Posted in excerpt, romance on January 23, 2018

 

ABOUT ABOUT THAT KISS (a standalone Heartbreaker Bay novel)

Synopsis

When love drives you crazy . . .

When sexy Joe Malone never calls after their explosive kiss, Kylie shoves him out of her mind. Until she needs a favor, and it’s a doozy. Something precious to her has been stolen and there’s only one person with unique finder-and-fixer skills that can help—Joe. It means swallowing her pride and somehow trying to avoid the temptation to throttle him—or seduce him.

the best thing to do . . .

No, Joe didn’t call after the kiss. He’s the fun time guy, not the forever guy. And Kylie, after all she’s been through, deserves a good man who will stay. But everything about Kylie makes it damned hard to focus, and though his brain knows what he has to do, his heart isn’t getting the memo.

… is enjoy the ride.

As Kylie and Joe go on the scavenger hunt of their lives, they discover surprising things about each other. Now, the best way for them to get over “that kiss” might just be to replace it with a hundred more.

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Excerpt

Joe studied her. “I asked you once before, but now I’m going to ask you again. Is there something going on between you two?”

She tossed up her hands. “Why do you both keep asking me that about each other?”

His eyes narrowed. “I thought nothing was going on.”

“And before today, I could’ve passed a lie detector test on that,” she said.

“What happened today?”

She paused. Not because she had anything to be ashamed of, but because she wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

“Kylie.”

She sighed. “It’s nothing.”

“Try again,” Joe said and gave her the very male universal go on gesture.

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. He . . . finally made a move on me.”

Joe didn’t budge. Not a blink, not a muscle twitch, nothing, but she could’ve popped corn off the electric tension coming off him.

“Describe ‘made a move,’ ” he finally said.

She crossed her arms. “And again, how is this relevant to my case?”

He just gave her that careful stare again and she thought wow, those eyes of his should be registered as a lethal weapon, because she found herself opening her mouth and spilling her guts. “He kissed me.”

“He kissed you.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Do you know that you often repeat what I say?”

“What kind of a kiss?” he asked.

She was momentarily bewildered. “I don’t know. It was a kiss. A normal kiss. A nice kiss.” She cocked her head at him. “How many kinds of kisses are there?”

He just looked at her for a long moment before coming toward her. He backed her to the wall and pressed his big hands on either side of her head.

“There are many kinds of kisses,” he said.

Her breath had backed up in her throat, where her heart had lodged, pounding wildly. “S-s-such as?”

“Such as this one.” And then he leaned in and covered her mouth with his.

At the touch of Joe’s mouth, Kylie’s brain stopped being capable of rational thought. His tongue gave a knee-weakening stroke against hers and she let out a shockingly needy moan as she clutched at him, fisting her hands in the material of his shirt at his chest. Only when he’d thoroughly plundered and pillaged and left her boneless did he lift his head and look into her eyes.

“Wow,” she whispered, fully aware she was still holding on to him like he was a lifeline, but the bones in her legs had liquefied. “I mean . . .” She shook her head. “Wow.”

He nodded. “Yeah. So to be clear, that wasn’t ‘a normal kiss’ or even ‘a nice kiss.’ It was a ‘wow’ kiss. Any questions?”

“Just one,” she said softly. “Can I have another?”

Joe didn’t have to be asked twice. His mouth immediately descended again, his fingers sliding into her hair to change the angle of the kiss to suit him. It was a controlled, alpha thing to do, but she had only one thought—nothing about the usually carefully, purposely leashed Joe was in control at the moment.

And she liked it.

She had no idea how long they went at it because she was in absolute heaven. Who knew that the man could use his preferred silent mode to communicate in a way that she finally approved of?

Only when she was completely breathless and about to strip him down to his birthday suit did she manage to pull back.

“Any more questions?” he asked, also a little bit breathless, which was more than slightly gratifying. Dumbly, she shook her head. His eyes softened and he gently he stroked his thumb over her bottom lip. “And FYI? Gib’s an idiot.”

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 4 paws, Review, romance, women on January 22, 2018

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach
Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Bookbaby
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

Synopsis

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She’s just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt’s work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

​A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

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Praise for Degrees of Love

​”Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers.”
– Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character.”
– Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

Review

While the concept behind marriages has not changed, the role of each individual in that marriage is in a state of flux. No longer are roles defined by gender and marriages have become a true partnership. But what happens when one of the individuals wants something different? Or what if one is not happy with the other? Or finds what they are looking for from another? That is what this book brings to the table.

Adultery is not a new concept, it has been around since the beginning, but why do some people seek out something more than what they already have at home? In this debut novel by author Lisa Slabach, she allows us inside the marriage of Matt and Susan. They met in graduate school and couldn’t have been more different. Susan is artistic and Matt is scientific, but something still sparked between the two. Time has gone on, there are children, but things are the not same as they were all those years ago. The picture that is painted of Matt is not a pretty one. He wants her home more and to be the more traditional wife and mother. His words and actions did not sit well with me as the reader. I saw it as being narrow-minded and selfish to expect Susan to give up everything for him and the children. Susan, while a strong and fiercely independent woman, is torn between what she wants from life and doing what others expect. Enter Reese. He is Susan’s new boss and he is bewitched by Susan and wants her all to himself with no regard for her marriage.

I’m sure as you can imagine, this story is not going to end well for anyone. It is hard to have an affair and expect to get away with it long term. But what I found as the story progressed is that love comes in many forms and fashions and who is anyone to say what is right or wrong other than those involved?

There are various points in the book where Matt, Susan, and Reese are all cast in positive and negative lights. No one character is right or wrong at all times…they all share the blame for how the relationships evolve and I did feel differently for each character at different points in the book.

The book moved along at a pretty steady pace but really picked up near the end when the affair between Susan and Reese is uncovered by Matt. Emotions are running high and I wondered how the author was going to resolve this issue. I enjoyed the epilogue because it really brought the story full circle and answered any unanswered questions in my mind.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on January 22, 2018

Murder of a Good Man (A Piney Woods Mystery) by Teresa Trent
Cozy Mystery

1st in Series
Setting – Texas
Camel Press (January 15, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages

Synopsis

When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.

Review

An intriguing start to a new series set in the Piney Woods of East Texas. And since I have family in East Texas, I felt like I was right at home.

Nora is a strong and independent woman that is on one last mission for her mother, to bring a letter to a man in this small Texas town. However, less than 24 hours later he is murdered and Nora is the prime suspect. And as with all cozies, she has to uncover the truth as to who murdered Adam Brockwell and clear her name.

There are quite a few interesting town citizens that play an important role in helping Nora uncover the truth and clear her name. And by getting to know these people, she also makes some friends and learns some history about her mom that she never knew before arriving in this town.

The mystery was quite an adventure and I think I only suspected this character because there was no one else that seemed a likely suspect. There were some clues but not many to try and decipher the motive and reasoning for Adam’s death.

It would be remiss to omit a budding romance and Nora has caught the Sheriff’s eye. He is quite smitten with her and there are a few witty comments he makes that will definitely make you chuckle.

There is even a touch of the paranormal to this story and it added an intriguing twist.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

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Posted in e-books, Giveaway, romance on January 22, 2018

The Trustworthy Groom by Cami Checketts

Hailey Knight has two choices: fall prey to a predator who is out to own her and destroy her football team, or marry a man she’s just met. True, her fake husband can make her quiver with a touch, gets her jokes, and is patience personified, but she knows better than anyone how quickly charm can turn ugly.

Brady Giles has dealt with a sweetheart stalker for two years and has no hope of shaking the annoyance. He steps in to rescue the beautiful and feisty Hailey Knight from a leering idiot and somehow ends up engaged to her.

The marriage is supposed to help them both out of sticky situations, but instead turns into a media hailstorm with lies and attacks coming from all sides. When Hailey falls in love with her fake husband and danger lurks around every corner, she knows it’s time to run, but Brady has never given up on an impossible battle.

Excerpt

Hailey’s brain scrambled for an out, any out. She put on a fake smile and said, “You don’t know how much I wish I could have dinner with you tonight, but you must not have heard … I’m recently engaged.” She kept a straight face when she wanted to gasp in shock. Where had that come from, and who was she going to claim she was engaged to?

William released her hair and actually took a step back, the scowl on his face ruining all his supposed good looks. “You are?” His eyes strayed to her left hand. She clasped it with her right to hide her naked finger. “To whom?”

A dark-haired man appeared at her table. Hailey dealt with burly football players every day of her life, but this guy’s shape still gave her pause. He was probably around six three and two hundred and fifty pounds. Every inch was muscle, not bodybuilder muscle but lean and functional and covered by smooth, tanned skin. He definitely had some Italian heritage in him as dark and good-looking as he was. Hailey had a strict policy of not checking out her own team’s football players, but she knew every single one of them. This guy wasn’t on her roster.

“Excuse me.” The man’s deep voice washed over her as his dark eyes looked at her with concern then flashed to William with annoyance. “Do you need some help?”

Yes, yes she did. Hailey grasped his arm and cuddled into his side, wrapping her other arm around his waist. “Thank you for coming to check on me, sweetheart.” His body tightened at the way she was trying to manhandle him, impossible to really do as she was almost a foot shorter and less than half his bodyweight, but she needed help, and she needed it now. The solution was so clear. William would back off if she were engaged. He would have to. Then there would be no repercussions on her football team and no coercion to date, and especially not to stay the night with, the slime ball VP.

“Um, sure … anything for you, honey.” The man wrapped his arm around her shoulder, and Hailey had never felt so safe as he gently pulled her close. Safety and reassurance were amazing and unexpected feelings to have at the moment, especially after the fear of William clogging her throat mere seconds ago and the fact that she naturally shied away from well-built men. The emotion of it all made her weak, and she found herself leaning against his muscular chest.

The dark-haired guy glanced down at her and winked. Ooh, he was quick too. She ticked off his positive qualities in her mind—not one of her football brothers, handsome with strong facial features, brown eyes framed with dark lashes, and smart. She might even give this guy a date to prove they were engaged.

“This is my fiancé,” she said to William, inclining her chin with pride.

The man kind of started, but he stayed close to her side as he released her from his hold and stuck his hand out to William. “Brady Giles. Pleasure to meet you …”

Brady Giles? Oh, crap, he was one of her players! He’d recently transferred from New England. He was one of the top cornerbacks in the nation, and they were extremely blessed to get him, but the Brady Giles she’d seen from the sidelines had long, dark wavy hair and a full beard. This guy with the cropped hair and clean shaven model-gorgeous face was a Brady Giles she’d never expected—sharp and way too appealing. What had she done?

 

 

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Anthology, Dark, Review on January 21, 2018

Synopsis

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.

Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.

Review

Enclosed in this book are 17 short stories that range from 3 pages to about 30 (I didn’t count on some of the longer ones!).

Most of these stories are dark and some can be depressing when you look at the storyline.  But at the same time, some of these stories have an underlying moral to the story that should not be overlooked.

I liked most of the stories as they intrigued me and took me on an adventure through another time and place.  Some I wished were longer because I felt like there was more than could be told.  A few ended abruptly and left me wanting to know what happened next.

Overall these stories were intriguing and it was not all hearts and roses, but rather the heartbreak that we all experience at one time or another.

We give it 3 1/2 paws.

 

 

Posted in Book Release, Cozy, mystery on January 20, 2018

I’m a little late announcing this new release, but I do love this series and have this book on my Kindle to read (just a bit behind!).

Synopsis

What does Eli Marks have up his sleeve this time? Well, let me tell you, no matter the mystery, his sleight of hand always does the trick.

Eli’s trip to London with his uncle Harry quickly turns homicidal when the older magician finds himself accused of murder. Not Uncle Harry!

A second slaying does little to take the spotlight off Harry. Instead it’s clear someone is knocking off Harry’s elderly peers in bizarrely effective ways. But who?
The odd gets odder when the prime suspect appears to be a bitter performer with a grudge…who committed suicide over thirty years before.

While Eli struggles to prove his uncle’s innocence—and keep them both alive—he finds himself embroiled in a battle of his own: a favorite magic routine of his has been ripped off by another hugely popular magician.

What began as a whirlwind vacation to London with girlfriend Megan turns into a fatal and larcenous trip into the dark heart of magic within the city’s oldest magic society, The Magic Circle.

No one does intriguing magic and page-turning humor like John Gaspard. Pick it up and see if you can figure out the trick first.

If you have not read this series yet, you can pick up the first book, The Ambitious Card, for just $0.99 on Amazon right now!

There is also this FREE short story, The Invisible Assistant available.

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on January 20, 2018

Murder at Fantasia Fair: A Provincetown Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
HomePort Press (September 28, 2017)
Paperback: 282 pages

Synopsis

Wedding coordinator Sydney Riley never thought she’d get caught up in a murder investigation, but she became an amateur sleuth when her boss was killed during Bear Week. Now she’s back, this time as the Race Point Inn hosts Provincetown’s venerable transgender event, Fantasia Fair… and murder is once again an uninvited guest!

It’s all hands on deck at the inn as visitors arrive for the week-long event and Sydney helps coordinator Rachel Parsons organize the occasion. Guest Elizabeth Gonzalez is attending with her spouse, Bob, who–as Angela–is taking a bold first step into a whole new existence. Angela, Elizabeth, and Sydney learn the ropes and politics from other guests, some of whom have attended annually for more than forty years.

But the next day, Sydney’s detective friend summons her to one of the town beaches where Angela’s body has been found–with a knife in her back, a knife stolen from Adrienne, the Race Point Inn’s diva chef.

Fair organizers and attendees try and carry on as Provincetown is overrun with police, press, and rampant speculation. Sydney, her boyfriend Ali, her friend Mirela, her boss Glenn, and a host of Fantasia Fair participants scramble to find out who killed Angela–and why–before the killer strikes again.

Guest Post

Today, character Sydney Riley joins us and shares some poignant thoughts with us!

They tell me I drink too much Diet Coke.

Actually, National Public Radio recently had a story on artificial sweeteners and it concluded that there’s no evidence of a link between the sweeteners and cancer. NPR notwithstanding, my boss is always getting on my case about the Diet Coke. It’s not that he has to pay for it—I don’t generally get my fix from the bar at the Race Point Inn, which is where I work as wedding coordinator—but he knows I’m one of the reasons the inn fills up in the summer, and he doesn’t want to take any chances with my health.

I was drinking Diet Coke the afternoon of the wedding I’d arranged on the Bay Lady, one of the two schooners that berth in Provincetown in the summertime. We generally do our weddings right at the inn—we have a lovely patio with a trellis and a bower and the whole wedding nine yards—but these guests wanted theirs to be “at sea,” and so I arranged for it. The captain would officiate, I got Adrienne our diva chef to do the catering, and the string quartet from the Cape Cod Symphony agreed to come along for the private sunset sail around the harbor.

In other words, everything was perfectly aligned for a hands-free, straightforward wedding, and believe me when I tell you that there aren’t enough of those!

I wasn’t planning on actually going on the schooner myself. Adrienne’s delicacies had been delivered; the string quartet was in their evening dress, looking a little lost at the end of MacMillan Pier as if they were posing for a fashion shoot with an unlikely backdrop; and now the limo carrying the bride and groom was pulling up. The bride saw me and realized that she really couldn’t handle all these people on her own and she needed somebody to orchestrate—no pun intended—the event. So it looked like I was going on a harbor cruise after all.

Like I said, it should have been a straightforward wedding. I’d forgotten that one of my talents is attracting dead bodies.

The Bay Lady typically has two crew members besides the captain. There was an additional one on for this cruise, a waitress to serve the champagne and delicacies after the ceremony itself. She’d gotten there early to take the dips and hors d’oeuvres onboard, and presumably was in the small area below-decks arranging it all.

I’d had one too many Diet Cokes, though, and so as soon as I was on board I headed down there myself to use the bathroom. And found the door blocked.

By the waitress. Who was dead.

If I ever write the definitive book for wedding planners, I’m going to specify that death and weddings absolutely do not go together. Avoid that combination at any cost. The bride promptly had hysterics. The groom looked like he was going to be sick—and, a moment later carried through with it. The guests and the string quartet stood on the pier looking dazed. And the police arrived.

What does the savvy wedding planner do when a body shows up at the ceremony? She moves the ceremony, of course! I called a friend who’s an officiant and told her to meet us at the inn. I called Adrienne and ordered new hors d’oeuvres, pronto. I called a couple of taxis and got them to whisk everyone back to the Race Point as soon as the police took names and numbers and released them (nobody had seen anything, anyway). Fair means or foul, I was going to get this wedding done.

And please understand that this body had nothing to do with me. Really. Yeah, it’s true that I’ve come across murders during several of Provincetown’s theme weeks—Bear Week and Fantasia Fair in particular—but this one wasn’t a murder, it was a suicide (she poisoned herself, as it turned out, and had planned to slip over the side once the schooner was out in the harbor, only it was faster-acting than she’d assumed), as I pointed out to my friend Julie, who’s the head of Provincetown Police’s detective unit.

Julie was unimpressed. “You still are the one who found the body,” she pointed out.

“Only because of the Diet Coke,” I protested.

Maybe I should consider giving it up, after all.

About the Author

Jeannette de Beauvoir grew up in Angers, France, but has lived in the United States since her twenties. (No, she’s not going to say how long ago that was!) She spends most of her time inside her own head, which is great for writing, though possibly not so much for her social life. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or traveling… to inspire her writing. The author of a number of mystery and historical novels, de Beauvoir’s work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages. Midwest Review called her Martine LeDuc Montréal series “riveting (…) demonstrating her total mastery of the mystery/suspense genre.” She coaches and edits individual writers, teaches writing online and on Cape Cod, and is currently writing a Provincetown Theme Week cozy mystery series featuring female sleuth Sydney Riley.

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Posted in 3 paws, Giveaway, mystery, Review on January 19, 2018

Survival of the Fritters (A Deputy Donut Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Kensington (January 30, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages

Synopsis

Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime—or stay alive.

If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst—especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her—murdered among a scattering of stale donuts . . .

Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business . . .

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Review

Who doesn’t love a good donut?!  Well maybe someone with a gluten intolerance, but that aside many of us have a fond memory or two of having a warm donut with friends or family.  Well, that is what Emily has created with her Father-in-Law – a donut shop that everyone loves to frequent.  And yes it is true, the police in this town do love their donuts.

The mystery of who killed Georgia is quite involved and goes back many years. The clues that eventually lead us to the killer are not easy to decipher and lead the reader down various paths until the truth is revealed.  I do think that Emily was too focused on a few potential suspects and may have put herself in harm’s way unnecessarily.  But then this would not be a cozy mystery if the protagonist did not pull crazy stunts.

To round out the story there is a potential budding romance between Emily and Brent.  Brent was her deceased husband’s partner on the police force and I think it took a lot for Brent to seem Emily in a potential romantic light.  They definitely have some chemistry, so it will be interesting to see how that progresses.

We give this 3 paws.  It is a great start to a new series, characters need a little more development but that will come with more books.  I read the sneak peek for book two and it intrigues me already!

 

About the Author

Ginger Bolton writes the Deputy Donut mystery series–cops, crime, coffee, donuts and one curious cat. When Ginger isn’t writing or reading, she’s crocheting, knitting, sewing, walking her two rescue dogs and generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts, coffee, and cafes where folks gather to enjoy those tasty treats and one another’s company.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on January 18, 2018

Murder Over Medium: Jade Blackwell Mystery Series
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Misterio Press (December 31, 2017)
Print Length: 216 pages

Synopsis

Former English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium, as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.

Guest Post

Victorian Spiritualism Comes to Aspen Falls

We who live in the 21st century aren’t the first to find psychics, ghosts and séances fascinating. We may believe we are the first to dabble in the occult as entertainment, but that title goes to the Victorians.

We usually think of the Victorian age as the time of science and technology. One thing that often goes along with improvements in science is a lack of faith in traditional organized religion. In the Victorian era, that loss of faith led to the Spiritualist movement which was founded on the idea that the dead could contact the living with the help of a gifted medium.

It’s believed the movement began on April 1, 1848, in the village of Hydesville, New York. That’s the date when the teenage Fox sisters, Margaret and Kate, claimed to have communicated with the ghost of a murder victim who had lived in the family home many years before. The event was reported in the local newspaper, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My protagonist, Jade Blackwell, would have been happy for it to stay out of the modern-day mainstream consciousness. But no one asked her. And so, when her former colleague, Gwendolyn Hexby, comes for a visit, Jade comes face-to-face with the world beyond.

You see, Jade only learned that Gwendolyn had changed professions when her old friend landed on her doorstep. Gwendolyn has found a “higher calling” as a psychic medium, and logical Jade isn’t sure how to deal with the woo-woo world her friend now inhabits. Jade spends the entire book trying to reconcile Gwendolyn’s new beliefs with the woman who demanded empirical evidence years before.

One of the first things Gwendolyn does once she’s darkened Jade’s door is to hold a séance. Which makes sense, seeing as she’s a medium who is visiting the area to help others tap into their inner guidance. Unfortunately, the séance doesn’t turn out exactly as she expected. She prophesies a murder.

Jade ends up with a house guest who overstays her welcome and turns her home into a tarot reading hub. Unlike the Victorians, Jade doesn’t find the whole thing charming and mesmerizing. Though many famous Victorian people did. These include Harry Houdini, W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Barret Browning and Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Even Queen Victoria herself claimed to have communicated with the dead.

Here are some other factual tidbits you will find interesting (though Jade, not so much):

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini’s were great chums. But when Houdini was unable to connect with his departed mother during multiple séances, the two fell out. The rift between them occurred when Houdini showed Doyle he could recreate the “paranormal” occurrences at a seance they had attended.In later life, Houdini put a great deal of energy into proving séances were hoaxes. He was on a mission to prove mediums were frauds. He became so obsessed before he died in 1926, he told his wife he would come back to speak with her. They even came up with a code word, so she would know it was him. For ten years after his death, she held a séance, but he never did show up. Magicians and fans of Houdini continue the tradition by holding séances each year on his birthday.
  • Believe it or not, there have been séances in the White House. Both First Lady Jane Pierce, wife of Franklin Pierce, and Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln hired mediums to hold séance in the White House to contact their dead sons. Both hired the same mediums, the famous Fox sisters, to make contact.
  • The Victorians are the ones we can thank for the popularity of the Ouija board. It was first manufactured in in 1891 by a game company. It claimed the power to “provided a link between the living world and the one inhabited by the dead.”
  • Tarot cards had been around since the 1400s, but they started out as a card game to be played alone. During the Victorian era, tarot cards became a very common way for mediums and spiritualists to receive messages from the dead.
  • Back in the modern world, it’s interesting to note that approximately 28% of Americans have had a clairvoyant episode, 65% have had an ESP experience, and 40% have connected with the dead.

For more fun with metaphysical mischief, read Book 3 of the Jade Blackwell Mystery Series, Murder Over Medium.

 

About the Author

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder.

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Posted in 3 paws, mystery, Review on January 17, 2018

Title: Double Take
Author: Abby Bardi
Publisher: Harper Collins Impulse
Pages: 186
Genre: Mystery

Synopsis

Set in Chicago, 1975, Double Take is the story of artsy Rachel Cochrane, who returns from college with no job and confronts the recent death of Bando, one of her best friends. When she runs into Joey, a mutual friend, their conversations take them back into their shared past and to the revelation that Bando may have been murdered. To find out who murdered him, Rachel is forced to revisit her stormy 1960s adolescence, a journey that brings her into contact with her old friends, her old self, and danger.

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Review

I’ve read many mysteries in my life and this didn’t read like any other mystery.

Rachel aka Cookie has come back to her parent’s home in 1975 and finds out that perhaps one of her friends did not commit suicide and perchance he was murdered. This causes a flood of memories from the late 60’s to early 70’s of her life at that time and the hippie lifestyle she seemed to lead.

It took getting used to with the back and forth between various years and memories. It might have made for a more fluid read to start at the present and then start at the beginning of the previous years and work through the years consecutively.

I also could not really relate to any of the characters due to the drug and alcohol use. Yes, this was the years of the hippies, but there did not seem to be any redeeming characters.

I thought this book was just ok. It wasn’t great and it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t finish the book.

We give it 3 paws up.

Excerpt

1975

I recognized his voice from across the room. When I handed him a menu, he looked up absent-mindedly and went on talking to some guys, then did a double take.

“Cookie?” he said.

I tried on the name like an old article of clothing to see if it still fit. It felt like a suede fringed jacket. “Yep,” I said.

“Wow. You look so different.”

“I cut my hair.”

“Everyone did.”

“I’m older,” I said. “Everyone’s older.”

“You look exactly the same,” I said. He was wearing a beat-up leather jacket over a green T-shirt, maybe the same jacket and T-shirt he had always worn. His thick black hair was shorter now and curly, skin still tan from summer, small mouth with perfect teeth. He still looked tough and handsome, but in a creepy way, like someone you couldn’t trust.

“Cookie, what the hell are you doing here?”

“I work here. I’d rather you didn’t call me that. My name is Rachel.”

“I thought your name was Cookie.”

“Nope. Do people still call you Rat?”
He laughed. “Nowadays I go by Joey.”

“Okay, Joey,” I said, since this was nowadays.

“Miss?” a voice called from a nearby table. The voice brought me back to where I was standing, in Diana’s Grotto, a Greek diner on 57th Street, with ten tables full of customers. For a moment, I had thought I was in Casa Sanchez.

It took me a while to make it back to Joey’s table. A divinity student had found a fly in his milkshake, and it wouldn’t have taken so long if I hadn’t made the mistake of saying, “So, how much can a fly drink?” Like most academics, this guy had no sense of humor and gave me a lecture on hygiene. It was amazing that knowing as much about hygiene as he seemed to, he would continue to eat at Diana’s Grotto. By the time I got back to Joey’s table, the men he had been sitting with were gone. Off-duty police, from the looks of them, I thought, or plain-clothes. We got a lot of cops in Diana’s; they slumped on stools at the counter with their guns hanging from their belts, sucking down free coffee. Back in the sixties, the sight of their blue leather jackets had always made me nervous, like I’d committed some crime I’d forgotten about.

“So why are you working here?” Joey asked. “I thought you were a college girl. A co-ed.” He flashed his white teeth. “I don’t mean to be nosy.”

“The problem with college is they make you leave when you finish.”

“And here I thought it was a permanent gig.”

“Nope.”

“But why aren’t you doing something a little more—”

“Collegiate? Don’t ask.” I slid into the booth next to him. From across the room, Nicky, the maître d’, shot me a poisonous glance. I ignored him. “I like it here.” I smiled a crazy little smile.

“Hey, different strokes.” His eyes swept the room, resting on a mural of a white windmill on an island in the Aegean. The windmill’s blades were crooked. I remembered this eye-sweep from Casa Sanchez, where he had always sat facing the door so he could constantly scan the whole restaurant. His eyes returned to me. “Didn’t I hear a rumor you were supposed to be getting married? Some guy in California?”

“Just a rumor. Glad to hear the grapevine still works.”

I felt someone hiss into my ear. Nicky had slunk up behind me. He looked like a garden gnome in a plaid jacket and baggy pants, reeking of aftershave that had tried and failed. “Rose!” he snapped. He never called anyone by their right name. “What’s in a name?” I always murmured.

“Be right with you.” I gave him what I hoped was a reassuring smile.

“This is a classy place,” Joey said as Nicky ambled away.

“He’s the owner’s brother-in-law.”

“Diana?”

“There is no Diana. She’s a mythological figure.”

“Like Hendrix?”

“Kind of.”

“Hey, you want to have a drink after work?”

“Actually, I don’t drink any more.”

“You want to come watch me drink? What time do you get off?”

“Nine thirty. You could come help me fill the ketchups.”

“What?”

“You know, take the empty Heinz bottles and pour cheap generic ketchup in them.”

“Sounds like fun, but why don’t you meet me at Bert’s? Back room?”

I thought for a moment. This did not seem like a good idea, but I didn’t care. “Okay, why not. So, can I get you anything?”

“Just coffee.”

“You want a side of taramasalata with it? It’s made from fish roe.”

“I’ll pass, thanks.”

When I brought him his coffee, he said, “You’re still a hell of a waitress, Cookie.”

“You’re still a hell of a waitress, Rachel.”

“Whatever.”

“Thanks,” I said.

About the Author

Abby Bardi is the author of three novels: Double Take, The Secret Letters, and The Book of Fred. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals, and she has written academic articles on Roma (Gypsies). She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and now lives in Ellicott City, MD, the oldest railroad town in America.

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