Release Spotlight & Giveaway: LONG ISLAND ICED TINA by Maria DiRico

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to celebrate the release of Long Island Iced Tina (A Catering Hall Mystery), a recent release by Maria DiRico.

About the Book

Mia Carina is back in the borough of Queens—in charge of the family catering hall, Belle View Banquet Manor, and keeping her nonna company. But some events—like murder—are not the kind you can schedule . . .

Mia’s newly pregnant friend Nicole plans to hold a shower at Belle View—but Nicole also has to attend one that her competitive (and mysteriously rich) stepmother, Tina, is throwing at the fanciest place in Queens. It’s a good chance for Mia to snoop on a competitor, especially since doing a search for “how to run a catering hall” can get you only so far.

Mia tags along at the lavish party, but the ambience suffers at Nicole’s Belle View shower when a fight breaks out—and then, oddly, a long-missing and valuable stolen painting is unwrapped by the mom-to-be. Tina is clearly shocked to see it. But not as shocked as Mia is when, soon afterward, she spots the lifeless body of a party guest floating in the marina . . .

Italian recipes included!

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy of Long Island Iced Tina.

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.

Excerpt & Giveaway: MURDER WITH STRINGS ATTACHED by Mark Reutlinger

As part of a book blast organized by Goddess Fish, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to a new release from Mark Reutlinger – Murder with Strings Attached. Haven’t read it yet, but it’s a sure candidate for my TBR list.

About the Book

Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy’s priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it’s already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she’d planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they’re not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?

Read an Excerpt

I was going to use my “one phone call” (assuming a person really gets one and that’s not just something they say in the movies) to call Aaron, but I didn’t have to bother. Almost as soon as I arrived at the police station, Aaron, who obviously had been watching developments and following the police car I was in, walked in and inquired how I might be released. Given the relatively minor nature of the charge, despite what they might actually suspect, and my clean record, despite all the burglaries they were thankfully unaware of, bail was set according to a standard schedule rather than my having to wait to see a judge the next day.

I don’t know how much it cost Aaron to bail me out, but of course whatever it was, he could well afford it; and besides, he owed it to me. After all, I was really just his employee, and surely posting bail is a standard employee benefit.

When all the necessary papers had been signed and funds transferred, Aaron and I walked out into the sunshine that I’d been afraid I wouldn’t be seeing for quite a while.

On the way to Aaron’s car, I gave him a hug and a little kiss on the cheek and thanked him for extricating me from the pokey and doing it so quickly. He looked a bit embarrassed by that, but he cleared his throat and said in his best businesslike manner:

“Okay, so why’d you shoot him, and where’d you put the violin?”

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card from the author.

About the Author

MARK REUTLINGER is an attorney and former law professor. He now writes novels in which the law is frequently broken, including his “Mrs. Kaplan” cozy mystery series (MRS. KAPLAN AND THE MATZOH BALL OF DEATH and A PAIN IN THE TUCHIS) and the political thrillers MADE IN CHINA and SISTER-IN-LAW: VIOLATION, SEDUCTION, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (under the pen name M. R. Morgan). MURDER WITH STRINGS ATTACHED is his latest novel. He is also a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Mark and his wife Analee live in University Place, Washington, where in addition to reading and writing he plays clarinet with the Tacoma Concert Band and enjoys tennis, biking, exotic cars, model railroading, and various arts and crafts. He has no idea where he finds the time for it all.

Buy Links:  Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Spotlight & Giveaway: RHINO CHARGE by Victoria Tait

As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today the spotlight shines on a new release from Victoria Tait – Rhino Charge: A Kenya Kanga Mystery. Sounds like a good choice for all the armchair travelers among us.

About the Book

A treacherous race to stop an extinction. A mysterious death linked to the past. Can a silver-haired sleuth track down the clues in time to save a life?

‘Mama Rose’ Hardie has always fought to conserve Kenya’s precious wildlife. Officiating at an off-road fundraising race in the iconic Maasai Mara, she’s shocked when a vehicle crash claims the life of a friend. And worse still, this was no accident…

When another friend is accused of plotting a deadly sabotage, the clever amateur sleuth vows to clear his name. But with motives between teams reaching deep into an unfortunate past, the determined woman must work fast to track down the wily killer. .

Can Rose catch the culprit before more lives are endangered?

Rhino Charge is the thrilling third tale in the Kenya Kanga cozy mystery series. If you like sharp heroines, suspenseful reveals, and iconic African settings, then you’ll love Victoria Tait’s breathtaking story.

Giveaway

Click here for your chance to win a $20 gift card from the author.

About the Author

Victoria Tait is the author of the enchanting Kenya Kanga Mystery series.  She’s drawn on her 8 years of experience living in rural Kenya, with her family, to write vivid and evocative descriptions.  Her readers feel the heat, taste the dryness, and smell the dust of Africa.  Her elderly amateur sleuth, “Mama Rose” Hardie is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple reincarnated and living in Kenya.

Like all good military wives, Victoria follows the beat of the drum and has recently moved to war-scarred Sarajevo in Bosnia. She has two fast growing teenage boys.  She enjoys horse riding and mountain biking but is apprehensive about learning to ski.  Victoria is looking forward to the sun, sand, and seafood of neighbouring Croatia when the world returns to normal.

Author Links

Website: https://www.victoriatait.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaTait
Blog/News: https://victoriatait.com/news/
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20373879.Victoria_Tait
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/vataitauthor/

Purchase Links
Amazon – B&N – Kobo 

Visit the tour page and visit additional stops for reviews, guest posts, and more.

Spotlight & Guest Post: DEATH BY INTERMISSION by Alexis Morgan

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to celebrate the release Death by Intermission, Alexis Morgan has stopped to tell us exactly how she feels about the characters in the Abby McCree Mystery series. Who do you think is her favorite character? Read on to find out.


PLAYING FAVORITES, by Alexis Morgan

Psst! I want to let you in on a secret, one I would never admit to Abby McCree, my amateur sleuth, or any of her friends. But the simple truth is that of all the characters in my Abby McCree Mysteries, Zeke is my absolute favorite. On the plus side, he is tall, handsome, and courageous. Sadly, he also drools, sheds like crazy, and has an unfortunate habit of mooching. Be that as it may, everything about him tugs at my heartstrings.

If you haven’t yet guessed, Zeke is Abby’s furry roommate, the ninety-five pound mastiff-mix that came with the house that Abby inherited from her favorite aunt. He’s a rescue dog with an unhappy past. However, things have vastly improved for him because he and Abby are kindred spirits in many ways. She recently went through a bit of a rough patch in her own life and was looking for a fresh start when she arrived in Snowberry Creek.

When Abby first moved into the house, she had vague intentions of staying only long enough to get the house ready to put on the market. But that was before she met Zeke. He was the first to welcome her, offering her doggy kisses and companionship. Their friendship quickly developed into something special, an unbreakable bond that now means everything to them both.

But Abby isn’t Zeke’s only friend. He is also best buddies with Tripp Blackston, the former soldier who rents the mother-in-law house on the back of Abby’s property. Tripp recently left the army after twenty years and is currently finishing his college degree. Just as Zeke helps Abby find her way in Snowberry Creek, he helps Tripp transition from the military to civilian life. The two of them patrol their territory together and take that duty seriously and with good reason. Trouble has a bad habit of showing up on their doorstep all too often. Abby is fiercely loyal to those she cares about and will stop at nothing to help them, even if it means putting herself in a killer’s crosshairs. Abby would be the first to admit that Zeke has saved her life more than once.

Zeke has also touched the lives of so many other people over the course of the series: a homeless veteran, a grief-stricken young woman, the police chief’s daughter, not to mention the police chief himself. Gage Logan often finds himself in Abby’s kitchen discussing a case as he slips treats to Zeke.

I love this dog for all of those reasons, but the real reason I love him is that he is loosely based on the two bulldogs in my real life. Remus is an English bulldog while Walter is an Olde English Bulldogge. They each weigh 45-50 pounds, so you could say I added them both together to come up with Zeke. Like them, he has jowls where he stores extra water to drip on some unsuspecting person’s slacks. Walter, in particular, is a world champion snorer. Seriously, you can hear him rumbling away through solid walls! Zeke also shares their love of doggy snacks of all kinds.

Walter and Remus don’t live with me (they’re my grand-dogs.) However, every time Zeke appears on the page, it’s like I get to spend a little time with them, and I smile. If you have a special furry (or feathery) companion in your life, I’d love to hear about them.


About the Book

Abby McCree spends a summer showing family films under the stars—only to end the season with an unexpected slasher flick . . .

Ushered once again onto another committee by the mayor of Snowberry Creek, Washington, Abby is tasked with keeping the box office receipts of the town’s Movies in the Park nights. Cut to the director’s chair from where she’s suddenly organizing the summer’s last feature. From the opening scene through the final credits, Abby feels she’s earned nominations for best volunteer, best movie date with her tenant Tripp Blackston—and best daughter for ignoring her mother Phoebe’s own movie date with Owen Quinn.

Unfortunately, Abby and the others are treated to a post-credits scene: the body of local insurance agent Mitchell Anders. This discovery is followed by a plot twist revealing that the murder weapon comes from Owen’s food truck. With her mother’s boyfriend suspected of murder, Abby starts her own investigation determined to shine a spotlight on the real killer . . .

About the Author

Alexis Morgan is the USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; contemporary romances; and cozy mysteries. A RITA® Award-finalist, Alexis Morgan is a member of RWA and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Washington State and can be found online at AlexisMorgan.com.

Author Links:
* Website – http://www.alexismorgan.com/      
* Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AMorganAuthor
* Twitter – https://twitter.com/Alexis_Morgan    
* Blog –  http://www.alexismorgan.com/snowberry/index.html 

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

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

Showcase & Excerpt: LETHAL INTENT by Cara Putnam

As part of a virtual tour organized by Partners in Crime Tours, today’s post introduces a new legal thriller from Cara Putnam – Lethal Intent. Another one to add to my TBR list!

BTW, although I have yet to read this new book, I very much enjoyed one of this writer’s earlier works – Flight Risk. You can read my review here.

About the Book

If they expected silence, they hired the wrong woman.

Caroline Bragg’s life has never been better. She and Brandon Lancaster are taking their relationship to the next level, and she has a new dream job as legal counsel for Praecursoria—a research lab that is making waves with its cutting-edge genetic therapies. The company’s leukemia treatments even promise to save desperately sick kids—kids like eleven-year-old Bethany, a critically ill foster child at Brandon’s foster home.

When Caroline’s enthusiastic boss wants to enroll Bethany in experimental trials prematurely, Caroline objects, putting her at odds with her colleagues. They claim the only goal at Praecursoria is to save lives. But does someone have another agenda?

Brandon faces his own crisis. As laws governing foster homes shift, he’s on the brink of losing the group home he’s worked so hard to build. When Caroline learns he’s a Praecursoria investor, it becomes legally impossible to confide in him. Will the secrets she keeps become a wedge that separates them forever? And can she save Bethany from the very treatments designed to heal her?

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Goodreads

Scroll down to the end of the post to read an excerpt!

About the Author

Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

Visit her at:
CaraPutman.comGoodreadsBookBubInstagramTwitter, & Facebook

See the tour page and visit additional stops on the tour for reviews, guest posts, and more.

Read an excerpt

Caroline shifted in the high-backed chair. The massive conference room table made her feel more petite than usual. Quentin Jackson, the man propelling Praecursoria through its rapid growth, vibrated with energy as he studied her. “We are on the cusp of amazing developments and a transition from the lab to trials. We have a few CAR T-cell therapies in early stages now with more in our pipeline.” She racked her mind for the importance of T cells, and he gave a hearty laugh. “Don’t worry if the science overwhelms you. We’ll have you up to speed in no time. All you need to know right now is that T cells are one of the two cells that make up white blood cells. The treatments we’re working on could be the difference between life and death for young cancer patients. We need your legal expertise and quick mind to synthesize the science with the map to market.” “I’ve overseen several court trials related to patents, which should help with that process.” It had been an unforeseen aspect of her days clerking for Judge Loren. She swallowed against the lump in her throat that still welled up when she thought about his untimely death from pneumonia. A month ago she couldn’t imagine interviewing for a job somewhere else, even if a part of her knew that she should stretch her wings. “When can you start? Today?” She felt rooted to the chair. Everything was moving so fast. Could she really transition her experience managing clerks for a judge into managing patents and contracts for a start-up? While Praecursoria had been around for a decade as a cancer research lab, about eighteen months ago Quentin sold off its lucrative genetic testing branch to focus exclusively on the development of cutting-edge CAR T-cell therapies. Starting over that way was a bold if risky move. She lifted her chin and forced a smile that didn’t waver. “If that’s what you need. First we have a few details to work out.” He laughed. “I like the way you tackle issues head-on. That will be key in this role. I know how to steer the ship, and my chief scientist can navigate the research, but you’ll keep us on the legal straight and narrow.” He tapped his pen against the legal pad in front of him. Then he picked up her résumé and named a salary that pressed her against the chair. “There will be performance bonuses tied to the successful conclusion of trials. We want to look into stock options as well. That will be one of your assignments in conjunction with HR.” He slapped his hands on the table and she jumped. “My enthusiasm gets away from me sometimes.” He shrugged but never wavered as he examined her. “Let’s start with a field trip. The best way for you to understand why we’re doing this work and research is to show you.” *** Excerpt from Lethal Intent by Cara Putman. Copyright 2021 by Cara Putman. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

Review, Series Spotlight & Giveaway: SUGAR MOUNTAIN BOOKS by Kirsten Fullmer

As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours to mark the release of Problems at the Pub by Kirsten Fullmer, today’s post spotlights a mystery series set in a cozy mountain town – Sugar Mountain – featuring a charming, yet devious, secret society of women.

Based on reading the first book in the series this past week, this author’s work is likely to please bookworms who are looking for squeaky clean mystery and a touch of sweet romance, with no graphic violence.

About the Series

With the recent release of Problems at the Pub, there are currently four books in this series.

Problems at the Pub (Sugar Mountain Book 4)

It’s another charming and madcap mystery! The enchanting tourist town of Sugar Mountain, NC is rewriting its tax codes, and no one knows why. Mayor Winslow is up to no good, and he doesn’t seem to care what happens to the local business owners; at least that’s how it feels to Monique Brewer, the local tavern owner. She’s proud of making her own way in the world, and messing with her business is a sure way to get her riled.

Sounds like another job for The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society! When Monique brings her concerns to the table, chaos erupts. The women don’t trust anyone, especially not the Mayor or his peculiar new assistant, Anthony Tidwell.

Will the group be able to come up with a solution to keep local businesses safe, or will the mayor finally get his way? Come along for the ride as the residents of Sugar Mountain learn they may be in for more trouble than anyone suspects.

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

Shadows in the Salon (Sugar Mountain Book 3)

A spooky mystery, a promising romance, and a secret society of scheming women…

The cozy town of Sugar Mountain, NC harbors a secret society of women. The society itself is not secret—it’s the devious work of the group that is mysterious.

Michelle owns the Salon, Shear Genius, on Sugar Mountain Main Street, a favorite with the tourists and locals alike. Lately she’s dealing with mysterious problems. She’s being plagued by spooky and unexplained goings-on. Is it a sign from beyond that she should rethink her life choices?

Matt Hopkins moved to Sugar Mountain after losing his business, but thanks to the lovely and talented Michelle, he is now building an amphitheater in town. It looks like things are finally going his way until Michelle is threatened by an eerie aggressor and the Mayor’s involvement spells trouble for his project. Will Matt be able to complete the Amphitheater and help Michelle, or will things with her fall apart as well?

Facing puzzling complications at every turn, The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society go undercover to figure out who is threatening Michelle and the new amphitheater. If they’re not careful, the society may fall apart and Michelle and Matt might end a promising romance. Come along for the ride on this zany, enchanting, romantic cozy mystery!

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

Where There’s Smoke (Sugar Mountain Book 2)

Sugar Mountain is a sleepy town bursting with tourists. If you like quirky shops and original artwork, you’ll want to visit. But the local kindergarten teacher, Sarah, has a mystery on her hands. All she did was try to help the fire department and now she’s receiving threatening notes. Of course, she takes the frightening messages to her friends in the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society, but even their investigative skills fall short. How will they be able to find the person intent on holding back the fire department and frightening Sarah?

Hugh Brockman, the second in command at the firehouse, is taking extra shifts to cope with the shortage of firefighters. When he visits Sarah’s classroom to talk to her students about fire safety, he gets caught up with the lovely teacher and her cryptic mystery. He’s not happy that someone in town is threatening her with bodily harm, and he intends to find out who it is.

With every lead shot down and tensions running high, it’s up to the ladies of the society to go undercover in their own town to flush out the culprit. If they’re not successful, the fire department will continue to be undermanned, leaving Sugar Mountain is in danger and Sarah in peril.

Join in the continuing antics of the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society and fall in love along with Hugh and Sarah in this heartfelt and comical romantic mystery.

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

Trouble on Main Street (Sugar Mountain Book 1)

A cozy mountain town, a sweet romance, and a secret society of sneaky women…

The sleepy hamlet of Sugar Mountain harbors a secret society of women. Don’t misunderstand—the society itself is not secret—it’s the true nature of the group that is hush-hush.

Sugar Mountain is the kind of charming village that tourists adore. If you like small-town charm, quirky shops, and local art, this is the place for you. But when a blood smeared package shows up at the post office and it appears to be linked to a scheme that threatens Heidi Collinsworth’s historic home, the town takes on a sinister vibe. Heidi would lay odds that slimy Mayor Winslow is involved, but even with the enquiring skills of The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society at work, proof is scarce.

The new guy in town, Adam Williams, is determined not to get involved in Sugar Mountain’s business. His last job in a big city planning office ruined his life, but Heidi needs his help. No matter how hard he tries to stay detached, Adam finds himself eyeball deep in Heidi’s problems, as well as the needs of her teenage son and a homeless dog.

With conflicting theories abound and tensions running high, it’s up to the ladies of the society to don disguises and go undercover. If they’re not careful, the town may fall to a wrecking ball, Heidi may fall for Adam, and the secret society will be exposed.

Meet the cast of colorful characters in this charming and zany introduction to a whole new series of romantic, cozy mysteries!

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

My Review – Trouble on Main Street

I was tempted to read this book by the series’ unique premise – a secret society of sneaky women who practically run a quaint touristy town. The women are an interesting bunch – different backgrounds, different ages, and different occupations. What they have in common is their love of Sugar Mountain and their determination to do whatever they can to ensure it stays just the way they like it. Even if their actions defy logic and common sense, and the women take unnecessary risks.

The story took a while to pick up speed. As a reader of both cozy and thrillers, this reader kept expecting somebody to find a body. After all, most cozies are murder mysteries. About half way through I recognized that wasn’t the case here. Although the plot of the underlying mystery was light on suspense, the story’s bevy of spunky, quirky characters provided a pleasant, low-key diversion on a cold wintry day.

FTC disclosure: I received a review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of this review in any way.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card from this generous author.
Follow the tour HERE for additional reviews and special content.

About the Author

Kirsten is a writer with a love of art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted free lance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.

As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Spotlight, Recipe & Giveaway: ARTISTIC LICENSE TO KILL by Paula Darnell

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to spotlight the recently released Fine Art Mystery – Artistic License to Kill and to share Paula Darnell’s recipe for Date Cake.

About Artistic License to Kill

Artist Amanda Trent, accompanied by her beloved golden retriever Laddie and her persnickety calico cat Mona Lisa, is determined to start a new life after her husband divorces her to marry a younger woman, but it isn’t easy.

After a disastrous interview at the prestigious Roadrunner Gallery in Lonesome Valley, Arizona, far away from her previous home in Kansas City, Amanda’s afraid that she’ll fail at her new career. But her prospects begin to improve when she’s accepted as the newest member of the cooperative gallery.

Then, on her very first day, she discovers Janice, the stern director, has been murdered right in the art gallery, and the Roadrunner’s members, including Amanda herself, become suspects. Which gallery member murdered the unpopular director? Or was the killer an outsider with an ax to grind?

Purchase Links: Amazon – Apple Books – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

Date Cake Recipe

Good with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

Cake Ingredients
1 cup pitted, chopped dates
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Topping Ingredients
1 cup pitted, chopped dates
¾ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add boiling water to one cup chopped dates in a small bowl and set aside. Cream softened or melted butter together with egg and sugar. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Add date mixture and stir until well blended. Bake for 35 minutes in a buttered 9” x 9” baking pan. Remove from oven and test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, return the cake to the oven and bake a few minutes longer. Cool the cake in the pan before making the topping.
Add chopped dates, water, and sugar to a small pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Do not overcook. When the mixture has thickened, remove from heat and cool for five minutes. Spread the topping evenly on the cake and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts.

Makes nine servings.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of Artistic License to Kill.

About the Author

Award-winning author Paula Darnell is a former college instructor who has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in English and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in English with a Writing Emphasis. Artistic License to Kill is the first book in her Fine Art Mystery series. She’s also the author of the DIY Diva Mystery series and The Six-Week Solution, a historical mystery set in Nevada. She resides in Las Vegas with her husband Gary and their Pyrador Rocky.

Author Links: Website –  Twitter –  Goodreads

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

Review: DAMAGING SECRETS by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

I was browsing the mystery offerings on NetGalley in search of something different (translation: not my usual cozy fare) and spotted Damaging Secrets, the first book in a new series from Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, featuring Detective Rachel Ryder. This interesting police procedural/thriller releases today!

Description

New to town and a little rough around the edges, Detective Rachel Ryder finds herself on the receiving end of a suspicious person’s call in Hamby, Georgia. When the call turns out to be a dead body, the medical examiner is quick to rule the death a suicide. But was it something more sinister?

Everyone in the small department believes the case is closed—except for Rachel. The sudden passing of a local politician during the mayor’s run for Congress strikes her as a little too coincidental, and Rachel is eager to follow her instincts. Her partner, Rob, a 30-year veteran, isn’t the type to disobey his boss or ruffle any feathers, but he can’t convince strong-willed Rachel to let it go.

Obsessed with finding out the truth, Rachel begins to examine the evidence and drags her reluctant partner along for the ride. But the clues are confusing. Nothing is adding up.

Puzzled and running out of time, Rachel and Rob rush to work every angle and bring the elusive killer to justice before someone else ends up dead.

*as appears on Amazon

My Review

Rachel Ryder is a strong, complex female character.  The seasoned Chicago detective is having a hard time adjusting to life in a small town in Georgia where the “old boys” club rules and male chauvinism runs rampant.  Her in-your-face, outspoken approach is at times annoying and it is easy to see how she manages to  alienate the chief of police, the mayor, and her fellow officers when she insists that the deceased, a prominent citizen, did not commit suicide. Of course, the fact that she’s a woman plays no small part in their reactions. Still, she is relentless in her determination to uncover the truth, despite orders to  leave it alone.  Her partner, Bishop, is a good guy, who is hesitant to defy orders, but she  gradually wins him over.  Their relationship grows as they establish mutual trust.  They make a good team.  No spoilers here, so suffice it to say that the plot had a good level of complexity and enough tension and twists to keep those pages turning.  A commendable start to a new series.

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

Release Blitz: HIGH TREASON AT THE GRAND HOTEL

 
As part of a Release Blitz organized by RABT Book Tours, today’s post spotlights a new release from Kelly Oliver – High Treason at the Grand Hotel (a Fiona Figgs mystery).
 

About the Book

Paris. 1917. Never underestimate the power of a good hat… or a sharp hatpin.

Sent by the War Office to follow the notorious Black Panther, file clerk turned secret agent Fiona Figg is under strict orders not to get too close and not to wear any of her usual “get-ups.” But what self-respecting British spy can resist a good disguise? Within hours of her arrival in Paris, Fiona is up to her fake eyebrows in missing maids, jewel thieves, double agents, and high treason. When Fiona is found dressed as a bellboy holding a bloody paperknife over the body of a dead countess, it’s not just her career that’s on the block.

Her next date might be with Madame Guillotine.

About the Author

Kelly Oliver is the award winning and bestselling author of three mystery series, including The Jessica James Mysteries, the Pet Detective Mysteries, and the Fiona Figg Mysteries. When she’s not writing mysteries, she is a philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Contact Links

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Showcase: THE MADNESS OF MERCURY by Connie di Marco

As part of a virtual book tour organized by Partners in Crime Tours, today’s spotlight shines on The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco.

About the Book

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a target of the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The Reverend, a recently-arrived cult preacher, is determined to drive sin from the city, but his gospel of love and compassion doesn’t extend to those he considers an “abomination unto the Lord.” Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, has put her at the top of the Reverend’s list. While the powerful Mercury-ruled preacher woos local dignitaries, his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence not just Julia, but anyone who stands in his way.

Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long-lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. One aunt slides deeper into psychosis while the other disappears. Is this young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods – he was a trickster and a liar as well.

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Excerpt

“Thank God you’re there.” Gale sounded very shaky.
“What’s wrong?”
“I’m at the Mystic Eye. Something very strange just happened. I heard a knock at the back door. I thought it might be you.”
“Are you alone?”
“Yes. I closed up and sent Cheryl home. When I opened the door . . . oh God, Julia. Someone left a dead cat on the doorstep.”
I cringed. “I’ll be right there.”
“I’m sorry. You don’t need to come. I wrapped it up and put it in plastic in the dumpster. It looked like its neck had been broken.” 
Don’t argue. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Less than that.”
I drove the length of California Street as fast as I could, slowing at each red light. Once I was sure no other cars were crossing I ran through several intersections. When I reached the Eye the shop was closed but the display lights were on in the front windows. I pulled down the alleyway and parked next to Gale’s car. I tapped on the door. “Gale, it’s me.” She opened the door immediately. The storeroom was dark. A stack of empty boxes and packing materials stood against the wall. Inside, the only light was a small desk lamp in the office.
Gale is tall and self-assured with a regal bearing. Tonight she was completely shaken. She hugged her arms, more from fright than from cold. “I feel bad now that I’ve called you. I was just so freaked out. I recognized the cat, it was the little gray one that hangs out behind the apartment building next door. I think it’s a stray. Everyone around here feeds it, even the restaurant people, and it’s such a friendly little thing. Some sick bastard probably gave it some food and then snapped its neck. God, I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Shouldn’t you call the cops?”
“And tell them what? I found a dead cat? Please. Like they’d listen. Even if they thought someone had killed it, what could they do?”
“It shows a pattern of harassment. Might be worth making a report.”
She sighed. “Yeah. You’re probably right. I just wasn’t thinking straight. I was so upset.” She collapsed in the chair behind her desk.
I shrugged out of my coat. “Why are you here so late?”
“We just got a huge shipment of books and supplies in. Cheryl’s been working late every night so I sent her home. I had just finished stacking the boxes in the storeroom.” Gale shivered involuntarily. “Look, let’s get out of here. Have you eaten? Why don’t we go up the block and grab some food? Actually a drink sounds even better.”
“Okay.”
“Get your coat. We can leave the cars here and walk. I’ll just get my purse.”
I headed to the front door and checked that the locks were all in place. The drapes separating the display windows from the shop were drawn for privacy. Gale left the desk lamp on in the office and walked out to the front counter. As she reached under the counter for her purse, we heard glass breaking. Then I saw a flash of flame through the doorway to the back storeroom. I screamed. The empty boxes and packing materials had caught fire in an explosive flash. The smoke alarm started to ring, filling the shop with earsplitting sound. Using my coat like a blanket, I dropped it over the center of the flaming pile. It wasn’t going to be enough, but I had to do something before the entire storeroom went up, if not the building.

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About the Author

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Connie di Marco:
ConniediMarco.comGoodreadsBookBubTwitter, & Facebook!