pot-luckI’m in love. Me, Elliott Lisbon, longtime director of the Ballantyne Foundation, found the kind of true love that made me giddy down to my toes, and that love was for the Adventureland Suite at the Disneyland Hotel. From the secret closet (I can’t tell you where it’s located because it’s secret) to the Tiki drum doorbell, I never wanted to leave. I normally hated rainfall showers (who wanted gallons of water pouring into their face?), but this one had lighting and sound effects. In the shower.

I wandered the grand collection of rooms, touching the silky zebra striped pillows and buttery leather chairs. Wild orchids mixed with elephant lamps. Pith helmets and felt safari hats hung on the walls, recalling the quests of 1930s explorers.

Nerves began to replace my excitement. Disneyland had always been my happy place. Edward and Vivi Ballantyne, founders of the Ballantyne Foundation in Sea Pine Island, SC, took me for my sixth birthday. My parents needed to be at a summit that month, so the ever-adoring Ballantynes whisked me into a dream. After that trip, Disneyland was my escape destination. This coming from a woman who lived on the beach.

I’ve visited dozens of times in my life, thought mostly alone. It’s difficult to share a dream with someone else, even when they’re your closest friends. Just out of high school, I went with such a friend. She didn’t feel the magic. Her imagination didn’t zing when encountering the smoke stacks of the Disneyland Railroad or the statue of Walt and Mickey in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The day fell flat. She wanted to leave in the afternoon. The first (and only) time I’ve ever left The Happiest Place on Earth when the sun still shone. From then on, I went solo. Enjoyed the haunts of New Orleans Square, the raft ride to Tom Sawyer’s Island, the twists of the bobsled down Matterhorn mountain.

Lieutenant Nick Ransom, sexy, macho, former FBI, one who chased down bad guys and trained special agents, and the only person I’d ever allow to plan a birthday getaway for the rest of my life, was in the other room with the bellman securing our luggage. It was our second vacation in less than six weeks. I was beginning to relax. It’d been a long year and Ransom was doing his best to help me forget. The safari bed with its flowing curtain canopy helped too. He emerged from the other room. “You ready?”

“You want to go now?” I asked. “We just got here. We should unpack.” My skin started to itch at the thought of leaving my clothes crammed between layers of Ziplocs (soaps, lotions, creams). “Maybe order some food?”

He pulled me to my feet. “We’ll eat at the park. You’ve raved about the Carnation Café. Perhaps hot dogs and fries? Or Moon Burgers and churros?”

He had me at churros.

Within fifteen minutes, we’d walked to the front entrance. The crisp January air accompanied us. Friendly faces at the admission gates greeted us as we clicked through the old-fashioned turnstile. A giant Mickey Mouse face created from flowers and greenery welcomed us. We approached the arched bridge with a brass plaque affixed to the stone high above us. I slowed to read it, though I’d read it a thousand times before.

Ransom stood beside me. “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy,” he said. He placed his hands on my face and kissed me. Warm, comforting, and yet bright. “Happy birthday, Red.”

“Thank you, Ransom. For the vacation, for the suite, for everything. I hope you love it.”

He grabbed my hand and started to pull. “Where to first? I’m thinking the Indiana Jones Adventure.”

My heart swooned. It was my favorite ride. And right then, I knew it was going to be an amazing week. Who knew? Maybe all those murder investigations were behind me and this next year would amazing.

Pot Luck is the fourth book in the Elliott Lisbon humorous mystery series, published by Henery Press, December 2016.


It’s time for the Irish Spring at the Ballantyne Foundation, and charity director/PI-in-training Elliott Lisbon kicks off the annual Pot of Gold Cook-Off in shamrock style. Twenty chefs compete for the corned beef and cabbage crown but only one can win the title. The odds improve when one chef goes missing. . .until Elli finds the Ballantyne’s own Chef Carmichael standing over the body with a knife.

With pug puppies, Colonel Mustard and Mrs. White, by her side, Elli searches both sides of coastal living for a clue to the killer. From million dollar condos to a run-down trailer park, the evidence pits her against sexy Nick Ransom, and the case gets hotter than a handful of peppercorns. Something about the case smells funny—and it has nothing to do with the cook-off. The luck of the Irish is nowhere in sight, but if Elli can’t crack this one open, Chef’s goose will get cooked for good.

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About the author
Kendel Lynn is a Southern California native who now parks her flip-flops in Dallas, Texas. Her debut novel, Board Stiff, was an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. It features Elliott Lisbon, a mostly amateur sleuth who is only 5000 hours away from getting her PI license. Kendel is the Vice President of Sisters in Crime and the Managing Editor of Henery Press, where she spends her days editing, designing, and reading subs from the slush pile. Pot Luck is her fourth Elliott Lisbon mystery.

All comments are welcomed.

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