steel Company executive, her determination to learn the truth could actually work in Carol's favor.
And, sure enough, the former beauty salon operator begins to search for clues that will help clear the former corporate wife. She could even bring to justice those responsible for other big business shenanigans that may even include murder, along with the customary cover-ups.
The story line is a bit complicated and would require many more compound and run-on sentences to summarize. But never mind. "Story" is not why we read Chick Lit. We read it to be transported out of our own everyday problems and into the dramas of someone else's life. And, with Bubbles around, drama abounds. Each of the many characters, well drawn and quirky, has a storyline that will somehow tie into the whole.
In addition, if you are from the East Coast, each character will remind you of someone you know as you nod your head and smile in recognition. I especially like Lulu Yablonsky, Bubbles's mother, who doles out pearls of wisdom. Lulu's take on Female Economics 101: "…men have needs which women manipulate in exchange for goods and services."
Pennsylvania's answer to Legally Blonde narrates as if she were telling this story to her best friend during a long weekend. Strohmeyer deftly captures the vernacular of the Lehigh Valley's blue-collar middle-class without resorting to vulgar expressions and never allows her players to slip out of character. And, of course, she leaves nothing out as she breaks her vow of chastity with Steve Stilleto, the hunk of her dreams. It gets pretty chaotic and a little Abbott and Costello-ish at times, but through it all Bubbles prevails and eventually sorts everything out.
To get the full impact of Bubbles's adventures, you may want to begin with BUBBLES UNBOUND, followed by BUBBLES IN TROUBLE, and then BUBBLES ABLAZE. Her style is more Donna Andrews (MURDER WITH PEACOCKS) than Janet Evanovich, but Strohmeyer has already gathered quite a following of "Bubbleheads" and is sure to keep her fans cheering through many future adventures.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on December 23, 2010