Two to Mango

Jill Marie Landis
Belle Books


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Here it is the end of winter, and we're caught up in a cold snap. My heat is turned up, and I'm walking around the house in furry slippers and two layers of clothes with a mug of hot coffee in hand—but I feel like I've just gotten back from Hawaii, a good trick considering I've never been.

My warm and cozy suntanned glow arises thanks to Jill Marie Landis, and her Tiki Goddess series. I just reluctantly put down Two to Mango with the same let down as when arriving home after a sunny vacation in the tropics, though I've never encountered a group of vacation friends quite as eccentric and extraordinary as the Hula Maidens who further the cause of justice by competing in the Kukui Nut Festival Hula Competition. If the Keystone Cops had been elderly ladies in grass skirts, they'd be Hula Maidens.

Two to Mango is a cozy mystery, which centers around an elderly hula troupe directed by Kiki Godwin. The hula-challenged troupe can barely get gigs at all, and their dim booking prospects are even dimmer after an accidental nipple exposure at the Happy Days Long Term Care Center. The motley collection is just part of the cast of suspects after an unpleasant neighbor's body is found in the bar's luau pit.

Lured by the maidens, Em Johnson relocated from the mainland to help her uncle Louie Marshall manage his Tiki Goddess bar on Kauai. Em is something of an amateur investigator whom Detective Roland Sharpe has reined in before; but now he asks for her help. He has his hands full with the investigation, and also, hopefully full of Em as well.

Don't come in to this book expecting depth or angst or page-turning sex. No dark and brooding, deeply flawed historical romance heroes in want of saving here. This is a fun read, a contemporary cozy chock-full of nuts, authentic Hawaiian lingo and lively characters like Uncle Louie's parrot Dave Letterman, who taste tests all of Uncle Louie's drink concoctions; Jackie Loo Tong, one of the hula competitors; Lillian owner of the rogue exposed nipple; Marilyn Lockhart, former Hula Maiden turned gold-digger, I mean, romantic interest for Uncle Louie. Fans of Stephanie Plum will enjoy this series, a colorful, entertaining, light and playful read.