Harlow Jane Cassidy thinks she is happy as a fashion designer in New York City. But when her great-grandmother passes away, she leaves her turn-of-the-century farmhouse to Harlow. Harlow decides to move back to Bliss, Texas and open up a dressmaking boutique called “Buttons and Bows” in her grandmother’s house. Her first customer is her old friend Josie who orders a custom wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses for her upcoming wedding. Everyone is thrilled until Josie’s boss and maid-of-honor turns up dead in Harlow’s flowerbed. To complicate matters, Harlow’s family has always secretly had a touch of “magic” and people are starting to ask questions. Add to this an intriguing handyman and the fact that Great-Grandma’s spirit may not have actually left the building and you get one enchanting book.

Pleating for Mercy (Magical Dressmaking Mystery, Book 1)

Sissy: First of all, I wish my name was Harlow Jane Cassidy and that I had a magical gift.

Bubby: You DO have a magical gift! You sing like a choir of angels!

Sissy: I knew there was a reason I kept you around, Bubby. I also love Texan accents, beautiful clothing and goats. Maybe not so much on the goats. But this is a good new series, a good new heroine, and they don’t say curse words or have tempestuous sexual encounters.

Bubby: Note to self – in the future, blogging must occur BEFORE 7 p.m. or else Sissy’s brain has already gone to sleep. “I love goats?” Really? Let me explain: all the women in the Cassidy family have a magical gift. There is a family legend about how these gifts were acquired, but I’ll let the reader find that out. Harlow’s grandma’s gift is, well, for lack of a better term, goat whispering. Yep. Bet you wish you were a goat whisperer too, right Sissy?

Sissy: Actually I would be completely devastated if that were my gift. Goat meat. Have you ever tasted goat? It’s nasty. Same with goat cheese.

Bubby: I don’t know, a little chevre on a rye cracker with a touch of-

Sissy: I wasn’t finished. (Chevre? When Bubby says this word she pronounces it “Shev-ruh gut rumble”. She should just call it what it is – goat schmutz.) Anyway, all the women in this book are quirky, funny and strong, even if the woman if a ghost. I am a huge proponent of books with strong female characters.

Bubby: I think you may have mentioned that before, but I do agree. Strong women rule! This story had all my favorite elements. It had fashion, (not that I personally have any fashion sense but I like to pretend) diamonds, romance, magic and mystery. Fabulous. Just right for a Halloween read.

Sissy: Yes, perhaps I am repeating myself, but at this time of night I am half-blind and a quarter deaf.

Bubby: Oh, so many opportunities in that statement, Sissy. I will refrain from asking how that is any different than usual and just mention to our readers that it is all of 8:39 p.m. Wow. Bring out the curfew police!

Sissy: You have no respect for my advanced age and frailty. I appreciated how Ms. Bourbon wrote characters who connected so well with one another and how she gives us a glimpse of Harlow’s evolution from city girl back to country girl.

Bubby: I agree. I think my favorite character was Great-Grandma, even though she never says a word and is dead before the book starts. She communicates with Harlow through the house – a banging pipe here, a falling shelf there and is just as feisty in death as we are told she was when alive. I also enjoyed the storyline about the Cassidy’s lineage – I hope that more is revealed in future books.

Sissy: Yes. The author hints at family mysteries and treasure to be revealed at some future date. My favorite character was Grandma Coleta because she is old and crusty and I liked the goat named Thelma Louise.

Bubby: I can sense it! You DO want to be a goat whisperer! Just because your cat abandoned you for a pampered indoor life with the neighbors doesn’t mean you should turn to a life of goat herding. I was initially concerned that there was no romance in this story but it starts creeping in about half-way through and I really enjoyed the interplay between Harlow and “the man”. Don’t want to reveal too much, now. I think this is a great read. I rate Pleating for Mercy a solid 4 bubbles.

Sissy: This has nothing to do with Lucy the traitor cat. At least I don’t spend my days trying to make snooty foods like shev-ruh-(guhguh) – whatever. I will be reading the next books in this series for sure. (Book two is A Fitting End and #3 is Deadly Patterns.) The rating from me is 3.5 bubbles.

© Bubble Bath Books 2012