Monday, July 31, 2017

The Sisters Texas Series


Chicken Scratch
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 1
by Becki Willis
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Named 2016 Best Mystery Series by Texas Association of Authors.

When Madison Reynolds finds herself widowed and penniless before forty, she does the only thing she knows to do – she packs up her teenage twins and moves back home with her eighty-year-old grandmother. Life in The Sisters, Texas has not changed much since she’s been gone, but at least her best friend Genesis is there to soften the transition back into small-town life.

To make ends meet, Madison opens In a Pinch Temporary Services. Her first real client is Ronny Gleason, but when she shows up for the first day of work at the Gleason Poultry Farm, Madison makes a gruesome discovery. The dead body she finds belongs to Mr. Gleason. When a local man is arrested for murder, Madison takes on the job of proving his innocence. Even though she is not a private investigator, both mothers are desperate: Lucy Ngyen to clear her son’s name, and Madison to pay her bills. But as she begins asking questions around town, her interference is not welcome.

With a daughter determined to go back to Dallas, a son settling into small town life, a feisty grandmother who knows all the town gossip, bill collectors calling, and now someone trying to keep her silent, Madison has no time for re-kindling her high school crush with police chief Brash deCordova. She has her hands full just trying to stay alive.

If she survives her amateur investigation, Maddy has a decision to make. Will she go back to her life in Dallas, or will she build a new life here in The Sisters?

“You were trespassing on posted property.”
“I didn’t see the sign.”
“Did you happen to notice the fence?”
Madison chose not to comment. With a determined glint in her hazel eyes, she said, “I also overheard them talking about the boss, someone obviously higher up than Ronny Gleason. And I think you’re right. I think this is an organized gambling ring.”
“I’m so glad you approve of my theory. I suppose your years of watching Matlock and CSI qualify you to offer your glowing endorsement?”
With great effort, Madison resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him.
Brash continued. “Of course, the biggest problem I have with all of this is that you were witness to illegal activity, yet failed to call it in. By failing to report it, a smart Assistance District Attorney could argue your silence makes you an accessory to crime.”
Madison had a quick comeback, along with a charming smile. “A smart Chief of Police would recognize I have valuable information to share and would never dream of pressing charges.”

She knew he was having difficulty maintaining his stoic expression. His eyes glittered with appreciation, but his voice remained gruff. “You should have reported it, Maddy. We might could have caught them in the act.”

**99 on Amazon!**

When The Stars Fall
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 2

Madison Reynolds is rebuilding her life, one obstacle at a time. 

But the building blocks aren’t standard issue: widowed at thirty-nine…betrayed by her late husband…mother of teenaged twins…finances in shambles…living with her eighty-year-old grandmother…still attracted to her teenage crush Brash deCordova, who just happens to be the Chief of Police in The Sisters…embroiled in yet another murder mystery… How will she ever get all the blocks assembled and stacked one upon another, in order to build a future for herself and her children?

Madison’s newest client at In a Pinch Temp Service is a suspicious wife, up against a formidable foe—the lovely Caress Ellingsworth, former soap opera queen. When the star is murdered and Madison is eyewitness to the deed, she wonders if the shadowed person she saw commit the crime might really be her client. Now Madison is torn between uncovering the truth and keeping her client’s name off the suspect list.

Caress is not the only star in town these days. With a little help from Granny Bert and Madison’s best friend Genesis, the popular television show Home Again arrives, with some crazy notion about remodeling the Big House for Maddy and her twins. The problem is, Madison can’t afford to buy the house, much less pay to have it renovated. No matter how tempting the offer—or how tempting the show’s star, Nick Vilardi—Madison sees it as just another block that will not fit.

Even if she manages to stack the blocks in a semblance of order, even if she climbs her way up and reaches for the sky, what happens when the stars fall?

Unbidden, an old story Granny Bert told Madison years ago came to mind. According to her grandmother, a woman’s purse was stolen from a similar hook, keys and wallet still inside. A good Samaritan called the next day to report finding the purse and arranged a meeting to return it. As the story went, while the grateful woman was gone the thief used her own house key to go inside the house and steal her blind. To this day, Madison always took the time to wrap her purse strap around the hook or to stash her bag elsewhere.
A wicked idea slipped inside Madison’s mind. George Gail had paid her a thousand dollars to learn the woman’s identity, but even if she followed the Lincoln all the way to another town, there was no guarantee of success. But there was another way.
And Granny Bert had suggested a diversion. 
Ignoring her conscience, Madison dug into her pocket and found a roll of breath mints. She swiped a piece of toilet tissue from the adjacent stall and wrapped it around the mints several time, leaving a long twisted ‘tail’ sticking up. She waited until she heard another rustle of clothes and was certain the home-wrecking woman was otherwise occupied, then rolled the mints along the floor beneath the middle stall.
In what she hoped sounded like a frightened voice, Madison squealed. “Oh my Gosh! What is that? Is that a rat?”
The home-wrecker immediately shrieked. Madison’s hand slipped over the door, snagging the purse as she heard the commotion on the other side. She could just imagine the woman jumping to her feet, black tights tangled around her knees, frantically dancing around the tiny space and scanning the back wall for a glimpse of the rodent.
“Oh, it is a rat!” Madison cried again, even as her hand made quick work of jerking the wallet from the designer purse. A silver compact came out alongside the expensive wallet and clattered to the floor, adding to the noise and confusion. As it rolled into the stall, Madison added urgently, “Watch out, there it goes again!”
Obviously terrified, the woman inside blubbered incoherently. Her heels tapped out a frantic tempo on the tile floor as she hopped from one foot to the other. By now, she was in actual sobs. 
Tamping down feelings of remorse, Madison flicked the wallet open and quickly scanned the driver’s license inside.
 She’s a local? From right here in Naomi? Madison absorbed the surprise as she quickly slipped the wallet back inside the purse, yelled another warning that the rat was along the wall, and quickly dropped the purse over the stall door. Not bothering to find out if the strap snagged on the holder, she headed for the exit.

“I’ll call for the manager!” she assured the frightened woman as she hurried out.

There is so much I could say about this book, so much I want to say, but only so much space and of course I want you to enjoy it a much as I did. 
Chock full of love of all kinds (seeing the house through Nick's eyes is a very special sort of love) and crushes, the mystery goes from amateur sleuth cozy to some terrifying aspects worthy of a Stephen King horror novel.
I am among the readers who love a small town setting and The Sisters takes the concept to a new level. Two small towns with all the "wrong side of the tracks" competition on top of the typical gossip and back-biting. I am not saying which side of the tracks is wrong- each side just hides their secrets differently.
The characters are wonderful, each scene written to descriptive perfection. 
Even if you figure out who-dunit, there are surprises still in store for you.

Stipulations and Complications
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 3

Life comes with stipulations.

If you want to fit into last year’s swimsuit, you can’t eat ice cream and a Gennydoodle cookie after every meal.

If you want to go to Heaven, you can’t raise Hell on Saturday night and show up in the church pew on Sunday morning, hungover and reeking of cheap perfume.

And if you want your hundred-year-old mansion completely updated and remodeled for free, you have to sacrifice.

Stipulations, my child.

-Granny Bert Cessna

Now that Madison Reynolds has agreed to be part of a reality-television home remodeling show, she barely recognizes her own life. The show is an instant success, bringing cameras and reporters right to her doorstep, eager to chronicle her every move in the small Texas town.

With In a Pinch Temporary Services hovering on the thin line between prosperity and extinction, Madison takes on another quirky case, this one concerning a property dispute. Complications turn a simple mission into all-out danger, and once again Madison finds herself embroiled in an intriguing mystery.

Between her cantankerous grandmother, a moody teenage daughter, an ever-starving son, townspeople eager to grab their fifteen minutes of fame at her expense, and a mother-in-law appalled by her undignified foray into the public eye, Madison had her hands full, long before the skeleton was discovered. Now work is interrupted at the Big House, ghost stories abound, more secret passages have been unearthed, and someone is trying to scare her away from her new home.

What she needs is another session of Brash deCordova’s unique ‘river therapy’… not to mention the kiss that eludes them with frustrating regularity.

What she gets is another round of stipulations and complications.

A police cruiser arrived on scene, then another. Madison breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a familiar athletic form crawl from the second car. She determined, however, that Brash could start his investigation without her. She was fine right here, thank you.
After a while, Madison became aware of voices behind her. As the crowd grew front and center, the swelling number of people pushed along to the side view of the house. Although the gawkers could not see her sitting on the other side of the large tree, she could easily hear their discussion.
“Been years since we’ve found a dead body; now she shows up, and they’re popping up like weeds!” one person harrumphed.
“I wonder who it is this time. First, she finds Ronny Gleason dead in his chicken house, then she watched as Caress Ellingsworth was killed in her own living room. Wonder who she’s found this time?”

They could at least get their facts straight, Madison thought sullenly. True, she had witnessed the fight that resulted in the former soap queen’s death, but she didn’t actually watch the murder take place. Secondly, it had been in the actress’ dining room, not the living room. And third, she had not been the one to discover this body. Details, people.

Home Again: Starting Over
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 4

Named "Best Mystery Series of 2017" by Texas Association of Authors 

Things in The Sisters are heating up, and Madison Reynolds is in the hot seat.

When a local woman dies in a most unconventional way, In a Pinch takes on the quirky case and once again, Maddy finds herself in the middle of a would-be murder investigation. Even with the help of her grandmother and best friend Genny, this case may be too hot to handle. 

As summer scorches its way across Texas, drama as thick as the August humidity rolls through the twin towns of Juliet and Naomi. Granny Bert reveals a secret that rocks Maddy’s foundation. A celebrity designer joins the renovation crew at the Big House, bringing twice the chaos and twice the fans. Madison’s estranged mother-in-law convinces the twins to spend the summer with her in Dallas. As if all of that isn’t enough to wreak havoc in Madison’s life, Barry Redmond continues to propagate his ridiculous grudge against her. 

Things really start smoking when Cutter’s grandfather, rodeo legend Sticker Pierce, returns to The Sisters and tries to rekindle a romance with old flame Belle, aka Granny Bert. And Maddy’s latest brush with death prompts Brash to finally make his move. 

With renovations almost complete and the love of a good man behind her, Maddy is ready to tell the world: I’m home again, and starting over. 

Don’t miss Book Four in the award-winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series.

**On sale for .99 from July 1st-21st, then $1.99 until July 28th**

“During our delightful conversation, Miss Baker mentioned that you are somewhat of an amateur sleuth. I understand you work part time for a private investigator?”
“I’m not sure ‘sleuth’ is the right word,” Madison hedged. “You might say I am curious by nature, and that I like to solve puzzles. And as far as working with a private investigator, I mainly do routine surveillance,” she clarified. Code word for boring.
“But you have an impressive record in solving cases.”
“I’d like to think I helped clear up a few inconsistencies.”
Carson Elliot’s broad smile was bright against his dark skin. “And that is why I am hiring you, Mrs. Reynolds. You seem perfect for the job.”
“What job?” she squeaked.
He continued as if she had not spoken. “Money is not a concern,” he assured her. “If Genesis says you are worth it, that is good enough for me.”
Was this man for real? Madison had heard about these artistic types—brilliantly talented, but often not in full control of their mental facilities. Carson Elliot wanted to hire her, no questions asked, on the recommendation of someone he met just this morning. Madison wondered about his stability as he opened a desk drawer, took out a ledger, and began writing a check.
“I trust two thousand dollars will be enough to retain your services. If you will submit receipts for reimbursement, I will gladly pay for any research or expenses that you may incur.” He spoke as he wrote. With a flourishing movement of his hand, he ripped the check from its bindings and presented it to Madison.

By natural reflex, she reached for the check, even as she protested, “Mr. Elliot, I have no idea what it is you are hiring me to do!”

Genny's Ballad
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 5

By all accounts, everyone loves Genny. 

So why does someone want her dead? 

There’s something special about Genesis Baker, owner of The Sister’s popular New Beginnings CafĂ©. With her dimpled smile and twinkling blue eyes, Genny has practically the entire town eating from the palm of her hand. But Genny is hiding a secret. Despite her sunny disposition and golden touch, there is heartache in her past, and heartache, they say, comes in threes. 

Heartache Number One: An unwelcomed customer shows up at New Beginnings. Apparently, the restraining order against him has lapsed. 

Heartache Number Two: Genny’s arch nemesis from high school returns to town. Twenty years has done nothing to mellow the bitter feud between these two women. 

Heartache Number Three: As Genny finally acknowledges her feelings for a younger man—sexy firefighter Cutter Montgomery—memories of her first love come back to haunt her.

On top of it all, someone is stalking Genny, determined to make her life miserable. 
As it turns out, being kidnapped is only the beginning of her troubles… 

Great as a stand-alone, but Book Five of the award winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, voted Best Mystery Series by the Texas Association of Authors, two years in a row!

“You know those phone calls I mentioned?”
“The telemarketers?”
Genny nodded. “Yes. Only they aren’t from telemarketers.” She blew out a deep breath and voiced the truth of the matter. “Someone is stalking me. And I want to hire you to help me find them.”
Madison stared at her friend in astonishment. “Stalking you? What are you talking about? And why is this the first I’ve heard about it?”
Genny explained the recent chain of events. She was halfway through her story when the door to her office opened and Cutter burst inside.
He didn’t say hello. He didn’t acknowledge she had another visitor. His face was set in an angry scowl as he accosted her with his words. “Why didn’t you tell me about last night?”
Her mouth set in perturbed lines. Her voice dripped with cynicism. “And hello to you, too, Mr. Montgomery. Come right in. Don’t worry about interrupting the private conversation I was having with my friend. Please, yell at me all you want.”
“Don’t make it sound like I’m over-reacting,” he warned angrily. He shut the door behind him and strode across the room, where he had the grace to shoot Madison an apologetic look. “I’m sorry to burst in on you, Maddy, but did she tell you? Did she tell you someone came to her house last night and set a fire?”
Maddy gasped. They hadn’t gotten that far into the conversation. “A fire? Genny, what is he talking about? Is your house okay? What happened?”
“Yes, my house is fine. It was a flash fire in a bucket. Not nearly as dramatic as Cutter makes it sound.”
“And they left a message on your dumpster!” he continued to rant. “Before we talked! Why didn’t you tell me, Genny?”
 “You skipped your turnovers. I didn’t want to bother you.” She tried to sound flippant, but even she could hear the hurt in her voice.
Cutter stopped abruptly and blinked. Hard. He saw the uncertainty on her face. The vulnerability. “You thought I stood you up!” His tone was incredulous. “You thought I had second thoughts about kissing you and that I stood you up yesterday morning!”
Genny shot a look toward her friend. Surprise popped Madison’s mouth wide open.
“Okay, I am obviously way behind on this story,” Madison grumbled. “You have to start at the beginning. Tell. Me. Everything.”

Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of '13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published eleven books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction and Best Audio Book, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world. 

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel, but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

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