Review: THE ART OF THE DECOY by Trish Esden

I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance review copy of The Art of the Decoy (A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery), the first book in a new series by Trish Esden. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover when I was browsing on NetGalley, and the book itself didn’t disappoint. Although the book has not yet released, you will want to add it to your TBR list.

Description

After her mother is sent to prison for art forgery, Edie Brown returns to Northern Vermont to rebuild her family’s fine art and antiques business. She’s certain she can do it now that her mother is gone. After all, butting heads with her mom over bad business practices was what drove Edie away three years ago, including a screwup that landed Edie on probation for selling stolen property.

When Edie scores a job appraising a waterfowl decoy collection at a hoarder’s farmhouse, she’s determined to take advantage of the situation to rebuild the business’s tarnished reputation and dwindling coffers. In lieu of payment, Edie intends to cherry-pick an exceptional decoy carved by the client’s renowned Quebecoise folk artist ancestors. Only the tables turn when the collection vanishes.

Accused of the theft, Edie’s terrified that the fallout will destroy the business and land her in prison next to her mom. Desperate, she digs into the underbelly of the local antiques and art world. When Edie uncovers a possible link between the decoy theft and a deadly robbery at a Quebec museum, she longs to ask her ex-probation officer, and ex-lover, for help. But she suspects his recent interest in rekindling their romance may hide a darker motive.

With the help of her eccentric uncle Tuck and Kala, their enigmatic new employee, Edie must risk all she holds dear to expose the thieves and recover the decoys before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the ruthless thieves themselves catch up with her.

*Description as appears on Amazon.

My Review

The first book in a new cozy series, this was an engaging read, well written and sprinkled with humor. Edie is a great character – unique, a far cry from so many “goodie two-shoes” cozy mystery protagonists. She isn’t perfect, a fact made immediately clear from her arrest record and her family’s checkered past. The family operates an antique business in Vermont, and Edie has a strong background in art history and American folk art. She is smart, and cautious yet bold at the same time.

Things get interesting when Edie secures a particularly lucrative appraisal job of what might be a long-lost collection of bird decoys, that is, if they are authentic. The stakes are high and she’s not the only one with an interest in the collection. She soon becomes a prime suspect in the theft of these decoys and others and is determined to prove her innocence and discover more about the history of the decoys, and the perpetrators of an array of crimes related to their disappearance.

I look forward to reading additional books in this series in the future.

FTC disclosure: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review.

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR by Amy Pershing

Today it is my pleasure to have as my guest, Samantha Barnes (aka the Cape Cod Foodie), best known for her role in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series by Amie Pershing.

How I became the Cape Cod Foodie by Samantha Barnes

My name is Samantha Barnes (Sam to my friends) and I am, for better or worse (often worse, I have to warn you) the Cape Cod Foodie, the restaurant reviewer for the Cape Cod Clarion. Although I’m not sure this gig is going to last, as it depends on anonymity. And, since I stand well over six feet tall, I’m kind of hard to miss. Also, I have an awkward history of going viral online.

Through no fault of my own, I might add. Was it my fault that someone posted a very unfortunate video they’d taken with their cell phone of me, Samantha Barnes, up-and-coming New York chef, mixing it up with my rather volatile chef husband in a kind of chefs’ fencing match? Let me tell you, once that video hit YouTube, I almost instantaneously became Samantha Barnes ex-chef.

So when I found I’d inherited my Aunt Ida’s falling down house on the Cape, I reluctantly retreated home to Fair Harbor, where my old friend and now publisher of the Clarion, Krista Baker, gave me a job writing restaurant reviews. And, much against my better judgment, I allowed Krista to talk me into a series of Cape Cod Foodie video food features for the Clarion’s online edition.

Add to this: 1) finding out that my first, disastrous, high school crush is now the town’s harbormaster; 2) a posse of just-slightly-odd friends; 3) the afore-mentioned falling-down house; 4) a ginormous puppy; and 5) ( here’s the kicker) a propensity for falling over dead bodies. I kid you not. I’ve been falling over dead bodies right and left.

On my first assignment (in A SIDE OF MURDER), I managed to find a body floating in a pond outside the very first restaurant I reviewed. (Sigh.) And since nobody but me seemed to think this was murder, I appointed myself sleuth-in-chief. And now I’m at it again in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR. You’d think it being the holidays and all, the sleuthing could be put on hold but nooooo….

I had a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with Diogi (prounounced dee-OH-gee, as in D O G – get it?) and a certain handsome harbormaster; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Instead, my parents have descended on me, I am finding myself spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and I just happen to stumble over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.

Thus engendering the viral “Santa Clause is dead” YouTube video. (Sigh)

Plus, just to complicate things, my plans for Christmas Eve are definitely getting just a little out of my control. There’s the Great Eggnog Debate among my very opinionated friends and family. There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate. And there’s my Feast of the Five Fishes prepare.

Well, catching murderers is a nasty job, but somebody’s got to do it. So I’m determined to find out who slayed this Santa. Which brings us to the real mystery in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR – can I pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?

About the Book

Professional foodie Samantha Barnes has a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with her dog and a certain handsome harbormaster; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Unfortunately, she’s got family visiting, she’s spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and she’s just stumbled over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.

Plus, Sam’s plans for Christmas Eve are getting complicated. There’s the great eggnog debate among her very opinionated guests. There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate. And there’s her Feast of the Five Fishes prepare. Nonetheless, Sam finds herself once again in the role of sleuth. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa—but can she pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy – A Side of Murder and An Eggnog to Die For (U.S. Only)

About the Author

Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time. An Eggnog to Die For is the second of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef who retreats home to Cape Cod where she finds herself juggling a new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie,” a complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house, a ginormous puppy and a propensity for falling over dead bodies. Kirkus Reviews gave An Eggnog to Die For a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read,” was the first book in the series.  The third, Murder Is No Picnic, will be published in May 2022.

·      Pre-order An Eggnog to Die For Here

·     Order A Side of Murder Here

·      Website: AmyPershingAuthor.com

·      Follow amypershingauthor on Facebook

·      Follow amypershingauthor on Instagram

·      Sign up for News from the Cape Cod Foodie!

Purchase Links

Amazon – B&N   – Kobo – Google Play – IndieBound 

Check out additional stops on the tour for reviews, interviews and more.

Release Blitz: SONGBIRD by Gail Meath


 

Historical Mystery, Murder Mystery, Cozy Mystery

About the Book

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he?
Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.
But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.
Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.
Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

Read an Excerpt

1
New York City
1923

Tuesday, May 29

Sam tossed his fork back onto the plate. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, moved the brass desk lamp a few inches closer and continued reading the final draft of his new musical.

He had to admit that he’d written a brilliant play, superior to any production on Broadway thus far. He’d spent three months working on it, day and night. Ever since he heard her sing. At that moment his own creativity seemed to burst alive and the ideas kept flowing so quickly, he couldn’t stop writing until he finished the script. After editing it for the hundredth time, he had no doubt that this play would prove not only extremely profitable for the theater owner and the talented performer who had inspired him. It would also boost his career to amazing heights. After all, no other composer had ever written an entire musical from start to finish, foregoing the lyricist and book writer.

He looked at the telephone beside him. He wondered why his wife had made a rare appearance at the Ambassador this afternoon. She never ventured to the theater unless she was dressed to the nines for a night out on the town, usually without him. As he’d worked with the performers on stage, he caught a glimpse of her standing by the entranceway, but she quickly disappeared out the door.

He should phone her, he supposed, but he wasn’t up to dealing with his personal problems tonight, not when he was so close to finalizing this play. He’d already been paid a hefty advance from the owner of the Globe Theater. As soon as they discussed a production start date at their meeting tomorrow morning, he would face what awaited him at home.

A fat drop of sweat dripped from his brow and splattered across the page in front of him. Then another. He cursed out loud, snatched the cloth napkin, and dragged it across his forehead. He’d forgotten to open the window, which was the first thing he habitually did when he came to this hellhole of an apartment. This tiny room was always hotter than blazes no matter the weather outside.

He stood up to open the window, but the room took a quick spin around him, and he stumbled backwards against the desk. With a puzzled frown, he snatched the arm of his chair and eased himself back into it. He took off his suit jacket and necktie and tossed them aside. He sat there for a moment, breathing slowly and deeply to clear his head. Within a few minutes, the dizziness subsided, so he went back to reading the script.

But when he turned the page, he noticed his hand was trembling. He stared at his fingers and became almost mesmerized by them. A sharp prickly sensation spread through each one from tip to base before they went numb altogether, as if he’d kept his hand in an awkward position too long, and it fell asleep. He lifted his arm, flapped his hand in the air, and wiggled his fingers around to get the blood flowing again. The numbness soon disappeared.

With the same bewildered scowl, he looked up at the pendulum clock on the wall and squinted as the numbers appeared blurry. He removed his glasses and squeezed his eyes open and shut a few times. He’d been working too many hours. And the filthy ventilation and dim lighting in this room weren’t helping. But even with his glasses back in place, the typewritten words on the manuscript became fuzzy. Then, they seemed to be dancing across the page on their own, picking up speed the harder he tried to focus on them.

He pushed his chair back in panic, wondering what the hell was happening to him, but he suddenly doubled over in agony as crushing bolts of pain shot through him from the pit of his stomach to his chest.

Frightened out of his wits, he tried focusing on the telephone while struggling to lift himself upright. But his arms had gone numb and were useless. Using the strength of his legs and the chair behind him, he thrust himself forward and slammed down face-first onto the mahogany desk. The two-hundred-page manuscript burst into the air like confetti while the dinner plate crashed to the floor.

As he lay there gasping for air, he gathered every ounce of strength he could muster, and what lucidity he had left, and slowly dragged his right arm up along the top of the desk to reach the telephone. Just as his fingertips touched the base, he heard the door creak open.

His light eyes rolled upwards then grew wide and horrified. He tried calling for help, but only a sick gurgling noise emerged from his throat before the room went dark.

About the Author

Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.

Contact Links

Purchase Links

Spotlight & Giveaway: IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER by Maria DiRico

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, it’s time to shine the spotlight on a new release from Maria DiRico – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder (A Catering Hall Mystery).

About the Book

Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder . . .

Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.

Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party . . .

Italian recipes included!

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of three print copies of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder.

About the Author

Maria DiRico is the pseudonym for Ellen Byron, author of the award winning, USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. Born in Queens, New York, she is first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side and the granddaughter of a low-level Jewish mobster on her father’s side. She grew up visiting the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls, which were run by her Italian mother’s family in Queens and have become the inspiration for her Catering Hall Mystery Series. DiRico has been a writer-producer for hit television series like Wings and Just Shoot Me, and her first play, Graceland, appears in the Best Short Plays collection. She’s a freelance journalist, with over 200 articles published in national magazines, and previously worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Ellen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

Author Links – Website – Chicks on the Case – Facebook –  Twitter –

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound 

Visit other stops on the tour for reviews, recipes, and more.

Review: TROUBLE BREWING by Heather Day Gilbert

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read a review copy Trouble Brewing (A Barks & Beans Cafe Cozy Mystery), a new release by Heather Day Gilbert.

About the Book

Convinced that the elderly lady in her care didn’t die of natural causes, Macy’s friend Della determines to look into the broken relationships surrounding the woman. She books a Halloween-themed getaway at a local inn and talks Macy into coming along with her to spy on her prime suspect.

As they join a ghost tour of the candlelit town, Macy and Della feel their guide is a little too fanatical as he shares his spooky tales. He tells the story of the Greenbrier ghost, a newlywed who supposedly came back from the grave to tell her family that her husband murdered her.

When a disturbing apparition makes its presence known, guests at the inn become apprehensive…and for good reason, because soon after, a young bride turns up dead. Although everything points to a copycat killer replicating the historical Greenbrier murder, Macy has her doubts. She’s discovered that the inn harbors secrets of its own, and when she pokes into one darkened corner too many, she might not stand a ghost of a chance.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.

My Review

When one of Macy’s good friends suspects that her home healthcare client may have been murdered, the two women book a Halloween getaway at a local inn that belongs to the dead woman’s daughter and is rumored to contain a secret treasure. This creates a story that is part treasure hunt and part whodunnit. I found it to be an enjoyable read, though I had trouble buying into the premise that Macy and Della could locate and keep the treasure despite it being on someone else’s property. Overall, it was well written and entertaining, complete with ghostly sightings and spooky tours. A particullary good choice for reading around Halloween.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a prize package from the author.

About the Author

Award-winning novelist Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing mysteries and Viking historicals. She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love. Avid readers say Heather’s realistic characters—no matter what century—feel like best friends. When she’s not plotting stories, this native West Virginia gal can often be found hanging out with her husband and four children, playing video games, or reading Agatha Christie novels.

Author Links

·      Webpage: http://www.heatherdaygilbert.com

·      Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert

·      Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

·      Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-day-gilbert?list=author_books

·      Twitter: https://twitter.com/heatherdgilbert

·      GoodReads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57544484-trouble-brewing

Purchase Link: Amazon

Visit the tour page for reviews, guest posts and more…

Spotlight: FESTIVE MAYHEM 2 – Seven Holiday Culinary Cozy Mysteries

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post highlights the release of a new collection of holiday-themed culinary cozy mysteries, Festive Mayhem 2, brought to you by seven accomplished authors: Paige Sleuth, Francelia Belton, Angela Henry, Rhoda Berlin, Carolyn Marie Wilkins, Barbara Howard, and Stella Oni.

Description

Seven crime writers of color have teamed up for the second year running to offer you the gift of escape this holiday season. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, Halloween to New Year’s, cozy mystery fans are bound to find a favorite holiday represented in this limited-time collection of exclusive, never-before-published seasonal short stories.

Author Links

Purchase Links

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win an ebook or a gift card from one of the authors.

For reviews and more, visit the tour page.

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO by Debra Sennefelder

As part of a virtual tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Debra Sennefelder has stopped by to talk about her latest release – The Corpse in the Gazebo – and where she gets her the ideas for her cozy mysteries.


WHERE I GET MY IDEAS by Debra Sennefelder

One of the most asked questions I get is – where do your ideas come from. Every writer’s answer will be different. In fact, a group of writers could be shown a photograph as a writing prompt, and each writer would have a different story idea. I know because I was a part of that group. And even if two writers had the same story idea, their story would be unique to her and her genre. As you can tell by now, this isn’t an easy question to answer. But I think (I hope) that you’ll enjoy the explanation of my process.

The idea for THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO came from thin air. Seriously. I was at my computer with a Word document open because I had to write summaries for the books I pitched to my editor. The other book I was writing a summary for was last year’s release, THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. I’d wanted to write a story about a true-crime podcast and a cold case. With that summary completed, I needed another idea. I sat back and thought…for a long time. Finally a thought popped into my mind about one of Hope’s neighbors being killed. Then I considered Hope becoming a suspect. Yes!

The thing about ideas is that they are a dime a dozen. Ideas come to authors all the time. The trick is to identify which ones can actually carry a 300-page book.

A few years ago I took my Shih Tzu shopping. First, we went to the local pet shop to buy food and birdseed. Our next stop was what used to be a state-run psychiatric hospital for a walk. The property, over 180 acres, was purchased by the town I live in and is being re-purposed. But the project isn’t complete, and there are still abandoned buildings on the property.

 Let me just say now that there is a creepy history to the property. The stories are endless since the buildings that housed and cared for hundreds of patients were connected by underground tunnels. Let that sink into your mind for a bit. Get the picture? Creepy. Anyway, the property is slowly being turned into a space where residents can walk, run, bike, ride horseback, and open fields for sports. It’s also the place for concerts and art shows. But for a writer, like me, it’s also a place for ideas.

Back to the walk. We reached a building and my pup wanted to get closer. I tried to distract her. After all, we had a walk to continue on with. She wasn’t budging. She wanted to get closer to the building. Now my imagination is kicking in. Did she hear something? Smell something? Sense something? I allowed her to continue forward. She sniffed her way up the steps and around the side of the building. I let her continue on while my mind started turning over a story question – what if….and that led me to begin asking whatif. What if a protagonist is out walking her dog at a similar location, and the dog leads her to a dead body, and it’s the first of several as a serial killer emerges. Boom! Story idea!

That is how writers get ideas. From innocent walks with dogs, ordinary trips to the grocery store and even the nightly news. There’s a story idea practically in everything a writer sees, hears, or experiences. 

Thank you for visiting with me today as I celebrate the release of THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO.


About The Corpse in the Gazebo

Food blogging is turning Hope Early into a household name. But the dead body down the block makes her a #1 suspect . . .

It seems everyone loves Hope’s blog these days, and she’s busier than ever volunteering to help other women create their own paths to success. So she’s shocked when a neighbor petitions to run Hope right out of her small Connecticut town! Set in her ways, apparently Birdie Donovan doesn’t like the chaos Hope’s sleuthing creates, the police activity and crime scenes, and it’s happening way too often lately. Eager to make amends, Hope bakes Birdie a batch of her best muffins. The delicious treats might have smoothed things over—until Hope discovers Birdie dead in her gazebo the very next day . . .

Now instead of worrying about holding on to her beloved home, Hope is trying to stay out of jail. Because suddenly she’s the lead suspect in the case. Not even her boyfriend, Police Chief Ethan Cahill, is promising he can clear her name, much less discuss the investigation with her. It’s up to Hope to get to bake new ground on the case before the lifestyle brand she’s created—and her whole life—crumbles . . .

Includes recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of The Corpse in the Gazebo.

About the Author

Debra Sennefelder is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery.

Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018.In addition to writing the Food Blogger mystery series, she writes the Resale Boutique Mystery series. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.

Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companion is her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih Tzu, Connie.

Author Links

Purchase Links – AMAZON – BARNES & NOBLE – KENSINGTON – KOBO – GOOGLE – INDIEBOUND – 

Visit other stops on this tour for reviews, author interviews, and more.

Review: LOVE, LAUGHTER & HAPPILY EVER AFTER

If you enjoy sweet romance and are looking for fun reads, then this recently romantic comedy collection is just for you.  Wide range of novellas from diverse group of authors.

Description

Escape with 20 Sweet Romantic Comedies with all the feels!

✔ Flirty & swoony heartthrobs

✔ Funny & sassy heroines

✔ Off-the-charts chemistry & charm

✔ Sweet kisses & happily ever afters

This sweet romcom collection contains 20 original humorous novellas from best-selling authors that are heartwarming, feel-good, and laugh out loud funny.

Between the pages, you’ll find tropes such as enemies to lovers, second chance romance, high school sweethearts, opposites attract, friends to lovers, fake dating, and more.

Don’t miss this limited edition box set, featuring some of your favorite authors, that will leave you reeling with laughter:

  • Ellie Hall – An Unwanted Love Story
  • Summer Dowell – Her Plus One
  • Liwen Y. Ho – Head Over Stilettos
  • Meg Easton – Looking for Love (sort of)
  • Rachael Eliker – Lassoed into Love
  • Sophie-Leigh Robbins – Take a Hike
  • Rachel John – Worst Neighbor Ever
  • Jennifer Griffith – Elevator Pitch
  • Cami Checketts – The Sassy One
  • Sarah Gay – Once Upon a Midnight Swim
  • Jennifer Youngblood – Cold Feet
  • Kimberly Krey – Five Days With My (Super Hot) Ex
  • Ellen Jacobson – Smitten with Candy Canes
  • Cindy Roland Anderson – Breaking All the Rules
  • Taylor Hart – Secret Wedding Date
  • Carina Taylor – Jude and the Matchmaking Llama
  • Gigi Blume – Baby You Can Drive My Car
  • Amy Sparling – Julie and the Fixer-Upper
  • Johanna Evelyn – I Think Maybe I Lied
  • Melanie Jacobson – The Backup Plan

* Description from Amazon.

My Review

This collection provided a pleasant diversion – sweet  romance novellas, each with different style and storyline. Something for everyone. Each story short enough to read in one or two settings.  Although I enjoyed this anthology as a whole, with 20 authors, inevitably I like some more than others.  And I can’t exactly provide detailed revies of each and every one. However, there were a few that stood out in particular -“Elevator Pitch” for its Tolkien references, fan fiction of a sort; and Her Plus One, which had me laughing out loud on more than once occasion.   “Smitten with Candy Canes” was also a fun holiday-themed read.  Enjoy.

Review: HER DEADLY TOUCH by Lisa Regan

Today’s post highlights a new thriller from the talented Lisa Regan – Her Deadly Touch (Detective Josie Quinn Book 12). I have read and enjoyed several of the books in this series and was lucky enough to get a review copy from NetGalley.

Description*

The woman is kneeling at a gravestone, her hair blowing in the breeze, a bunch of wilting yellow daffodils on the grass beside her. Her eyes are fixed on the ground and her mouth is parted in a silent prayer. But the wax dripping from her cold blue lips means it’s already too late to save her…

On her first day back with the Denton PD after a major trauma, Detective Josie Quinn is on the hunt for a missing woman, Krystal Duncan, the mother of one of five children killed in a devastating school bus crash. Hours later, Josie finds Krystal’s body beside her daughter’s grave, her lips sealed together forever with wax.

Forensics match the wax to one of the candles lit in memory of the sweet little souls who died, giving Josie her first lead to a support group made up of the parents who lost children in the crash. Painstakingly dissecting the lives of these grieving couples, it’s clear to Josie that each of them is hiding something about the day of the accident—but whose secret is worth killing for?

The case takes an agonizing turn when the body of another young mother is found near the site of the bus crash. Someone connected to the accident is out for revenge. As the members of the support group are picked off one by one, every second counts for Josie to save the lives of these loving parents who have already suffered the loss of those they treasured most…

* from Amazon book page for Her Deadly Touch

My Review

Josie is back in another well-paced thriller/police-procedural mystery. Returning to work after extended leave following her grandmother’s murder, Josie’s first case is a challenging one that involves multiple persons of interest and potential next victims. I admit I had a bit of trouble keeping track of all the characters (dead and alive) at first – there are a lot of them – however they soon sort out, so it was worth it. As the investigation proceeds, an intricate web of secrets emerges – all centered around the events leading up to a fatal school bus crash two years prior. Unexpected plot twists and dead bodies pop up around each corner, making for a suspense-filled read.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review.

Book Blast & Giveaway: PHOTO BOMBED by Daria White

As part of a virtual tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, today’s post is all about a new release from Daria White – Photo Bombed, a cozy mystery for your reading pleasure.

About the Book

When a corpse crashes the party, Bianca is on the case.

Bianca Wallace is a work from home mom raising her teenage daughter as a single parent. She’s determined to stand on her own two feet in Edenville, Texas after her bitter divorce. When the town’s wedding of the year stars her friend as the bride, Bianca can’t wait to celebrate the nuptials. Neither she nor the guests expect a corpse! When the police suspect the bride, Bianca’s determined to prove her friend’s innocence.

Lamar Sims, the new police detective in Edenville, is investigating the murder case. Bianca’s “interference” is not helping, but she won’t stop when her friend’s freedom is on the line. He makes it clear he wants her to let the police do their job, so she has to find ways around him.

No one in Edenville is safe until the killer is behind bars. Bianca won’t let Detective Sims dismiss her hunches. They may have to work together before another dead body shows up.

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About the Author

Daria started writing as a teenager. Since she loves romance novels, she figured why not write them too? She also writes Christian fiction along with cozy mysteries! Daria graduated with a degree in healthcare management, so writing was not in the cards for her. It’s rare that you won’t catch her reading. Aside from that, she loves Turner Classic Movies, painting, Pilates, the piano, and chocolate.

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Read an Excerpt

“Bianca!” Nicole shrieked.

Bianca embraced her friend. “You look amazing!”

Nicole planted her hands on her slim hips. Her sundress flowed to her knees and flattered her waist. Long blonde hair, five seven, and flawless ivory skin. Her blue eyes shined. The woman could have been a model if she wanted to, but found her passion as a beauty blogger. “Thank you. Come on in.”

Looping her arm with hers, Bianca walked with Nicole to the kitchen after setting her gift on the designated table. When they entered the kitchen, Bianca spotted Judy.

“Bianca! Welcome.” Her red hair shined as always.

“Let me help you, Judy. I can’t just stand around and let you do all of this for me.” Nicole stood in front of a plate of ham and grabbed the butcher knife from Priscilla’s, Chad’s mother, kitchen set.

“Nicole.” Judy sighed. “You’re the bride. You should be mingling with your guests.”

“There will be plenty of time for that.” Nicole nudged her shoulder and sliced the meat onto a serving tray.

Bianca made herself comfortable on a bar stool. “Having fun so far? You seem more relaxed now.” That was a good sign.

Nicole beamed. “I am. I can’t believe the wedding is next weekend.” She exhaled. “I’m so nervous.”

“Not about marrying Chad, I hope,” Judy said as she tossed the salad.

“Can I help?” Bianca stood.

Judy pointed for her to sit down. “No, I won’t have the both of you helping. Nicole’s the bride so she can get away with it.”

Bianca returned to her seat and folded her hands in her lap. She figured Judy was in her zone so she wouldn’t offer again to help her in the kitchen. “Everything looks amazing.”

Judy touched a hand to Nicole’s shoulder. “I can’t tell you what it means to me that you asked us to cater your wedding. Thank you.”

Nicole smiled. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t have anyone else cooking for me.”

Bianca’s heart warmed at the friendly exchange. With Nicole marrying into the high society Davis family, she could have chosen top-notch caterers to serve her reception meal. Yet, she’d chosen Edenville’s best. There was no one better than Judy, who could cook and bake along with her husband, Richard.

“I do have a question for you my friend.” Nicole directed her attention to Bianca.

“What?” Bianca asked.

“I think you could get along with at least one of Chad’s—”

Bianca held up a hand to stop her. “Before you start setting me up with all of the groomsmen, I’ll pass.”

“Oh, Bianca. Really?” Nicole huffed.

“I’ll let you know if I change my mind.” Bianca winked at her.

Nicole paused in her slicing of the ham when her phone rang in her dress pocket. She stared at the screen but didn’t answer.