Literally Dead by Lois Winston is the second book in the “Empty Nest” mystery series, published October 2016

literally-deadAfter her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.

With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.

Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

This was an enjoyable little whodunit that saw Gracie Elliott winning a writing award and having a body land near her. What looks like an accident turns out to be more once Gracie sets her mind that a murder has occurred. The author gives us an inside look at the publishing industry as well as telling a story of deceit and betrayal. With a multitude of suspects and a few surprising twists, this was nicely done and I like how the characters were portrayed in their perspective roles. I love the relationship between Gracie and her husband with their witty repartee which adds to the telling of this tale.

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