death-by-chocolate-labOccupation: Owner of Lucky Paws Petsitting

Excuse me for a sec. I have to turn the key to my vintage VW Bus three times then slap the dashboard twice to get her going. It takes some focus.

Okay, mission accomplished.

If we’re going to take a ride through my pet-friendly hometown of Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania, I guess I should introduce myself, huh?

I’m Daphne Templeton, and I’m a petsitter with a Ph.D. in philosophy. (Please don’t get my mother, Realtor Maeve, started on the topic of “useless” degrees.) And the passenger who’s riding shotgun, so you’re stuck in the back seat, is Socrates, the world’s most introspective basset hound.

What’s that? You need a napkin?

Ooh, sorry about that. I should’ve warned you that you’d also be riding with Artie, my one-eared foster Chihuahua, who suffers from a severe overbite and an excess of personality. He can’t help jumping on you, and the drool isn’t his fault, either. Still, we apologize.

Here’s a napkin from my favorite Mexican place, Burrito Casita. There’s a spot of house-made salsa on it. Just tear that part off.

I have to say, you’ve caught us on a strange day. Normally, I’d be walking attorney Virginia Lockhart’s three Rottweilers, Macduff, Iago and Hamlet. But yesterday there was a murder at my sister Piper’s farmhouse, Winding Hill – where I also live, temporarily. The local kennel club was holding a dog agility trial at the farm and. . . well, things went wrong.

Now Piper – a type A veterinarian – is a prime suspect. It probably didn’t help that I got tongue-tied in the presence of a very imposing, and, I have to admit gorgeous, detective, Jonathan Black, when he came to investigate. I might’ve let it slip that Piper had argued with the victim right before the crime.

Please don’t look at me like that, Socrates.

I didn’t mean to make things worse. But when I looked into Detective Black’s dark blue eyes, I just started babbling. Which is ridiculous. A very serious, enigmatic detective is not my type. I’m quite happy in my commitment-free relationship with mellow transplanted surfer and vet tech Dylan Taggart.

Artie, sit. Seriously. Sit.

Yes, you’re right. People are staring at the van. That’s because my best friend, Moxie Bloom – owner of Spa and Paw salon for pets and people – tried to do a custom paint job to advertise my business, Lucky Paws Petsitting. Unfortunately, she overestimated her artistic talents. That thing on the side of the van is a misshapen dog, not a misshapen horse.

Oh. You guessed horse, too. Well, you’re not the first person to get it wrong.

Just to point a few things out, Moxie lives in the big yellow Victorian mansion, above my favorite bookstore, the Philosopher’s Tome. It’s run by the sweetest man, Tom Flinchbaugh. He never makes you buy anything. On a rainy day, there’s nothing better than sitting in a cozy chair in the turret and reading for hours.

Tom’s wife, Tessie, runs the pet boutique, Fetch!, across the street. You’ll know her by her seasonal-themed shirts.

If you want coffee and amazing biscotti, go to Espresso Pronto. The owner, Giulia Alberti, imports everything from Italy.

And that beautiful building with the blue-green clapboard siding, crisp white trim and overflowing window boxes is my sister’s practice, Templeton Animal Hospital.

I’m not even going to look toward my mother’s real estate office. If she’s outside, she’ll flag us down and try to force you to buy a house. I’m just warning you. If you meet her gaze, you might end up in a five bedroom on the shores of Lake Wallapawakee.

Well, here we are at the Sylvan Creek Inn. I hope you enjoy your stay and that you’ll come visit us again. The town is tiny, but it seems like something’s always happening here.

And trust me, Socrates was happy to meet you. He always looks like that. . .

Artie! Seriously! Off!

* * *

You can read more about Daphne in Death By Chocolate Lab, the first book in the NEW “Lucky Paws Petsitting” mystery series.

Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?

Includes recipes for homemade dog treats!

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Meet the author
Bethany Blake lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, three children and a menagerie that includes a quirky dog, an attack cat, a blind goldfish and a hermit crab named Shelldon P. Crabbington. When she’s not writing, she enjoys horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and searching the globe for great cheeseburgers. She is always open to suggestions, re: the cheeseburgers. Connect with Bethany at

All comments are welcomed.

Death by Chocolate Lab is available at retail and online booksellers.

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