Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review -- A Black Tie Affair

A Black Tie Affair
by Sherrill Bodine
Publisher: Grand Central
Release Date: January 1, 2010

As curator of costumes for a Chicago museum, Athena Smith is surrounded by beautiful, historic clothing every day. But when the opportunity arises to authenticate the treasure trove of Bertha Palmer gowns the Clayworth family has under lock and key in their "secret closet", Athena eagerly accepts the challenge, even though the Clayworth family recently fired her father. Athena is blindfolded and driven to the secret location of the Palmer gowns, Athena is thrilled to come in contact with the gowns. Unbeknownst to Athena, the gowns emit a type of neurotoxin which acts like truth serum. One minute she is underneath a gown describing the twelve bones in the bodice and the next minute Athena is waking up in a hospital staring into the eyes of the man she has loved for years . . . Drew Clayworth.

Drew Clayworth has two loves in his life -- his love of sailing and his love of family. Several years ago, his love for sailing (which he inherited from his parents) took his parents from him forever. While racing in the Fastnet sailing contest off the shores of England, the yacht his parents were sailing was caught in a deadly storm, killing all crew members on the boat. Never getting over the lost of his parents, Drew throws himself into his work, as an executive with the Clayworth stores, and his hobby, teaching underprivileged boys how to sail. When Drew receives a call that Athena Smith has been taken to the hospital while studying the Bertha Palmer gowns his family owns, Drew is reminded of the other love he lost -- Athena.

When the Bertha Palmer gowns are stolen from the Clayworth's "secret closet" and the family worries over the neurotoxin the gowns emit, Drew and Athena form an alliance to find the gowns before anyone is harmed. Through the constant contact, both Athena and Drew begin to reminisce about the memories of their teen years and so discover those loving feelings are still there. But as in most cases of lost love found again, Drew and Athena have secrets to reveal to one another.

The interaction between Athena and Drew is great. I felt the longing and wonder of the young love each of them remembered, as shown in this passage.

"Drew paused at the door to look back. For some reason, his face relaxed and his lips curled in the briefest of smiles before he turned and left. A rush of hot curiosity made her shiver. She had the oddest wish to know what or who had made him happy. Once, long ago, she'd believed she had the power to do that."

While this book is entertaining and full of tidbits any fashionista would enjoy reading, I am a reader who likes all the pieces of the puzzle to be in place when I turn the last page. At the end of this book, the reader does not know who stole the dresses or the full reason why Athena's father was fired by the Clayworth family. Maybe the answer to these will be revealed in the next books by Ms. Bodine, as Athena has two sisters who need their happily ever afters. All in all, this novel was still a good weekend read.

~ Buffie


  1. I was really looking forward to this book but I, too, do not enjoy books where things are left hanging.

    It seems to be a industry trend, you buy one book and then are almost forcefully committed to the sequel, if there is one. "The end" should be THE END.

  2. Scorpio, I think I would be okay with no resolution if I knew ahead of time that would be the case. But when I open a book unware of that, my mindset is everything will be tied up neatly at the end.

  3. I've never read any of Sherrill's books. Are you familiar with her backlist, Buffie? Anything you would recommend?

  4. Jane, A Black Tie Affair was the first book I have read by Sherrill Bodine. Ms. Bodine did write several books in the late 80s and 90s under the names Lynn Leslie and Leslie Lynn. Unfortunately I will not be able to recommend any of her prior books, though I have heard great things about Talk of the Town.

    Karyn, yes Drew Clayworth loves his family, and that includes extended family (uncles, aunts, cousins).

  5. Buffie, I understand what you mean about being left hanging unawares. But now that I've read your great review, I know what to expect. :)