Saturday, January 23, 2021

Dorothy St. James's The Broken Spine Blog Tour with a Spotlight and Giveaway

I am so excited to have Dorothy St. James here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight and Giveaway.

Thanks Dorothy and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join The Broken Spine Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Dorothy! 


 


The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (January 19, 2021)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 0593098579
ISBN-13: 978-0593098578
Kindle ASIN: B086SCQ639




The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!

Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library’s beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library’s basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.

When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library’s transformation into a “futuristic technological center,” is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police’s prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that’s not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.

But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she’d have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, Trudell – with the help of a group of dedicated readers – decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

 

 


About Dorothy St. James

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

Author Links

Website: http://www.dorothystjames.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dorothywrites

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothy.stjames

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/profile/dorothy-st-james

Purchase Links – AmazonIndieBoundBookshopB and N – 

 

 

 Giveaway


http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/028877921154

Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks:

https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/upcoming-great-escapes-book-tours/the-broken-spine-a-beloved-bookroom-mystery-by-dorothy-st-james

 

 

 



 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Amy Pershing's A Side of Murder Blog Tour with a Spotlight and Cover Reveal

 I am so excited to have  here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight and Cover Reveal.

Thanks Amy and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join your A Side of Murder Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Amy! 

 


A Side of Murder (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (February 23, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 0593199146
ISBN-13: 978-0593199145
Digital ASIN: B087PL9HHF 


Beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is known for seafood, sand, surf, and, now…murder.

Samantha Barnes was always a foodie. And when the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America) came calling, she happily traded in Cape Cod for the Big Apple. But then the rising young chef’s clash with another chef (her ex!) boils over and goes viral. So when Sam inherits a house on the Cape and lands a job writing restaurant reviews, it seems like the perfect pairing. What could go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a lot.

The dilapidated house comes with an enormous puppy. Her new boss is, well, bossy. And the town’s harbormaster is none other than her first love. Nonetheless, Sam’s looking forward to reviewing the Bayview Grill—and indeed the seafood chowder is divine. But the body in the pond outside the eatery was not on the menu. Sam is certain this is murder. But as she begins to stir the pot, is she creating a recipe for her own untimely demise?

Pre-order Your Copy Today!

Amazon - B and N - Kobo - Google Play - IndieBound


About Amy Pershing

Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith. She was an editor, a restaurant reviewer, and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time (and spend more time sailing on the Cape!). A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, is her debut novel.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Kat Martin's The Ultimate Betrayal Blog Tour with a Spotlight, Guestpost and Giveaway

 

I am so excited to have Kat Martin at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Guest Post and Giveaway.

Thanks Kat and iRead Book Tours for allowing me to join The Ultimate Betrayal Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Kat!

Guest Post

Story Ideas

People often ask how I come up with ideas for my novels. Sometimes I have no answer -- it just seems to pop into my head. Best guess, the kernel of an idea probably came from a newspaper or magazine article or something I saw in a movie. It was probably just so far back I don’t recall.

Before I started to write THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, Brandon Garrett’s story, the third book in my Maximum Security Series, I had decided to set a book in Colorado, maybe even a new series. I ran across an article about the Army Chemical Weapons Depot near Fort Carson and started 
thinking...wouldn’t it make be interesting if someone stole chemical weapons from the depot? I wonder if it could be done? How would the good guys catch the thieves? And so off I went on a story that turned into The Ultimate Betrayal.

Having written over 70 novels since I began way back when, it’s harder and harder to come up with fresh ideas. I do a lot of research for my books. This novel, set around a military base, was particularly difficult. Lots of stuff I didn’t know.

In the story, when investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name. Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend -- a true heartbreaker, according to her brother.

With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly. Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat -- before it’s too late.

I hope you’ll give THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL a try and if you like Bran and Jessie as much as I did, you can also find them in THE CONSPIRACY, Maximum Security book #1 and THE DECEPTION, book #2.

Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat



 


Book Details

Book Title: The Ultimate Betrayal (a Maximum Security Novel) by Kat Martin
Category: Adult Fiction (18 yrs +), 464 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: HQN
Release date: December 29, 2020
Tour dates: Jan 6 to Jan 26, 2021
Content Rating: R. The "F" word is used 12 times in the book. There are some explicit consensual sex scenes.


Book Description

When her father is accused of espionage and treason, journalist Jessie Kegan has no doubt the man she looked up to her entire life is innocent. Worse yet, before Colonel Kegan can stand trial, he’s found dead of a heart attack…but Jessie knows it was murder. Forcing aside her grief, she’s determined to use her investigative resources to clear her father’s name. But going after the truth means Jessie soon finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who wants that truth to stay buried with her father. Protecting Jessie Kegan is a job bodyguard Brandon Garrett can’t refuse. Jessie isn’t just a client at Maximum Security — she’s the sister of his best friend, Danny, who was killed in Afghanistan. With dangerous enemies gunning for Jessie from every angle, keeping her safe will mean keeping her close, and Bran finds their mutual attraction growing, though being Danny’s sister puts Jessie out of bounds. With their backs against the wall, Jessie and Bran will have to risk everything to expose her father’s killer — before his legacy dies with his daughter.

Buy the Book

Amazon ~ B and N ~ Indiebound
kobo ~ Google ~ Apple
Add to Goodreads

 

 


Meet the Author


Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s latest novel, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, was released in paperback December 29th.

connect with the author: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads

Giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/518e7284111

Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks:

https://www.ireadbooktours.com/blog---current-tours/spotlight-tour-the-ultimate-betrayal-a-maximum-security-novel-by-kat-martin

 

 



 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Paula Darnell's Artistic License to Kill Blog Tour with a Spotlight and Giveaway

 

I am so excited to have Paula Darnell here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight and Giveaway.

Thanks Paula and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join your Artistic License to Kill Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Paula!  

 

 

Artistic License to Kill (A Fine Art Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Campbell and Rogers Press (January 15, 2021)
Hardcover: 384 pages
ISBN-10: 1887402136
ISBN-13: 978-1887402132
Paperback: 258 pages
ISBN-10: 1887402128
ISBN-13: 978-1887402125
Publisher: Campbell and Rogers Press (January 5, 2021)
Digital Print length: 211 pages
ASIN: B08MWVYDLD





Artist Amanda Trent, accompanied by her beloved golden retriever Laddie and her persnickety calico cat Mona Lisa, is determined to start a new life after her husband divorces her to marry a younger woman, but it isn’t easy.

After a disastrous interview at the prestigious Roadrunner Gallery in Lonesome Valley, Arizona, far away from her previous home in Kansas City, Amanda’s afraid that she’ll fail at her new career. But her prospects begin to improve when she’s accepted as the newest member of the cooperative gallery.

Then, on her very first day, she discovers Janice, the stern director, has been murdered right in the art gallery, and the Roadrunner’s members, including Amanda herself, become suspects. Which gallery member murdered the unpopular director? Or was the killer an outsider with an ax to grind? 

 



 


About Paula Darnell

Award-winning author Paula Darnell is a former college instructor who has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in English and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in English with a Writing Emphasis. Artistic License to Kill is the first book in her Fine Art Mystery series. She’s also the author of the DIY Diva Mystery series and The Six-Week Solution, a historical mystery set in Nevada. She resides in Las Vegas with her husband Gary and their Pyrador Rocky.

Author Links

Author Website – https://www.pauladarnellauthor.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PaulaJDarnell

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18782445.Paula_Darnell

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/paula-darnell

Purchase Links

AmazonApple BooksBarnes and NobleKobo

Giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/028877921147

Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks:

https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/upcoming-great-escapes-book-tours/artistic-license-to-kill-a-fine-art-mystery-by-paula-darnell

 

 



 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Meg Macy's Wedding Bear Blues Blog Tour with a Spotlight and Giveaway

 

I am so excited to have Meg Macy here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight and Giveaway.

Thanks Meg and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join your Wedding Bear Blues Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Meg! 


 


Wedding Bear Blues (A Teddy Bear Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Publisher: Kensington (December 29, 2020)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496729153
ISBN-13: 978-1496729156
Digital ASIN: B086R75PC1




When a heartless killer ruins a Valentine’s Day wedding, teddy bear shop manager Sasha Silverman vows to solve the crime.

At the Silver Bear Shop and Factory, Sasha will be selling plenty of bride and groom teddy bears come springtime. But this Valentine’s Day weekend, she’d take any of those silent, stuffed couples over the real thing. Sasha and her sister Maddie are bridesmaids at Cissy Davidson’s upcoming wedding in Silver Hollow. Cissy is fuming over the worst choice of best man — the jerk who broke her sister Debbie’s heart — and the groom-to-be won’t budge in his decision. At the rehearsal dinner you could cut the tension with a wedding cake knife.

That is, until best man Dylan is found dead, impaled with an ice pick. Although jilted Debbie is the most likely suspect — the blood on her dress doesn’t help her case — the bride begs Sasha to prove her sister’s innocence. If anyone’s going to walk down the aisle, Sasha will first need to find the cold-hearted killer who iced Dylan. 

 

 


About Meg Macy

Award-winning mystery author Meg Macy lives in Southeast Michigan, close enough to Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Dexter — the setting of her “Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear” cozy mysteries for Kensington. She is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins mysteries; two books, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly and Get Me to the Grave On Time were Agatha Award finalists for Best Historical. Meg’s first published book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from Western Writers of America. Meg loves reading historical and cozy mysteries, gardening, crafts, and watercolor painting.

Author Links

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Subscribe to my newsletter!

Purchase Links

AMAZON B and N KOBO Google Play

 

 


Giveaway


http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/028877921143

Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks:


https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/upcoming-great-escapes-book-tours/wedding-bear-blues-a-teddy-bear-mystery-by-meg-macy

 

 



 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Tara Lush's Grounds for Murder Blog Tour Grounds for Murder Blog Tour

 

I am so excited to have Tara Lush here at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway.

Thanks Tara and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join your Grounds for Murder Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Tara!

Excerpt


I gripped the bowl-shaped mug in my left hand so hard I thought it might crack, then eased off and took a deep breath.

The aroma of rich, heady coffee hit my nose. I almost swooned.

“The espresso’s perfect,” I murmured, more to myself than anyone else. “Here comes the froth.”

In my right hand, I held a stainless-steel pitcher filled with steamed milk. I hesitated for a second, and my café’s best barista inched closer. I gave him a side-eye and leaned away, in the direction of the counter.

“Sorry, Lana. Didn’t mean to violate your personal space.” Fabrizio Bellucci was from Milan. He was something of a coffee celebrity because of his artfully designed lattes, but also for his shirtless selfies snapped on the white Florida sands two blocks from our coffee shop.

“Pour the milk in the center,” he said in that velvety Italian accent. “Slow. Lento. Slow. I say that to all the women, by the way.”

I rolled my eyes. He wasn’t hitting on me. That was just Fab. He gently flirted with every woman aged eighteen to eighty. Sometimes it was charming, other times hilarious, and occasionally, like when I practiced my latte art, it was mildly annoying. But I tolerated his quirks because he was a java genius.

“Fab. Focus. I need to learn this if we’re going to be a team for the contest.”

“We’re going to be the perfect team. I promise. You’ve been doing so well. And there’s still a couple of weeks to practice. You’ve got this.” He gestured toward the cup with a smile. I had to hand it to Fab; he was encouraging and loyal, despite his wandering eye.

The jangle of bells erupted over the strains of Fleetwood Mac playing on the internet radio. Just last weekend, I’d unearthed four tarnished gold bells at a yard sale. After a bit of elbow grease, I attached them to a weathered fisherman’s rope, then hung the whole arrangement on the front door so we could hear people coming and going.

Fab moved away, toward the register, while gesturing wildly. “Keep at it. You’ve got the soul of an artist. Let it out, Lana.”

I cracked a grin while drizzling the milk into the espresso. There was a time, not too long ago, that I was a hotshot journalist pursuing a Pulitzer prize in Miami and married to a handsome network news anchor. Now, I was an aspiring latte artist on the island of Devil’s Beach, the princess of Perkatory.

Okay, well, the manager of Perkatory. That’s the name of my family’s coffee shop, and it’s the coziest café on the Florida Gulf coast. The name might refer to the underworld, but I aimed for a heaven-on-earth vibe.

Or maybe I’d decorated this way because I was the one in need of salvation. A plausible conclusion after everything I’d been through over the last year.

Perkatory was decorated in hues of weathered wood with sky blue accents, and nearly every tourist who stopped by took tons of photos. The regulars smiled the second they walked in. You could see their shoulders lower, the stress ebbing from their bodies.

The coffee shop was a welcome respite on our bustling island, which was jam-packed with festivals, quirky local boutiques, and a plethora of outdoor activities that left both locals and tourists in need of a relaxation station.

And yet despite my interior decorating skills, pretty lattes eluded me. My wrists felt like they were forged from tin and lubed with oil every time I attempted to rotate the mug and drizzle the milk into a heart-shaped pattern.

Today, when finished, I set the pitcher down and scowled at the design.

“Looks like a poop emoji.” I looked up, searching for Fab. He was a few feet away, tending to a customer. I walked over to see him grinning at a woman with short, jet black hair interspersed with deep blue streaks.

“Welcome to Perkatory.” I put the warm mug on the counter. “I’m practicing my latte art, so this one’s on the house. Just made it. If you’re in the mood for coffee, that is.”

She glanced down, and to my relief, didn’t laugh at my creation. “Sweet!”

I expected her to grab the drink and leave, but instead, she dug around in a black cross-body satchel and pulled out a five-dollar bill. She stuffed it into the tip jar and smiled. “Thanks for the free drink. I know what it’s like to be a barista.”

“Appreciate the tip. You here on vacation?” That’s what I loved about running my family’s coffee shop — I could chat with folks all day, every day. People shared the craziest details about their lives, and I loved every conversation and bit of island gossip. It was like being a reporter, only without the deadlines and the writing. But I tried not to think about that part, because I missed storytelling so much. Heck, I even missed deadlines.

“Nope. Just moved here. Living over at the marina in a sailboat, looking for a job. You know of anything in a restaurant or bar?” The woman took a sip and her eyebrows shot up. “Girl, this is some great coffee.”

I shrugged modestly. “We buy quality beans from around the world here at Perkatory. My foam art, though, that’s the hard part. At least for me. Fabrizio here been trying to teach me his mad skills.”

He crossed his arms and beamed. I suspected he posed like this because it showed off his muscular, tanned biceps that strained the sleeves of his T-shirt. “She’s an excellent student.”

The woman took another sip. A faint mustache of frothed milk clung to her top lip for a second, until she swiped her tongue to make it disappear. “I could probably explain a few shortcuts. I used to teach foam art to new baristas in Seattle. I ran classes.”

She mentioned a well-known coffee chain. My eyes widened. “No way. Really? Could you teach me?”

“Sure. Why’s it so important to learn, anyway? Your coffee’s great enough as is. You don’t need the bells and whistles.”

“Well, for one, it’s good for business. Customers love latte art. And we’re competing in the Sunshine State Barista Championships. It’s being held on Devil’s Beach in two weeks. I’d really like to win. We need some great publicity for the shop.” I didn’t say that I also wanted to win because it would prove I was good at something. Ever since I was laid off from the newspaper, I’d felt like a total failure. Coming home seemed like admitting defeat.

“You worry too much, Lana. Of course we’ll win,” Fab said. “The judges will love me. Er, us.”

The bells on the door jangled again, and an older woman walked in. She had short, silver-blonde hair, oversized rose gold sunglasses and wore a zebra-print muumuu. She was trailed by a tall, blonde guy in neon green board shorts and a worn white T-shirt. He looked like he knew his way around a surfboard.

“Excuse me for a moment.” He moved from behind the counter and went up to the guy. “Lex Bradstreet, what’s up, man? You know you’re supposed to wear shoes in here.” He and the surfer dude gave each other a chummy hug.

Like most of the businesses in downtown Devil’s Beach, we had a policy that customers were supposed to wear shoes. Sometimes, people couldn’t be bothered. Since we were so close to the public beach, they often tracked sand inside, and I’d sweep up piles of it three and four times a day.

As I was about to say something — no shoes, no shirt, no caffeine — I watched as the woman pulled a pair of large black flip-flops out of her beach bag and dropped them on the floor. The surfer slipped them onto his tan feet. I turned my attention back to the woman with blue-black hair.

“Fab knows everyone around the island,” I explained.

“Is he always so…” she waved her hand and we both glanced at Fab. His lips were on the cheek of the woman in the muumuu.

“Flirtatious?”

She nodded.

“Did he ask you to watch the sunset with him from his rooftop lounge?” I winced. That was his usual pickup line with women. He’d tried it with me a couple of times. I’d turned him down. And not just because I hated rooftops, and heights.

“No, he stared deeply into my eyes and asked me what I desired. I think he got the message that my answer didn’t involve him. He’s pretty easy on the eyes, though. But I’m not in the mood to deal with that kind of mess at the moment. You know. A man mess.”

A giggle escaped my lips and an image of my ex-husband popped into my mind. “I’m quite familiar with man messes. Fab has a sometimes girlfriend, but he’s an incorrigible player. Fully admits it, too, so it’s not like I’m talking behind his back. He’s a hard worker and great barista.”

“Sometimes you gotta take good with the bad.” She lifted a shoulder.

“Exactly. Are you serious about teaching me latte art?”

“Sure. You want me to pull a shot and do a test drink to show you?”

I tilted my head. Hunh. If she was any good, perhaps I could hire her. We’d been slammed lately, and a look at the books last week revealed we had the budget for another barista. Dad told me I should make all the necessary decisions for the café.

“Sure. Why not? Come on back.”

She held out her hand. “Erica Penmark. Love the look of this place, by the way.”

“Lana Lewis. Good to meet you.” Her grip was firm, something I appreciated. Her fingernails were the same hue as the midnight blue in her hair. With her all-black, punk rock aesthetic, she stood out among the café’s décor, which was awash in beach shabby chic — right down to the perfectly distressed white wood antique furniture, the inspirational beach slogans painted on one wall and the robin’s egg-blue pillows that graced the wicker furniture nestled next to the floor-to-ceiling windows.

I gestured to the La Marzocco espresso machine. “There it is. My baby.”

Erica let out a low whistle. “That is one sexy coffee maker.”

She walked around the stainless-steel machine, studying it from several angles. “Does she have a name?”

I grinned. “Fia. It’s short for Sofia. As in Sofia Loren. Fia’s got independent boilers, auto steam flush and auto brew ratio with drip prediction. My mom picked it out, and named her. This place was my mom’s to begin with.”

With the proper amount of reverence needed to work a machine that cost more than my car, she faced the front. “Nice to meet you, Fia. Mind if I do a few warmup shots?”

“Be my guest. Here’s the grinder, and the tamper.” I patted the electronic shot tamper that packs the coffee grounds to a fully compressed, even, and level, puck of coffee.

“Whoa. I’ve never used one of those. Always did it by hand.”

“Manual tamping isn’t consistent,” I replied. “But if you’d rather, there’s a hand tamper.”

Erica became absorbed in the process of pulling a test shot. I stood back and watched her work. She was clearly an expert, with quick, efficient movements. In between watching her, I scanned the front counter for customers. Since it was around two in the afternoon on a Tuesday, it was a slow time.

This was the time of day I loved Perkatory most. In the bright Florida light, with the overstuffed pillows on the sofas and the artfully peeling white paint on the wood tables, it seemed like a soft and ethereal refuge. A waiting room of heaven, even.

She tasted her first shot, and shook her head. Then made a second, and a third. By the fourth, she made two from the machine’s dual spout, and handed me one. I took a sip. “Perfect.”

A grin spread on her ruby red lips. “Now for a cappuccino.”

Without a word, I took the whole milk, sourced from a farm on the mainland, out of the fridge underneath the counter.

She again made a shot. The robin’s-egg blue mugs were ready and waiting atop the machine, and she plucked one from the nest, then poured the espresso inside. She splashed milk into the stainless-steel pitcher and frothed it for twenty seconds (she used the little digital timer next to the machine), the wand making a satisfying hiss.

With the blue cup in her left hand tilted about thirty degrees, and the carafe in her right, she drizzled the milk to mix it with the espresso. A few tightly controlled flicks of her wrist led to perfectly white squiggles in the cup, and then it magically took shape.

“A swan,” I gasped. It was one of the more difficult latte art patterns, and astonishingly, it was better than anything Fab had ever done. “You’re incredible.”

She smiled, but not in an arrogant way. “And I’m available.”

We both laughed. “Listen, I’m actually the owner here. Sort of. My dad technically owns the place but I run it. Let me talk to him. I’ve only been in charge for a few months, and I want to get his okay. Can you come by at the end of the week? Maybe Friday? I’d like to study the schedule and see where we can fit you in. We’ve been pretty busy lately and I’d hoped to bring someone on before the winter tourist season hits.”

“Absolutely. Works for me. I’m free any day, any time. Can give you references and everything. I’ll bring a resume.”

“Perfect. See you then.”

Erica walked away and I busied myself with wiping down the counter. When I looked up, Fab was standing there with a sour look on his face.

“What?” I asked.

“We don’t need another barista. I don’t have time to train another staffer before the competition. You and Barbara and your father are enough to handle.” Barbara was our other employee, who worked part time because she also ran an art studio here on the island. My father was, well, my father. Fab was well acquainted with his eccentricities.

“Come on. Erica obviously doesn’t need much training. And we’ve been super busy for weeks. I’d eventually like a day off, you know.”

We stared at each other warily. This wasn’t the first time that Fab had tried to pull rank on me, even though I was his boss. He’d worked at Perkatory for a year and a half, while I’d technically just started a few months ago. I had a nagging feeling that he’d hoped to manage the place, and was irked when Dad put me in charge. Still, we had a solid working relationship and I’d come to view the café’s employees as a little family — not as crass or freewheeling as my old newspaper family, but one that was just as devoted but made better coffee.

Maybe Erica could join our clan.

Fab sniffed. “Working every day isn’t a bad thing. Not for you, anyway. You don’t do well with downtime.”

I straightened my spine. Gah. Dad must have told Fab how depressed I’d been when I first returned to Devil’s Beach after the layoff and divorce. Still, why would he care who I hired? Unless he felt threatened by someone who was as good, if not better, than him. He’d have to get used to it.

“I’m going to hire her. In fact, I might have her compete in the championship with you, instead of me. We’ll evaluate her capabilities this weekend.” I grinned. What a brilliant idea. The two of them would be a formidable pair and certainly wow the judges.

“Over my dead body,” he muttered.

 

 


Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover's Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (December 8, 2020)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1643856189
ISBN-13: 978-1643856186
Digital ASIN: B0871KTTMC

 
When Lana Lewis' best -- and most difficult -- employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café's chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil's Beach, Lana's normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio "Fab" Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he's found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana's café, she becomes the prime suspect.

Even the island's handsome police chief isn't quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn't the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.

With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana's prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer.

After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship -- or will she come to a bitter end?

 

 

 

About Tara Lush

Tara Lush is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award-winning journalist. For the past decade, she's been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.

Author Links

WEB: www.taralush.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/LushBooks

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20274256.Tara_Lush

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/lush_books/

Purchase Links

AMAZON - KOBO - BARNES AND NOBLE - ITUNES - INDIEBOUND

 

 

 

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