We Love To Entertain
By Sarah Strohmeyer
Harper; paperback, $18.99; available today, Tuesday, April 25th
Sarah Strohmeyer is the award-winning author of nineteen novels for adults and young adults. Her first mystery, Bubbles Unbound, won the Agatha Award and Romantic Times Award for Best First Mystery, and her most recent is Do I Know You?. A former newspaper writer, Strohmeyer now serves as the currently elected Town Clerk of Middlesex.
We Love To Entertain is the perfect book for people who are obsessed with home renovations, who watches HGTV for hours without a break and has a Pinterest board full of DIY renovation ideas - with a mystery thrown in. Think of it as the Scott Brothers meets Stephen King in this compelling, fast-paced novel, which is full of humor.
Strohmeyer has written an insider's view on small-town dynamics as she skewers our obsession with renovations that are perfect for Instagram, and keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
Holly and Robert Barron are attractive young real-estate investors who are contestants in a competition run by To The Manor Build, the nation's most popular home renovation app.
Major product endorsements are on the line, and millions of followers are watching every move they make as they're rehabbing a Snowden, Vermont, home they snagged at a bargain price into a stylish hilltop estate.
The show is all camera-ready laughs and debates over drawer pulls until Holly and Robert go missing hours after their picture-perfect wedding. A bloody trail is left behind, and there is immediate suspicion of Erika Turnbull, who is the Barrons' twenty-something assistant.
Erika is eager, efficient, and possibly in love with Robert. Did her misguided passion lead her to murder? The people of Snowden claim that, as they have not forgiven her for a tragic accident back in high school. Erika's mother, Kim, who served as the officiant of the wedding, is not going to let small-town gossip and a cop with an axe to grind destroy her daughter for a second time.
Time is running out and their safety is on the line, but the mother-daughter duo sets out to find out what really happened to the Barrons. However, they first have to meet with the vengeful former owner of Holly and Robert's estate, ruthless reality-show producers, and a secret that might bring their house down.
Strohmeyer writes We Love To Entertain in a compelling way in which there are alternating chapters from Erika and Kim, and between them sprinkled throughout are, in essence, clips from the reality show the Barrons were on, "To The Manor Build."
In this excerpt, Strohmeyer sets the scene with this from the show:
"IT'S ON TMB!
BEHIND THE SCENES OF TO THE MANOR BUILD WITH CONTESTANTS ROBERT BARRON AND HOLLY SIMMONS
Lights! Camera! Reveal!
We can't believe the big day is almost here! After weeks of sweating contractor delays, faulty electrical wiring, disgusting black mold, emergency asbestos remediation, and - gulp! - a snake infestation, the three couples facing off in an epic competition on To The Manor Build are about to show the world their fabulous rehabs.
And the stakes couldn't be higher.
From design consulting to the last penny nail, TMB will cover 100 percent of the costs incurred by the lucky winning couple, who, in a twist, won't be chosen by our experts but by...you! So log on to ToTheManorBuild.com and get ready to cast your vote. The polls open online after the Big Reveal in just two weeks.
While you're waiting in tense anticipation, we caught up with one of our star couples, Robert Barron and Holly Simmons, for a Q&A on some behind-the-scenes details - and, oh my, are those wedding bells we hear???
TMB: Thank you so much for taking a break from your super-busy schedule this week as we get down to the wire. How're you handling the final crush?
ROBERT: Thanks for having us. You know, the truth is, Holly's borne the brunt of this rehab, starting with the original vision, lining up the contractors, and making decisions every five minutes. I just stand around looking pretty.
HOLLY: That's not true. I saw you swing a hammer-once.
ROBERT: Must have been your secret lover. You know how I hate to ruin my manicure.
HOLLY: That's actually kinda true. (Laughs)
TMB: See? This is why you guys are fast becoming the fan favorites. Everyone loves your banter and obvious genuine mutual affection. Why don't you tell those new to TMB how you met.
ROBERT: Not much to tell. Holly saw my bodacious bod on Tinder and swiped right.
HOLLY: (sighing) Don't believe a word out of this man's mouth. He is a congenital liar. The truth is, in my other existence I run a real estate vlog and I'd been following Robert's alternate persona as The Robber Barron for years. I was really impressed by his creative approach to real estate investing, but I told him he needed a better platform to showcase his properties other than a subscription newsletter. In that way, he's kind of an unfrozen caveman.
HOLLY: Then, out of the blue, he called me last winter and asked if I wanted to go skiing in Vermont and check out this kooky property he'd recently acquired for a song at a tax sale. Thought maybe I might be interested in making a video of it.
ROBERT: Yeah, that was BS. I didn't care about the video. I only wanted the girl.
HOLLY: I'll admit I had my doubts. All I knew about Vermont was it was cold and snowy and short on retail. Not exactly this southern girl's dream destination. But, as soon as I saw the potential house site and the apple orchard and mountain views on eighty fabulous acres, I was in love.
ROBERT: To be clear, not with me. The property.
HOLLY: Then Robert told me about his plans for a net-zero spec house. I knew immediately this was the perfect project for To the Manor Build.
TMB: Who had the idea to submit a test tape to TMB? I bet it was you, Holly.
HOLLY: Guilty as charged. Robert was on the fence, but I was determined.
ROBERT: Technically, it wasn't just the fence I was on...
HOLLY: (Slapping him playfully) While we were filming, Robert and I discovered we share a commitment to saving the environment and thwarting climate change. I do everything in my ability to reduce my carbon footprint whenever I can, grocery shopping at local farm stands -
ROBERT: My personal sacrifice is driving a Tesla...
HOLLY: (Rolling her eyes) Anyway, there's so much exciting, cutting-edge stuff happening now in environmental construction. We're so glad TMB was on board with that, too, and chose our rebuild to help bring our passion to light.