Squawk Radio

Friday, June 23, 2006


Teresa Travels to Sunny Florida for IT HAPPENED IN SOUTH BEACH

Every now and then, you stumble on a voice so fresh and delightful that you just know the author is destined for stardom. I felt that way when I recently read Jennie Klassel's IT HAPPENED IN SOUTH BEACH. Apparently I'm not the only one because when I read her bio in the back of the book, I learned that Jennie was "discovered" when she won the Romantic Times/Dorchester Publishing "New Historical Voice" Contest a few years ago. I haven't read her historicals yet but after reading BEACH, her first contemporary romance, I most definitely plan to.

IT HAPPENED IN SOUTH BEACH is a delightful mystery with a strong thread of romance. Our intrepid heroine is Tilly Snapp, Sex Detective. Now 26-year-old Tilly (who has been living a quiet, celibate life in Boston ever since her husband was struck by lightning on the golf course) never had any intention of becoming a "sex detective" but when her beloved and eccentric Aunt "Ginger" (yes, that would be Ginger Snapp) meets her untimely end while parasailing naked in Jamaica, Tilly has no choice but to join the search for her aunt's fabled "Pillow Box of Win Win Poo"--which contains the most valuable collection of antique erotic "accessories" in the world. Complicating her task is enigmatic and wildly sexy Interpol agent Will Maitland (who has an "oh-god-yes" mouth and eyes the color of "fathomless pools of bittersweet chocolate, Irish coffee, AND aged brandy"), who proves himself willing to follow her from one end of the globe to the other to both find her aunt's murderer and reintroduce her to pleasures that don't involve a pair of C batteries.

This is a clip from one of their first exchanges. (Yes, the book is written in first person and Tilly is the one speaking):

"I am a nice person! Can't you see I'm a nice person?" I protested. "I am not a criminal. I am not a homicidal maniac. And definitely not a double homicidal maniac. I can't even kill a cockroach, much less send my naked aunt plummeting eighty feet into the Caribbean. Nor do I skulk around whorehouses looking to carve up strange men in flagrante delicto. The only private collector I know is my mailman, who collects bottle caps. I didn't even know what a pillow box was, remember? Heck, it's been months since I replaced the batteries in my vi..."

Agent Maitland raised a brow. "Your what?"

"My flashlight," I snapped.

I'd like to tell you that IT HAPPENED IN SOUTH BEACH is like a cross between Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Crusie but even that doesn't do justice to the freshness of Klassel's voice or her delightful interjections of whimsy. I haven't been so enchanted since I discovered Dorothy Cannell's "Ellie Haskell" mysteries. The book is laugh-out-loud funny but also posesses a lot of heart. After I finished it, I was delighted to learn that Tilly's adventures are going to continue in SOUTH BEACH CONFIDENTIAL, which will be released in 2007. After I contacted her and told her I'd be featuring her book this morning, Jennie graciously agreed to pop in and blog with us this afternoon so make sure to stop back by and give her a big Squawk shout out! (You can visit her website at www.jennieklassel.com)

So is anybody familiar with Jennie's work? What encourages YOU to try a new author and who was the last new author YOU discovered who made you chortle with delight?
Teresa Medeiros, 4:57 PM