I was contacted by author Melissa Bourbon Ramirez in March when she asked if I would like to receive an advance copy of her latest book, Pleating for Mercy. She provided a link to her website, where I saw the cover illustration and read the book's intro:
All the Cassidy women possess special gifts. Harlow Jane Cassidy’s is creating beautiful dresses. But she’s about to discover secrets in her own family, and another gift—one that can reach beyond the grave…
When her great-grandmother passes away, Harlow Jane Cassidy leaves her job as a Manhattan fashion designer and moves back to Bliss, Texas. But soon after she opens Buttons & Bows, a custom dressmaking boutique in the turn-of-the-century farmhouse she inherited, Harlow begins to feel an inexplicable presence…
One of her first clients is her old friend Josie, who needs a gown for her upcoming wedding. But when Josie’s boss turns up dead, it starts to look as if the bride-to-be may be wearing handcuffs instead of a veil. Suddenly Josie needs a lot more from Harlow than hemming a dress. Can Harlow find the real killer—with a little help from beyond?
Dressforms, rolls of fabric, and a sewing machine on the cover? The main character a dressmaker involved in a mystery? How could I say no? Of course I wanted to read this!
The book arrived in early May but I had to put it on hold for a little while due to my then-upcoming trip to North Carolina and Virginia, and job-search activities. I finally was able to start reading it a couple of weeks ago, and then right as I was getting near the end, I left it at my dentist's office and there it sat for a week. Arghh. I picked it up yesterday and finished it last night.
So, how was the book? It was captivating and a very enjoyable read. Ms. Ramirez does an excellent job of weaving together a murder-mystery with our favorite hobby/obsession — sewing! There are varied characters you'll get to know through the author's wonderfully detailed descriptions and you'll still be trying to guess "whodunit" by the last few pages when the mystery is finally solved. As the story unfolds, there's a little love interest for Harlow, some spiritual magic, lots of sewing, and even a number of cultural references only real stitchers will get.
This is a fun read, perfect for vacation or, if you're like me, holed up on your bed turning the pages at 2 AM to find out what happens. I'm looking forward to the next installment in this new series.
Pleating for Mercy will be released on August 2, 2011 and is available for pre-order from Amazon, paperback and Kindle, by clicking here. (I have received no compensation beyond the advance copy.)