In this follow-up to Better Off Without Him, Mona Quincy once again faces life’s tough moments with good friends, lots of laughs, and a cold, dry martini. For the past eighteen months, Mona has had a long-distance relationship with the man of her dreams, Ben Cutler. She’s been in LA working on a screenplay, while he’s been keeping the NJ home fires burning. But now she’s back, and needs to answer a very serious question – will she marry Ben?
Mona doesn’t think she ever wants to get married again – not even to someone as practically perfect as Ben Cutler. But before she can think about her own marriage plans, she’s got a few other weddings to deal with. Aunt Lily, at seventy-eight, has finally met her match in Vinnie DeMatriano, who just happens to be the uncle of a slightly notorious crime boss. True, they’ve only known each other three months, but they want to tie the knot - in Mona’s back yard. Then Miranda, Mona’s oldest daughter, announces that she’s ready to get married after a three-month-long courtship of her own – to Ben’s son, David.
Ben believes in love at first sight, and is thrilled for Miranda and David. Mona doesn’t want her daughter to marry anyone after such a short time. As they find themselves at odds for the very first time, Ben thinks they should step back and take some time away from each other. Mona is still unwilling to commit fully to Ben, and can only stand by as Carmella Ciavaglia, Vinnie’s wedding-planner daughter, circles Ben like a great white shark. Will Mona finally get her Happily Ever After? Or has she learned her hardest lesson just a little too late?
When Carmella told us the time and place to meet her for wedding-dress shopping, I had a few concerns. First, it involved driving into Brooklyn. I didn’t want to do that, but taking public transportation was out of the question, because, as anyone who’s tried to take a bus/train/subway from the easily-accessible Port Authority building in Manhattan will tell you - you can’t get there from here. At least, not without a local Sherpa to guide you on the way.
So we drove. Miranda, Aunt Lily and I set off bright and early Saturday morning armed with a GPS, MapQuest printout and an old-fashioned street map.
My other worry was the shop itself. It was called Dressed to Kill. Not only did the name throw me off just a little, but also I imagined a thick, battered door with a peephole, where you had to know the secret knock and/or password to enter. Then you’d follow a one-eyed mute (with a limp) to the showroom, where all the dresses would have had the labels removed.
I was surprised - and relieved - to find Dressed to Kill was a simple storefront in a crowded strip mall. Sadly, under the name of the shop was the tag line ‘Formal Fashion to Knock ‘Em Dead’.
Lily got out of the car, took a long look, and shook her head. “Subtle.”
Miranda frowned. “What?” She was still rather clueless about Vincent and the other DeMatrianos, and I was very grateful.
We entered the shop, and, I must say, it was impressive. There were a dozen mannequins standing around, all beautifully dressed in bridal and ball gowns, including a stunning cocktail dress in royal purple that I immediately wanted for myself.
Carmella came out of the back, all smiles. Hug-hug, kiss-kiss. A few seconds later, a tall woman in a plain black dress appeared, hands held, prayer-like, to her lips.
“Ladies,” Carmella said, “this is Coco Zipperelli.”