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by Deborah Sharp
Midnight Ink, October 2008
336 pages
ISBN: 0738713295

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Rosalee Devereaux has three daughters: Mason, Martin, and Madison, aka Mace, Marty, and Maddie. It's a southern thing. They spend a good part of their lives, individually and collectively, taking care of their Mama and dealing with the scrapes she gets into. The latest is a doozie. She was at the Dairy Queen when somebody hit her turquoise convertible. The trunk wasn't shut right and when they opened it, there was a dead man inside it. Not anyone Mama knew, thank you very much, but still and all, quite dead. And for some reason, Detective Martinez thinks Mama killed him.

Detective Martinez has issues of his own. He's a recent hire, out of Miami, and he's not totally used to how things work in a small town. He's learning, probably faster than he'd like to. Mama and her girls are enough to make anyone's head spin, and his reaction is vehement and somewhat out of proportion, which endears him to nobody. At least not right away, although Mama is a matchmaker with some serious yenta in her background.

Mace and her sisters are determined to prove that Mama had nothing to do with Jim Albert's death. They also want to prove that Jim Albert, who turns out to be a mobster from up North, is connected to Salvatore Provenza, Mama's newest flame and soon-to-be husband; they think this will convince Mama to not marry Big Sal.

Jim Albert is in the finance business. One of the people he's been helping is Jeb Ennis. Jeb took Mace's heart many years ago and stomped it flat. Now he's back in town, wanting to make things right again. Mace still has feelings for him, but she's not always sure which ones are in charge - lust, anger, suspicion, lust, regret?

Jim Albert was engaged to Emma Jean Valentine. There is some commotion in church one Sunday when Emma Jean storms in and threatens to kill the woman Jim Albert is sleeping with. The pastor, who is far more interested in becoming the next Jimmy Swaggert, is not fazed at all by this outburst. He's a very odd person, and his wife is slightly off plumb as well. Are they connected to Jim Albert and his death, or just strange?

Deborah Sharp has an eye for character. Mama is a classic southern Mama - willing to be as helpless as the next person unless her children are threatened. Then look out! Mace is a woman who deals better with animals than people and she doesn't fall apart in a crisis. Marty is the one who crumbles. Maddie is a school principal, quiet yet authoritative when the need arises. Their roles have been cast in stone most of their lives. Sharp, in MAMA DOES TIME, manages to have each character grow a little bit, as situations arise. These changes are natural and unforced. Her descriptions of small town life, of the landscape around Himmarshee, of the tensions and support systems in a southern small town are all on the money. While the romance elements are standard fare, Sharp makes the trip worth the time spent. She's funny, perceptive, and entertaining. What more can a cozy reader ask for?

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, August 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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