Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review: A Date You Can't Refuse by Harley Jane Kozak (Wollie Shelley Mysteries #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great story, strong characters, funny
Cons: Climax could have been better
The Bottom Line:
Another wild romp
Through Wollie's dating mishaps
Can't put it down fun

A Date You Won't Want to Refuse

While most people probably know Harley Jane Kozak as an actress, I know her best as an author.  Her Wollie Shelley mysteries border a bit on chick lit, but they are also fast paced and fun.  A Date You Can't Refuse is the fourth in the series.  And once again greeting card designer Wollie has found herself a job to supplement her income that involves dating.

Wollie never expected to transition her jury duty service into a new job, but that's just what happens when Yuri Milos offers her a job at MediasRex.  The company trains Europeans on how to be American media darlings, and Wollie's job would be part driver, part dating/social setting coach.  Further complicating things, the FBI rope her into spying on the MediasRex employees in exchange for guaranteeing that her brother will stay at his half-way house.

She has hardly moved into the MediasRex complex when she discovers that her predecessor died in a car crash that no one is willing to discuss.  Was it the accident everyone says it is or murder?  A body in a nearby canyon only increases the stakes.  Can Wollie get out alive?

I hadn't quite realized just how convoluted the premise of the book was until I started writing a synopsis.  Honestly, it is all explained quite logically in the first few chapters.  Once Wollie first arrives at MediasRex, things take off in a hurry.  I had a hard time putting the book down.  It seemed every few pages brought another complication or revelation.  The climax didn't quite live up to my normal parameters, but that is my only complaint about the book.

Even with Wollie living in a compound, the series regulars are still as involved as ever.  All of them are memorable, well drawn characters.  Wollie and her boyfriend are the only two of the regulars who are that complex, but the others are colorful enough you probably won't notice.

And the cast of new characters are outstanding.  There are quite a few of them, but most of them stand out immediately.  A few of the minor characters get lost in the background, but that can happen anywhere.  The men Wollie is working with are an absolute riot.

Which brings us to the humor.  It's been a couple years since I read book three, so I hadn't remembered just how funny these books could be.  I was laughing more than once at the situations that Wollie found herself in while trying to keep her charges out of danger.

The narration provides its own humor.  Wollie narrates, giving us commentary on events at times that is guaranteed to make you laugh.  The writing is strong here, making the pages fly by.

It would be a mistake to pass by A Date You Can't Refuse.  If you are a fan of lighter mysteries, this book is definitely for you.

Since this is the last one, you might want to back up and read the Wollie Shelley Mysteries in order.

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