Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: MURDER IN NEWPORT (Liz Adams Mysteries) by Marilyn Dalla Valle


Liz and Garret Adams’ vacation to Newport, Rhode Island aboard their sailboat, Sloopy, resulted in a heart wrenching test of their love and marriage when Garret saw the image of his first love, Rebecca, standing on the aft deck of the luxury yacht, Party Girl, at Bannister’s Wharf. Torn by his feelings for his wife and Rebecca, who had disappeared without a trace almost thirty years before, Garret rode an emotional roller coaster into the hands of the police as the primary suspect of a gruesome murder in historical Blood Alley.
Although the evidence pointed to Garret and she was convinced that their marriage was over, Liz refused to give up on the man who had been her husband, her lover, but most of all, her friend. Forgetting her own pain, she pried into Garret’s relationship with Rebecca, only to find herself lost in a maze of deceit and misplaced loyalties. Through her persistence, Liz discovered the truth that shackled the killer and set the innocent free.


The appearance of Garret's old flame disrupts what started out as a pleasant sailing holiday.  Liz has always felt "second" to Rebecca, Garret's first love while Garret still has vivid memories of his time with Rebecca.  And now, Rebecca, her husband and daughter are on the yacht on the other side of the wharf unbeknownst to Garret and Liz.  Garret's work for Rebecca's rich and powerful husband is short lived.  No sooner has Garret had a public argument with the man, and the man is found dead.  As Liz and Garret try to figure out who is trying to set him up, they discover more secrets - more fuel for the emotional rollercoasters they both are experiencing.

A well-written tale, with some historical references woven throughout. This is the second in the Liz Adams Mysteries - MURDER IN MYSTIC being the first. With some Connecticut roots myself, I will be adding that one to my TBR pile for sure.  Of note, both of these are available in kindle, paper, AND audio.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: HARBOR OF LIES (Paradise Valley Mystery Series) by Debra Burroughs


The captivating romance between sassy private-eye Emily Parker and sexy police detective Colin Andrews has been filled with mystery, danger, and intrigue. He’s finally convinced her to marry him—if only they can make it to the altar unscathed. Days before the wedding, when Emily discovers a dead body outside her hotel room door, she and Colin, along with their wedding party, are drawn into another murder mystery, once more putting their love and commitment to the test. Can they solve the murder and make it to the altar before someone else winds up dead?


HARBOR OF LIES is Book 6 in the Paradise Valley Mystery Series and was released in March 2014.  This is a favorite series of mine, and this book was as good as others!  

Emily and Colin continue to be very likable, and Emily's various friends continue to provide support as she seeks to find answers - some of which inevitably involve her deceased and deceitful husband, Evan. Evan's lies continue to haunt her and make her doubt her own judgment and her decision to marry Colin.  How can she marry Colin when she imagines she sees Evan's face in the crowd or catches a scent of his aftershave?  Their love and commitment are definitely put to the test, as is at least one of Emily's friendships. Compelling read with great characters and interesting twists, not only of plot but of emotions.

***The Paradise Valley Mysteries***
The Scent of Lies: Book 1
The Heart of Lies: Book 2
The Edge of Lies: A Bridge Short Story between Books 2 and 3, the story of Evan & Emily
The Chain of Lies: Book 3
The Pursuit of Lies: Book 4
The Color of Lies: a Bridge Short Story between Books 4 and 5, the story of Colin & Miranda
The Betrayal of Lies: Book 5
The Harbor of Lies: Book 6
(*Most enjoyable if these books are read in order.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: BLACK CAT'S LEGACY (Black Cat Mysteries) by Elaine Faber


Thumper, the resident Fern Lake black cat, knows where the bodies are buried and it’s up to Kimberlee to decode the clues.

Kimberlee’s arrival at the Fern Lake lodge triggers the Black Cat’s Legacy. With the aid of his ancestors' memories, it’s Thumper's duty to guide Kimberlee to clues that can help solve her father's cold case murder. She joins forces with a local homicide detective and an author, also researching the murder for his next thriller novel. As the investigation ensues, Kimberlee learns more than she wants to know about her father. The murder suspects multiply, some dead and some still very much alive, but someone at the lodge will stop at nothing to hide the Fern Lake mysteries.

Product Details


Kimberlee and her daughter are set for Oregon, leaving behind a failed marriage and too many secrets.  A problem with a tire causes them to exit at Fern Lake in hopes of finding a mechanic.  Only when she is checking into the cabin at Fern Lake does Kimberlee remember that she lived in the house next door - deserted but not sold since she and her mother left after her father died.  Jack takes one look at little Amanda and sees Kimberlee when she was 3 years old - when they left Fern Lake so long ago.  

On a different mission, Brett arrives in Fern Lake to see if he can solve the cold case murder of so many years ago for his next true crime book.  He doesn't count on the many secrets that will be unveiled as he asks questions of the people who still live there, as well as of Kimberlee.  He doesn't count on falling for Kimberlee.  Thumper (Black Cat) watches it all unfold, knowing from the memories of his ancestors that this is a legacy that must be told. With its twists and turns, this was a great "by the pool" read! Looking forward to more "Black Cat Mysteries".


About Elaine Faber

Image of Elaine FaberElaine Faber's short stories have been published in magazines and multiple anthologies. She is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association.

Black Cat's Legacy is Elaine's debut fantasy cat-mystery novel, the first of a series of three involving Thumper, who solves mysteries with the aid of his ancestor's memories.

Elaine lives in Elk Grove, CA, with her husband of 51 years. (That's a marriage of 51 years, not a husband of 51 years!) They share their home with four house cats, and usually more, counting those who come to the door night and morning looking for a hand-out. Elaine's cat, Boots, is the inspiration for Thumper, the tuxedo cat in Black Cat's Legacy.

Find Elaine on Goodreads:

Thursday, May 15, 2014


The writing process is not always linear, and Sheridan is still trying to solve the murder of Justin Blake in the second book in the Cold Creek series, MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM.   Here is an excerpt from the working draft:

As Charlie and I walked toward the quad, a couple of students came over to meet Charlie.  She was thrilled and ate up the attention until they moved on.  There were some students playing ball in the quad.  I spotted some coeds grabbing some sun on blankets and others reading in the shade of the trees.  I skirted around the ball players with Charlie in tow and headed for the arboretum.  The crime scene tape was gone and without any hesitation I started us down the black path.
I could see the Virginia bluebells already and some of the other spring bloomers.  Soon along the arboretum paths would be combinations of bluebells, anemones, lady slippers, and azaleas.  Surprising how deadly some of these beautiful plants are and I kept a good watch over Charlie to be sure she didn’t eat any. I stopped to look at some buds and tried to identify them before starting to jog again.  I could hear some voices up ahead and assumed others were enjoying the flora and spring weather as well.
Charlie barked as we turned the corner.  We walked into a small clearing and stumbled on a group.  All conversation stopped, replaced with intense silence. Four males and one female stared at us.  The way they stood, they effectively blocked the path ahead.  They looked a bit tense and that tension was contagious.
“Hi! Nice day for a walk, don’t you think?” I offered as a friendly gesture though the tension wasn’t exactly conducive to friendliness.
The others looked to the oldest looking male who responded with a glare and snarled, “What are you doing here?”  His snarl and tone drew growls from Charlie.
Soothing Charlie, I answered, “Just taking my dog for a run and checking out the flowers. With all the excitement this week, I didn’t get to come see what was blooming.”
I hoped that my increased discomfort and distrust of this group wasn’t obvious.  I concentrated on appearing calm.  I soothed Charlie some more rather than make eye contact.  I certainly didn’t want to appear to be a threat.  Besides, while I soothed Charlie, I could observe them.
The leader of the pack looked to be in his early thirties, average height, on the muscular side.  He had a heavy beard. His hair was long and messy, falling into his face.  It looked coarse and he was definitely in need of a good barber. All in all his piercing blue eyes amidst all the dark hair were intimidating. 
The other three males seemed younger, maybe mid-twenties.  Still, none of them looked like the typical Cold Creek students I saw every day.  A little too rough around the edges for the private college.  Although they also sported facial hair, they didn’t look quite as rough and scruffy as the lead man though.  They stayed quiet, fidgeted some, and kept their eyes down.  
Only the female, also probably in her twenties, made even fleeting eye contact with me.  She had a tattoo of a rose on her wrist and her cropped black hair was frosted with hot pink and chartreuse stripes.  Not the norm at this college for sure.  She shifted her weight from one foot to another, the only sign that she too was nervous.
With what I hoped was a non-threatening expression, I stepped forward.  “Well, Charlie and I are going to be on our way.  I hope you enjoy your visit to the arboretum.”
I held my breath and focused on the trail straight ahead. The two guys blocking it moved slightly and I rushed Charlie through.  She still emitted a low growl and I kept up with comforting words.  I never looked back, but Charlie did a couple times.  That and the occasional twig snap suggested to me that one of them followed us at least for a few minutes. 
Thankfully, there was another curve in the path and another cutout about ten minutes later.  I sat down on the bench and pulled Charlie into my lap.  Although she’s a miniature sheltie, Charlie weighs about 35 pounds.  I held her in my arms and took some deep breaths.  I was aware that my heart raced. I was drenched from sweat and Charlie licked the sweat from my neck.  Realizing now how scared I was, I was glad I hadn’t wet my pants.

Charlie panted and I pulled out my water bottle and her collapsible bowl.  We both drank and I tried to calm down.  I didn’t hear any noises to suggest anyone was on the trail behind us.  The silence made me feel better.  Unfortunately, I had to figure out how to get back to the quad without using the path behind me. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: ORGANIZED TO DEATH (Tina Tales) by Jan Christenson


Back in her hometown of Newport, RI, Tina Shaw, twenty-nine, is picking up the pieces of her shattered life. She begins her first job as a professional organizer in a house filled with cardboard boxes and clutter, only to discover a dead body in an eerily neat baby nursery. She fears this career move may be a short one until the handsome but spooky new doctor persuades her to reorganize his office left in disarray by the former physician.

Ignoring the doctor's obvious interest in her, Tina begins seeing her former boyfriend. When he protests against her new profession, she realizes what a control freak he is. Then there's another old flame who is making her hotter by the minute. As she works through the office clutter, she learns the doctor has a possible motive for the killing. But when someone else is shot, the doctor has a solid alibi--Tina herself. Drawn unwillingly into the case, she searches for answers as her list of suspects multiplies. When the killer begins targeting Tina and her friends, she works harder to learn the murderer’s identity before someone else is found dead.

Tina leaves her job as a psychologist and returns home with her own secrets; she has decided to help people by organizing them rather than therapy. Her first client seems to have a problem with hoarding and that would have been overwhelming enough, but then she and her client go into the only neat room in the house and a dead body.  Small town secrets abound, starting with the "lunch bunch" mothers who meet once a month and are overprotective of their daughters.  Then, of course there's the daughters, two of whom are now dead, one of whom is Tina.  Admidst the murder and attempted murder, Tina is a magnet for attractive men.  There's Brandon, her old beau, who is comfortable; Hank who is exciting, mysterious and intense; and the new doctor, who doesn't quite fit and seems more than a little off.  In truth, there are a lot of things that seem a bit off, the real mystery being the event or reason for the odd combinations of events.  An interesting read and hard to put down.  This is the 3rd novel by Jan Christensen.  Hopefully there will be a second Tina tale in the future.

Learn more at her website:

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Part-time garden shop owner/part-time forensic botanist, Peggy Lee is trying to discover if the death of Ann Fletcher 20 years ago was an accident – or foul play. In return, she hopes to receive more information about her first husband’s death. She knows John Lee was murdered, but questions have arisen as to why he was killed. She is working with a private detective who stumbles across his own feet, but her Internet friend, Nightflyer, says that Harry Fletcher has the answers. When Harry is murdered by convallatoxin, from the lily of the valley plant, Peggy begins to understand her role in everything. Now she has to stay alive long enough to prove her theories – and keep her son, Paul out of trouble too!

This NEW release continues the story of Peggy Lee, a botanist associated with the medical examiner when there is a possible poisoning.  She still doesn't have closure on her husband's murder despite her marriage to Steve, who was John's FBI partner.  Her efforts to hide her own investigation from Steve and from her son backfire when the person who is supposed to have some of the answers is poisoned.  Peggy continues to work on the case but it gets complicated and potentially dangerous for Peggy. Even when many questions are answered, there are still some questions.  LETHAL LILY was only released last week, and I am hoping Joyce and Jim write fast.

About The Authors
Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with 
their family.

Tour Participants
May 5 – Back Porchervations – Review
May 6 – Our Wolves Den – Review
May 6 – Deal Sharing Aunt – Interview
May 7 – Brooke Blogs – Review
May 8 – Thoughts in Progress – Guest Post
May 9 – readalot – Review
May 10 – Christa Reads and Writes – Review
May 11 – OFF
May 12 – Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
May 13 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review
May 14 – Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post
May 15 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – Review
May 16 – Traci Andrighetti’s blog – Interview,
May 17 – Michele Lynn Seigfried’s Blog – Review, Guest Post
May 18 – OFF
May 19 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Guest Post
May 20 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review
May 21 – Community Bookstop – Guest Post

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Blog Tour: EMMA CHASE by Jen Khan

Emma Chase Book Cover Final 5x8 jpgHer life is turned upside down by the one man who should have protected her from it all.
Emma is a survivor. Her father, who has taken off to avoid paying his debts to a well known drug dealer, has kept her down her entire life and she's learned enough from living in his world to take care of herself, because no one else will.
She finally gets her shot at love when she meets the handsome and protective Braden Holt, only to be forced to turn her back on him to protect him from her father's enemies.
Tragedy strikes and Emma has to decide if she is going to do what she always does, build up walls to shut everyone out, or pick herself up with the help of her friends and the man who loves her.

This is a gripping story with a rapid pace.  It has it all - romance, suspense, a good plot.  The characters are well developed.  Emma Chase is well written. It is not for the faint of heart; it includes adult content.

I can feel myself coming to, and immediately the pain hits me throughout my entire body. My eyes blink at the brightness. As I slowly roll over, my stomach wretches and I vomit all over myself.
My body curls into a fetal position of its own accord, arms wrapping around my knees. I look at what I can see of myself, taking stock of my current situation. From what I can tell through my swollen eyes, my arms and legs are badly beaten, my shoulder is dislocated—which I can only tell because it happened to me a couple of times as a kid—my sweater is torn, and my pants are around my ankles.
I peel back the hair that is glued to the side of my face by a mixture of what must be dried blood and vomit. I wince when I feel the huge, painful lump growing on my right cheekbone.
I force myself to move. I rise up on all fours and crawl to the nearest wall. Putting my hands to the wall, I attempt to bring myself to my feet. My legs give out from under me and I collapse, throwing up again.
My head feels heavy, like I’m in a thick dark cloud. My memories are fuzzy. I look around the room, and my living room is trashed. Definitely signs of a struggle. What the hell? What’s going on?
That’s when it hits me with a jolt through my body. I begin to sob uncontrollably. My mind is finally catching on, and it all comes rushing back to me. I start to shake violently, so I curl back into a fetal position to try to stop it. The waves are massive, and the toll it takes on me is unbearable. I feel overwhelmed with emotion over these memories that keep hitting me. Like one devastating blow after another. I lack control over my body as shock takes its hold on me, dragging me deep into myself.
Oh my God!
The last thing I remember is entering my apartment, and before I could shut and lock the door, I was on the floor, flat on my stomach. “You stupid bitch,” I heard a man say. If I thought hard enough, I was almost able to recognize that voice. “I told your father that I would get to you one way or another if I didn’t get my money.”
“Your father knows better than to try to play me, darlin’” he growled.
Yes, I knew that voice.
At that moment of revelation, I was being lifted off the floor by my hair. I screamed and flailed my arms and legs, trying to make contact with my attacker to no avail.
He was angry, and I really didn’t think this was going to end well for me. He reached around and turned me to face him, but it was dark and I could barely make out his face. But I knew him. I could make it out just enough to know what I was dealing with. He backhanded me, my head snapped to the side, and then he punched me in the ribs. Next thing I knew, his fist made contact with my cheek and I went down hard on all fours. I had to get away, but I didn’t know where to go. I started to crawl to the door, my mind racing. The man kicked me over and over in the ribs and the stomach, and then he made contact with my head. I dropped to my stomach with a thud and tried to blink away the stars that were forming in front of my eyes. “Since Joe decided not to pay up, you will.”
I rolled to my side, holding my injured ribs with one hand and my head with the other, and through clenched teeth, I told him that I didn’t have enough to cover my father’s debts.
As if on cue, I heard him undo his zipper. “Well then, I can find other ways for you to settle Daddy’s debt.”
Jen Khan is that very unassuming gal at first sight due to her quiet nature, but look out when she lets you into her world. Buckle up and get ready for an adventure. You will find her at a party, or just out and about with friends sitting in the corner taking a minute to assess her surroundings and the people in it before she dives in with her quick witt, charm and slinging her endless supply of sarcasm. She’s a mom, aunt, teacher, dancing puppet to little people, chauffeur, walking ATM, and master of all things domestic. She loves her son, family, friends, wine, giggling, singing out of tune and dancing like a fool. She has a zest for life that rubs off on everyone in her presence.
Jen has always been an aspiring writer/author. She woke up one morning realizing that it was time to make it happen. She is a teacher by trade which allowed her to put her skills to use. You will find adventure, suspense and always romance in her books.
Jen lives in Northern Virginia with her son. When she needs a break from the daily chaos of her life, you can most likely find her going out for a run, on her treadmill or with her beloved Kindle in hand.
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