Diana Febry – Bells On Her Toes

This week I’m happy to host my fellow Wings ePress author, Diana Febry

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Diana is married with two (almost grown-up) children and she lives in the UK. As well as writing, she’s an active member of a drama group and a competitive horse rider. She’s lucky enough to stable her horses on the Duke Of Beaufort’s estate, and her stories are loosely based there.

Bells On her Toes

Investigate with DCI Peter Hatherall as animal rights and environmental activists heat up the scene around the Earl of Ditchburn’s country estate. Peter finds himself in a race of his own at the Elmsgrove Racehorse Yard as murder and mayhem run rampant. But be careful who you bet on, as although the clues are there, my aim is to mislead you until the last page.

Here is an excerpt:

Jolted from her reverie, Gladys withdrew from the window when the golf buggy came into sight. She called to Bert to come in for lunch and headed to the kitchen. The kitchen was like everything at Elmsgrove…over-sized, expensively decorated with solid wood furniture and plastered with horse images. Gladys placed the plates on the heavy oak table as the three men, her boys, scraped their chairs along the stone floor. It was like clockwork, every day of every year. Gladys was sure…if she ran away, her absence would register only after they looked down to see empty table mats. Only Bert had the decency to wash his hands before sitting down. She had given up insisting a long time ago.

Through a mouthful of food, Ben said, “Did you give a statement to the police?”

Gladys put down her cutlery and finished chewing before replying. “I don’t think so. They spoke to me, but nothing was written down.”

“Poor sod, shot through the head they reckon,” Ben continued as he slurped his cup of tea.”

“Must be some Townie,” Mike said. “A drug dealer or an addict, I reckon. Maybe they screwed the bird of the local gang leader and got caught.”

“Michael, not at the table,” Gladys said. She watched the three of them with heads bent over their plates, shovelling in the food without tasting it.

“Bloody fools the police are,” Ben said, waving his fork. “Don’t know their asses from their elbows. Would you believe they started asking questions about my insurance claim from years back? Complete idiots.”

“I expect the proper police will appear tomorrow, Dad. Today’s lot were just the local bobbies who deal with shoplifting and stuff like that.”

Picking at her food, Gladys imagined her picture in the newspapers with the headline, ‘Resting actress solves murder mystery.’ The report went on to say, “Gladys, a well-loved member of the community, solved the case when the local police failed. She gave up her glittering career on the brink of stardom to support her husband’s dreams of training a winner. She was coy and modest when the chief of police thanked her publicly for her gallant bravery and fortitude.

“Gladys! Gladys! Are you listening, woman?”

“Sorry darling, what did you say?”

“I’m going to finish at least an hour late tonight, because of the time wasted dealing with the police.”

Gladys started to clear away the empty plates. “I’ll make supper an hour later, then, sweetie.”

“What are you planning to do this afternoon?”

Placing the plates in the dishwasher, Gladys said, “I might go out for a drive to look for clues.”

“Well for God’s sake, stay out of the way of the police.”

“Don’t worry, darling. I shall wear my invisibility cloak.”

Taking his coat from the stand in the hallway, Ben said, “I do wonder sometimes, what goes on in that daft woman’s head.”

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 My Review of Bells on Her Toes

Two dead bodies in a week, a horse virus spreading through a racing yard and a missing groom. With plenty of suspects, DCI Peter Hatherall and DI Fiona Williams have their hands full trying to solve the murders and find the person responsible for all the mayhem while dealing with the problems in their personal lives. I’ve always loved reading British mysteries, and this one was well worth the read. Diana Febry had me guessing until the very end. This story had quirky characters, an intriguing plot with “as many twists and turns as a county lane,” and a great twist at the end. I highly recommend Bells On Her Toes. ✰✰✰✰✰

Amazon link – http://www.amazon.com/Bells-Her-Toes-Diana-Febry-ebook/dp/B00N8A9HJY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411142339&sr=1-1

Direct from publisher – http://wingsepress.com/

Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/DianaJFebry

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Liz Mugavero – A Biscuit, A Casket

This week, I’m pleased to host author, Liz Mugavero

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Liz Mugavero is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries. The first book in the series, Kneading to Die, is an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. A Biscuit, A Casket, is available now. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Salem State College and a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’Association.

 A Biscuit, A Casket

The small town of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, has wholeheartedly embraced Kristan “Stan” Connor’s new business–preparing quality organic treats for dogs and cats. On a healthy diet, the animals may live longer. . .but one local farmer won’t be so lucky. As Halloween approaches, Stan is asked to cater a doggie costume party hosted by the Happy Cow Dairy Farm. Part of a local co-op, Happy Cow specializes in organic dairy products, and farmers Hal and Emmalee Hoffman have started opening up the farm for parties, offering a “haunted” corn maze as an added attraction.

When Hal’s lifeless body is found in the maze, the police at first suspect his wife, but Stan soon learns the dairy farmer had plenty of enemies–from bitter family members to shady business associates. If Stan can’t extract a kernel of truth from the labyrinth of lies, she may be the next one to buy the farm.

 Here is an excerpt: 

Emmalee bolted out of the gate and raced to the corn maze behind the vampire, Stan on her heels. Stan hoped Em knew her way around the maze, otherwise they’d be running through it like beheaded chickens. She’d been lost in a corn maze once and it hadn’t been pretty. Then again, she was quite directionally impaired.

Yellow, coarse corn stalks slapped at her as she hurried after Em, heart pounding, wondering what in the world was happening and wishing she had sneakers on instead of  her glittery gold flats. Then again, she had planned on hosting a bunch of dogs on the patio, not running willy-nilly through a corn maze. The vampire led them through a series of twists and turns, slowing when they came into a straightaway.

Stan could already see a crowd of costumed people gathered up ahead. A short, skinny girl dressed like an evil nymph clutching the hand of a boy with a fake ax through his head fled past them, heading away from the scene. They were both crying, which sent a stab of dread through Stan’s belly. She’d been hoping to find Hal with a broken bone or something, after tripping and falling in one of the cornstalks. But why would people be fleeing from the scene crying? Stan thought of Danny Hoffman with his chainsaw and hoped he hadn’t been part of an accident.

They finally reached the crowd at what appeared to be the top of the witch’s pointy hat within the maze design. They were at the end of the field. Emmalee elbowed her way through the crowd of kids. A girl wearing the bottom half of a werewolf costume sobbed. A boy with Dracula fangs had his arm around her shoulder. Stan could see his fingers, white with tension, digging into her arm.

Then Stan heard another noise – a wailing sound, starting out low in volume, then reaching a disturbing crescendo. Emmalee had reached the front of the crowd, and whatever she saw was not good.

Stan moved forward to stand behind her, peering around Emmalee’s shoulder. In the growing darkness, she could just make out a figure behind the short, wire fence containing the corn, face up, upper half immersed in a mud puddle left over from the weekend rain. She moved closer to get a better view. And wished she hadn’t. A menacing, hook-shaped weapon protruded from Hal Hoffman’s chest, a dark stain covering most of his upper body, staining his blue and green flannel shirt. His eyes were open. Empty.

For a second, she thought maybe this was the farmer’s idea of a bad joke. A staged murder in the corn maze for full Halloween effect. She waited for Hal to jump up, laughing, and pull the rubber prop out of his chest. Chide them all for falling for it.

But he didn’t.

A Biscuit, A casket.indd

A Biscuit, A Casket

www.lizmugavero.com

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Sylvia Selfman – Murder She Typed

This week, my guest author is Sylvia Selfman

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My first novel, The Hard Heart of Mrs Living-Stone, was received with much fanfare and acclaim (at least, by my parents and my third grade teacher). At that point I knew I was destined to become a writer. However, being the procrastinator that I was, I put off writing my second novel until I finished my education (Ohio State), worked as a copywriter in New York, got married, moved to Miami, raised two daughters, became a  librarian, a yoga teacher and a small business owner.

When I finally retired to Palm Springs, I had no more excuses. I joined a writer’s group and voila! My second novel, Murder Never Retires, was born.

My third novel Murder She Typed quickly followed and I am now finishing up the sequel, Murder By the Book.

Murder She Typed

Izzy Greene, a widow of a certain age, joins a writing group in an attempt to actually finish one of her stories. She gets more than she bargained for, however, when her nemesis, sexy blonde bombshell, Sondra Sockerman disappears under suspicious circumstances. Izzy soon realizes that she has a natural detecting ability––and  she and her friend, Flo, set out to find the killer…who is now after them.

Here is an excerpt:

Murder She Typed 

What does it feel like to die?

I guess I’ll soon find out.

I can hear the footsteps coming closer.

That’s what I get for being so nosy. I should have left well enough alone.

I can see the glint of a gun.

It’s strange what goes through your head as death approaches. Where are all the deep thoughts? Like I should have been a better, kinder, more giving person.

Instead I’m thinking why didn’t I finish off the chocolate cake at breakfast like I wanted?

I’m cornered like a scared rabbit. And all I can think of is a line from ‘Little Caesar’. ‘Is this the end of Rico?’

Is this the end of Izzy?

Chapter 1 

I dragged myself into the kitchen and before I was able to figure out how to work my new coffeemaker, the phone rang.

My friend, Flo, has this uncanny seventh sense to know when I awaken––no small feat considering one of the few advantages of getting older was waking up whenever I felt like it. Or whenever my bladder dictated.

“Izzy, we’re walking this morning,” Flo announced in her drill sergeant voice.

“Outside?”

I balanced the phone between my shoulder and ear as I struggled with my new coffeemaker. It was a battle of woman versus machine that I was determined to win.

“No, on the moon.”

“Forget it then.”

Yesterday I spotted at least three new wrinkles and another age spot. It took a candy bar plus the frozen remains of a Sara Lee pound cake to lift me out of my depression.

“Damn!” I punched the buttons on the machine. “How does this thing work?”

My twelve year relationship with my coffeemaker came to an abrupt end the other day, so I took it back to Bed Bath and Beyond. The clerk looked at it, raised his eyebrow and sniffed, “In what era did you say you bought this?”

I was about to offer a nasty retort when I spotted it––one of those shiny new pod coffeemakers just begging to be taken home. I toyed with the idea of obtaining its larger, more expensive sibling but quickly came to my senses. Who was I kidding? I opted for the small version––the one for a single user. It was a sign of the times––of my times anyway.

Flo interrupted my musings. “You’re mumbling to yourself again. Okay, don’t go walking. Keep running in place on your treadmill.”

Running in place––an apt description for what I’d been doing for the past three years, since Sam, my husband of thirty-five years, died.

“I was hoping you’d join me on a heart-healthy, twenty minute walk to Starbucks. I guess I’ll have to enjoy my latte with extra whipped cream and ultra rich, double chocolate muffin by myself.”

“Meet you in ten,” I said, slamming down the phone.

Ten minutes later, I was struggling to keep up with Flo. “Hey, slow down. I’m about to have a heart attack.”

“No time to waste,” she yelled back. “They’re going to run out of double chocolate muffins any minute now.”

Heart attack forgotten, I doubled my speed.

Flo and I carried our lattes and well-earned muffins outside. A modern day Lewis and Clark, we scanned the area for an empty table.

 “Over there,” I pointed.

 As we made our way over, I spotted a woman who obviously had the same idea. We locked eyes. Then-–as though a whistle simultaneously went off in our heads––the race was on.

By some miracle Flo and I managed to avoid smashing into an elderly woman with a walker and a gentleman walking two pugs.

Out of breath, we collapsed into the seats and avoided even a glance in the direction of our adversary. I’ve never been one to gloat over my victories––few as they are.

When our breathing returned to normal, Flo and I plunged into our double chocolate muffins with a religious fervor that a rabbi or minister could only wish for. After a few minutes I came up for air.

 “By the way,” I said, “I went to that new doctor who just joined Dr. Harrison’s practice. The one that everyone says looks like a cross between Liam Neeson and Steve McQueen?”

“Lucky you. Did you get to undress for him?” 

“I didn’t have to. I went there to pick up a prescription. However, I did come away with a diet that’s guaranteed to work.”

“You went for a prescription and he gave you a diet? Then he did see you naked!”

I ignored Flo’s comment and pulled a magazine page from my fanny pack and handed it to her.

“Check it out. I found it in a Good Housekeeping while I was waiting.”

Okay, I admit it. I’m one of those people who surreptitiously rips out pages from magazines in doctors’ and dentists’ offices. So go ahead and shoot me. Of course I’d never do that at my hairdresser’s––much too risky.

But I harbor no guilt—since I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped to articles about the ugly toes or cellulite-ridden thighs of glamorous movie stars, only to find them missing.

As Flo and I pored over the article, 10 Ways to Kick Start Your Weight Loss, we decided to split another muffin—no sense depriving ourselves before the start of a new diet.

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You can join my mailing list or contact me at Seniorsnoops@aol.com

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Murder She Typed can be purchased at the following:    http://tinyurl.com/q9dbuqn  

Sylvia and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Evelyn Cullet – Once Upon a Crime

This week my guest author is, Me!

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Hello. I’m so happy you stopped by to read this very special blog post about my new novel, Once Upon a Crime, which has just been released by Wings ePress. 

I’ve been an aspiring author since high school when I wrote short stories. I began my first novel while attending college later in life, and while working in the offices of a major soft drink company. Even though my job, my home, and my family always took precedence, I continued to attend writing classes and work on my novels. Now, after taking early retirement, I finally have the chance to do what I love best; write full-time. While I enjoy playing the piano, being an organic gardener, and an amateur Lapidary, writing has always been my passion. I was a former member of the Agatha Christie Society and am currently a member of Sisters in Crime. I write mysteries with light romance and a little humor. My husband and I live in a suburb of Chicago along with our Black Lab/Pit Bull, Bailey.

Once Upon a Crime

Love isn’t always a fairy tale…and Charlotte Ross has kissed her share of frogs, but that’s all behind her. Fleeing her life for a short break, Charlotte, along with her best friend Jane Marshall, find themselves at her aunt’s home in the sleepy town of Raven’s Caw, Michigan. Charlotte hopes to recover from another breakup with her fiancé, and her friend Jane, a new mystery writer, is looking forward to somewhere relaxing. But life has different plans for the two friends and they find themselves swept up in a whirlwind of romance, mystery and murder.

Sparks fly between Jane and Charlotte’s attractive, Machiavellian cousin, Kenny. But is the attraction too good to be true or just a diversion from a mystery that has piqued her interest? Charlotte is pulled along on this roller-coaster of emotion when she meets up with her first love, as she and Jane discover links between a murder that happened twelve years earlier and a recent crime. Risking their own lives and hearts, the friends race against the past in an effort to solve the crimes before one of them becomes the next victim.

Here is an excerpt:

The sound of the van pulling up to the front of the cottage made Charlotte’s heart skip a beat. Striker grabbed her arm, pulled her off the sofa and walked her toward the front door. He opened it wide, and put his face next to hers. “When we get outside, don’t try anything funny.”

He pulled the handle on the back door of the van, and swung it open. “Get in.”

She stood straight and stiff, her chin lifting in her most defiant stance as she braced her feet in the snow.

His hard eyes stared her down. “I said, get in!”

When she didn’t move, he lunged at her. She dodged to the side and delivered a sharp kick to his knee. He’s not getting me in that van.

He grunted and stumbled back. She spun around and made a mad dash toward the lake, but her short legs struggled in the deep snow. Striker’s long strides caught up with her after a few moments. He grabbed her around the waist and lifted her off the ground.

“All right.” He grunted under her weight. “If you wanna do things the hard way…”

She twisted and squirmed and kicked at him with every ounce of strength she had, but his grip was so unyielding as he walked back that only a few of her blows made contact. He shoved her into the van. She managed to get in a strong kick to his hand before he slammed the door, leaving her breathless in the dark.

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If you enjoyed this short excerpt, Once Upon a Crime is available at Wings ePress: http://www.wings-press.com/ and at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/l4lhxxb

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway and win one of eight print copies of Once Upon a Crimehttps://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/106295-once-upon-a-crime

I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and enter to win one of three nifty Sherlock Holmes Pins, created, designed and hand-made by me.

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Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli – Dead Little Dolly

This week, I’m pleased to host author, Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli.

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Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli moved to the shores of a little lake in northwest northern Michigan and never looked back. She lives, sometimes uncomfortably, with the crows and bears and turtles and finds her material in the villages and forests that surround her. With degrees from Macomb County Community College, Oakland University, and the University of Michigan, she now teaches creative writing at Northwestern Michigan College and at writers’ conferences around the country.

Her novels include: Gift of Evil (Bantam), Dead Dancing Women, Dead Floating Lovers, Dead Sleeping Shaman, and Dead Dogs and Englishmen (Midnight Ink), Dead Little Dolly, and A Tough Nut to Kill (writing as Elizabeth Lee), Berkley Publishers.

Elizabeth is also fascinated with the craft of the short story and hers have appeared in The Creative Woman, The Driftwood Review, Passages North, The MacGuffin, Quality Women’s Fiction (Great Britain), and elsewhere. With a grant from the State of Michigan she also created short stories that have been produced onstage as well as being read on NPR.
For many years she taught in the International Women’s Guild summer program at Skidmore College and appeared as a moderator and panelist at writing conferences. Her fascination with all things murderous began with a love for puzzles of all sorts, which was handed down to her by a mother who devoured mysteries. Sometimes playful, sometimes deadly serious, her books reflect a wide interest in women’s lives and futures.

Mystery writer and journalist with 7 published novels including her latest, the first in a series: A Tough Nut to Kill from Berkley Publishers/Penguin Group.

She teaches fiction writing at Northern Michigan College, was a reporter for the ROMEO OBSERVER, and has written for the DETROIT NEWS, Traverse Magazine, the British Literary Journal: Women’s Quality Fiction, and many others.

Her fourth novel in the Emily Kincaid series, DEAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN, was chosen one of the best mysteries of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and the Christian Science Monitor.  Writing as Elizabeth Lee, the first in her Texas series: A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, is in stores and online now.  The second and third in the series will be out in 2015.

 Dead Little Dolly

Even the beauty of Northern Michigan can’t put a smile on the face of Emily Kincaid’s perpetually cranky friend, Deputy Dolly Wakowski, and when someone tries to destroy the only family Dolly has ever had, her crankiness turns lethal, even as the crime threatens to overwhelm her.

Still struggling in her career as a mystery writer, Emily takes a deep breath before stepping in to help. As they launch their search for Dolly’s assailant and the investigation deepens, two strange clues emerge, the attacker’s trademark black jellybeans and a note to Dolly reading “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”

Here is an excerpt:

 Prologue

The sun was thick and warm on Deputy Dolly Wakowski’s back, and on her neck, and on the top of her head.  She pulled off her blue uniform hat and set it on the damp cemetery earth beside where she knelt.

A quiet May Sunday afternoon.  Quieter, because there was no one else in the old Leetsville, Michigan, cemetery.  No one there, among the tombstones, but Deputy Dolly, of the two-man Leetsville Police Department, who bowed her head over the bearded lady’s grave then laid a bouquet of wilting white daisies atop the mossy headstone:

GRACE HUMBERT

1873  — 1926

“Another year, Grace,” Dolly bent to whisper as she patted Grace Humbert’s grave, fingers brushing over the prickly sprouts of new weeds and grasses.

“Happy Mother’s Day.  It’s me, Dolly.”

The day was all washed-fresh light and the shine of new spring green spreading over the sunken graves of Civil War soldiers and around old headstones standing crookedly, slump-shouldered, names of the poor wiped away by harsh Michigan winters.

Tiny, yellow dandelions—bright little toys—speckled the clustered graves of babies dead in a long-ago epidemic.  Toward the back of the cemetery, proud family plots, surrounded by rusted and crooked iron railings, bloomed with new weeds.

Dolly’s uniform pants were damp at both knees, but that was as it should be.  It was proper that once a year she came here and knelt to talk to Grace Humbert, the famous bearded lady of a long ago Barnum and Bailey Circus.

She’d heard about Grace when she first came to Leetsville from southern Michigan, thirteen years before.   Grace Humbert, memorialized in the museum down the road, in Kalkaska, but forgotten by everyone else except as an oddity a local newspaper or magazine would revisit every ten years of so: a woman who didn’t fit anywhere, not with her flowing beard and mustache, not with eyes direct and slightly amused, never part of the world around her, but never cowed by that world, her look steady and challenging, her back straight in satiny gowns draped across an ample bosom.

“Forty-seven Famous Freaks,” a 1903 photo hanging on the crowded old depot wall had screamed at Dolly and there was Grace, a dark image in the third row, smiling, happy to be among her kinfolk of sword swallowers and tiny people and tall people and leopard skinned people, and pin-headed people.  Different.  An outsider.

Like Dolly Wakowski.

Dolly turned to frown a squinting frown at robins in the leafing maples. Too loud, all that mating stuff, for a cemetery.  Birds chirping playfully in a graveyard didn’t obey Dolly’s ‘seemly’ rule.  There should be quiet and reverence when a pretend-daughter knelt beside a pretend-mother’s grave, honoring her because there was nobody else for Dolly Wakowski to honor.  And nobody else came to honor Grace. That was a fact—nobody, and that meant Grace Humbert needed Dolly as much as she needed Grace.

Dolly moved from her damp right knee to her left.  She looked around before bending to whisper, “Found my grandmother this last year.  Cate Thomas, she’s called.  Livin’ with me now.  And guess what . . .” She waited, as if somehow she’d get an answer. Her small, homely face puckered into a smile.  “I got a baby.”  She nodded a few times. “Name’s Baby Jane. I call her that so she can pick her own name when the time comes.  You know, get the name she wants.  Not like me.  Stuck all my life with a name like ‘Delores’ foisted on me when I couldn’t sit up and say “NO” to that woman who never wanted me anyway.”

She turned to look over her shoulder toward the scout car she’d pulled up under the high, cast iron, cemetery gate where four-month-old, Baby Jane, slept in her car seat.  The windows were down so Dolly could hear if she woke up.  Nothing to fear.

Nothing at all.

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Dead Little Dolly is available at Amazon.com,  Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and iBook.

The first in her new series, writing as Elizabeth Lee, A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, is out from Berkley and available in bookstores everywhere, or Online.  The next two in this series will be out in 2015.   Others in her Emily Kincaid series are available at Brilliant Books of Traverse City:  231-946-book or online.

My website, at which I’m now asking for help with a woman’s novel I’m writing, is www.elizabethbuzzelli.com

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Elizabeth and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Marja McGraw – What Are The Odds?

This week my guest is mystery author, Marja McGraw.

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Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law for fifteen years, state transportation for another seventeen years, and most recently for a city building department.  She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.

Marja wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

She has appeared on KOLO-TV in Reno, Nevada, and KLBC in Laughlin, Nevada, and various radio talk shows.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder! Books include both the Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries.

She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.

What Are The Odds?

What are the odds of buying a house with a history to turn into a bed and breakfast, and discovering it’s the house that just keeps giving – and giving, and giving?

Sandi Webster and her partner, Peter Goldberg, forego a honeymoon to help her parents renovate just such a house only to discover there’s more to the home’s history than meets the eye. Stanley Hawks and his new wife, Felicity, are along for the ride and he has to face some of his worst fears.

This is an adventure these friends will long remember.

Here is an excerpt:

My mother and Felicity helped me put out food and a small wedding cake. Pete had already passed out drinks, and a bottle or two of champagne chilled in the refrigerator.

I finally sat down and took a deep breath.

Jessica sat next to me. “So tell me about this bed and breakfast your mother and her husband are opening. Rick said there were murders in the house? Does she think people will stay there regardless of the place’s history?”

Before I could open my mouth, my mother the drama queen, who sat on my other side spoke loudly. “Let me tell the story. It’s a tale of murder and jealousy. Or so I’ve been told. Frank and I sold our house in Bullhead City. That’s in Arizona, you know. Escrow closes in about thirty days, and I think we’ll move to the llama ranch now instead of waiting.”

The room fell into silence and all eyes were fixed on Livvie Brewster, my loves-a-good-story mother.

“This happened, oh, probably twenty years or so ago. It’s a thirty-acre ranch and it used to be a llama ranch. An elderly man and his daughter ran the place, along with one ranch hand. It’s said – ”

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you, Mom? ‘It’s said’?”

“Hush and let me tell the story. Actually, this would be better told over a campfire on a dark night.”

 She laughed at her own little joke.

“A neighbor gave me the scoop, so this should be pretty accurate, although he didn’t give me any of their names. He said the ranch hand had a thing for the daughter. So did a man from a neighboring property. The men were constantly trying to outdo one another. The daughter wasn’t a young woman and she’d never been married, so she was thrilled by all the attention.

“Her father told her to be careful because it was all going to backfire on her. He said she needed to make a choice between the men and put an end to their competition. But she wouldn’t listen.”

My mother actually leaned forward as though it was Halloween night and she was stirring a pot of scary information.

“Well, the father was right. It backfired. She finally chose the neighbor, and the ranch hand went nuts. One stormy afternoon he stealthily entered the house and found the daughter in the living room, kissing the neighbor. The ranch hand had a gun in his hand and he shot the daughter where she stood, in the head. The neighbor ran out the front door. The ranch hand ran after him and killed him, too, before returning to the house. You can still see a bullet hole in the screen door.

“The father, hearing the shots, came running in with a shotgun. Before he could shoot, the ranch hand shot him. He didn’t die, and he raised the gun and killed the ranch hand.”

“What neighbor told you about this?” With four deaths, I couldn’t help but wonder if the neighbor had all the details straight. Time and memory often change things from fact to exciting fiction.

“An old man who lives down the street in a mobile home. I’m sure he’s reliable.”

One of the models sat in a chair across from us and leaned forward, studying my mother’s face. “What happened to the father?”

I could see my mother mentally rubbing her hands together. She had everyone’s interest. “He died before the police got there.” She sat back and looked very pleased with herself. “And that’s the short version of the story.”

Felicity smiled at my mother. “And a neighbor says the house is haunted by these people?”

“Only the ranch hand. Well, he told me someone said they saw the daughter once, too.”

“Interesting story,” Rick said. “Are you sure people will want to stay in a house where murders were committed?”

Frank decided it was his turn to speak. “Their curiosity will get the best of them, and they’ll want to see the house. Some of them will hope to see the ghost while they’re there. And others simply won’t care. We’re turning it into kind of a dude ranch with horses. There are plenty of places to ride and we’re at the base of a small mountain. It’s unusual because it’s flat desert surrounded by mountains, and then there’s this small mountain right in the middle of the valley. We’re going to have chickens, too.”

What Are the Odds Final

Website:    http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

Blog:           http://marjamcgraw.blogspot.com/

FB Page:   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marja-McGraw-Mysteries/166844466697374

Buy link:      http://tinyurl.com/m8s6uux

Marja and I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and be entered to win a free copy of, What Are The Odds?

Congratulations to Anna Celeste Burke for winning a copy of What Are The Odds.

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Lynette Hall Hampton – The Island

My guest this week is multi-published author, Lynette Hall Hampton

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Lynette Hall Hampton’s first novel was published in 2003. Since then she’s had 22 romantic suspense, cozy mystery and inspirational mysteries published. Another romantic suspense is due out in September. Under the name Agnes Alexander she has published 6 western historical romances with 2 more coming out this year. Lynette is a member of Romance Writers of America, Carolina Romance Writers, Sisters in Crime, The Triad chapter of SinC, Western Writers of America, and several local groups. She lives in her home state of North Carolina and her most favorite thing to do, when she isn’t writing, is spending time with her two grandchildren. She can be reached at www.lynettehallhampton.net  or www.agnesalexander.com

The Island

A plane disappears over the Atlantic, but after an intense search turns up nothing, the 112 people aboard are declared dead. Unbeknownst the outside world, 13 people make it to an island. 27 months later, a plane off course discovers the survivors. The waiting world is anxious to learn how they lived, but the survivors have secrets they must hide, not only from the media, but from their families as well.

Here is an excerpt:

Amanda buckled the seat belt as she’d been told. She felt the plane jerk again. Three consecutive jerks. Out the window she could see the ocean below. No clouds were visible. Only the dark Atlantic with its continual ripples.

            From the intercom the voice said, “Please find and put on your life jackets. Do not inflate your lifejacket until you are out of the aircraft. Please get in the crash position. Put your head between your knees…”

            There was no time for further instructions. Within four minutes the plane touched water and the air filled with screams of fright and unbelief. If Amanda screamed, she didn’t know it.

She felt as if everything inside her was being shaken out her mouth or through her ears. Her head rang and throbbed, her nose began to bleed and she felt water seeping around her body. Going only on instinct, she managed to get the seatbelt unfastened. She was in water, and she inflated her lifejacket. Once free, she floated upward. She was surrounded by screams and moans of desperation and pain, but she couldn’t think of them now. Her only instinct was to fight to survive.

            As she saw the top of the plane getting closer to her face she knew she’d be trapped and would drown if she didn’t get lower. With all the strength she could muster she kicked and pushed downward. The life jacket wouldn’t let her descend. She fumbled with the fastener and finally got it off.

            A good swimmer, she thrust her body downward. Thinking it would be no worse to drown in the open sea than to be trapped in a sinking plane, she swam in the only direction the rushing water would let her.

            It seemed like a long time, but it was probably only seconds when her head popped above water and she gasped for breath. She was surrounded by screaming and crying people and a lot of floating debris. Her eyes searched for her Spanish seat-mate, but she didn’t see her anywhere. She pushed the woman from her thoughts and began to kick her legs. The slacks and jacket weighted her down, but she didn’t dare try to get them off. As she kicked she felt her shoes slip from her feet. She could think of nothing else to do tohelp her situation. With no life jacket to hold her up, all she could do was tread water.

the island

The Island is available at: www.Lynettehallhampton.net; Amazon.com; whiskeycreekpress.com

Lynette and I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment to win a copy of The Island.

 

 

 

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Christina Larmer – Words Can Kill

My guest author this week is Christina Larmer

Ever since she picked up her first copy of The Three Investigators, C.A. Larmer has been mad about crime fiction. Now the author of seven murder mysteries, including the best-selling Agatha Christie Book Club and the Ghostwriter Mystery Series, Larmer also works as a journalist from Byron Bay in Northern NSW, Australia. When she’s not penning women’s health articles or plotting her next murder, she’s busy cheering her sons on the soccer sidelines, helping her husband in his music studio or wrangling wayward snakes on their hinterland property. Larmer has also worked in New York, Los Angeles and London but her heart forever remains with her hometown in tropical Papua New Guinea where she was born and bred.

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Words Can Kill  (Ghostwriter Mystery #5)

 By C.A. Larmer

 In her fifth and most heart-wrenching mystery yet, Ghostwriter Roxy Parker is hot on the trail of her estranged boyfriend, Max. He’s disappeared from a Swiss alpine resort, a perky blonde by his side, and his flatmate has shown up murdered in Berlin, bludgeoned by his own guitar. The German police suspect Max of murder but Roxy knows better.

Max Farrell may be a cad, but he’s no cold-blooded killer.

So it is that Roxy packs her designer luggage and heads to Europe to track him down—but she has to be quick! Max has just sent Roxy a cryptic text message, which proves his life is hanging by a thread.

In this fun, fast-paced story, C.A. Larmer takes us on another exciting adventure and proves, yet again, why she’s one of Australia’s most popular cozy crime writers. Fasten your seat-belts, guys, and come along for the ride!

WORDS CAN KILL EXCERPT: 

“Max is missing.”

They were three simple words, spoken casually by a woman young enough and pretty enough to still believe she was the centre of the universe and therefore her missing brother a minor inconvenience that she was hoping to palm off (preferably to Roxy Parker), but they still managed to send a sliver of ice through Roxy’s heart.

She froze for a second, the warm glass of Merlot almost at her lips.

“Missing?” she said, then tried a little humour to dislodge the chill. “Like, missing his brain? Missing me desperately? What do you mean, missing?”

Caroline raised one spaghetti-strapped shoulder into the air and shrugged. It was late Thursday evening and not yet summer, but that didn’t stop her from donning a sexy slip of a dress that showed off her golden brown tan and the intricate rose tattoo on the back of her right shoulder. Her long, lean legs were wedged into stilettos as high as the Harbour Bridge and were poking out now from beneath the table.

“I don’t know, sweetie. Personally? I think it’s all a false alarm.” She scooped some lemongrass chicken onto her fork. “I nearly didn’t call you but, well, it’s got Mum and Dad in a bit of a tizz which is bizarre because they never get in a tizz. Unless somebody chops down a tree, of course, or mentions the letters CSG.” She rolled her big brown eyes and plunged the fork into her mouth, talking while she chewed. “Anyway, they haven’t heard from him in a few days and seem to think that’s a big deal—something he said freaked them out, apparently.” She offered her “go figure” look.

The two women were seated at a rickety table in an overcrowded Thai restaurant just a few blocks from Roxy’s inner-city Sydney apartment. When Caroline had called her, keen to “discuss something important”, Roxy had expected little more than boyfriend trouble or a change of career. God knows there’d been enough of both. This, however, was out of the blue.

She took a settling gulp of her wine and returned the glass safely to the table. “A few days is hardly a problem, is it?”

“My sentiments exactly but, well, Mum’s being all loopy on this one so …” She hesitated. “He hasn’t called you, has he?”

The sudden crinkle in Caroline’s otherwise flawless forehead was not without basis. The last time Roxy had spoken to her supposed “boyfriend” Max, just over six months ago, it had all turned very sour, very fast. They had been dating for almost a year and things were going swimmingly (albeit more treading water than doing laps) until Max mentioned a sudden job offer with Mercedes-Benz in Germany. Roxy had reacted badly, a little “Caroline-like” in fact, and had not managed to find her maturity in the meantime. She was still feeling raw from the rejection and had been hoping Max would do as he always did and make the first move: call with apologies, send her a surprise airline ticket to Berlin, something. But of course he hadn’t done that and so the silence had ensued.

Now it felt deafening.

“Anyhoo,” Caroline was saying, oblivious to Roxy’s internal discomfort, “I normally call Max when I have a problem; he cleans it up for me quick smart. Problem is, well, Max is my problem.” She laughed. “Then I remembered that you’re kind of good at looking into ‘mysteries’”—she used the two finger quotation mark symbol that Roxy abhorred—“so was wondering if you want to track him down for me and tell him to call his bloody parents so I can get them off my back.”

She raised one hand again to a waiter who had been tracking her from the moment she’d walked in and he scurried across, delighted to be at the stunning blonde’s beck and call. She ordered another glass of wine.

“You want?” she asked Roxy, almost as an afterthought, and Roxy tapped her glass.

“Merlot, please.” Then to Caroline, “Can we just back up a little? I still don’t understand why your mother thinks he’s vanished.”

“Oh she’s being so melodramatic, darling. I’m sure he’s just run off with some German flooz—” she caught herself and had the decency to blush. “Oops.”

Roxy shrugged her off. “I don’t care if he has a girlfriend, Caroline.”

“Sure you don’t. Anyway, I’m not saying he does have a girlfriend, I’m just saying—”

“So why is your mum so worried?” Roxy cut her off. “What did Max say when they last spoke?”

Caroline leaned forward, one dress strap dropping provocatively from her shoulder. “That’s the thing, he didn’t say very much and what he did say made absolutely no sense. Mum reckons he said he was heading to Brazil for a few days.”

“Brazil? For a few days? From Germany? Really?”

“I know! How bizarre is that? Mum must have heard him wrong. I mean, her hearing’s not what it used to be and Max was calling on his mobile phone, from the road apparently. Anyway, it’s not so much what he said, it was the way he said it.”

The waiter appeared with the wines and Caroline refitted her strap and then took her glass with barely a glance, causing the poor man’s shoulders to deflate considerably as he turned away. She swallowed a generous mouthful and said, “He sounded kind of strange.”

“How do you mean strange?”

“Mum says he sounded worried, stressed even, but you have to remember, Mum’s a hippie. She thinks she can read people’s cosmic energy down the phone line.” Again with the eye roll. “She says Max’s energy was ‘as black as a witch’s breath’.”

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LINKS TO BOOKS/WEBSITES BY C.A. LARMER

• AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/C.A.-Larmer/e/B006S9LC86/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1406003680&sr=1-2-ent

• NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/C-A–Larmer?keyword=C.A.+Larmer&store=ebook

• KOBO: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=C.A.+Larmer

• APPLE iPAD: https://itunes.apple.com/AU/book/id834409708?l=en

• C.A. Larmer blog: http://calarmerspits.blogspot.com.au/

• TWITTER: @CALarmer

• FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006328031549&ref=tn_tnmn

Christina and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

 

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PJ. Nunn – Private Spies

This week, I’m pleased to host mystery author, P J. Nunn

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As with most things, PJ Nunn’s career started out as something else entirely. She started out in retail then moved to property management. That led to teaching high school, then serving as a counselor and liaison to the local police youth services division. She also spent five years as chairperson of the Coryell County Child Welfare Board and spent years counseling abuse victims and serving law enforcement as a trauma counselor and consultant (something she still does today). When she moved to Dallas, a family illness caused her to leave a job teaching psychology at Dallas County Community College District to become a freelance writer, but found that a few favors she was doing for friends—writing press releases and setting up book signings—was better suited to her talents and her drives.

 In 1998, she founded Break Through Promotions, now a national public relations firm helping authors, mostly of mystery novels, publicize themselves and their work. The business is thriving and PJ is excited about the release of her first novel, Angel Killer. PJ lives with her husband some of their five children near Dallas, TX. Learn more at http://pjnunn.com.

Private Spies

When Jesse Morgan’s boss and best friend died, she inherited Private Spies, a private investigation firm that specializes in missing persons. Unfortunately, she knew little about the business aside from her intensive work on the computer. But if Joey thought she could handle it, she felt obligated to at least give it a try. How hard could it be, right?

 So Jesse took on her first case. Very straightforward. This guy is missing, find him. Oh but wait, he also kidnapped his own daughter. Find her too. Still not that hard. Except when she ran his report, the picture she found on his drivers license is of another guy. And when she found a guy who matched the first picture, he had another name. And when she found a girl that looked like the daughter, she didn’t match anything. Not good.

 Enter a retired police officer named Byron (really?) who says before Joey died, he hired him to work for them. Ok. This might be helpful. But then came a stalker, and a dead guy, a dead duck and an increasing list of incidents that all seem confusing to Jesse. Up to her eyeballs in threats and questions, Jesse’s outraged when the woman who hired her decides to fire her. Unbelievable! Unable to stop at that point, Jesse is determined to find the guy and solve the case. If only it was as easy as it sounded.

Here is an excerpt from Private Spies:

I hate mornings. Unfortunately, if I sleep through them like I like to do, I miss half the day. Time is money, or so I’ve heard. After a quick shower, I tugged on a sweater and a pair of jeans, promised Elvis I wouldn’t come home without food, and headed out. An unlocked door and the smell of fresh brewed coffee greeted me at the office.

“Bernice!” I smiled for the first time in awhile. “I didn’t expect you back until next week.”

“I knew you’d need me,” she smiled up at me from her desk, looking more like a weirded out fairy godmother than any receptionist I’ve seen.

At fifty something, her hair was more white than brown and she wore it in a variation of a beehive that I thought went out in the sixties. Bright blue eye shadow covered her eyelids like finger paint no matter what color of garish flowered muumuu she wore on her ample frame. I never did hear where Joey found her, but she was a whiz around the office.

“You’re right about that,” I said, retrieving the stacks I’d sorted from my desk. “Bills to pay, invoices to send, and stuff to file,” I said, setting each one down on her desk in turn.

“Oh, girl, looks like you’ve been busy!” she clucked.

“Not busy enough,” I groaned, sinking into my chair and glancing over at the piles still covering Joey’s desk. He might have known right where everything was, but to me, it just looked like a mess. “I’ve got a new case, though, so I guess those will have to wait another day or two.”

“No worries,” Bernice said cheerfully. “I’ll have it sorted out in no time. I know his system.”

She’d get no arguments from me. I have enough trouble with my own mess. The sound of Bernice rustling around and muttering to herself was oddly comforting and I got right to work on the Gafford case.

“Look at this,” I told Bernice, less than an hour later.

The picture Beverly Gafford faxed of her ex husband was grainy at best, but it still didn’t look anything like the driver’s license photo I picked off the Internet. Joey had us set up to get into all kinds of databases. Some of them, I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to get into, but sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions.

“Does that look like the same guy to you?” I handed the printout to her.

Bernice held the two photos in chubby hands an arm’s length away from her bifocals.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Not at all. You sure this is the right guy?”

I shrugged. “Same social, same name.”

“Guess it’s a really bad picture,” she said, putting them back on my desk. “You know those DPS pictures are a plot from hell.”

She nodded her head with her lips clenched in a tight line. Bernice thought everything was a plot from hell.

“Maybe,” I said.

But I didn’t think it was just a bad picture. Something seemed hokey about the whole thing.

“I’m going to see if I can find this guy in person,” I told her, pulling my purse out of the bottom drawer.

Ordinarily, that was a luxury I didn’t have, working on the Internet, but since he was supposedly here in Dallas I could do some actual investigating. That was a perk that didn’t come up often. Most of the time, I just did all my searching online and Joey had done the rest. I missed him.

Expecting to find a little house similar to my own, I was surprised when the address led me to the Frost Farms section of DeSoto. Where the really rich who don’t want to live in north Dallas live. Ranches and mansions with circular driveways and pools and stables and maids and limos. I heard one house actually has its own bowling alley. Not that I’d ever been inside one, but I could tell immediately that my whole house and yard would have fit easily in the garage.

My poor little Taurus probably felt like an unwanted stepchild. Hard to be inconspicuous in a Ford around there. Hard to see anything parked on the street, too. The house number was on the mailbox but the driveway was so long I had to rescue a surveillance bag out of the trunk and use binoculars. Joey liked to have all the right equipment, even if we hardly ever used it. Man, I missed him!

I didn’t have to wait long to see someone; people came and went like it was moving day only they weren’t carrying anything. Unfortunately, none of them even remotely resembled either of the men I was looking for, or the little girl, either. I was about ready to give up when a man came out of the stables and caught my attention. Even with the binoculars, it was hard to tell, so I took a chance and got out of the car. I needed to stretch my legs anyway. PIs do way too much sitting.

I had to hurry to cross the grass in time to catch him before he reached his truck, so I didn’t really have time to think of anything clever to say.

“Excuse me!” I called when I got close enough for him to hear me.

When he stopped and turned, I knew it was the same face that Beverly Gafford had faxed to me. He wasn’t very big, maybe five foot ten, a hundred and sixty pounds, but he had the wavy brown hair and the deep creases in his face that come from hours in the sun. Lawrence Gafford number one. The one that matched the picture that didn’t match the name. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be the boss yet. None of this made sense.

“Are you Lawrence Gafford?” I asked, trying not to breathe as hard as an obscene phone caller.

A scowl replaced the smile he’d been wearing. “Who wants to know?”

I pulled a card out of my pocket and handed it to him. “Jesse Morgan, Private Spies.”

“I got nothing to say to you,” he snarled and pitched my card on the ground, then turned and continued to his truck.

“Look,” I chased after him, “I don’t want to cause a problem, I just need to know…”

He couldn’t hear me because he was driving away. Great.

Private Spies front

Review:

“Hilarious! Jesse Morgan is a girl-next-door turned detective who if she runs short of skill will make up for it with sheer determination or maybe luck. She won’t rest until her case is closed.” - Bookbrowsing

Links:

Facebook/PJ - https://www.facebook.com/authorpjnunn

Facebook/BreakThrough - https://www.facebook.com/breakthroughpromo

Twitter – www.twitter.com/PJNunn

GoodReads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Blog – http://pjnunn.wordpress.com

P J. is giving away either a trade paperback or a Kindle copy of Private Spies. Leave a comment and be automatically be entered to win!

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Deborah Garner – The Moonglow Cafe

This week, I’m hosting mystery author, Deborah Garner.

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Deborah is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

The Moonglow Cafe

 New York reporter Paige MacKenzie has a hidden motive when she heads to the small town of Timberton, Montana. Assigned to research the area’s unique Yogo sapphires for the Manhattan Post, she hopes to reconnect romantically with handsome cowboy Jake Norris. The local gem gallery offers the material needed for the article, but the discovery of an old diary, hidden inside the wall of a historic hotel, soon sends her on a detour into the underworld of art and deception.

 Each of the town’s residents holds a key to untangling more than one long-buried secret, from the hippie chick owner of a new age café to the mute homeless man in the town park. As the worlds of western art and sapphire mining collide, Paige finds herself juggling research, romance and danger. With stolen sapphires and shady characters thrown into the mix, will Paige escape the consequences of her own curiosity?

Here is an excerpt from The Moonglow Cafe: 

The newspaper fell to the table and Paige caught her breath. Jake was even more handsome than Paige remembered, all blue eyes, chiseled chin, deep tan and windswept hair. She had missed him. Now here he was, his sly grin revealing she was the recipient of a well-planned surprise.

“Hi, Paige,” Jake said, looking pleased with himself.

“You tricky rascal! How?”

“First a toast. To Paige MacKenzie, intrepid reporter.”

Paige lifted her own glass and clinked it against Jake’s. “To Jake Norris, mysterious cowboy!” She took a sip of champagne before setting down her glass.

“So, how did you pull this off?”

“Your office,” Jake said. “I called there yesterday because I couldn’t reach you

on your cell phone.”

“I was in flight. My phone was off. And you hate leaving messages, don’t you?”

Paige crossed her arms and tried to look annoyed. But she couldn’t stop smiling.

“And you just go trouncing across the country, heading west, no less, without a word of warning.” Jake’s tone was 95 percent teasing and 5 percent scolding.

“I didn’t have much notice, to tell the truth,” Paige said. “Besides, I thought maybe I’d surprise you.”

“Well, I do believe I beat you to it.” Jake rocked back in his chair, looking like a schoolboy who’d just gotten away with an excellent prank.

“Yes, I believe you did.”

Enya had moved seamlessly into a haunting blend of pan flutes and soft drums.

Jake’s eyes reflected candlelight. As Jake leaned forward and lowered his voice to a whisper, Paige gave in to the urge to touch his hand with light fingertips just to be sure she wasn’t imagining his presence.

“Will we be getting menus soon?” Jake looked around the café for Mist. “I worked up an appetite driving today.”

Paige slid her hand back to her champagne flute, leaned forward, too, and matched his secretive tone.

“Moonglow doesn’t have menus,” Paige whispered. “Menus complicate life.” She felt a wave of satisfaction at Jake’s puzzled look. He may have surprised her first, but at least she had a head start on knowing Timberton’s quirks.

Two plates of food glided silently onto the table; the aromas of caramelized onions and port sauce rose up. Slender stalks of fresh asparagus fanned out to the left side of two tender, beef medallions. A diminutive, almond-encrusted puff pastry of baked Brie accompanied the meal. Jake looked at the plate and back up at Paige.

“Trust me,” Paige said. “Just eat anything she serves. The breakfast I had this morning was heavenly. If I could, I’d eat every meal here for the rest of my life.”

Jake dug into the gourmet meal, glancing around the café between bites. Paige watched him and knew he was as curious as she’d been since she arrived in Timberton. Hunger trumped conversation temporarily, but as he finished a last bite of Brie, he spoke.

“What kind of town is this, anyway? It didn’t look like much when I drove in.

But then the only café in town serves up a meal like this? I don’t get it.”

Paige could only agree.

“I wish I could tell you. It’s an odd place, that’s for sure.” Paige paused as

Mist switched out the empty dinner plates for two coffees, one miniature chocolate soufflé and two spoons.

“What does Susan have you working on this time?” Jake sipped his coffee

“I’m writing a sapphire article to coincide with a gemology convention coming up in New York in a few weeks,” Paige said. “There’s a gem gallery in town, and the owner knows a lot about Montana sapphire mining and the town’s history. Once I get a good focus, I hope it won’t take long to pull it together. But there’s something else.”

Jake took a sip of coffee as Paige lowered her voice again.

“I came across an old diary last night while I was trying to figure out how to turn on the heat in my room.”

“One of those display pieces that hotels put out for guests to see?” Jake said, holding his coffee cup close to his face to breathe in the aroma. “Wow, this coffee is excellent.”

“No,” Paige said. “I mean, yes, the coffee is amazing, but no, the diary isn’t a display piece. It was hidden inside the wall. I’m sure it belonged to a local artist. This town is filled with unusual characters and secrets,” Paige said, dipping a spoon into the soufflé. “It seems surreal.”

“Yes, I agree, surreal,” Jake said. “What are the entries in this diary like? Do they have anything to do with sapphires?”

Paige looked a little guilty. “Nothing to do with sapphires. From what I’ve read so far, the diarist was a painting student who was frustrated with his teacher and his own work. He was an angry person, but his story intrigues me.”

“Yes, I remember how you can’t resist the possibility of a good story.” Jake’s voice had softened. He reached across the table and laced his fingers with Paige’s. That simple contact unnerved but warmed her. It was good to feel his touch.

“How does a cool, Montana evening walk sound after we pay the tab?”  Jake nodded to the café’s front door.

“I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a check,” Paige laughed. “Payment for meals here is just as bizarre as everything else in this town.”

“If we don’t get a bill, how do we know what we owe?”  Jake said. Paige guessed that nothing in Timberton made sense to Jake.

“To quote what Mist told me this morning, ‘leave what your heart tells you.’”

“Well,” Jake sighed, “My heart tells me I’d better appreciate an extraordinary meal when I have a chance.” He stood and pulled out a worn, leather wallet from the back pocket of his jeans, taking several bills and dropping them on the table.

Just seeing Jake stand moved Paige to a familiar breathlessness. The scuffed boots were the same ones he’d been wearing when she’d first met him in Jackson Hole. The sound of his first step onto Moonglow’s wooden floor brought back memories of a day in another café, one state away. Had it really been only a month? She admired the snug, relaxed fit of his jeans. They looked like the same jeans as before, though the belt buckle was different. It was similar to the silver buckles she’d seen him wear, but with a trace of gold edging. The design featured majestic mountains and pine trees that surrounded a rustic bridge.

“Like it?”

Paige blushed. She knew she’d stared at that belt buckle a bit too long. Of course she liked it. All of it. What was not to like about this Wyoming cowboy?

“Recent addition to your wardrobe?”

Jake grinned. “Even guys shop sometimes, you know.” He helped her up from her chair, picked up the long-stemmed, red rose and presented it to her with a slight bow.

“Dramatic,” she teased.

“Well, drama could be your middle name, if I recall your last visit correctly.”

Jake released her hand and slid his arm around her shoulders.

“Not this time.” Paige sighed. They stepped out into the cold night and paused on the sidewalk. “The people are interesting, and the diary adds an intriguing twist, but there’s not a drop of drama to be found in this town from what I can tell.”

“That’s fine,” Jake said. “You’re here to do an article on sapphires. Maybe the town’s old-time residents will find the diary interesting. Anyway, the most important thing is that you’re here.” He turned Paige toward him and drew her close.

“I think maybe you should show me this diary,” Jake whispered, his lips brushing Paige’s ear. “You know…the one in your room?”

“Yes.” Paige said with a soft smile. “I think that’s a good idea.”

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Book Purchase Links for The Moonglow Cafe

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1iiokZn

Nook: http://bit.ly/1jHitbg

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1mYmIDz

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 You can find Deborah Garner at:

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborahgarnerauthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/paigeandjake

Website: http://www.deborahgarner.com

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1i2c6hE

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1migsJQ

Deborah and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment. When you do you’ll be entered to win a free copy of The Moonglow Cafe in any ebook format.

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