(A Jaine Austen Mystery #12)
Love is in the air as freelance writer Jaine Austen begins a new job at the Dates of Joy matchmaking service–but between juggling her boss’s demands, deflecting the advances of an eccentric suitor, and tracking down a calculating killer, she hardly has time to think about romance. . .
When Jaine lands a job writing web copy and brochures for matchmaker Joy Amoroso, she’s excited for a chance to help the lovelorn just in time for Valentine’s Day–until she realizes what “Dates of Joy” is really all about. Joy is a ruthless taskmaster who screams at her employees for the smallest infractions, pads her website with pictures of professional models posing as clients, and offers up convincing but empty promises of love in exchange for inordinate sums of money. And woe betide anyone who lays a finger on her heavily guarded stash of chocolates.
So it’s no surprise when the chiseling cupid turns up dead at a Valentine’s Day mixer. Aghast to find herself on the cops’ suspect list, Jaine sets out to track down the killer. Who could it be? Joy’s harried assistants, whose lives she made a living hell? Her younger lover? The handsome hunk of a client with a secret in his past? Or the furious Beverly Hills widow who forked over the last of her savings for a Prince Charming who never materialized?
Joy left behind a slew of enemies struck by her deviant arrows, so finding the culprit may prove harder than spotting that elusive caramel praline in a box of chocolates–and Jaine will have to flirt with danger to get to the truth…
I was very underwhelmed by this book, especially after just having read “What Nora knew”. It just felt like this book wanted to be as quirky and witty as Nora but in my eyes it didn’t even come close. A lot of scenes seemed forced and I felt no connection whatsoever to Jaine. Overall my interest in this book was pretty limited and there was never really a time where I felt that I just had to keep reading to find out more. By the way, this is not even close to being the first book in the series and I hadn’t read any of the previous books. This has nothing to do with the fact that I didn’t like the book, because it never felt as if I missed anything due to not having read its predecessors. But it might have been possible that I would have become more attached to Jaine before this book came along, but perhaps I might have just stopped after the first book if it was written in the same style this was.
Jaine never appealed to me as a character. I think she was meant to be funny and smart, but in my eyes she always missed the mark. A lot of her dialogue and interactions felt unnatural and therefore it didn’t flow very well. I know that this is a sort of detective series with Jaine doing the unofficial investigating of the crime. But for me it never really clicked to see her snooping around, it never felt natural for her to be in that position. It felt more like Jaine sticking her nose in other people’s business, without any real personal motivation to do so besides her extreme curiosity. Add to that the pushiness and obnoxiousness of her questioning and you see the main reasons why she didn’t appeal to me. Throughout the book there were plenty of references made to what Jaine was and wasn’t eating and I found it very annoying. Good for the author that she is trying to make it okay to not care so much about your weight that you won’t eat your favorite food. But this was too much of a good thing. It was just being shoved into our faces so often that she was eating a certain calorie bomb and couldn’t care less. Another thing that bothered me throughout the book were her interactions with other people. There was always something that made the scene less real than it could have been. Last but not least I really disliked Jaine’s parents. They were way over the top and their “adventures” weren’t in any way necessary for the story.
The story itself welt a bit forced as well, as many other things in the book did. The combination of all the situations didn’t fit together very well and this really hindered my engagement to the story. The parents’ storyline could have been thrown out because it had no point. It might have been e recurring thing throughout the series, but it just didn’t appeal to me in the least. As mentioned before I wasn’t sold by Jaine’s reasons to investigate the crime and this did a lot towards me feeling disconnected to the story. While the writing wasn’t bad, it also wasn’t great. At times it didn’t flow as easy and this didn’t help my interest in the storyline. As I was writing this review I even forgot who turned out to be the killer, which comes to show just how uninterested the story left me.
In general this book just couldn’t pull me in. It just tried to be many things at once and that left the whole feeling a bit too forced to be enjoyable. I can’t say I would recommend this book to anyone.