Review & Giveaway: DYING ON EDISTO by C. Hope Clark

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As part of a tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Murder on Edisto by  C. Hope Clark. 

About the Book

DYingOnEdisto-coverOne death. Two detectives. And unexpected backup.

A Callie Morgan and Carolina Slade crossover! (A standalone mystery)

When a renowned—and now dead—travel blogger washes ashore on the banks of Indigo Plantation, Police Chief Callie Morgan of Edisto Beach agrees to head the investigation as a favor to the county sheriff, whose reasons are as questionable as the death itself.

When death turns to murder and a watchdog from the county makes her investigation difficult, Callie reluctantly turns to Carolina Slade and Wayne Largo, vacationing agents with the Department of Agriculture. Because poison is growing on this plantation, and someone knows how to use it well.

“Page-turning…[and] edge-of-your-seat action…crisp writing and compelling storytelling. This is one you don’t want to miss!” —Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author

“Her beloved protagonist, Callie, continues to delight readers as a strong, savvy, and a wee-bit-snarky police chief.”—Julie Cantrell, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author

Goodreads * Amazon

My Review

A dead body is never good for business. And when it is found by vacationing  federal investigators Carolina Slade and Wayne Largo while Police Chief Callie Morgan happens to be visiting the newly opened resort, the potential for conflict is no surprise.  Especially when it is outside their respective jurisdictions and the local detective is not a nice guy.    The author provides the reader with insights into both Callie and Slade, their  motivation, their pasts, and their relationships with others.

The plot was intricate and well developed, with twists and turns leading to a satisfying resolution and vivid descriptions of a picturesque southern community. An enjoyable mystery.

This was my first time reading anything by this author.  I liked this book, though I suspect it might be easier to get into for fans of both series who are already acquainted with the two main characters.  That said, I just might go back and read the earlier books in those series.

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

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

C. Hope Clark_393x400C. Hope Clark has a fascination with the mystery genre and is author of the Carolina Slade Mystery Series as well as the Edisto Island Mysteries, both set in her home state of South Carolina. In her previous federal life, she performed administrative investigations and married the agent she met on a bribery investigation. She enjoys nothing more than editing her books on the back porch with him, overlooking the lake, with bourbons in hand. She can be found either on the banks of Lake Murray or Edisto Beach with one or two dachshunds in her lap. Hope is also editor of the award-winning FundsforWriters.com.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Spotlight: DOGS AND MORE DOGS, ANOTHER MURDER by Christa Nardi

Just over a week ago,  Christa Nardi released the second book in her Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series – if you are a fan of cozy mysteries, you won’t want to miss it.  And if you’re a dog lover, even better.

Description

DogsDogs_ChristaAn abandoned house, an abundance of dogs. And a dead body or two.

Sheridan Hendley’s volunteer position at Pets and Paws takes a new turn when more than twenty malnourished dogs are found at a rundown house on the outskirts of town. When the body of an elderly woman is found amidst mountains of clutter in the house, a search of the property leads to startling revelations. And another body. While Herman Stoneham’s death is deemed natural causes, his wife’s is not. Where did all the dogs come from and who’s responsible for Justine’s untimely death? Are the two connected? With dogs and murder at stake, Sheridan can’t help but get involved in the investigation.

About the Author

Christa Nardi (pen name) is an accomplished writer and an avid reader. Her love of mysteries began with Nancy Drew and other teen mysteries, as well as Perry Mason and similar detective series on television. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery and crime authors over time. Christa has authored the 5-book Cold Creek cozy mystery series with the new spinoff series featuring the protagonist, Sheridan Hendley, a professor and psychologist. When not reading or writing, Christa enjoys travel with her husband, and playing with three dogs and three grand-daughters.

Read an Excerpt

The holiday decorations were packed away, the house no longer festive. I’d procrastinated much longer than any other year and now even New Year’s was a memory. Married to State Police Detective Brett McMann and stepmom to his teenaged daughter, Maddie, about six months now, it was sad to put our first Christmas as a family behind us. Still, I was truly relieved the hustle and bustle was over. Juggling two families had been stressful, though time with my parents and sibs, Kaylie and Kevin, was good. Drinking my never empty coffee, I relished the quiet and uncluttered living area.

“Sheridan, can I go skating with Nedra and Willie? Miss Melina is taking us.”

“Is your room clean? And what time will you be home?” Melina and I both volunteered at the local dog shelter, and her daughter, Nedra was in Maddie’s eight grade class. Little did Maddie know, Melina had texted me already about taking them skating. She knew I was volunteering at Pets and Paws today and this would give Maddie something to do. Winter break is great for a few days and then it gets old.

“Yes, my room is clean. I’ll be home before dinner.”

“Okay. Let’s make sure you have everything and you’re ready when they get here to pick you up.”

I followed her to her room, Charlie and Bella padding behind us. Sometimes Maddie’s teen version of a clean room and mine didn’t quite look the same. At least on the surface, this time we were on the same page. Even Bella’s toys were all assembled in her bed.

“Heavy socks so you don’t get blisters? Extra layers or a coat? It can get cold out there with the wind.” The weather had been pretty mild for Virginia in January so far, with only a few nights of frost, and mostly in the 40s.

The eighth grader made a face. “Jeesh, I’m not a child. Besides extra layers make me look fat.”

“But you’ll be warm. What about the thermals? They’re thin and help retain heat and then you might get by without a jacket.”

“Okay. Okay. Can you get my skates?”

“On it. Skates, gloves, scarf and hat coming up.” I ignored her eye roll and gathered everything together as Melina pulled up.

“Hurry up. They’re here.” She bustled out of the room, grabbed everything and was out the door. I waved to Melina from the door.

Only a few more days and Maddie would be back at school and I’d be back to work at Millicent College teaching on Wednesdays and Fridays. I finished my coffee and cleaned up. After letting Charlie and Bella out, I headed for Pets and Paws.

Smiling, I remembered the way Mrs. Chantilly had all the dogs decked out in bells, bows, and bowties before Christmas. Pets and Paws was in an old colonial home. Mrs. Chantilly lived upstairs and the dogs were downstairs. With Luke’s help, she’d decorated the house, inside and out. She’d always reminded me of Mrs. Claus and for two weeks she dressed the part and bounced around with abundant enthusiasm. More than one of the dogs managed to destroy her holiday trappings around the place from time to time, but she took it in stride.

The house was on the news and people came from all over to view it. She’d go out and invite them in to see the rest of the decorations – and the dogs. Not unintentional by any means, she managed to get many dogs adopted.

I chuckled to myself, recalling when she’d tried singing traditional holiday songs. Unlike me, she had a beautiful voice. The problem was some of the dogs. They tried to sing, too, only the howling was not quite in tune. Sure enough, as I pulled up in front of the house I noticed the decorations were gone from Pets and Paws now, too.

Luke was moving boxes and grunted hello as I arrived. A high school student with some bad habits, like the stray and rescue dogs Mrs. Chantilly collected, Luke was a restoration project. His legal issues led to his “volunteering” at Pets and Paws. When he first started his community service there, he scowled a lot and made me nervous. He was still an entitled beachboy type.

He’d made some attitude adjustments in the past few months and I was glad to see it. I still didn’t quite trust him despite Mrs. Chantilly always singing his praises. Mrs. Chantilly met me at the door, grandmotherly, soft, and light, only without the Mrs. Claus attire. I also noted the bounce in her step was gone. Even though she had to be in her sixties, she always seemed to have energy and a happy face.

“Isn’t this weather just delightful? Sunny, not too, too cold. I heard it’s going to freeze tonight and maybe snow. Those abandoned dogs wouldn’t survive if that happened.”

Now used to her manner of speech, I simply asked, “What abandoned dogs?”

“Over at the Stoneham place of course, near Blake Buchanan’s. Have you ever been to his home? It is beautiful. A mansion fit for a king. His wife, Ava, studied interior decorating you know.”

“No, I didn’t know. Did they find dogs at the Stoneham’s?”

“That’s what I said. Nobody ever bothered the Stoneham’s for many years. Older couple and all, their children grown and gone, they kept to themselves. Justine and Herman didn’t live there when I was growing up here. Someone else did though. Never knew who they were.”

Mrs. Dora Chantilly had left Clover Hill after high school and she’d only returned when her grandmother died and left her the house, now Clover Hill Pets and Paws.  Her grandmother had taken in strays and the place was a mess. I was about to ask again about the dogs, and an SUV pulled up.

“Here they are with more of the dogs. Poor things. Luke and I already fed and bathed the first group Blake brought over. I’m sure glad you’re here to help.”

I followed her as she hurried to the car and greeted Blake Buchanan, former mayor of Clover Hill. He took her in his arms and then seemed to realize I was there. He and Mrs. Chantilly had been an item in high school and they renewed their friendship when she returned.

“Dora, we uncovered a mama and pups.” He shook his head. “One of them didn’t make it. Dane mix. Where’s Luke? Even malnourished, it’ll take two of us to get her and her pups inside.” Mrs. Chantilly rushed to open the door and see to the animals.

“Mr. Buchanan, can you fill me in? Mrs. Chantilly hasn’t had a chance yet.”

He smiled and his eyes twinkled. We both understood that sometimes she was a bit hard to follow. Almost like putting a puzzle together. Me, I prefer things to be in order when someone is telling me a story.

“Last night, I was sitting on the deck and my dog, Bridgit, showed up with a puppy, not in good shape. As soon as I took the pup, she darted in the direction of the Stoneham place. I called to my wife, put the pup in a blanket, and took off after her.”

He paused for effect.

“The house was dark but Bridgit stood at the front porch and dug to get further underneath. I knocked at the door and no one answered. I called Chief Peabody and then with my flashlight got a look at dogs huddled together from the cold under the porch. With help, we extracted six dogs and two more puppies and brought them here.”

He shuddered. “Such bad shape. Bridgit still wasn’t happy, but that was all we could do last night. Four of us have been on the property this morning. Brought four more dogs earlier. Butch and Bridgit, my best dogs, are helping us wade through it.”

“Huh? What do you mean ‘wade through it’ – is the house that much of a mess?”

“That’s a mild description. Stuff stacked on top of stuff on top of stuff, and the smell.” He shuddered again. “This mama and pups were in the kitchen. We could hear yelping from other parts of the house.”

“Here comes Luke. We need to get these dogs  inside. Sheridan, can you start some formula going? These pups are near starved to death. And we’ll have to keep them isolated until the vet can check them out.”

Luke lumbered up and his eyes about popped out as he looked from Blake to the Dane and pups. “Where are we going to put all these dogs?”

Mrs. Chantilly’s face fell. “Mama and pups in the house. The side room on the right is empty now with all the adoptions. We put the first bunch in the room on the left. You were just in the garage. Is there room in there? Grandpa used to work out there so I think there’s electric heat if we need it and a bathroom, too. Blake, how many more dogs?”

He pulled her close. “Remember, we need to keep these dogs separate from your other dogs. Let me check out the garage. We can always pull your car out. Work on getting them some food and water. Luke, come with me.”

They disappeared. I turned to Mrs. Chantilly, “You stay with them. I’ll go get water and start the bottles going.”

As I walked in to the house, I glanced down at the concrete floor, painted blue slate and sealed. At least if the dogs made a mess, there wouldn’t be any damage. It was about an hour later when we finished relocating the Pets and Paws residents to the larger back room. The two new mamas and pups were situated on one side of the kitchen. They’d been bathed and fed and each family rested on a palette.

That left space in the other side room for any smaller dogs that might come in. If the new arrivals were medium to large sized dogs we moved them to the unattached garage. They’d been fed and some had been bathed, now settled into crates. The heat was on and that at least took the chill off. Not exactly warm, but the dogs would all be out of the wind.

Blake hinted there still would be more dogs coming. With Mrs. Chantilly’s blessing, I sent an email out to all the volunteers with a short note about the dogs coming in and needing assistance if they were available. Whatever supplies were needed, starting with towels and blankets, I was confident Blake would take care of them.

Excerpt from Dogs and More Dogs, Another Murder ©2019 Christa Nardi

 

Spotlight & Excerpt: DROP DEAD CRIME

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As part of a tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on Drop Dead Crime, a boxed set of mysteries from Lisa Regan, Leslie Wolfe, Colleen Helme, Amy Vansant, and Julie Smith.  Sounds like a promising read!

About the Book

Five women. Five sublime authors of crime fiction. One stunning book.

Gripping thrillers, packed with deviously executed crimes and in-depth investigations are some of the most popular reads available on  traditional and virtual book shelves today.

Now, you can sample some of the best female writers of crime fiction, in Drop Dead Crime, a collection of novellas packed with the twisted plotlines and memorable characters that excite readers and leave them demanding more.

Lisa Regan, Leslie Wolfe, Colleen Helme, Amy   Vansant, and Julie Smith are among the most skilled and prolific writers of the genre today, and each one knows exactly how to tease a story to  maximum effect. Their use of strong female leads, combined with delicately balanced plots, means suspense is always kept at a fever  pitch—ready to boil over at any second.

Lisa Regan’s Over The Edge is guaranteed to keep you up at night. When P.I. Jocelyn Rush witnesses a young mother jump from a bridge, she is determined to solve the mystery of why, and what she finds is a complex web of secrets and lies so shocking it could destroy the people left behind.

Leslie Wolfe introduces FBI Agent Tess Winnett in
Not Really Dead, a fast-paced, intense thriller about a serial killer who makes a terrible mistake.

Colleen Helme stuns with Behind Blue Eyes. A grisly murder along with a new client hiding a deadly secret is just the beginning for Shelby Nichols, mind reader extraordinaire. Don’t miss this exciting thriller!

In Amy Vansant’s exclusive novella Parental Kilt, the stars of her “Kilty” romantic suspense series, Catriona Phoenix and Brochan the Highlander, find themselves trapped in a serial killer’s maze during a movie wrap-party gone wrong. The serial killer was supposed to be dead, but the bodies are piling up…

Julie Smith brings a dazzling story of suspense, The Big Crazy. Detective Skip Langdon, NOPD, while navigating a world of chaos and betrayal after Hurricane Katrina, takes on a gang of rogue cops who may be acting as self-appointed executioners.

Lisa Regan’s Over The Edge is guaranteed to keep you up at night. When P.I. Jocelyn Rush witnesses a young mother jump from a bridge, she is determined to solve the mystery of why, and what she finds is a complex web of secrets and lies so shocking it could destroy the people left behind.

Get your copy:   Only 99 cents – Goodreads * Amazon

About the Authors


Lisa Regan is the USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the detective Josie Quinn series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a  Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter, and Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip.


Colleen Helme is the author of the bestselling Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, a wildly entertaining and highly humorous series about Shelby Nichols, a woman with the ability to read minds. When asked if reading minds is something Colleen wishes she could do she says, “No way! It gets Shelby into so much trouble that I would never want that ability.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. Besides writing, she loves reading, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.

Amy Vansant is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, specializing in fun, comedic reads about accident-prone, easily distracted women with questionable tastes in men. 

So, autobiographies, mostly. Ha! But seriously… She writes happy,  occasionally slightly twisted, thrilling, romantic comedies, mysteries, and urban fantasies.

Julie Smith is the author of more than twenty mysteries, most set in New Orleans and starring one or the other of her detective heroes, a cop named Skip Langdon, and a PI named Talba Wallis. (Both female, both tough and wily.) She also has two series set in San Francisco.
Her novel, NEW ORLEANS MOURNING, won the Edgar Allan Poe award for best novel. She changed direction in 2010, with her start-up digital publishing company, booksBnimble (www.booksBnimble.com), beginning with four books by friends. She later added other authors and got the rights back to her own books, Then in 2015 booksBnimble spun off bbnmarketing (www.bbnmarketing.com), with the aim of helping self-published authors find their audience and backlist print authors find their way back into the game.
Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina; Skip Langdon returned last year in MURDER ON MAGAZINE. But so many readers have asked–what did she do when Katrina struck? That story’s THE BIG CRAZY.
Website * Facebook * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Leslie Wolfe’s novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. Fascinated by technology and psychology, Leslie brings extensive background and research in these fields that empower and add texture to a signature, multi-dimensional, engaging writing style.
Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. It was very well received, including inquiries from Hollywood. Since then, Leslie published numerous novels and enjoyed growing success and recognition in the marketplace. Among Leslie’s most notable works, The Watson Girl (2017) was recognized for offering a unique insight into the mind of a serial killer and a rarely seen first person account of his actions, in a dramatic and intense procedural thriller.
A complete list of Leslie’s titles is available at http://wolfenovels.com/titles.
Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you. Become an insider: gain early access to previews of Leslie’s new novels!

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt From Over the Edge: A Jocelyn Rush Story
Lisa Regan

Molly
Five Years Ago

My feet pound along the packed-earth Wissahickon Creek trail. Sweat drips from the nape of my neck, down the length of my spine, and into the back of my shorts. It beads on my nose, falling as I run, and turns my hair, pulled tightly into a ponytail, slick and heavy on the back of my neck.

I’ve been running along this path four times a week for six months, and once every few times out, I manage to overtake him on the trail. I tried not to notice him, but all that lean muscle called out to me. I knew he saw me too. Then one day, as I ran past him, I turned and met his eyes. Blue fire. He smiled. I smiled back. I ran ahead. He followed.

From then on, it’s been a game we play.

This section of the creek trail is called Forbidden Drive. The irony isn’t lost on me the day something finally happens. The morning is fresh and dewy, sunlight slipping through the canopy of trees overhead, dappling everything around me. I see his back. Today he is shirtless, and every muscle in his back and shoulders ripple, glistening with sweat. I run up beside him, closer this time. When I turn to catch his eye, there is something there that wasn’t before. An acknowledgment. I see you, those fiery blue eyes seem to say. I know what you want. I run ahead.

Far ahead but not so far that he loses sight of me. I veer off the trail at a break in the trees, my feet crushing the brush beneath them. I hear a snapping twig behind me, and I know he’s there.

I stop when I reach a kind of clearing. It’s big enough, private enough. I put my hands against a tree trunk, leaning over, my breath coming fast and hard from the slightly uphill run through uneven terrain. He doesn’t talk. Hands grip my hips, digging into the flesh. Hot breath slides down the nape of my neck. It doesn’t take long. We’re not wearing much to begin with, and our bodies are already shiny and wet with sweat. Once we’ve both shuddered with satisfaction, we part ways, wordless.

It happens a few more times after that. No words. No names. Then the winter sets in, and I turn to the treadmill for my daily jog. Sometimes at night, lying in bed, I close my eyes and remember how he felt, the way his blue eyes caught me in their snare. I  remember the way my body reacted to the things he did. The risks I took.

I’m glad it’s over. It was only a dream. A kinky fantasy. Fleeting. Gone forever.

I think I won’t ever see him again.

Review & Giveaway: DEATH BY COMMITTEE by Alexis Morgan

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Description

DeathbyCommitteeWhen Abby McCree suddenly inherits her favorite relative’s property in small town Snowberry Creek, Washington, she soon realizes that the ramshackle home comes with strings attached—one of which is tied to a dead body!

After a rough divorce, Abby McCree only wants to stitch up her life and move on. But other loose ends appear after her elderly Aunt Sybil passes away, leaving Abby to tend to a rundown estate, complete with a slobbery Mastiff of questionable pedigree and a sexy tenant who growls more than the dog. As Abby gets drawn into a tight-knit quilting guild, she makes a twisted discovery—Aunt Sybil’s only known rival is buried in her backyard!

Despite what local detectives say, Abby refuses to accept that her beloved aunt had anything to do with the murder. While navigating a busy social calendar and rediscovering the art of quilting, she launches an investigation of her own to clear Aunt Sybil’s name and catch the true culprit. The incriminating clues roll in, yet Abby can’t help but wonder—can she survive her new responsibilities in Snowberry Creek and still manage to patch together a killer’s deadly pattern without becoming the next victim?

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of three copies of Death by Committee.

My Review

Recently divorced, Abby  is starting over in a new place. Before she has finished setting into the house she inherited from her aunt, a body is found on the property.   She has also inherited a large, loveable, and fiercely  protective dog – Zeke – and a fine looking tenant, Tripp.  So fine that the elderly ladies of the quilting guild practically drool when committee meetings are held at the house. But Abby’s not looking for romance – she’s busy serving on committees,  hunting down missing quilts, and attempting to find a murderer.  The plot itself was interesting, with a few twists along the way.  An enjoyable read with a well developed plot, this is a nice start to a cute new cozy series. I look forward to reading more about Abby and Tripp in the future.   Although the quilting guild plays a key role in the story, this non-quilter was glad to see that the author didn’t go into unnecessary detail about the craft itself – meaning this light cozy can be enjoyed by non-quilters and quilters alike.  

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book. This has not affected my review in any way.

About the Author

ALEXIS-MORGANUSA Today Best-selling author Alexis Morgan has always loved reading and now spends her days imagining worlds filled with strong alpha heroes and gutsy heroines. She is the 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; and contemporary romances. She is excited to say that next year will also see the release of her first cozy mystery series. Alexis has been nominated for several industry awards, including the RITA, the top award in the romance genre.

Author Links:

Purchase Links – AmazonB&N –  KoboGooglePlay  –  IndieBound 

Click here to view the full list of stops on this tour.

Guest Post & Giveaway: A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE and Royal Weddings by Alyssa Maxwell

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Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am to host Alyssa Maxwell as she celebrates the recent release of  A Murderous Marriage (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery).  In today’s post she talks about her love for royal weddings.


Royal Weddings by Alyssa Maxwell

Who doesn’t love a Royal Wedding? My guess is, if you’re reading this post, you have an affinity for all things British, and royal weddings are high on your list. I’ve been an avid royal watcher since Princess Diana hit the world stage nearly forty years ago. You see, she and I were married in the same year, in the same month, a mere ten days apart. Mine was first, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t tune in to watch my hubby and I say our I dos. But I most definitely watched hers.

I tuned in again a few years later for Andrew and Fergie’ wedding. And then Edward and Sophie’s, and so on and so on, right up to last year when I sat glued to the TV for Harry and Meghan’s fairytale nuptials at Windsor Castle, one of the most beautiful setting’s imaginable. If you’re like me, you wish you could have overheard whatever Meghan and her mother said to each other as the car turned up the main drive and the castle came into view. I imagine there were loud gasps of disbelief. Surely they both believed they were dreaming.

And shouldn’t a wedding be just like a dream? I think so, and while mine wasn’t royal, it certainly was dreamy, held at an elegant French restaurant in a mansion built by J.P. Morgan in the 1920s in South Salem, NY. The ceremony took place in a stone courtyard above a flower-strewn meadow with a pond, where deer often grazed. It was a beautiful afternoon framed by the misty blue foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Our day was as close to perfect as can be.

Actually, I’m not just a fan of the royals or royal weddings. I love weddings in general, especially the gowns, and can happily scroll through picture after picture of beautiful wedding gowns, both vintage and modern, on Pinterest. Or binge watch Say Yes to the Dress. Returning, for the moment, to the royal weddings, I’ll admit liked Sarah Ferguson’s dress better than Diana’s, which I thought was overdone and altogether too fussy. More like something a doll would wear. Sarah’s gown, on the other hand, spoke of the sophistication of an independent, modern woman. I found the dress worn by Sophie, w2 Countess of Wessex, a tad ordinary, but all in all appropriate for a “smaller” wedding, which it was in comparison to the former two. Kate’s gown is my favorite, being tasteful, flattering, perfectly suited to her figure and her public persona. Meghan’s, while lovely in its simplicity, could have been better tailored to show off her figure (I know I’m far from alone in that opinion). Princess Eugenie’s seemed a bit stiff to me, maybe a little too structured, but her decision to wear a plunging back that showed the surgery scar from her scoliosis was a brave choice. Do you have a favorite among the royal wedding dresses?

So, royal watcher and wedding fan that I am, is it any wonder that I’d get around to writing a wedding story? But here’s the thing: A MURDEROUS MARRIAGE is no fairytale—far from it. I chose a beautiful setting – West Cowes on the Isle of Wight, in full view of the Solent waterway. Unfortunately, it’s a blustery, drizzly, bleak April day, the sort of day when the sun doesn’t dare show its face. The bride, of course, is beautiful. Lady Julia is reputed to be the most beautiful of the Renshaw sisters, and she’s wearing her great grandmother’s veil, made of Honiton lace designed by William Dyce, who also designed the lace for Queen Victoria’s wedding gown. Julia’s dress, however, is completely modern, the height of fashion in 1920—a sleek garment of ivory satin with an overlay of beaded lace, a drop waist, and whisper-sheer sleeves. Julia’s sisters, Phoebe and Amelia, who will serve as her attendants, are dressed in matching silk organza frocks. The wedding feast has been catered on the mainland, at the Royal Yacht Squadron, and ferried out to the groom’s yacht waiting on the Solent. In the morning, the happy couple will set sail on their honeymoon. The weather aside, everything is perfect …

w3Actually, it isn’t—it really isn’t—as the title of the book implies. But then again, despite the pomp and ceremony, the horse-drawn carriages, the magnificent gowns, and the miles and miles of cheering spectators, Diana’s and Fergie’s weddings were no fairy stories either, were they? Who could have guessed how spectacularly both of those marriages would implode? And how can Julia, or any of her family, guess what the next hours will bring?

So, on that ominous note, you are cordially invited to join friends and family in celebrating the marriage of Lady Julia Renshaw to Gilbert Townsend, Viscount Annondale. Can we count on your being there?


About A Murderous Marriage

Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, are preparing for a wedding, but it may not be the happy occasion everyone hopes for . . .
 
MurderousMrrgSince the Great War, some family fortunes have suffered, including those of the Renshaws. Despite being the granddaughter of an earl, Julia Renshaw is under pressure to marry for money—and has settled for Gilbert Townsend, a viscount and a wealthy industrialist. He is decades older than Julia, and it’s clear to her sister Phoebe—and to Eva, who has been like a surrogate mother to the girls—that this is not a love match. Nevertheless, the wedding takes place—and in a hurry.

At the reception aboard the groom’s yacht, there appears to be tension between Gil and several guests: his best man, a fellow veteran of the Boer War; his grouchy spinster sister; and his current heir, a nervous young cousin named Ernest. The bride is also less than pleased when she discovers that her honeymoon will be more crowded than expected—with Gil’s pretty secretary, among others, coming along.

That very night, Julia pounds on her sister’s door, brandishing a bandaged hand and reporting a hot-tempered outburst on her new husband’s part. Julia is feeling doubt and regret about her hasty decision, but returns to the boat. Then the next morning, before the yacht can depart the harbor, Gil’s body is found in the water below—and Phoebe and Eva must discover who pushed him over . . . before the Renshaws’ social standing is irreparably stained by Julia’s arrest for his murder . . .

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win one of three print copies of A Murderous Marriage.

About the Author

Alyssa-outside-2Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a novelist. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she loves to watch BBC productions, sip tea in the afternoons, and delve into the past. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books at www.alyssamaxwell.com.

Author Links

Twitter  Facebook – Webpage – GoodReads – Mailing List

Purchase Links – AmazonB&N  – KoboGooglePlay 

Spotlight & Giveaway: BROKEN HEART ATTACK by James J. Cudney

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to shine the spotlight on a new Braxton Campus Mystery from James J. Cudney Broken Heart Attack.  Sounds like a good one. Check it out!

Description

HeartattackWhen an extra ticket becomes available to see the dress rehearsal of King Lear, Kellan tags along with Nana D and her buddies.

When one of them dies of an apparent heart attack in the middle of second act, Nana D raises her suspicions and asks Kellan to investigate the death. With family members suddenly in debt and a secret rendezvous between an unlikely pair, Kellan learns that the Paddingtons might not be as clean-cut as everyone thinks.

But can Kellan find the killer, or will he get caught up his own stage fright?

You can get the book on Amazon.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy of Broken Heart Attack.

About the Author

Cudnety200x300James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College with a degree in English literature. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries. I frequently blog and publish book reviews on everything I read at ThisIsMyTruthNow via WordPress.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball,, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!

List of Books & Blog

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Follow James on:

Click here to view a full list of the stops on this tour.

Review & Giveaway: THE PLUNGE by Nancy G. West

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces the new newest release from Nancy G. West  – The Plunge (An Addie Mundeen Lake Mystery).

Description

perf6.000x9.000.inddWhen Aggie Mundeen accompanies San Antonio Detective Sam Vanderhoven on a weekend getaway to Lake Placid, she thinks it’s going to be fun in the sun. What could be better than caretaking a friend’s cottage on the Guadalupe River in Central Texas? Never mind that Sam intends to discretely investigate the theft of that friend’s boat…

Unfortunately, the weather has plans of its own. Buckets of rain and gusting winds roil the lake, turning the peaceful Guadalupe into an angry, raging river. As darkness descends, lightning reveals two people arguing on a dock across the river. When lightning flashes again, they are gone. Did Aggie and Sam witness an accident? A drowning? A murder?

The Plunge sweeps readers along with the threat of looming disaster, helpless before an untamable force, where sleuthing takes a back seat to survival…

My Review

Torrential rains, flooding, and life or death situations are the central themes in this mystery, which offers a moving  tribute to the emergency personnel charged with assisting the public in time of natural disaster.  Aggie and Sam must focus on making it through the storm before they can attempt to figure out what happened that night, and who stole Sam’s friend’s boat. The last line of the description sums it up – sleuthing definitely took a back seat to survival in this book.  As a result, the mystery was not as well developed as in earlier Aggie Mundeen mysteries, and the resolution felt a bit rushed. Nonetheless, it was an interesting read, and I look forward to reading more about Aggie’s adventures.

FTC Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book. This has not affected my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click here to enter for a chance to win a digital copy of The Plunge.

PlungeNancy_2015About the Author

Nancy G. West is the author of award-winning suspense and the Aggie Mundeen Mystery Series. Each book in the series has either won or been nominated for an award. The Plunge, Lake Mystery #1, takes Aggie in a new direction.

Purchase LinkAmazon

Guest Post & Spotlight: TO FETCH A THIEF

TO-FETCH-A-THIEF-BANNER-184As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have as my guest today the authors in To Fetch a Thief – an anthology of light dog-themed cozy mysteries.  They’re a great bunch, and they are doing such a fine job of squishing together on my virtual sofa to share the spotlight.


Thoughts about Writing from the TO FETCH A THIEF Authors 

Teresa Inge, Header Weidner, Jayne Ormerod and Rosemary Shomaker

What is the one thing about the writing life that you didn’t know until you were published?

Jayne: How difficult the marketing phase of things would be. I guess I thought these books would just sell themselves!

Heather: I didn’t realize how much marketing went into the book business. It takes a great deal of time to promote your work. You need to balance the writing/editing time with your promotions.

Rosemary: Until I was published, I didn’t understand the role of an editor and that the role may be different from story to story or book to book. Some editors require you accept their suggestions and changes unless you have some compelling reason to not accept them. Luckily, my first editor was a mentor and taught me what was expected and how much to discuss or argue or disagree with an editor. Other editors were unclear on the editing process logistics—the how to indicate changes or indicate non-acceptance of editing. I’ve had some snafus where edits, both mine and the editor’s, were not properly reflected in a story, and that’s frustrating.

Teresa: That I have to market, promote, and sell my books. I’ve learned a lot about promotion and scheduling book signings.

How long did it take you to get your first work published (from creation to actual book)? What was your first published work?

Jayne: I wear the “100-rejection” badge of honor. It took me almost six years to get The Blond Leading the Blond published by Avalon Books. I finally got noticed because my first chapter was a finalist in a mystery writing contest in which the final judge was the publisher.

Heather: My first mystery to be published was a short story, “Washed up” in Virginia is for Mysteries, a Sisters in Crime anthology. It took about six months to write and polish. Then the book editing/proofreading/formatting process took probably another eight months or so. My first mystery novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes took me about five years to write and rewrite and rewrite. When it was finally accepted for publication, it took another seven months to become a book.

Rosemary: The first item I had published for pay was a short story I’d written during a long weekend. Once I submitted the story, the gentle editing needed from my end took only an afternoon. “A Fish By Any Other Name” was included in A Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas, the first of the Shaker of Margaritas series, in 2010.

Teresa: I was part of a creative writing group at a community college and my first story was published in a book with that group. It was around six months after my story was accepted.

Plotter (one who plans or plots out every detail of her writing) or Pantser (one who writes by the seat of her pants)?

Jayne: Plotter. You should see my story board!

Heather: I’m a hybrid. I start out as a detailed plotter, and then I write. The story and the characters always go where they want to go.

Rosemary: I’m a pantser—autocorrect keeps changing this to “panther,” and that’s funny to me because if I were an animal, I most certainly would not be a panther. I’d be a duck or some other bird, I think. But I digress. So, I am a seat-of-the-pants writer with plotter tendencies. Being a pantser is much more fun, if you ask me. Early on I thought I was a plotter because I’m very analytical. I was highly organized for the first part of my life. When I became a parent, all that flew out the window. The first story I consciously totally plotted revealed I was a pantser. By the time I finished plotting that story to the nth degree, I was so sick of the story that I didn’t want to write it. The beauty of a pantser is the creative flow. The raw material for the story emerges organically—“pantsing”—and the rewrite and editing phases allow me to be as analytical as I want to be on a project. That’s a good mix for me.

Teresa: Both. I like to plot and be creative, so I can follow where the character takes me.

What advice would you have for a new writer?

Jayne: Don’t ever, ever give up. It’s a long, long road to publication, but it’s worth it!

Heather: Be persistent. If you want to be published, keep at it. Keep writing. Keep learning, and don’t give up.

Rosemary: My advice to a new writer is two-fold. First, pick a genre. Second, join a writing group dedicated to that genre. Many new writers I meet dabble in several genres, and this wastes a lot of time, in my opinion. Much learning about professional fiction writing is transferable among genres, but one must commit to only one in order to show his or her serious intent and gain the trust of that selected genre’s writing community. For me, meeting mystery writers and hearing their explanations of “this is how mystery writers do it” was the beginning of fruitful learning.

This advice has been rejected by a few new writers who don’t see why they have to limit themselves. I’m not talking about limits. I’m suggesting concentration. I advise new writers to immerse themselves in maybe one or two genres at a time, if they really won’t choose one only. I also suggest that they not share about their dual commitments in either writing community and just focus on whatever genre project or group they attend or work with, independent of the other group. In my mind, a new writer (with a day job) could immerse himself or herself in one genre and one genre community for two years and learn enough to know if it’s his or her writing “home” for the foreseeable future.

Teresa: Go to conferences and workshops. And write. These will help develop your craft.

To Fetch a Thief is the first in the Mutt Mysteries collection. Tell us about your real dogs and what they do while you write.

Jayne: We have two rescues, Tiller and Scout. They are still puppies. I can only write while they are napping. The little one likes to curl up next to me on the sofa and rest his head on my keyboard. That is a challenge! And a distraction! But giving me lots of fodder for future cozies featuring dogs! Already working on my second Mutt Mystery.

Heather: My two Jack Russell Terriers (Disney and Riley) have beds in my office on either side of my desk. Sometimes, they help me plot or listen as I talk through dialogue. Most of the time, they snooze.

Rosemary: My dog is my comfort animal. As I raised my children, our first family dog, Mabel, and our second family dog, Current, were the loving beings in my home with the least needs. And bless their hearts, after home, house, and family needs were met, these dogs were there to provide me with easy, nonjudgmental companionship. I am not a nurturer, so family nurturing took a lot out of me. When I was exhausted and crabby, my dogs nurtured me. Now my kids are grown and my current pooch, our second family dog, “Current,” has a new role. He tears me away from my obsessing about writing and other projects and reminds me to go outside for a walk or to work in the yard with him for company. He seems to know when I really need a break. He reminds me to give him food and water, and thusly to meet my human needs to eat and drink and to step away from too much concentration and relax. He’s usually in the dog bed in my son’s old room while I write in another room nearby. He’ll walk in and interrupt me when it’s time he and I do something else.

Teresa: My dogs are Luke and Lena, both shepherd mixed. They are named after my husband’s grandparents and love to sit by me when I write.


Fetch-cover-for-ebookAbout To Fetch a Thief

To Fetch a Thief, the first Mutt Mysteries collection, features four novellas that have gone to the dogs. In this howlingly good read, canine companions help their owners solve crimes and right wrongs. These sleuths may be furry and low to the ground, but their keen senses are on high alert when it comes to sniffing out clues and digging up the truth.

Make no bones about it, these pup heroes will steal your heart as they conquer ruff villains.

The Stories

“Hounding the Pavement” by Teresa Inge
Catt Ramsey has three things on her mind: grow her dog walking service in Virginia Beach, solve the theft of a client’s vintage necklace, and hire her sister Emma as a dog walker.  But when Catt finds her model client dead after walking her precious dogs Bella and Beau, she and her own dogs Cagney and Lacey are hot on the trail to clear her name after being accused of murder.

“Diggin’ up Dirt” by Heather Weidner
Amy Reynolds and her Jack Russell Terrier Darby find some strange things in her new house. Normally, she would have trashed the forgotten junk, but Amy’s imagination kicks into high gear when her nosy neighbors dish the dirt about the previous owners who disappeared, letting the house fall into foreclosure. Convinced that something nefarious happened, Amy and her canine sidekick uncover more abandoned clues in their search for the previous owners.

“Dog Gone it All”  by Jayne Ormerod
Meg Gordon and her tawny terrier Cannoli are hot on the trail of a thief, a heartless one who steals rocks commemorating neighborhood dogs who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But sniffing out clues leads them to something even more merciless…a dead body! There’s danger afoot as the two become entangled in the criminality infesting their small bayside community. And, dog gone it all, Meg is determined to get to the bottom of things.

“This is Not a Dog Park” by Rosemary Shomaker
“Coyotes and burglaries? That’s an odd pairing of troubles.” Such are Adam Moreland’s reactions to a subdivision’s meeting announcement. He has no idea. Trouble comes his way in spades, featuring a coyote . . . burglaries . . . and a dead body! A dog, death investigation, and new female acquaintance kick start Adam’s listless life frozen by a failed relationship, an unfulfilling job, and a judgmental mother. Events shift Adam’s perspective and push him to act.

Links to the Book:

Amazon *   Apple    *   Barnes and Noble    *   Books to Read    *    Kobo   *   Overdrive   *  24 Symbols   

About the Authors

Teresa-and-dogs-croppedTeresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sister’s in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries and 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Heather Weidner, a member of SinC – Central Virginia and Guppies, is the author of the Heather-and-Disney-SizedDelanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, Secret Lives and Private Eyes and The Tulip Shirt Murders. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. Heather lives in Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers, Disney and Riley. She’s been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. Some of her life experience comes from being a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, IT manager, and cop’s kid. She blogs at Pens, Paws, and Claws.

S-Parrott-9Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck. She has contributed seven short mysteries to various anthologies to include joining with the other To Fetch a Thief authors in Virginia is for Mysteries, Volumes I and II, and 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Rosemary Shomaker writes about the unexpected in everyday life. She’s the woman Rosie-and-Dogyou don’t notice in the grocery store or at church but whom you do notice at estate sales and wandering vacant lots. In all these places she’s collecting story ideas. Rosemary writes women’s fiction, paranormal, and mystery short stories, and she’s taking her first steps toward longer fiction, so stay tuned. She’s an urban planner by education, a government policy analyst by trade, and a fiction writer at heart. Rosemary credits Sisters in Crime with developing her craft and applauds the organization’s mission of promoting the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers.

Review & Giveaway: ONE TASTE TOO MANY by Debra H. Goldstein

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading One Taste Too Many –  the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Debra H. Goldstein.

Description

For culinary challenged Sarah Blair, there’s only one thing scarier than cooking from scratch—murder!

One-Taste-Too-Many3864Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired hometown she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant . . .

Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!

Includes quick and easy recipes!

My Review

Sarah was a fun character and easy to relate to. For me anyway. Maybe that’s because my cooking skills aren’t a whole lot better than hers.  And when it comes to investigating her ex’s murder and proving her sister’s innocence, her loyalty shines through.  She is able to identify potential suspects with a variety of motives, however an unexpected twist complicates matters – making it harder to identify the true course of events and who was behind them.  This well written read is sure to be enjoyed by  lovers of culinary cozies.

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

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway or a chance to win one of three print copies of One Taste Too Many.

About the Author

Debra-HeadshotJudge Debra H. Goldstein’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series debuts from Kensington Press debuts with One Taste Too Many. She also is the author of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery and the 2012 IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Besides novels, Debra writes short stories. Her short story, The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place, in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017) is an Agatha Award Short Story Nominee. In addition to being the Sisters in Crime Guppy President, Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime board and is Vice-President of the Southeast Region of Mystery Writers of America.

Purchase Links:  Amazon  B&N  Kobo  Google Play