If You Love HGTV, You’ll Love Sarah Strohmeyer’s New Mystery

Erika Turnbull’s dream job turns into a nightmare. Hired as an assistant by real estate developers hoping to win a competition on the popular reality show, To the Manor Build, she soon finds herself not only fighting for her career, but also her life.

Holly Simmons and Robert Barron purchase an 80-acre property in Snowden, Vermont hoping their renovation into a net-zero home will win them first place and the million dollar prize. Their pitch – a state of the art complex that uses geothermal and solar energy – is enough to nab them one of the three final spots. But the other two finalists have compelling stories: two doctors building a retreat in South Carolina, and a gay couple building a safe haven for LGBTQ teens in Arizona. 

To increase their followers, Holly and Robert decide to get married and stage a lavish wedding. The day after that celebration, the couple leaves for an unexpected honeymoon in Canada. But they fall off the grid, not answering their phones or responding to texts. Erika is left dealing with a demanding L.A. producer and local law enforcement who believe that she might be responsible for her bosses’ disappearance.

Erika comes under scrutiny because of her past history. When she was in high school, she was involved in a car accident that killed a classmate. The victim was dating Erika’s former boyfriend and locals speculated that she caused the crash to get back at her rival. Trooper Andre Picard of the Vermont State Police, who went to high school with Erika and believed those rumors, has her in his sights as a murderer. And the evidence against Erika begins to pile up. At the wedding, Robert’s attraction to Erika was obvious to the other guests. Would Erika kill Holly so that she and Robert could be together? Robert asked Erika to borrow her red Kia for the trip to Canada, worried that he would not find charging stations for his Tesla. When the Kia is found damaged and abandoned in a nearby park, suspicion once again lands on Erika.

The only one solidly on Erika’s side is her mother, Kim. And she has information that could affect the TMB contest. As town clerk, Kim knows that Robert was able to purchase the Snowden property because of a tax lien against the former owner, Zeke Strickland. Because Kim failed to properly inform Zeke, and his wife, Gretchen, about the lien, they were evicted.  Despite placing her own job in jeopardy, Kim does the right thing and tells Gretchen what she needs to do to reclaim the house and property. 

Sarah Strohmeyer (Photo by Dave Smith)

Zeke, who suffered a brain injury after falling from a roof, not only lost his home, but his wife and two children. He blames the new owners for his situation, and when Erika finds threatening letters to Robert in a desk drawer, she suspects Zeke may have killed the couple. When she receives a threatening letter, too, she worries she may be next.

Sarah Strohmeyer”s We Love to Entertain is more than an engrossing mystery. It also manages to skewer all those home improvement shows where people obsess over every decision that goes into a renovation, from top of the line appliances and countertops, to small details like cabinet knobs and shower fixtures. Interspersed between the narration – Erika in the third person, Kim in the first – are promos for the show from Holly and Robert promoting and selling products. And on social media, the show’s viewers weigh in, ready to spread every conspiracy theory posted. 

HGTV fans, who already know that more happens behind the scenes than turns up on the screen – lawsuits, catfights, sloppy work – won’t be able to resist this one.

We Love to Entertain
Sarah Strohmeyer

About Charlene Giannetti (696 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.