Saturday, June 29, 2019

DIED IN THE WOOL

Died in the Wool: A Whisky Business Mystery by Melinda Mullet

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 4th in Series 
Alibi (June 18, 2019) 
Print Length ~300 pages 
Digital ASIN: B07GN17SQJ

No good deed goes unpunished in the Whisky Business cozy mystery series as distillery owner Abigail Logan uncovers dark secrets—and murder—at a local charity.

Photojournalist Abi Logan is finally ready to put her hectic career on hold and set down roots in the heart of the Scottish countryside. Studying the business and art of distilling whisky at Abbey Glen and volunteering at the Shepherd’s Rest women’s shelter in her spare time seem a surefire way to find the peace and stability she craves. It’s also the logical way to take her mind off her personal life. Abi’s business partner, Grant MacEwan, is facing a career-threatening disability, and as much as Abi longs to be there for him, he seems to prefer the company of a rival.

But as Abi becomes more involved with Shepherd’s Rest, she discovers that their refuge is elusive. When the shelter is rocked by a murder/suicide, Abi is outraged by the police’s lack of attention to these already marginalized women. Increasingly confident in her own skills as an investigator, Abi steps in to find out what the police will not: who left one young woman dead and another missing. But when more deadly deeds come to light, Abi must race to unravel the connections between the shelter’s benefactors and the women they have pledged to protect—and expose the killer before he strikes again.
Melinda Mullet’s delightful Whisky Business mysteries can be read together or separately.

Enjoy responsibly: SINGLE MALT MURDER | DEATH DISTILLED | DEADLY DRAM | DIED IN THE WOOL

About the Author


  Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer.
Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children.
She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.
  Author Links Website – http://melindamullet.com/
  Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mulletmysteries/
  Twitter – https://twitter.com/mulletmysteries

  Purchase Links Amazon B&N Kobo Google Play

 
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Friday, June 28, 2019

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj


A Feast of Serendib







Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.




Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.
Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

Purchase Links:
https://a-feast-of-serendib.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders




I have recently been paying more attention to cookbooks because I am trying to eat healthier. I also wish to expand my tastebuds. Looking at the photos in this delicious book alone makes me drool with anticipation.
I admit that I am not familiar with a number of the spices used in these recipes, but was pleasantly surprised when they were not difficult to locate locally.
Normally I prefer a printed copy of a cookbook. This time, the pdf version, viewed online, was equally as satisfying.

I also had my curiosity piqued and educated about Sri Lanka and the ethnic influences which went into the recipes offered. I suggest reading more than just the recipes provided.

This volume makes for an excellent wedding gift or addition to a new kitchen.
My son will be receiving a copy, with the condition that he cooks for me more than once.










Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. 
The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.


Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and also founded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com).
She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon.
She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit (
www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org).
  She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog. 
Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov's, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib.
  
http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Social Media Links –

Serendib Kitchen website: http://serendibkitchen.com   

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Passport to Happiness by Carrie Stone




Passport to Happiness

An inspiring and escapist read – Eat, Pray, Love meets Bridget Jones!




Will the trip of her dreams…
Everly Carter is bored.
With her job, with her single status and with the never ending line of rubbish men on Tinder.  Tired of going through the motions of seeming happy, Everly wants to be happy!

So, in a spontaneous moment of bravery (perhaps spurred on by a few cocktails) Everly books a holiday.  Time away, alone, to find out what she really wants from life.
Become the journey of her lifetime?
Everly’s search for happiness takes her to picturesque Swiss villages and the sunsets of glamourous Bermuda.  But with every new stamp in her passport, Everly still feels as though something is missing…
Could it be that true happiness is hard to find, until she finds herself?

Purchase Links:


Take advantage of a special 99p price drop, while it lasts! 



Carrie was born and raised in London, but her love for travel and adventure has seen her spend the last fourteen years living and working internationally. She is currently based in Spain alongside her husband, young daughter and adopted Indonesian dog, Bali. 

Carrie is a traditionally published author with Harper Impulse, as well as an independently published author. When not writing, she works as a Psychic Medium & Spiritual Coach (
www.carriebattley.com). 
To find out more about her, connect on Facebook (Carrie Stone) or Twitter @CarrieStoneUK

Tour hosted by @rararesources

Monday, June 24, 2019

STRANGLED EGGS AND HAM

Strangled Eggs and Ham (A Country Store Mystery) 

by Maddie Day

 

About the Book


Strangled Eggs and Ham (A Country Store Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 6th in Series
Kensington (June 25, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496711254
ISBN-13: 978-1496711250
Digital ASIN: B07HW1D15K

Robbie Jordan’s rustic country store is growing in popularity. But when a dead body appears, it turns out that Robbie’s home-style cooking attracts hungry customers—and murder!
While Robbie scrambles through breakfast orders for her expanding clientele at Pans ‘N Pancakes, tempers run as high as the sticky August heat in South Lick, Indiana. Real-estate developer Fiona Closs plans to build a towering luxury resort at one of the most scenic hilltops in Brown County, and not everyone can see the sunny side of the imposing proposition—including Robbie’s furious Aunt Adele, who doesn’t waste a minute concocting protests and road blockades. When tensions boil over and a vocal protester is silenced forever at the resort site, Robbie ditches the griddle to catch the killer. But if slashed tires are any indication, she’ll need to crack this case before her own aunt gets served something deadly next . . .
Includes Recipes for You to Try!


 FROM CHAPTER 1

I plopped down on the towel. Stroking through Lake Lemon’s cool water had made me forget the controversy brewing in town, at least for a while.
Lou Perlman hit the towel next to mine, her tank suit agleam with water. “That was the best, Robbie. You can’t beat an August swim.” She stretched out on her back with her hands clasped behind her head. She closed her eyes, bliss etched on her face, her skin nut brown with the tan of a dedicated sun lover. We’d been hanging out as friends for about a year. I shared a love of bicycling with the Indiana University graduate student, and we supported each other as friends.
“Isn’t it way hotter than usual this year?” I was already steaming from the sun and the humidity typical to southern Indiana.
“Definitely.”
Riddle Point Beach was surprisingly empty this late afternoon. An older couple sat in collapsible chairs, reading, and one young mother played with a toddler at the water’s edge, but otherwise we had the place to ourselves. I massaged my sore knee, a casualty of a spill I’d taken a few days ago on my bike. I scanned the perimeter of the lake and spied a great blue heron standing in a shallow marshy area to my right. Its long neck was hunched in, and the narrow, pointed beak waited patiently for an unsuspecting fish or frog. A movement to my left caught my attention.
“Speaking of hot,” I said.
I watched as Gregory DeGraaf parked his bicycle next to Lou’s and locked it to a bike stand at the edge of the parking lot. He slipped out of his bike shoes and socks, grabbed a towel out of a pannier slung over the back of the bike, and strolled toward us.
“Afternoon, Lou, Robbie.”
Lou’s eyes flew open.
“Mind if I join you?” The lawyer, a guest in one of my bed and breakfast rooms, was a dark charmer of forty. Black, curly hair, smile lines around his eyes, and a lean, trim build were an attractive combination, but it was his deep, resonant voice and the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen that clinched the deal.
I knew Lou felt the same. I was already in a relationship.
She wasn’t.
She smiled up at him and patted the sand on her other side. “Hey, Gregory. Pull up a beach and sit down.” She curled up to sit, wrapping her arms around her knees.
“I’m going to cool off first. Back in a flash.” He dropped his towel and jogged into the water still wearing his biking togs. The bright yellow shirt clung to his torso, and the black stretch shorts showed off his muscled backside to great advantage.
“Mmm,” Lou murmured. “Want.”
I laughed. I had hosted a gathering of Lou’s cycling club at my country store restaurant on Saturday, and they’d invited the Indianapolis Bike Club that Gregory and my other upstairs guests were with. Lou had clearly fallen for Gregory at first glance. And why not?
He didn’t wear a wedding band. They shared a love of biking. They were both intelligent—you had to be to earn a law degree, and Lou was nearing completion of her doctorate in sociology—and most important, there was a spark between them. The Indy
group had left on Sunday night, with new guests filling one of my three rooms. Gregory had extended his stay.

While even southern Indiana is not considered by anyone to be the "deep south," this wonderful series has its share of quirky characters and quaint phrases.
Relatives are generally both a bone of contention as well as a source of warmth and comfort. If you like small town. close knit communities and raw, southern grit and humor, this is a book for you!
At under thirty, Robbie Jordan can't be compared to Mrs. Fletcher of Cabot Cove fame, although she is quickly catching up to her in mysteries to solve and dead bodies discovered. When she bought a quiet little store selling vintage pots and pans and upgraded it to a gathering place for breakfast, lunch and gossip, she had no idea how involved she and her store would be in ALL the activity happening in and around South Lick.
How dangerous can it be to invite a few people to stay upstairs in rented rooms and offer breakfast? A few tourists, some parents who drop their kids off for college, nice people, I am sure. They aren't going to get involved in town business or scandals, are they?
Robbie had no clue what was in store for her when she relocated to a quiet midwestern community to be close to her aunt Adele. 

Be sure to start this book after a full breakfast. Your stomach will be aching to try all the delicious food you encounter mentioned along the way. Fortunately there are recipes included at the end.
Along the way to figuring out all the discord surrounding new development on a picturesque hilly area, other secrets will be revealed, along with some red herrings.

The author does a wonderful job of keeping us entertained as she builds the tension towards an action packed ending.



About the Author


Maddie Day is a talented amateur chef and holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha Award-nominated author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau and three cats in Massachusetts.
As Edith Maxwell, she writes the Local Foods Mysteries (Kensington Publishing) and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries (Midnight Ink).
You can find all Maddie’s/Edith’s identities at www.edithmaxwell.com. She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors at wickedcozyauthors.com. Look for her as Edith M. Maxwell and Maddie Day on Facebook and @edithmaxwell and @maddiedayauthor on Twitter.
Purchase Links Amazon B&N Kobo Google Play IndieBound


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Sunday, June 23, 2019

A CRAFTER HOOKS A KILLER

A Crafter Hooks a Killer: A Handcrafted Mystery 

by Holly Quinn

 

About the Book

 
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series 
Crooked Lane Books (June 11, 2019)
Hardcover 274 Pages 
ISBN-10: 1643850121 
ISBN-13: 978-1643850122 
Digital ASIN: B07MGS1XDW

Community Craft proprietor Sammy Kane suspects that a tantalizing thread links the deaths of her best friend and a bestselling author. But can she weave together the clues?
Samantha “Sammy” Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen’s craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford. Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams, to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death—her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words “THE END” raggedly scratched into the cover.
Heavens to Etsy! Not only must Sammy contend with the author’s inauspicious demise, she has to untie some knotty details from her own past. It turns out Kate’s death was not what it seemed, and instead somehow hooked to Jane Johnson’s demise. Handsome Detective Liam Nash is on the “skein”, more than happy to see the shop owner again, if less than enamored by her sleuthing interventions. But this was Sammy’s best friend—she has to know.
Fortunately, Sammy has a “lace” in the hole. As a child, she formed the S.H.E. detective team with her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie. Having already reconstituted their partnership, the S.H.E. team searches for a pattern behind the latest death. As the case starts to unravel, will Sammy and team be able to sidestep Liam quick enough to stitch together the clues?

Most cozy mystery readers I know also love the themes that come with different series.
Sammy Kane is a shopkeeper who runs a store dedicated to crafts made by local artisans.
She also hosts community events in her cozy space. This was not always her dream but she took it on after the death of her best friend from childhood.
Now the town is getting ready for a book signing appearance from a celebrity author, sort of a more well known Carol Duvall. 
When the author shows up a few days early, requesting a private aside with Sammy, everyone's curiosity is piqued. When that same author is discovered murdered before she can tell Sam what she discovered, and news reporters from all over the nation descend upon this small town, you can imagine how chaotic life becomes. Add to that, Sammy and Ellie's parents arrive for a visit and Detective Nash actually seems to be open to allowing Sammy to investigate alongside him. Maybe he thinks keeping her close is just easier than trying to keep her safe as she investigates on her own.

This series is close to my heart because it takes place close to my real life area and I also wish I was part of a crafting community like this. I was close to my sister and cousin growing up and miss that bond. We never did the Nancy Drew investigating though.
This case does tie back to Sammy's old school days and her closest friendships.

With a current investigation to solve, a mystery about the secret message the murdered author never had a chance to relay, and some relationship tensions as well, this book kept me glued to the pages, not wanting to take a break until all was explained.
Craftily written, you'll also get caught up in this well knotted tale.

About the Author

Holly Quinn has published two stand-alone fiction novels in another persona.
 She graduated from Carroll University in Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in business and a minor in marketing. This is her second Handcrafted mystery.
Visit her @ www.authorhollyquinn.com
Author Links - 
Website - www.authorhollyquinn.com
  Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/HollyQuinnbooks/
  GoodReads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7940795.Holly_Quinn

  Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - BAM - IndieBound - Powell's Books - Walmart



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Saturday, June 22, 2019

BELINDA BLAKE AND THE SNAKE IN THE GRASS

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass

(An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery) 

by Heather Day Gilbert

 

About the Book

Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass (An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Lyrical Underground (June 25, 2019)
Paperback: 192 pages
ISBN-10: 1516108841
ISBN-13: 978-1516108848
Digital ASIN: B07HVYQ9XZ




When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .
Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.
The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .






Is it OK to call a mystery including murder light and fun?
I enjoyed my time spent with Belinda Blake.

Belinda has found her own calling and path in life. Her mom is a free spirit, doing her best to live off-the-grid, homesteading, while Belinda's father is a veterinarian. Her sister, on the other hand, has chosen a more powerful lifestyle. I tell you this because all of their personalities come into play as Belinda is figuring out her independent way of life.
Belinda enjoys video games and reviews them. She also knows a bit about pets and fearlessly takes on pet-sitting for some less than ordinary types. We meet her as she is taking Rasputin for a walk, with unanticipated results. This is also how she meets her new neighbor, Stone the fifth.

Stone is one of those characters you may have conflicted feelings about. At times you may find him both (or either) adorable or detestable. It is Belinda's feelings about him that matter. 
She has just moved into a cottage on the grounds of Stone's family's estate. 
Because of this proximity, we get to know more about how the wealthier residents live, including several of Stone's friends. We also meet the hired help. Ms Gilbert does a wonderful job of creating characters we are drawn to and want to understand or at least know more about.
When one of those people ends up dead in Belinda's flowerbed, she takes a personal interest in figuring out why and by whom. Although warned off by the investigating detective, he at least is willing to listen to the information she provides.

Naturally, no one wants to see Belinda in danger, yet Stone drags her into the investigation by introducing her to the main players, only for a second victim to be found in nearly the same spot. After that, there is no stopping Belinda Blake.

A wonderful start to an interesting series that shows much potential. We do get a sneak peek at what will happen next. The pets Belinda will encounter and the mysteries she is drawn to will make for enjoyable escape reading. 


About the Author

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals.
Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love.
Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn't done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.
Find out more on HeatherDayGilbert.com.

Author Links Website: http://heatherdaygilbert.com
  Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Q6w6X
  Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert
  Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heatherdaygilbert/
  Twitter: @heatherdgilbert
  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/heatherdgilbert/
  Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

  Purchase Links Kindle: Nook Kobo AppleBooks Google Play



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Friday, June 21, 2019

HANDLE WITH CARE Chapter Reveal




CHAPTER 1
WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?

WREN
I slip onto the empty bar stool beside the lumberjack mountain man who looks like he tried to squeeze himself into a suit two sizes too small. He’s intimidatingly broad and thick, with long dark hair that’s been pulled up into a haphazard man bun thing. His beard is a hipster’s wet dream. His scowl, however, makes him about as approachable as a rabid porcupine. And yet, here I am, sidling up next to him.
He glances at me, eyes bleary and not really tracking. He quickly focuses on his half-empty glass again. Based on the slump of his shoulders and the uncoordinated way he picks up his glass and tips it toward his mouth, I’m guessing he’s pretty hammered. I order a sparkling water with a dash of cranberry juice and a lime.
What I could really use is a cup of lavender-mint tea and my bed, but instead, I’m sitting next to a drunk man in his thirties. My life is extra glamorous, obviously. And no, I’m not an escort, but at the moment I feel like my morals are on the same kind of slippery slope.
“Rough day?” I ask, nodding to the bottle that’s missing more than half its contents. It was full when he sat down at the bar an hour ago. Yes, I’ve been watching him the entire time, waiting for an opportunity to make my move. While he’s been sitting here, he’s turned down two women, one in a dress that could’ve doubled as a disco ball and the other in a top so low-cut, I could almost see her navel.
“You could say that,” he slurs. He props his cheek on his fist, eyes almost slits. I can still make out the vibrant blue hue despite them almost being closed. They move over me, assessing. I’m wearing a conservative black dress with a high neckline and a hem that falls below my knees. Definitely not nearly as provocative as Disco Ball or Navel Lady.
“That solving your problems?” I give him a wry grin and tip my chin in the direction of his bottle of Johnnie.
His gaze swings slowly to the bottle. It gives me a chance to really look at him. Or what I can see of his face under his beard, anyway.

“Nah, but it helps quiet down all the noise up here.” He taps his temple and blurts, “My dad died.”

I put a hand on his forearm. It feels awkward, and creepy on my part since its half-genuine, half-contrived comfort. “I’m so sorry.”

He glances at my hand, which I quickly remove, and refocuses on his drink. “I should be sorry too, but I think he was mostly an asshole, so the world might be better off without him.” He attempts to fill his glass again, but his aim is off, and he pours it on the bar instead. I rush to lift my purse and grab a handful of napkins to mop up the mess.
“I’m drunk,” he mumbles.

“Well, I’m thinking that might’ve been the plan, considering the way you’re sucking that bottle back. I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask for a straw in the first place. Might be a good idea to throw a spacer in there if you want tomorrow morning to suck less.” I push my drink toward him, hoping he doesn’t send me packing like he did the other women who approached him earlier.
He narrows his eyes at my glass, suspicious, maybe. “What is that?”
“Cranberry and soda.” 

“No booze?”

“No booze. Go ahead. You’ll thank me in the morning.”

He picks up the glass and pauses when it’s an inch from his mouth. His eyes crinkle, telling me he’s smiling under that beard. “Does that mean Imma wake up with you beside me?”
I cock a brow. “Are you propositioning me?”
“Shit, sorry.” He chugs the contents of my glass. “I was joking. Besides, I’m so wasted, I can barely remember my name. Pretty sure I’d be useless in bed tonight. I should stop talkin’.” He scrubs a hand over his face and then motions to me. “I wouldn’t proposition you.”
I’m not sure how to respond. I go with semi-affronted, since it seems like somewhat of an insult. “Good to know.”
“Dammit. I mean, I think you might be hot. You look hot. I mean attractive. I think you’re pretty.” He tips his head to the side and blinks a few times. “You have nice eyes, all four of them are lovely.”
This time I laugh—for real—and point to the bottle. “I think you might want to tell your date you’re done for the night.”
He blows out a breath and nods. “You might be right.”
He makes an attempt to stand, but as soon as his feet hit the floor, he stumbles into me and grabs my shoulders to steady himself. “Whoa. Sorry. Yup, I’m definitely drunk.” His face is inches from mine, breath smelling strongly of alcohol. Beyond that, I get a whiff of fresh soap and a hint of aftershave. He lets go of my shoulders and takes an unsteady step back. “I don’t usually do this.” He motions sloppily to the bottle. “Mostly I’m a three drink max guy.”
“I think losing your father makes this condonable.” I slide off my stool. Despite being tall for a woman, and wearing heels, he still manages to be close to a head taller than me.
“Yeah, maybe, but I still think I might regret it tomorrow.” He’s incredibly unsteady, swaying while standing in place. I take the opportunity for what it is and thread my arm through his, leading him away from the bar. “Come on, let’s get you to the elevator before you pass out right here.”
He nods, then wobbles a bit, like moving his head has set him off balance. “That’s probably a good idea.”
He leans into me as we weave through the bar and stumbles on the two stairs leading to the foyer. There’s no way I’ll be able to stop him if he goes down, but I drape one of his huge arms over my shoulder anyway, and slip my own around his waist, guiding him in a mostly straight line to the elevators.
“Which floor are you on?” I ask.
“Penthouse.” He drops his arm from my shoulder and flings it out, pointing to the black doors at the end of the hall. “Jesus, I feel like I’m on a boat.”
“It’s probably all the alcohol sloshing around in your brain.” I take his elbow again, helping him stagger the last twenty feet to the dedicated penthouse elevator.
He stares at the keypad for a few seconds, brow pulling into a furrow. “I can’t remember the code. It’s thumbprint activated though too.” He stumbles forward and presses his forehead against the wall, then tries to line up his thumb with the sensor, but his aim is horrendous and he keeps missing.
I settle a hand on his very firm forearm. This man is built like a tank. Or a superhero. For a moment, I reconsider what I’m about to do, but he seems pretty harmless and ridiculously hammered, so he shouldn’t pose a threat. I’m also trained in self-defense, which would fall under the by any means necessary umbrella. “Can I help?”
He rolls his head, eyes slits as they bounce around my face. “Please.”
I take his hand between mine. The first thing I notice is how clammy it is. But beyond that, his knuckles are rough, littered with tiny scars and a few scabs, and his nails are jagged.
“Your hands are small,” he observes as I line his thumb up with the sensor pad and press down.
“Maybe yours are abnormally big,” I reply. They are rather large. Like basketball player hands.
“You know what they say about big hands.”
I fight not to roll my eyes, but for a brief moment, I wonder if what’s in his pants actually matches the rest of him. And if he’s unkempt everywhere, not just on his face. I cut that visual quickly because it makes me want to gag. “And what do they say?”
His eyes crinkle again, and he slaps his own chest. “Something about big hands, big heart.”
I bite back my own smile. “Pretty sure you’re mixing that up with cold hands, warm heart.”
His brow furrows. “There’s a good chance.”
The elevator doors slide open. He pushes off the wall with some effort and practically tumbles inside. He catches himself on the rail and sags against the wall as I follow him in. I honestly can’t believe I’m doing this right now.
He doesn’t have to press a button since the elevator only goes to the penthouse floor. As soon as we start moving, he groans and his shoulders curl in. “I don’t feel so good.”
Please don’t let him be sick in here. If there’s one thing I can’t deal with, it’s vomit. “You should sit.”
He slides down the wall, massive shoulders rolling forward as he rests his forehead on his knees. “Tomorrow is going to suck.”
I stay on the other side of the elevator, in case he tosses his cookies. “Probably.”
It’s the longest elevator ride in the history of the world. Or at least it feels that way, mostly because I’m terrified he’s going to yak. Thankfully, we make it to the penthouse floor incident-free. On the down side, now that he’s in a sitting position, getting him to stand again is a challenge. I have to press the open door button three times before I can finally coax him to his feet.
In the time between leaving the bar and making it to the penthouse floor, the effects of the alcohol seems to have compounded. He’s beyond sloppy, using the wall and me for support as we make our way to his door. There are two penthouse apartments up here. One on either side of the foyer.
He leans against the doorjamb, once again fighting to find the coordination to get his thumb to the sensor pad. I don’t ask if he needs my assistance this time since it’s quite clear he does. Once again I take his clammy hand in mine.
“Your hands are really soft,” he mumbles.

“Thanks.”

The pad ashes green, and I turn the handle. “Okay, here we go. Home sweet home.”

“This isn’t my home,” he slurs. “My cousin’s family owns this building. I’m crashing here until I can get the fuck out of New York.”
I scan the penthouse. It an eclectic combination of odd art and modern furniture, like two different tastes crashed together and this is the result. Aside from that, it’s clean to the point of looking almost like a show home.
The only sign that someone is staying here is the lone coffee cup on the table in the living room and the blanket lolling like a tongue over the edge of the couch. I’m still standing in the doorway while he sways unsteadily.
He tries to shove his hand in his pants pocket, but all he succeeds in doing is setting himself off-balance. He nearly stumbles into the wall.
“Thanks for your help,” he says.
He’s back in his penthouse, which means my job is technically done. However, I’m worried he’s going to hurt himself, or worse, asphyxiate on his own vomit in the middle of the night, and I’ll be the one catching heat if that happens. I’ll also feel bad if something happens to him. I blow out a breath, annoyed that this is how my night is ending.
I heave his arm over my shoulder and slip mine around his waist again, leading him through the living room toward what seems to be the kitchen. There’s a sheet of paper on the island, but otherwise it’s spotless.
“What’re you doing?” he asks.
We pause when we reach the threshold. “Which way is your bedroom?”
He looks slowly from right to left. “Not that way.” He points to the kitchen. It’s very state of the art.
I guide him in the opposite direction down the hall, until he stumbles through a doorway, into a large but simply furnished bedroom. Once we reach the edge of the bed, he drops his arm, spins around—it’s drunkenly graceful—and falls back on the bed, arms spread wide as if he’s planning on making snow angels. “The room is spinning.”
“Would you like me to get you a glass of water and possibly a painkiller for the headache you’ll likely have in the morning?” I’m already heading for the bathroom.
“Might be a good idea,” he mumbles.
I find a glass on the edge of bathroom vanity—which is clean, apart from a brand new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste. I run the tap, wishing I had a plastic tumbler, because I’m not sure he’s in any state to deal with breakable objects. I check the medicine cabinet, find the pills I need, shake out two tablets, and return to the bedroom.
He’s right where I left him; sprawled out faceup on a massive king-size bed, legs hanging off the end, one shoe on the floor beside him. I cross over and set the water and the pills on the nightstand.
I make a quick trip back to the bathroom and grab the empty wastebasket from beside the toilet in case his night is a lot rougher than he expects.
I tap his knee, crossing my fingers he’ll be easy to rouse. “Hey, I have painkillers for you.”
He makes a noise, but doesn’t move otherwise.
I tap his knee again. “Lincoln, you need to wake up long enough to take these.” I cringe. I called him by name, and he didn’t offer it to me while we were down at the bar. Here’s hoping he’s too drunk to notice or remember. His name is Lincoln Moorehead, heir to the Moorehead Media fortune and all the crap that comes with it. And there’s a lot of it.
One eye becomes a slit. “Every time I open my eyes, the room starts spinning again.”
“If you drink this and take these, it might help.” I hold up the glass of water and the pills.
“’Kay.” It takes three tries for him to sit up. He tries to pick the pills up out of my palm, but keeps missing my hand.
“Just open your mouth.”
He lifts his head. “How do I know you’re not trying to roofie me?”
I hold up the tablet in front of his face. “They don’t say roofie, so you’re safe.”
He tries to focus on the pill and then my face. I have my doubts he’s successful at either.
His tongue peeks out to drag across his bottom lip. “The cameras in the hall will catch you if you steal my wallet.”
I laugh at that. “I’m not going to steal your wallet, I’m going to put you to bed.”
“Hmm.” He nods slowly and opens his mouth.
I drop the pills on his tongue and hand him the glass, which he drains in three long swallows. “Would you like me to refill that?”
“That’d be nice.” He holds out the glass, but when I try to pull away, he covers my hands with his. His shockingly blue eyes meet mine, and for a moment they’re clear and compelling. Despite how out of it he is, and how much he resembles a mountain man, or maybe because of it, I have a hard time looking away. “I really wish I wasn’t this messed up. You smell nice. I bet your hair is pretty when it’s not pulled up like that.” He flops a hand toward my bun. “Not that it’s not pretty like that, but I bet if you took it down, it would be wavy and soft. The kind of hair you want to bury your face in and run your fingers through.” He exhales a long breath. “I haven’t had sex in a really long time, but I feel like I would have zero finesse if I tried right now.”
I smile and turn away. In the time it takes for me to refill his glass, he’s managed to get one arm out of his suit jacket. He’s made it most of the way onto the bed, feet still hanging off the end, but he’s on his back, which is not ideal.
I set the glass on his nightstand, along with a second set of painkillers, which I’m assuming he’ll need in the morning, and give him another nudge. “Hey.”
This time I get nothing in the way of a response. I poke him twice more, but still nothing. He can’t sleep on his back with how drunk he is. He needs to be on his side or his stomach with a wastebasket close by.
I can’t in good conscience leave him like this. My options are limited. I shake my head as I kick off my shoes and climb up onto the bed with him. This is not at all what I expected to be doing when I brought him back up here.
I stare down at his sleeping form. His lips are parted, they’re nice lips, full and plump, even though they’re mostly obscured by his overgrown beard. His hair has started to unravel from its man bun, wisps hanging in his face. He has long lashes, really long actually, and they’re thick and dark, the kind women pay a lot of money for. His nose is straight and his cheekbones— what I can see of them—are high. With a haircut, a beard trim or complete shave, and a new suit that actually fits, I can imagine how refined he’ll look. More like a Moorehead than a mountain man lumberjack. I shake my head. “I need you to roll onto your side, please,” I say loudly.
Nothing. Not even a grunt.
I pull on his shoulder, but he’s dead weight. Leaning over him, I make a fist and give him a light jab approximately where his kidney is. “Lincoln, roll over.”
And roll he does, knocking me down and turning over so he’s right on top of me. We’re face-to-face. Good God, he’s heavy. His bones must be made of lead. He shifts, one leg coming over both of mine. I push at his knee, but his arm swings out and he wraps himself around me on a low groan, pinning my arm to my side. He’s like a giant human blanket.
“How did this become my life?” I say to the ceiling, because the man lying on top of me is apparently out cold.
I try to wriggle free, I even yell his name a bunch of time before I give up and wait for him to roll off me. And while I wait for that to happen, I replay the conversation with his mother, Gwendolyn Moorehead, that took place forty-eight hours ago and put me in this awkward position underneath her drunk son.
I’d been standing in Fredrick’s office, still digesting the fact that he was dead. It was shocking that a massive heart attack had taken him, since he was always so healthy and full of life.
Gwendolyn, his wife—now a widow—stood stoic behind his desk, papers stacked neatly in the center.
“I’m so very for your loss, Gwendolyn. If there’s anything I can do. Whatever you need.” The words poured out, typical condolences, but sincerely meant because I couldn’t imagine how my mother and I would feel if we lost my father.
Gwendolyn’s fingers danced at her throat as she cleared it. “Thank you,” she whispered brokenly and dabbed at her eyes. “I appreciate your kindness, Wren.”
“Let me know what you want me to handle, and I’ll take care of it.”
She took a deep breath, composing herself before she lifted her gaze to mine. “I need your help.”
“Of course, what can I do?”
“My oldest son, Lincoln, will be returning to New York for the funeral, and he’ll be staying to help run the company.”
A hot feeling crept up my spine. I’d heard very little about Lincoln. Everything from Armstrong’s mouth was scathing, Fredrick’s passing references had been with fondness, and my interactions with Gwendolyn had been minimal as it was Fredrick himself who hired me, so this was first I’ve heard of Lincoln through her. “I see. And how can I help with that?” I could only imagine how difficult Armstrong would be if he had to share the attention with someone else, particularly his brother.
“Transitioning Lincoln.” Gwendolyn rounded her desk. “You’ve managed to turn around Armstrong’s reputation in the media during the time you’ve been here. I know it hasn’t been easy, and Armstrong can be difficult to manage.”
Difficult to manage is the understatement of the entire century where Armstrong is concerned. He’s a cocksucker of epic proportions. He’s also a misogynistic, narcissistic bastard that I’ve had to deal with for the past eight months on a nearly daily basis—sometimes even on weekends.
My job as his “handler” has been to reshape his horrendous reputation after his involvement in several scandalous events became very public. It wasn’t a job I necessarily wanted, and I was prepared to politely reject the offer, but my mother asked me to take the position as a favor to her since she’s a friend of Gwendolyn.
Beyond that, my relationship with my mother has been strained for the past decade. When I was a teenager, I discovered information that changed our relationship forever. Taking the job at Moorehead was in part, my way of trying to help repair our fractured bond. The financial compensation, which was ridiculously high, also didn’t hurt. Besides, Gwendolyn is on nearly every single charitable foundation committee in the city, and since that’s where my interests lie, it seemed like a smart career move.
“Since you’re already working with Armstrong and things seem to be settled there for the most part, I felt it would make sense to keep you on here at Moorehead to work with Lincoln. He’s been away from civilized society for several years. He’s nothing like his brother, very altruistic and focused on his job, rather than recreational pursuits, so he should be easier to manage.”
I fought a scoff at the last bit, since “recreational pursuits” was a reference to the fact that Armstrong couldn’t seem to keep his pants zipped when it came to women.
Gwendolyn pushed a set of papers toward me. “It would only be for another six months. And of course, your salary would reflect the double work load, since you’ll still have to maintain Armstrong in some capacity while you assist Lincoln in transitioning into his role here.”
“I’m sorry, what—”
Gwendolyn pulled me into an awkward hug, holding onto my shoulders when she stepped back. Her eyes were glassy and red-rimmed. “You have no idea how much I appreciate your willingness to take this on. As soon as your contract is fulfilled, you have my word that I’ll give you a glowing recommendation to whichever organization you’d like. Your mother told me you’re interested in starting your own foundation. I’ll certainly help you in any way I’m able if you’ll stay on a little longer for me.” She dabbed at her corner of her eyes and sniffed, then tapped the papers on the desk. “I already have an agreement ready and an NDA, of course. Everything is tabbed for signing.”
I’m pulled back into the present when Lincoln shifts and one of his huge hands slides up my side and lands on my breast. At the same time, he pushes his nose against my neck, beard tickling my collarbone. He mutters something unintelligible against my skin.
I’m momentarily frozen in shock. Under any other circumstances, I would knee him in the balls. However, he’s not conscious or even semi-aware that he’s fondling me. Thankfully, now that he’s moved, I have some wiggle room.
I elbow him in the ribs, which probably hurts me more than it does him. At least it gets him to move away enough that I can slip out from under him. I roll off the bed and pop back up, smoothing out my now-wrinkled dress. My stupid nipples are perky, thanks to the attention the right one just got. Probably because it’s the most action I’ve seen since I started working for the Mooreheads eight months ago.
I hit the lights on the way out of the bedroom, pause in the kitchen to grab a glass of water and check out the sheet of paper on the counter. It’s a list of important details regarding the penthouse, including the entry code. I nab my purse, snap a pic, and head for the elevators.
I have a feeling this is going to be a long six months.

From Handle With Care. Copyright © 2019 by Helena Hunting and reprinted with
permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She's writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.
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