A Night in the Life of Zoë Sutton by Simon Wood

The One That Got AwayThey’re throwing me out of the bar. Sure, I shouldn’t have hit him, but when you put an unwanted hand on a woman, there are consequences. Can I help it that with my defense skills I can put a guy on his back without breaking a sweat?

I can hear him hurling threats about calling the cops. He won’t. None of the guys I’ve knocked down ever do. What kind of man wants the world knowing a chick put him on his ass? None. Male pride. You’ve gotta love it.

As I traipse through San Francisco’s moonlit streets, the guilt sets in. Tonight’s events aren’t exactly new for me. I kind of have a track record. I dress up (or dress down, it depends on your point of view), hit the bars and clubs alone and let things unfold from there. Sometimes I find fun. Sometimes I find danger. Maybe I even court it. These aren’t exactly the actions of an educated woman.

I can hear my therapist in my head. “Zoë, why do you do it? Why do you put yourself at risk?”

I don’t know. To be honest, I never see it as dangerous behavior. A woman should be able to go out at night alone and have fun, and not have it considered dangerous. I just want to celebrate life. I’m living for two after all.

Am I living for two? Or just trying to follow Holli into an unmarked grave? I want to say the former but my therapist maintains it’s the second. And I’m starting to agree.

I guess I should be honest here. I’m a coward. Last year, Holli and I were on a girl’s weekend in Vegas. Some son of a bitch doped us and stashed us in his little pain cave in the desert. While he took to Holli with a whip, I escaped. I told myself I was only leaving to get help, but they never found Holli or him.

You can tell me it wasn’t my fault and there was nothing I could have done. But with the utmost respect, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Sorry. I don’t mean to get up all in your face but you don’t know what it’s like living with what I’ve done.

Part of me wants to put what happened to Holli and me behind me and live on. Part of me wants to go back to that night and take that son of a bitch on. The result is that I’m stuck in my own private purgatory. It’s why I have a dead-end job and I hit the town looking for trouble. Looking for him. Hoping our paths will cross so I can get a chance to make up for what I did…or didn’t do.

And I might just get my wish. He’s here. The media is calling him the Tally Man. There’s a dead woman in the city. She was flogged before she was killed, just like Holli. I’m hoping our paths will cross. And when they do, I’m going to ask him where to find Holli…just before I kill him.


You can read more about Zoë in The One That Got Away, published by Thomas & Mercer.

Meet the author
Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He’s a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot, an SimonWendurance cyclist and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and four cats. He’s the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, Asking For Trouble, We All Fall Down and the Aidy Westlake series. His latest thriller is THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus. Curious people can learn more at www.simonwood.net.

A Day in the Life of Vivan Tremont by Jenn McKinlay

At the Drop of a HatSecrets are sneaky little things and they always escape, no matter how hard you try to hold them, like smoke through your fingers.

My name is Vivian Tremont and I’m a milliner in the shop I inherited from my grandmother Mim. My American cousin Scarlett Parker and I run Mim’s Whims together. It is good to have Scarlett here with me as she is much better with people than I am. She is the balm to my erratic artistic temperament and since we spent our school holidays together, it is more like being in business with a sister than a cousin.

Now my days are supposed to consist of hours spent gluing feathers onto fascinators and hand stitching elaborate borders onto wedding veils, but my life hasn’t been like that for a while. In fact, sometimes when I look at my life, I don’t even recognize it. And much as I love her, I know for a fact, it is all Scarlett’s fault.

Mind you, I love her gift for dealing with people. When we have an annoying customer that I find too difficult to deal with, Scarlett manages to smooth what could easily become a nasty altercation into a satisfactory interaction. Of course, the flipside to this is that Scarlett’s customer service tends to get us into some rather awkward situations.

For instance, take our current predicament. Ariana Jackson came to us with her late mother’s bridal hat. She wanted to wear it in her own wedding so that she could have a part of her mother with her on her special day. It was especially sentimental for us as it was designed by Mim over thirty years ago. So, naturally, we were eager to take the job.

Unfortunately, when Scarlett went to meet with Ariana to discuss the cost of the refurbishment, she found Ariana kneeling beside the body of her boss, who had fallen several stories to his death. Ghastly!

Now a normal person would take in this horrid situation, call the police, and back away without a second thought but not Scarlett. Oh, no, the next thing I knew she had me visiting our client at the Notting Hill police station, where Ariana convinced us of her innocence by sharing her darkest, most personal secret with us.

Her candor convinced us that she wasn’t guilty and we agreed that we would do whatever we could to see her free from suspicion. Now, our poor intern Fiona Felton is manning the shop while we race all over London, with our friends Nick and Andre, trying to find someone else who wanted Ariana’s boss dead. To our dismay, it appears to be a pretty long list.

Meanwhile, our business manager Harrison Wentworth has hired a friend to try and help Ariana with her defense. Alistair Tucker, a noted defense attorney, agrees to take the case. I have to admit I find Alistair quite dishy, but as the case heats up and things between Alistair and I get equally warm, I have to shut everyone out, including my cousin Scarlett for I have secrets of my own that I dare not let out.


To find out what Vivian’s secret is, be sure to read At the Drop of a Hat, the third book in the “Hat Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Cloche and Dagger and Death of a Mad Hatter.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on March 6 for the chance to win a copy of At the Drop of a Hat Book. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times bestselling author of the Library Lover’s mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery mysteries and the London Hat Shop mysteries. Clearly, writing gives her an excuse to read, eat, and travel. It’s a perfect career for sure. Jenn lives in Scottsdale, AZ in a house overrun with kids, pets and her husband’s guitars.

Visit Jenn at www.jennmckinlay.com

A Day in the Life of Dana Lewis by Staci McLaughlin

A Healthy HomicideWell, the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa is still open for business, believe it or not. Zennia, our health-minded cook, continues to whip up occasionally intimidating but highly nutritious meals; Gordon, our business-oriented manager, is watching the budget like a hawk watches a baby chick in our hen house; and I’m using all my marketing skills to promote the spa like never before. I’d like to think my two-for-one coupons and blog postings have made the O’Connell Farm a household name, but we still struggle. Esther, the owner, is always worried. At least we haven’t closed completely, something I was sure would happen with the streak of bad luck we had those first few months.

In case you didn’t hear, a guest was murdered on opening weekend. The timing couldn’t have been much worse. Most of the guests who were staying here checked out, and nobody else dared check in until we solved the murder. Then, when things started to settle down, an ex-boyfriend of Ashlee, my attention-seeking younger sister, was killed. When the police focused on Ashlee as a possible suspect, my marketing work, as well as those extra chores I often do like cleaning out the pig sty and serving meals to the guests, took a nosedive while I spent all my time trying to clear my sister’s name.

Things started to look up when I helped organize and run a green living festival in downtown Blossom Valley. I figured it would be a great way to draw attention to the farm and spa. I spent hours creating a photo collage of the farm’s highlights and designing new brochures that would make everyone want to book a stay. I could barely contain my excitement when I’d finished setting up our booth. But wouldn’t you know it. I returned from grabbing a quick lunch and found the body of a former classmate in the booth next door. The festival almost fell apart after that. I mean, it’s hard to promote green living when everyone wants to talk about the dead lady. But somehow we managed to survive the weekend and even drum up a little business.

Around the same time as the festival, we also expanded our spa services and hired Gretchen, a masseuse and facial expert. With her magic hands and friendly demeanor, we’ve lined up a steady stream of regular customers, which has tickled Gordon to no end. But now all our progress may be in jeopardy because of a new spa that’s opened right downtown. Sitting in such a prime location, it’s bound to attract the attention of anyone driving through Blossom Valley.

Esther was in an absolute tizzy when she arrived at the farm this morning and told me that one of her friends has already gotten a manicure there. Her friend couldn’t stop gushing about how trendy the place is. Trendy is definitely not a word I would use to describe Esther’s business. Still, I told her there was nothing to worry about, even if I am already working on a new marketing plan.

To help me, Gretchen has agreed to stop by the downtown spa after work today. She’ll do a little snooping to find out what services they offer and whether our prices are competitive. She’ll be in and out before the spa owner even realizes Gretchen works for the competition. With such a simple plan, what could possibly go wrong?


You can read more about Dana in A Healthy Homicide, the fourth book in the “Blossom Valley” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is Going Organic Can Kill You.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on March 5 for the chance to win a copy of A Healthy Homicide. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Staci McLaughlin is the author of the Blossom Valley Mysteries. While she tries to eat as nutritiously as Zennia, the spa’s cook in her series, she can’t quite give up store-bought treats and frozen macaroni-and-cheese meals. When she’s not nibbling on a cookie, she’s often helping with homework or chasing after her two kids. You can find her online at www.stacimclaughlin.com or the LadyKillers blog. She currently lives with her husband, children, and various pets in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Blog Tour With Gini Miller by Mary McHugh

Flamenco Flan and FatalitiesI’m Gini Miller, narrator of the second book in the Happy Hoofers series by Mary McHugh called “Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities.” It takes place on a luxury train traveling across northern Spain from Santiago de Compostela to San Sebastian.

My four friends and I are hired to tap dance on the train and we’re having a great time until a famous, loud-mouth talk show host is murdered on our first day. If you read the first book in this series called “Chorus Lines, Caviar and Corpses,” you’ll remember my four dancing friends: Tina Powell, a travel editor for a bridal magazine and our fearless leader who gets us jobs on cruise ships, luxury trains and resorts; Janice Rogers, an actress and director who falls in and out of love regularly; Pat Keeler, a family therapist and our mother hen, Mary Louise Temple, a housewife, and me, a documentary film maker.

As in all these Happy Hoofer cozy mysteries, there are recipes, a dog, a language lesson, romance, suspense, and visits to lovely places in northern Spain like the little seaside town of Luarca where all the houses are white.

Best of all, you’ll dance the flamenco with us, learn some dance steps, enjoy a cooking lesson with a wise-cracking chef, share my photography tips, visit a pre-Romanesque monument and a cave in Covadonga.

Laugh along with me as my four dancing friends and I solve another couple of murders and marvel at the beauties of northern Spain.


You can read more about Gini in Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities, the second book in the “Happy Hoofers” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is Chorus Lines, Caviar and Corpses.

This is the 7th stop on the Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities Great Escapes Tour. Click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for the chance to win one of five print copies of Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities. More stops on the tour can be found here.

About the author
Mary McHugh has published 22 books on subjects ranging from feminism to Crotchety Old Men. At present she is writing MaryMa series of murder mysteries for Kensington Books.

She worked for The New York Times for their special sections, and her article, “Telling Jack” in the Sunday Times magazine was nominated for an award for best personal essay by the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Her book, Special Siblings: Growing Up with Someone with a Disability, was awarded a prize for Special Recognition of a National Project by The Arc of New Jersey.

She worked as an articles editor at three national magazines and was a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle and senior women.com.

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It’s all in a day’s work for Emma Lee Raines by Tonya Kappes

A Ghostly UndertakingWith a funeral, a ghost, a murder . . .

If it weren’t for bad luck. . .Well, you know the saying and I’m no exception to the rule. Growing up and living in the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home should’ve been my first clue that my life was going to be any less than normal.

I embraced my high school nickname, Creepy Funeral Girl, and took over the family business after my parents retired, leaving me in charge of getting the dearly departed residents of Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky six feet under to their final resting place.

At least that’s what I thought until the one ill-fated snowy day when I was walking through the town square to grab some lunch from Artie’s Meat and Deli. The snow that covered the shop roofs were quickly melting from the sunshine, causing the plastic Santa on Artie’s roof to slide off and hit me square in the head. Knocking me out flat.

I swear I thought I was a goner, gone to the big guy in the sky, and joined all my clients I had put six feet under because when I woke up Ruthie Sue Payne, Eternal Slumber latest client, was standing next to me, bunny slippers and all.

Doc Clyde confirmed I was not dead, but I had the “Funeral Trauma.” He said I’d been around the dead too long and needed a little time off, but Ruthie didn’t see it that way.

In fact, Ruthie said that the accidental slip and fall autopsy report was wrong and that she was murdered. Pushed!

Worse, she wasn’t going to leave me alone until I helped get her to the “other side” by figuring out who murdered her. One problem. Ruthie’s archenemy was my Granny, Zula Raines Payne. After all, Ruthie’s ex-husband left her for Granny and the two had not gotten along since.

Now it was personal. Ruthie accused my Granny of killing her when I know Granny was not capable of doing such an act. Or was she?

Jealousy made people do strange things and in the south, we like to sweep things under the rug with a big smile on our face pretending nothing ever happened.

Ruthie wasn’t the only one who thought her death was suspicious. Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, my high school crush and now Sheriff of Sleepy Hollow, was sniffing around asking all sorts of questions not just about the death of Ruthie Sue, but the odd behavior I was displaying by talking to myself in public.

I guess I could hide my crazy to help out hunky Jack Henry and exonerate my Granny in the process so I could get Ruthie Sue Payne to the other side.
ghostly southern

Read A Ghostly Undertaking now available everywhere e-books/books are sold. Here’s what’s up in A Ghostly Undertaking:
ghosty text


You can read more about Emma Lee in A Ghostly Undertaking, the first book in the highly anticipated A Ghostly Southern Mystery series, published by HarperCollins.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on March 3 for the chance to win a signed copy of A Ghostly Undertaking along with a Kappes Tote. Two lucky winners will be randomly selected. Winners will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Tonya has written over 16 novels and 4 novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for SOUTHERN SMALL TOWN MYSTERIES charged with emotion and humor, and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers and a stray cat in northern Kentucky and grew up in Nicholasville. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full time but can be found at all of her guys high school games with a pencil and paper in hand.

To sign up for Tonya’s newsletter, stalk her on social media, view book trailer, and upcoming news, check out Tonya’s website, Tonyakappes.com.

Blog Tour With Ellison Russell by Julie Mulhern

The Deep EndFor me, there’s a big difference between a typical day before that morning and after.

Before that morning, I’d get up early, pull on a swimsuit and head to the country club.

After – well, after is another story. This story. It begins like this. . .

My morning swim doesn’t usually involve corpses. If it did, I’d give up swimming for something less stressful, like coaxing cobras out of baskets or my mother out of bed before ten.

Watching the sun rise over the seventh green is often the best part of my day. I dive into the pool while the water is still inky. When the light has changed from deepest indigo to lavender, I break my stroke, tread water and admire the sky as it bleeds from gold to yellow to pink. It’s a ritual, a metaphorical cleansing, a moment of stolen peace.

After all, I have a teenage daughter, a mother with strong opinions, a Weimaraner named Max who plots to take over our house on his path toward world domination, and a husband. Much as I’d like to, I can’t leave him out.

I kicked off my Dr. Scholl’s, tossed my husband’s button-down onto a deck chair, dove into the dark water and gasped at the sudden, encompassing cold. That shock of chilly water against my skin is better than coffee when it comes to waking up. Maybe not better. Faster.

My legs kicked, my arms sliced and I settled into the comforting rhythm of the Australian crawl. My fingers knifed through the water, anticipating the smooth parting of liquid. They found fabric and the horrific touch of cold flesh.

Turns out swimming into the lifeless body of your husband’s mistress can ruin your whole day. Becoming a murder suspect can ruin your whole life.

Now, Mother is interfering, my husband, Henry, is missing and I am learning things about Henry that no wife should ever know. My advice? If your husband is caught in flagrante in the coat closet at the club Christmas party, divorce him. Of course, hindsight is twenty-twenty. If I’d only known Henry’s sordid affair might lead to murder. . .


You can read more about Ellison in The Deep End, the first book in the new “Country Club Murder” mystery series, published by Henery Press.

This is the 8th stop on the The Deep End Great Escapes Tour. Click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for the chance to win one of five e-copies of The Deep End. More stops on the tour can be found here.

Meet the author
Julie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time JulieMwhipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean—and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is—she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist. The Deep End is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award. Visit her at www.juliemulhern.com or on Facebook.

WEEKLY ROUND-UP: No. 60

Weekly Roundup* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

February 23-28, 2015 on dru’s book musings
Feb 23: Ellison Russell from “The Deep End” by Julie Mulhern
Feb 24: Emma Lee Raines from “A Ghostly Undertaking” by Tonya Kappes
Feb 25: Gini Miller from “Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities” by Mary McHugh
Feb 26: Dana Lewis from “A Healthy Homicide” by Staci McLaughlin
Feb 27: Vivan Tremont from “At the Drop of a Hat” by Jenn McKinlay
Feb 28: Zoë Sutton from “The One That Got Away” by Simon Wood

Week of February 16 -21, 2015
Maura Donovan from “An Early Wake” by Sheila Connolly
Maeve Conlon from “Lies That Bind” by Maggie Barbieri
Tj Jensen from “Puppies in Paradise” by Kathi Daley
Abby Salvare from “A Root Awakening” by Kate Collins
Connor Sullivan from “Darned if You Do” by Monica Ferris
Candy Holliday from “Town In A Sweet Pickle” by B.B. Haywood

Recent contest winners
“February Fever” by Jess Lourey – L. Sullivan
“February Fever” by Jess Lourey – B. Woodrum
“February Fever” by Jess Lourey – M. McKetchnie
“Death and the Redheaded Woman” by J. Dannheim
“Played by the Book” by Lucy Arlington – E. MacGregor
“Fry Another Day” by J.J. Cook – C. Corbitt
“Devil in the Deadline” by LynDee Walker – C. Scott
“Phantom Angel” by David Handler – M. Hodgkins
“License to Dill” by Mary Ellen Hughes – M. Forbes


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