Chasing Venus – Diana Dempsey

This may be one instance where I shouldn’t have judged a book by its cover- this is not merely the fluffy romance i had expected! The title and cover don’t say murder-mystery-romance to me, but I was pleasantly surprised: Diana Dempsey is fast becoming one of my frothy go-to authors. Annie is a recently divorced who-dunnit author just finding success, but when a serial killer begins offing her contemporaries in the same style as their book characters, she finds herself framed. Faced with certain arrest, Annie becomes a fugitive, enlisting Reid, a former cop, as her reluctant shelter. Reid had contacted Annie in his role as presenter of a crime-fighting television show, but when she goes on the lam, Reid finds himself risking it all when he believes her side of the story.

Kooks for your Kindle?– No overabundance of wacky sidekicks here, although I wouldn’t have complained if Annie’s hippy parents had played a larger role, they had potential. Reid’s colleague Sheila was thoughtfully written, even as a lesser role of the jealous former lover. Reid has his own demons, obsessing over another killer more personal to his past.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Annie’s no bimbo, she’s an intelligent writer who also has the nerve to turn fugitive for as long as it takes to clear her name. At first I thought she was nuts for going on the run, and later breaking and entering; but she’s a tough cookie who thinks quickly in a crisis. In all the Dempsey books I’ve read so far the leads have all been strong, intelligent women, but still with variation of character.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The action takes place up and down the length of California, from fancy beachfront homes to modest apartments to a cabin in the woods. Of course in this day and age it’s not possible to go to ground for too long before being caught, so the tale is of a period of only a week or so.

Evaluation of your eBook?– I’m pleased to say I didn’t guess who the killer was before I was supposed to, and I like to think that’s due to the skill of the author, not my own addled brain. There’s some romance, although I thought their discussions about their future was a bit of a moot point when she was up for 4 counts of murder and he was aiding and abetting, but people have their own coping methods! The best news is, right now the book is totally free (see links below), but even if it wasn’t, it would still be worth it for an easy to read murder mystery with some added romance.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Free at Amazon and WHSmith.

US: Free at Kobobooksand Amazon

Ms America And The Offing On Oahu- Diana Dempsey

A beauty queen’s quest to be appreciated for her brains as well as her looks. Happy Pennington has just been crowned Ms America- but possibly only because the favourite was murdered during the final. With this making her a suspect, Happy takes matters into her own hands to clear her name.

Kooks for your Kindle?– The usual selection of supporting characters, including a typically adorable Ms Congeniality and a slightly batty mother, not too over the top.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Phew, not a whiff of it here; Happy is on a mission to prove how resourceful and clever she is. Unfazed by danger, she doggedly sets out to clear her name and subvert the stereotype of the dumb beauty queen, while respecting the hard work she and her colleagues put into pageanting.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– It’s doubtful that anybody needs any encouragement to go to Hawaii, but you are guaranteed to feel the urge to sip a well decorated cocktail at sunset having read this book. The setting is mostly at the plush hotel, with some eventful excursions. The author has a lovely way with words, of course that’s what we take for granted in an author, but Dempsey has a singular way of conveying the intelligence behind the pretty exterior of the lead character.

Nookie for your Nook?– This being a pageant for married women, our heroine has her husband along, but most of the time he is stashed out of the way in another hotel and largely forgotten. Fortunately he seems extremely understanding.

Evaluation of your eBook?-. A character with potential (a sequel is already out there), with echoes of the Miss Congeniality movie. There are shades of Stephanie Plum in her amateur, plucky efforts at crime solving, but different enough to set it apart. It reduced speed at one small point in the middle, but still skipped along well for a medium size read. Best devoured on a beach, because it WILL invoke the urge for the aforementioned cocktail.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

UK: A bargain 77p on Amazon UK, and 98p from WHSmith.

US: 99c from Amazon or 99c from Kobobooks US and Kobo Canada.