My suspicion was right. As I wrote in my review of Terri L. Austin’s first book, Diners, Dives, & Dead Ends, I thought the heroine was falling for the bad guy. I didn’t have to get very far in Austin’s new release, Last Diner Standing, to learn that my hunch was right.
Rose is still reeling a bit from the escapades detailed in Diners, Dives, & Dead Ends when a frantic phone call from her study buddy Janelle, who has landed in jail, shakes things up again. Seems Janelle’s ex has been bashed over the head and is in a coma. And the cops are saying Janelle did it. Trouble is, she didn’t.
After reaching several dead ends in her search for bail money for Janelle (sorry for the bad pun), Rose gives in and calls Thomas Sullivan, the hot bad guy. He had called Rose several times since their last scrape was over, but Rose was resisting her growing attraction to him. Seeing Janelle’s young children fighting sickness in front of the Christmas tree, crying for their mama, Rose turns to Sullivan for help.
The cops are so sure Janelle clobbered her ex, they don’t bother looking for any other suspects. Rose knows from her previous experience with the cops that it’s a waste of time trying to convince them that there’s a laundry list of folks who would like to see the ex dead, so she heads off on her own to catch the killer.
Rose learns quickly that although they are doing so for different reasons, she and Sullivan are most likely looking for the same person. Sullivan is on the trail of whomever put out a hit on him, and Rose is determined to set Janelle free permanently.
The supporting cast from the first book—Axton, Ma, Roxy, Ray and even Stoner Joe, as well as Rose’s parents and sister—are back along with Rose. Ma is fighting her own battle with a rival diner owner, and she drags Rose along with her in the fight. Poor Rose doesn’t have a spare moment to spend thinking about having the hots for Sullivan, except, of course, when they team up to hunt down the unknown, elusive villain.
Austin’s prose is just as clean and crisp as it was in the first book, and she fleshes out the minor characters nicely as this book goes along. I did have some trouble keeping straight the growing list of suspects, as Rose and/or Janelle gives each one of them a nickname; sometimes Austin refers to them by their real name and sometimes by their nicknames. I occasionally had to flip back through the pages to remember who was who. No worries, though, since the heat between Rose and Sullivan was turned up along the way, and that easily kept my attention!
Last Diner Standing is a nice, well-rounded package—mystery, suspense, comedy, romance, and just enough spice to keep me looking forward to the next book where, hopefully, Rose and Sullivan will turn up the heat a little more.
Last Diner Standing
Copyright 2013 Terri L. Austin