Friday, March 6, 2015

Aloha to Gemma Halliday and DEADLY IN HIGH HEELS - Book Review


New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Kindle Bestselling series!

When fashion designer Maddie Springer is invited to help style contestants in the Hawaiian Paradise Beauty Pageant, she jumps at the chance! The fantastic publicity coupled with a weeklong vacation with her best friends Marco and Dana, is a win-win. But trouble follows her to paradise when one of the beauty queens winds up dead. Is it a case of a personal grudge, a jealous contestant...or a jealous lover? Between a pageant director on his way out, a soap star dazzling his way in, a violent anti-fashion protester, and a whole pageant full of competitive beauty queens, Maddie has her hands full sorting through suspects! Luckily for Maddie—or unluckily?—her wacky cast of friends and family, including LAPD Detective Jack Ramirez, are there to help her wade through motives more plentiful than pineapples at a luau. With the televised crowning approaching, the danger escalating, and a killer on the loose, this is one beauty pageant that's about to turn ugly.

What critics are saying about The High Heels Mysteries:

"A saucy combination of romance and suspense that is simply irresistible."
- Chicago Tribune

"Stylish... nonstop action...guaranteed to keep chick lit and mystery fans happy!"
- Publishers’ Weekly, *starred review*

“Smart, funny and snappy…the perfect beach read!”
- Fresh Fiction

"A roller coaster ride full of fun and excitement!"
- Romance Reviews Today 

Slippahs on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki

High heels are pleasure with pain. - Christian Louboutin

I write a weekly column for USA Today's HEA Blog, State of Romance.  While researching romance novels set in California, I discovered Gemma Halliday's High Heels series.  I made a note that she was publishing Book 9, DEADLY IN HIGH HEELS, in February 2015 with the cozy mystery unfolding in Hawaii.  Alas, my long time blog followers will know why I purchased this book - I lived on Pearl Harbor for four years.

For me, the perfect cozy mystery blends quirky characters, laugh out loud humor, touch of romance, and a plausible mystery.  DEADLY IN HIGH HEELS certainly has quirky characters - a shoe designer, her flamboyant gay friend, her interfering mother, and her hot cop husband.   Yet by Book 9, they seem to have fallen into a routine that yields them rather normal.   There are hints of humor but not quite the roaring laughter I expected.   The romance comes at the end when Maddie and her husband finally have time together.   The mystery at the beauty pageant kept my interest throughout the 208 pages of this self published book.   I might have enjoyed DEADLY IN HIGH HEELS more if I had read the series from Book 1 so I could grow with the characters.  At the very least, it reminded me of Sandra Bullock's MISS CONGENIALITY - one of my favorite movies.     

But the Hawaiian setting of this book was disappointing.  Oahu offers so many opportunities for the beauty queens to engage in humor, mystery, and romance, but Halliday contained the action to three locals - the hotel, the beach in front of the hotel, and one scene at 'Ioloni Palace.  Where was the patriotic pilgrimage to Pearl Harbor?  The monster waves of the North Shore?  The dazzling views from Diamond Head?  Halliday also wrote a subplot with Maddie's mother arriving with Mrs. Rosenblatt to cleanse Maddie's bad "juju" after finding the first murder victim.  Mrs. Rosenblatt then invokes a French ritual (presumably from New Orleans), forgetting that Hawaii has its own mystique.  I don't think Madame Pele was pleased.   Finally, Maddie ate Mexican food and Caesar Salad.   No malasadas, loco moco, or Spam musubi.  In the end, this cozy mystery could taken place anywhere as the Hawaiian backdrop did not contribute to the plot.  

However, I can recommend DEADLY IN HIGH HEELS to fans of cozy mysteries.  

I purchased a print copy of DEADLY IN HIGH HEELS.

Slippahs with socks in the winter

I am giving away Hawaiian swag to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave comment about high heels, beauty pageants, and/or cozy mysteries - love 'em or loathe them?   

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, March 14, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 15.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Gemma and her books at



  1. I do like heels, but wish some were more comfortable.

  2. Cozy mysteries are enjoyable reads when you want a mystery, but not anything too heavy.
    What a shame she didn't use more of Hawaii in the book. If you are going to use a locale, it should contribute to the story and make it special to that place. Writing a story that could happen anywhere is a waste of good elements that could compliment the story and make it special.

  3. I love cozy mysteries. Not a fan of heels or pageants though.

  4. I do enjoy cozy mysteries but not high heels and beauty pageants.

  5. Cozy Mysteries are great fun to read, I got into them after watching Miss Marple & Father Brown on tv.

  6. not really a fan of any of them

  7. I love high heels but i'm 5'7 so i feel like a giant in them if they're too high but i do love cozy mysteries :) can't get enough of them.

  8. I haven't worn heels since I retired and don't miss them at all! Not crazy about beauty pageants - never watch them. Love cozy mysteries!