Tara Holloway works in the Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigations Division. She’s a cop with the IRS. She has a gun, a badge, and a bullet proof vest all at her disposal. In other words, if you cheat Uncle Sam on what’s rightfully his, even if it’s illegally obtained, Tara will come and get you guns a blazing. She’s a good shot and not afraid to take out a tax evader out.

Proving that her supervisor has complete trust in her Tara is given an assignment to work undercover getting the goods on Joseph “Joe Cool” Cullen.

Joe works in an ice cream truck selling the yummy treats to kids in a very not so safe area. The problem is that ice cream isn’t the only treat he’s selling. Let’s just say if you need illegal drugs, Joe will get them for you.

Joe’s made lots of money selling his variety of goods, frozen and otherwise, and hasn’t paid Uncle Sam his fair share and Tara is going to make sure Joe coughs up the money he owes.

Even though Tara’s a rough and tough cop for the IRS she has also fallen in  love with Brett Ellington, a hunk of a man she recently met. But there’s a problem. Tara has a gut feeling that Brett might not be walking the straight and narrow and might be involved with a Ponzi scheme.

Brett is a landscaper and is making banker Stan Shelton’s lake house beautiful but something doesn’t smell right. Stan has a cardboard box full of money and checks.The box is in his lake house which Tara saw when she and Brett went inside so Brett could take a look at the area. When Brett is finished he takes the box and tells Tara that Stan asked him to deliver the box to Michael Gryder.

Tara is sure that Michael is in charge of a Ponzi scheme. Tara doesn’t know how Brett is involved with the two men who are cheating people of their hard earned cash. She isn’t even sure he’s involved at all. Maybe Brett is just an innocent bystander who is being helpful by bringing the box of cash and checks from banker Stan’s house to Michael.

Tara’s doing her best to convince herself that Brett is innocent but as each day passes she notices that Brett is more involved with these men than she would like him to be. Is she going to have to arrest the love of her life along with the dirty banker and his Ponzi schemer cohort, Michael? And she still has to get ice cream guy “Joe Cool” off the streets. Things are not going well for Tara.

When I first started reading “Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure” by Diane Kelly I really enjoyed it. I liked the plot with ice cream/drug seller Joe and it was interesting to learn about what some IRS agents are allowed to do. One would think that hearing details of a Ponzi scheme would be boring but the author did a great job explaining the finances involved. The problem is that the author went on to explain a little too much for me.

Okay, I’m a prude. I’ll admit it. I wanted the two storylines to continue. I did not want to read pages after page of how Brett got Tara all “heated up”, and how he kissed her, and how he touched her. Way too much information for me. Give me a couple of sentences to let me know that Tara was falling in love. I didn’t need specifics. And the specifics went on and on and on.

Then Tara went home to visit her parents. Yet another long chapter about how she went gun shopping with her dad, worked in the garden with her mom, and had fun with her niece. All not necessary.

The author had two wonderful stories about Tara trying to bring “Joe Cool” to justice and how she was going to find out if boyfriend Brett was involved with the illegal Ponzi scheme. That is what I wanted to read about, not how many times Tara and Brett did the deed in one night.

Yeah, I know, some people like to read about the sex lives of fictional characters but there’s no place for all this description when it takes away from the really good story. And it did take a lot away from the story.

Because of that I’m not sure if I want to read the rest of the Tara Holloway books. “Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure” is the first in the series and I may read the second just to see what Tara is up to next. But if the second book goes off the story line too much I just might bid this series a fond farewell for good.

Paperback, 341 pages

Published November 1st 2011 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Original Title Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure

ISBN 0312551266 (ISBN13: 9780312551261)

Edition Language English

URL http://www.dianekelly.com/death-taxes-and-a-french-manicure-2/

Series Tara Halloway #1 

setting Dallas, Texas (United States)

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