Author: Kathleen Bacus
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pages: 326 Paperback
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Tressa Jayne Turner has had it up to here with the never-ending string of dumb-blonde jokes and her longtime nickname. Crowned “Calamity Jayne” by Iowa Department of Natural Resources officer Rick Townsend, Tressa’s out to gain a little hometown respect –or die trying. Unfortunately for Tressa, that may be the case. She’s just been handed the perfect opportunity to get “Ranger Rick,” the doubting Don Juan of the DNR, and a skeptical citizenry to finally take her seriously. How? By solving a murder no one else believes happened…No one, that is, except the killer.
Yup, Calamity Jayne is in it up to her hot pink snakeskin cowgirl boots and matching rhinestone belt. Tressa would tell you her momma never raised no dummies, but the jury’s still out on that one.
As I was browsing the tables at my local bargain bookstore a few weeks back, I came across a series of books that had adorable little covers. Okay, I’ll admit that the covers are what first drew me to the Tressa Jayne Turner Mystery series. The woman who worked at the bookstore gave it high praises so soon enough, my admiration for the covers morphed into curiosity, which then morphed into me purchasing the first three books of the series, which led to me smacking myself because seriously MORE BOOKS!?! However, I am so happy I listened to that lovely, little sales lady because Calamity Jayne turned out to be an adorable, funny, and yes ACTUALLY mysterious book and even though I am only one book into the series, I can already tell it is going to be so much fun reading all about Tressa Jayne Turner a.k.a Calamity Jayne!
Calamity Jayne was New Adult before New Adult was even a thing and that sort of really rocks my socks off! Tressa entered adulthood with a thump, and up until this point, she has remained in a slump that she can’t seem to get herself out of. College didn’t work out for her. Several attempts at jobs around her area didn’t work out for her. And quite honestly, the few jobs she was actually able to snag (and keep!) aren’t working out for her all that well. I love that this book introduces us to Tressa at one of her low points, a point that ALL of us go through during early adulthood, that moment in life when you question every decision you’ve made up until that point. She is confused about who exactly she is, has not a single clue as to what she wants to do for the rest of her life, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to shake that “Calamity Jayne” nickname that she’s been branded with.
Regardless of her many problems in life, Tressa proved to be an absolutely wonderful character! She was so determined to make something of herself, prove everyone wrong about her and I think that made Tressa a kick-butt main character! She was so sick of everyone thinking she would just make a mess out of everything she attempted and how they just assumed she couldn’t handle anything. Everyone’s lack of faith in Tressa pushed me to root for her even more! Another thing I love about our dear Tress? She was really sort of awkward in a hilarious way and you all should know that I love me some fellow awkward people! This girl can get herself into some CRAZY situations add that to her constant rambling & odd thoughts, and you’ve got yourself some major giggles from yours truly. Sometimes her quirky personality had my head spinning a bit but I found myself totally loving this girl throughout the book!
Tressa is joined by an equally entertaining set of characters! Since this book is set in a small town, you get that small-town feeling by getting to know everyone! Tressa’s family didn’t make as big of an appearance as I would have liked to see but from what I did catch, they were supportive of her in a tough love sort of way. However, Tressa’s grandmother does stand out because she is one heck of a spit-fire! She had such a sassy personality and I could see how Tressa took after her. Along the way we also get to meet Joe Townsend who is the grandfather to the one and only Rick Townsend, Tressa’s nemesis and the (hopefully) future love interest to our main character! Joe Townsend was so much fun! Sure he was old, but he was hilarious and he was the PERFECT side-kick to our mystery-solving main character! Rick Townsend is slowly but surely growing on me. Sometimes his comments were rude, but he also had some good jokes thrown in there and before long, I was laughing at the way he and Tressa interacted. You can tell there is a not-so-pleasant past with him and Tressa (he is after all, the one that came up with the name “Calamity Jayne”) but you can also see how much he cares for her. He was always there for Tressa, sometimes willingly, most time not-so-much, and I cannot wait to see where the rest of the series takes them!
On top of having a superbly fun cast of characters, I also love that this book was truly a mystery! Tressa finds herself in a not-so-hot situation when she discovers a dead body in the trunk of her car. But naturally, as with the case of most discovered dead bodies, it disappears before anyone else can see it (haha!) This is what sends Tressa on that all-important journey of self-discovery while simultaneously solving the murder that no one believes even occurred. Tressa uses this opportunity to really prove herself to her small town and while I would go a less dangerous approach, I commend Tressa for kicking some crime-solving butt. I like that while this was at times a really creepy situation, it was always laced with humor to help make it less freaky for those of us who may or may not be giant whimps. But don’t let the fact that humor was included fool you! This book kept me on my toes and constantly guessing the ENTIRE time! Just when I thought I’d have the murder figured out, something would happen to completely change my mind!
I really was pleasantly surprised by Calamity Jayne! Not only is the cover super adorable (and also, can I say tasty? I mean, look at the ice cream!), but the inside of the book proved to be equal parts fun, entertaining, mysterious, and quirky. I suggest this for anyone looking for a light-hearted, quick, mysterious, and entertaining read!