Saturday, August 20, 2011

White Offerings by Ann Roberts

Publisher:                 Bella Books

Ari Adams promised her girlfriend, Detective Molly Nelson, that she wouldn't get involved with any more mysteries. After all, the first one nearly cost her life. When white orchids start arriving for her best friend, Jane Frank, though, Ari can't help but be curious and concerned. Jane is happily sleeping her way through most of the lesbians in Phoenix and insists she hasn't created an enemy in the bunch, but both women become worried as the messages with the flowers become more threatening. 

Jane hires private detective Elizabeth "Biz" Stone to find out what is going on, but it's Ari who is disturbed to feel an attraction to the woman. Ari is sure she loves Molly, but Molly isn't being very communicative about her feelings. As Ari battles with these feelings and the messages become more disturbing, an orchid arrives for Ari. Who is doing this? What are the intentions for Jane, and how much danger is Ari in for being her friend? Worse yet, with so many suspects, including some close to them, who can the women trust?

White Offerings is the sequel to Roberts' previous book Paid in Full. It's a simple mystery with plenty of suspects thrown in to keep the reader guessing. The characters of Ari and Jane are well developed because they interact so much in the book and take up the majority of the story. 

Molly and "Biz" could have used some more attention, especially Molly. Her reluctance to commit to Ari isn't really explained and it's a tad curious that, while the woman she claims to love is threatened, she's more interested in a case she's working on with the FBI. The relationship between Ari and Molly is juxtaposed next to Jane's profligate behavior as a contrasting picture of how people live their lives, though what they see in each other is sometimes unclear.

While the mystery is intriguing, it's difficult to develop any feeling for the characters. Ari is the most appealing, while Jane is somewhat humorous, although the reader may come to feel that she deserves the stalker she's acquired through her behavior. Molly is more involved when she's working her case than she is with Ari, and "Biz" doesn't do that much to solve the question of who is sending the flowers. The ending is rather abrupt and there is a set up in the final scene for what is obviously a third book in the series.

Roberts knows how to write a story and White Offerings is entertaining.  It's not her best book though, so give her others a chance.

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