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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sweetheart Deal: A Mrs. Frugalicious Shopping Mystery By Linda Joffe Hull

by Cynthia Chow

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

It was probably inevitable that after attracting a growing following for her Mrs. Frugalicious blog, being featured on a Black Friday television news special, and then solving a murder or two, Maddie Michaels finds herself starring in her own reality television show. The Family Frugalicious was to be a glimpse into the life of a fiscally responsible family always on the search for the best bargain and value for their dollar.

The problem, though, is that since bankrupting their family through a Ponzi scheme and then betraying their marriage vows, Maddie and her husband Frank are married in name only. So as Maddie’s family vacations in Mexico for their producer’s destination wedding, she will be delivering her greatest acting performance as they all pretend to be a happy Frugalicious Family.

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Once they arrive at the Hacienda de la Fortuna, suave Alejandro Espinoza begins to push both romantic attentions and vacation timeshares on Maddie in a definite hard sell. Maddie may be new to reality television, but she certainly isn’t stupid, and she resists what she believes may be a blatant play by the Reality Channel to liven up the show. Her suspicions are fulfilled when Alejandro is found drowned in the hotel pool. Despite the rapid declarations by the police that it was an accidental death, Maddie fears far more. What Maddie is even more suspicious of, though, are the ratings her show would receive if she were involved in yet another murder investigation. Just how far would the Reality Channel go in order to ensure a hit show?

Image source: Midnight Ink

This is an absolutely delightful novel that delves into the unreality of reality television show production, bargain vacations, and destination weddings. Footnoted tips on how to make the most of a budgeted holiday and wedding are as informative as they are entertaining, and the author makes the most of the exotic setting.

Even more riveting are the manipulations and accepted pretenses instrumental in creating a successful reality television show. The Michaels family dynamics have become equally compelling, as Frank has managed to redeem himself, even though Maddie wisely refrains from trusting him completely. Relatable family interactions, exposé of reality television, and truly helpful vacation and wedding information ensure that this is a unique mystery with more than its share of humor, suspense, and emotional drama. I can’t wait for the next in this series, which looks to have Mrs. Frugalicious exploring a world that may be far more perilous than any she has experienced before.

To enter to win a signed copy of Sweetheart Deal, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Sweetheart,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 28, 2015. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL & it supports an indie bookstore:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


  1. Now here is one you can get into and enjoy. Would like to win and review.

  2. This book looks like fun. I had a frugalicious wedding 43 years ago. Would love to dive into this book!