Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Publisher:   Berkley
Date published:   February 1, 2011
ISBN:  978-0425239865
Genre:   cozy mystery
Book format: Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com


During an otherwise routine workday at her mother, Violetta’s salon, Grace Terhune doesn’t have much on her mind except the next customer when one Audrey Faye bursts into the salon. Audrey is the head of the Miss Magnolia Blossom pageant and she needs someone to do the contestants’ hair and nails. Always ready to pitch in to help out in their small town, Violetta tells Grace and the shop’s manicurist, Stella, to go on ahead and help out at the pageant. Glad to do her part, Grace goes along with Stella not far behind.

The Miss Magnolia Blossom in the first step to great pageant success and the contestants are all out to prove they are the best choice for the next young woman to be crowned. The contestants range in temperament from sweet and demur southern ladies to outright determined to win. Their talents range as well from routine pageant baton twirling to a unique skill – breaking down an M-16 rifle.

When things start to go wrong…a tumbling mat suddenly falls apart, dresses are cut and Audrey is murdered…did I just say Audrey is murdered?  Well yes, when the pageant coordinator is found dead Grace finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. One that could soon find her in the killer’s sights.

I first “discovered” Lila Dare when my book club read the first book in her Southern Beauty Shop series, TRESSED TO KILL and I was hooked.  Ms. Dare has a fantastic writing voice, her characters are unique and highly individualistic. Their relationships ebb and flow in a natural manner and I just plain liked them. When the opportunity to review POLISHED OFF, book 2 of the series, I was not disappointed.

Each character is highly believable and you can read the books on two levels – simple enjoyment of unravelling the murder along with Grace or looking at the deeper levels such as why women find themselves changing to accommodate the men in their lives.  How many of us had a solid friendship that went out the door the minute a friend met a new beau—finding ourselves by the wayside?

Ms. Dare does a wonderful job showing the ins and outs of the pageant business and reasons why women compete. She also takes us into the motivations of why families get involved and the pressure the contestants face to win.

There are some fun moments where I found myself chuckling out loud and times when I went “hmmm” at the choice Althea was making. In my book club were are chatting about the choice Grace may soon have to make between Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigator John Dillon and news reporter Marty. If you know me at all, you known which gentleman I’m hoping she chooses.

POLISHED OFF is can be a standalone book in this series because of how well Ms. Dare tells the backstory of book 1. With great southern style she eases you into the story and gives the salient points of book 1.  That said, however, you really don’t want to miss book 1 simply because that too is a well told mystery.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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