I really enjoyed the debut novel featuring Stella Hardesty, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, and was really looking forward to this. Verdict: Good, but not quite what I'd hoped.
On the positive side, Littlefield's a good writer and she's created a just-quirky-enough cast of soap-opera-like characters to populate a bunch of future books. While I found some a bit overly stereotyped (including Stella's sidekick, Chrissy), for the most part I like the cast and think it's drawn with broad, sympathetic strokes. And Propser, Missouri is much more to my taste than that saccharine Three Pines and its treacly characters (those of you who read crime fiction will know whom I'm referring to). While the humor is broad, it's not forced, and Littlefield does knock off some memorable one-liners. I have to say, though, that the grammatical error in the last line of the acknowledgments, before I ever got to the first chapter, almost put me off before I got started! (I know, I'm a little uptight about this stuff).
On the negative side, I thought the plotting on the debut was a little skimpy, and the same's true here, which makes the book seem overly long and padded with filler. And, strangely, I think what made Stella so appealing in the first book were the detailed exploits of the not-so-subtle whup-ass she does on men who mistreat their women. That's absent here, except for a few flashbacks about men Stella had gotten in line, and I really missed that as part of the book. I also felt the book started to falter when this light-hearted read attempts to make some "serious" feminist statements, and (call me unromantic) I sort of got tired of reading the physical descriptions of Sheriff/Adonis Goat Jones--and I hope Littlefield doesn't make the mistake that Louise Penny makes of falling absolutely in love with her own creation. That's a small quibble, though, because I think Littlefield handles the chemistry between Stella and Goat quite nicely for the most part.
A fun read, but definitely start with A BAD DAY FOR SORRY.