Thursday, August 27, 2015

Guest Post: DIANE BURTON Author of The Case of the Bygone Brother

Today it is my pleasure to have Diane Burton, author of The Case of the Bygone Brother, as my guest to talk about small towns:
Small Towns by Diane Burton

When I was seven, we moved to a rural farming area where everyone either knew each other or were related. Except us. I went to a one-room schoolhouse. The second grade “class” consisted of two cousins and me. Awkward. Eventually, the township expanded, population-wise, became a city, and is now a Detroit suburb.

I’ve lived in suburbs, cities, small towns, and now I live in a lakeshore resort town. There is a commonality in all those communities. The natives—those born there. I remember being surprised when I heard a merchant say he wasn’t a native, even though he’d been there for thirty-plus years. Even in ever-expanding suburbs, there are the natives and those who aren’t.

While writing the first of my Alex O’Hara stories, I knew she had to be a native—born in the fictitious Lake Michigan resort town where she’s a private investigator. She knows everybody. Well, almost everybody until the construction of new luxury homes north of town. The chief of police used to cut her parents’ lawn. His wife was her babysitter. One of the deputies had been in her class since kindergarten, which was also where she met her best friend. Being a native gives her access to resources an outsider wouldn’t have. If she didn’t go to school with them, they knew her dad.

Her father and his business partner started the investigation agency nearly fifty years ago and only recently turned it over to Alex then retired to Arizona. Older members of the community (including the police chief) find it necessary to remind her that 1) she’s a girl and 2) question her father’s wisdom in “letting” her be a detective. In response, she smiles through gritted teeth. Small towns have their pluses and minuses. Just like any community.

Small towns also have mysteries, people have secrets, and crime knows no boundaries. Alex is never out of work.

- Diane's Media Links: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page
- Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books | Smashwords
- Genre: Romantic Suspense

Alex O’Hara finally gets a case that will give her bottom line a much needed boost. She might even be able to change her diet from ramen noodles to prime rib. All she has to do is track down a man who’s been missing for over ten years. Piece of cake . . . until an old flame arrives and a mugger roughs her up with orders to back off.

She had trouble written all over her.
Like a scene out of The Maltese Falcon, a beautiful woman begs the P.I. for help. Shades of Sam Spade, with a slight difference. The elegantly-dressed woman pounding on my plate glass window was more than twenty years older than me and, even though my name is Alex O’Hara, I’m not male. But I am a PI —O’Hara & Palzetti, Confidential Investigations since 1965. Not that I’ve been around since 1965.
As soon as I unlocked the outer door, the woman burst through, a few maple leaves stuck to her Manolo’s. Frankly, I was surprised she wore only a sweater. She must have been freezing out there. In spite of the fact that it was mid-October, the temp had dipped that afternoon to the low forties. We might even get frost.
“Ms. O’Hara, thank God you’re still here. I was so afraid—” She broke off on a sob. Taking a small, white, lace-edged handkerchief out of her Louis Vitton purse, she dabbed at her eyes.
Now I’m not one to belittle a person’s worries. However, I thought she switched a little too quickly from imperious knocking to damsel in distress.
Damsel? Not quite. I pegged her around fifty-five, give or take a few years, and well-preserved. Even in her Manolo’s, she only came up to my chin. Next to her I felt like a hulking giant. Since I’m five-ten in my socks, I look down on most women. Despite her elaborate up-do, from my angle I could see her roots. A visit to her hairdresser might be in order. But I digress.
“What can I do for you?” I tried not to sneeze from her overpowering perfume. An oriental scent. Shalimar or Opium. I never knew which was which. I tried them on at the perfume counter at Macy’s. That’s the closest I’d ever get to wearing expensive perfumes.
“I need your help.” Her breathy voice reminded me of Marilyn. As in Monroe, not Manson.
Because Pop loved old movies, I became addicted to them. Just like I did with detective novels. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew, moved on to the likes of Daphne duMaurier and P.D. James before graduating to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I watched Masterpiece Mystery on PBS and every movie Alfred Hitchcock made. In my teens, I watched reruns of Remington Steele. Once, I wore a fedora like Laura’s to work. The Pops laughed so hard I never did again.
I ushered the woman into my office with its mahogany paneling and closed the door. I held out my hand. “As you’ve guessed, I’m Alex O’Hara.” I looked at her expectantly.
She laid her hand in mine. I clasped hers firmly enough to reassure but gently enough not to crush the delicate bones beneath the cold skin.
“My name is Babette Rhodes. Babette Anslyn Rhodes.”
She perched on the visitor’s chair, her back finishing-school straight and knees pressed together. I took my place behind the desk in the big leather chair that had been Pop’s. While she twisted the handkerchief, I stacked the bookkeeping papers and tucked them into the top desk drawer. Once I placed a clean legal pad in front of me, I folded my hands on top ready for her story. A story that could solve my financial problems.
“Ms. O’Hara, I must ask you to keep what I am about to tell you in absolute confidence.”
“Of course.” Hadn’t she see the word confidential on the sign on the door?
“My brother is missing. I must find him.”

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blog Tour: KILLER RUN : A Tourist Trap Mystery by Lynn Cahoon


Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More—has somehow been talked into sponsoring a 5k race along the beautiful California coast. The race is a fundraiser for the local preservation society—but not everyone is feeling so charitable…

The day of the race, everyone hits the ground running…until a local business owner stumbles over a very stationary body. The deceased is the vicious wife of the husband-and-wife team hired to promote the event—and the husband turns to Jill for help in clearing his name. But did he do it? Jill will have to be very careful, because this killer is ready to put her out of the running…forever!


Jill and her aunt try to figure out the connection between the promotion company, the diner, and vandalism to the train store. Her information is helpful to her boyfriend, Greg, who is in charge of the homicide investigation, but isn't too thrilled with her investigating. He's worried that she will be hurt - or worse.  Jill, with the help of her aunt, unravels the threads that connect people, including the "tourist" who seems a bit off. 

This is the fifth in the Tourist Trap Mystery Series. Although Jill has built a reputation for solving murders in the previous books, it can easily be read as a stand alone. The pace is steady and the characters well-developed. Not surprising, mixed in with the mystery is romance. The 6th book, MURDER ON WHEELS, is on my TBR list. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About The Author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and two fur babies.

Author Links

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Sunday, August 9, 2015


Today, it's my pleasure to have Peggy Hattendorf, author and member of Rave Reviews Book Club, as my guest:

How Did I Decide To Write My Book?

The notion of writing a book started about nine years ago with a concept of a beautiful and wealthy young woman who flitted around the world socializing in the circles of the international elite from the worlds of business, politics, sports, fashion etc. She was the “jet setting” consummate “party girl.” As I continued to conceptualize my intended protagonist – the character fell flat and I couldn’t break through and write about her seemingly frivolous existence. She was shallow and one dimensional.

The idea of writing a novel was shelved for a long time, as I surmised if I was bored with the character my potential readers too would lose interest. I still brainstormed ideas – but I couldn’t write through my blockages. Frustrated and fraught with self doubt, I figured the whole book writing process best be left to highly creative individuals. 

But I was still motivated and something continued to gnaw at me – providing a glimmer of hope that maybe this wasn’t just a pipe-dream or unrealistic pursuit.

It was still long in coming but finally I had the striking realization - to recast my main character. While not abandoning the idea of a female lead, diligently I set out to craft the character with more depth and substance. She would be armed with a pedigree education starting in Swiss boarding school and culminating with advanced degrees from Harvard and Wharton. A step into the business world brought her to the family founded multi-national worldwide conglomerate, Barrington Holdings International. Groomed for this since she was a small child – it was all she ever knew. As the only child of Elizabeth Matthews Barrington and Jonathan Robert Barrington, she’s the presumed heir apparent. With a defining career in the makings, she labors with the tensions and discord of the contentious relationship with her father. Jonathan as the antagonist provides the perfect counterpoint. This entangled relationship spills over into her personal life as well as she continues not only to meet but exceed all his expectations. For the first time, I gave my character her name - Christiana Lynn Barrington.

This was pivotal in deciding to write – Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty. From that point forward, characters and storyline started to be defined and the book was formulated.

I welcome your comments or questions and am reachable at:

Author – Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty
Travel Editor – hers Magazine

Author Bio:
Peggy’s earlier careers helped cultivate and enrich her interest in writing. In her executive positions in the non-profit field, she had the opportunity to compose technical and operational handbooks for staff and volunteers for a number of name recognized organizations. Her management experience guided her to a multi-decade second career in the travel industry highlighted with the co-founding of a nationwide marketing consortium and independent contractor network. With over 5000 members, generating $180 million in annual sales, she wrote daily travel updates and news briefs distributed electronically to the membership. Today, she maintains an ambitious travel schedule and is the Travel Editor for hers Magazine where she writes travel feature articles and Hotel Review blog posts. In addition, she still serves on a number on non-profit boards. Her background with upscale and luxury travel products served as cornerstones in the character development and storyline of her first novel – “Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty.” She is currently working on her second book.

Author Contact:
Twitter: @peggyhattendorf

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Blog Tour: KILLER WEDDING CAKE (Daphne Martin Cake Mystery) by Gayle Trent

Daphne Martin’s wedding to Ben Jacobs is only a couple of weeks away. An award-winning cake decorator, Daphne is busy designing their wedding cake. Her twin nephew and niece, Lucas and Leslie, are excited about being in the wedding party. And Daphne’s brother-in-law Jason is planning a bachelor party for Ben. Everything is going beautifully until Daphne’s ex-husband Todd shows up. Just released from prison after serving a sentence based on his shooting a gun at Daphne, Todd comes to Brea Ridge to profess his undying love for her.

Despite Daphne’s attempts to make Todd leave town, he insists on hanging around to reconnect with people he used to know. When he’s found murdered, Daphne finds herself at the center of the investigation. Now she must track down Todd’s killer before she becomes the next victim. Can she still make it to the church on time?

Daphne has recovered from an abusive marriage and is about to marry Ben, the ideal husband.  Only her ex-husband shows up spouting his love after his 7 years in prison, freaking her out.  Then he's murdered and she has to identify the body. Then her wedding planner is murdered and it's beginning to look like Daphne may be a target as well.  

The description of Daphne's experiences married to Todd in contrast to her mother's perception of Todd (such a gentleman) is well done and adds an emotional layer to the story. Amidst the family turmoil, pre-wedding jitters, bachelor party planning, and baking of the wedding cake, the tension regarding the murders rises steadily.  Trent does a great job of keeping all the parts moving and coming together with unexpected (and sometimes humorous) twists and turns.  

About The Author
Gayle Trent (and pseudonym Amanda Lee) writes the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating series and the Embroidery Mystery series. The cake decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Blog Stop: Heather M. Gardner's MAGUIRE'S CORNER NOVELS

Already Home (A Maguire's Corner Novel - Book 1)
by Heather M. Gardner
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Published by: InkSpell Publishing
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Re-Release Date: May 30, 2015
Length: 176 Pages

Coffee shop owner Maggie Maguire doesn’t trust the new police chief her father hired to protect Maguire’s Corner. He’s a stranger, cold, bossy and annoyingly handsome. But, Maggie’s witnessed a serious crime and now someone’s trying to kill her. The man that aggravates her most might be the only one that can help her.

Police Chief Jack Munro likes his new job and his new town, and unfortunately he also likes the stubborn but beautiful town sweetheart. His self-imposed hands-off Maggie policy is about to be put to the ultimate test when he must keep her close to protect her while he tracks down a ruthless killer.

Determined to ignore Jack’s charms, Maggie attempts to help him unravel the mystery but when their lives hang in the balance she must decide how much she’s willing to risk to save the man she suddenly can’t resist.

One Good Catch (A Maguire's Corner Novel - Book 2)
by Heather M. Gardner
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books | All Romance Books
Published by: InkSpell Publishing
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Length: 173 Pages

Ignoring a recent trauma that affects her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but these situations aren’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might aggravate his best friend, but it’s her indifference that drives Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature puts her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing Kate and Rhys to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.

Excerpts - One Good Catch

Excerpt #1
“Hi,” Rhys said.

Kate continued to stare at him, and her mouth may have been hanging open a little. She actually wished for the ability to teleport out of the room. Grey eyes, the color of a winter sky before a storm, scrutinized her. More than powerful in color, sharp and penetrating, like an X-ray.

Rhys was big, bigger than she remembered, taking up all the space behind the half-round table. His mid-length, layered dirty-blond hair and tanned face and neck made her think of sun and sand at the beach.

Rhys frowned. “Can I help you?”

His face had gone from friendly to wary as she gawked at him. No man should be this good looking, which should be irrelevant because he’d always been good looking. After all, he had been voted biggest flirt and most likely to meet you under the bleachers back in high school.

All the forgotten feelings she’d had for him slammed into her at once. Puppy love, like, lust, frustration, admiration, desire—all emotions she’d experienced at one time or another and, some, really not so long ago.

Finally, Kate took a shaky breath and decided she’d better leave to keep from embarrassing herself any further. “No. No, thanks, I’m good.”

Turning, she slammed straight into her mother, who held a full pot of coffee. The hot liquid splashed onto Kate’s chest and soaked into her shirt, steaming her skin underneath.

“Son of a—”
Excerpt #2

Kate crossed her arms. “I’m not complicated.”

“Oh yes, you are. Incredibly complicated. And off limits.”

“Look, it was just a kiss. If you can’t handle a little first base, it’s your problem, not mine.”

Rhys stopped in front of her, shaking his head. “What?”

“I’m not some kid anymore, Rhys. I can kiss whomever I want. And I do. If you want to continue living by my brother’s rules, then I suggest you head back to the bar.”

“I guess I have more respect for Steve than to try and feel up his sister after being back in town for less than a day.”

“That’s fine. Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

“Fine. I’ll sleep just fine.”

“Then, goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” he said.

Rhys reached for her, his fingers tangling in her hair. He pulled her in to kiss her again. Kate enjoyed this kiss even more than the first one. It was full of his exasperation, plus his inevitable surrender, making it incredibly hot. Her victory was intoxicating.

Excerpt #3

Moving back he caged her against the wall with his arms and body. Leaning in, his lips hovering over hers, he stopped.

“What are we doing?” he asked, his voice hushed.

“I don’t know.”

“Tell me you want this.”

Kate shrugged. “You think I’m complicated.”

“You are complicated. This whole thing is complicated. It doesn’t mean I don’t want it.”

Rhys lifted one hand from the wall and placed his palm on her chest, over her heart, which tripled in speed under the warmth and weight of it.


“No,” he said, “You never call me Mac.”



Kate licked her lips, enjoying the way Rhys’s gaze followed the movement of her tongue. “Everyone calls you Mac.”

“You never do.”

“I didn’t know you noticed.”

“I’ve noticed lots of things.” Rhys closed the gap between them, kissing the corner of her mouth.

“Like what?”

“You taste amazing.” He kissed her lips lightly, drawing the bottom one between his own before releasing it. “Your eyes glitter in the sun.” His lips glided along her jaw. “You’re vulnerable right here.” He found the spot on her neck that had her holding her breath and biting down on her own lip.
Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

REVIEW: Murder Among Friends (Book 2 Off the Beaten Path Mystery Series) by Steve Demaree

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Thirteen people grow up in a small town and are friends in high school. After graduation, some of them leave town and head off in different directions. But ten years later, one of those thirteen is murdered, and every few weeks another one of the thirteen is either found murdered or is missing. Who is responsible? One of those thirteen, or someo
ne else?

A variation on Agatha Christie, people who were high school friends are dying one by one, and the picture from Jennifer's 13th birthday party of her and her friends is showing up. Only, as oft is the case, all but four have moved out of the small town, scattered and no one is making the connection.  Only one detective - my favorite character - keeps going back to Jennifer's hometown, convinced there must be a reason for the photo to be left behind. There are many twists and turns and possible suspects and motives. Mixed in there is some nostalgia surrounding the drive-in and amusement park that provided fun and entertainment, previously owned by Jennifer's parents. The pace is steady and the story interesting. This is a clean read and appropriate for young adults as well as other mystery lovers.

This is the second in the series, but easily can be read as a stand-alone.  The others in the series include: MURDER IN THE DARK (BOOK 1), A BRIDGE TO MURDER (BOOK 3), and A SMOKY MOUNTAIN MYSTERY (BOOK 4).