Reviewed by Kristin
Jaine Austen is thrilled when a new writing job turns up, even if it is for a matchmaking agency run by a crazy woman. Jaine will do anything for a paycheck to keep herself in chocolate, not to mention to keep her cat Prozac full of Hearty Halibut Guts. Dates of Joy is the creation of Joy Amoroso, who has no problem with filling her potential Date Book full of photos of models who have never crossed her doorstep. In addition, Joy mercilessly berates anyone who works for her, only turning on the charm for the poor suckers who plop down $10,000 in the hopes of being matched with the Romeo (or Juliet) of their dreams.
Joy hires Jaine to write for her website and also to work on a new brochure promoting Dates of Joy. To get the flavor of the matchmaking game, Joy arranges for Jaine to have a makeover and to be fixed up with someone who is tall, blond, and—well, tall and blond. Needless to say, the man is not the man of her dreams, but he is a little obsessed with Jaine’s kitty Prozac. Unfortunately, Prozac reminds Mr. Tall and Blond of his deceased feline companion, Miss Marple. Jaine may not be willing to share Prozac, but Prozac is more than willing to be fed caviar by any open hand.
Soon enough, Joy turns up dead. Since she alienated almost everyone she ever met, suspects abound. The police even take a look at Jaine, because she (along with the rest of the world) clashed with Joy. And since Jaine is not just a writer, but the resident amateur sleuth, she can’t stop herself from surreptitiously investigating Joy’s murder. Clients, employees, boy-toys, even dear old Aunt Faith all seem to have a motive to want Joy out of the picture, permanently. Jaine noses around, pretending to be a reporter for the L.A. Times, just to find out who might have been angry enough to take Joy out of the matchmaking business for good.
As with the rest of the series, this book is a comic mystery, a bit over the top by design. Even though there is some repetition from book to book, it still flows along and I found myself chuckling at Jaine, Prozac, and best friend Lance. Jaine is always going to indulge herself with Oreos or a Quarter Pounder; Prozac is always going to turn up her nose at mere canned cat food; Lance is always going to be on the hunt for the new love of his life. Jaine’s Floridian parents make their usual appearances via email, as they report the hilarity of their day to day life to their daughter. Starting with This Pen for Hire, Jaine and her friends, family and cat will make you laugh.