Greetings from the shores of Lake Michigan. I’m Marlee Jacob, and you may have noticed the Dickensian twist to my name. That was no accident. My mom is an English professor who happened to be reading A Christmas Carol when she went into labor. It was also Christmas Eve. With a last name of ‘Jacob’, no one should have been surprised she chose ‘Marlee’ as my first name. Luckily, only fans of the Dickens’s story guess my namesake was Ebenezer Scrooge’s miserly business partner.
I find it ironic I chose to become a business owner, but only after a turbulent career as producer at the Gourmet Living Network in NYC. After one half of a celebrity chef duo poisoned her husband with an arsenic filled cake, I left behind my career in television to return to Oriole Point, my beautiful hometown in west Michigan. A longtime artists’ colony, this village of four thousand people is nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan. Due to the coastline’s sandy beaches, vineyards, lighthouses, and gorgeous lake views, our economy rests on tourism. And it is a favorite vacation spot for residents of Chicago, only a two-hour drive away.
My shop, The Berry Basket, is one of many downtown businesses which caters to these visitors. As the name suggests, everything in my store is berry related: berry jams, jellies, wines, juices, soaps, lotions, granola, teas, coffees, and lots more. Even berry jerky. Thanks to my baker, Theo Foster, I also sell six different berry pastries each day. Except for the berry pies, which are delivered each morning from Zellar Orchards. I get this extra perk because I’m engaged to Ryan Zellar, whose family is one of the biggest fruit growers in the region. With a January wedding on the horizon, I should devote more time to all things bridal. However, summer is high season in Oriole Point and The Berry Basket needs to take precedence. And this season promises to be busier than most.
As though the summer wasn’t already filled with a dizzying number of activities, Piper Lyall-Pierce, our indefatigable head of the visitor’s bureau, has launched a new event: the Strawberry Moon Bash. Because of the berry theme, there was no way Piper wasn’t going to involve me. And I already had enough on my plate after my friend Natasha disappears on the same day that her malicious husband decides to shut down my business. When this is followed by a murder, you’ll understand how I had no time to plan a wedding. Although I did manage to fit in my daily beach yoga classes amid the turmoil. I needed to find some way to relax after I learned a killer was on the loose and far too many people in the village harbored secrets. Including my fiancé. And I haven’t even mentioned the vengeful person from my past who arrives in town. Small wonder I needed to spend time in Downward Facing Dog. Namasté indeed.
Dying For Strawberries is the first book in the NEW Berry Basket mystery series, published by Kensington, October 2016.
With seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and the Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.
Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan two years ago. Between running the Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the thirty-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York . . .
But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body while searching for Natasha, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.
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About the author
Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties, with her first novel released in 1998. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuts October 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.
In her former life, Sharon turned her hand to a variety of endeavors from principal investigator on an archaeological site, college history instructor, caterer’s assistant, and dancing in a giant dog costume for a non-profit company (it’s a long story). Although Sharon has lived in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, she calls Michigan home, specifically the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan. She is so enamored of the sand dunes, orchards and beaches of western Michigan, she set The Berry Basket mysteries in a town very similar to the one she is lucky to live in.
While much of her time is spent hunched over a laptop, Sharon does take breaks to enjoy the nearby lakeshore, usually while talking on her cell phone and sipping an iced coffee drink. Sharon’s reading and viewing pleasure spans everything from Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels to the Real Housewives shows on Bravo. And she is currently trying to maintain a stiff upper lip until the next seasons of GAME OF THRONES and OUTLANDER return in 2017. Connect with Sharon at sharonfarrowauthor.com.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Dying For Strawberries. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends October 27, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!