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Thursday, August 26, 2010

'No Such Thing As A Good Blind Date' Brandy Alexander mystery #2 by Shelly FREDMAN

From the BLURB:

When childhood friend and recent parolee, Toodie Ventura, suggests he exchange his plumbing services for the spare room of twenty-eight year old Brandy Alexander's house, the out-of-work new homeowner thinks it's a pretty good idea.
That is, until she discovers a dismembered body in her basement freezer and the suspect topping the list is the now missing Toodie.
Brandy refuses to accept that her old friend is a cold-blooded killer and with the help of her ex-boyfriend, Detective Bobby DiCarlo and the sexy mystery man, Nicholas Santiago, she sets out to prove Toodie’s innocence.
Soon, Brandy finds herself up to her neck in stalkers and deranged killers, all the while juggling some of the worst blind dates ever!

‘No Such Things as a Good Blind Date’ is the second book in Shelly Fredman’s ‘Brandy Alexander’ mystery series. I loved the first book, ‘No Such Thing as a Secret’, and this second instalment is a wonderful follow through.

Brandy was an LA fluff reporter... but coming home and solving her best friends murder (of sorts) really makes a girl nostalgic for her roots. So Brandy packed her bags and moved home to Philadelphia... her parents moved to Florida and sold the family home to her and now she’s staying for good. Or not so good, as the case may be...

Brandy is being stalked by her ex-boyfriend’s crazy wife who thinks Brandy and Bobby are carrying out an illicit affair. In actuality Bobby is avoiding Brandy and she feels the sting of his cold shoulder. Nick Santiago (the sexy Latino martial arts trainer and shady Philadelphian underworld character) has also been avoiding Brandy since their heated flirtations and rescue missions of the previous book.
With all these men avoiding her, Brandy is lonely. And her cute kitty, Adrian, is not enough company. So when her ex-classmate, Toodie, offers to be her roomie in exchange for his plumbing services, she jumps at the offer...
But their roommate agreement didn’t include Toodie hiding a torso in Brandy’s freezer. A *dead* torso!

I am really loving this series! Shelly Fredman is a tight-rope writer, walking the thin line between comedy and tragedy, light and dark, with serious flair. Brandy is pretty hilarious at times – she’s often bumbling, scared and stubborn, but always genuine. Her funniest moments are with the men in her life, Bobby and Nick. Her attraction to Nick is particularly hilarious because Brandy is so self-aware of his prowess and lothario reputation, compared to her self-doubt and four-year-long man drought. Amidst the scenario’s in which Brandy is in over her head, her flailing love life is a point of recognition for readers who will find Brandy’s struggles totally relatable.

But Fredman is also able to contrast the light and funny side with a sharper edge. Brandy is seriously threatened in this book; she is stalked, assaulted, harassed and the recipient of death-threats. This book goes darker than the first, and is the better for it. It’s great to read Brandy’s reactions to the various dangers – her responses vary anywhere from outright fear and dry-heaving to gob-smacked inappropriate laughing. She is definitely a woman on the edge in this book, and it’s wonderful to read.

But what I love most about Brandy is her steadfastness. Yes, she is shit scared most of the time. But she will not cry, dammit! and she will not let the bad guys win. That’s what I like in my heroines – a vulnerable side to be revealed, but their courage to come up trumps;
“Why do you keep helping me?” Shit. I meant to say something urbane.
He sat down next to me on the bed and brushed the hair from my eyes. “Maybe I’m just a sucker for a girl with bangs.”
“No, really. I mean it. I've caused you nothing but inconvenience since the day we met. What do you get out of this?”
Nick leaned forward, the dim light from the desk lamp casting a shadow on his beautiful face. “If I were ever in trouble I’d want you on my side, because I know you’d never give up on me.”
The love triangle between Bobby/Brandy/Nick is a page-turner as much as the murder mystery. Theirs is a complicated triangle, for Brandy and Bobby’s rocky past and Nick’s dangerous reputation. The romantic stakes are definitely raised for Brandy in this book, and I look forward to reading how she navigates the battlefield.

I do love Fredman’s light/dark within this series, but I found this book to be far darker than the first. I also found it to be quite sad, because Brandy really explores (and admits) her loneliness in this book and sort of questions if she’s wasting her time on Bobby and Nick... neither of whom can give her the companionship and security she wants and needs. ‘No Such Things as a Good Blind Date’ is quite a revolutionary book for Brandy’s character; she confronts a lot of her unspoken concerns and fears, and starts to really evaluate her life and what she wants out of it.

I am loving this series so hard! I am impatiently waiting for Amazon to ship me the next 2 books and have my fingers crossed that Fredman is contracted for a 5th...


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