Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on November 16, 2017

Murder by the Barrel (A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
18th in Series
Accent Press Ltd (October 5, 2017)
Paperback: 320 pages

Synopsis

A new title in the popular cosy crime series by bestselling author Lesley Cookman

When the sleepy village of Steeple Martin announces its first beer festival, the locals are excited. Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong?

But when an unexpected death shakes the village, it’s up to Libby Sarjeant to solve the puzzle.

Was it just another rock star death or is there something more sinister afoot?

About the Author

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign.  The Libby Sarjeant series is published by Accent Press, who also publish her book, How to Write a Pantomime, with a foreword by Roy Hudd.   Lesley is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

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November 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST

November 13 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Varietats – REVIEW

November 14 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 15 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

November 15 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

November 16 – Deal Sharing Aunt – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – REVIEW

November 18 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

November 19 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, romance, Western on November 15, 2017

TO MARRY A TEXAS OUTLAW

Men of Legend, Book 3

by

LINDA BRODAY

  Genre: Western / Historical / Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of Publication: November 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 384

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Hunted by lawmen, those seeking the bounty, and other outlaws hoping to become famous for killing him, Luke Weston survives by little more than his wits. He expects the bullet that will end his life to come any day. He’s cheated death too often.

Over the last two years, Luke has been working to right his wrongs and claim his birthright. Only one thing stands in the way of atonement—the murder of a federal judge. Only he didn’t do that. Armed with nothing more than the alias Ned Sweeney, Luke searches for the man who framed him. He’s only an hour away from catching him when he spies a woman bound and gagged in the middle of the prairie.

She looks dead but her eyes fly open at the sound of his footsteps. Worse, he discovers she has amnesia. He can’t just leave her so he tamps down his frustration over missing Sweeney again and loads her into a nearby wagon that bears all the markings of his family’s ranch.

In the weeks of trying to help the woman he calls Rose learn her identity, Luke finds himself falling in love with her. She’s sweet and funny and makes him dream of impossible things. Then they meet a boy and learn her name is Josie.

As her lost memories tumble back, Luke faces his greatest fear. Can he make Josie his wife before he loses everything?

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Praise for To Marry a Texas Outlaw:

“A gunslinger who’s better than he thinks he is; a lovely amnesiac; a young, wannabe gunslinger; an abused boy; a scruffy dog; and a sadistic killer make the third book in Broday’s outstanding family saga an unforgettable journey through the Old West.” — Booklist Starred Review

“This is one author that knows how to tie you in knots keeping you on the edge and making your smile through it all. She gives you death and heartbreak as the west is known for with plot that pulls you in. I couldn’t put this down and had to know what was going to happen next.” — Cyn’s Reviews

“This densely plotted historical continues Broday’s tradition of well-realized, emotionally rich novels.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Broday’s gritty depiction of the Texas frontier will strike a chord in the hearts of fans who long for proud, rugged cowboys and strong-willed women.” — Romantic Times 4 Stars

“Whew! What a story! Good thing Linda Broday didn’t struggle to find words for her story the same way I’m attempting to find words to express just how much I love not only this book, but this entire series as a whole. To Marry a Texas Outlaw is a thrilling conclusion to a delightful and much-loved story of the Legend family that delivered so many emotions.”  Michelle, Goodreads Reviewer

“There is one guarantee, with a Linda Broday book, you’re going to experience a true heartwarming-Broday story with so much action that it’s impossible to put down. With her books you are always in for the ride of your life.” — Tonya Lucas, Goodreads Reviewer

Ending a Series

Guest Post by Linda Broday

With the To Marry a Texas Outlaw release comes sadness. This is Book #3 Men of Legend and it concludes the series. Everything is wrapped up and tied with a big red bow.

Luke finally reveals what turned him into an outlaw. He’s kept this secret over three books. The defining incident happened when he was fourteen years old and he paid a very high price for his actions. Also in this book, he finds his place in the family but does it come too late? I don’t want to reveal this powerful black moment.

He’s afraid to love again because each time he reaches for something it disappears. Josie is fully up to the task of helping him open his heart though. She’s so funny (probably the most humorous character I’ve ever written) and offsets his dark, seriousness perfectly.

But back to Men of Legend ending. I’m always very sad to say goodbye to characters who have become like family to me. I’ve lived with these men for over a year—eating, sleeping, keeping them in my every thought. I’ve loved them, laughed with them—and cried with them. A lot. We’ve had amazing experiences together and the Legends will always remain in my heart.

I have some happy news though. I’m not entirely saying goodbye to these hunky men. Luke, Sam, and Houston will appear in varying degrees in my brand new series – Texas Outlaw Heroes – that will begin next year.

In fact, Luke and Josie have started a mail order bride service for men and women who must remain under the radar. I think you’re going to like these stories. Book #1 of that is about Clay Colby who was Houston’s head drover in Heart of a Texas Cowboy. And you’ve already met Tally Shannon, one of the women living in Deliverance Canyon, that I introduced you to in To Love a Texas Ranger. She also plays a big role in this book of Luke’s—To Marry a Texas Outlaw.

First though, enjoy the story you’ve waited so long for. Luke and Josie are going to take you on a wild ride so hang on tight and keep your feet in the stirrups. If you fall off, you’re on your own. They’re too busy to come back and get you.

Linda Broday, Historical Western Romance Author  I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 8 full length historical western romance novels, with another set to release 2017, and 10 short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed. At times, I can feel their ghosts lurking around every corner. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here. I love research and looking for little known tidbits to add realism to my stories. When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I confess to being a rock hound. I’ve been accused (and quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic on the screen. As long as I’m confessing…chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.

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11/13/17 Review Tangled in Text
11/14/17 Character Interview The Page Unbound
11/15/17 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
11/16/17 Review Books and Broomsticks
11/17/17 Top Ten List A Page Before Bedtime
11/18/17 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance on November 15, 2017

Synopsis

Ever since Emma Pierce read Pride and Prejudice, she’s been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So when it turns out that what her boyfriend Blake wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, only to find her job threatened when her boss brings in a consultant to help her expand the business to the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake’s younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate. But as perfect as Lucas seems, he clearly has his secrets. After all, there’s an angry woman demanding money from him and a little girl who Lucas feels responsible for.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must figure out the truth—and soon—if she wants any hope of writing her own “happily ever after” ending.

Review

I’ve not really read many of the Jane Austen books but know just enough abut them in passing to be dangerous! The title is a little misleading if you think that her books were about finding a husband so you could settle down and become a wife and mother. In reality (as we find out in the book), she is teaching women to speak their minds and be independent, but you really have to dig for that.

But overall this is a romance novel and one that I enjoyed. While you can figure out how it is going to end up, there are a few twists that I didn’t see coming and you are left hanging wondering about a few characters until much later in the book. I liked Emma being torn between two men and trying to figure out who really was best for her in the long term.

The only thing I didn’t like was trying to figure out what CMO meant – Chief Marketing Officer. Usually authors will not shorten to the abbreviation until they have at least spelled it out once and I don’t recall seeing it spelled out.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Julie Wright started her first book when she was fifteen. She’s written over a dozen books since then, is a Whitney Award winner, and feels she’s finally getting the hang of this writing gig. She enjoys speaking to writing groups, youth groups, and schools. She loves reading, eating writing, hiking, playing on the beach with her kids, and snuggling with her husband to watch movies. Julie’s favorite thing to do is watch her husband make dinner. She hates mayonnaise, but has a healthy respect for ice cream.

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Posted in Giveaway on November 14, 2017

As a Thank You to my many followers (old and new!) I will be giving away some books from my shelf.  I don’t know what genres yet… if you win, it will be a mystery (and not necessarily the genre!)

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Posted in Book Release, suspense, Thriller on November 14, 2017

Synopsis

Carrie thought her son was dead. She was wrong.

She’d only taken her eyes off him for a second. But that was all it took for a perfect day at the beach to turn to horror. Cal disappeared beneath the waves. His body was never found.

Seven years later, Carrie has a new family. But her life in the sleepy Cornish town of Devil’s Cove is about to be torn apart again. A boy washes up on the shore. The cove’s residents believe it’s missing local child Noah Pengelly.

It’s not. It’s Carrie’s son. And he’s alive.

Now a teenager, Cal is covered in scars and suffering from unknown trauma. Where has he been these last seven years? Is he the key to finding young Noah alive? Carrie is desperate for answers but there’s a problem. Cal cannot speak.

As a disturbing chain of events is set in motion, Carrie and the people of Devil’s Cove will discover that the horrifying truth lies closer to home than they think.

A dark and suspenseful page-turner set on the rugged coast of Cornwall, The Cove is the first book of a gripping new trilogy that will you shake you to the core.

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About the Author

British author Malcolm Richards was born in Cornwall. His character-driven mysteries and thrillers feature ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances. He is the author of the Emily Swanson series, in which the titular sleuth solves shocking crimes while battling an anxiety disorder, and the upcoming Cove trilogy, in which a small Cornish town experiences a series of disturbing events following the return of a missing boy.

Malcolm has a degree in Creative Writing, but has also worked for several years in the fields of special educational needs and children’s mental health. He currently lives in London, England, with his partner, a cat called Sukey, and a fish called Freddy Krueger.

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Posted in christmas, excerpt, romance on November 14, 2017

Synopsis

It’s Christmastime again in Heartbreaker Bay!

When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend. What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten.

The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time. For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate.

But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again? As Christmas sweeps through the little B&B, he can only hope love and magic are in the air.

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Excerpt

At the empathetic tone in Sean’s voice, Lotti’s heart and stomach and head all clenched in unison. “What do you mean you can’t give me what I want?” she asked. “All you have to do is walk away.”

“Tried that already,” he said. “And it was the biggest mistake of my life.” He brought her hand up to his mouth and met her gaze over their entwined hands.

He was looking at her like . . . well, she wasn’t sure what was going on in his head, but her thoughts were racing along with her pulse.

“You’re incredible, Lotti. I hope you know that.” Very slowly, clearly giving her time to object, he pulled her into him.

Her breath caught at the connection and his eyes heated in response as he slid a hand up her spine and then back down again, pressing her in tight to him from chest to thighs and everywhere in between. His nose was cold at the crook of her neck, but his breath was warm against her skin. She felt his lips press against the sensitive spot just behind her ear and she shivered. “You’re trembling,” he said, his voice low. “Are you cold?”

“No,” she whispered. Try the opposite of cold . . .

“Nervous?”

“No.” Not even close. The way his mouth moved across her skin was making her warm all over. Not that she could articulate that with his body pressed to hers and his fingers dancing over her skin. She was literally quivering as the memories of what it felt like to be touched by him washed over her, as if no time at all had gone by.

Yes, she’d let him think that their time together had sucked for her. But it hadn’t. Not even close. That long-ago night he’d evoked feelings and a hunger in her that she’d never forgotten. “I’ve just had a long day,” she said.

“I know. I’m going to make it better.” He pressed a kiss at the juncture of her jaw and ear before he made his way to her lips for a slow, hot kiss, his mouth both familiar and yet somehow brand-new. She was so far gone that when he pulled back she protested with a moan, but he held her tight, staring down at her with heated eyes. “Just checking,” he murmured.

“Checking what?”

“That you want this as badly as I do.”

 

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Posted in fiction, Historical, Spotlight, Texas on November 13, 2017

LAMAR’S FOLLY

by

Jeffrey Stuart Kerr

  Genre: Texas Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

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Date of Publication: November 15, 2017

Number of Pages: 320

Mirabeau Lamar seeks nothing less than a Texas empire that will dominate the North American continent. Brave exploits at the Battle of San Jacinto bring him rank, power, and prestige, which by 1838 propel him to the presidency of the young Republic of Texas and put him in position to achieve his dream. Edward Fontaine, who works for and idolizes Lamar, vows to help his hero overcome all obstacles, including the substantial power of Sam Houston. Houston and Lamar are not only political, but personal enemies, and each man regards the other with contempt.

Edward’s slave Jacob likes and admires his master, but cannot share his hatred of Sam Houston. The loyalties of both Jacob and Edward are tested by President Lamar’s belief that a righteous cause justifies any means necessary to sustain it. Lamar becomes infatuated with a married woman who resembles his deceased wife. He sends the woman’s husband on the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, the failure of which humiliates Lamar and provokes a crisis in his relationship with Edward, who in turn jeopardizes the trust that Jacob has placed in him. Edward laments the waste of Lamar’s genius, while Jacob marvels at the hypocrisy of both men.

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Jeffrey Stuart Kerr is the author of several titles, including Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, winner of the Summerfield G. Roberts Award and a True West Best Western Book.

 

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11/13/17 Promo StoreyBook Reviews
11/14/17 Review Texan Girl Reads
11/15/17 Author Interview Tangled in Text
11/16/17 promo Texas Book Lover
11/17/17 Review Syd Savvy
11/18/17 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
11/19/17 Promo Books and Broomsticks
11/20/17 Review The Librarian Talks
11/21/17 Author Interview The Page Unbound
11/22/17 Review Reading by Moonlight

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on November 13, 2017

Canal Days Calamity (A Dog Days Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2017)
Paperback: 240 pages

Synopsis

Cameron Cripps-Hayman is taken aback when she stumbles upon another murdered neighbor, this time behind her sister’s shop, Dog Diggity. The timing couldn’t be worse, as there’s only a week left before the store’s grand opening during Canal Days, the biggest festival of the year.

When the police arrest her handyman, Cameron knows they’ve got the wrong suspect, so the Metamora Action Agency sets their sights on cracking the case. With one solved murder under their belts, how hard could a second be?

With a flood warning and a murderer on the loose threatening the start of Canal Days, can Cameron and her crew save the town’s annual dog and pony show from being canceled?

Review

I remember reading the first book and thinking this was going to be a good series…and I was right! The second book was a little better than the first (in my opinion), the characters a little more fleshed out and a continuing story line with Cam, her husband Ben, her sister Monica, her stepdaughter Mia and a few other wacky characters.

Part of what I like about this book are all the dogs…but in this particular book there is Mike the Duck that steals the spotlight. I think he is trying to become a part of the pack!

There is murder, romance and even some fortune telling! And let’s not forget the dog treat recipes at the end of the book. I must try these sometime for my dog, I know she would love them.

I also really liked that after the mystery was solved there was quite a bit more that happened in relation to Canal Days and the town. Sometimes books stop soon after the mystery is solved but this one tied up some loose ends.

We give it 4 paws up.

jamie-blairAbout the Author

Jamie Blair (Ohio) is the award-winning author of young adult and romance books, including Leap of Faith (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and Lost to Me.

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November 8 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

November 9 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

November 10 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

November 10 – Mythical Books – GUEST POST

November 11 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

November 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 12 – The Montana Bookaholic – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

November 13 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

November 15 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

November 17 – Books a Plenty Book Review – REVIEW

November 18 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

November 18 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 19 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

November 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 20 – Valerie’s Musings – INTERVIEW

November 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on November 12, 2017

King Harald’s Snow Job (King Harald Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Conger Road Press (August 1, 2017)
Paperback: 302 pages

Synopsis

It’s early December and Andy Skyberg is itching to blow town for a weekend of holiday cheer with old friends—including a date with an attractive divorcée who thinks he’s hot.

But first, Aunt Bev needs a teensy bit of help. She’s managing the Girls’ Weekend Out event at the Beaver Tail Resort and could use some extra muscle. Andy figures he can spare a few hours before hitting the road.

Mother Nature, though, has other plans. A giant blizzard makes an unexpected turn. Andy and his pooch King Harald find themselves snowbound—in a hotel full of hard-partying women, stranded travelers, a hockey team, a man-eating novelist, a belligerent blogger, and one violent, devious jewel thief.

Before you know it, man and mutt are up to their noses in another case. It’s a winter wonderland of fast-paced fun and merry madness, as the sleuthing duo dig out from King Harald’s Snow Job.

Guest Post

Blizzard Buddies

In my newest mystery, my human and doggy sleuths find themselves snowbound at a luxury resort when a powerful blizzard makes an unexpected turn and socks them in. As they investigate a jewelry theft and assault in the resort, outside the snow is going sideways and piling up inch-by-inch and dangerous wind chills set in. Roads are closed and no one is going anywhere for a while.

Anyone who’s lived in a northern climate—as I have all my life—knows what it’s like when a foot or two of snow comes blasting in. With modern weather reporting, we have enough advance warning to gas up the snow blower, pull out the roof rake, and buy enough food to feed a Super Bowl party. As the white stuff comes down, and keeps coming, a certain resentment arises in one’s breast. How dare Mother Nature keep me away from the symphony concert tonight! Doesn’t she know I have important things to do?

But watching the billions of flakes (probably a lot more, actually) coat everything in white is a bit like taking a natural tranquilizer—it slows your tempo and induces calm. You accept that there’s nothing you can do until the storm winds down. It’s a great time for popcorn and a double feature. Or a cozy-reading marathon. Or whipping up a feast. Or yakking on the phone with friends.

Actually, my favorite part comes when the action’s over and weather radar’s big blue blob has moved on east. Then I get to sally forth with my orange plastic shovel (I prefer plastic; snow slides off easier) and commiserate with the folks I call my “blizzard buddies.” Some of them are neighbors I rarely see, so we get to catch up a little. Others just like to chew the fat, as we stand leaning on our shovels. I have fond memories of good post-blizzard chats with neighbors now long gone.

I especially remember the guy down at the south end of our alley, where I would trudge to clear the alley mouth. (That’s where you are most apt to get stuck in snow, transitioning from alley to street.) We talked about all kinds of stuff, from the work we were doing to his days in the navy back in WWII. I still kind of miss him. Funny thing was, though, après-blizzard was the only time I talked with him. Otherwise, it was just a wave driving by.

A good blizzard—however inconvenient—is much like Robert Frost’s celebrated fence that makes good neighbors. It brings us closer together, with a mutual cause, for at least a day. And unlike things like hurricanes and tornadoes and floods, it’s not likely to kill you, unless you take foolish risks.

And a big ol’ blizzard makes a great conversation piece that lasts a lifetime. I mean, did I ever tell you about the Great Halloween Blizzard of ’91? I went out and measured 34 inches in my backyard. It took days to shovel all that white stuff. Why, we were stuck in the house so long that…

About the Author

RichardAudryRichard Audry is the pen name of D. R. Martin. As Richard Audry, he is the author of the King Harald Canine Cozy mystery series and the Mary MacDougall historical mystery series. Under his own name he has written the Johnny Graphic middle-grade ghost adventure series, the Marta Hjelm mystery, Smoking Ruin, and two books of literary commentary: Travis McGee & Me; and Four Science Fiction Masters.

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November 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – COZY WEDNESDAY

November 2 –  Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 3 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

November 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

November 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

November 6 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

November 6 –  Queen of All She Reads  – SPOTLIGHT

November 6 –  View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 7 – Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf – REVIEW

November 7 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW

November 8 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

November 10 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

November 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on November 12, 2017

Much Ado About Murder: A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2017)
Hardcover 265 Pages

Synopsis

Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest performance of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, Much Ado About Nothing. The company’s steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright.

Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner’s secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund’s plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way?

With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it’s final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery, Much Ado About Murder.

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Guest Post

How Charlotte Fairfax and the Catskills Shakespeare Company came to be

The germ of the idea for Charlotte Fairfax, costume designer/amateur sleuth in the Shakespeare in the Catskills series, came when I was dog walking in Toronto with my friend Marlene. Occasionally we spotted a friendly-looking, middle-aged woman walking a little terrier, and Marlene pointed her out to me.

“That’s Sandra,” Marlene said. “She used to work in the costume department at Stratford.” That’s Stratford, Ontario, Canada, not Stratford Upon Avon, England, but never find. The Stratford Festival in Ontario mounts a season of fine Shakespeare plays every summer.

A woman who works in classical theatre, in costume design. Hmm. Now that’s an intriguing idea for a main character, I thought.  Fabrics? Interesting. Shakespeare? Bottomless. And she’d be at the heart of the theatre company, creatively involved, able to go anywhere, talk to anyone, and yet she’s in the background. Not quite invisible, and not quite front and centre, as an actress would be. Just there.

I pictured this character in her workroom, fitting a costume on an arrogant actor, while he completely ignored her. Or offering a bit of comfort to an unhappy actress, and slipping in a few pointed questions alongside the tea and sympathy.

What you’re looking for in a protagonist is a deep well from which to draw, and a compelling assortment of possibilities that all come together to excite you as an author. If they don’t, this character probably isn’t going anywhere.

I was excited about this character, and wanted to work with her, but had no projects where I could use her, and didn’t even have a name for her. But I made a few notes, and then tucked her away, knowing that her time would likely come. The great thing with writers is that few ideas are ever wasted.

And then, a couple of years later, Crooked Lane Books was looking for a new series, and I was invited to pitch a few ideas. I offered several concepts, including a proposed series that would feature a costume designer in the Shakespeare theatre in Stratford, Ontario.

Crooked Lane liked the costume designer, liked the Shakespeare, but suggested that the series be set in the Catskills. When I did a little research, and realized how revitalized and up and coming the Catskills are, the setting turned out to be perfect.

So I fleshed out my costume designer. She’s English, and began her career with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon.  She’s in her early forties. She’s smart and attractive. I like her. And finally, I gave her a name. I decided to call her Charlotte Fairfax. It just seemed to suit her.

So if you’ve ever wondered where authors get their ideas, sometimes it all starts with a friend pointing out a woman across the street walking her small dog.

Unfortunately, Sandra moved away before any of the Shakespeare in the Catskills books were published, and I never got the chance to thank her for being the inspiration for the amateur sleuth in my new series.

But as a little tribute, Charlotte Fairfax has a small dog, and if you visit Jacob’s Grand Hotel in upstate New York, home of the Catskills Shakespeare Company, you may just catch a glimpse of the two of them. If you do, be sure to give them a little wave.

 

About the Author

Elizabeth J Duncan is the author of two mystery series – Shakespeare in the Catskills and the Penny Brannigan mystery series set in North Wales. She is a two-time winner of the Bloody Words Award for Canada’s best light mystery and lives in Toronto.

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