The Heroine: Piper Donovon, a young woman struggling to make a career for herself as an actress. Forced to move back home to her parent's house, she supplements her income by baking and decorating wedding cakes. After making a cake for a popular soap opera star, Piper is noticed by Jillian Abernathy, the director of Elysium Spa in Los Angeles, and is hired to prepare the cake for Jillian's upcoming wedding. Soon, Piper is sunning herself in the California sunshine, enjoying drinks by the pool and her private suite at Elysium – until disastor strikes and Piper is pulled into the mystery behind the maniac killer that seems determined to stop Jillian's wedding and destroy whoever stands in their path.
The Highs: Its been quite awhile since I've picked up a good, old fashioned mystery, possibly since my Nancy Drew days! The Look of Love is in many ways the Nancy Drew for the grown-up set: a pretty and intelligent heroine with a knack for solving crime, a suspect leaving behind a trail of clues and an ultimate life-threatening confrontation between Piper (a.k.a Nancy) and the perp. It made me nostalgic for my childhood, as well as very determined to figure out who the killer was before Piper did – though, like my childhood self, I am simply not as skilled at crime fighting as Piper and Nancy.
I enjoyed the heavy suspense and I sped through this novel, eager to discover who the murderer was from the cast of potential criminals: the disgruntled ex-employee, the irate father of a botched plastic surgery patient, the facialist who preys on his clients, or perhaps the owner of the spa himself. There were many layers of mysteries inside the bigger picture and I enjoyed the journey to the conclusion.
The Lows: While I was known for enjoying a good Nancy Drew or two back in the day, The Look of Love reminded me why I stopped reading pure mysteries: under-developed characters, the simplistic and uninspired writing style and the lack of emotional connection. Piper Donovan, as heroines go, could be interchangable with any somewhat smart and pretty girl off the street. Two-dimensional and predictable, Piper's perfection (is there anything wrong with this girl?) bored me and even worse, alienated me.
I also didn't enjoy the writing or the layout of this book. While Mary Jane Clark is a popular and well-known writer, I have never read anything she's written and frankly I expected more. Lacklustre and plain, I feel like the same story could have been written by anyone with a basic command of the english language. The extremely short and choppy chapters also irritated me: is there any reason for a book this short (as in, I finished it in three hours) to have over one hundred chapters?
I suppose the worst offence of this book is that it failed to inspire me or capture my emotions the way I expect a good book should. Lacking passion, creativity or, really, effort, I just can't bring myself to recommend this book. Perhaps devoted Mary Jane Clark readers and mystery fans will enjoy it, but its not for me.
Final Thoughts: I had hoped to keep this brief because I really don't enjoy hating on a book this badly, but I really feel its my duty as a book blogger to let you know how much I did not like this book.
Rating: The Look of Love earns four wedding cakes out of ten.
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Connect to author Mary Jane Clark here
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