Review of HISSY FIT by Mary Kay Andrews (see her website)
HarperCollins, September 2004
Upscale interior designer Keeley Murdock is all set to marry her longtime sweetheart, A.J. Jernigan, in what was to be the wedding of the decade, every details lovingly seen to by Keely herself. Plans changed, however, when Keeley catches A.J. and her best friend doing the deed at the rehearsal dinner. Keeley throws a hissy fit not soon to be forgotten in the proper southern town of Madison, Georgia, a fit that included destruction of property and vulgar language.
A.J. and his wealthy family don't take it well, and they try to drive Keeley out of business. Her salvation comes in the form of uber-wealthy new client Will Mahoney, who has just acquired the local bra factory and is intent on bringing it back to its former glory. Of more interest to Keeley, however, is the crumbling antebellum mansion he also bought. He wants Mulberry Hill lovingly restored, and money is no object. The catch? He wants the house designed around the tastes of one Stephanie Scofield, a woman he hasn't yet met. His goal is to get her to fall in love with his house--and him--and settle down in Madison.
Predictably, Keeley falls in love with the house and knows exactly how it should be restored. Unfortunately, her tastes don't jibe with the reprehensible Stephanie's, who turns out to be a money-grubbing, social-climbing witch interested only in Will's bank account. Keeley also starts to feel more than professional toward Will himself, and the house becomes a battleground of wills.
Threaded through this funny, satirical story is a subplot involving the disappearance of Keeley's mother 25 years earlier, which is tragic and sad and not at all funny.
As with Mary Kay Andrews's previous books (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Andrews), the style is so engaging that I just didn't really care where the plot was going. She can spend pages and pages describing the decorating scheme for a foyer and somehow make it compelling, at least to anyone who loves decorating, antiques, and old houses. I love the relationships in Keeley's life, particularly her gay florist friend Austin, her Aunt Gloria, and her father, who is finally dating again. Points off for the fact that the subplot had absolutely nothing to do with the main plot, though it was an intriguing mystery.
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