Monday, August 31, 2020

Blog Tour and Guest Post: CASTING CALL FOR A CORPSE The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries by Heather Haven

It's my pleasure to have Heather Haven as my guest today. She shares her writing adventure for this latest in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries. Welcome, Heather Haven.

When I began writing Casting Call for a Corpse, my latest mystery revolving around the Alvarez Family, I wanted to combine the ongoing characters from the series with a few characters from a play I penned some time ago. I also wanted to add a Scottish character in honor of my heart sister, who was adopted at birth and recently found her Scottish birth family. An homage, doncha know.

Frankly, I wasn't sure I could make it work. Some nights I lost sleep over whether or not I could pull this into anything readable. However, I really loved the characters from the play, in particular the internationally acclaimed actress, her loyal assistant, the Hispanic housekeeper, and a has-been writer who burned bright in his youth but had done little since. Putting Lee Alvarez, the protagonist of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, and the actress together was easy. Close in age, I found making them friends from way-back-when in New York City added reality and depth to my tale. Also lots of humor! The other characters were a little tougher to place but ultimately, I managed to do it.

As for the storyline, itself, that was different. I was never too sure if 'this' was too much or 'that' was enough. So I took the throw-all-the-spaghetti-on-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach. Not quite my style. I usually know the first chapter, where I want to go, and how I want the story to end. This time I had no idea of any of it. I was a panster to the nth degree.

Surprisingly, while writing the novel this method was freeing. If I had a thought, it was in. I'd deal with the validity of it later. I wound up with some not-so-nice Russian businessmen, a trendy restaurant, threatening letters, jewel thieves, secret tunnels, and even a Christmas tree farm. I mean, why not? Then I added an inside take on life backstage in the theater, which was a large part of my existence in my salad days. I still had sleepless nights, but at least I had written pages to show for them.

Months later, when I finished the final draft, I went back in and took out extraneous plots, substories, and innuendos that didn't work or were confusing. By that time, I actually had a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Hallelujah!

When I start a new novel it's almost like writing my first one. So far I've written thirteen novels, numerous novellas, and dozens of short stories. Not one of them has been easy or formulaic. True, I've developed a few tricks along the way. I believe I know what doesn't work. But what definitively works? You got me. But that never stops me from pressing on!



Super sleuth, Lee Alvarez, finds a dead man wearing a tuxedo in a friend’s bathtub during a soiree for San Francisco’s VIPs. And not just any friend, but an internationally acclaimed actress who recently came to live in San Francisco. And not just any bathtub, but a bathtub residing inside one of Alamo Square’s famed Painted Ladies, recently bought by said actress.

The police believe it’s the actress friend who done the man in. After all, it’s her house and her tub. And another man died under suspicious circumstances around her recently. Both romantic encounters, doncha know. The actress must be guilty.

Or is she?

For ace detective Lee Alvarez, the timing couldn’t be worse. She is supposed to go off in celebration of her 6-month wedding anniversary with her hunky hubby. Paris is calling!

Or is it?

Her long-time friend, plus her mother – She Who Must Be Obeyed – thinks she should stick around and find out who the real killer is. So Lee, family, handsome hubby, and Tugger, the cat, are on the job. But Lee’s nose is itching. Which means not one of the suspects is telling the truth.

Or not all of it. Lee soon uncovers threatening letters, sullen playwrights, dead bodies, and a criminal web of jewel thieves, all treading the boards of her friend’s latest musical. This is showbiz?

Author Haven pulls out all the stops in a cozy fan’s delight about a charming, and unconventional Palo Alto detective family who get their man or woman, as the case may be. Book Seven follows its tradition of the Bay Area’s favorite PI, who rolls over with all four paw in the air when it comes to her darn near perfect mother. But with the help of her computer geek brother and handsome hubby, Lee works to solve the case in time to celebrate her own 6-month wedding anniversary.

About Heather Haven 

Heather moved to the Bay Area and studied creative writing at Stanford University. Previously, several of her comedy acts and plays were performed in NYC. Her novels include the humorous Silicon Valley-based Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Manhattan-based Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, Love Can Be Murder Novellas, Snow Lake Romantic Suspense Series and standalone mystery noir, Murder under the Big Top, based upon her mother’s stint as a performer with Ringling Brothers’ Circus. There is also her anthology, Corliss and Other Award-Winning Stories. Her favorite protagonist is in Corliss, one of the featured short stories, but don’t tell anyone!

Author Links

Website -


a Rafflecopter giveaway


August 24 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 24 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
August 25 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
August 26 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
August 26 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
August 27 – Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
August 27 – ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT
August 28 – Christy's Cozy Corners – GUEST POST
August 29 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 30 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – REVIEW
August 31 – Christa Reads and Writes – GUEST POST
August 31 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW
August 31 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 1 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
September 1 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST
September 2 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
September 2 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
September 3 – CelticLady 's Reviews - SPOTLIGHT
September 3 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT
September 4 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
September 5 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 5 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
September 6 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

Friday, August 28, 2020

Book Blast: SNEAKY'S SUMMER MYSTERY A Cobble Cove Story by Debbie De Louise

About Sneaky’s Summer Mystery

Cobble Cove is in the midst of an August heatwave. It’s the worst time for the air conditioner at the Cobble Cove library to break down. Alicia has no choice but to close the library and bring Sneaky, the library cat, home with her. After scheduling the air conditioner service with Rudy Gibbs, a technician from Hapnabber’s Repair Shop, she is surprised to learn that John knew Rudy when they were teenagers. When Rudy turns up dead after working on the AC at the library and Alicia learns of it during a barbecue she and John host with Gilly and Ramsay, Sneaky and Kittykai must once again protect their favorite ladies when they conduct their own investigation into the murder.

About Debbie De Louise

Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She’s the author of eight novels including the four books of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series and two short eBooks based on the books. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.

Social Media Links:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:
Amazon Author Page:
All Author:
Debbie’s Character’s Chat Group:
Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog:

Purchase Link 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Book Review: DROWNING WITH OTHERS by Linda Keir


They have the perfect marriage. Did one of them kill to get it?

Prep school sweethearts Ian and Andi Copeland are envied by everyone they know. They have successful businesses, a beautiful house in St. Louis, and their eldest daughter, Cassidy, is following in their footsteps by attending prestigious Glenlake Academy. Then, a submerged car is dredged from the bottom of a swimming hole near the campus. So are the remains of a former writer-in-residence who vanished twenty years ago—during Ian and Andi’s senior year.

When Cassidy’s journalism class begins investigating the death, Ian and Andi’s high school secrets rise to the surface. Each has a troubled link to the man whose arrival and sudden disappearance once set the school on edge. And each had a reason to want him gone. As Cassidy unwittingly edges closer to the truth, unspoken words, locked away for decades, will force Ian and Andi to question what they really know—about themselves, about the past, and about a marriage built on a murderous lie.


An interesting read, the author uses the journals written by Andi and Ian when they were students, and when the visiting writer/scholar, and "bad boy poet" Dallas Walker, mysteriously disappeared. This is juxtaposed with Cassidy's experience in the same situation, a student taking the seminar with the latest visiting writer/scholar. In Cassidy's case, instead of a poet, Wayne Kelly is an investigative reporter and the discovery of Walker's body provides a convenient assignment in investigative reporting for the class.

Not a cozy and not written as a typical suspense or mystery, the draw is the characters and the secrets that were kept for 20 years. And for Ian and Andi, the reader gets to know them as they are now, happily married, successful, and living the dream, as well as how they were as high school students and the effect one teacher could have on them and their relationship. As readers, we get to see the growth and some of the residual angst from their high school years. A book worth reading.  Very glad I was able to read this as part of the Kindle First selection.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Blog Tour: KNOT OF THIS WORLD A Quilting Mystery Book 8 by Mary Marks


Quilter Martha Rose must patch together the clues to solve the murder of a cult leader in the California mountains . . .

Has Martha’s fellow quilter and dear friend Birdie Watson become unraveled? Birdie and her new husband have decided to join the Mystical Feather Society, a spiritist group living on a commune in the mountains of Ojai, California. Before her free-spirited friend makes a huge mistake, Martha organizes a surprise visit to check out the commune. While white-robed members conduct a s
éance in a glass yurt, their leader—Royal St. Germain—is nowhere to be found . . . until, that is, Martha and her friends discover him shot in their Winnebago. Now Martha must track down the killer and debunk the cult—before it's bye bye Birdie . . .


Quilting and sleuthing abound in this cozy mystery with Martha Rose the lead. She has plenty of help with her friends, her fiancé, Crusher, and her FBI friend, John Smith. Old friends are about to give up all their worldly positions and be spirited away to an isolated mountainside. It's rumored that others have gone there, but were never heard from again. She asks her friend, Pauline, a psychic, and another psychic to come with them as they go check out the place. Her intent is to convince her friends, Birdie and Den not to be lured in. A murder does that for her.

There are twists and turns, a lesson in Tarot reading, interpreting aura color, and dealing with police who want nothing to do with psychics. Birdie and Den discover friends from years gone at another commune and extend the welcome mat for them and others who now have nothing. There are many surprises and twists, with things and people not always as they appear. 

This is well-written, with interesting and likable characters. This is the 8th in the Quilting Mystery series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone.  There are mentions of previous homicide investigations Martha has been part of, but only in passing and they don't affect this mystery. If you like cozy mystery, you'll enjoy it. If you like psychics and tarot cards, even better.

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

About the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011. She is currently a reviewer of cozy mysteries for The New York Journal of Books at
Author Links


Purchase Links 

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


August 17 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 17 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
August 17 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
August 18 – Diane Reviews Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 18 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
August 19 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
August 19 – Sapphyria's Books – REVIEW
August 19 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
August 19 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW
August 20 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 20 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
August 21 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
August 21 – Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW
August 21 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 22 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
August 22 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews - REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 22 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
August 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 23 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – GUEST POST
August 23 – Baroness' Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
August 23 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Blog tour and Book Review: BEHIND THE FRAME A Shepherd Sisters Mystery by Tracy Gardner


When art in the park leads to murder in the dark, the Shepherd sisters have another crime to solve.

Savanna Shepherd, an art expert turned elementary art teacher, is planning the Art in the Park festival for her hometown of Carson. But apparently, someone isn’t happy that Carson got to host the event: the beloved statue in the park is destroyed. Not long after, Savanna finds the dead body of one of the people on the planning committee.

Savanna and her sisters are convinced that the arrested murder suspect didn’t do it, despite strong evidence to the contrary. With the help of Dr. Aidan Gallager, Savanna’s new romantic interest, they uncover hidden resentments and intrigue. Several people in Carson had a motive for the murder. Can they find out which one of them is behind the framing of an innocent person?

This intriguing mystery includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Mini Rhubarb Pies.


The Shepherd sisters provide a range of personalities, passions, and idiosyncrasies their parents seem to take in stride. Savanna (or Savvy) is the art expert and authenticator with an eye for detail, elementary school art teacher, and the sister who most recently moved back to Carson. The mystery centers around the murder of her co-planner, knifed and left for dead in his home, discovered by Savannah. The town's statue of Jessamina in the park where the art show is to be held is defaced and then there are issues with Savannah's car. It's not clear if they are connected, but Savannah discovers she missed a lot of the gossip and goings on when she was gone for several years. 

There is tension, twists and turns, the relationship with Detective Jordan (Savannah calls him directly), the potential romance with Aiden, and the sudden arrival of his brother Finn. The sisters search for information to clear Chef Joe, Skyler taking on his defense in court, while Savanna gathers information. This easily can be read as a stand-alone mystery - it is my first of the Shepherd Sisters Mysteries. There is one before this - Out of the Frame - I look forward to reading. This was an enjoyable mystery, with likable characters, and a steady pace. 

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

About Tracy Gardner

Tracy Gardner is a fiction author represented by Fran Black of Literary Counsel. Tracy writes Hallmark Publishing's Shepherd Sisters Mystery series, intriguing, engaging stories about Art Authenticator turned elementary art teacher Savanna Shepherd and her sisters solving murder mysteries in a small Lake Michigan town. A Detroit native, Tracy is the daughter of two teachers. She grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries and rock and roll. Tracy lives with her husband and best friend of thirty years and a menagerie of spoiled rescue dogs and cats, her front door constantly revolving with her two daughters and son back and forth from college. She is a strong believer in the power of baked goods, live music, family, and friends as staples to a happy life.

Author Links


Purchase Links 

Amazon - B&N

a Rafflecopter giveaway


August 11 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
August 11 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
August 12 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
August 12 – Diane Reviews Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
August 13 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 14 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 14 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 14 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 15 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW
August 15 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
August 15 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
August 16 – Christy's Cozy Corners - REVIEW, GUEST POST
August 16 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
August 17 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 17 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 18 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW, RECIPE
August 18 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 18 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Blog Tour and Book Review: ALL DONE WITH IT A Dreamwalker Mystery by Maggie Toussaint


A Jane Doe jogger homicide near the swamp mystifies Dreamwalker Baxley Powell. The petite woman carried no ID, and no one recognizes her. Worse, a shadow passes from the body to a deputy, rendering him unconscious. The deputy and the corpse are dispatched to the hospital and morgue, respectively.

With summer heat and pending childbirth on her mind, Baxley’s dreamwalks into the spirit world fail to yield leads, frustrating Baxley and her deputy husband, Native American Sam Mayes. Days later, Jane Doe’s description matches a missing Mississippi woman. Turns out, her new husband is missing too. Jane’s sketchy brother-in-law and her aunt arrive, full of secrets. At Jane’s campsite, the team encounters a terrifying anomaly, nullifying Baxley’s senses. With such danger present, they must protect their unborn child. No more dreamwalks will occur until Baxley gives birth.

When her friend Bubba Paxton vanishes, Baxley sights him in a mirror, trapped between worlds with other souls. Meanwhile, the shadow invades other hosts, demanding to see Baxley. Mayes and Baxley ignore the shadow as they rescue Bubba, untangle the Jane Doe case, and handle missing persons reports.

To free the trapped people, Baxley must outwit a powerful foe. Can she stop this super villain before he steals her soul?

In this 7th Dreamwalker Mystery, female sleuth and psychic crime consultant Baxley Powell works a homicide case that leads straight to an evil force in the spirit world. The stakes? Her soul, her unborn child, and humanity’s freedom.


Baxter has to deal with more than Jane Doe's story, the phantom who keeps taking over people. She's focused on her unborn son, who appears to have some of her and Mayes' talents. Then there's hints from her mother that maybe her parents won't be around. And the rose tattoo. Lots of tension, but the motivating factor is to free all those running continuously in nowhere. 

This is the 7th in the Dreamwalker series. The plight of the characters is resolved in this book. In that respect, it is a stand alone paranormal cozy mystery. However, I suspect without reading at least some of the previous ones in the series for the history of Baxter's powers,  and her fearless ghost dog, her backstory with Rose, and where Mayes fits in, the reader may not catch all the nuances.

Complication and obstacle after obstacle, Baxter stays the course. There are some interesting, and humorous, twists in the story. If you like paranormal cozy mysteries, this one has it all. If you've read others in the story and loved them, you will not be disappointed. 

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

About Maggie Toussaint

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with twenty-plus fiction novels published. A three-time finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won three Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows.

Author Links

Website -
Facebook -
Twitter -
GoodReads -
BookBub -

Purchase Links 

Barnes and Noble - Kobo

a Rafflecopter giveaway


August 12 – Christy's Cozy Corners - REVIEW, GUEST POST
August 12 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
August 13 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 14 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW
August 14 – Books to the Ceiling – CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 15 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT
August 16 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST
August 17 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 17 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
August 18 – Reading Authors Network – SPOTLIGHT
August 19 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
August 20 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT
August 20 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST
August 21 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
August 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
August 21 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

Monday, August 10, 2020

Release Day! HOLIDAYS, HIJINKS & MURDER by Christa Nardi

I'm very excited to share the news that Holidays, Hijinks & Murder is LIVE and available in digital format and print.

Deck the mall with boughs of holly - until shots ring out.

Attempts to get Stacie in the holiday spirit fall flat when Santa’s elf finds herself in a shooter’s crosshairs. As Stacie and friends help the elf and deal with the potential witnesses, a man in the crowd stands out, the lapels of an old wool coat obscuring his face. Ignoring police demands, he disappears into the crowd only to reappear at strategic times. Initial theories go up in smoke and the search is on for the true motive. Faced with relationship turmoil and a killer on the loose, Stacie embraces her ‘bah humbug’ perspective as she seeks to identify the culprit.

Let this cozy holiday mystery novella with Stacie and her friends get you in the holiday spirit.



y choice, I avoid shopping at the mall, or anywhere else, the weekend after Thanksgiving. In high school and college, I worked retail at the holidays, so I know. People are outright nasty and aggressive about getting their Black Friday bargains. I’d spent the morning, like most Saturdays at Cornerstone Community Women’s Shelter providing trauma counseling as a volunteer. That probably didn’t help my mood.
To be honest, I was feeling pretty “bah humbug.” With my dad’s remarriage last winter, he and his wife were spending the holidays on a cruise ship and my brother, Vince, was deployed. It didn’t help, being from New England, I associated the holidays with cold weather and snow. We’d only had one frost and mostly mild weather. It didn’t feel like Christmas. To top it off, the man in my life, Kevin? We were in limbo.
My two cheery friends, Jillian and Trina, dragged me to the Beckman Springs Mall with hopes of putting me in the holiday mood and making a dent in holiday shopping. Friends for a long time, and knowing me well, they had started in before Thanksgiving and kept needling me when they picked me up. Trina was the worse of the two.
“Where’s your holiday spirit, Stacie?”
“Hey, I have a wreath and some decorations at my house.” Too busy to search out last year’s decorations, I’d gone to Target the day before Thanksgiving after they nagged me last weekend.
“You need to get in the spirit, Stacie. This could be the best Christmas ever.”
Trina bounced as she delivered her pep talk. Always dressed colorfully, Trina had on red leggings, an oversized green tunic with red swirls, and a black belt and boots. Coordinated with her outfit, she had streaks of red and green in her reddish brown hair.
“Besides, shopping is fun. Think of all the great things we could find.” Jillian added. I did like to shop, just not in crowds.
The Beckman Springs Mall wasn’t the largest around. It was the closest though, with Macy’s, Dillards, the usual mall chains, and a boutique store or two. Unlike other times of the year, the parking lot was packed. As we approached the mall, the Salvation Army person with the big red kettle rang his bell.
Inside the mall entrance, I was surprised to hear voices in song. A group of eight in Dickens era clothes were singing carols. We joined in and applauded when Jingle Bells was over. Live music was much better than the constant piped in carols in many stores since mid-October. The mall was more crowded than usual, yet not packed. Not as bad as I expected.
“Look.” I pointed to a placard indicating a special holiday event at each of the three entrances and the times. The blue entrance hosted the Dickens era singers, the yellow entrance was the place for a high school string ensemble, and the red entrance featured an elementary school chorale group. The different legs of the mall were color coded to help people remember where they parked their car.
“That’s one way to entice people to check out every store in the mall.” Jillian nodded her approval of the ploy. “Okay, let’s go to Dillards men. I know what I want to get Wade for Christmas.” Wade was Jillian’s husband. Like Jillian, he was tall with an athletic build. He worked for Global Security.
As we walked in that direction, I glanced at the stores we passed. Not unlike many other malls, one store reminded me of a chameleon, changing with the season.
“Look. Last week the displays were all Thanksgiving. They must have worked all night changing to Christmas so quickly.”
“We’ll stop there on the way out. They have cute stuff. I want to get something for Bill’s place. He has almost as much holiday spirit as you and Scrooge,” Trina groused.
“Do you have ideas for what to get Bill?” Jillian turned to me and added, “Kevin?”
“I don’t have any idea what to get Kevin or if we are even exchanging gifts. From what he told me last week, he’s not sure he will get home for Christmas.”
“Don’t stress over this, Stacie. You’re invited to dinner at Bill’s on Christmas Eve. Along with half the Beckman Springs police, of course. Everyone is bringing something. You can be in charge of making sure there’s plenty of rocky road ice cream. If Kevin’s around, he’s invited.”
Bill and Trina were an unlikely couple. He was very quiet, reserved, and a policeman in Beckman Springs. In contrast, she was wild, impulsive, exuberant, and full of energy. He wasn’t particularly social and I figured the party was more Trina than him.
“Oh, Trina, that’s so nice of you and Bill.”
I gave her a hug, which she barely tolerated.
“His place is boring, all grays. That’s why we have to find some stuff to spruce up Bill’s place.”
“He’s not into the decoration thing?” Jillian asked.
Trina snorted. “He says I am all the decoration he needs.”
We laughed. “That is very sweet. And you do dress the part.”
“I want to get Bill something wild. Do they make ugly holiday sweaters for men?” Trina smiled and emitted a wicked laugh.
Jillian and I chuckled.
“I’m going to check out the housewares section. I have an idea for my dad and Deanna.”
“We’ll find you there, then. Wade needs some new shirts and a sweater. Check out the decorations over there, too, Stacie.”
We all went in separate directions. After an hour of shopping, Dillards got a chunk of our change. Trina didn’t find an ugly sweater, but did find the mixer her mother wanted. I picked up a holiday platter for my dad. Jillian had two bags, all shirts, and Wade had the start of a new wardrobe.
“What’s with all the shirts, Jillian?” Trina asked.
“With the security company expanding, he needs to do the ‘meet and greet’ with new customers, something he rarely does. He needs to look the part, whether he likes it or not.”
“No pants? Only shirts?” It seemed odd to me unless the ‘meet and greet’ was virtual.
“The look will be pressed jeans with more formal shirts. A compromise.” She shrugged and we headed in the direction of Macy’s, the anchor on the red leg. We spotted the sign for Santa up ahead in the mall center.
“Think we can get our picture with Santa? Maybe all three of us. Really make his day.” Trina joked.
“Trina, what would you ask Santa for?”
Jillian laughed as Trina turned away, not answering her question. We were joking and laughing when a shot rang out and people started screaming and running for the exit. Then another shot.

Excerpt from Holidays, Hijinks & Murder. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Book Review: A BODYGUARD TO REMEMBER by Alison Bruce


Prudence Hartley has the usual single mom problems: getting her kids to school on time; juggling a gazillion errands while trying to get a full day’s work done; oh, and don’t forget about dinner.

But Pru’s problems become a tad more complicated and a lot more dangerous when she finds a dead man in her house. Or a dead spy to be exact. Suddenly, a federal agent named David Merrick shows up and whisks her and her kids into protective custody. Pru has so many questions spinning through her brain she doesn’t know where to begin. How is she going to keep her kids safe? What was the dead spy looking for in her house? Why are the spies after her? Oh, and there’s one more question . . . just a pesky, minor thing. Why does Merrick have to be so damn sexy and protective?


Pru is divorced with shared custody of her two children with her ex-husband and his new wife. She is a steady, stable person, perhaps even boring, until she gets home and finds a spy, dead, in her living room. Her children couldn't be more excited. Her ex couldn't be more distraught. Pru does her best to keep it together. Only her attraction to Merrick, the FBI agent assigned to protect her is a major distraction. 

The story is predicated on the idea that some organization is using unknowing, average persons, as couriers of information. With Pru's rigid schedule and leaving her things unguarded at the Starbuck two days a week, she's an easy patsy. Enter the spy, though what he was looking for is one of the many questions to be answered. 

With the twists and turns and spy aspect, the story moves along a good paste. Pru is an interesting and likable character and her children are also interesting with multiple dimensions. Her ex? Not so much. Merrick is determined to keep his distance and waiting for Pru and him to connect is one more tension. Not a cozy mystery, more suspense, this was a good read. It is slated as Book 1 of Men in Uniform, though I couldn't find Book 2. If I could, it would be on my TBR list.