"Murder, mayhem, and marriage in a cozy mystery debut"
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
topples over. Who killed Dana? Is it murder? What is the
These are the questions the mother-of-the-bride demands
The investigating officers ignore her and arrest Zoe, her
daughter. Mrs. Abernathy orders Kelsey to find out what
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
possible candidates. She works closely with her BFF and
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
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
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
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!
Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away
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
outside, and the bride and groom are standing on the
pledging their eternal love. But just as the priest is
to pronounce them husband and wife, one of the
upstages the couple by collapsing into a floral
Worst of all, Kelsey discovers that she hasn't just
fainted-she's dead. The demanding mother of the bride,
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
Kelsey fix the matter at once. And although she's pretty
sure investigating a murder isn't in her contract,
the well-connected mother of the bride could be a
career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back
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
ExcerptThe 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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
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
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,
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