Avenging angel, Stella Hardesty, is at it again. Stella was introduced to readers in Sophie Littlefield’s debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, a novel that Stella barely survived. Now, in A Bad Day for Pretty, Stella is nearing full recovery from her injuries and is again ready to take on any man foolish enough to physically abuse his wife. The fact is, Stella has more potential business than any dedicated avenging angel can be expected to handle but she is more than willing to do what she can to help out a sister in trouble.
Stella, though, is not your typical vigilante. First, she is 50-something years old; second, she still runs the sewing machine shop she was left with when she ridded herself of her abusive husband in the first novel in the series. The resulting, and rather misleading, image allows Stella to maintain a low profile with local cops (she is even semi-romantically involved with the local sheriff as this new one begins) but, within the closed community of abused women, she is well known - and available to help.
In an unusual twist, Stella now finds herself defending, not trying to intimidate, a man. Neb Donovan, whose wife begs Stella for help, is suspected of having murdered the woman whose body is unearthed when a tornado strikes the local demolition derby track. Stella has a history with the man, having already helped him kick a vicious oxycontin habit, and she finds it hard to believe that he could have killed anyone and buried them in a concrete-filled hole. Stella takes on Neb’s case and, with the help of Chrissy Shaw (also a first novel survivor) and a cast of colorful characters, she sets out to prove his innocence.
A Bad Day for Pretty is a wild ride. It mixes hardcore vigilante justice with humor in a way that keeps the reader rooting for Stella and Chrissy despite their easy way with breaking the law - and a few arms and legs if that will get the job done. Stella’s appeal is her ability to see and accept herself for what she is. She is a woman’s advocate who understands that the justice system cannot always protect a woman from the man she lives with - that there is a point, if a woman is to survive, when justice comes from the blunt end of a baseball bat. She also recognizes that, despite what she suffered at the hands of her former husband, she is ready for a new romance - and that the clock is ticking. She is every abused woman’s idea of Superwoman, and that is pretty cool.
Rated at: 3.5