Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Novel Art of Murder (Mystery Bookshop) by V.M. Burns

The Novel Art of Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
by V.M. Burns

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Kensington (November 27, 2018) 
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1496711858
ISBN-13: 978-1496711854 
Digital ASIN: B07B7B4C8Q

Mystery bookstore owner Samantha Washington is trying to keep her grandmother from spending her golden years in an orange jumpsuit . . .

The small town of North Harbor, Michigan, is just not big enough for the two of them: flamboyant phony Maria Romanov and feisty Nana Jo.

The insufferable Maria claims she's descended from Russian royalty and even had a fling with King Edward VIII back in the day. She’s not just a lousy liar, she's a bad actress, so when she nabs the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies—a part Nana Jo plays every year in their retirement village production—Nana Jo blows a gasket and reads her the riot act in front of everyone.

Of course, when Maria is silenced with a bullet to the head, Nana Jo lands the leading role on the suspects list. Sam’s been writing her newest mystery, set in England between the wars, with her intrepid heroine Lady Daphne drawn into murder and scandal in the household of Winston Churchill. But now she has to prove that Nana Jo’s been framed.

With help from her grandmother's posse of rambunctious retirees, Sam shines a spotlight on Maria’s secrets, hoping to draw the real killer out of the shadow

Can Murders be Cozy?
The concept of a cozy murder mystery must seem like a misnomer or an oxymoron. How can murder be cozy? Yet, there’s a thriving category of mysteries which are just that, cozy.
Cozy mysteries typically feature an amateur sleuth (usually female), who must solve a mystery, almost always a murder. However, it’s not just the use of an amateur sleuth that makes cozies….cozy.
There are rules for a cozy mystery. Cozies can’t have any explicit sex, no really bad language, and no graphic violence.
What? How do you have a murder without violence? Herein lies the heart of the cozy.
Cozies, aren’t about the murder. Yeah, it happened. Someone (usually, someone not very nice) is murdered, but describing the details of the murder isn’t expected (nor desired). Cozy readers don’t want all of the grisly details about the rotting corpse or the violence unleashed upon the victim. No, most cozy murders actually takes place “off screen.” 

The amateur sleuth stumbles across a dead body. That’s when the real fun in a cozy begins. Once the body is found, it’s up to the sleuth to find the clues and figure out Whodunit. 
Cozies are basically story problems, remember those from your grade school days?  

     Jane’s grandmother gave her 25 pens for her birthday. Jane loved pens. She loved to use her pens to write ghost stories. Jane gave the stories to her friends. Billy liked his story so much, he gave her an apple. One day, Jane was hungry, so she decided to teach her friends to write ghost stories in exchange for apples. She gave away 15 pens and taught her friends to write ghost stories. How many apples does Jane have?  

The cozy author’s job is to provide a story with all of the information needed to solve the problem, in the case of a cozy that means finding the real killer. The reader must sift through the information in the story and sort the real clues from the “red herrings,” (false clues), to figure out the murderer.
In a perfect world, the reader and the sleuth arrive at the same conclusion at the same time.  That’s the cozy author’s nirvana.

So, what’s with the cats/dogs/recipes/etc? Cozy murder mysteries often have themes which include hobbies like knitting or baking. Honestly, I have a couple of theories about themes. Perhaps so many cozies include themes because normal people have pets or hobbies and it makes the story more realistic. Or, themes may be a way of distracting readers from clues…Squirrel or in the case of the cozy…cookie. Or maybe, the themes are a way of taking a heinous act and making it just the slightest bit more…cozy.

I had a lot of fun reading this book. Jumping between the dangerous situations Nana Jo gets herself and everyone else into, commiserating with Sam dealing with the people in her life as she works at her dream of becoming a published author, and reading the history that bleeds over into present day life. While there are a number of cozy tropes and stereotypes present in this storyline, it is never dull or boring!
With the wild characters keeping Sam`s life interesting, I wish I had a few crazies like this in my own life. Growing old seems much more exciting.
This book can be read stand alone but you won`t want to miss any of the delightful books in this series.

About the Author

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at
Author Links:
  Twitter: @vmburns
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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Short Stories from Amanda Paull - Let's Dance, A Christmas Day Kerfuffle & Fenella’s Fabulous Fountain Fondue

Let’s Dance (Scott Family Short Stories, Book 1)
She’s helping out a friend. His dad’s hip’s gone. Could a farcical mix-up lead to love?

Ballroom dancing is the last thing Laura wants to try. But her best friend is desperate to meet a hip-swinging Adonis, so before she knows it, Laura is cha cha cha-ing in the back of the Dog and Duck with nerdy Ben. At least no one else need ever find out. No such luck. Her mother is armed with a social media page and dangerous. The shenanigans begin. What a pity Ben’s now looking rather dapper. Will he scarper? Or is Ben made of sterner stuff?
If you like innocent, laugh-out-loud family mayhem, you’ll love Let’s Dance, the first Scott Family.

Purchase Link
US -

If you ever felt like your family was dysfunctional, you must meet the Scotts. Dysfunctional does not begin to cover them, yet to Laura, since this is all she`s ever known, there is a normalcy to family life.
This brief book is an introduction to a highly comical series of shorts. 
Laura and friends are no longer young ladies. In fact, Laura has a teenage daughter herself.
So when the ladies want some exercise they decide to take ballroom dancing lessons, hoping for a side benefit of meeting some hot men. The bar where the lessons are held does not live up to their memories of cool places from when they were just coming into drinking age. And the men, less than cream of the crop. Laura is partnered up with Ben, just for lessons, remember. 
In the course of learning to dance and doing something nice for friends, a new friendship blossoms, unless family involvement can kill it off quickly.
After reading this brief book and meeting the characters you will want to know what happens next.

A Christmas Day Kerfuffle (Scott Family Short Stories, Book 2)
A blooming romance. A trapped poodle. Can their relationship survive the madness?

After a shaky start, Laura and Ben are now getting along great. So much so that Laura dares to invite him for a Christmas Day brunch with her family. As the good tidings commence, a horrifying discovery is made. Freddie, the family poodle, is trapped. Will the ensuing biblical scale mayhem sound the death knell for Laura and Ben’s budding romance? Or is he just a glutton for punishment?

If you enjoyed Let’s Dance, you’ll love A Christmas Day Kerfuffle, the second Scott Family Short Story, by Amanda Paull. Download it today to discover whether love prevails, and Freddie cooks.

Purchase Links
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Now it is time for the holidays and Laura and Ben are officially a couple. In most families the holidays are a source of added stress. I can`t say the Scotts were more crazed than their usual, but this holiday will be memorable for Ben. We also see more of how their dog fits into the equation.

If Ben and Laura stay together after this, what might the future hold?
More zaniness and laugh out loud moments as this new dancing couple get closer to a big event for Ben`s staid family.

Fenella’s Fabulous Fountain Fondue (Scott Family Short Stories, Book 3)
It’s the day of the party. Laura and Ben are in love. But could a posh marshmallow put the kibosh on their relationship?

They’ve survived Scott Family mayhem twice so far, and now Laura and Ben’s relationship is rock solid. They are having a wonderful time at the Grand Hotel, relaxing in the spa and putting the final touches to Ben’s mother’s 85th birthday party preparations. It’s all going to plan.

Fenella loves her party. The two families get along fabulously. It’s a marvellous do. What could possibly go wrong?

Download the third Scott Family Short Story today to discover whether the Scotts have a cheeky little surprise of their own for long-suffering Ben and Laura.

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Ben and Laura have survived the holidays as a couple and are on to the big event - a surprise for Ben`s family and the introduction of the two families. Two families who, from all expectations, have nothing in common. Perhaps some alcohol and chocolate are in order.

If you have read the previous short stories in this series, you understand that despite best intentions, the Scotts can never come together without disaster lurking in the shadows. OK, no shadows even required. Stuff just happens! As respectable and proper as Ben`s family seems, it turns out they are not perfect either.
Will one more disaster knock the wind from this relationship`s sails?

Prepare to gasp in shock as the families come together at this special event and Ben surprises all.
An irreverent and surprising series from start to... 

Author Bio – Amanda Paull is a writer of humorous romantic fiction. She lives in the North East of England with her husband and works in the public sector. The inspiration for her stories comes from real life, which she tries to show the funnier side of by embellishing to the hilt.

Amanda's Website:
Social Media Links – Twitter:

A Spell of Murder by Clea Simon

A Spell of Murder
Witch Cats of Cambridge Book 1
by Clea Simon
Genre: Cozy Mystery 

It’s Harriet’s fault. It’s always her fault, not that she’ll ever admit it.” So begins A Spell of Murder: A Witch Cats of Cambridge mystery, the first in a new cozy series that mixes feline fiction with a touch of the paranormal, and a little romance as well.

Becca, newly single and newly unemployed, wants to believe she has psychic powers. With nothing but time – and a desire for empowerment – she’s studying to become a witch. What she doesn’t know is that her three cats – Harriet, Laurel, and Clara – are the ones with the real power. And when Harriet – “a cream-colored longhair with more fur than commonsense” – conjures a pillow for her own comfort, Becca believes her spells are finally working. Could that be why Trent, the coven’s devilishly handsome leader, has been showing her special attention? Or why Suzanne, a longtime coven member, draws her aside to share a secret – a confidence that may lead to murder?

The first in Clea Simon`s Witch Cats of Cambridge series is perhaps unlike anything you have ever read. It is a cozy mystery in the sense that the sleuth is not a police official. In fact, one could say the main sleuth is a cat and her litter mates. Clara, the youngest, by minutes, of three cats narrates this tale for us. It is an introduction of things to come, with an interesting ending with some exciting news.
The main human protagonist is struggling and unsure of where her future will take her. She is making new friends and seeking new talents for herself. Being only human, she is somewhat oblivious to the world around her. That slack is picked up by her three feline companions. Harriett, the eldest and largest, is mainly concerned with creature comforts and from where and when her next meal will be served. Laurel, the sleek and showy exotic one, is a bit more self absorbed. Smallest and most colorful Clara, nicknamed the Clown, is the nurturing and observant cat. She takes it upon herself to watch out for their human, Becca.

Becca becomes interested in witchcraft, upon her natural curiosity and research into history. She joins a small coven of Wiccans, who have no clue what they are doing. When one is murdered, and Becca happens to be the person to find the crime scene and body, life becomes more complicated. The cats must save their human from being caged.

The way this story is told and the observations made by Clara kept me turning pages.
I am looking forward to seeing the direction this series takes us.

Clea Simon is the author of "A Spell of Murder," the first in her new "Witch Cats of Cambridge" series. She is also the author of "World Enough," a rock 'n' roll noir, as well as the Blackie and Care series (most recently "Cross My Path") chronicling the adventures of the pink-haired Care and the black feral cat who loves her. In addition to these darker books, she is also the author of the Dulcie Schwartz feline mysteries, the Pru Marlowe pet noir mysteries, and the Theda Krakow mysteries, as well as three nonfiction books, including The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats.
The recipient of multiple honors, including the Cat Writers Associations Presidents Award, she lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband, Jon Garelick, and their cat, Musetta.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Forever Yours Clean Romance event


  Italian Honeymoon by Reina M. Williams
 Get whisked away on a sweet, romantic European vacation with the Lovestruck Billionaires!
When love strikes, these billionaires must risk their most valuable assets--their hearts.
 Julia Ross can't believe her sister is married. They'd promised each other they'd stay single, but now it's just Julia, facing another change in her well-ordered life. And then there's the groom's brother, Romeo, who wants to change even more--he and his family want to compete with her family's restaurants, and entice her to work for them.
 But nothing about Romeo Bianchi is enticing...until he proposes.
Romeo Bianchi likes to shake things up--on his terms--and a fake wedding to Julia Ross seems like the perfect opportunity to rattle both of their families. But when their pretend marriage causes real problems, the two decide to face them together, until love strikes and Julia runs scared. Then they both have to decide if change is a price they're willing to pay for their happily ever after.


She set her glass on a nearby table and brushed her hands, as if to rid herself of this stuck feeling. She needed to do something. She needed a change.
Maybe it was time to plan starting her own restaurant. But not at this moment. Since she’d already said her congrats and all to the happy couple, she headed upstairs to the bridesmaids’ room, where she and Elissa and Zoe had gotten ready before the ceremony earlier.
When she got to the elevator and pressed the button, Danton’s younger brother, Romeo, sauntered up to her, a drink in hand.
“Jules, leaving the party?” He downed the rest of his drink and set the glass on the floor.
Ugh. No consideration. And only her sister and Elissa’s best friend, Zoe, called her Jules. Where did this guy get off? He and his ruthless family could all rot. She crossed her arms and clenched her jaw. She had to be polite, for Elissa’s sake. At least he wasn’t bad to look at, all lean and athletic looking, but deceptively boyish, with that stupid cute smile and dimple in his left cheek.
So she’d eyed him during the ceremony. Checking out the enemy was all. Romeo’s family seemed to have it in for Dad, and she had no idea why. As usual, Dad was closed-mouth about the situation. She tightened her arms against her chest.
Supposedly, Danton had made them stop the takeover attempts. That didn’t excuse Romeo and his family, especially since now there were rumors that they were planning to scoop up some properties in the area to open rival restaurants.
They boarded the elevator. Romeo gave her that stupid smile and asked her what floor. She pushed the button herself. He shrugged, but didn’t push a button. Oh, great. He was either on the same floor or planning on following her. Well, she knew the head of security here, so he’d better watch himself. The doors closed and they glided up.
Romeo looked at her again. Shoot, he had fine eyes, all bluish-grey, like her favorite storm clouds over the city…and fine pecs, and broad shoulders, and, yes, he was fine. But she wasn’t minding that, not one bit.
Ugh. She better watch herself—more like check her eyesight if she couldn’t see right through Romeo Bianchi.

  Praise for Reina's books: "This is the sort of story I would happily recommend to my mum or grandma, or even a teenage reader.” ~Long and Short Reviews
 “I recommend if you’re looking for something lighthearted.”~Kathleen, Amazon review
 “A wonderful afternoon read with a cuppa and a few iced tea biscuits....” ~Susanne, Meditative Meanderings
 “All the stories had lovely themes of opening and awakening – whether it is to new possibilities, love, or a new path in life. …for those who enjoy sweet and light-hearted reads these novellas are a perfect fit!” ~Meredith, Austenesque Reviews

Author Reina M. Williams
Reina M. Williams writes sweet romance with a touch of sass, from Austenesque series to contemporary twists on fairy tales. When she's not writing or spending time with her sons, you're most likely to find her watching a period drama or Disney movie, walking in a park, baking, or reading. A California native, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  



A Murderous Marriage (A Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery) 

by Alyssa Maxwell


About the Book

Cozy Mystery 4th in Series 
Kensington (January 29, 2019) 
Hardcover: 304 pages  
ISBN-10: 1496717392 
ISBN-13: 978-1496717399 
Kindle ASIN: B07CWDMR33

Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, are preparing for a wedding, but it may not be the happy occasion everyone hopes for . . .
Since the Great War, some family fortunes have suffered, including those of the Renshaws. Despite being the granddaughter of an earl, Julia Renshaw is under pressure to marry for money—and has settled for Gilbert Townsend, a viscount and a wealthy industrialist. He is decades older than Julia, and it’s clear to her sister Phoebe—and to Eva, who has been like a surrogate mother to the girls—that this is not a love match. Nevertheless, the wedding takes place—and in a hurry.
At the reception aboard the groom’s yacht, there appears to be tension between Gil and several guests: his best man, a fellow veteran of the Boer War; his grouchy spinster sister; and his current heir, a nervous young cousin named Ernest. The bride is also less than pleased when she discovers that her honeymoon will be more crowded than expected—with Gil’s pretty secretary, among others, coming along.
That very night, Julia pounds on her sister’s door, brandishing a bandaged hand and reporting a hot-tempered outburst on her new husband’s part. Julia is feeling doubt and regret about her hasty decision, but returns to the boat. Then the next morning, before the yacht can depart the harbor, Gil’s body is found in the water below—and Phoebe and Eva must discover who pushed him over . . . before the Renshaws’ social standing is irreparably stained by Julia’s arrest for his murder . . .

About the Author

Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a novelist. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she loves to watch BBC productions, sip tea in the afternoons, and delve into the past. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books at

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