Sarah Strohmeyer’s We Love to Entertain is a gripping domestic suspense novel combining elements of mystery, thriller, and even the cozy sub-genre. This tale will have wide-spread appeal and it satisfies on multiple levels.
After securing the property at a deep discount, Holly and Robert are renovating a Vermont home to transform it into a net-zero masterpiece—meaning that it is completely energy efficient and environmentally conscious. They also happen to be doing this as part of To the Manor Build, one of the world’s most popular reality renovation competition shows. In an effort to boost ratings and increase their chances of winning (against fellow contestants who are building homes for more altruistic reasons), Holly and Robert have decided to have a lavish—and televised—wedding to celebrate the love they discovered during their renovation.
Robert has kept under wraps the threatening letters he has been receiving, but on the day of the wedding decides that extra security is needed to keep his bride safe. Their personal assistant, Erika Turnbull, does everything she can to make the ceremony a success—despite harboring deep love for Robert herself—emotions that she is not very good at hiding. In fact, many of the reality show fans have noticed her longing stares and unnecessary caresses and often comment about it on the shows dedicated Reddit threads.
Late on the night after the wedding, Robert shows up at Erika’s residence asking to borrow her car for an impromptu honeymoon, despite it being the final week of renovations before the big reveal and the fan-based vote for the winner. Erika lives in a studio connected to her mother’s place and Kim Turnbull notices Robert arrive and watches as he throws something into their trashcan before speeding off into the night in Erika’s car.
That is the last time Robert and Holly are seen. What everyone first assumes is a simple miscommunication quickly turns into a missing persons case—and maybe worse. And Erika is the prime suspect. As she and her mother grudgingly partner up to investigate, they must keep all the secrets they know under wraps or else the whole house of cards will come crumbling down.
Sarah Strohmeyer has crafted a convoluted tale in We Love to Entertain with many different avenues of exploration, sudden detours, round-abouts, and more than a few dead ends. Thankfully, this is an author working at the top of her game, so she manages to keep readers invested in the various possibilities before bringing things to a very satisfying—and unexpected—conclusion.
The storyline is told via two main points of view—Erika and Kim—with some asides from Holly and Robert’s To the Manor Build blog posts and the social media chatter on the Reddit threads. This serves to bring home one of the themes which is the inevitable clash between the “glamourous” reality television façade and the realities of small-town life in America. Not surprisingly—given Strohmeyer’s work as Town Clerk for a small Vermont town—the scenes that involve property law and the mundane work done by these government employees seems ultra-realistic and undeniably fascinating.
We Love to Entertain is a fun and fast read that is perfect for the upcoming summer season. Readers will find themselves invested in the characters—although they may not necessarily like most of them. Even when things get so twisted it seems there is no way this story will ever make sense, the author remains completely in control and slowly starts to untangle the various plot threads. This is to say, both mystery/thriller fans and HGTV addicts should check out We Love to Entertain by Sarah Strohmeyer.
Disclaimer: An early e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.