“Five Belles Too Many” is the fifth book in the Sarah Blair series by Debra H. Goldstein. This book definitely lives up to the high standards set by the previous books in the series; in fact, it’s my favorite installment so far! This book provides more of everything I love about the series and adds another of my favorite things: reality television programming!
This time around, Sarah’s mother is competing on a reality show to win the perfect wedding, and Sarah has been roped into participating as a chaperone. I really enjoyed the amount of attention paid to the various aspects of filming a reality show, and appreciated the behind-the-scenes glimpses into the process.
Overall, my favorite thing about this series is main character Sarah, who is a caring woman with common sense who approaches cooking (and life) with a philosophy of “the quicker and easier, the better”. She is also not a perfect size 2, and still seems to like herself, which is nice to see in any book. Minor characters (including twin sister Emily and mother Maybelle) are also well-drawn, with distinctive personalities. Even thought they are “temporary” characters, the cast and crew of the reality show are each given enough distinguishing traits to make them easy to keep straight. As always, Sarah’s pets Fluffy and Rah-Rah are adorable, even if they’re fairly off-screen this time around.
Once again, Ms. Goldstein manages to avoid a major cozy mystery romance trope. Five books into the series, and our heroine is still single, and perfectly happy without a serious romantic relationship in her life.
By the end, I had a pretty strong suspicion as to the identity of the “bad guy”, because Sarah is so detail-oriented and organized with her investigating. The final reveal was exciting, and everything made sense based on all the clues.
I have only good things to say about this book, this series, and this author. I think this book could stand alone, but you’ll miss out of some lovely character development. It’s up to you…start with Book 1, or dive right in with this one. You can’t go wrong either way!
Five out of five slices of delectable provolone!