Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Baker's Dozen of Reviews: Day One--The Sassy Belles

The Sassy Belle
By Beth Albright
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Blake O’Hara Heart and Vivi McFadden are BFFs, and have been since they were nine-year-olds in a Catholic school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, so who else would Vivi turn to when Lewis Heart, Vivi’s latest lover and the Voice of the Crimson Tide, stops breathing during an intimate encounter at the Fountain Mist Motel. Both Blake and her husband Harry, brother to the breathless Lewis, are attorneys. Vivi is going to need two attorneys because by the time the police get to the Fountain Mist, the body has disappeared.

Things get more complicated by the minute when the homicide investigator in charge of the case turns out to be Sonny Bartholomew, Blake’s old boyfriend. The murder case may have turned into a missing person case, but Vivi is still a person of interest. Blake and Harry spend the tenth anniversary of a marriage that may be in its death throes in the bar of the historic Tutwiler Hotel, the scene of Harry ‘s proposal, listening to the man Blake might have married ask her best friend questions about  Vivi’s sex life with the missing brother  to whom Harry hasn’t spoken in six years. This may be a scandal big enough to torpedo Harry’s chances of becoming the next senator from Alabama. 

The case seems to be stirring up more questions than answers, and half of Tuscaloosa, including Blake’s former stepsister and forever bête noire, seems to be bent on inserting themselves into the mystery. Meanwhile, Blake’s personal life is also growing more complicated as the distance between her and increases and her feelings for Sonny grow more intense. Some things are broken beyond repair, some things are fixed, and answers come from unexpected sources, but through it all three generations of Sassy Belles, “Southern Belles with attitude and a splash of fun,” emerge triumphant.

Beth Albright’s debut novel blends elements of romance, mystery, and chick lit into a frothy mix that is as Southern as grits and barbecue and as appealing as a glass of cold sweet tea on an August afternoon. Albright overgeneralizes Southern experience, but the result is a cast of amusing characters.  The Sassy Belles was such fun to read that even a reader with ties to Georgia and Auburn could enjoy a few hours in Tide Country.

The setting for this book is a real place, clearly one that the author knows well. Do you prefer your settings real or fictional?

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