Gown With the Wind

by Stephanie Blackmoore
Kensington, December 2018, $7.99

I’ve been a hard-core Gone With the Wind fan since the age of 11, when a friend’s mother took us and a box of Kleenex to see it in a fancy Chicago movie theater, so I read Stephanie Blackmoore’s Gown With the Wind with great expectations, and am glad to say that they were largely realized.

Mallory Shepard is an overscheduled wedding planner, coordinating events at her new B & B, which is ensconced in a stately Victorian mansion in Port Quincy, Pennsylvania. Even more stressful is the fact that the last-minute wedding she’s trying to wrangle is that of her ex, Keith, and his fiancée, Becca, who want a Chinese garden wedding. It seems like things might actually work out until Keith’s mother arrives and scuttles all of their careful plans, reminding Mallory of why she is delighted not to be marrying Keith.

Despite the awkward situation, Mallory takes pity on the bride-to-be and agrees to go with her to pick out a wedding gown. The dress she says yes to turns out to be a replica of Scarlett O’Hara’s white and green barbecue dress, the only problem being that said dress is also coveted by Becca’s childhood frenemy Felicity, also newly engaged. The catfight begins, the dress is torn, but Becca emerges clutching the remains.

From this point bodies and attempted murders begin to pile up, beginning with Felicity’s corpse in Becca’s granny’s pool, in the backyard of her house, which happens to be a replica of Tara. The GWTW-obsessed granny seems to be at the center of the action, and when she is discovered nearly strangled, things really get deadly.

Blackmoore delivers a nice brew of viable suspects, a tricky plot, and an intriguing smattering of GWTW details. The action is brisk, the resolution satisfying, and I think Mallory is a great tentpole for a cozy series.

Robin Agnew
Teri Duerr
December 2018