Romantic times TOP PICK!
A Veiled Deception: A Vintage Magic Mystery
A Veiled Deception, Annette Blair
Berkley, Jan 2009, $6.99
Madeira “Maddie” Cutler, a vintage clothing designer for a famous fashion house, is on her way to her hometown of Mystick Falls, Connecticut where she hopes to create the gown for her baby sister she raised. Maddie arrives in time for pandemonium; an angry Sherry watches her fiancé Justin’s former girlfriend Jasmine hang all over him as if she is the bride. Upset Sherry makes a rash statement that she will kill Jasmine in front of witnesses.
Maddie goes to see the wedding dress Sherry’s mother-in-law expects her to wear only to find Jasmine choked to death by a veil. Sherry is the number one and only suspect; she does not help herself as she refuses to provide an alibi. Maddie has visions of another woman wearing the same dress and concludes her visions are related to the Jasmine homicide, but has no idea how. She investigates Sherry’s in-laws especially their past since the dress belonged to Justin’s mother to understand what she saw and hopes to apply it to identify the killer.
Annette Blair, renowned for her sensational bewitching romantic fantasies provides a new series filled with humor, the paranormal, two related mysteries, and of course romance. The protagonist is a beguiling intelligent free spirit who prefers a laughter and lay back lifestyle, but knows when the situation calls for a serious spin. She is glue that not only holds A VEILED DECEPTION together but turns the tale into an outstanding read. Harriet Klausner
TITLE: A Veiled Deception
(A Vintage Magic mystery, #1 / Jan. 6, 2009)
AUTHOR: Annette Blair
13 ISBN: 9780425226407
10 ISBN: 042522640
Madeira "Maddie" Cutler has years of experience working for a New York fashion designer. Maddie takes time off to travel home to Mystick Falls, Connecticut. Her youngest sister, Sherry, is getting married and Maddie cannot wait to help her plan and organize the event. Upon entering the house, Maddie finds a small gathering consisting of Sherry, her fiancé, all the future in-laws, and Jasmine. Jasmine turns out to be Sherry's nemesis, who clearly believes herself to be better wife material than Sherry and is out to prove it.
Sherry's fiancé is Justin Vancortland (the Fifth). Though his name hints at his family's social and financial status, his attitude is anything but snobbish. Unfortunately his mother, Deborah (never Debbie), cannot say the same.
Before Maddie even has time to settle in for the night, she finds Jasmine strangled with Sherry's wedding veil. Sherry is Detective Sergeant Werner's prime suspect, of course. Maddie learns that she is able to work magic with vintage clothes. In more ways than one. Maddie always knew she (and a few others on her late mother's side) was able to see ghosts, but until now had no idea that she could touch a piece of vintage clothing and view the people once connected with it. The Vancortland Wedding Gown has plenty to reveal.
***** Annette Blair brings her characters to such vivid life that I could easily picture Deborah oozing snobbishness from every pore. (NOT a pretty picture, believe me.) The main character, Maddie, comes across as a very strong-willed and protective woman with her feet planted firmly on the ground. That is, unless Nick Jaconetti is close by.
Before this adventure, Maddie never considered herself to be psychic. Occasionally seeing a ghost and keeping mute about it is one thing, but visions were new to Maddie, so readers get to experience the surrealness of it all with her. There are more people present in the gathering than I mentioned in the synopsis, but they seem to be secondary characters this time around. I have no doubt that the other men will play larger roles in the future.
The author gives this mystery her signature style by adding some magic. Maddie plans to renovate a certain old building and open a vintage clothing store. The building comes with its own ghost (this one able to talk) or two. Let us just say that Dante is very charming and gives very good advice. It looks to me as though this mystery series has a sturdy foundation upon which to build. Fun, witty, and highly recommended! ***** HUNTRESS REVIEWS, Reviewed by Detra Fitch
READER TO READER
New York City fashion designer Maddie Cutler is coming home to Mystick Falls, Connecticut for her younger sister’s wedding. Maddie’s mother died in a car accident when Maddie was ten, and since then she has been the mother figure to each of her three siblings, brother Alex, and two sisters, Brandy and Sherry.
An informal engagement-announcement party is already under way when Maddie and her best-friend-forever, Eve, arrive at the Cutler homestead. The bride-to-be is being upstaged by Jasmine Updike, former girl friend of the groom-to-be, Justin Vancourtland. The groom’s mother, Deborah, is doting on Jasmine like she is a long-lost child, and Sherry is, quite understandably, in a snit.
While Maddie is flirting with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, FBI Agent Nick Jaconetti, Sherry, Jasmine, and Justin all disappear. When Maddie looks for her sister a foreboding tells her that she isn’t going to like what she is about to find -- and the omen is right.
In Brandy’s bedroom, where the Vancourtland brides’ wedding dress is being stored for now, Jasmine’s body is lying on the floor with an antique wedding veil tied tightly around her neck. Sensations from the dress and a previous bride wearing it nearly render Maddie unconscious. The police are called to the scene, and as luck would have it the lead detective in the case is a childhood nemesis of Maddie’s that she nick-named “Wiener” and the name stuck with Lytton Werner all through school. Some days everything seems to go wrong! Since the “wiener” is convinced Sherry killed Jasmine, Maddie determines to use all of her time and her powers to find the real killer.
Maddie Cutler has secrets. She can see ghosts and oft times can communicate with them. She is also a psychometric, a person who can touch an object and see visions of the object and its owner’s past. The Vancourtland wedding dress is urging Maddie to investigate its past so that she will have a key to the present, especially the murder. Fiona Sullivan was Maddie’s mother’s best friend, and Maddie vaguely remembers dancing in the moonlight with her mom and Fiona when she was a very young child. Maddie now discovers that she is a psychic witch, like her mom and Fiona. Fiona has been very special to the Cutler’s except for Maddie’s dad. There are bad vibes there.
A VEILED DECEPTION is a terrific kick-off to what appears will be a fantastic cozy mystery series. The cast of magnificent characters has been introduced, and the background is put in place for several psychic mysteries. A VEILED DECEPTION is so much fun, with likeable characters, romance, and a knotted mystery to unravel. Betty Cox, ReaderToReader
Madeira Cutler and her best friend are traveling to their hometown of Mystick Falls to celebrate her sister Sherry's engagement and aid her father in saving her sister from a new "Jezebel" in town. At the engagement party Maddie understands how much her help is needed as it's difficult to tell the bride-to-be from the usurper in their midst. The confusion isn't helped by the groom's mother embracing the other woman, Jasmine, as everything she could want in a bride for her son. When Jasmine turns up dead at the engagement party, strangled by a bridal veil, Sherry becomes the number one suspect.
Determined to clear her sister, Maddie begins her own investigation into Jasmine's murder, aided by her on-again, off-again (currently off, mostly) boyfriend, FBI agent Nick Jaconetti, and former childhood nemesis, Detective Sergeant Lytton Werner (he has yet to really forgive her for an unmanly nickname she'd given him in the third grade). Maddie's investigation turns up more than one suspect, and she must race against time to discover the real killer before he, or she, realizes the wrong bride died and goes after Sherry.
A VEILED DECEPTION by Annette Blair is the first in her Vintage Magic mystery series, and it's phenomenal. Ms. Blair beautifully captures New England's ambiance and mystique as she weaves a well-crafted mystery into the threads of Maddie Cutler's life. Maddie is a wonderful character, strong and quirky and going through a period of self-discovery both exciting and a bit frightening for her. The supporting cast of Maddie's close-knit family, Sherry's uptight soon-to-be in-laws, the men in Maddie's life, Mystick Falls oldest citizen and the occasional ghosts who have a habit of unexpectedly popping up make Mystick Falls a place worth visiting. As with all of Ms. Blair's stories, this one is going on my keeper shelf! Paula Myers, Fresh Fiction
"Deliciously humorous mystery!"
While driving home to Mystic Falls with her roommate and best friend, Eve, to take charge of her baby sister's wedding, Madeira—or Maddie as she prefers to be called— realizes just how much she really doesn't want to go back to New York. After all, with Eve doing classes at the university her father teaches at, she won't have a roommate anymore and she's really not all that happy working with Falina, the famous designer, anymore. Once they get to her home, Maddie makes sure Eve will at least come in and say hi to everyone at the party for her sister's engagement. Of course, their home isn't the normal house, but what else would one expect from an English Lit professor? It's a two hundred and fifty year old plus old coach stop and tavern. Maddie has always loved this house. It always seems to welcome her home.
Maddie's mother died when she was young and as the oldest of four children, Maddie raised her siblings. When it comes to arranging weddings, her father is pretty much helpless and asked Maddie to take a leave of absence from her job to help. Of course, the fact it's her baby sister's wedding has given Maddie a bit of a wake-up call. All her friends and family are at the party when Maddie and Eve get there, even her brother and his partner, Nick—Maddie's on/again, off/again boyfriend. Of course, Sherry—Maddie's baby sister— grabs onto Maddie as soon as she walks in the door. Turns out her fiancee's ex-girlfriend is at the party, at the invitation of her fiancee's mother, and is hanging onto Justin. The fact Sherry is marrying into the richest family of Mystic Falls means Deborah—Justin's mother—will just have to be in charge, regardless of what Sherry wants. When Deborah claims Sherry so the ex-girlfriend can arrange the surprise, Maddie decides to go upstairs. When Maddie passes her middle sister's room, she feels something odd and decides to go in. Bad mistake. When she enters the room, Maddie sees the ex-girlfriend with a veil wound around her neck. Immediately, Maddies tries to bring the woman back, only to realize it won't be possible when Nick comes in and lets Maddie know the ex is dead.
When Sherry ends up being the prime suspect for the ex's murder, Maddie has no recourse but to prove her sister's innocence. And so begins Maddie's journey to find out who killed Justin's ex-girlfriend. However, she has a little help when she realizes she can "see" things when she touches vintage clothing—Maddie's especial love.
Who really killed Justin's ex-girlfriend? Will Sherry even get married, or will she stand trial for committing murder? Why is Maddie seeing all these things when she touches vintage clothing? Will her relationship with Nick be on again? Will Maddie go back to New York and working for Faline, or will she stay in Mystic Falls?
A Veiled Deception is a funny, engaging read. Annette Blair puts together a mystery with humor, suspense, and quite the engaging plot. However, this is not just the story of a murder, but also of one woman's journey to find herself and what is really important to her. As Maddie "sees" different things, she begins to realize she's more like her mother than she thought. Have to admit, my favorite character is old Mrs. Sweet, with her Dante and quirky sense of humor. Of course, Chakra Citrine, the watch cat, was a wonderful touch as well. If this is an example of Annette Blair's talent for storytelling, I intend to go out and pick up all her back titles. The dialogue is witty, there's humor throughout the story, along with friendship and family, sexual tension without the story revolving around the sex, and the plot just zings along. I very highly recommend this story to anyone and everyone. I enjoyed it, I'm sure you will too. Reviewed by Chere Gruver
In Annette Blair's excellent mystery novel A Veiled Deception, Madeira Cutler, an assistant to a fashion designer, returns to her New England home town to help organize her sister's wedding. When an obnoxious wedding guest is murdered, Madeira must solve the murder while dealing with burgeoning psychic powers and conversations with ghosts.
This is the start of The Vintage Magic mystery series, and like Blair's previous novels such as Gone With the Witch and The Kitchen Witch, it combines elements of the mystery and supernatural genres and does so both rather effectively. The supernatural aspects play out well, particularly in that Madeira is experiencing them for the first time.
Madeira touches a wedding gown and sees images of the previous owner. She is terrified but soon begins to accept what these images might bring for her, especially when a family friend begins to teach her to embrace her abilities and her Wicca faith.
Some of the more intriguing scenes feature Madeira talking to ghosts - particularly Dante, a smooth-talking spirit who resembles Cary Grant. Madeira and Dante's communications are witty and some of the highlights of the book.
Besides its many supernatural elements, A Veiled Deception does a good job playing off the mystery conventions, particularly with the lead character. Madeira is multi-faceted, equal parts innocent and cynical. Working for a fashion designer, she betrays a vain, materialistic side. In her first-person narration, Madeira describes various clothes and has a keen eye for details of fashion, particularly of the vintage variety. In one scene, she uses her newfound psychic abilities and her knowledge of fashion to discern one of the suspects' motives.
One of the more endearing character traits is her unusual turns of phrase. She utters cute (sometimes irritating) curses like "Holy Hermes" - as in scarf - or "Mother of Cashmere."
Leavening her materialistic side, Madeira is infused with a lot of warmth. After her mother's death, she takes a maternal approach to her younger sisters, particularly Sherry, the one who’s getting married. Though she finds her sister's future in-laws snobbish, the reader can clearly see that she wants her sister to be happy.
The plot takes many unusual twists and turns that lead to a satisfying end. Because of the small number of suspects, the killer's identity is somewhat easy to deduce. However, what is done after the killer is identified, and the denouement of one of the other character’s story arc, is perfect justice.
A Veiled Deception not only makes a good start to a new series but is a great example of the supernatural mystery genre.
A Veiled Deception: A Vintage Magic Mystery
Madeira, “Maddie” Cutler, a New York fashion designer and vintage clothing lover has been summoned home to Mystic, Connecticut help plan a family wedding. She arrives at the engagement party to find chaos. A “former girlfriend” of her sister Sherry’s fiancé is found strangled with an antique bridal veil, making Sherry the prime suspect.
Maddie, being the mother hen she is, springs into action to protect her sister, and find out who really killed the “Jezebel” who had been trying to pose as the “real” bride. As she handles the gift Sherry’s future mother-in-law intended to give her, a vintage wedding gown worn by generations of the Vancourtland family, and something odd happens. The gown gives Maddie visions, clues to the family’s past and maybe a clue to who committed the murder.
Maddie soon learns from her Aunt Fiona that she’s psychometric, a psychic gift she inherited from her late mother, who, along with her aunt, was a practicing witch. The vintage clothes that Maddie adores can give her messages as to their past, which sometimes can come in mighty handy in the present!
Maddie also juggles keeping her on again/off again boyfriend, FBI Agent Nick Jaconetti and her childhood nemesis Police Chief Lytton “Little Wiener” Werner from discovering that she is doing a little investigating work herself. When she discovers the murder suspect is someone who has been completely under the radar for everyone, it turns into a race to save yet another Vancourtland bride from danger.
In almost a side story, while she’s not trying to clear her sister’s name, Maddie is looking into acquiring the old Underhill Funeral Chapel Carriage House. A historical building that just happens to be home to Dante Underhill, a chatty, handsome ghost in tux and top hat, who can’t seem to leave the building. Dante encourages Maddie to follow her dream to open a vintage clothing store in his former dwelling, a move that will make Maddie, her family, and her new ghost friend very happy.
“A Veiled Deception” is a great introduction to Maddie Cutler and her wacky family and friends. This story takes off at a rapid clip from the beginning, and readers have to buckle up and hold on for a fast-paced story that will draw them into its magic.