Daily Archives: May 15, 2015

A Day in the Life of Toni Holmes by Nancy J. Parra

Flourless To Stop HimHi Toni Holmes here. I am owner and operator of a gluten-free bakery called Baker’s Treat. I turned my celiac diagnosis into a passion for bringing ”normalness” to people with special diets. Trust me there isn’t a little kid in the world who wouldn’t want a birthday cake on their special day or a donut with sprinkles. So I bring special treats to those with special needs. But these days I’ve also developed into a bit of an amateur sleuth. It all started innocently enough when I opened Baker’s Treat in my home town of Oiltop, Kansas. It seems that opening a gluten-free bakery in the middle of wheat country was a bit out of place. Protests led to murder and my own involvement was initially to save my own skin.

But you want to know what a day in my life is like, so here goes. I get up at 3 a.m., throw on my baker’s uniform, grab a cup of coffee to go, and head out into the cold dark night. There is nothing better than to have the early morning hours to myself with my favorite bands blaring on the sound system while I pull out dough and get things in the proofer, warm up the ovens and start baking.

The thing about being a baker is that weekends are some of the best days to sell so I work Tuesday through Saturday. On Monday’s I try to get out and visit with friends and run errands. This Monday I happened to be visiting my friend Tasha at her place of work-the Red Tile Inn. While I’m worrying over how to Christmas shop on the internet, Tasha’s maid Maria comes running inside white as a ghost. She has found a dead man in one of the rooms.

I call 9-1-1 while Tasha comforts Maria. Soon the police come to investigate and we discover that the room was reserved in my brother Tim’s name and the dead man is Tim’s best friend. With Tim as suspect number one, Grandma Ruth pushes me to figure out who is framing my brother. Meanwhile I’m swamped with Christmas orders and the success or failure of my bakery hangs in the balance.

It’s hard to be all things to all people and I find myself having to choose between saving my brother or saving my business. The bustle of the holidays takes on new meaning as sleep goes by the wayside and I discover that family comes first.

You can read more about Toni in Flourless To Stop Him, the third book in the “Baker’s Treat” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Gluten for Punishment and Murder Gone-A-Rye.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on May 22 for the chance to win a print copy of FLOURLESS TO STOP HIM. 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
Nancy J Parra has been gluten free for six years and it was while posting her gluten-free recipes on Facebook that another author said she ought to write a book set in a gluten free bakery. Nancy did and the “Baker’s Treat” mystery series was born. Nancy also writes the “Perfect Proposal” series for Berkley Prime Crime and the “Candy Coated” Mystery series for Kensington Books. Nancy lives on the West coast with her plucky Bichonpoo known affectionately on line as Little Dog. Visit Nancy at www.nancyjparra.com.

My Musing ~ One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O’Neil

One Foot in the GrapeOne Foot in the Grape by Carlene O’Neil is the first book in the NEW “Cypress Cove” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, May 2015

In California wine country, the town of Cypress Cove may seem peaceful. But someone’s about to pop their cork.

After losing her job as a photojournalist, Penny Lively is trying to get her life back in focus. Inheriting the family winery from her late aunt may be the fresh start she needs. Thankfully she’s got her niece Hayley and her handsome winery manager Connor to help. But the person in need of more urgent assistance is Antonia Martinelli, the owner of the neighboring winery, who has her own barrel full of problems. Someone’s spoiling her wine, and with the upcoming Autumn Festival, she needs Penny’s nose for clues to sniff out the culprit.

But Penny’s search for answers sours after the body of a staff member is found in a grape crusher. Since Hayley was the last to see him alive, she’s the prime suspect in the case. Now Penny must hurry to find the real killer before Hayley withers on the vine.

I like it. The author did a great job in presenting this story with an interesting cast of characters and engaging conversations. The tale had a nice pace that was easy to follow from scene to scene. I love the way the author grabbed onto the essence of this drama where the suspects were plenty and the drive to figure it all out had me quickly turning the pages to find out what happens next. With bits and of clues dispersed throughout the drama, my attention was captured when at first I thought I had an idea of who was the killer, and it was one smidgen of a clue that I knew who it was and I enjoyed watching it all played out as the author’s written words drew the ring around the killer. Penny is very likeable and a good team that includes Hayley, Connor, Anne, Ross, Thomas and Antonia completes her inner circle that provides a well-rounded mystery that is a welcome addition to the cozy genre. This was a good read and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Cypress Cove.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

My Musing ~ Fillet of Murder by Linda Reilly

Fillet of MurderFillet of Murder by Linda Reilly is the first book in the NEW “Deep Fried” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, May 2015

Talia Marby serves up delectable English deep fried fare in the heart of the Berkshires—but she soon discovers there’s something fishy going on.

Sometimes in this life, you have to fish or cut bait. After walking away from a miserable job and an even worse boyfriend, Talia Marby has no regrets. She’s returned to her hometown and is happy to help her dear friend Bea Lambert by working at Lambert’s Fish & Chips, a cornerstone of a charming shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.

But not all the shop owners are charming. Phil Turnbull has been pestering Bea to sign a petition against a new store opening up, and his constant badgering is enough to make her want to boil him in oil. When Talia and Bea stumble upon Turnbull murdered in his shop, the police suspect Bea. Now it’s up to Talia to fish around for clues and hook the real killer before her friend has to trade serving food for serving time.

I enjoyed this evenly paced and light fare drama that was delightfully entertaining. We are introduced to Talia whose return home is marred when her beloved boss becomes a prime suspect. What else is she to do but look for a murderer among the other shopkeepers.

I love the flow of this well-written plot that moved effortlessly towards a conclusion with bits of Talia’s backstory and a slew of suspects that was fun to watch as the clues populated this tale. The author was very adept at pulling it all together with a sizzle of suspense and intrigue into the characters’ life that enable me to keep up with the story as the search for the killer narrowed down as I moved closer to the end. The conversational dialogue was believable and I like that Talia forced herself to get involved when it looked like the police was stalled. Talia is a likable heroine who is surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters and I look forward to the next book in this series that will bring new and exciting opportunities to Talia and her friends.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog