"Sassy, spicy, fast-paced murder mystery with hot, sensual romance to boot"
Reviewed by Patricia Woodside
Posted July 2, 2010
Mystery Woman Sleuth | Mystery Private Eye
Lola returns to her mother's house after a night of taking
photographs of a client's husband suspected of infidelity
only to discover her family in mourning. Surprise,
surpriseâLola learns that she's the person who died. Since
she's obviously alive but there is a body, who is the
unfortunate victim? Private investigator Lola sets out to
solve the case of identity theft and discover why someone
might want to impersonate her while deciding what to do with
Jack Callaghan, the sexy reporter whose very presence brings
heat to the page.
HASTA LA VISTA, LOLA! is a sassy, spicy, fast-paced murder
mystery. I loved the way the author incorporated the
Spanish language throughout the story along with other
culture details, imbuing the story with just the right touch
of authentic Spanish flavor. I absolutely loved the
relationship, both hot and sensual, between Lola and Jack.
Although they weren't sure what to do with each other, I was
sure these two were destined to be together, frustrated only
by how long it was taking them to figure this out. Still,
although Lola aces the identity theft investigation, I was
encouraged that she and Jack don't quite find their way to a
happy ending in this book because that means there has to be
at least one more Lola Cruz mystery, a series too good to end.
When Lola comes home to her parentsâ house to find a horde
of relatives mourning her death, no one is more surprised
than she is. The news had reported that one Lola Cruz, PI
was found murdered in an alley, causing great alarm in the
Cruz family. Before Lola can say âboo,â a cop comes to the
house. It turns out the dead woman had a driverâs license
with Lolaâs information. Between avoiding an unsavory ex-
boyfriend, sorting out mixed signals from the very
interested but not yet committed Jack Callaghan, and
filling in as a waitress at her parentsâ Mexican
restaurant, Lola tries to find out who the woman was and
why she stole her identity. Was the woman hiding from
someone who meant her harm, or is there someone out there
who wants Lola dead?
I canât even begin to count the number of times my
grandmother told me that she would die a happy woman if
only Iâd join the Order of the Benedictine Sisters of
Guadalupe and live a chaste and holy life.
To which I always nodded, smiled, and said, âI want you to
die happy, Abuela, pero Iâm not going to become a nun.â
There were several problems with me and a pious life. If
you asked my mother, sheâd say Iâd sinned over and over and
over again, beginning with premarital intercourse [which
she suspected but had no actual proof of], and ending with
my job. In my motherâs eyes, being a detective
necessitates questionable actions and an âends justifies
the meansâ philosophy.
Which is not actually my philosophy. I do things by the
book, and let my conscience be my guide. I was God-fearing
so I tried to toe the line, but I was also a driven,
independent woman walking a tightrope between modern
American culture and my parentsâ old-fashioned male-
oriented Spanish culture so my conscience didnât always
know which way to go when I hit a fork in the road.
Case in point. It was a brisk Friday night, downtown
Sacramento was lit up with twinkling white lights, I was
all dressed up, and even though I had no one to go salsa
dancing with, joining those crazy Benedictine Sisters still
never entered my mind. The nuns might enjoy their
celibacy, but I was one hundred percent positive that I
wouldnât embrace a lifetime of abstinence. Hell, Iâd just
spent the better part of two hours photographing acrobatic
sex in a back ally [which had left me un poquito hot and
bothered]âall in the name of being the best private
investigator I could possibly beâand I was okay with my
I was almost to Camacho and Associates, the small PI firm
where I worked. I dialed Reilly Fuller, the Jill-of-all-
trades secretary of the officeâand my homegirl. I wanted
to go out dancing tonight and I knew I could count on her
to have my back.
She picked up on the third ring, breathing heavy and almost
out of breath. âLola!â
âHey, chica. Howâd you know it was me?â
I frowned. The phone company had effectively destroyed
kidsâ innocent prank call funânot to mention obsessed
stalker-girls calling and hanging up on a guy just to hear
his voice [not that Iâd had any experience with that type
of juvenile behavior].
âLola, Iâm in the middle of something,â she said. She
panted. âIâll call you back, okay?â
Iâd never known Reilly to willingly break a sweat, so I was
curious. I checked the time. 8:40. An odd time to be
using the treadmillâif thatâs what she was up to. âAre you
But electric blue-haired Reilly couldnât answer me because
sheâd already hung up.
Huh. My long night loomed ahead of me and dancing wasnât
going to be part of it. Looked like it was going to be me,
a container of Mapo Tofu from Schezwan House (my favorite
restaurant of all time, coincidentally right next door to
Camacho and Associates), my camera hooked up to the office
computer, and a whole lot of sex pictures uploading. One
at a time.
I turned onto Alhambra and immediately spotted my bossâs
truck in the parking lot. I slid my little red CRV into a
space right beside it. Apparently Manny Camacho didnât
have plans for Friday night, either. Hard to believe. He
was puro Latino machismo Greek God materialâdark and
brooding and scary in an I-could-do-things-to-you-and-make-
you-scream-for-mercy kind of way.
I couldnât help sneaking a quick peek in the rearview
mirror. Low cut filmy dress, Victoriaâs Secret Ipex
cleavage, clear olive skin, salon-highlighted copper
strands framing face, MAC O lips. I would not be put out
to pasture because of a roguishly sexy reporter who
disappeared for days on end and who I did not want to think
about right now.
I grabbed my cell phone, the Nikon, my note pad with the
Zimmerman case information, and my new favorite accessoryâ
courtesy of Ebayâmy Sexy SeĂ±orita drawstring bag. Shoving
the notepad into the coral-colored purse, I headed toward
In your face, Callaghan. I had options. Dark and brooding
suddenly held a new appeal.
Just as I reached the office, Manny pushed open the
My wedge heels teetered on a crack in the sidewalk. Maybe
appeal was the wrong word. Dark fascination? Sadistic
Fact is, Manny flustered me without even trying. Not many
people could do that. Iâd solved my first big case as
primary investigator a few months ago. I chided myself.
It was way past time to get over the nerves that shot
through me when I was around him.
He looked at his watch, then back at me. âÂżQue onda? Are
I nodded. âThe Zimmerman case.â
He held the door, apparently waiting for me to continue.
I held up my camera. âGot some great pictures.â
Especially if I had contacts at Playboy or Penthouse,
which, unfortunately, I didnât.
âOf Mrs. Zimmerman, um, making-out with her personal yoga
instructor.â Making out might have been understating Mrs.
Zimmermanâs activities, but it was the safest answer.
âHowâd you get them?â
âI followed them after yoga class.â
Mannyâs eyes narrowed as he looked me up and down. âAre
you supposed to be undercover?â
My dress was a far cry from yoga-wear, but there was
nothing wrong with in looking good on a surveillance
job. âThey changed after class then went to dinner. Lucky
for me Iâm a yoga junkie and very flexibleââ Maybe not as
flexible as Mrs. Zimmerman, but her sexual creativity was
in a class by itselfâ âand have decent cargo room in my
Manny seemed to ponder this, his expression
unreadable. âAnd the photos?â he finally asked.
âAfter dinner they went around the corner from the
restaurant.â Totally classless. Who screwâer, got down
and dirtyâout in public? âI was across the street.
Excellent telephoto capabilities on this camera, by the
He let the door to the office close while I accessed the
pictures on the digital camera. I froze when his arm
brushed against my back. The touch had been as light as a
breath, but any physical contact from Manny Camacho could
send a woman into premature orgasm. He moved behind me to
look over my shoulder. A zing shot through my body and I
gulped. Looking at X-rated pictures with my boss was muy
I tried not to think about how flexible he might be and
whether his slight limp or his cowboy boots would interfere
with the Kama Sutra position in photographs three, twenty-
seven or thirty-one.
When weâd gone through all the pictures, I stepped away,
trying to ignore the charged silence. âOpen and shut,â I
said. âSheâs clearly cheating on her husband.â
âGood work.â His voice sounded strained. I shoved aside
the idea that it might be because of the photos,
particularly what Mrs. Zimmerman had been doing in shots
ten through eighteen.
My PI gene kicked in. Why didnât he have plans on a Friday
night? He had the hottest girlfriend this side of the Rio
Grande. Maybe this side of anywhere. Her only competition
was the phantom ex-wife who nobody had ever laid eyes on.
Neither were in sight. âYouâre here late,â I said
casually. âWhereâs Isabel?â I pronounced the name in
âNot here.â The corner of his mouth notched up. âWhereâs
There was a good chance that Manny Camacho, ex-cop-turned-
super-detective-who-seemed-to-know-everything, knew exactly
where Jack Callaghan. Then again, maybe not. He wasnât
psychic, after all, and I hadnât let on that Jack had been
MIA for almost a week now. âNot here,â I said, then
quickly changed the subject. âIâm going to upload the
photos and write my report for Mr. Zimmerman.â Which
brought to mind something else. âIâm ready for a new case.â
Manny pressed a button on his key ring. Two beeps sounded
from his truck, a white, lifted kick-ass 4Ă4. It wasnât
the most unobtrusive vehicle on the road in Sacramento, but
it certainly had style. âThe report can wait until
Monday. Weâll talk about the caseload then.â
I started to stick my phone into my purse and to retrieve
my set of office keys. The straps slipped off my shoulder
and the bag fell. Manny was right. Uploading the pictures
could wait till Monday, but since I had nothing better to
do tonight, there was no reason to put it off. âI like to
finish what I start,â I said as I bent down to grab the
straps of my bag. âIâll do the report tonight.â
As I straightened, he gave me another slow once
over. âCallaghanâs a fool.â
A shiver swept up my spine and I shifted uncomfortably.
Reality bit me. I didnât think I could cross the line into
fraternizing with my boss after all and I certainly wasnât
ready to write Jack off, even if he had a few secrets and
the annoying habit of disappearing. He probably had a very
good reason for dropping off the face of the earth. Again.
Heâd better, damn it.
âI said youâre going to break your phone.â
I started. He had? I was? I loosened the death grip on
the device, but dropped my purse in the process. âI, um,
need to call my mother. See if she needs anything.â
âÂżPor quĂ©, mi poderosa? ÂżQuĂ© pasa?â
Ay, ay, ay. Manny had taken to calling me âstrong womanâ.
Now he was calling me his strong woman? I gulped and
stumbled back a step. I might be a good Catholic girl, but
I wasnât immune to temptation. âSheâs home sick. I, um,
think I should buy her some medicine and Ginger ale.â
âCan I help?â
Manny as nurturer? It didnât compute. âNo, no, no!â I
just wanted to go upload the Zimmerman pics and go home to
my empty flat. Above my parentsâ house. That I shared
with my brother. âI mean, Iâm fine. I can handle it.â
He pressed the button on his key ring again, reactivating
the truck alarm. âI have some more work I can do. Iâll
stay with you.â
My hackles went up. I thought about jabbing him in the
chest and reminding him that my Salma Hayek curves didnât
mean I wasnât Xena, Warrior Princess, through and through.
I didnât need a protectorâor a babysitter.
Thankfullyâsince it wouldnât have been a good idea to
chastise my bossâor touch his chestâI was stopped by the
sound of a horn blaring behind us. A sporty silver Volvo
pulled into the parking lot. Jack! My heart immediately
slammed in my chest and I caught my breath. ÂĄMi amor!
He stepped out of his car, all tousled brown hair and
swarthy Irish complexion. His gaze swept over me and an
angry dimple pulled his cheek in. My heart lurched again.
I could imagine what he thought. I was dressed for a night
on the town and Manny wore black and gray, his burnished
skin and onyx eyes contemplating Jack with harsh scrutiny.
I took a small step to the side, putting space between
Manny and me. No need to stoke the fire.
Not that it mattered, I reminded myself. Jack had up and
left for a weekâwithout a word. If he had issues with
Manny, that was his problem. You snooze, you lose. I side-
stepped back to where Iâd been.
âHasta la vista, Dolores.â Mannyâs voice had turned gruff.
âRight. See you later.â
His black alligator-skin cowboy boots clapped unevenly
against the sidewalk as he walked to his truck.
Jack came toward me. He dipped his head in an almost
imperceptible nod at Manny as they passed, and then his
eyes flicked to the bodice of my dress.
They lingered and his face tightened, not in the I want to
ravish you kind of way I would have liked, but more in a
what the hell are you wearing around him kind of way.
Catching my reflection in the window pane, I immediately
saw what had caught his attention. It was my 34Csâin the
midst of a wardrobe malfunction. My dress was askew and
part of my right breast plumped out of my demi bra. ÂĄAy
caramba! No wonder Manny had given me a slow burning look
after Iâd picked up my purse.
I straightened it as Manny pulled out of the parking lot.
Shit! Manny had gotten an eye-full of my assets, and he
hadnât uttered a word.
From the way Jack looked from me to Mannyâs truck and back,
I suspected that he was thinking the same thing. âPurple,
huh?â he said when he steadied his gaze back on me. His
voice had that low, sexy tone that created instant yearning
in the pit of my soul.
âItâs called Lavender Ice,â I said cooly.
âWell, itâs not like youâve been around, Callaghan.â I ran
my hands down my front in full temptress mode. Jackâs gaze
smoldered as it followed my actions. Slow torture. God,
sometimes it was so good to be a woman.
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: Sassy, spicy, fast-paced murder mystery with hot, sensual romance to boot
Well I love this review, and love that it
was picked up by USA Today online and
tagged with Salma Hayek! Why, who
knows, but it's cool!
(Misa Ramirez 11:38pm July 2, 2010)
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