Cover Image: A Perilous Pal

A Perilous Pal

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Member Reviews

This is the second book in the, A Friend for Hire series by Laura Bradford.
I've read and enjoyed the first book in this series and now this one just as much.
In this series we see a woman, Emma Westlake, at the suggestion of her elderly friend Dottie starting a friend for hire service. The service is just like what it sounds like, a woman who you can hire to be your friend to go places with you, such as the gym,doctor's appointments, to have coffee with you or just talk if needed. Now we do see some characters from the first book in this one as well which is always neat when we see characters crossing over to another book in the series.
In this book Emma is hired by a lonely woman, an empty nester who feels like her children don't need her any more and whose husband has flown the coop for a younger woman.
She jokes around to Emma she is so mad that she wants to kill her husband. When said husband turns up dead she is the automatic suspect. Emma has gotten to know her and doesn't believe the woman has committed the crime.
Help Emma solve the case to try to get her new friend off the main suspect list.
I am really enjoying this series and look forward to more by this author.

Pub Date 05 Jul 2022
I was given a complimentary copy of this book.
All opinions expressed are my own.
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4 stars = Great! Might re-read.

Book two in this series extends the fun. The premise of Emma's business - friend for hire - is clever and has drawn together a fantastic group of characters. The mystery was terrific, with a nice twist. There's no big confrontation in the end (something that is unusual compared to other cozies), and another little thread from the book gets a nice reveal/confirmation. I'll have to wait for book 3 to get the payoff for that little bit, and that makes me excited to get book 3 asap.

Observant readers will catch references to some of the author's other series, which is a great way to pass the time while you wait for the next book here. Highly recommend this series for cozy fans.
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A Perilous Pal:  A Friend for Hire Mystery
By Laura Bradford
July 2022

Review by Cynthia Chow

After a little – ok a LOT – of nudging by her friend and first client Dottie Adler, Emma Westlake has set up a successful business being a for-hire professional friend.  A former travel agent made obsolete by the growing use of online bookings, Emma has found that she is quite good at being a companion and the friend that her clients need.  What newly separated Kim Felder needs is someone to bolster her self-esteem and self-worth, as her entire identity was centered on being a good wife and a good stay-at-home mother.  She at least had enough gumption to read out to Emma after seeing her ad in the Sweet Falls Gazette, as without a friend or sympathetic ear Kim is at her wit’s end.   Emma decides that Kim needs to make a bucket list of goals now that she’s free and single, and for Kim topping the dream list would be killing her husband in a multitude of creative ways.  That is something Emma unfortunately shares with potential boyfriend Deputy Jack Riordan, who immediately uses that information when Roger Felder is found dead. While Kim was justifiably furious that her husband left her for the secretary who was about the same age as their marriage (30), the fact that she was therapeutically listing the ways she wanted to murder him also places her at the top of the suspect list. 

Emma feels similarly betrayed that Jack used their discussions to aid in his investigation, but it doesn’t help when she also disregards his own experience and professionalism.  It’s a good thing that the very clients who hire Emma for motivation and counsel are able to do the same for her, and Emma is able to stop herself from completely blowing up their potential romance.  Eighty-something Dottie is also able to use her age and general pushiness to help them look further into Roger Felder’s life and the men and women who had reason to want him dead.  And if Emma can do a little matchmaking while investigating a PR firm and other suspects, all the better.

This is the second in the series by the author whose works include the Emergency Desert Squad Mystery series, the Amish Mystery series, and mysteries written under the name Elizabeth Casey.  A few of those characters are referenced here, but it’s really Emma and her clients who take center state.  What is compelling is how Emma has become troubled by the ethics of being a paid companion, as after meeting her clients they usually become people she would choose to be friends with for free.  It’s Dottie who helps Emma to focus on how good she has become at being what her clients need at the time, be it a therapist, a workout buddy, or simply someone to listen.  Emma’s protectiveness over her clients is what propels her in the investigation, which very realistically concludes mostly off-stage and by the professionals.  This is an entertaining mystery centering around a unique professional who helps those struggling with relatable life challenges.  The focus on support, friendship, and sympathy make this a lovely and optimistic murder mystery.
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I received an epub copy from NetGalley.

As usual with these type of books when I jump into a series it took me a bit to get into the story and the writing style.  But this one drew me in soon enough.  The characters were well developed and I was intrigued by the plot.  The mystery was there but I felt was in the background of the discoveries made by the main character about herself and the others around her.    

The story was fleshed out well and the ending made me want the next book right away.
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Why would a jilted wife make a list of ways to murder her estranged husband if not to act on it?  Emma and her clients/cohorts - try to prove the contrary - as the accused is Emma Westlake's new Friend for Hire client.
A Perilous Pal is the consummate cozy mystery with a lovely dash of romance, a perfect dog, an eclectic group of friends and a murder mystery that begs to be solved.  It is heartwarming as it highlights the meaning of friendship and the support of those precious connections.
Second in Laura Bradford's Friend for Hire Mystery series, this was a fun read. Watching the investigation unfold, I wanted to be part of this team and knew I was hooked when I wanted to know these characters - yes, even Dottie.
I enjoyed the nice step-by-step analysis of clues by Dottie and Emma as they discuss the folder contents and the mention of a Southern Sewing Circle Mystery as a book club suggestion.
The tender connection revealed by the love of anisette cookies made me gasp with joy as I realized the low-key breakthrough regarding an earlier mystery.  I look forward to this being further explored in the third book.
It almost makes the reader want to bake a batch of cookies and say "When's the next book club meeting and what's the book? I'm in."
This is an excellent library choice for readers of cozy mysteries
Thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing and Laura Bradford for this ARC.
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Emma Westlakes new business a Friend In Need is doing well with returning clientele and she just signed a emptynester who's also going through a divorce, to help fill the void in her life.  Little does Emma know her new clients ex husband is to be murdered and her new client the prime suspect. Now Emma, Dottie and Stephanie are on the case to help their new friend out and find who murdered her ex husband.

I love this series and can't wait for the third book. The characters are delightful and extreamig entertaining. My favorite charater being Dottie the elder cozy mystery reader who keeps dragging Emma into solving murders. She is always a step ahead and ready for the action. She has a great patronizing way about reminiscent of Maggie Smith's characters from Downton Abby

The plot is wonderfully told and keeps at a good pace wanting you to read just one more page and before you know it you finished the book. One of my favorite things about this book is that big max, Andy and his father that were in the first book are also in this one. I have a feeling they will be a big part in book 3 which I'm excited about!  It's nice to see Emma doesn't just think of her clients as clients but friends as well. And her friend group keeps growing. This is a wonderful series and I highly recount it!

Thank you Netgallery and Peguin Random House for the ARC
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A Perilous Pal
Friend For Hire, Book #2
Laura Bradford
5 Stars


Entrepreneur Emma Westlake has found that starting a business can be murder in this new Friend for Hire Mystery by USA Today bestselling author Laura Bradford.

Emma Westlake, proprietor of A Friend for Hire, finds a heart-wrenching email from a prospective client in her inbox. The email is from Kim Felder, a woman struggling with empty-nest syndrome and an out of left field divorce. Emma is determined to help get this woman in a better headspace. She suggests that Kim draft a bucket list of things she has always wanted to do in life but has not because of the time she has devoted to being the best mom and wife she could be.

Together, they fill that list (baking classes, traveling, dancing in the middle of the street for no reason) with Kim adding in some hilarious items about getting even with her ex. All laughter ends though, when Kim's ex winds up dead via one of the “funny” ideas Kim proposed. Now, Kim is the lone suspect in the murder with Emma the only person who can prove otherwise. (Amazon)


The characters are well rounded and well developed.  Emma is running her “Friend For Hire” business and she has no lack of potential clients.  She meets with Kim, who has gotten divorced after a lengthy marriage, and who feels like her life is over.  They start a bucket list of things the client would like to do, including ways to kill her husband. When her husband is murdered, the client is eventually arrested for the crime.  Emma and her “partners in crime” Dottie, her elderly friend, and Stephanie, a client that has become a friend, are working with Emma to figure out the culprit.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is a quick read.  The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and through much of the book I felt like I was right there watching all the action taking place.  I liked the fact that the author made mention of her other books that she has written.  The mystery was well plotted and the ending surprised me.  And I liked the fact that Emma did not take unnecessary chances.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  This book is a good continuation of a great series and I cannot wait to read the next one.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.
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This was a fantastic installment in the Friend for Hire series! I love the concept of hiring a friend and that it was successful for our protagonist, Emma. The mystery was fun to solve, and I loved the variety of characters and their personalities. The book was well-paced, and I loved the setting. Scout is a new favorite animal companion! I cannot wait for book 3!
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OMG, Max! I was bawling like a baby at the end of this book. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, I need to know what happens with all of these characters.

I love this series. I love the idea of a Friend for Hire and I love how Emma falls in love with each of her clients (well the ones that live anyways).

Bring on book #3.
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Dollycas’s Thoughts

Emma Westlake’s Friend for Hire business is growing. Her newest client Kim Felder is struggling after her husband divorced her for a younger woman. She is also dealing with empty next syndrome as both of her children are now out on their own. Her family was her whole life and she catered to their every need. She is hoping Emma can help her find a new direction for her life. To help Emma asks Kim to come up with a bucket list . . . things she has always wanted to do but couldn’t because she was taking care of her family. They come up with things like visiting an unusual bakery in Ohio and baking classes. Kim also lists some crazy ideas to get even with her ex. So when the man is killed in a way that was on Kim’s list Deputy Jack Riordan feels he has caught the killer. Emma doesn’t buy that for one second and she going to prove it and even if that means putting her new relationship with Jack on hold.

Look at that face on the cover, it just steals my heart.

All the wonderful characters we met in A Plus One for Murder are back and again Dottie is a force of nature when it comes to getting what she wants. She wants to be an amateur sleuth like all the ladies in the cozy mysteries she reads. She pushes Emma hard to investigate and Stephanie is happy to help as well. Away from the murder, Emma takes Stephanie to visit John and Andy and tries to play the part of matchmaker. Stephanie also got to meet Big Max who also had a connection with Kim. Emma and Jack’s relationship hits a bump in the road but a little boy and a dog set things back on track just by playing together. Scout is such a great dog and Tommy loves him so much. All the core characters Ms. Bradford has created are engaging and continue to grow within the pages of this book.

The mystery was very well-plotted with twists, turns, and red herrings. Emma’s belief in Kim’s innocence did not waiver. I thought I had the killer figured out but then there was a fantastic twist. I really enjoyed the way the ending played out. It gave me some good feels. Emma may be a reluctant sleuth but she is solving the cases. Dottie is a great sounding board even if she is pretty pushy at times.

I love the theme of this series but Emma is going to need to find a constant supply of new clients because she becomes such a good friend to her current ones. It going to be hard to continue to charge them indefinitely. Emma is already feeling guilty so I am very interested in seeing how the author addresses this issue.

A Perilous Pal is an excellent addition to this series. The characters are genuine, the mystery is top-notch, and the theme is unique. The final chapter has me so excited for the third book in this series.
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Emma Westlake is a Friend for Hire, whether that's as a workout buddy or a plus one to a social event. Her latest client is a divorced woman with an empty nest who's trying to figure out what to do with herself now that she's not spending every moment being a busy wife and mother.  Her bucket list is filled with creative ways to do away with her ex. When the man is found dead and all of those plans are preserved in writing, things look bad and Emma is determined to help. The book has a fun, endlessly entertaining cast of characters and I really got caught up in the mystery element.  As I've read the first two books in the series, I've found myself wondering where the line between friend and client is...and Emma seems to be wondering about it, too. I'm curious to see what she decides in future books.
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A Perilous Pal is the second Friend For Hire cozy mystery by Laura Bradford. Released 5th July 2022 by Penguin Random House on their Berkley imprint, it's 288 pages and is available in mass market paperback, audio, and ebook formats. Library binding available in third quarter 2022. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

Protagonist Kim is a friend for hire and will, for a fee, attend whatever function/wedding/concert/or event her clients need. When her new client's ex-husband winds up dead and the evidence points directly back at client Kim, Emma channels her inner amateur sleuth yet again. 

The characterizations are well done and believable. I enjoyed the bantering dialogue which is never overwrought or clunky. The pacing is maybe a trifle slow in places, but the author has an above average facility with description and the mystery and resolution are well controlled and satisfying. The clues are well presented and the entire "whodunit" is fair play and cleverly constructed.

The language is squeaky clean and the violence occurs off-scene. Four and a half stars. This is definitely one for fans of modern cozies with cute dogs and plucky female protagonists.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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This was the perfect book to read while being laid up with a serious respiratory infection. It made me forget how bad I felt.

In book two of the Friend for Hire series, we meet Kim. Kim is experiencing the empty nest syndrome coupled with her husband of 30 years leaving her for a younger model. She has come to realize she doesn’t know what to do with herself as she gave all to her family. She contacts Emma to hire her as a friend. While getting to know one another, Kim’s husband is murdered. Can Emma free Kim before the real murderer gets everything they want?

There is so much going on with this series that makes it wonderful. You have Emma, a young lady, learning about life in ways we don’t often take time to explore. She befriends Big Max who is challenged but she sees the love he offers everyone. Dottie, the curmudgeonly octogenarian, is the seasoned grandma she didn’t know she needed who keeps her on her toes. Stephanie is the sister that is more her style than her own. And then you have lovely Jack, the love of her life who offers a ready-made family. I always feel happy when I finish a book in this series.

There has to be a third one. The ending was a bombshell in many ways. I need answers! Like now!!!

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed above are entirely my own.
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Emma Westlake is thrilled to have a new client for her new A Friend for Hire business.  Kim Felder’s kids have moved out, and her husband has left her, leaving Kim as loose ends.  Together, Emma and Kim start a list of things that Kim would like to explore, but Kim adds a few suggestions of how to get back at her ex.  They are intended as a joke, but when he is murdered that night, the police consider them evidence that Kim killed him.  Emma may have just met Kim, but she is certainly that Kim is innocent.  Can she prove it?

Since the first book set up the premise of the series, this book was able to jump right into the story.  We move forward at a steady pace, and my interest never lagged until we reached the logical climax.  Most of the characters from the first book are back.  I did find the same irritants from the first here again as a result, but they were minor since I love all the characters overall.  I even laughed a few times at their interactions, and I loved seeing their storylines advance.  I’m curious where they will go next.  I also appreciate the realistic way that Emma’s new romantic relationship progressed here.  Fans of Laura’s other books will enjoy the Easter Eggs she’s worked into the book.  This book really is like a warm hug.  It’s fun, mysterious and refreshing.  If that is what you are looking for, you’ll enjoy it.
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This cozy mystery had all the right ingredients - a hot detective who might want to date our main character, an adorable dog named Scout who loved everyone, and a highly-sympathetic ex-wife who may be getting framed.

After the failure of her travel business, Emma's working as a friend-for-hire. When she meets Kim, she immediately has her start on a bucket list of things to do to find joy and meaning again after her husband has left her for a younger woman. But when Kim's husband turns up dead, the hot detective arrests Kim and Emma accidently gives him a key piece of evidence. Determined to make up for her mistake and prove Kim innocent, Emma begins investigating, along with several of her clients - Dottie, an outspoken octogenarian who loves mystery novels and Stephanie, a busy career woman trying to find time for a personal life.

The book had some fun side plots, as Emma attempts to set Stephanie up on a date, as well as going on a few dates herself. Dottie had to be my favorite character, especially after she insisted on claiming Kim as a friend despite never having met her and practically forcing Emma to solve the mystery. I enjoyed the twists and turns, but there were a couple of things I questioned after the big reveal that were never fully explained.

All in all, though, it was a fun, lighthearted read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A Perilous Pal is the second book in a series by Laura Bradford. Loved the mystery and guessing who done it! Loved this cute cozy!
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A Perilous Pal by Laura Bradford is the second book in her A Friend for Hire Mystery series. Emma Westlake's new business is called A Friend for Hire. She has found a needed niche for people who just need a friend, someone to talk to or get them back on the right path. Emma's new client, Kim Felder, really needs Emma's help as all her ranting about wanting to kill her ex-husband, even letting off steam by writing down all kinds of ways to kill him lands her in jail for his actual murder. Emma turns her attention to proving Kim's innocence. This was a fun read. The pacing is great and the characters are fun. I enjoyed the process of amateur sleuth Emma Westlake and her friends as they solve the murder mystery.
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I thought I loved the first book, but I think I like this one even better! It's so awesome how all of Emma's clients so far still play an active part in her life, and that she's come to care about all of them even to the point of being besties with Stephanie. When her newest client was tossed in jail for killing her husband, it didn't seem like the poor woman had any chance of getting out. But with Dottie and Steph's sleuthing help, Emma finally gave way to another investigation.

I get such a kick out of sassy senior Dottie! I wanna be her when I'm eighty! I already have the "only reads cozy mysteries" part down, but I'm not real sure I'd make a very good sleuth. Although I did randomly guess whodunit! ;) I loved the visit with John and Andy and how Emma was trying to matchmake Steph and Andy. I started suspecting something that could end up to be a sweet reunion if it was true...

And Big Max's character is so awesome! He's such a sweetheart, and I love that Steph got to meet him this time. Emma's relationship with Jack was growing, and it was sweet when Scout got to visit with his son Tommy.

This was a mystery full of twists and surprises, and the only thing I was pretty sure of was that Kim wasn't guilty despite her journal ramblings about ways to kill her husband. It was pretty clever how Emma went about proving whodunit then was safely visiting Kim while the police picked up the perp.

The very ending was just awesome! I absolutely can't wait for the next book and what might unfold in it!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by Berkley Publishing via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.
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A Perilous Pal is the second book in Laura Bradford's Friend for Hire mystery series. I was so excited for the chance to review this, as I really liked the first book in this series. So happy to say, this installment is as strong as the first! 
Emma Westlake's business is called A Friend for Hire, and she works as a paid companion. Once again, Emma finds herself wrapped up in an investigation as her newest client is suspected of murder. Encouraged by her cozy mystery-loving friend, Dottie, Emma turns reluctant sleuth to get to the truth.
I read this in an afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. The pacing was good, and there were enough red herrings to keep a reader guessing. There's also a sweet romance brewing and an adorable dog, everything you could want in a cozy mystery!   
Bradford takes the unique concept of a paid companion and makes it work both in terms of the plot and as a commentary on loneliness in modern life.  A charming aspect of this series is that while Emma might be a friend for hire, there are genuine connections between Emma and her clients and the group as a whole. And these characters are quirky and vivid. From the first page, it felt like I was back among friends. Fun little coincidences among the characters and easter eggs from Bradford's other mystery series are starting to spring up too. I am already looking forward to book three! Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for the opportunity to review this ARC. I enjoyed it!
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What an interesting business Emma has created with A Friend for Hire.  Her latest client is Kim, whose husband of 30 years left her for a younger woman.  Kim's an empty nester too and things just seem bleak until she sits with Emma and comes up with a list of things she can do.  Unfortunately, Kim also jokes about killing her ex- and then he ends up dead, strangled- and Kim is the prime suspect.  Well, cozy readers, like Emma, know that Kim didn't do it.  Emma and her loyal dog Scout. as well as her friends Dottie (a hoot) and Stephanie, are on the case.  I might have guessed the identity of the villain but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy this well written mystery - it's the characters!  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  I missed the first book so this was a standalone for me (it was fine) and I'm looking forward to the next one.
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