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Terror in Taffeta

Terror in Taffeta, April 2016
by Marla Cooper

Minotaur Books
Featuring: Kelsey McKenna
288 pages
ISBN: 1250072565
EAN: 9781250072566
Kindle: B014PELGRW
Hardcover / e-Book
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"Murder, mayhem, and marriage in a cozy mystery debut"

Fresh Fiction Review

Terror in Taffeta
Marla Cooper

Reviewed by Patricia (Pat) Pascale
Posted March 16, 2016

Mystery Woman Sleuth

The destination wedding in Mexico is the lovely town of San Miguel de Allende. Wedding planner extraordinaire, San Francisco-based, Kelsy McKcKenna promises magic and a perfect wedding day for bride, Nicole Abernathy and her fiance Vince. One slight problem. During the ceremony, the bridesmaid topples over. Who killed Dana? Is it murder? What is the motive? These are the questions the mother-of-the-bride demands answers to. The investigating officers ignore her and arrest Zoe, her daughter. Mrs. Abernathy orders Kelsey to find out what happened, telling Kelsey, "I paid you for a wedding, not a funeral." Kelsey begins her own investigation as a reluctant sleuth.

As the story unfolds, Kelsey keeps a notebook with a list of possible candidates. She works closely with her BFF and favorite photographer, who is also my favorite character in this story. Their banter is always comical and keeps me laughing hard at their interactions. He is sweet, charming and always there to help Kelsey in any way he can. He is a whiz at computers and knows how to "hack" along with the best of them. They discover many people have motive; Dana was not a nice person. Slowly but surely they begin to unwind the mystery that leads to the murderer. Kelsey may be able to add "solver of a murdered bridesmaid" to her resume as a Wedding Planner.

TERROR IN TAFFETA is a debut mystery novel written beautifully by Marla Cooper. It was a one sitting read for me and fun. Let's start with the pretty cover. There is a SAVE THE DATE CARD attached to the cover, which is a charming flair. The characters sparkle, and I find it easy to loath the mother-of-the-bride, who is obnoxious from the first to the last page. Kelsey is a spirited and very likable heroine with a lot of patience. As a gifted wedding planner, she is truly working magic. She does everything she can so everyone has a great time at the event and the bride has her perfect day. The little flirtation with Evan, an ex-romance from the past, who is now a private pilot, was fun while it lasted. For me, Weddingland always brings me joy. TERROR IN TAFFETA takes us on a special adventure. I plan to be on board for the next one, coming soon I hope! I am happy to recommend this one to all. TERROR IN TAFFETA is a delight!

Learn more about Terror in Taffeta


Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away from wrapping up her latest job: a destination wedding in the charming, colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The reception is all set up, the tequila donkey is waiting outside, and the bride and groom are standing on the altar, pledging their eternal love. But just as the priest is about to pronounce them husband and wife, one of the bridesmaids upstages the couple by collapsing into a floral arrangement. Worst of all, Kelsey discovers that she hasn't just fainted-she's dead. The demanding mother of the bride, Mrs. Abernathy, insists Kelsey not tell the wedding party; she paid for a wedding after all, not a funeral.

Losing a bridesmaid is bad enough, but when the bride's sister is arrested for murder, Mrs. Abernathy demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. And although she's pretty sure investigating a murder isn't in her contract, crossing the well-connected mother of the bride could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey must deal with stubborn detectives, another dead body, and a rekindled romance in this smart, funny cozy debut perfect for fans of Carolyn Haines.


The sea-foam green bridesmaids’ dresses had been a mistake. Not for the obvious reason—that sea-foam green bridesmaids’ dresses are almost always a mistake— but because they added a sickly tinge to Nicole Abernathy’s three very hungover bridesmaids.

I’d warned them not to overindulge the night before the wedding, begged them to have their bachelorette party back home instead of waiting until they got to San Miguel de Allende, but no one listens to the wedding planner when it’s time to start drinking.

“Kelsey, I don’t feel so hot,” Nicole said, as I helped her step into her wedding dress.

“I’m not surprised,” I said. “You’ve barely eaten all week.” “I’ve barely eaten all month,” she said, studying herself in the mirror. “But at least the dress fits.”

I laughed. Nicole couldn’t have been any more than a size 6, and the forgiving corset dress she’d chosen would have ?t even if she’d binged on cupcakes all month. “What are you talking about? It looks amazing on you. Always has. Promise me you’ll eat something at the reception?”

“I should be hungry, but the thought of food right now . . . ugh.” Nicole clutched her stomach and shook her head. “I should have listened to you and had the bachelorette party back in San Francisco.”

“That’s okay,” I said with as chipper a smile as I could muster. “Being sick on your wedding day is good luck.”

“Really?” Nicole’s big brown eyes searched mine. “Sure,” I lied. “Now hold still.”

I felt bad for her, and I tried to be extra gentle as I tightened the satin ribbons that crisscrossed the back of her dress.

“Owww,” Nicole whined.

Okay, so I wasn’t gentle enough.

“Sorry. Warn me if you’re going to pass out or something.” “No, that’s okay.” Nicole took a deep breath. “Pull tighter.” After two or three more tugs, I tied off the ribbons and tucked them down into the dress, leaving behind a tidy herringbone pattern.

I spun her around for a ?nal inspection. Her freshly highlighted honey-blond hair was pulled into a perfectly executed chignon, and the makeup artist not only had made her look downright dewy but had hidden all evidence of the dark circles under her eyes.

“Well, you might not feel well, but you look amazing.”

As Nicole turned to admire herself, Zoe Abernathy ducked between the bride and the full-length mirror.

“Hey,” Nicole said. “Move it, lady.”

Zoe laughed as she checked herself in the mirror. “Maid- of-honor privileges. Or sister privileges. Or, I don’t know, hungover- person privileges.” She tried to smooth her short, messy hair, but her surfer-girl layers could not be repressed. “Did I mention I’m never drinking again?”

“Only about thirty times,” said Dana Poole, a testy redhead who’d been hogging the other mirror while she applied the finishing touches to her makeup. The girl had been peevish all week, and the hangover wasn’t exactly bringing out her best qualities.

“Well, I’m gonna say it thirty more times, so get used to it.”

“I don’t even want to hear it,” Dana said, pointing her mascara wand accusingly at the bride’s sister. “It’s your own fault, you know.”

“What do you mean?” Zoe said, batting her eyelashes innocently. “Nicole wanted a bachelorette party. And you can’t have a bachelorette party without a cocktail or three.”

“Yeah, but we’re not in college anymore. We could have done without that last round of shots.”

Zoe shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Dana scowled as she screwed the cap back on her mascara and tossed it into her makeup bag. “Well, next time, keep your good ideas to yourself.”

“C’mon, Dana,” said the bride, taking a playful tone with her cranky friend. “You have to admit it was pretty fun.”

Dana shrugged. “I guess so. Kelsey, will you get us some sparkling water? San Pellegrino, preferably.”

Wait—was she really demanding that I drop what I was doing and go ?And refreshments? “Sorry, I’ve kind of got my hands full here, but there’s some ?at water over there in the cooler.”

“Whatever,” she sighed.

Dana had been a late addition to the wedding party, having originally turned down the invitation to Nicole’s destination wedding altogether. But after Dana found a last-minute plane ticket to Mexico, Nicole said of course it wasn’t too late to join the bridal party.

I’d spent way too much time the previous week hunting down an extra bridesmaid dress and having it FedExed to the villa we’d rented to house the bridal party for the week. Plus, we’d had to promote one of the guests to groomsman, because the bride’s mother thought an uneven number of attendants would be “tacky.” Of course, no one would ever know how hard I’d worked to pull it all off. I was the magical fairy who made things happen, and if magical fairies do their job right, everyone has a great time and the bride has a perfect day.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Instead, Dana had been huffing around all morning, complaining about one thing after another. “Why do we have to get ready in this cramped little room?” It’s a two-hundred-year-old chapel, and it wasn’t built for your convenience. “Why don’t my shoes match the other bridesmaids’?” You’re lucky to have shoes at all on such short notice. “Why aren’t there any vegan options on the menu?” Um, because . . . shut up, that’s why.

I’d managed to bite my tongue for Nicole’s sake, but Dana was being a total bridesmaid-zilla. From somewhere behind me, the third bridesmaid let out a moan. She’d been so quiet all week and had caused so little trouble, I was blanking on her name. What was it again? Kristen? Kirsten? Christy? Whatever it was, she put her head down on top of her folded arms and declared that she was dying.

“Okay, Pepto-Bismol all around,” I said, heading to my emergency kit. Wedding planners have to be prepared for anything— especially destination wedding planners. You can’t just run to the nearest drugstore in a foreign country and assume you’ll find what you need. I always made sure I had double-sided tape to hold errant straps in place, clear fingernail polish to fix runs in pantyhose, and anti-nausea medication for getting girls down the aisle after a night of drinking.

“Bottoms up,” I said as I passed out the tiny plastic dose cups. With a little luck and two tablespoons of the thick, pink syrup, they’d be able to get through the service.

Nicole scrunched up her face, looking as if she’d just knocked back another tequila shot.

“Sorry, Nicole.” I took the empty cup from her. “It’ll all be over soon.”

Poor Nicole. I felt terrible for her, being sick on her wedding day. I genuinely liked the bride, and had ever since we’d met a year earlier, back in San Francisco.

The mother of the bride, Mrs. Abernathy, had dragged the young couple into my of?ce against their will, thinking I’d be the perfect person to put together the exquisite wine country wedding she’d always assumed her daughter would have. I knew immediately that she wanted it to be elegant. A strikingly chic woman, she was perfectly put together, from her sleek bobbed hairstyle down to her high-heeled Ferragamos.

But when I mentioned that I’d planned weddings from Napa to Mexico to Europe, Nicole’s face brightened and her ?ancé, Vince Moreno, looked up from his iPhone for the ?rst time since he’d gotten there.

“Mexico?” Nicole asked, as Vince’s face broke into a grin. “Napa!” her mom corrected, with a slightly sharper than necessary nudge and an “Isn’t that what you meant to say” look in her eyes. Mrs. Abernathy hadn’t realized that Mexico was on the table—neither had I, frankly, until that moment—or she probably wouldn’t have brought her daughter to me.

“Mexico would be so romantic!” Nicole squealed, exchanging excited looks with her ?ancé and her sister, Zoe.

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