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The Look of Love: A Piper Donovan Mystery    by Mary Jane Clark Amazon.com order for
Look of Love
by Mary Jane Clark
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Piper Donovan, budding actress and wedding cake designer, has been asked to produce a wedding cake for the director of the high-end spa Elysium in Hollywood. Having hit a bump on her road to a permanent commitment with her boyfriend Jack, Piper decides this is a good chance to get away from New York in order to contemplate her next move.

The spa is luxurious and accommodating and Piper anticipates a week enjoying its various offerings facials, a swimming pool, hot tub, massage, fabulous food prepared by a famous chef, and hours of relaxing meditation.

But this is not to be. Piper finds that all is not well in Utopia. A maid's face has been splashed with acid mistakenly, it turns out. A client has had botched surgery and no longer has a nose. A news reporter is there under false pretenses. An employee has been acting against the principles of the spa. And Jack is back in New York!

Life muddles on, only growing worse for the residents of the spa. Piper tries to help the operative word here is tries. And Jack is still in New York.

Piper is interesting and sure knows her pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing. She is, at times, not cognizant of the kind of dangers of which her father warns her constantly. We could use a little more of him. He's a strong character. The novel is a little predictable, but reads well.

Author Mary Jane Clark began her career at CBS News; she wrote twelve media thrillers and then moved onto the Piper Donovan mystery series. A good background, to be sure.

2nd Review by Jessica Maguire (Rating:3):

Aspiring actress Piper Donovan's life is at a standstill, but that is about to change. Jillian Abernathy, director of the famed Elysium Spa in Hollywood, has chosen Piper to make her wedding cake. All expenses paid. Piper leaves behind the dreary winter of the East Coast for fun, sun, and relaxation, as well as work at Elysium, a 'place or condition of ideal bliss or complete happiness.' With a lawsuit over a botched cosmetic procedure, an investigation into possible misconduct by a staff member, in addition to murder attempts, the bliss of Elysium is short lived.

Piper soon finds herself embroiled in the murders and mystery at Elysium. When not working on Jillian's wedding cake and going to tryouts for acting jobs, Piper becomes more and more involved with the events at the spa. Along with new friends at Elysium, Piper sets out to discover who is attempting to kill Jillian and has killed two other spa patrons as well. Is the father of the woman's botched cosmetic procedure to blame for the murders? Or perhaps a staff member who is involved in misconduct is responsible. Maybe even the former employee, whose job Jillian has been given, is holding a grudge and seeking revenge.

Author Mary Jane Clark weaves an intriguing and complex tale geared toward female readers. Aside from all the goings on at Elysium, subplots involve Piper's potential romance with Jack; Jillian's relationship with her sister, Sister Mary Noelle, and stepmother, Irene; as well as the questions surrounding the death of their mother, Caryn. Readers won't be able to stop turning the pages. With all the twists and turns here I found myself unable to put down this riveting murder mystery.

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