Sunday, January 17, 2016

Aloha to Jenn McKinlay's CLOCHE AND DAGGER (Hat Shop Mystery No. 1) - Book Review

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An all-new series from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay

Not only is Scarlett Parker’s love life in the loo—as her British cousin Vivian Tremont would say—it’s also gone viral with an embarrassing video. So when Viv suggests Scarlett leave Florida to lay low in London, she hops on the next plane across the pond. Viv is the proprietor of Mims’s Whims, a ladies’ hat shop on Portobello Road bequeathed to both cousins by their beloved grandmother, and she wants Scarlett to finally join her in the millinery business.

But a few surprises await Scarlett in London. First, she is met at the airport not by Viv, but by her handsome business manager, Harrison Wentworth. Second, Viv—who has some whims of her own—seems to be missing. No one is too concerned about the unpredictable Viv until one of her posh clients is found dead wearing the cloche hat Viv made for her—and nothing else. Is Scarlett’s cousin in trouble? Or is she in hiding?


Vilma Bánky in cloche hat, 1927
Public Domain (link)

How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about. 
- Philip Treacy, hat designer, including Princess Beatrice's fascinator worn to Prince Williams' wedding.

I recently discovered Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake Mystery Series - check out my review of SPRINKLE WITH MURDER and RED VELVET REVENGE at this link.  I recently looked for more books in the Cupcake Mystery series, only to find McKinlay kicked off a another series, Hat Shop Mystery, with CLOCHE AND DAGGER.  The American born heroine, Scarlet Parker, escaped my hometown of Tampa after her love life imploded on YouTube.  She accepted an invitation from Vivian Tremont, her British cousin, to join the family millinery business in London.  Upon arrival in Notting Hill, Scarlet is met by the business manager, Harrison Wentworth, since her cousin is temporarily unavailable in parts unknown.  Harrison assures Scarlet that Vivian often takes off without notice, leaving Harrison to help Scarlet settle into the flat above the hat shop.  No sooner does Scarlet unpack that she finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery with Vivian's creation as evidence.

CLOCHE AND DAGGER caught my attention for its "across the pond" adventure.  It was fun to read how Scarlet quickly adapted to the Notting Hill neighborhood (she spent her childhood summers visiting her grandmother's shop and learning about millinery along with Vivian).  Scarlet meets another couple who reside in the neighborhood - they share Thai food, drink wine, and try to outdo the other in making puns for every situation, adding more humor to the lighthearted story line.  No doubt the neighbors and even the shop assistant will contribute to future plots.  Harrison is an enigma - he obviously shares a close relationship with Viv yet he flirts with Scarlet.  Given the recent disaster on YouTube, Scarlet has sworn of men and relationships for a year.  I suspect her commitment will be tested in future books, especially with Harrison hanging around the shop.  The murder mystery and Vivian's disappearance are solved in typical cozy mystery style with a few red herrings that tested our heroine's resolve, but made her more confident in the end. 

CLOCHE AND DAGGER kept my interest with second chance subplot, quirky secondary characters, and Notting Hill setting. I also learned about the millinery business.  Recommended read for fans of American heroines stumbling around in British culture (much like a bull in a china shop).  

I purchased a copy of CLOCHE AND DAGGER for my personal reading.

Joan Crawford in a cloche hat, 1927
Public Domain (link)

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about hats - do you wear them?  If so, what type?  I have only worn ball caps to protect my face from the sun.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 23, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 24.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Jenn and her books at jennmckinlay.com.

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More books in the series ...

26 comments:

  1. Most of the hats I wear are wide brimmed straw hats. Wear them for shade when I am working in my gardens. I do have a couple that are nice and I may wear when out walking or touring if it is bright and sunny. I have a couple cowboy hats, but don't wear them often.

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  2. I always wear a hat when I go to the beach. I also wear a hat for work - compulsory as it is a sun safe Kindie. Otherwise I use a sun shade.

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  3. I do not except when I am working in a cafe.

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  4. Ball caps mostly, but some straw hat for beach wearing!

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  5. I wear beanies sometimes in the winter but that's it.

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  6. I hate hats, I look terrible in them and I'm uncomfortable with them. Mostly because I think I have a misshapen head haha The only time I would wear any is a toque in the winter.

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  7. I used to wear hats in the weather....not anymore. Now I wear a fisherman type hat when I'm in the sun.

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  8. No, I've only ever worn a hat when I've attended weddings in England. It's expected of us.

    This sounds like a fun series, especially as I grew up in Portobello Court, which is right on Portobello Road. I've put three of these books on hold now at the library.

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  9. I wore them when young but hats and my hair no longer get along.

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  10. I am not a fan of hats however in the summer or whenever Im at the beach I do wear a wide brimmed straw hat

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  11. I love hats! Although I've wear ball caps to baseball games, I'm more of a straw hat girl. I've owned my favorite for about 40 years! :) I probably own about 10 of them in varying shapes. A few I've bought from Talbots even.

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  12. I only wear hats due to weather - shade from sun or protection from rain or for warmth in the winter. I do have a few of my Mom's hat's from the 40's & 50's that I just hold on to.

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  13. I don't wear hats.

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  14. Only when I want to keep the sun out of my face or eyes.
    ladbookfan

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  15. I only wear them when I have to - like when I'm working in the garden or hiking or something.

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  16. No, I don't wear them because I look silly in them but I do collect antique women's hats.

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  17. I wear a straw hat if I'm working in the garden. To keep the sun out of my eyes :)

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  18. I don't usually wear hats but I'd wear a straw hat to the beach to block the sun and hats in the winter to stay warm!

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  19. When I am gardening, at the beach or watching an outside sports game.
    Karen T.

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  20. I wear a hikers style hat or a baseball cap when I am out for a walk or hike.

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  21. Me too, only to protect myself from the sun.
    Patty B43

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