Engaged in Trouble
by Jenny B. Jones
1st in Series
Sweet Pea Productions (March 30, 2017)
Paperback: 368 pages
E-Book ASIN: B06XX5VT7J
When a washed-up pop star inherits a wedding planning business, it’s all bouquets and bliss until a bride turns up dead.
Paisley Sutton shot to stardom as a teenage rock sensation, but ten years later that star has fizzled out, just like her bank account. When she unexpectedly inherits her aunt’s wedding planning business, Paisley leaves the glamour of Los Angeles for a charming small town in Arkansas. Thinking she’ll arrive in Sugar Creek and liquidate the moldly property, Paisley’s shocked to find Enchanted Events has experienced a major makeover and is now the place for brides. She’s got two months to keep Enchanted Events afloat if she wants to sell and rekindle her music career with the profits.
Paisley’s tossed into a world of vows and venues, but her most difficult challenge comes in the form of one demanding bride. When this Bridezilla’s found facedown in her cake, all fingers point to Paisley as the prime murder suspect. And she does not look good in prison orange.
This former pop princess will need the help of her gun-toting, ex-CIA grandmother and her handsome neighbor, Beau Hudson, to unravel the mystery and clear her good name. As she and her unruly posse dig into Bridezilla’s life, she discovers the woman had a long list of enemies. The closer Paisley gets to the truth, the more her own life is in danger.
Love is in the air this wedding season, but before Paisley can help the ladies of Sugar Creek say, “I do,” she’s got to unveil a killer. Or find herself the next target.
Engaged in Trouble is the first book in the long-awaited Enchanted Events cozy mystery series by award-winning author Jenny B. Jones. If you like laugh-out-loud adventures, small-town romance, unforgettable, sassy characters, and a mystery to keep you guessing, then you’ll love this new page-turning series.
3 out of 5 stars
|This was an okay book for me. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t really love it either.
I enjoyed the main characters. Paisley was really funny, down to earth, and relatable. Beau was a great character also. I enjoyed his sense of humor and he brought a level of mystery to the book in addition to the murder mystery. Sylvie was hilarious and I also liked Henry’s character.
The mystery behind the murder was interesting and the reveal of the killer took me by surprise — it was someone I didn’t suspect at all so that was a nice twist.
The only real down side for me was that the plot moved very slowly and it caused me to keep losing interest in the book. I had to put it down after a couple chapters and come back to it later. I think if things had moved along faster I would have enjoyed the book more.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Guest Post by Jenny B. Jones
One of my favorite things about writing the Enchanted Events series is the character Sylvie Sutton, Paisley’s grandmother. A long time ago Sylvie and her friend Frannie were plucked from high school and recruited into a secret division of female CIA agents, and they’ve both recently and reluctantly retired. And they’re not handling it well. They’re a little trigger happy and a whole lot about some conspiracy theories. But, if I may say, they’re so much fun. Here’s a scene where we’re introduced to Sylvie, the matriarch of this family. She ain’t your cookie-baking, doily-knitting granny…
They say home is where the heart is.
I say home is where my cheating ex-fiancé is, so I really hadn’t ever planned on making a move anywhere near the same time zone as Evan Holbrook.
But then that certified letter came and changed everything.
Sugar Creek, Arkansas, hadn’t been home to me since I’d left town just two weeks shy of high school graduation on a plane to Los Angeles, fueled by the promises of a talent agent and my own youthful arrogance. That had been ten years and many failures ago. And at some point, the failure gets so big, you can’t fit it all in a suitcase and bring it home. So you stay away, promising to return when the favorable winds shift your direction once again.
Oh, I’d been back to Sugar Creek a few times. Like when I let my fiancé talk me into holding our wedding here for some small town charm and good press.
How was I to know he intended to practically light that press on fire, using my good name as kindling?
My eyes now lingered on every familiar sight as I drove through this town I’d avoided. There was the elementary where I’d broken my arm in third grade, attempting a master level Double Dutch move. The two-story Victorian home with a manicured exterior as uptight as the owner, Mrs. Mary Lee Smith, whose claim to fame included being a descendant of Robert E. Lee and surviving five years of me in her cotillion classes. (She told my momma a Lee never had it so bad.) There was the vacant field near the VFW where the summer fair set up, where I stood on a flatbed trailer at the age of ten and sang Beyonce to a corndog eating crowd and knew I’d found my life’s work. There was the Sugar Creek Chapel, a beautiful glass structure that had landed in every bridal magazine as an ideal, quaint wedding location. It had certainly been ideal to me once upon a time.
But then Evan decided to throw some drama into our wedding, leaving me at the altar, bringing shame down on my head, heavy as that ugly veil his momma talked me into wearing. Half the town had been invited to those nuptials. Evan and I had pretty much been the Will and Kate of Sugar Creek. But my prince stopped our ceremony mid-vow, let go of my hand, told me it was over before God and gape-mouthed man, and walked away. The only wedding gift I kept was a chrome toaster—with aspirations of tossing it in Evan’s bath water.
Fed up with the Southern-drawled whispers and speculative looks, I’d high-tailed it back to my beloved L.A.
And two years later I found myself back in Sugar Creek again. Desperation was the only thing that could slip its hold around my neck like a lasso and drag me back. And desperate I was.
“Snap out of it,” I told myself, shoving aside memories and broken dreams, bitter as unripened berries. “Focus on where you’re going.” I sounded like the therapist I could no longer afford.
I drove “Shirley,” an old Camry that was a daily insult to the Mercedes convertible I’d had to surrender. Shirley was loud and sassy and liked to shimmy at inappropriate moments, but I guess she got me where I wanted to go. Or in this case, where I didn’t want to go.
The old car shook with a rusty palsy while I did a loop around the square. The heart beating beneath my cotton t-shirt warned me that Sugar Creek was where people dropped by for a visit and never left, buying themselves a corner lot and the picket fence dream they hadn’t even known they’d wanted. Like many downtowns across this fine country, Sugar Creek had recently begun the process of a restoration, rejuvenating the ghostlike, boarded up ruins of the past into a bustling community, looking like something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The square and its surrounding streets were dotted with small shops, a few bed and breakfasts, a bank that still passed out lollipops to your kids.
“Come on, Shirley. You can do it. Just a few streets more.” Perhaps it was my weary imagination, but the car seemed to rally,
A familiar house came into view, a marshmallow white Queen Anne with its wrap-around porch, and a smile lifted my lips.
I might not want to live in Sugar Creek forever, and I might be resentful of why I was there, but there was nothing like finally returning to the sweet, gentle embrace of your beloved grandmother.
Wondering at the cars lining the street, I parked in the driveway of 105 Davis Street, hopped out of Shirley, and ran to the door. Oh, grandmothers. They baked cookies. They played pretend. They told bedtime stories and sang lullabies and slipped you a five dollar bill when nobody was looking.
And then there was my grandma.
“State your business,” came a voice from the shrubs. “Or I activate the home security yard gnomes. They’ll shoot pepper spray from their hats and taser-volts straight outta their knickers.”
“Stand down, Agent Hot Stuff.” I grinned. “It’s your beloved granddaughter. I’ve returned to kiss your wrinkled brow and make your life complete in your golden years before we ship you off to Shady Acres.”
Sylvie Sutton stepped from the shadows. “I’ve paid good money to make sure there are no wrinkles in this brow.” She held out her toned arms. “Come here and give us a kiss, Paisley Sutton.”
I ran into her embrace like our own reenactment of The Notebook: Grandparents’ Edition. “I’ve missed you,” I said.
“You, too, Shug.” Sylvie stepped back and took a measured study. “Are you eating? Sleeping? You look a little peaked.”
“I look a little broke.” And broken hearted.
“You’ve come to the right place.” Sylvie slipped her arm around my waist and drew me onto the porch. “Come on inside. You’re just in time for book club.”
Oh, no. The last thing I wanted was to see people and have to carry on small talk. “I’ve driven a really long way. I really just wanted to see you, then grab the keys to the rent house and crash.”
“Uh-huh.” Sylvie held open the screen door. “About that rental . . . ”
“Look who’s finally here!” My cousin Emma appeared in the foyer, her eyes bright, her hair perfect, and her hands making little claps of delight. She tackled me in an impressive bear hug. “Run,” she whispered in her ear. “Run while you can. Aunt Maxine’s visiting.”
“I heard that.” Sylvie escorted us past the Victorian’s formal living room and into what she liked to call her parlor. And if parlor meant a place where coasters weren’t required and folks gathered around the giant screen TV, then parlor it was. “Nobody’s leaving. Paisley just got here.”
“Hello, Sweet Pea.” My grandmother’s sister Maxine Simmons tackled me in a hug, her hands patting all over me like she was airport security. “Tanned and toned. Could you be anymore of a Hollywood cliche?” My crazy great-aunt clucked her tongue. “Someone get this girl a burger. She’s OD’d on salads and tofu.”
“Quit hogging her, Maxine.” Frannie Nelson stood to her feet, her lips pulled into a smile that could power the street lights. “Girl, you bring some of those hugs to me.”
“You been gone too long.” Frannie could speak five languages, but Southern was her dialect of choice. “It’s about time you got right with Jesus and came on home.”
Frannie and I didn’t share DNA, a last name, or even the same skin color. But she was as family as any blood relative of Sylvie’s. The two shared a unique bond, one that could be trying in the worst of times, entertaining in the best. The two had recently retired from the C.I.A., having devoted their entire adult lives to intrigue and espionage. To say retirement was going well was like saying World War II was just a little historical hiccup. Both women had been mysteriously recruited into the bureau at the age of seventeen under a top secret program when women were more likely to take care of a home than take a bullet for their country. Sylvie had married her high school sweetheart two weeks before graduation, given him five children by the age of twenty-five, then left most of the child-rearing to her husband. She knew more about bomb diffusions than diapers and more about middle eastern spies than spaghetti dinners. She freely admitted she wouldn’t win any parenting awards, but she was bound and determined to be the grandma her grandchildren needed. And, as Emma had warned me, now equally as committed to seeing us all matched and married. So far Emma had taken the bait, as she was now engaged to the handsome Sugar Creek mayor. But Sylvie would not get me. No, sirree. You could bet your nukes on that one.
“Welcome to Sexy Book Club,” Emma said. “Frannie and Sylvie already heave a husband picked out for you.”
“I told Paisley all about him,” Sylvie said. “Have you given my plan any more thought?”
“No,” I said. “I’m still not up for an arranged marriage to an Israeli diplomat.”
Sylvie shared a look with Frannie and Maxine. “Some people just have no sense of romance and peace-keeping.”
The room was full of a handful of other women of various ages, each who held tablets or paperbacks in their laps, and all who greeted me with familiar warmth or unbridled curiosity.
“You look like you could use some punch and cookies.” Sylvie handed me a plate as I settled onto the couch.
“Thank you. I really can’t stay though.”
“What’s brought you back home, toots?” Aunt Maxine asked.
“I’m just here for a little while,” I said. “Home is in Los Angeles.”
“She just inherited her great-aunt’s wedding planning business,” Sylvie said.
My weird great aunt Zelda, who’d had no children, had left me and my two siblings all she had. My brother had received money. My younger sister a bunch of stock held in a trust, and me? The woman had strongly disliked me and left me her dying business.
I caught my grandmother’s eye. “I’m dead on my feet. Can I just get the keys for the rental and—”
“Let’s talk about Cordero.” Sylvie held up her iPad like a chalice, her voice booming in the room. “Did everyone read the whole book this time?”
“You might as well settle in,” Emma said from her spot beside me. “Sylvie won’t let anything get in the way of book club night. Not even her exhausted granddaughter. I speak from experience”
“What book are you discussing?” I asked.
Sylvie smiled. “The Cowboy Lassos A Peasant.”
“This is Sexy Book Club,” Sylvie said. “When we retired last year, Frannie and I decided we’d try out some hobbies. So far this is the only one that’s stuck.”
“We started with some classics,” Frannie said. “But we got bored.”
Sylvie nodded. “Lots of big words.”
“So we started reading some of those hot romance novels.” Frannie lifted her dark brows high. “Ooowee.”
“Romance novels?” I frowned.
“Or as we like to call them”—Sylvie patted her iPad—“the unsung classics.”
Aunt Maxine nodded. “Twenty-first century literature at it’s finest.”
I melted into the couch cushions and stuck a cookie in my mouth.
“Now, let’s begin.” Sylvie swiped at her tablet. “Does anyone have anything to say about the theme?”
Blank stares from every lady in the room.
“Any poignant symbolism?” Sylvie inquired.
“Okay,” Sylvie said. “Any comments about our hero Cordero?”
All hands shot toward the ceiling. “Ew, me!”
“I’d like to visit his prairie!”
“He can rope my doggies anytime!”
As the chatter swelled about this fictional paragon of sexy, I leaned toward my grandma. “I’ve been driving for two days, and as much as I’d love to stay and hear more about the main character’s pecs and kissing techniques, I’m about to fall over with exhaustion. Could I just get the keys to the rent house?”
Sylvie poked an entire cookie in her mouth, eyes wide.
“What are you not telling me?” I asked.
My grandmother chewed thoughtfully, shouted out an amen to something dirty Frannie said, then finally looked at me, her face a little too innocent. “Nothing. Nothing at all. I was just hoping you’d stay a night or two with me. But I know you’re tired. You’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
That was an understatement. Tomorrow would change my life. Turn everything around.
“The garage code is the chest and waist measurements of Vladimir Putin’s body double.”
My head hurt. “Can I just get a key instead?”
“So change in plans. You’ll be staying at the house on Bowen Street. It’s a bit smaller and has some issues. When Emma gets married and moves out, you can have her rental. It’s a bit more deluxe.”
Emma chimed in. “We could bunk up. You can help me with wedding preparations.”
I’d rather have a unity candle shoved up my nose. “That’s sweet, but I don’t mind cramped.”
“The wedding’s not for another six weeks,” Sylvie said. “I told Emma to shack up with her sweetie and swing from the chandelier of sin, but they’re not having it.”
“How much is rent?” I lifted my cup to her lips.
“Okay.” I stood and stretched my aching back. “I’m waiting for the catch. There’s always a catch with you, Sylvie.”
“Uh-huh,” Frannie said. “That’s exactly what I told her when we got captured in Cairo in eighty-two.”
Sylvie ignored this. “No catch.” She kissed my weary cheek. “Good night, Shug. Get some rest.” Her lips curved into a curious smile. “You, my dear, are going to need it.”
About The Author
Award-winning, best-selling author Jenny B. Jones writes romance, cozies, and YA with sass and Southern charm. Since she has very little free time, Jenny believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits, such as eating ice cream, watching puppy videos, and reading celebrity gossip. She lives in the beautiful state of Arkansas and has worked in public education for half of forever. She loves bluegrass, a good laugh, and strong tea. She adores hearing from readers.
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