Engaged in Death (Wedding Planner Mystery #1)by Stephanie Blackmoore

Published June 28th 2016 by Kensington

5 Stars

Synopsis: All appears peaceful in sleepy Port Quincy, Pennsylvania–but in this small town, old grudges die hard. . .

After dumping her cheating fiancé and cancelling the wedding, Mallory Shepard can’t bear another disaster. So when the former bride-to-be unexpectedly inherits Thistle Park, a ramshackle mansion in her ex’s hometown of Port Quincy, it’s a problem she can’t afford–literally. Abound with stray cats, peeling wallpaper, and nosy neighbors, Mallory is dying to sell it off–once she finally fixes up both the place and her messy life. . .

Turns out, Thistle Park has its charms. But the honeymoon phase is abruptly cut short when an unwanted visitor is found dead on the front lawn. Enlisting the help of her sister Rachel, Mallory vows to unveil the killer before she herself becomes married to the suspect list. . .

My Review: This is a great debut novel and I hope a long series! I loved meeting Mallory Shepard and her sister Rachel.

Mallory is engaged to Keith, but it seems he is ruled by his overbearing mother Helene. Their small quaint wedding changed into an event for Helene to show off. Mallory decided to go with the flow. The one member of Keith’s family that Mallory had a wonderful relationship was his grandmother Sybil. Unfortunately Sybil dies weeks before the wedding. Shortly after her death, Mallory received a brown envelop with pictures showing her fiancé with another woman. She calls off the wedding and goes into hiding. When her sister shows up to drag her back to the land of the living, she finds out that the lawyer that had been calling her was trying to inform her that she had inherited, Sybil’s house, Thistle Park. The mansion needed many repairs and updates, but Rachel and Mallory have dreams of turning it into a Bed & Breakfast as well as a Wedding Venue. Sybil had also been against the gas companies fracking on the property. The day they arrive at the home, they are met by the face of the local company offering them a lucrative deal to lease the land. Mallory refuses and tells him to leave. They move in and after only one night at Thistle Park, they find a dead body in the front yard. When Mallory thinks she is a suspect, she decides to do some investigating of her own. There are so many people in town that have an issue with the murdered man, that the suspect pool is huge. Could her ex have been involved? What about his mother? The local environmental group were not happy with him, neither were several townspeople whose land was ruined by the fracking?

So much happens in this story besides the initial murder, that I read this book in one day. The house that Mallory inherited could be amazing in the hands of the right person, but after being fired from her legal firm, can she possibly afford to fix it up and renovate? What do you do when your wedding is cancelled and the venue refuses to return your huge deposit? There is a little bit of romance brewing and the neighbour’s daughter is a real sweetheart who I hope we see more of in future stories.

Mallory starts out as a go with the flow, people pleasing type of woman, but you know the saying about a woman scorned? She is a lawyer who is smart and organized and she realizes that she does not need a man in her life right now. She begins to make decisions based on what she wants, not someone else. Her sister, Rachel, doesn’t know what she wants out of life. She has several skills because she has tried so many different jobs, but has not been able to stick with anything. She has been living with, and is dependent on her mother and step-father, but would like to make a go of the business (Bed & Breakfast) with Mallory. They each bring something different to the relationship and will make a fantastic team.

Even the secondary characters are fleshed out, real and believable. Keith, the ex and his mother Helene, are great villians and easy to dislike. The neighbors were an integral part of the story. The Chief of Police just happens to live in the house behind Thistle Park, with his son and granddaughter. I loved the way the Chief changed from the beginning of the story to the end. We saw the human side of him, even though his exasperation with Mallory was evident.

I recommend this book to any cozy mystery lovers, the recipes look amazing and the story is great. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.