"I'm crazy about Laura Levine's mystery series. Her books are so outrageously funny, they always make me laugh out loud." Joanne Fluke
Love is in the air as freelance writer Jaine Austen begins a new job at the Dates of Joy matchmaking service. . .
When Jaine lands a job writing web copy and brochures for matchmaker Joy Amoroso, she's excited for a chance to help the lovelornuntil she realizes Joy is a ruthless taskmaster who screams at her employees for the smallest infractions, pads her website with pictures of professional models posing as clients, and offers up convincing but empty promises of love. So it's no surprise when the chiseling cupid turns up dead at a Valentine's Day mixer. Now, finding the culprit may prove harder than spotting that elusive caramel praline in a box of chocolates. . .
"A well-crafted plot." Publishers Weekly
"The multiple suspects keep readers on the edge of their seats." RT Book Reviews
"Levine's charming heroine is right on target." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
LAURA LEVINE is a comedy writer whose television credits include The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne & Shirley, The Love Boat, The Jeffersons, Three’s Company, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Her work has been published in The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. She lives in Los Angeles, and is currently working on the next Jaine Austen mystery. Readers can visit her website at www.LauraLevineMysteries.com.
Read an Excerpt
By LAURA LEVINE
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Laura Levine
All rights reserved.
There it was, waiting for me on my bedspread. An early Valentine's gift from my Significant Other.
Gingerly I picked it up.
"A hairball. How very thoughtful."
My cat, Prozac, looked up from where she was lolling on my pillow, beaming with pride.
I left another one for you in your slippers.
At this stage of my life, I was used to crappy Valentine's gifts. Mainly from my ex-husband, The Blob. I remember the Valentine's Day he came sauntering through the door with a slightly wilted bouquet of roses.
"For you, pickleface," he said.
He liked to call me pickleface. One of the many reasons we are no longer married.
The Blob never brought me gifts, not unless you consider a complimentary toothpick from Hop Li's Chinese Restaurant a gift. So my heart actually started to melt just a tad. Seeing a small envelope sticking out from the bouquet, I opened it eagerly, only to read the words:
Rest in peace, Esther. With heartfelt sympathy, the Rosenkrantzes.
Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like used funeral flowers.
So like I say, I was used to dreadful Valentine's gifts. But none as dreadful as the one I was about to get that day when Joy Amoroso called.
I was stretched out on my sofa, scraping Prozac's hairball out from my slipper, when the phone rang.
"Jane Eyre?" asked a woman with a decidedly phony British accent.
"Austen," I corrected her. "Jaine Austen."
"Yes, right. Whatever. This is Joy Amoroso calling. You've heard of me, of course."
Something in her tone of voice told me to answer in the affirmative.
"Um, sure," I lied.
"I need someone to write advertising copy, and Marvin Cooper gave me your name."
Marvin Cooper, aka Marvelous Marv, The Mattress King, was one of my biggest clients. What a sweetie, I thought, to have recommended me for a job. If I'd only known what hell was in store for me, I would have smothered him with one of his Comfort Cloud pillows. But at that moment, I was thrilled at the prospect of a paycheck winging its way toward my anemic checking account.
"I assume you know all about my business," the phony Brit was saying.
"Of course," I lied again.
"Come to my offices tomorrow at ten a.m., and I'll decide if you're good enough to work for me."
What nerve! I felt like telling her to take her silly job and shove it. She may not have realized it, but she happened to be talking to the woman who won the Golden Plunger Award from the Los Angeles Plumbers Association for the immortal slogan In a Rush to Flush? Call Toiletmasters!
Yes, I would have dearly liked to flip her a verbal finger, but "Okay, sure," were the lily-livered words I actually uttered.
"Good. See you tomorrow. Ten a.m. sharp."
And before even giving me her address, she'd hung up.
Who on earth was this presumptuous woman?
I was just about to head over to my computer to check her out online when there was a knock on my door.
I opened it to find my neighbor, Lance Venable.
A normally bubbly fellow with bright blue eyes and a headful of tight blond curls, Lance looked distinctly bubble-free as he trudged into my apartment.
"Oh, Jaine!" he sighed, summoning his inner Sarah Bernhardt, "I don't think I can face another Valentine's Day without a date." With that, he plopped down on my sofa, his arm slung dramatically across his forehead, very Marcel Proust Yearning for a Madeleine.
"Cheer up, Lance. We'll stay home, order a pizza, and watch Fatal Attraction like we always do."
"No, I'm afraid not even the thought of Glenn Close with a butcher knife is going to cheer me up this year. In fact, I was thinking of going to a weekend retreat at a monastery."
"A monastery? But you're not even Catholic."
"That's not the point. I need to meditate, to contemplate, to see how I look in one of those cowl neck robes. And besides, who knows? I just might meet somebody."
"Lance, you can't go to a monastery to pick up guys! They're celibate."
"So? I like a challenge."
The scary thing is, he wasn't kidding.
"But enough about my pathetic life. What's going on in your pathetic life?"
"For your information," I said, scraping the last of Prozac's hairball from my slipper, "my life does not happen to be the least bit pathetic. "But now that you asked, the most maddening thing just happened. I got a phone call from a mystery woman named Joy Amoroso, telling me to come in for a job interview without even giving me her address or the name of her company."
"Joy Amoroso!" Lance's eyes lit up. "I know all about her. She owns Dates of Joy, Beverly Hills's premier matchmaking service!"
He sprang up from the sofa, his lethargy a thing of the past.
"Be right back!" he cried, dashing out the door. Seconds later he was back, as promised, waving a glossy news sheet.
"The Beverly Hills Social Pictorial," he said, leafing through it. "I subscribe to keep track of my customers."
The customers to whom Lance referred were the wealthy dames who shopped at Neiman Marcus's shoe department, where Lance toils as a salesman, fondling billion-dollar bunions for a living.
"Aha!" he cried, finding the page he'd been searching for. "Here she is."
He handed me the magazine, pointing to an ad for the Dates of Joy matchmaking service.
There in the middle of the ad was Joy Amoroso, an attractive blonde sitting behind a desk, a statue of Cupid slinging his arrow in the background. At least, I assumed Joy was attractive. The picture itself was extremely hazy, as if it had been shot through a lens liberally lathered with Vaseline.
"When you get the job," Lance was saying, "you've got to promise you'll get me a date."
"I thought you were going to a monastery."
"A monastery? Why on earth would I go to a monastery when I could be going on a Date of Joy? I hear she's got a client list filled with gazillionaires."
"Don't get your hopes up. I haven't got the job yet."
"Oh, but you will."
And as very bad luck would have it, he was right.
Little did I know it then, but my Valentine's Day was about to go from Fatal Attraction to just plain fatal.CHAPTER 2
I found Beverly Hills's premier matchmaker several miles outside Beverly Hills, in the perfectly pleasant but distinctly less prestigious town of Mar Vista.
Housed in a three-story stucco office building between Ellman's Upholsterers and Jerry's Discount Flowers, Dates of Joy was a far cry from the swellegant mecca of matchmaking I'd imagined.
Nabbing a spot in front of Jerry's Discount Flowers, I made my way past buckets of drooping carnations into Joy's office building. There I stepped onto a musty elevator, where some industrious hoodlums had etched the walls with an impressive display of male genitalia.
I got off at the second floor and found Joy's office at the end of a dank hallway. In contrast to the oatmeal walls surrounding it, Joy's door was painted a bilious Pepto-Bismol pink, the words DATES OF JOY etched in flowery calligraphy.
I headed inside to find the walls painted the same Pepto-Bismol pink and lined with large framed blowups of happy couples gazing at each other, gooey-eyed with love.
At the time, I assumed that they were all Joy's satisfied customers.
Seated at a receptionist's desk was a goth pixie clad in black leather and a tasteful assortment of body piercings, her spiky hair a blazing shade of purple. And hunched over a computer behind her was a skinny guy in black horn-rimmed glasses held together at the hinges with duct tape. In his white short-sleeved shirt and yellow bow tie, cowlicks running riot in his hair, the guy had Computer Nerd written all over him.
"May I help you?" the goth pixie asked, looking up from her computer, a steel stud glinting merrily in her nose.
"I'm Jaine Austen. I'm here to see Joy Amoroso."
Was it my imagination, or was that a look of pity I'd just seen flit across her face?
"Joy will be right with you," she said. "Won't you have a seat?"
She gestured to a row of plastic chairs lined up against the wall. I plopped down into one and checked out the reading matter on a tiny coffee table in front of me. Along with the usual dog-eared issues of People was a thick loose-leaf binder.
"That's our Date Book, with pictures of our clients," said the pixie, whose name, according to the ID bracelet tattooed on her wrist, was Cassie.
I opened the book, expecting to find a bunch of bald heads and stomach paunches, but the book was stuffed with stunners. One good looking prospect after the next. Joy certainly had a lot of hotties on tap.
Just as I was ogling a particularly adorable tousle-haired studmuffin, the door to Joy's office opened and out walked the date-meister herself.
The woman in front of me bore little resemblance to the photo in her ad. That picture had been taken at least ten years and fifty pounds ago. Joy Amoroso was still an attractive woman with deceptively angelic features. Button nose, big blue eyes, and a fabulous head of streaked blond hair. But that pretty face of hers came with an impressive set of chins, and she was clearly packing quite a few pounds under her flowy A-line dress. Only her feet were tiny—slender little things encased in what looked like nosebleed expensive designer shoes.
"Jaine!" she cried with the same phony British accent she'd used on the phone. "So teddibly sorry to keep you waiting."
She looked me up and down with all the subtlety of a New York City construction worker. I guess I must have passed muster, because she then asked: "Won't you step into my office, hon?"
Tearing myself away from my tousle-haired dreamboat, I grabbed my book of writing samples and followed her into her inner sanctum.
Like the reception area, Joy's office was filled with framed photos of happy couples. But unlike the no-frills furniture in the reception area, Joy's decor ran to the antique and ornate. A Marie Antoinette-ish desk and chair dominated the room, along with an étagère crammed with fussy knickknacks. Over in a corner lurked the same statue of Cupid I'd seen in Joy's ad, now shooting his arrow up at what looked like a water stain on the ceiling.
But what caught my eye most of all was an open box of Godiva chocolates on Joy's desk, chock full of creamy dark chocolate truffles.
My taste buds, napping after the cinnamon raisin bagel I'd had for breakfast, suddenly jolted awake. A truffle sure would've hit the spot right about then. Of course, a truffle would hit the spot with me just about any time. But those velvety Godivas looked particularly mouthwatering.
Taking a seat behind her desk, Joy popped one in her mouth. My taste buds and I waited for her to offer me one, but alas, we waited in vain.
Obviously Joy was not a sharer.
She gestured for me to sit in one of the froufrou chairs facing her desk, and as I did, I felt a broken spring poke me in the fanny.
"Comfy?" she asked.
"Very," I lied, still hoping for one of those Godivas.
"So," she said, sucking chocolate from her fingertips, "Marvin Cooper tells me you're a wonderful writer."
I blushed modestly.
"But I'll be the judge of that," she added with a grim smile.
She held out her hand for my sample book. I only hoped she didn't smear chocolate all over my Toiletmasters campaign.
As she leafed through my ads, I whiled away the minutes looking at pictures of the happy couples on the wall and trying to ignore the spring poking me in my fanny.
"Not bad," she said when she was finally through.
Then she got up and began pacing the room in her teeny designer-clad tootsies, launching into what had all the earmarks of a well-rehearsed campaign speech.
"As you well know," she began, "Dates of Joy is the preeminent dating service in Beverly Hills."
I wisely refrained from pointing out that we were a good three and a half miles from Beverly Hills.
"I handle only the crème de la crème of the L.A. dating scene. Movers and shakers. And all sorts of celebrities. My fees start at ten thousand dollars a year. And go up. Way up."
Wow. And I thought my Fudge of the Month Club was expensive.
"And I'm worth it," she said, her chins quivering with pride. "I'm the best there is. That's because I've got matchmaking in my blood. My mother was a matchmaker, and her mother before her."
Not only that, according to Joy, one of her royal ancestors back in jolly old England was the one who fixed up Anne Boleyn with Henry VIII.
I nodded as if I actually believed her.
If this woman was English royalty, I was a Tibetan monk.
"Although I abhor the idea of self promotion," she was saying, "I have to keep up with the times. So I'm looking for someone to write copy for a sales brochure. "So whaddaya think?" she asked, dumping her royal accent. "You interested?"
"Sounds very intriguing."
Time to see how much gold was at the end of this particular rainbow.
"And the pay?" I asked.
"I was thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of three grand."
Someone call the movers! That's my kind of neighborhood.
And yet, a little voice inside me was telling me to run for the hills. I knew trouble when I saw it coming down the pike, and I could tell Joy Amoroso was trouble with a capital OMG! That bossy manner, that insane Queen Mum accent that seemed to come and go like an overbooked call girl on New Year's Eve. The woman would drive me up a wall in no time.
Why not save myself the aggravation and just say no?
So what if I owed a few bucks to MasterCard? And Macy's? And the Fudge of the Month Club? So what if the Fudge of the Month Club cut off my membership and I never got another box of fudge ever again—not even the white chocolate macadamia nut fudge I'm particularly fond of?
Surely I could live without white chocolate macadamia nut fudge.
Oh, please. We all know the answer to that one.
"So," Joy asked, popping another chocolate in her mouth. "Is it a deal?"
"It's a deal."
And that, in a macadamia nutshell, was how I came to sell my soul to the Matchmaker from Hell.
"You'll start tomorrow at nine," Joy commanded. "I want you to hang out at the office for a few days to get the picture of how I work."
I'd get the picture, all right.
And trust me, it was not a pretty one.
Riding up the elevator in Joy's office building the next morning, I found myself elbow to elbow with a gal who looked like she just stepped out of a Victoria's Secret catalog. Pouty lips. Eensy waist. And boobs that made it onto the elevator a good thirty seconds before she did. Surely she wasn't going to see Joy. A woman like that needed help finding a date like I needed help finding the cookie aisle in the supermarket.
But much to my surprise, when she got out of the elevator, she trotted straight to Joy's Pepto-Bismol door.
I followed her inside and blinked in surprise to see the reception area was crammed with stunning guys and gals.
"I'm here for the casting session," Ms. Secret told Cassie, who was seated at her desk, a skull and crossbones barrette adorning her bright purple hair.
A casting session, huh? I figured Joy was looking for models to use in her new brochure.
"Take a seat in the photo studio," Cassie told Ms. Secret, pointing to a large room adjacent to the reception area. I peeked inside and saw about a dozen other Beautiful People sitting around, chatting among themselves and gazing at their own head shots with unabashed admiration.
"Hi, Jaine," Cassie said, catching sight of me. "Joy will be tied up for a while. Until she's free, she wants you to work with Travis."
She pointed to the bow-tied geek I'd noticed yesterday.
"I'm supposed to show you our Web site," he said, pulling up a chair for me next to his computer.
"So what's going on?" I asked with a nod to the beautiful people. "Is Joy casting models for the brochure?" "Not exactly."
He glanced at Joy's door, as if to make sure she wasn't listening.
"Remember the date book you saw yesterday? With pictures of Joy's clients? Well, hardly any of the people in that book are actual clients. Most of them are models or actors. Every once in a while Joy holds a phony casting session, pretending she's going to shoot a TV commercial. All the models and actors leave their headshots, and then Joy puts them into her date book."
"That's how she reels in the new clients," he nodded.
"What about all her movers and shakers? And her celebrity clients?"
Excerpted from KILLING CUPID by LAURA LEVINE. Copyright © 2014 Laura Levine. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I agree with reviewer Tess T. I have read every book in the series but poor Jane has no life and is in a rut. A BF would be very nice or an upgrade. I know Prozac would approve. The story is predictable but the humor is still wonderful and her parents emails are hilarious. Elastic waist bands aside, I'm looking forward to the next book, but would love to see something go Jane's way.
Very funny and enjoyable reading!
Killing Cupid was a good read. I enjoyed the story line and the characters were fun. highly recommend it
Loved the ending... great book
Easy read and diverting
She is a funny protagonist, and I loved Prozac.
I just found this author again after losing track of her. The antics of Jaime Austen and her parents still make me laugh out loud. A very entertaining quick read.
Title: Killing Cupid - Jane Austen Mystery Book 12 Author: Laura Levine Published: 12-31-2013 Publisher: Kensington Books Pages: 304 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Women's Fiction, Cozy Mystery ISBN: 9780758285034 ASIN: B00R511AZ6 Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley . Jane is pleased with the prospect of steady employment with Joy Amoroso owner of Dates of Joy. The she meets the woman, a stingy, loud, verbally abusive to her staff and a fraud to boot. When Joy winds up poisoned at Valentine's social Mixer using her precious Godiva Chocolates. Karma struck her down. Unfortunately Jane is on the police's suspect list as the mostly likely to be the killer. Jane Austen races to find the real killer and clear her name before her cat Prozac finds his mommy behind bars for Valentine's Day. Laura Levine delivers a cozy mystery filled with thrills and chills, but peppered with humor as well. Jane's character is a very bold character, with a quick wit and a sharp eye. She continues to deliver mysteries that keep you involved in the story from beginning to the very end. Although part of a series Killing Cupid can easily be read as a standalone book.
squirrels and sweat pants
“Is Life (or Death) Just a Box of Chocolates..” Is it possible to chuckle at the details of someone’s demise? Absolutely, if you travel back to Beverly Hills and find cash-strapped, advertising copywriter, Jaine Austen reminiscing about Valentine’s Days gone by. Jaine is also lamenting about the mountain of bills staring her in the eye, when a business opportunity comes calling from none other than Joy Amoroso, the owner, quite the Operator (and chocoholic) of “Dates of Joy” dating service. Joy requests that Jaine creates copy for a 16 pg. sales brochure to the tune of a $3000.00 payment—and Jaine sure could dance to that tune! Jaine is skeptical though—in fact, the only one who is thrilled with the proposition is blond, shoe salesman extraordinaire/neighbor Lance Venable, whose dating successes have been few and he hopes he can be matched up with the “Man of his Dreams” under Jaine’s “Work Umbrella”. Valentine’s Day is looming and so is Joy’s annual “Valentine’s Singles Mixer”. All employees, including “Hard at work on the brochure” Jaine, office computer geek Travis and Goth pixie/receptionist Cassie. Jaine in her anger and outrage over Joy’s business practices creates a not-so-flattering sales brochure just to let off steam. She thought she had deleted it completely, replacing it with more “Factual” copy and emailed it to Joy’s office. When she realizes that not all of the unfavorable details were purged, she sets out to find a way into Joy’s office and her computer. But, how to get past eagle-eyed Joy? You know where there’s a will, there’s a “Jaine’s way”. When, during the mixer, Joy collapses and dies after swallowing a chocolate from her desk, Jaine finds herself at the top of a L-O-N-G list of suspects. It isn’t a case of who would want her dead—but who didn’t! Perhaps smarmy boyfriend Tonio? Or maybe Alyce Winters, who she insulted? How about overworked and misused office staff, Travis and Cassie? And don’t forget Aunt Faith--who has no charity in her soul where Joy is concerned. The list seems endless with many alibis to check out before Jaine can possibly clear herself. Add to the already chaotic mix, the never boring emails from her Mom and Dad, the amazing antics of spoiled feline confidant, Prozac, plus your sides will ache from laughter over the dating disaster with Skip Holmeier III. All in all, a terrific cozy you won’t want to put down and will be saddened when you reach the last page—but take heart—I’m betting Jaine and Prozac will be back soon! Nancy Narma
oh my, what can i say about miss laura's stories? they are filled with humor, mystery, and some romance. with all this they are a story that will hold your attention all the way through. another plus is the e-mails ffrom her parents...they are a hoot!! of course there is a body, and jaine feels the need to investigate. they suspects are many, and the clues sparse, but jaine figures it out. i have enjoyed every one of the stories in this series, but i have to say, my hopes are up that this detective is going to be a permanent person in jaine's life. it's time. can't wait for the next story to find out!
4 STARS This is book 12 in the Jaine Austen Mystery but the first one I have read. I hope not the last. It is a fun wacky story. Her parents are full of laughs with the emails they send her. I like Jaine and her cat too. Though if someone offered me twentyfive thousand dollars for my cat I would say sold. My dogs would be a harder sell. I liked the plot. It was fun to read. The body was found at a party for Dates of Joy clients and Jaine has sneaked into her bosses office to delete a email she had sent by mistake. So she is a suspect in the murder so she wants to find out who the real killer is to clear herself. No one likes the person killed so their are plenty of suspects and motives. I was kept guessing and never got it right. Jaine is even a suspect herself. Jaine is hired to make a advertising brochure for Dates of Joy. That is not all she ends up doing for them. She finds herself writing online bios to go along with headshots of models. She even ends up going on a date with quite a character himself. But be careful you might find yourself wanting to eat chocolate while reading about it. I did. The pacing was good and kept me reading till the end to find out who the killer was. Based on this story I would read more of Jaine Austen Mysteries series. I was given this ebook to read and in return asked to give honest review of it by Netgalley. publication: December 31st 2013 by Kensington 272 pages ISBN9780758285034
Killing Cupid was a predictable story by Ms. Levine. I have read all of the series and they all seem to run together. Now I realize that it is a book in a series, and I generally read all the books in a series, but this one was just too much the same as the one before, and the one before that. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, Just that it's time for Jaine to move on to the next phase in her life. Time to make a commitment, to either/or/and her life, her job, her relationship, it's just time. I have read series after series, and have never felt this way before. I'm not saying this is a bad book, in fact it was pretty enjoyable, maybe if I hadn't read all of the other books, I would have accepted this one easier. I truly don't intend to insult Ms. Levine, is it perhaps time to move on to another series, or really shake this one up? Remember, I am just a reviewer, and this is my opinion, you will need to read the book for yourself.
I like some girls, and more of them like me back then i like them. Some of them are obviously in love with me, but i cant make up my mind on who to ask out. If i ask one girl all the others will get mad. I love all of them for there personalitys not just on apperence. I like this one girl the most tho. Can you plz help me asap!!!!!!!
Omg that's the EXACT same with me and my old crush (I eventually moved away x.x)! We were friends in 5th grade, but he hated my guts in 6th! (I started homeschooling in 7th) We're friends on Facebook, and once I even talked to him, but now it's just awkward and embarrasing. Urgh. x-x #mylifestory xD
Hi. So i like this boy and there is a rumer that he might like me also. And i really like him and want to get him to ask me out to the up comeing dance but we are kinda enimies. Everytime i try to get him alone i fail or its just embarressing. We dont have the same classes. ~Alexis
I have a girlfriend and she's really great! But i never know what to get her for holidays. She loves Supernatural, Dr.Who, and video games. I already got her a ton of supernatural stuff. Help me Ms.Cupid! — Agitated in Arizona
How would i ask her without lookin like an idiot
New Death on Valentine’s Day Always in need of a paycheck, Jaine Austen jumps when she gets a referral to Dates of Joy, the premier matchmaking service in Beverly Hills. Joy Amoroso, the owner, wants Jaine to write a new brochure and some copy for the website. However, Joy is a bear to work for, scams her clients, and hordes her chocolate. And those are her good points. It’s hardly a surprise when Joy drops dead in the middle of her annual Valentine’s Day party. In fact, the list of suspects includes everyone who ever met Joy. Since Jaine is one of the suspects, she decides to jump in and find the real killer while dodging her new geriatric suitor, a man who is dating Jaine to get close to her cat, Prozac. But who actually killed Joy? This is another fun, wild, and wacky adventure in Jaine’s murder solving life. I was laughing from start to finish and smiling when I wasn’t laughing. The humor is charming and fun as always, and the characters are as crazy as ever. I suspected who the killer might be early, but I wasn’t sure until just before Jaine figured it out herself. There’s also a sub-plot involving Jaine’s parents in their retirement center in Florida. It may be my favorite one yet, and I was laughing at them like always. If you enjoy light hearted comedy along with your dead bodies, this is definitely the series for you. Jump in anywhere and be prepared to laugh at Jaine’s wild antics.
Keeps you guessing. Jaine is hired by dating club to write a brochure and bios. Owner is murdered with cyanide laced chocolate.