When former girl band member Paisley Sutton receives news that she has inherited a wedding planning business back in her hometown of Sugar Creek, Arkansas, she leaves L.A. thinking to complete the terms of her late aunt’s will so she can sell Enchanted Events to finance her musical comeback.
Only neither the business nor her hometown are quite the charmless, out of date places she remembers. Instead she returns, to a surprisingly modern, thriving company and a revitalized Sugar Creek. Both begin to challenge her plans and perceptions, as do the people she had left behind. Paisley begins to feel the tug on her heartstrings, thanks to her adventurous ex-CIA grandmother, good friend and cousin Emma and her new next door neighbor and old crush, Beau Hudson.
When bridezilla Sasha, who is engaged to Paisley’s ex-fiance, winds up dead in the middle of an appointment with Paisley and in Enchanted Events’ building, Paisley becomes the prime suspect. All clues seem to point to her as the murderer and the police are looking for evidence to lock her up. So Paisley decides to investigate the crime for herself with a little help from her grandmother Sylvia and Sylvia’s close friend Frannie. Will they discover the truth before it is too late? With a bride who made enemies of everyone, is there anyone who didn’t have a motive to kill her? Will Paisley and Beau become more than just neighbors?
Y’all. Can’t nobody write like Jenny B Jones. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of her books, you are in for a real treat! I have a list of must-read authors in various genres, but Jones is in a class by herself. One of the hallmarks of her writing is her unique and quirky characters as well as the humor and southern charm woven into every story. Her heroines are always sassy and smart, often finding themselves in embarrassing and even ridiculous situations. They tend toward humor as a way of coping with their crazy lives. Jones’ heroines usually use sarcasm as a love language. The hero and heroine often engage in clever verbal sparring that leaves the reader feeling like a spectator at a tennis match as they watch that verbal ball passed back and forth, wondering who will be the victor of the match. But to counter that, Jones always shows the tender, vulnerable underbellies of her heroines, often showing their inner strength and commitment to those they love despite trying circumstances. And I haven’t even mentioned the endearing, sometimes outrageous secondary characters which you really just wish you could meet in person and adopt as your own.
Engaged in Trouble has all the hallmarks of Jones’ usual style. I loved Sylvia, Paisley’s one of a kind grandmother who tells random, unbelievable stories of her time with the CIA and uses her still up to date spy skills on Paisley’s behalf. Who wouldn’t love an elderly woman who has more verve, personality and energy than a bouncy high school cheerleader and who treats everything like a matter of national security and life and death? It doesn’t hurt that Sylvia and her friend Frannie are shameless in just being themselves and are trying to recruit Paisley into their spy world and their Sexy Book Club.
Paisley herself is a walking disaster as it seems that everything she touches seems to explode into chaos. But, she doesn’t give up. She keep trying, she keeps putting herself out there despite rejection, suspicion, and the judgment of others, as she tries to solve the mystery of who killed bridezilla.
Paisley’s relationship with Beau is a smaller part of the overall story, but one which intrigues me. Especially since this book is the first of a series. Like a fisherman, Jones lets out just enough of their story line to hook me and reel me in. I can’t wait to learn more about both of them, particularly the quiet, suffering former soldier who is struggling with his PTSD, but still has enough care and concern to make sure Paisley is safe and yet emboldened.
In many ways this first book reminds me a bit of Jones’ The Charmed Life series. Her YA series about a privileged teenager who is forced to leave Manhattan to live with her mother in a small Oklahoma community and gets involved in solving various local mysteries. Since that is one of my favorite series, it makes me very happy to read echoes of that in Engaged in Trouble.
So, to keep from rambling on and on, I will say, as I expected to, I really loved this book. It showcases all the best characteristics of a Jenny B Jones story, all of which make it very special. If you want to read something unique and fun with a little bit of romance, a little bit of mystery and a whole lot of humor and character, then you can’t go wrong with this or any other of Jones’ books.
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