Tag Archives: Gemma Halliday Publishing

A day in the life of Carrie Jorgenson by Catherine Bruns

Being a waitress is a draining job, both physically and mentally. Customers are often rude and it can be difficult to keep that smile plastered on your face all day. On the bright side, I fancy myself an actress so that part isn’t usually a problem.
Finding dead bodies, though? Yeah, that’s become somewhat of an issue for me.

My name is Carrie Jorgenson. I’ve lived in paradise (Hawaii) for almost four months and I’m finally starting to forget about my former life back in Vermont, which never actually was a life. But I prefer not to talk about the past anymore. My home and future are in Kauai now and I have a lot to be thankful for. Besides my fantastic boyfriend I have an adorable cat named Benny, an awesome little apartment and a full-time job at Loco Moco Café that I enjoy most days. And this Friday night is opening weekend at the Hana Hou Theater for Little Women, The Musical. I’m playing Beth—you know, the sister who contracts scarlet fever and dies. Oh, shoot. Maybe I shouldn’t have given that part away. . .

The ironic thing is that I’m in a musical and can’t even carry a tune. My coworkers Poncho and Vivian are always begging me not to sing karaoke at the cafe. But I love it and am improving, sort of. Last night I didn’t even shatter one drink glass. Success!

Keanu is a terrific guy and I’m so close to saying those three little words to him. Something seems to be holding me back, though. Keanu’s also my boss which sounds like it would be a problem, but it’s not. His parents? Eh, they’re a bit of a different story. They bought Loco Moco Café from Hale Akamu a few months ago. He’s the man whose dead body I found (waves hand) after work one night. Terry Church is Keanu’s dad and thinks I’m some type of gold digger. Yes, I heard him with my own two ears. It’s amazing the things you discover when hiding in a closet, let me tell you.

Anyhow, ever since Randolph Cremshaw walked into Loco Moco the other day, things have changed, and not for the better. You see, Randolph’s a mega popular food critic. He used to live in Hawaii and visits the island often. He came into the cafe and ordered our trademark loco moco, which is a yummy dish that consists of white rice and a hamburger patty with a fried egg on top, all smothered in mushroom gravy. Unfortunately, something went wrong with his order—let’s just say it was a flaming experience—and he’s using his powerful social media presence to inform everyone that our restaurant has “gone loco.” Nice, huh? That’s why Terry instructed me to bring Randolph a complimentary meal over to the Aloha Lagoon Resort, where he’s staying. Oh, and did I mention that Randolph enjoys having people bow and scrape at his feet? Sorry, not me, mister.

That should have been the end of it, except then Randolph informed me that his Kona coffee wasn’t hot enough. Apparently, his nickname is “Kona Man” because that’s his favorite beverage. Seriously, who can afford to drink Kona coffee every day? It’s wicked expensive. Randolph ordered me to bring him a new carafe right away. So, I’m on my way back with the coffee and now my temper is as searing hot as his beverage. Let’s see if either one is to his liking.

Why no one has killed this guy yet remains a mystery. I mean, he’s nasty as all get out and leaves one-star reviews for everyone. I tap on the door to his suite, which is slightly ajar. He must have left it open for me. When I look inside, I spot Randolph lying on the floor. He’s gasping for air and trying to tell me something. Panicked, I drop the carafe and coffee flies everywhere. By the time I dial 9-1-1, it’s too late. Randolph’s gone and I’ve stumbled on another dead body—again.

This whole daily grind thing is getting to be a bit too much.

Death of the Kona Man is the sequel to Death of the Big Kahuna and part of the multi-author Aloha Lagoon series with Gemma Halliday Publishing. Note: The Aloha Lagoon books can be read in any order.

Carrie Jorgenson is living the dream in Hawaii. She has a steady job as a waitress at the Loco Moco Café, a hot new love interest in her manager, and the curtain’s about to rise on her role in a local theater production. But when she’s asked to deliver food to a guest at the Aloha Lagoon resort—who then drops dead!—her dreams quickly become the stuff of nightmares.

World renowned food critic Randolph Cremshaw has no shortage of enemies. He’s rude, patronizing, and famous for his one-star reviews. After the coffee Carrie delivers is discovered to have been poisoned, she and the café quickly rise to the top of the suspects list. A jealous co-worker, thefts at the restaurant, and a performance that threatens to blow up in Carrie’s face only make things worse. With an already full plate, Carrie is also forced into making a decision that may change everything for her. But this all pales in comparison when she comes face to face with Randolph’s killer and what might be the final curtain call. . .of her life.

Recipes included!

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win copy of Death of the Kona Man, either signed print (U.S. residents only) or Kindle/Nook (open to everyone), winner’s choice plus an Aloha Lagoon tote bag. The giveaway will end October 11, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Catherine is the USA Today bestselling author of the Cookies & Chance mysteries. She lives in New York with her very patient husband, three sons, and assorted cats and dogs. Catherine has a B.A. in English and is a former newspaper reporter and press release writer. She also writes the Cindy York mysteries and the Aloha Lagoon (Carrie Jorgenson) mysteries. To find out more about future releases and giveaways, you can sign up for Catherine’s newsletter here. Please feel free to connect with her on social media as well: Facebook and Twitter.

A day in the life of Maria Dolores by Gin Jones

“Maria Dolores! Maria Dolores!” My young assistant, Cary Baines, burst through the flaps of the first aid tent to announce, “I found you, Maria Dolores!”

His enthusiasm was so infectious, I had to smile, even as I wished he wasn’t quite so good at finding me. Of course, his ability to track me down had probably saved my life over Labor Day Weekend when I’d confronted a killer. Besides, it wasn’t as if I were in a truly private space at the moment. I was seated in the back of the first aid tent at the folding table that served as the on-site office for the farmers’ market manager.

“The mayor wants to talk to you,” Cary said, before racing back out of the tent.

Mayor Edward Kallakala came through the tent flaps a moment later. “I wish I had half the energy that young man does.”

“Don’t we all?” I picked up my sling bag filled with emergency supplies—from duct tape and coin rolls to chocolate—and hugged it as if there were something in there for responding to an impromptu job performance review. We hadn’t spoken in the two weeks since Labor Day, and I’d been hoping to have some warning before I had to explain why there’d been another murder during my tenure as the market manager.

The mayor settled into a folding chair with as much grace as it were an ergonomic office chair on level ground. “You know that I supported creating the farmers’ market and I supported the decision to hire you as the manager.”

“I appreciate that.” Unfortunately, I could hear a but coming.

“And you know that I’ll be blamed if the market fails.”

I nodded. “But that won’t happen. People are forming strong bonds with the vendors. One woman told me her kids threatened a hunger strike if they couldn’t have fresh tomatoes from Tommy Fordham’s farm.”

The mayor waved his hand dismissively. “I’m not worried about the vendors. They’re amazing.”

Most of them were, at least. There was always a rotten apple or, in the market’s case, a rotten potato farmer, in every barrel. “So what are you concerned about?”

I held my breath, waiting for him to mention the various disasters that had occurred this summer. He couldn’t blame me for the earthquake, but everything else was fair game. Dark secrets, greed and resentment had all combined to result in people dying, and I hadn’t been able to prevent any of it.

“Two things,” he said. “First, a number of people have mentioned their disappointment that there’s no honey vendor at the market.”

“I’m working on it.” I tried to project confidence, but the mayor had hit on a sore spot. I’d been told by my least favorite vendor that my inability to sign a beekeeper to the market was proof that I didn’t deserve the job. “I’ve got some leads, but the local beekeepers are struggling to keep up with demand and don’t need additional distribution points.”

“I’m sure you’ll find someone by the end of the season.”

It was more an order than a vote of confidence, and it made me nervous that his second topic of discussion would be even more challenging. “And your other concern?”

“I wouldn’t ask if I weren’t desperate,” he said. “And I’d appreciate your discretion. It wouldn’t look good if this got out.”

“As long as you’re not asking me to do anything illegal.” My friend Merle was a lawyer. The good kind, not a shyster.

“It’s nothing that Merle would advise you against.” The mayor glanced over his shoulder as if expecting Cove Chronicles reporter Duncan Pickles to jump out from behind the first aid supplies. Satisfied that no one was listening, he nevertheless leaned forward to speak barely above a whisper. “It’s my sister-in-law. She thinks she’s a really good baker, but she’s the sort who mistakenly uses salt instead of sugar. I do love home-made sweets, but I can’t eat hers, and I can’t be seen buying anything at the baked goods stall here. Could you possibly get me a fruit pie?”

“I can do that.” Relieved, I let my sling bag slide back to the ground.

I’d get the mayor a dozen pies if that was what it took to keep my job as the market manager for the next few weeks. After that, my career would depend on my keeping the final event of the season on Halloween weekend from turning into the Day of the Dead. I might need an extra sling bag or two for all my preparations.

You can read more about Maria Dolores in A Death in the Flower Garden, the first in the Danger Cove Farmers’ Market Mysteries, available now, and the second in the series, A Slaying in the Orchard, also available now, as well as in A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch (October 3).

Labor Day weekend starts with a bang in Danger Cove when a dead body is found in the orchard of Maria Dolores’ mentor and maybe-boyfriend, Merle! While it’s clear the murder took place long ago, the police are still keeping Merle tied up, leaving Maria on her own to run the local farmers’ market. She’s prepared for the petty squabbles, disorganized vendors, and even a rowdy group of costumed pirates—it comes with the territory. But what she isn’t prepared for is the fresh body found in an isolated corner of the market!

Maria would like to leave the investigation to the local homicide detective, but he’s stretched thin with two separate murders, and her nemesis—the farmer who lost out to her for the manager’s job—is demanding quick answers or else. With a nearly endless array of suspects, since the victim had upset just about everyone at the market, Maria has her work cut out for her! Can she prevent another murder in the market… or will she end up the next victim?

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win your choice of either a digital copy of A Slaying in the Orchard or a digital ARC of A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch. The giveaway ends September 23, 2017. Good luck, everyone!

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About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for The XLH Network, Inc. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Melanie Hamilton by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens

My name is Mel. That’s short for Melanie. I earn my living from inking tattoos at The Mansion on Mystic Isle. It’s a resort across the river from New Orleans in the Louisiana bayou but not a resort like any you’ve ever heard of.

The Mansion is owned by Harry Villars. In fact that particular piece of property has been in the Villars family just about forever, since halfway through the eighteenth century. When it fell on hard times, Harry had it remodeled and turned it into a resort that caters to lovers and zealot fans of the supernatural and paranormal. He hired a whole slew of folks (like me) who could contribute to the bizarre atmosphere of ghosts and soothsayers—mostly it’s all fake. But I have to say that with a lot of the weirdness that goes on at The Mansion, there are days I truly wonder about that.

Me? I just design and ink tattoos—tattoos of fairies and other fantastical creatures, astrological signs, beloved family members who’ve gone on to the spirit world and might be haunting their loved ones, whatever the guests ask me to paint on their skin. And some of the things I’ve been asked to create you’d have trouble believing if I showed you the photos I took when I was done.

But the weirdest and wildest, the absolute piece de resistance was the time a woman in her sixties booked a week at the hotel specifically to have several sessions at Dragons and Deities, the tattoo parlor. That wasn’t the weird part, people came to the resort specifically for the ink all the time. If I say so myself, I’m kind of well known throughout the culture for coming up with innovative designs to match the very specific requests of the Mystic Isle guests.

The unusual part of this job was that the woman—to protect her identity, I’m going to call her Jane Doe—wanted a portrait of her husband on her chest so she could keep him closer to her heart.

“Don’t you have any romance in your soul, Mel?” you ask. “I think it’s charming,” you say. “What’s so weird about that?” you wonder.

The answers, in order are: Yes, I’m very romantic. Yes, wanting to keep your spouse close to your heart is charming. And finally, the weirdness of it comes from the content.

Jane Doe insisted she’d once been abducted by aliens, and during that time had been claimed by one of them and married in a formal ceremony. The two had fallen in love and had been happy living together in her Rocky Mountain high Colorado cabin. That is until E.T. phoned home and found out he’d been drafted. He’d left her with the promise to return and carry her back to his home planet where she’d never age another day and they’d live in matrimonial bliss for hundreds and hundreds of what she called Earth years. She was still waiting. That was when she showed me her dearest.

It was a still photo of the alien from the movie Predator, in all his gruesome glory without the mask and in spectacular Technicolor. His grimacing green and yellow countenance, toothy fanged snarl (which Jane Doe insisted was a loving grin) and bizarre shell-like dreadlocks would have taken me a very long time over many sessions. The cost to Jane Doe would have been staggering, and the commission would have paid my half of the rent for a couple of months—but I just didn’t have the heart to do it.

She took it hard, telling me how much she missed him and sat crying inconsolably for a long time. It was heartbreaking.

I thought about calling someone to help her out of her strange fantasy world, but she seemed harmless enough, and after talking to her for over an hour (after all, she had booked the time), I felt confident that her hubby from another planet was her only leap from reality (even though it was a beaut, f’sure).

I decided to let her be, and to comfort her suggested that in this day and age of CCTV and government stalking everywhere she might be better off not letting on to anyone about her spouse, that it might turn out bad for him if she did.

She wiped her eyes and blew her nose and looked up at me with pure gratitude in her eyes. “You’re right, Miss Hamilton. You’re absolutely right. But I’d still like to have a tattoo to remind me of him.” She sat quietly for a few moments then squared her shoulders, and drew her mouth into a tight line before saying, “How about if I get one of Arnold Schwarzenegger instead?”

You can read more about Melanie in Mystic Mischief, the third book in the “Mystic Isle” mystery series.

Just when Melanie Hamilton thought things couldn’t get stranger at The Mansion at Mystic Isle, she finds herself in the middle of a true pirate treasure hunt! Fortune hunters have arrived Indiana Jones-style at the New Orleans resort where she and boyfriend Jack Stockton work, with their eyes on the prize of a long-lost and priceless letter stolen from the famous pirate Jean Lafitte. Two archeologists, a Hollywood camera crew, and a marauding gator suddenly have Melanie so busy she almost doesn’t even have time to quarrel with Jack over the arrival of his ex-girlfriend… Almost. But her romantic issues take a back seat when a dead body shows up at the home of the resort’s owner. Now it’s up to Mel and the rest of the odd crew at Mystic Isle to bring order back to the bayou and solve the murder. But if someone would kill once for a piece of parchment, would they kill twice? And could Mel wind up at the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker?

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Giveaway: One (1) U.S. reader will win a frosted glass coffee/tea mug and print copy of Mystic Mischief; one (1) U.S. reader will win a 3-book set of Mystic Isle Mysteries; and two (2) readers will win a Kindle/Nook/Kobo copy of Mystic Mischief. The giveaway ends September 20, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the authors
Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

Connect with them at smithandsteffens.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Izzy Lewis by Wendy Byrne

Since we last chatted last October, I’ve morphed from Isabella to Izzy. Gone is the woman who obsessed about everything from having perfect hair to the latest and best designer fashions. Now, I’m more comfortable having my hair in a ponytail and wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt. After coming face to face with a murderer and surviving, I figured it was time to stop sweating the small stuff.

As proof I’m a new woman, I’ve embraced my gift as an artist and learned to love painting once again. Rather than the stuck up social climbers I’d been hanging with in Manhattan, my BFFs are a group of women called the Qs who are in their 70s and 80s. I’m seeing a guy that I like a whole lot, and he isn’t a scum sucking, dirt bag. Win/win. I worry less and enjoy more. . .well. . .except for my penchant for discovering dead bodies.

I lived in Manhattan my whole life where there’s all manner of criminal activities 24/7. But I’ve reached a whole different level of mayhem now. If I didn’t know better I’d swear dead bodies and Iowa go hand in hand—at least for me—since nobody else seems to have this problem. I’ve lived here eight months and just stumbled across my second dead body.

What if I told you it got worse? My ex-husband appeared out of the blue, talking shade and sucking me into his mess. As the saying goes, I’ve got bigger fish to fry than him. The Qs and I are on a mission to find a killer while trying to keep our investigative efforts on the down low and avoiding my ex like the plague.

It started innocently enough. We’d just pulled into Winterset, Iowa where I’m the artistic director of a quilt show. The Qs were anxious to check out the inside while I went to the loading dock to organize the latest arrival of quilts. Needless to say, things didn’t go quite as smoothly as I’d planned:

Curious, I eased toward the back of the truck to see if there was some kind of display structure to help me organize. I figured while the workers were still MIA, I could get a lot done without their help.

I located some rolling display racks behind one of the boxes, complete with padded hangers. Sifting through the array of quilts I’d found in the first few boxes, I hung them up one by one, not bothering to sort yet. But I’d already run out of display rack space.

There had to be more racks somewhere amongst all these boxes. I shifted some of the smaller boxes around until I spotted a large box against the back of the truck. Since the box was too heavy and cumbersome to move, I ripped open a corner, peered inside, and spotted what looked like a blue moving blanket.

It looked promising, but I needed a closer look. I hoisted myself onto the top and looked inside with my trusty cell phone flashlight app. The sides started to buckle from my weight, and the box bulged at the bottom as the load shifted. I started to tumble and grabbed on to the corner of the box. The box ripped open, sending me sprawling to the bottom of the truck.

A blue blanket landed with a thump next to me. A shot of reddish fur peeked out the top, causing a girlish squeal to erupt from me. Since the fur didn’t move, I assumed the rodent was dead. But that didn’t make it less creepy.

I scrambled to a standing position, but just as I was about to walk away and wait for the manly types to deal with a dead animal, I spotted what looked like a pair of stilettos sticking out of the other side of the quilt. Scenes of déjà vu poked behind my eyeballs.

Do not faint.

You can read more about Izzy in Double Trouble in Iowa, the second book in the “Izzy Lewis” mystery series, coming September 5, 2017.

Amateur sleuth and artist Izzy Lewis’ life is getting more complicated by the moment. First, she has to deal with an ex-husband she thought she’d left in the rearview mirror. Then, she happens to discover a dead body while unpacking for a local quilt show. Now, the suspect in the murder is asking for her help in proving his innocence. Talk about a troublesome trifecta!

Despite the fact the accused is an ex-con, Izzy believes in his innocence and suspects the local detective is railroading the guy for personal reasons. With the help of the Qs—her Jessica Fletcher–wannabe band of seniors—Izzy sets out to uncover the truth. But with her budding relationship with her hot new neighbor on thin ice and a hyper-vigilant detective watching her every move, Izzy finds herself treading a thin line between sleuth and suspect. Can she catch a small-town murderer. . .or will Izzy be the victim of double trouble in Iowa?

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About the author
Wendy is a USA TODAY bestselling author who lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband. She loves to take long walks and think about plot twists and turns. Most days you can find her pounding away at her laptop spinning tales and inflicting mayhem on her hero and heroine until they beg for mercy. She writes everything from cozy mysteries to romantic suspense all infused with a touch of humor and, of course, the happily ever after.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Deadly Tails by Beth Prentice

Deadly Tails by Beth Prentice is the second book in the “Unleashed” mystery series. Publisher: Gemma Halliday Publishing, August 2017

Chloe McDermott’s life in Westport is pretty close to perfect. She has a good job, a gorgeous boyfriend, Brody, and an adorable little dog, Theo.

But when Chloe receives a gift of an old chessboard from an elderly friend, her perfect life unexpectedly falls apart. Theo is dognapped, the chessboard is stolen, and her friend apparently commits suicide in his home. But when the autopsy reveals a murder, Chloe knows something doesn’t add up, and she suspects the old game board is at the center of it all. She enlists the help of her boyfriend’s hot-headed father and her flamboyantly fabulous BFF to get to the heart of the truth. Can she solve the riddle and find a killer before Theo is added to the body count? Or will she lose her little furry friend forever?

What an amusing book that tickled my funny bone. This fast-paced light whodunit was both entertaining and engaging. The narrative hit the right spot, pulling me in as I had to know what happens next. The mystery was well-crafted with suspects and clues that kept me in tuned to every scene and action. The situations the cast got entangled with was a hoot and I can’t wait for the next book in this delightfully appealing series.

A day in the life of Lizzie Jones by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens

It’s been said Lizzie Jones is the very definition of an animal lover. My being a veterinary science student, a pet sitter, and volunteering at the vet clinic have made that accurate.

I’d taken extra time getting ready before heading to the clinic because my boyfriend, Tino Morales, was picking me up for lunch to celebrate his mamá’s birthday at the Lobster Pot. For the occasion, I’d worn my best and newest jeans and favorite blue sweater.

I was in the clinic’s back room, just about to put on a smock, when an agitated cry came over the intercom. “Lizzie, come quick!”

I bolted to the front. Holly, the receptionist, held the door open as Peter Buckley rushed in carrying Horatio, his German short-haired pointer.

“Lizzie,”—Peter thrust the big dog at me like the sixty-pound brute weighed no more than a sack of potatoes—“he’s hurt.”

Peter’s momentum and the weight of the dog staggered me, but I managed to stay upright, stumbling sideways like a drunken sailor before heading to an exam room.

“What happened?” I asked.

Peter fell in step beside me. His voice quivered. “We were out hunting. He went into the pond after a bird and came out bleeding—tree branch or something else cut him.”

Horatio was sopping wet and covered in mud from his nose to the tip of his tail, and since he was now plastered up against me, I was sopping wet and covered in mud too. His injured and bloody hind leg was up against my belly.

The dog shook and panted, whimpering deep in his throat. He tried to lick my face. Poor guy. My heart went out to him and Peter too.

Peter helped me lay Horatio gently on the table.

Horatio began to scrabble, trying to gain purchase on the slick stainless steel. I could see the gash on his right hind leg—trying to clot but still oozing.

Peter’s hands trembled as he tried to calm his dog.

“Doc Whitaker will take care of him.” I laid my hand on his, barely finishing before the door opened and Dr. Adam Whitaker, blond and movie-star handsome, rushed in.

He took a brief moment to question how the injury had been sustained then bent low over the dog. “Hold him for me, Lizzie.”

Poor Horatio went crazy trying to get up, like maybe he’d make a break for it. I spread myself over him. Adam examined the cut.

Now I was covered in mud and slime, and as I struggled with the terrified squirming dog, I caught a whiff of myself. I reeked of stagnant pond scum and wet dog.

Eventually Horatio’s leg was stitched up, and he was settled into a kennel until the anesthesia wore off.

I was heading to clean up the exam room when Tino walked in.

I couldn’t help noticing he looked great—hair perfect, face smooth and clean-shaven. He wore a pair of black jeans and a crisp white-collared shirt under a khaki blazer.

I spread my arms to display my favorite blue sweater and newest, best-fitting jeans in all their mud, blood, and dog hair and saliva glory.

“There was an emergency,” I said simply. “I. . .I. . .I’m so sorry. I know this day is important to you, and I feel like I’ve let you down.”

I was stone cold crazy about Tino Morales, my hot as a chili pepper, gentle as a Buddhist monk Latino, and the idea of disappointing him stung.

There was no way I could join Tino and his family. In my smelly, sorry state, I didn’t figure he’d even want me riding in his car.

“Let me down?” Tino stood blinking his beautiful brown eyes at me, his smile never wavering. “How can you think that? How’s the animal?”

“He’s doing well.”

“That’s good.”

Doc Whitaker walked out, quickly sizing things up. “Peter came in before you could change?”

I nodded.

“And you had plans for lunch?”

I nodded again.

Tino started to speak, but Doc Whitaker beat him to the punch. “Tino, how would you feel about escorting a woman dressed in scrubs to lunch?”

Tino grinned. “Scrubs? Lizzie’s beautiful no matter what she’s wearing, even mud and dog hair.”

My heart swelled.

“Lizzie,” Adam said, “why don’t you go in the back for a quick shower and pick out one of the newer sets of scrubs. That way Tino can show you off for the kind-hearted woman you are.”

“Do we have time?” I asked Tino.

“Of course,” he said.

Later when we walked into the Lobster Pot, Tino’s family was already there. No one seemed to notice the scrubs with puppies all over them—no one but the waiter.

He asked, “And what can I get for you, Doctor?”

I began. “Not doctor.”

Tino finished. “Not yet, but soon she’ll be the best veterinarian in the state.”

I leaned over, kissing him.

“Nice,” he said. “BTW, you look adorable in those scrubs.”

“Well,” I said, “at least I smell better.”

You can read more about Lizzie in Divas, Diamonds & Death, the 15th book in the “Danger Cove” (Pet Sitter) mystery series.

This little piggy may not be coming home.

This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. And this little piggy got kidnapped, and her diamond collar was swiped, and then there was a murder and false accusations. . .and. . ..and. . .oh my goodness!

Pet Sitter turned sleuth, Lizzie Jones is excited about the upcoming Second Chance Animal Rescue fundraiser. The celebrity draw, Sabrina Ramirez, is a pet psychic famous for her TV show The Critter Communicator. Sabrina arrives with her entourage that includes Rosie, an adorable teacup pig that Sabrina treats like royalty, Sabrina’s buff bodyguard, her devoted nephew, and unexpectedly, her estranged ex-husband.

When Sabrina needs a pet sitter Lizzie is thrilled to take on the job. That is until the little piglet is pignapped on Lizzie’s watch—along with her diamond collar! But things go from bad to worse when the fundraiser turns deadly and Lizzie’s granddad is high on the murder suspect list. Lizzie jumps headlong into clearing her granddad’s name and finding the pignapper and the killer. Are they one and the same, or is she looking for two separate types of swine? And will she find them first. . .or will the killer be the one frying Lizzie’s bacon?

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Giveaway: Two readers selected at random will receive their choice of any of Jean and Sally’s books (e-book, everywhere or print, US only). Leave a comment below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends August 21, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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Meet the author
Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens, are partners in crime—crime writing, that is. They live in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, awesome for eight months out of the year, an inferno the other four. They write bloody murder, flirty romance, and wicked humor all in one package.

Connect with them at smithandsteffens.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Theo McDermott by Beth Prentice

This morning had started like any other day. I’d opened one eye and looked up as Chloe stirred next to me, pulling the blanket away from me as she moved, allowing the cool morning air to sweep over my body. As she threw her legs over the edge of the bed, rubbing her eyes as she did so, I figured it really was time to get up. Rolling onto all fours, I pushed my butt in the air and stretched. Once that was done, I shook myself, fluffing my glorious fur until I resembled a fluff ball. Morning routine complete. . .tick.

“Good morning Dude,” said Chloe, rubbing me behind the ears. Oooh that felt good. Just a little scratch would be better. . .yep right there. . .that’s it. I blew out a blissful sigh as she kissed the top of my head before making her way to the bathroom.

My name is Theo and apparently I’m a Chihuahua. My doppelganger was on television last night, and they kept calling him The Rock. Looking at him was almost like looking in the mirror. He was tall, strong and all the girls swooned when he smiled at them. I have that same effect on the women. One look from me and they’re putty in my little paws. Which is really how I came to live with Chloe. You see, she was supposed to hand me in to the animal shelter, but I used my big puppy dog eyes and she couldn’t resist. And really, it’s worked out the best for both of us. I get treated like a king and she gets my little kisses. Win, win!

Chloe’s a parcel courier with the local post office and most days I get to ride along with her. That means I get to travel in the van, and get to meet the residents of Westport. Today started like any other work day. We went to the sorting shed, I was given lots of treats, pats and tickles from her co-workers, and then we were on the road, the wind blowing in my face—from the air conditioning vent that is. There’s no way I’m sticking my head out the car window—what do you think I am? A dog? Pfft! The first disappointment came when Chloe stopped at Jimmy’s house and I had to wait in the car because it was raining. I quite like Jimmy. He’s retired now and has nothing better to do than buy me treats. But instead of getting spoilt, I had to stand on a stack of packages, my paws resting on the van door, pressing my nose against the cold glass window, watching them. I whimpered quietly—alright it wasn’t quiet. It was quite loud really, not that they seemed to notice me. The men sitting in the car opposite us noticed me though. They’d been watching Jimmy’s house as we pulled up, but as soon as I started to howl, they turned their full attention to me. Maybe that was the point where I should have quietened down, because I’ve since realized that sometimes in life, it’s better to go unnoticed.

You see, the day changed dramatically after that. When that same car pulled up in our street at home, and the guy got out and spoke to Chloe, I knew he wasn’t a good man. I knew that someone had to scare him away from her. I was the Rock. It was my duty to keep her safe. But Chloe had placed me inside our home, so I couldn’t get to him, to warn him that I was on the job. Thankfully, whatever Chloe said to him made him go away and life returned to normal. Until another man showed up, opening our gate and strutting up the front path. I had the perfect view looking down on him from the window seat in the bedroom. He had that look about him and I knew he wasn’t good. I needed to show him that I was the boss and I would protect Chloe, even if my life depended on it. Which it turns out, it may just.

I tried to tell the man to go away. I tried to tell him that he was not welcome. I ran down the stairs, growling, barking, and baring my teeth. I was ferocious! But instead of running away, instead of being scared, he opened the door, picked me and left, taking me with him.

As Chloe’s screams echoed in my ears, the home I loved disappeared in his rear-view mirror.

Shivering and shaking, I reassessed my plan of action. Maybe I wasn’t ferocious, maybe I wasn’t strong, but I could be darned annoying when I put my mind to it. I stepped over to the man, used my big puppy-dog eyes and tapped him unrelentingly with my paw. Give him a night of this treatment, and I’d be home before I knew it.

You can read more about Theo in Deadly Tails, the second book in the “Unleashed” mystery series.

Chloe McDermott’s life in Westport is pretty close to perfect. She has a good job, a gorgeous boyfriend, Brody, and an adorable little dog, Theo.

But when Chloe receives a gift of an old chessboard from an elderly friend, her perfect life unexpectedly falls apart. Theo is dognapped, the chessboard is stolen, and her friend apparently commits suicide in his home. But when the autopsy reveals a murder, Chloe knows something doesn’t add up, and she suspects the old game board is at the center of it all. She enlists the help of her boyfriend’s hot-headed father and her flamboyantly fabulous BFF to get to the heart of the truth. Can she solve the riddle and find a killer before Theo is added to the body count? Or will she lose her little furry friend forever?

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of Deadly Tails. The giveaway ends August 12, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Beth Prentice is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Westport Mysteries. Killer Unleashed, her GHP debut novel, received a bronze medal in the 2016 Readers Favorite International Book Awards.

She was born in Manchester, England, but after moving backwards and forwards across the world 13 times in 14 years she decided that at the age of 18 that Australia was to be her home. She now lives on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia where every day is a good one. She is the lucky mother of two grown up children, and, along with her ever-patient husband, she is the proud but sometimes flustered owner of four dogs, a cat, and a canary. She has always had a love of reading, and even though her background is in accounting, she has now discovered her love of writing. Her main wish is to write books you can sit back, relax with, and escape from your everyday life. . .and ones that you walk away from with a smile! When she’s not writing you will usually find her at the beach with a coffee in hand, pursuing her favorite pastime –people watching!

Connect with Beth at bethprenticenovels.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Kaley Kalua by Anne Marie Stoddard

Nothing ruins a marriage faster than finding your football star husband holding private cheerleading tryouts in your bedroom—especially when the three woman on top of him are wearing nothing but high heels and using pompoms in ways so dirty they’d make a stripper blush. Can you believe that actually happened to me? I mean, Bryan and I had been drifting apart for a while, but seeing him at the bottom of a pile of busty twenty-two year-olds in naked pyramid formation was the last straw.

Needless to say, I kicked the floozies out of our condo and gave my cheating hubby my spirit finger. After a whirlwind—and, thanks to Bryan’s NFL stardom, very public—divorce, I left my job at a clothing store in Atlanta, packed my life into an oversized Prada duffel bag, and came back to the one place that’s ever truly felt like home. So, now here I am: Kaley Kalua, twenty-seven year-old divorcee and Aloha Lagoon’s newest permanent resident.

Bless my Aunt Rikki; not only did she welcome me home with open arms, but she offered me a job as the manager of the Happy Hula Dress Boutique, the shop she owns in the merchant area of the Aloha Lagoon Resort. You’d really like Rikki—from her funky blue and black hair to her to her infectious energy and generous spirit, there’s no one else quite like her. After my parents were killed when I was twelve, she took me in and raised me like her own child. I don’t know where I’d be without her. That’s why, when one of her employees was recently murdered and Rikki found herself at the top of the suspect list, I swore I’d do whatever it took to prove her innocence.

Between juggling my day-to-day responsibilities at Happy Hula and trying not to strangle my high school rival, Harmony Kane (seriously, what was Aunt Rikki thinking hiring her?), I’ve been spending most of my days lately trying to track down the person who really killed Happy Hula’s former assistant manager, Louana Watson. It seems the woman had no shortage of enemies, not that I’m surprised—the one time I met her, she was screaming at my aunt and threatening to sue her. As it turns out, Rikki isn’t the only person that Louana treated horribly. Nearly everywhere I look, I find a new person who may have wanted her dead.

Lucky for me, I’ve got help following up on all these leads. There’s my new gal pal, Jamie Parker, the resort scuba instructor. She moved to the islands from the South, just like me, and in the few days since we met, she’s already proven to be a fiercely loyal friend. Sure, Jamie’s inhumanly perky after a night of drinking, and she’s about as subtle as a foghorn when it comes to being my wing woman—but hey, she means well. Plus, our shared love of shopping and mani pedis makes her my one of my new favorite people on the island.

Then there’s my childhood best friend, Noa Kahele, who also recently moved back to Aloha Lagoon. Noa’s funny, modest, and looks like he climbed out of the pages of a surf shop catalog—long, dark hair, rock hard abs, and dimples for days. Picture Jason Mamoa, and you’re on the right track. Mmm.

I wish I could chat for longer, but I’ve got to get back to work. After all, there’s still a killer loose on the island. That, and Detective Ray of the Aloha Lagoon Police Department seems to be building a strong case against Aunt Rikki. The deeper I pry into the lives of my potential suspects, the more danger I’m finding myself in. If I don’t find out the truth soon, I could wind up the next victim.

You can read more about Kaley in Bikinis and Bloodshed, the first book in the “Kaley Kalua” mystery series.

After a very painful—and very public—divorce from her cheating football star husband, Kaley Kalua just wants some peace and privacy. Cramming only the essentials (clothes, shoes, and makeup) into her Prada duffel bag, Kaley returns to her hometown of Aloha Lagoon to manage her Aunt Rikki’s clothing shop, the Happy Hula Dress Boutique. A new job, new friends, and a change of scenery are just what she needs to turn her life around. It doesn’t hurt that Kaley’s handsome childhood best friend, Noa Kahele, has also moved back to the small resort town.

Unfortunately, life on the island isn’t quite the peaceful paradise that Kaley was expecting. Not everyone is thrilled about her return—especially the Happy Hula’s assistant manager, who thinks that she deserves Kaley’s new job. And when the woman is found strangled by a bikini top from the boutique, the police make it clear that Aunt Rikki is their main suspect. But Kaley is determined to prove her aunt’s innocence! Between dodging a nosy local reporter and sparring with her high school nemesis, Kaley compiles her own list of suspects. In the process, she also attracts the attention of a dangerous killer. If Kaley isn’t careful, she could wind up trading her colorful wardrobe for funeral black. . .

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon e-gift card. The giveaway ends August 7, 2017. Good luck everyone!

About the author
Anne Marie Stoddard is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author, iBooks Bestseller, Amazon Mover & Shaker, and former Amazon Top 100 Author. She writes supernatural thrillers and cozy mysteries with an edge, many of which are based on her experience working in radio and at music festivals across the U.S. Aside from writing, Anne Marie loves college football, hula hoops, music, coffee, and anything pumpkin-flavored. Connect with Anne Marie at amstoddardbooks.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Maria Dolores by Gin Jones

The EMTs were missing.

Two weeks earlier, on my first day as the farmers’ market’s manager, I’d thought the size of the first aid tent, easily twice the size of the individual market stalls, was overkill. What could go wrong in the buying and selling of locally produced fruits, vegetables and art? Maybe a bit of dehydration, a bug bite or perhaps an allergic reaction, but nothing that would require such a large and fully stocked medical-emergency area.

That just showed how little I really knew about my new job. We’d experienced both an earthquake and murder over the Independence Day weekend. The EMTs—collectively known as the Baxter twins, since apparently I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t tell the brothers apart—had been every bit as much in demand as my sling bag filled with non-medical-emergency supplies.

Their absence on this drizzly July Saturday was worrisome. Usually they could be found loitering outside their tent. When I’d arrived shortly before opening time, the tent and all their equipment had been set up, but the two men were gone. Not a good way to start the day, if someone had been injured enough to need not just one but two EMTs.

I could have called them, but I didn’t want to interrupt if they were responding to an emergency. Instead, I checked with all the vendors near the first aid tent. As I left the last vendor, who like the others hadn’t seen the EMTs leave, I gave silent thanks for the unflappability I’d inherited from my great-great-great-grandmother, the town’s first lighthouse keeper.

Officer Fred Fields was hurrying up from the parking lot. I intercepted him before he reached the beginning of the market stalls. “Do you know where the Baxter twins are?”

Fields’s face tightened with worry. “They should be at their station. Too bad the quilters aren’t here this week. They’d know exactly where the Baxter twins and every other town resident was.”

On major holidays, like July 4th, Labor Day and Halloween, the market expanded into an all-weekend affair and brought in additional vendors, like the quilt guild and the Second Chance Animal Rescue. But not for this Saturday-only event.

“The quilters do have one of the best grapevines in town,” I said. “But we’re on our own today. I’ll take the parking lot and historical garden, if you’ll check Two Mile Beach.”

Fred left, and I trotted around the parking lot, coming up empty. As I was leaving for the historical garden, I was stopped by Henry Atwell, an elderly and curmudgeonly woodworker.

“It’s all your fault,” he said. “My granddaughter put me on a time-out from my very own stall. She never would have done that if she hadn’t seen you do it to me two weeks ago.”

“I’ll have a chat with her later.” I continued past Henry, planning to congratulate Etta on her good sense. Henry would probably make more money while he was away than when he was in the stall, as people rushed to buy his wooden kitchenware without having to deal with his cranky attitude.

The historical garden was tucked into the space between the market and some low, rocky cliffs that sloped down to the beginning of the beach. Garden club volunteers could sometimes get a little over-zealous while protecting the heirloom vegetables there.

I caught a glimpse of movement in the rocky cliff wall near the far corner of the garden. A moment later, one of the Baxter twins emerged sideways from a crevice. His brother became partially visible as I quickly texted their location to Officer Fields.

By the time I arrived, a pair of sheepish-looking teens had also slid out, given their rescuers a quick thank you, and raced off to the beach.

“Poor kids,” one of the EMTs said with a chuckle he couldn’t hold back any longer. “They were looking for a little privacy and got stuck.”

“They’d probably still be in there if I hadn’t noticed them go in,” the other one said. “We’ve responded to a few calls there in the past. It’s a funnel-shaped formation with a number of sharp rocks pointing away from the entrance. Easy to get into, but hard to get out again. They were expecting a long lecture on safety when we showed up.”

“They won’t get one from me,” I said. “They seem to have learned their lesson, and as long as no one was hurt, I’m satisfied with how it turned out.”

That wasn’t entirely true. I wouldn’t be entirely satisfied until the rest of today and the next six Saturdays proved to be uneventful. Then I might start to believe we’d also be able to get through the next weekend-long event on Labor Day without any mischief, mayhem or murder.

You can read more about Maria in A Death in the Flower Garden, the first in the “Danger Cove Farmers’ Market” Mysteries, available now, and the sequels, A Slaying in the Orchard (August 22) and A Secret in the Pumpkin Patch (October).

It’s Independence Day weekend, and Maria Dolores, the descendant of Danger Cove’s first lighthouse keeper, is the new manager of the Lighthouse Farmers’ Market. While she may be a bit uncertain about her career change—trading financial planning for flower stalls and farm fresh produce—she’s still determined to get the market into shape and onto one of the region’s “best of” lists.

From the very beginning, though, events conspire against her. Her mentor and attractive local farmer, Merle Curtis, fails to show up to introduce her to the vendors, the stalls are all in the wrong place, and an earthquake shakes up everyone in the market! In its aftermath, Maria realizes the flower vendor is more than shaken up. . . she’s dead. Maria suddenly finds herself embroiled in a small town mystery that’s got everyone on edge. Will it all lead to the end of Maria’s new career? Or worse yet. . . her life?

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About the author
Gin Jones overcame a deeply ingrained habit of thinking and writing like a lawyer in order to write fiction. In her spare time, Gin makes quilts, grows garlic and serves on the board of directors for The XLH Network, Inc. Connect with Gin at ginjones.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win either a Kindle/Nook copy of A Death in the Flower Garden or a Kindle/Nook E-ARC of A Slaying in the Orchard, winner’s choice. The giveaway ends August 2, 2017. Good luck everyone!