Synopsis (Goodreads): Every desperate housewife would love an alias. Donna Stone has one, and it’s government sanctioned. Oh sure, you need to be ruthless to take on Russian mafia bosses, rogue dictators, and terrorists set on destroying the world. But it takes real killer instincts to survive suburbia. Try juggling the fifth grade phone tree during a shootout with skinhead arms dealers, or driving carpool while being chased by Chinese double agents.
Donna’s life wasn’t always this complicated. Five years earlier she was just another woman with two preschoolers, a baby bump, and an adoring husband, Carl, with whom she lived happily ever after in a McMansion in the Orange County, California community of Hilldale. But Donna’s life was changed forever the night she delivered her baby:
Carl’s car blew up on the way to the hospital.
Turns out Carl was a “hard man” – an assassin – for the black ops organization known as Acme Corporation. The hit on Alex was carried out by the Quorum, a terrorist cell he was tracking. The Quorum’s motto: “Show me the money.” Governments and corporations do as they’re told-or suffer bloody consequences.
Carl left something behind that the Quorum wants badly. To protect herself and avenge Carl’s death, Donna joined Acme. Whereas her hostessing skills rival Martha Stewart’s, her marksmanship is second to none.
A good thing, too, because the Quorum has planted a sleeper cell in Hilldale. For Donna, that’s too close for comfort. Will she be able to save her family before the Quorum blows up Los Angeles?
Acme’s way of flushing out the Quorum is by “bringing Carl back from the dead.” But terrorism makes strange bedfellows. Jack Craig, the wild card Acme operative paired with Donna brings, new meaning to that old adage “Honey, I’m home…”
My take: So this was fun! Think Desperate Housewives meets a more savvy Stephanie Plum* – but Donna is a reluctant spy/hitwoman for Acme, a Black Ops organization. She wants to avenge her husband’s death so she takes every assignment given to her and is quite successful. Her most challenging assignment walks into her life in the form of her husband – now being played by Jack Craig, a cocky and incredibly handsome Acme operative. Can Donna make her kids and neighbors believe Carl is really himself and home to stay? Will she hang on to her sanity and see the assignment through? You’ll just have to read to find out!
Brown had me laughing out loud as I walked my 45 minutes on the treadmill each morning. She gets huge kudos because I actually looked forward to exercise. Really! I loved that the main character has the same name as Donna Reed’s perfect housewife character in The Donna Reed show – a tv sitcom from the 50s and 60s.
The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook is entertaining, over the top and maybe even predictable – and I liked it that way! Any book that makes me want to exercise is a winner. I can’t wait to see what predicament sassy Donna and sexy Jack find themselves in next.
* I gave up on Stephanie after book 8 because nothing ever changed and didn’t look like it would. I’m cautiously optimistic about Donna.
- Title: The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook (Housewife Assassin #1)
- Author: Josie Brown
- Genre: Romantic Suspense; Humor
- Published: May 2011 – Signal Press
- Source: I bought it.