Review

Beauty to Die For: A Spa Mystery

by Kim Alexis and Mindy Starns Clark

Author Mindy Starns Clark made a name for herself with the Million Dollar Mystery series. Now, with several more mysteries and some Amish romance titles added to her resume, Clark teams up with 1980s supermodel Kim Alexis to write this cozy mystery, BEAUTY TO DIE FOR.

Juliette Taylor was a supermodel who had it all. Except happiness. Her career was anything but fulfilling, but fear prevented her from giving up the only thing she’d ever known. Until she met a handsome stranger during an airport layover --- a man who gave her the courage to walk away from modeling and follow her dreams. When Juliette and Marcus Stone parted ways that day, it was with the promise that they would soon reconnect again, this time for more than a few hours in an airport coffee shop.

That day never came.

"Overall, if you’re a fan of Mindy Starns Clark, love a good mystery, and want to enjoy a fun and rejuvenating day at the spa without spending a fortune, you may find this book 'to die for.'"

Now, 25 years later, Juliette has her own successful skin care line and runs a ministry encouraging church-going women who dedicate their lives to serving others to take time to rejuvenate themselves. As she arrives at the California airport for her next retreat at the world-famous Palm Grotto Resort and Spa, she runs into a blast from the past: red-haired and red-tempered Raven, a supermodel archenemy from her previous life. Despite initially dodging behind the baggage claim, Juliette decides to take the high road and steps up to greet her former modeling foe, who she learns is also heading to the Palm Grotto. Before Juliette knows what hits her, Raven displays her typical colors and is threatening Juliette’s life. A few hours later, however, Raven is the one who ends up dying, in the middle of a chai soy mud wrap.

Now Juliette is not only a suspect, but she could be the next victim.

Single father Marcus Stone co-owns a disaster prevention company and is an FBI consultant. When he sees Juliette’s name come up on a list involving terrorists and product counterfeiting, he can’t believe it. He decides that this is his chance not only to reunite with the beautiful woman he hasn’t been able to erase from his mind in 25 years, but also to keep her safe from possible danger. Marcus arranges to escort his mother, who decidedly deserves some type of refreshment and pampering, to the Palm Grotto Resort and Spa as a cover for his real motivation to reconnect with Juliette.

Marcus is nervous about how Juliette will react when she sees him again. Will the spark still be there? And, more importantly, will he be able to protect her long enough to find out?

Between the modeling background and beauty expertise of Kim Alexis, and the mystery-writing expertise of Mindy Starns Clark, how can this book be anything but a winner? BEAUTY TO DIE FOR is a quick, light read. The mystery is clever, and the inside peek into the world of spa treatments and beauty regimens is fun and fascinating. The characters are amusing, although there are several to keep track of, which may get confusing, but is sometimes necessary for a good whodunit. While the story takes its time building, the action and excitement pick up about two-thirds of the way in, and from there, it’s non-stop to the end, with a few twists and turns to keep you guessing.

The romance between Juliette and Marcus is secondary to the mystery, although it plays a major part in the overall outcome of the case. The spiritual aspect is interjected into the entire storyline without feeling preachy. While Juliette and Marcus are both Christians, and the retreat is Christian-based, most of the spa employees are not believers, but in fact are more into the New Age-type movement. This may turn some readers off but is pretty much true to life.

Overall, if you’re a fan of Mindy Starns Clark, love a good mystery, and want to enjoy a fun and rejuvenating day at the spa without spending a fortune, you may find this book “to die for.”

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on February 13, 2013

Beauty to Die For: A Spa Mystery
by Kim Alexis and Mindy Starns Clark