A Day in the Life with Eloise Alcott by Ellery Adams

Murder in the Paperback ParlorMy name is Eloise Alcott and I own Run for Cover, the bookshop in the village of Storyton.

I’ve always loved my job, but I don’t think I’ve ever loved it as much as I do right now. You see, my best friend, Jane Steward, the manager of Storyton Hall, the luxury resort for bibliophiles, is hosting a convention for readers and writers of Regency romance novels. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I am beside myself with excitement.

First, I love the Regency period. Think of all the Jane Austen novels! Think of Mr. Darcy! Need I really say more? I’ve created an entire display in my front window featuring Ms. Austen’s romantic leads and I’ll have to refill it five minutes after Mrs. Pratt catches a glimpse of the books. Even if she already owns some of the titles, she’ll end up buying them all over again. That’s how much she loves books. Not only is she my best customer, but she’s also a member of my book club, The Cover Girls.

Which reminds me! Our book club is meeting tonight to discuss our recent read, a delicious novel called deckcardsThe Dashing Duke. The author, Rosamund York, is coming to Storyton tomorrow. Rumor has it that Rosamund and a handful of the other leading ladies of romance fiction aren’t very friendly, but what could go wrong over the next few days? After all, we’re having a Regency fashion show, learning to make reticles, attending author panels, competing in bookish trivia games, attending a truffle-making demonstration, and participating in a Ladies’ Choice Valentine’s Dance.

And did I mention the male cover model contest?

That’s right! We’re going to be sharing our tiny village with male cover models! All this and Mrs. chocolateHubbard’s famous Valentine’s tea spread. Oh, I can almost taste the Victoria sponge cake already. Between her cakes, scones, and finger sandwiches, as well as and platters of Regency-themed food I’ll be having at tonight’s book club meeting, I’d best pace myself. I want to catch the eye of one of those cover models. Or maybe that shy, new employee Jane hired to run the activities department. He’s a mysterious guy, to be sure. But then again, so is my brother, Edwin. I wonder what’s going on between him and Jane. . .

Oh! The bells hanging from my shop door are tinkling so I have to dash, but I hope you’ll join my bookheartsbook-loving friends and me for what promises to be a thrilling week of sumptuous food, riotous fun, intrigue, and a touch of romance. I should add that I doubt there will be murders like those that occurred during Storyton Hall’s last convention. After all, mystery fans attended that event. This one centers on romance readers. It’ll be nothing but roses and plump cupids for an entire week.

Wait a minute. Isn’t cupid the one with the arrows? The one who shoots people? Who makes them unwitting victims of desire? A desire so intense that they cannot control their actions? Oh my. Maybe romance isn’t as harmless as I thought. . .

You can read more about Eloise in Murder in the Paperback Parlor, the second book in the “Book Retreat” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.

About Murder in the Paperback Parlor
The New York Times bestselling Book Retreat mysteries feature Storyton Hall, the perfect getaway for literature lovers—except when a guest tries to get away with murder.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Jane Steward is organizing a week of activities for fans of love stories at her book-themed resort. But her Regency readers barely have time to brush up on their Jane Austen before tragedy strikes Storyton Hall. Rosamund York, one of the most celebrated authors in attendance, is killed.

Rosamund had as many enemies as she did admirers, including envious fellow novelists, a jealous former lover, and dozens of angry fans. It’s up to Jane, with the help of her book club, the Cover Girls, to catalogue the list of suspects and find a heartless killer quickly—before the murderer writes someone else off.

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Giveaway: Everyone who read the first book in this series, Murder in the Mystery Suite, Cat Teapothas met Muffet Cat, the portly tuxedo. Leave a comment about anything relating to the first book or what your expectations are of the latest installment, Murder in the Paperback Parlor, for a chance to win a Muffet Cat Teapot. And here’s a bonus! A portion of the profit from the purchase of this teapot will go toward animal rescue efforts. It’s a total win-win for cozy readers and animal lovers. Giveaway ends August 7 at 12 a.m. eastern and is open to U.S. residents only.

About the Author:
Ellery Adams grew up on a beach near the Long Island Sound. Having spent her adult life in a series of landlocked towns, she cherishes her memories of open water, violent storms, and the smell of the sea. Ms. Adams has held many jobs including caterer, retail clerk, car salesperson, teacher, tutor, and tech writer, all the while penning poems, children’s books, and novels. She now writes full-time from her home in Virginia.

For more info visit Ellery at www.elleryadamsmysteries.com or on Facebook.

A Conversation With Georgia Kelly by Jennifer McAndrews

Death Under GlassTuesdays are usually ordinary days. At least, they have been mostly unremarkable since the whole question of who killed the owner of the hardware store was settled. Once I helped get my grandfather cleared of suspicion and the real murderer was waiting behind bars for his court date, things settled down. And as an unexpected bonus, in the course of it all I’d made some friends.

One of them–my new bestie Carrie–was the owner / manager / head salesperson (or, as my grandfather would say “chief cook and bottle washer”) of Aggie’s Antiques and Gifts. She had been kind enough to offer to sell some of my projects on consignment. See, I may be between “regular” jobs as an accountant (Please. I know. Could I have chosen a more conservative career path?) and I may have had to give up a lot of my possessions when I moved in with my grandfather in the little town of Wenwood, NY. But one of the things I refused to surrender was all the supplies and equipment that allowed me to indulge in my love of stained glass. I’d taken my first classes in glass crafting as a way to reduce stress and promptly became devoted to the art. The color, the precision, the patina all combined to make something beautiful. Let a little light shine through and there was a potential for magnificence.

That is, if you’re designing a church window or something equally large and impressive. Which I wasn’t. I’d only been making small pieces to show and sell in Carrie’s shop. Except for that Tuesday. . .the one that was out of the ordinary and launched me on yet another new adventure.

On this particular Tuesday Carrie picked me up early in the morning. I made sure to give my fluffy white kitten Friday an extra dozen scratches under her chin before I ran out the door while my grandfather shouted out a reminder that we needed more moist cat food. (He claims Friday is a nuisance, but I can see straight through his bluster to the soft heart beneath.)

As I settled into the passenger seat, Carrie drove us deeper into the residential area of Wenwood, onto streets lined with huge trees that had stood for more than a century and homes that had sat in their shade for nearly as long. Along the way I peppered her with request for reassurances that the endeavor I was facing was a good idea. And like I said, she’s my best friend. Plus it was her idea in the first place. Of course she was in favor.

Carrie’s idea? Long-time resident Trudy Villiers was converting her large Victorian home into a B&B in anticipation of future tourist revenue. She had hired Carrie to help with decorating. Carrie, in turn, convinced Trudy that a custom-made stained glass window over the front door would add that certain something special. Naturally, that’s where I came in. And that, I thought, was enough to mark this Tuesday as out of the ordinary. After all, it’s not every day a person embarks on a new venture.

I was so wrong.

I was still stuck on why Trudy kept pausing in the middle of our discussions of her windows to gaze at me and repeat my name like she thought she’d read it in a news headline when finally the ringing of Carrie’s phone put an end to that. An office building that Carrie was half owner of and her ex-husband worked in had mysteriously gone up in flames. So much for consulting with Trudy Villiers. We were back in the car and on our way to that office building faster than you can say “bed and breakfast”, rushing to the scene–where the police and the Fire Marshall divulged their belief that the fire was the result of foul play.

That blew ordinary out of the water.

Yeah. I may have thought poking into crime was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I may have decided that uneventful days bordered on blissful, but this is my BFF we’re talking about. Someone is messing with her world. You can be darn sure I’m going to figure out who.

You can read more about Georgia in Death Under Glass, the second book in the “Stained-Glass” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Ill Gotten Panes.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 6 for the chance to win a print copy of Death Under Glass. 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.

About the author
At 5 years old Jennifer McAndrews’s greatest achievement was becoming the person responsible for choosing which kindergarten table was the first to be dismissed at the end of the day. Drunk on power, she entered into private school, where nuns promptly turned her into a nervous, twitching, Dickensian waif and (unwittingly) taught her the value of fabrication over truth and the importance of only dreaming of murdering the neighbors rather than actually carrying out the deed. Thus, the author of mysteries Deadly Farce, Ill-Gotten Panes, and Death Under Glass was born. For a slightly more mundane biography, visit www.jennifermcandrews.com

The People in the Life of Caprice De Luca by Karen Rose Smith

Drape ExpectationsToday I met my sister Bella at the Koffee Klatch. As a mom of three, she’s juggling being a mom and working part time at our friend’s dress boutique. In addition Bella creates costumes and christening outfits for kids and sells them online. She and her husband Joe are thinking about selling their house and looking for a bigger one. Of course, I’ll stage theirs to sell if they decide to do that. For free. That’s what sisters do.

Seth Randolph, the doctor I’m sort of dating, hasn’t called or emailed for a while. His fellowship at Johns Hopkins in Maryland keeps him beyond busy. I miss his smile and the way we connect. But involved in a long distance relationship a long time ago, I know they’re hard to maintain. I haven’t seen Grant Weatherford, my brother Vince’s law partner, since Benny’s christening. Grant and I can have an electric relationship at times. We don’t always agree. But Grant has saved my life and I owe him for that.

My rock legend friend, Ace Richland, is planning his comeback tour. Since his daughter adopted my Cocker Spaniel’s sibling, whenever Trista’s in town at Ace’s estate, she calls me. Lady and Brindle love to play together. Ace and his daughter are getting along much better now. I don’t know what his ex-wife thinks about Ace dating someone new. I heard his new significant other is Southern and a widow. Maybe I’ll soon meet her.

Lady and Sophia are good buddies now, though Sophia still doesn’t appreciate having her naps interrupted. Valentine, the kitty I found in February, is happy, playful, curious and content with Nana. Nana needed a cuddle buddy. Even though she lives in a house addition my parents built for her, she’s independent and wants to do most things for herself. At 76 she’s spry and active.

I’m so pleased my good friend Roz and my brother Vince are dating. I don’t know if either of them are ready for a serious relationship, but I hope they’re just right for each other.

I’m perfecting my chicken cacciatore recipe for Easter and it’s in the oven now. It’s my take on an old recipe and smells mouth-watering. I hope it tastes as good as it smells. I’m off to sample it now!

You can read more about Caprice in Drape Expectations, the fourth book in the “Caprice De Luca” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first three books in the series are Staged To Death, Deadly Décor, and Gilt By Association.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 5 for the chance to win a print copy of Drape Expectation plus $10 Amazon e-gift card. 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.

About the author
USA Today best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 87th novel published in 2015. An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that’s why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances.

Karen Looks forward to interacting with readers. Her website is the portal to her latest news, releases and social media feeds at www.karenrosesmith.com. It’s like a treasure map with new surprises to reveal at each click. For day to day chatting, search on Facebook for KarenRoseSmithBooks. Tweet with Karen on Twitter @karenrosesmith. Her blog, Cats, Roses. . .and Books! discusses whatever is uppermost in her mind at karenrosesmith.blogspot.com. She hopes each and every one of her books brings you reading pleasure and warm feelings to surround your heart.

My Musing ~ Drape Expectations by Karen Rose Smith

Drape ExpectationsDrape Expectations by Karen Rose Smith is the fourth book in the “Caprice De Luca” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, July 2015

Caprice De Luca’s former client and now friend Ace Richland–an 80’s rock star–asks her for a favor. Can she quickly stage his girlfriend’s house to sell? Widow Alanna Goodwin, a transplanted Southern beauty, will be moving in with him! Immediately Caprice realizes Alanna’s southern charm can be turned on and off at will. Caprice agrees to stage Alanna’s Kismet antebellum-styled mansion for Ace’s sake. But she soon learns Alanna doesn’t have a genuine love for her cat Mirabelle and also uncovers a plot her new client is hatching to sabotage Ace’s comeback. However, before she can tell Ace, Alanna is murdered and Ace is the prime suspect.

As Caprice investigates, she learns Alanna had more secrets than pie safes. With her Cocker Spaniel Lady by her side, she tracks down clues and adopts Alanna’s cat. In the midst of some of her own family upheaval–her uncle has moved in with her parents–she finds herself with a dilemma. Grant Weatherford, her brother’s law partner, advises Ace and reveals more of his past to her. Seth Randolph, the doctor she dates, wants her to meet his family. She must choose between them.

Danger stalks Caprice. Will her refresher self-defense course save her life? Only if she keeps her wits about her and Lady by her side.

I like it. Once again Caprice gets draped into a murder investigation and that’s when this wonderful adventure takes hold of my attention. This whodunit had a nice pace and a comfortable tone that added to my reading pleasure. The mystery had me quickly turning the pages as the author had a way with presenting this story that put me right in the middle of all the action. I enjoyed watching how this all played out with some surprising twists and turns that eventually lead to the identity of the killer. Caprice is a fun character and I’m so happy a resolution was made in her personal relationship. This is a good mystery with a good plot, great cast of characters, engaging dialogue that entertained me throughout. I look forward to more exciting adventures with Caprice and her friends.

Day in the Life of Librarian Hannah Moore by Victoria Hamilton

Death of an English MuffinWhat most people see when we first meet is that I’m a young woman and I’m in a wheelchair. People who know me well see all of me, the girl who loves tea and book, who likes to laugh, who has good days and bad. But sometimes folks only see the wheelchair. They talk to my mother or anyone else rather than me. It takes all the fortitude I can summon to not scream, “I am whole! I am intact! I am perfectly fine here inside an imperfect body.”

I’m just a woman like any other, I want to tell folks. I’ve been in love, and I’ve experienced heartbreak. I’m glad to be alive. Sometimes I have a bad day. However, I get by with a little help from my friends, as the Beatles said.

Anyway, my task here is to tell you about my average day.

Every day is different, but it always starts the same way, with my mother helping me get up and get ready and my father carrying me to my wheelchair. . . even though I could make it on my own. I sometimes think I’d like to live in my own apartment, and I have raised the topic, but my parents get so sad, and say, “Whatever you wish, Hannah,” which I know means, “Please don’t leave us yet.”

Then I have breakfast and get on with my day. Three days a week (and sometimes more) that means opening the library. Oh, the thrill of that word, library. Doesn’t it just whisper to you of magic and wonder and something beyond what we all can see and feel and hear? If you said yes, just now, that means you’re a book person and you can’t be bad. If you said no, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, however. . . oh, I’m just joking!

I love working in my library, helping people find the exact right book to take away their loneliness, or their worry, or just to help them fill their time. But other days I take books with me and go. My two favorite places are the local school, where I take picture books for the little ones and YA books for the middlegraders, and Golden Acres, Gogi Grace’s senior residence. I love taking picture books of old photos to help folks remember their youth, but other books too, on art, and history, and anything that tickles my fancy. I’ve met some fascinating people there. I’m secretly hoping to write a history of Autumn Vale, but don’t tell anyone!

Usually after that it’s home with Mom and Dad, but lately I do other things, and even go to parties and luncheons out at Wynter Castle, thanks to Merry Wynter, one of my new friends. And I do research for her when she’s ‘on a case’, investigating one of the murders that seem to be happening a little too often around here. I’m secretly thrilled when something I discover helps her crack the case!

I’m blessed with many friends, from those of my childhood like Zeke and Gordy, to my new Wynter Castle friends, Pish and Shilo and especially dear Merry.

And that’s my day. Please say you’ll drop by the library for tea and one of Merry’s muffins?


You can read more about Hannah in Death of an English Muffin, the third book in the “Merry Muffin” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Bran New Death and Muffin But Murder.

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About Death of an English Muffin
They say one’s home is one’s castle, but when it comes to Wynter Castle, Merry would like it to belong to someone else. But until a buyer bites, she could use some extra dough, so she decides to take in renters. The idea pans out, and Merry’s able to find a handful of tenants eager to live in a real castle. The only problem is most of them are crumby, tea-swilling old biddies.

The Legion of Horrible Ladies, as Merry calls them, is led by the terribly nasty—and fabulously wealthy—Cleta Sanson. The abrasive Englishwoman keeps everyone whipped into a frenzy—until she meets an embarrassing end behind a locked door. Evidence reveals that Cleta was murdered, yet no one is privy to how the deed was done. Merry knows she must quickly find the killer before another of her guests gets greased. . .

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 4 for the chance to win a print copy of Death of an English Muffin. 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.

About the author
Victoria Hamilton is the national bestselling author of three bestselling series, the Vintage Kitchen DonnaSMysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries as Victoria, and the Teapot Collector Mysteries as Amanda Cooper. She is also the bestselling author of Regency and historical romance as Donna Lea Simpson.

Victoria loves to cook and collects vintage kitchen paraphernalia, teacups and teapots, and almost anything that catches her fancy! She loves to read, especially mystery novels, and enjoys good tea and cheap wine, the company of friends, and has a newfound appreciation for opera. She enjoys crocheting and beading, but a good book can tempt her away from almost anything. . . except writing!

Connect with Victoria on her website, Facebook, Merry Muffin Mysteries Facebook Page, Pinterest, and Twitter

A Day in the Life of Arthur Wordington-Smythe by J.A. Lang

Chef Maurice and the Wrath of GrapesArthur Wordington-Smythe sat at his desk and stared at the one thing that all writers fear the most—a blank white screen.

In his case, the feeling of horror was compounded by a rapidly looming deadline, accompanied by threats from his England Observer editor that she might not sign off his latest dining receipts should this restaurant review be delayed.

At times like this, a writer has two choices: to knuckle down, or take to drinking. Or possibly both at the same time.

But the problem he was currently facing was not the writing of the review itself. The restaurant in question, the newly opened Fat Canard in North Gloucestershire, was a jewel of a concept—a restaurant purporting to serve only duck-based dishes—and a wondrous train crash of a reality.

As such, it was perfect fodder for his weekly column, where his readers would be delighted in the knowledge that someone in this world, perhaps after too many late night coffee binges, had decided upon a menu featuring such culinary marvels as: duck liver pâté served on crumbly duck-shaped ‘qwackers’; pulled duck burgers with duck-fat chips; a duckweed salad garnished with the house-cured duck pancetta; and a rather good chocolate sponge cake made with duck eggs and decorated with little sugar feathers.

No, it wasn’t that the Fat Canard review was refusing to waddle its way from Arthur’s brain onto the page. The problem was the other story, the one that had sat there for the last few weeks, itching at his mind. A story that had happened right here on his home turf, the little Cotswold village of Beakley, only a few weeks previously.

A real cracker (or quawker?) it was too. It featured all the hallmarks of a tip-top piece of fiction: a country house, a dastardly murder, a valuable collection of fine old wines, and—though this part rather offended Arthur’s literary sensibilities—a large kipper sandwich.

This last item had been the brainchild of Chef Maurice, Arthur’s best friend and owner of Le Cochon Rouge, who had recently taken to the solving of crime like a duck to, well, aerial yoga.

That was to say, enthusiastically, but leaving quite a few ruffled feathers in his wake.

But, thought Arthur, rolling up his sleeves, now was not the time to worry about the finer details. The kipper sandwich could be worked around. All he needed to start were the bare bones of the plot.

Slowly, pecking at his keyboard, he typed the following: The Case of the Locked Wine Cellar. By A. Wordington-Smythe.

All he needed now was a suitable main character. But that was easy enough. He typed on:

Archibald Branston-Pickleton, England’s foremost restaurant critic, sat staring at a plate of pan-fried wild duck breast. His fork hovered in his hand. Because tonight, it was not mallard, but murder, that was currently on his mind. . .

You can read more about Arthur in Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes, the second book in the Chef Maurice” culinary mystery series, published by Purple Panda Press. The first book in the series is Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on August 3 for the chance to win either a print or an e-book version of Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes–winner’s choice. The print giveaway is open to U.S. and U.K residents only. The e-book giveaway is open to everyone. 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.

About the author
J.A. Lang is a British mystery author. She lives in Oxford, England, with her husband, an excessive number of cookbooks, and a sourdough starter named Bob. To keep up to date with new releases, please hop over to www.jalang.net to sign up for the reader newsletter.


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

This week was the RWA “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. I was lucky to attend the two-hour event with the proceeds from book sales going to literacy organizations. This year’s beneficiaries are ProLiteracy Worldwide, Literacy Partners, and Literacy Assistance Center.

IMG_1576My main goal was to meet Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and I had a game plan that as soon as I walked into the room, I was headed to her line and yes, there were 30 people in front of me already. I had a good time talking with other NR/JD fans and then the fangirl moment came when she signed my book and I took a picture with her. I then ran into other authors, chatted with them, bought some books and then it was over.

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July 27 – August 2, 2015 on dru’s book musings
July 27: Arthur Wordington-Smythe from “Chef Maurice” series by J.A. Lang
July 28: Hannah Moore from “Merry Muffin” series by Victoria Hamilton
July 29: Caprice De Luca from “Caprice De Luca” series by Karen Rose Smith
July 30: Georgia Kelly from “Stained-Glass” series by Jennifer McAndrews
July 31: Eloise Alcott from “Book Retreat” series by Ellery Adams
August 1: Dulcie Schwartz from “Dulcie Schwartz” series by Clea Simon
August 2: Bea Goode from ” Bea Goode” series by Peg Kay

July 20 – July 26, 2015, last week on dru’s book musings
– Trudy Genova from “Manhattan” series by M.K. Graff
– Davis Way Cole from “Davis Way” series by Gretchen Archer
– Nan Vining from “Nan Vining” series by Dianne Emley
– Olivia Greyson from “Cookie Cutter Shop” series by Virginia Lowell
– Carol Childs from “Carol Childs” series by Nancy Cole Silverman
– Gia Di Mitri from “Danger Cove” series by Traci Andrighetti
– Colleen Caruso from “Jersey Girl” series by Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa

Congratulations to these contest winners –
“Macaroni and Freeze” by Christine Wenger – Annette D. G.
“Macaroni and Freeze” by Christine Wenger – Cynthia B.
“Royal Assassin” by Kate Parker – Kari C.
“Butter Off Dead” by Leslie Budewitz – Alicia F.
“Rainy Day Women” by Kay Kendall – Peggy H.
“Rainy Day Women” by Kay Kendall – Elaine N.
“Magic and Macaroons” by Bailey Cates – Barbara H.