Merrimon Book Reviews

A Vintage Wedding Dress

1922 advertisement in the Ladies' Home Journal

Mystic Seaport.
Annette Blair located her fictional Mystick Falls where Connecticut's Nature Peace Sanctuary is across the Mystic River from Mystic Seaport.
From Merrimon Book Reviews
A Veiled Deception
A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair
by Annette Blair

Humorous, light magical story but a bit too unfocused as a mystery

Madeira Cutler has worked for a prestigious New York clothes designer for many years. Returning home to Mystick Falls, Connecticut, Maddie becomes embroiled in all the small town and family dynamics as her sister Sherry's arch-enemy Jasmine is all too present at the festivities and a little tied to her future mother-in-law and ultimate snob Deborah Vancortland. When Maddie discovers Jasmine strangled by her sister's bridal veil, Maddie investigates to clear her sister's name. Her understanding of fashion takes an unexpected turn when a ghost appears. The wedding gown, a vintage gown given by Deborah to Sherry, possesses a magical power to make its past all too visible. Can Maddie and the magical wedding dress clear her sister? How will a little touch of magic and a vintage gown transform Maddie's life?

Annette Blair's A VEILED DECEPTION is a humorous, light magical feel good story. Maddie's return home elicits the bittersweetness of one's hometown as both good and bad memories are both never too far away. The power plays between Maddie and her friends make the opening chapters fun and endear the reader to both Maddie and her sister. The isolated scenes of Maddie's vision of the gown's past and the ghost itself are a few of the emotional highlights in this mystery. As the tale develops, however, A VEILED DECEPTION loses focus from those parts that give this book its most power and charm. The mystery itself is a bit too easily solved and the reader guesses the connections a bit too quickly despite the clever twist at the end. The mystery becomes more of a subplot for Maddie's self-discovery, a discovery that feels self-indulgement and a bit too self-centered. The sense of compassion that emerges from Maddie's connection to the past disappears too quickly as the mystery becomes more a story of Maddie discovering her true calling. The past revealed by the ghost and the sense of connection he evokes rapidly gets subsumed by Maddie's increasing individualism and focus on her quest for identity. Although in a way, the search for self presents a couple of pleasant ghostly twists, the tone becomes increasingly shallow as the book progresses.

A VEILED DECEPTION with its magical element and vintage take on the clothing so often seen in the chick lit genre will appeal more to romance lovers than mystery buffs looking for a clever mystery with a clever hunt for the culprit. Sweet, funny and heart-warming at times, A VEILED DECEPTION is a charming story of a young woman's homecoming, a homecoming fraught with funny and outrageous incidents. As a mystery, however, A VEILED DECEPTION leaves one wanting more clue twists, more discovered history and more of the center of the story.

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (January 2009)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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