Romance and Suspense; Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Award-winning author Patricia Sargeant writes romantic suspense and contemporary romances. She also writes cozy mysteries as Olivia Matthews. Her romantic suspense novels feature ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Her contemporary romances reveal characters struggling to overcome their inner demons. Her cozy mysteries feature an amateur sleuth Catholic sister. In addition to reading, Patricia’s hobbies include music, jogging, hiking, movies and pizza. Raised in New York City, Patricia now lives in Ohio with her husband. You can find her on the net at PatriciaSargeant.com.

I’ve reissued my very first published novel, You Belong to Me, in ebook format. It’s available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Kobo. Hopefully, iTunes, too, if I ever hear back from Apple.com. This, as you can imagine, is a very exciting time for me. A mountain has been climbed. A challenge has been accepted. The Big Girl Pants are on.

You Belong to Me is a romantic suspense that reunites a divorced couple in a race to unmask a serial killer. The ex-wife/heroine is the author of a successful sci-fi series. She’s sold the film rights of the first book in her series to her ex-husband’s production company, not realizing that one of her fans is adamantly opposed to having the book turned into a movie. I’ve always likened the villain to a Stephen King fan who’s endured one too many botched film adaptations of Stephen King’s wonderful books and now he’s at the end of his rope. He’s had enough. But the villain’s psychology will have to wait for another blog post. For now, I want to wax poetic on my love of the romantic suspense subgenre.

I love romance and I love suspense. Together they’re a powerful combination. Like chocolate and peanut butter. I hate to reduce everything to food analogies, but there you have it. Two great things that just taste great together. A well-written suspense keeps readers in the story. At the heart of that story is the character’s motivation. What is the ultimate motivation? Love. Love of family, friends and country. Love compels you to reach inside of yourself and find the hero within. That’s a universal truth that connects readers and characters. Make me care about your characters and I’ll finish your story. Would you agree?

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have returned to my romantic suspense roots. I got out of the game when my publisher said the market for these books had tanked. I didn’t want to believe them, first, because I knew a lot of readers who were still enjoying the subgenre. Second, because I had more romantic suspense stories to tell.

Thanks for letting me share. Happy reading!

Book Review: Reservations by Gwen Florio

Reservations
A Lola Wicks Mystery #4
Gwen Florio
Midnight Ink, March 2017
ISBN 978-0-7387-5042-2
Trade Paperback

Journalist Lola Wicks is finally on a honeymoon/vacation with her husband Charlie Laurendeau and their daughter. It will be her first meeting with Charlie’s brother and his wife, who are big wheels on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Charlie and his brother Edgar are Blackfoot; Lola is white, which provides a lot of tension.

No welcome awaits them in Arizona. There’s been a bombing outside a large coal mine on the reservation, and an elderly Navajo man killed. Tribal members are protesting the taking and exploitation of the their land. Their water is poisoned, and alcoholism runs rampant. Edgar and his wife, Naomi, a high-powered tribal lawyer, are busy trying to sort out the murder.

But Lola’s journalist tendencies come to the fore, as do Charlie’s, as he’s the top cop on the Blackfoot Reservation. Trouble between them looms, raising an ugly racist head. As rivals, they investigate the bombings and murder, and death lays in wait.

Ms. Florio’s depiction of the waterless heat in desert country is very real. I enjoyed the care the family had for Bub, their three-legged dog. I believe there are previous books and I want to know what happened to the pooch. The little girls in the story, who in less able hands might be overlooked, are also amazingly well-done characters.

All in all, an enjoyable story with a realistic, if sad premise. It might just turn a reader into an Indian Rights activist.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 2017.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.

Family Scandals Never Sleep—and a Giveaway!

Martha Reed is an award-winning, independently published crime and mystery fiction author. Book one in her Nantucket Mystery series, The Choking Game, was a 2015 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion nominee for Best Traditional Mystery. Book two, The Nature of the Grave, won an Independent Publisher IPPY Honorable Mention for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction.

Martha recently completed a four-year term as the National Chapter Liaison for Sisters in Crime, Inc. She loves travel, big jewelry, and simply great coffee. She delights in the never-ending antics of her family, fans, and friends, who she lovingly calls The Mutinous Crew. You can follow her online at reedmenow.com or on Twitter @ReedMartha.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do …

I was one of the lucky kids. My adorable grandfather Pop-Pop had a rambling family cottage on Lake Muskoka in Ontario, Canada. I spent my summers hanging out on a splintery wooden dock working my way through a hundred years’ worth of trashy paperback novels left to molder away in damp bookcases in one of the back rooms. It was pure heaven.

Pop had one brother and three sisters. After five o’clock, they’d all get comfortable on the porch, start sipping cocktails, and goof on each other. Because their generation grew up during the Great Depression, they knew how to entertain themselves, because basically that kind of entertainment was free. Besides criminally intense games of Gin Rummy, they would sass each other using conversations filled with jokes, double entendres, terrible puns, and true nimble wit. If I was very quiet, I was allowed to sit on the nearby steps, and listen.

I loved hearing about the world they grew up in. They were young when America partied through the Roaring Twenties, that insanely Gatsby-esque timeframe between the two great wars. I heard tales of grand weekend parties and big band swing dance contests, of car races, of dancing the Shimmy, the Black Bottom, and the Charleston. It sounded like marvelous fun. Then Pop would catch my eye, and he would sing:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford a carriage
But you’d look sweet, upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

–Harry Dacre, Daisy Bell, 1892

The funny thing is, that when I sat down to write No Rest for the Wicked, Book 3 in my Nantucket Mystery series, that little ditty kept playing in my head like an unstoppable earworm. When I finally paused long enough to wonder why, I realized that my new Nantucket Mystery needed to be set deeply in the past, in 1921, so that I could write about what I had learned from them.

In No Rest for the Wicked, state archaeologists uncover a suspicious steamer trunk buried in Nantucket’s landfill. The contents reactivate intense interest in the Baby Alice Spenser kidnapping of 1921. As Detective John Jarad pursues the Baby Alice investigation, myriad family scandals emerge from the Spenser’s privileged and gilded past. Modern day events flare white-hot when a copycat criminal snatches a second child.

No Rest for the Wicked is garnering 5-star reader reviews. Offering an array of colorful island characters and an intricate plot filled with surprising twists and reveals, No Rest for the Wicked promises to be a magical summer beach read. The Nantucket Mystery Series is available in trade paperback and e-book formats from Amazon and other retailers. Support your local bookstores!

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leave a comment
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Monday evening, March 20th.
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Book Review: Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany

Elementary, She Read
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #1
Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books, March 2017
ISBN 978-1-68331-096-9
Hardcover

In Elementary, She Read, author Delany introduces quite an interesting set of characters along with a new twist on mysteries set in bookshops. While Gemma Doyle is the protagonist of this new series, the history behind the story begins when Gemma’s Great Uncle Arthur seized the opportunity to buy a building at the famous address of 222 Baker Street- though this Baker Street is located in West London, Massachusetts rather than London, England. With such a well known address, it was a given that her mystery loving uncle would open a Sherlock Holmes bookstore.  When he found a bookstore alone wouldn’t make it, he expanded to include any and all things pertaining to Sherlock Holmes. Along the way, the opportunity arose to open a tea shop, named appropriately Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, next door but connected by an internal door. That shop is run by Gemma’s good friend Jayne. That is the story behind the story.

In a nutshell, the main plot of Elementary, She Read is this. The store is swamped one afternoon by a traveling bridge group, and while tidying the store after the group has left, Gemma finds an old Strand magazine that is not part of the store’s inventory hidden among the other magazines. Curious as to how it came to be there, she thinks back over the people who had just left the store and remembers one lady who was carrying a plain white plastic shopping bag that did not appear to be part of the group. She searches the store, finds the bag the woman was carrying and in it found a clue as to where the woman might be staying. Puzzled as to why the woman left what could well be a valuable magazine in the store, she puts the magazine to her home safe and sets off to find the woman. From there the plot follows a familiar path of amateur sleuths. Gemma tries to do the right thing and ends up finding a dead body or two and lands in the middle of a police investigation as a prime suspect. Eager to clear her name she starts snooping around trying to solve the murder, as well as unravel the original mystery as to why the magazine was placed in her store. The plot is well done with plenty of twists to keep readers on their toes. When the solution was finally revealed, I have to say I had figured out that the guilty person was involved but had not worked out how or why. I felt like Delany played fair with the readers by giving them clues to follow yet making the puzzle complicated enough to keep us working at it.

Readers don’t see much of Uncle Arthur in the book, and I hope that changes as the series moves forward. He seems to be a character ripe for development. Gemma is a great protagonist and has the eye for noticing details like Sherlock himself. There is a book about thinking like Sherlock mentioned several times throughout the book. The book actually exists (I checked on Amazon) and I plan on getting a copy. Readers get to know Jayne a bit but I suspect we’ll get a better read on her in future books. There were a couple of “villains” among the characters giving readers people to despise. One was a police woman who seems to have taken an instant dislike to Gemma, while the other was a fellow shopkeeper who has the need to control everyone else’s business. I’m sure we’ll get more of them as well.

There are the standard animals in the book-Gemma’s pet dog and the store’s resident cat who seems to like everyone except Emma.

Elementary, She Read is a wonderful beginning to what I hope is a long running series.

I volunteered to read and review this book which I received from the publisher.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Caryn St.Clair, February 2017.

Waiting On Wednesday (63)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

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Book Review: Birthright by Jessica Ruddick

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Title: Birthright
Series: The Legacy Series Book One

Author: Jessica Ruddick
Publication Date: January 26, 2017 (paper)
March 20, 2017 (ebook)

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks
Amazon // Indiebound

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Birthright
The Legacy Series Book One
Jessica Ruddick
Jessica Ruddick Books, January 2017
ISBN 978-1-946164-01-8
Trade Paperback

From the author—

How do you live with yourself when you decide who dies?

Ava Parks would have killed for an iPod for her sixteenth birthday. Anything would have been better than coming into her birthright of being a seeker for the Grim Reaper, an arrangement made by her fallen angel ancestor in exchange for his re-admittance to heaven. And she isn’t just any seeker—she finds souls that have the potential for becoming angels and sentences them to death. A year and two souls into her role as a seeker with her conscience overflowing with guilt, Ava comes up with a plan to thwart the system. When it goes awry, she is forced to submit the name of a classmate, Cole Fowler, an ornery, rough around the edges guy who always seems to come to her rescue, whether she likes it or not. Her feelings for Cole prompt her to intervene, and she saves him from death, upsetting the Grim Reaper’s agenda. 

While Ava schemes to find a way to save Cole, she learns he has some secrets of his own. She lets him believe he is protecting her, and not the other way around, until a final showdown with the Grim Reaper forces Ava to make choices Cole may never forgive.

I’ve read quite a few books (and series) that are focused on the Grim Reaper or fallen angels and the like and they’ve run the gamut when it comes to mood. Some are purely black comedy, some are mysteries with a fantastical element, a few have been more romance than anything and others have been a sort of action adventure. Birthright is a little bit of all these types.

It must be hard to cope when you find out your destiny, your “career” if you will, is all about putting the finger on people for the guy who brings death and, indeed, Ava is understandably resentful. Picking out people to become angels sounds like a good thing but….

Ava has learned to protect her own feelings by remaining detached, even from those who aren’t potential targets, but that doesn’t work when it comes to the unpleasant Xavier, the middleman she and her mom report to. Still, a year after finding out the truth, she hasn’t gotten past the lies and the betrayal that have been at the core of her own life and the thing she’s required to do is eating away at her.

Then she comes up with a foolproof plan to make this all a little fairer.

I had fun with this book and I liked Ava a lot, as well as the new hot guy, Cole, and the nerdy but sweet Kaley. The ending is a humdinger so be prepared 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2017.

About the Author

Jessica lives in Virginia with her college-sweetheart husband, two rambunctious sons, and two rowdy but lovable rescue dogs. Since her house is overflowing with testosterone, it’s a good thing she has a healthy appreciation for Marvel movies, Nerf guns, and football.
Author Links:

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: A Death by Any Other Name by Tessa Arlen

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