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Diners, Dives & Dead Ends (A Rose Strickland Mystery) (Volume 1) Paperback – July 17, 2012
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Austin's debut kicks off her planned series by introducing a quirky, feisty heroine and a great supporting cast of characters and putting them through quite a number of interesting twists. --Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
When Terri L. Austin isn't writing, she enjoys eating breakfast at her local diner, watching really bad movies, and hanging out with her kids when they re home from college. She lives in Missouri with her funny, handsome husband and her high maintenance peekapoo. Her debut novel, Diners, Dives, & Dead Ends, was a 2011 Get Your Stiletto in the Door finalist. Stop by her website and see what's new or drop her an email to say hello. She loves to hear from readers!
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So you take all of that stuff and add in the fact that this book is really well written, funny and fast paced, with plenty of emotion and humor, lots of twists and turns and the hint of a shockingly unlikely romance and...well...what more could you want? I loved this book and can't wait to read the next one.
This first book in Austin's debut series introduces Rose, a mixed-up twentysomething who thinks her life as a waitress/student is pretty dull. Then her closest friend goes missing and her world is flipped on end by shady characters and startling revelations about some of her hometown's most prominent citizens.
With a colorful supporting cast that includes Rose's spunky, sassy boss (who says you can't have adventures after 70?), and plenty of men vying for our heroine's attention, this book definitely has something for everyone. Rose is smart and independent, and the contrast between her and her sister, who took the road her parents pointed her toward and lives a very comfortable life, adds a nice layer of family drama to the story.
Austin deftly sets Rose up as a "real" character who has refreshingly appropriate reactions to the crazy situation she's thrown into. I really liked that Rose didn't behave as though she knew she was the heroine in a thriller, but rather as most ordinary people would if they were thrust into such an extraordinary situation.
Witty dialogue and snappy writing keep the narrative moving right along, and I loved the fact that even when I thought I had it all figured out, there was one more surprise waiting that I really didn't see coming.
Bravo, Ms. Austin! I can't wait to see what kind of trouble Rose gets into next -- or which guy she chooses.
My favorite character is Rose, because of her loyalty to friends, her strength of character, her "wicked sense of humor and independent spirit." Rose (short for Rosalyn), along with her older sister Jacqueline (both named for First Ladies -- Rose calls her "Jacks"), was raised in the lap of luxury in Huntingford, Missouri. Growing up, Rose got everything she ever wanted -- as long as what she wanted coincided with what her parents wanted for her.
It wasn't until after Rose's freshman year of college ("...the college they had chosen for me. A small, private, all-girls-all-the-time school. I hated it.") that Rose's hopes and dreams collided with her parents' plans for her. Rose refused to return to the women's college, wanting to attend a different college instead, one where she would be happier. Her parents responded to this decision (an unreasonable one, in their opinion) by kicking her out and cutting off all financial support. No doubt, her parents expected Rose to come to her senses, apologize, grovel even, re-enroll at the girls' school, and carry on in their pre-determined plan for her life.
No doubt, they are astonished that, after five years, Rose is still supporting herself and able to pay for college. (For the details, read the book!)
Oh, and there are also mysteries. Can't forget them! Rose is quite a sleuth, although a reluctant one, and saves the day by rescuing Ax. (No, that's not a spoiler. This is a cozy mystery. The heroine's best bud doesn't get killed in a cozy.) She keeps asking the police for their help, but they basically ignore her missing person reports, so she has to find him without them.
Diners, Dives & Dead Ends has a great ending! Author Terri L. Austin picks up a minor plot thread from the beginning of the book, and re-weaves what seems to be the ending of the book into a not-quite-cozy, exciting, thrilling direction -- one which ensures that Sullivan will be back in Rose's life for many books to come!
Oh, Sullivan.... (We always fall for the bad boys, don't we.)
*His blue-black hair was combed away from his perfect face. His gold eyes -- not golden-brown, just gold -- glittered in the faint glow of my yard sale flamingo lamp. With light honeyed skin stretched over strong cheekbones, he was beautiful -- like fallen angel beautiful. He scared me a lot more than the other guy. It was obvious he was in charge and Scarface was just there for back up.
*Putting his hands up in a placating gesture, he stepped into the apartment. He was dressed in an expensive suit with a red striped tie.
"I'm not crazy about that tie."
He looked down and fingered it. "Why not?"
"Did I say that out loud"? God, I was tired.
"Yes, you did." He walked toward the kitchen. "Got anything to drink?"
I trailed after him. "Not for you."
*I tried to pull my hands out of his grasp, but he tightened his hold on me. A little shiver zinged through me. Sullivan was the bad guy. Not the guy I should be zinging for.
*He leaned forward, his hands bracing on the armrests of my chair. He was all up in my personal space. And he smelled so good.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. For more about Sullivan (or BJ [Bossy Jackass] as Rose refers to him, before she sleuths out his name), Ax, Roxy, Ma, and of course Rose, read Diners, Dives & Dead Ends by Terri L. Austin. It's a Five-Kitty read, and highly recommended for all cozy mystery fans, especially those who like their heroines strong and sassy, and their men on the bad side.
(Originally published at www.JaneReads2.blogspot.com)