One of the great things about amateur sleuth mysteries—at least for me—is the level of wish-fulfillment. I’ve owned my own business, been a contractor, a sales clerk, a computer consultant, a bartender…you name it. Every dogsbody job you can think of, I’ve had it. But I’ve never solved a murder and come to the attention of a sexy cop in the process.
No such problem for Piper Donovan, heroine of Mary Jane Clark’s The Look of Love. The aspiring actress and current cake decorator lives in New Jersey with her parents while auditioning for roles in New York and helping out at her mother’s bakery. But then, out of the blue, she’s invited to stay— all-expenses-paid—at Elysium, one of L.A.’s most exclusive spas, in exchange for making the wedding cake for the owner’s daughter.
Of course, this is a mystery, so things don’t go well—both the bride and her family have many enemies, none of whom want the wedding to go forward, and Piper herself becomes a target—but that doesn’t impair my enjoyment of the fantasy.
Piper stared out the window as the limousine entered the grounds of Elysium. The long driveway was edged with dense trees bearing glossy green leaves and lacy sprays of small white flowers.
“What are those?” she asked.
“Avocado treese,” answered the driver. “In fa few months, they’ll be laden with fruit. We use them in so many things here, from beauty treatments to milk shakes.”
The car pulled up in front of a white stucco mansion with a sienna-colored tile roof. A young man dressed in a peach shirt and khaki slacks immediately came to the limousine and opened the rear door.
“Welcome to Elysium, señorita,” he said as Piper got out of the car.
She inhaled the sweet, fresh air and looked around. Clusters of palm trees, fronds swaying in the breeze, flanked the mansion. Hibiscus and bougainvillea grew from gigantic clay pots carefully placed around the perimeter of the stone-paved courtyard, while water cascaded over the sides of a three-tiered fountain in the middle. Everythign was bathed in Southern California sunlight and exuded a feelig of carefully cultivated well-being.
Yeah. It couldn’t be further from my messy house in zero-degree New York with my three annoying dogs barking at me. So what if there are murders and perverts and acid-throwing maniacs? It still sounds like a grand time to me.
Laura K. Curtis lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and 3 dogs who’ve taught her how easily love can co-exist with the desire to kill. She blogs at Women of Mystery and maintains an online store at TorchSongs GlassWorks. She can also be found on Twitter and poking her nose into all sorts of trouble in various spots around the web.