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Bubbles Unbound Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 2002
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There's also a nice little mystery here. Because I read "Bubbles Ablaze" first, I knew that two red herrings were actually good guys, and I also learned the ultimate fate of the perps there. I can't really recommend "Bubbles Ablaze" because it was so strung-out and unfocused, but that problem is not present in "Bubbles Unbound."
Instead we get a stream of colorful characters and a mystery that won't leave you depressed. One of the minuses from a reader's point of view is that Strohmeyer inserts "beauty recipes" at the end of a few chapters, much as some romance writers print recipes there for reasons I have yet to figure out. There aren't many and by golly, I'm going to take notes on some, but they do interfere with the reading. For instance, a color rinse concoction has to be preceded by someone using it in the text. (But it sounds like it'll cover up my gray hairs well.)
One of the things I hope the author plays with is that Bubbles, while she never paid attention to much of her schooling besides journalism, has had an extensive and far-reaching (sometimes obscure) education, thanks to her ex-husband being forced by the courts to pay for it. She does take advantage of that in one (two?) place(s) here but I'd like to see more. It's a really fun concept, especially for the sometimes-ignorant Bubbles!
A co-worker recommended this series to me because it's one of her favorites. I can certainly see where a vacation could only be improved by packing this book instead of some dreary, too-serious murder mystery.