Too Many Women in the Room by Joanne Guidoccio

TOO MANY WOMEN IN THE ROOM

Gilda Greco Mystery Series, Book 2
by Joanne Guidoccio
Genre: Cozy Mystery
When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.
Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again? 

Continue reading “Too Many Women in the Room by Joanne Guidoccio”

Steve Wade Mysteries by Iris Wynne

STEVE WADE MYSTERIES
by Iris Wynne
Publisher: Soul Mate Publising
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Cozy Mystery

Steve Wade is an ex-cop with an ex-wife and girlfriends he could never commit to. Now he’s a private investigator known for his knack in solving crimes.

This handsome private eye never has a problem finding customers. His newest case involves five frantic Mah Jongg players who are in search of one of their players who disappeared after meeting a man on an Internet dating site.
Wade is reluctant to take the case, believing it to be just another woman not wanting to be found. But the Mah Jongg players are insistent that Marilou did not vanish on her own. In the meantime, they organize a Valentine’s speed-dating gig inviting all the suspects who dated Marilou in an attempt to find her.
As he watches the dinner play out he begins to realize she may not have gone willingly when all the suspects are before him. He even hires his sometime drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend for the event to lure the culprit out into the open. Steve just hopes no one goes home with a potential killer.
Wade has to work fast as the case begins to unravel when lies and betrayal become evident and the truth of what happened to Marilou becomes clear. Will he be able to find the suspect before they choose another victim? This may be his biggest challenge yet.

 

Marilou Dickson was sitting at the bar, sixty miles away from Toronto on a Saturday night waiting for her date. The only problem was she didn’t know who he was. She got in touch with him on an online dating site and his picture looked great, even though he was much younger than her. A full head of dark hair, straight nose, large hazel eyes and great abs from a previous picture he sent her. She imagined his strong arms wrapped around her as he made love to her. She was tired of being alone as age and beauty were slowly taking its toll while drinking and smoking was becoming an obsession that a good man could help her control.
The noise in the bar was unbearable and she was dying for a cigarette. At least in the old days before cell phones and Internet, you could smoke. The place was packed with pretty girls in floozy outfits, some displaying unwanted flesh. Youth could get away with many things and the sleazier you got, the more attention from the men.
It was like that years ago before marriage and grown kids.
Her phone buzzed which made her spill her drink on her new gold cashmere sweater.
“Damn!” she said.
“May I buy you another drink?”
She looked up and there was her man, looking better in person.
“Hi!” she said tying not to slur her words.
“Let’s get out of here,” he whispered to her.
“What about my drink?”
“Let’s go to my place.” He smiled as his white teeth flashed at her.
She wanted to stay here and enjoy the bar and perhaps dance. She wasn’t ready to go to his place yet. She sighed and smiled up at him.
“Why don’t we just stay here?”
“You’ll get too drunk.”
She grinned at him, thrilled that he should be so concerned about her. Her phone buzzed again. She gave him a shrug.
“Sorry–I may as well answer this or I’ll never hear the end of it.”
She was going to tell him her friends were worried about her, warned her about going out with strangers–blah-blah. She decided not to say anything. She noticed that his hair was an unnatural black hue, almost like a wig. She wouldn’t care less if he was bald–didn’t men understand that? His glasses were tinted unable to really see the color of his eyes. Something in the pit of her stomach was telling her something was off. She answered her phone walking a distance away from him and the bar. He was watching her though, his look almost a leer. Perhaps it was because she was drunk that she thought this. Nevertheless she would not leave alone and go back into an empty house especially on a Saturday night.
“Marilou is that you?” Harriet said, her voice full of concern.
“What’s up, I’m in the middle of a date.”
“Just checking to see if you’re okay.”
“I’m fine really, you don’t have to worry.”
“Where are you?”
“Outside of Toronto.”
“What!”
“Harriet, I’m a big girl.”
She glanced over at him. He bought a drink and was sipping it rather quickly. He was watching her so she waved to him.
“What does he look like?”
“I don’t know, he’s wearing a dark wig and glasses.”
“Marilou, that is not a good sign.”
Harriet could hear a deep voice asking her friend something.”
“Gotta go Harriet, see you Monday night.”
There was a click and the line went dead.

 

 

 

 

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Steve Wade is an ex-cop and now private investigator. His reputation for solving crimes is growing.

His newest client is a man charged with a murder he says he did not commit. The convict’s sister has evidence that the person he supposedly murdered is alive and living somewhere in Shanghai after an old classmate of hers sees a double of the murdered victim while touring parts of Asia.
Is the murder victim, a woman, really alive and the man charged with her murder innocent?
Steve does not know what to think. Should he believe a convicted killer who was once a drug addict living on the streets? Steve however does not want an innocent man to spend the rest of his life in jail.
It’s a dilemma he must think through and to try to prove the convicted murderer’s innocence.

 

She had left her group and her husband in order to go to the Peace Hotel washroom which was one of or perhaps even the nicest washroom she had ever seen. Its decor was all black and white marble with gold faucets matching the gold chandeliers along the walls that lit the room. Each toilet had its own cubicle and a shiny black door. American style—no hole in the ground—to every tourist’s delight.
And that is when she saw her.
Connie stared at the woman beside her who was washing her face. A ghost from the past; a woman who was ostensibly dead four years ago. She blinked back at the woman a few times. She hadn’t seen her in over ten years. She had known her since childhood which was embedded forever as a memory.
And Connie Stern’s memory was exceptional. She was the type of person who never forgot a face.
The woman beside her was tall and slim. Her hair, once a shiny dark hue, was now peppered with gray. But those eyes were the same, an unusual dark green that glowed like emeralds. That was her trademark along with her natural beauty. She was the second child of a famous music producer from Toronto. His five beautiful daughters had lived in Rosedale, one of the wealthiest areas in Toronto. The youngest three were from another marriage, but they all lived together in harmony with the second wife, or so the story goes.
If that was Patricia Gold, she would be in her forties and the woman across from her was definitely that age. Her attractiveness was gone, though, after years of living on the street.
It had been a surprise in the community, to say the least, when she left her husband and children in search of drugs. Connie could not believe it when it happened. She had known Patricia well growing up and never saw a sign of it, of the unhappiness or the addiction to drugs. She did know, however, that Patricia wanted to be thinner so she could model. She glanced at her again. The woman glimpsed back at her briefly as she washed her hands.
Connie thought of Patricia’s husband, whom she knew in high school. He was popular and could pick any girl he wanted. When they married, she and Patricia were no longer friends which always happened in a big city. Different universities, new jobs, and location changes all caused people to make new friends. Nevertheless, they were the perfect couple, everyone thought. Connie always had fond memories of her.
Connie put her hands in the dryer, peering over at the woman again. She remembered one of the last times seeing her. It was years ago when she and her own husband were walking their kids in strollers when Patricia and her husband drove by and asked them for directions to the nearest park. Their children were sitting in the back seat, silently staring up at them. It was only Connie who had recognized them but said nothing as her husband rambled off the directions. Too much time had passed for either of them to say anything. Everyone looked different with age anyway. Still, she never forgot a face.
Another time, she had seen her at a bar midtown, around Yonge and Eglinton. Connie and two of her friends had decided to go out on the town without kids or spouses, like old times. She hated it though, missing her husband and children, and was just as happy to be home with them. Let the singles have the single life, she had thought. But she did see Patricia Gold there, all dressed up, looking lovely, holding a drink with another old friend who Connie also knew in high school. Her friend was a runner and to this day would be seen running down Avenue Road as if the devil was trying to catch up to her.
And that was the last time she saw Patricia, until now, that is, if it was her.
She held her breath. “Patricia?”
The woman looked up and turned to her with a frown.
“Patricia Gold, is that really you?”
The woman’s green eyes opened wide along with her mouth. She stared back for a second and then ran out of the washroom, leaving Connie staring back at the swinging door. Connie put her hands down on the white granite sink and wondered, of all things, if the sink was real gold, gold plated or just painted gold. The chandeliers flickered and her reflection staring back at her in the mirror looked flushed and confused. Did she see a ghost or was it a double? She did what the other woman did and rinsed her face. She was wrong—she had hoped—and shook her head trying to ignore what had just happened. She would continue her vacation and carry on as if nothing had happened.

 

 

 

 

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Iris has always wanted to be a writer even before her six-year-old daughter would sneak downstairs and read aloud her stories on the computer as she would type away. Iris has proof of this in an out dated filing cabinet crammed with old manuscripts and short stories in big binders containing historical romance, mysteries, even fantasy.
When she is not working at her computer waiting for a story to come to life, she is busy dog walking, or organizing a game of Mah Jongg and of course reading.
Iris lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband. Her children live on their own and her parents are relieved to receive a text message from them now and then.
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Cocktails and Lies by Lynette Sofras

COCKTAILS AND LIES

by

Lynette Sofras
Genre: Cozy Mystery
When Hannah’s house is burgled, she gains as much as she loses: she meets Jan, her reserved Dutch neighbour and successful antiques dealer, and Callum, the detective in charge of the case, then finds some hidden letters to her dead grandmother that take her on an emotional journey of discovery.
As Hannah juggles the attentions of the two men now firmly in her life, she works to uncover the secrets of the past, only to find these encroach on the present in unexpected ways.
And then there are the two men in her life, both vying for her attention, both hiding things from her and each other. What does Callum really know about Jan? What is Jan hiding from everyone? And what did her grandmother—whose house it once was—hide from the world?
As if Hannah doesn’t have enough mysteries to solve, her best friend Rachel enlists her help in solving her marital crisis, while her pleasure-seeking mother seems intent on finding her a husband.
With so many skeletons rattling the door of Hannah’s house, can she unravel these mysterious threads and reveal the truth, changing her life forever?
“Are you stealing our junk mail?”
Voice accusing, mocking even, with a hint of an accent; masculine, unfamiliar and unexpected—so much so it made me lose my precarious balance and topple sideways, cracking my knee on the marble floor and putting me at an even greater disadvantage. I bit back my sarcastic retort, realising I must appear pretty suspicious, crouching in front of the mailboxes in a building in which I didn’t even live.
“Well, strictly speaking, no, I’m not. I mean, some of this is mine,” I said, pushing myself into a more dignified kneeling position. He moved a step closer, making it even more difficult to see the face at the top of the rather long, charcoal grey-suited body without me aping Quasimodo. He surveyed the neat pile of mail, mainly junk I must confess, on the floor beside me.
“You care about it that much?” He sounded mystified.
“Yes. I mean no. I imagine it must look odd, but I can explain,” I told him, pushing myself upright and using the mailboxes to my left to haul myself up. He didn’t offer a helping hand, which was perhaps just as well. I pride myself on my self-sufficiency. “You see, I live in the little house just around the side of your building and since this new block opened, the postman has been leaving a lot of my mail here—too lazy to walk around the corner, I suspect.”

A former teacher, Lynette gave up her career in education a few years ago in order to focus on her writing and thus fulfil her childhood dream. She writes contemporary women’s fiction, usually involving romance with suspense or a supernatural twist. Her first novel was an award winning contemporary romance, ‘The Apple Tree’. Amongst her other titles are ‘Killing Jenna Crane’, a romantic thriller, ‘Shopping for Love’, a contemporary romance, and ‘The Nightclub’ a romance packed with suspense. ‘Cocktails and Lies’ is her first cozy mystery. You can find more details of her novels on her website.

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Bring Your Own Baker by D.E. Haggerty

BRING YOUR OWN BAKER

Book 2 of the Death by Cupcake seriesby

D.E. Haggerty

GENRE: Cozy mystery
Anna just wants to earn enough money on the side to buy into the bakery, Callie’s Cakes, where she works together with her best nerd pal Callie. The last thing she expects to see when she walks into Arthur’s apartment to do some moonlighting is a blood bath. Callie’s ready to jump into the investigation into Arthur’s murder, and she’s bringing another bakery worker, Kristie, into their hijinks whether Kristie wants to or not. But things aren’t as they seem. There are gang affiliations, illegal gambling dens, and ladies of the night to wade through. Will Anna and Callie discover who murdered Arthur or will Callie’s detective boyfriend and Anna’s self-appointed protector put a stop to such aspirations?
Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu, but make sure to bring your own baker, because Anna’s a bit preoccupied at the moment.

Warning: This is NOT your mom’s cozy mystery. Bring Your Own Baker may be a ‘clean’ read, but if gangs, illegal gambling, and pimps make you turn your nose up at your e-reader, you might want to skip this one. Although you’ll be missing some sizzling chemistry between Anna and her protector. Not to mention a whole bunch of witty dialogue.

I grasp the weapon in my hand and throw it with all my might at him. The weapon makes a ‘tee hee’ sound as it hits his stomach.
“Did you just throw a Pillsbury dough boy at me?” His voice carries a hint of humor. The Pillsbury dough boy was probably not the best item to grab from the kitchen to use as a weapon. Obviously, I’m totally losing it.
I inch backwards into the kitchen searching for a more appropriate weapon. Dag nab it! The knives are way over on the other side. I have no choice. Without taking my eyes of the man, I grab a perfectly formed and probably fricking delicious muffin from the tin and throw it at the intruder. Apparently, my fast ball needs some work as he just catches the muffin as if I merely lobbed it in his direction. He smiles and, not bothering with the paper liner, takes a huge bite.
“Mmmm…,” he groans around a mouthful. “This is really good.”
“Seriously?” I throw my arms in the air before planting my hands on my hips. “If you want my muffins, just come to the bakery. You don’t have to break in.” Uh oh, I nearly forgot that he broke in. I start backing up again, getting ever closer to those knives.
The man’s eyes narrow as he notices me shuffling my way towards the knives. He stalks me and, when he’s only an arm’s length away, reaches around me and grabs the knife block. He keeps his eyes steady on me as he places the block on top of the refrigerator. Somewhere I can only reach if I get out my step ladder.
“Who are you? And what are you doing here?” I may be terrified and my voice my stutter a bit, but I’m not backing down. Not. One. Bit.
“You’re a feisty little thing, aren’t you?”
“Who you calling little?” Apparently, I have no regard for my safety at all as I’m now goading an intruder.
The man chuckles. His smile shows a perfect set of teeth. Huh, not exactly what I expected from Mr. Piercings and Tattoos. “For a pink-haired pixie, you sure aren’t afraid, are you?”

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I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner, and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

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Young Ladies of Mystery Series by Stacy Juba

YOUNG LADIES OF MYSTERY series
Books for when Nancy Drew fans grow up
by
Stacy Juba


Twenty-Five Years Ago Today
Official genre of book: Cozy Mystery/Romantic Suspense
Should we dig for the truth when Pandora’s Box is a coffin of buried secrets? When obit writer and aspiring reporter Kris Langley investigates the 25-year-old unsolved murder of Diana Ferguson, a young artist obsessed with Greek mythology, not only does she fall in love with Diana’s nephew, but she must also fight to stay off the obituary page herself.
“Kris? Kris?”
Her eyes snapped open, the scream ripping from her throat. She glanced around the dark room, shapes foreign, distorted by shadows. “No. I’m sorry Nicole …”
“Kris? Kris?” Someone shook her shoulder. She gasped.
“Kris.” Eric hugged her. Warm. He felt so warm. He stroked her hair, whispering in her ear. “It’s okay. Everything’s gonna be okay.”
Reality rushed back to her. She hadn’t lasted through the movie. She had turned off the television and slipped into unconsciousness. Eric’s face fuzzed in and out of focus.
He switched on the lamp. “Want a glass of water?”
“No.”
“What were you dreaming?”
“I don’t remember.”
“You screamed out ‘Nicole.’ You woke me up.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. Nicole was your cousin, right? Tell me about her.” Eric rubbed her hair again, the gentle strokes calming her.
“We were the same age,” Kris said. “Our families were close. We lived in the same neighborhood.”
“That must’ve been fun.”
“It was. Lots of fun.” Tears spilled down her cheeks. Eric traced one with his fingertip.
“My mother told me your cousin was the girl who was killed by a neighbor,” he said in a hushed voice. “I remember hearing about it when I was a kid. She went to a different school, but it still shook up all my friends. It was awful.”
He wasn’t wearing a shirt, just sweatpants. She must’ve scared the hell out of him.
“I’d rather not discuss it,” Kris said.
“I want to help.”
Kris felt the words surging to her throat, but she couldn’t tell him. Not now. Not ever. “You are helping, just by being here. I don’t want to be alone.”
She pressed her lips to Eric’s, first softly then more urgent. He responded without hesitation, crushing his mouth against hers. Kris dug her nails into his shoulders and the smooth contoured muscles of his chest. He gently laid her back and nibbled her ear, working a sensuous trail down her neck.
He glided down the zipper of her hooded sweatshirt and skimmed his thumb across her belly. She closed her eyes, arching as his hand slipped upward with agonizing slowness. Her stomach rose and fell as his fingers splayed over her heart. Kris’s breathing quickened into a pant, every nerve ending igniting.
His eyes moved up to her, communicating desire. “I care about you, Kris. I was happy when you showed up tonight. I was afraid you didn’t feel the same way about me.”
“I do.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes,” she whispered. “Stop talking.”
Kris reached behind his head and pulled him down. Her thoughts scattered as she banished Nicole’s disapproving ghost to the dim recesses of her mind. 

Sink or Swim

Official genre of book: Cozy Mystery/Romantic Suspense
Personal trainer Cassidy Novak garners popularity and fame while starring in a hit reality show. She catches the attention of an obsessive stalker that turns her well-ordered life topsy-turvy. As Cassidy’s competitors disappear in a string of murders, she teams up with Zach Gallagher, the photographer tasked to record her personal moments for a local newspaper. Is Zach trustworthy? He shadows her as easily as the stalker. Cassidy hates the bizarre rules in this guessing game, but when her stalker forces a showdown, she plays to win.
Cassidy sat poised in her chair as former contestants filed onto the soundstage at WBC in New York. Together, the studio audience and television viewers had watched the recorded footage of her walking the plank. Gabriel would now interview the competitors from the inaugural season one final time.
More importantly, he would announce her prize. If it erased most of her debts, then it would at least make this whole embarrassing experience worthwhile. Cassidy’s heart kicked in her chest and sweat moistened her brow.
As one of her old teammates entered, her heart rate skyrocketed for a different reason. Josh Sanchioni slid into a bucket seat, carrying himself stiffer than normal in his sharp gray suit. Studio lights caught his sunbleached strawberry blonde waves, brightening the reddish gold tints.
Cassidy slipped her gaze to his leather shoes. If Josh hadn’t been engaged, they could have been an item. Instead, they’d been good friends until that one evening when the cameras were off and they almost kissed. They’d both realized their mistake and backed away. Things were strained until Josh walked the plank a week later.
Tonight, not only did Cassidy have to face Josh, she would probably meet his fiancée.
Her cheeks heating, Cassidy focused on the competitor beside Josh as a distraction. Adam Horton sat erect, hands folded in the lap of his olive green khakis. He wasn’t military, but he dressed like an Army wannabe. His reptilian eyes drilled into Cassidy, his angular face revealing the shape of bones underneath. A blond goatee darkened his pointy chin.
Cassidy shuddered involuntarily. Adam never said much, but he made her uncomfortable just the same. 

Dark Before Dawn
Official genre of book: Paranormal YA Suspense

If you could control minds…would you? It’s hard enough for Dawn hiding that she’s a teen psychic from her new classmates and new step-family, but it gets even tougher when she learns that ESP spells D-A-N-G-E-R. When Dawn gets involved with a fortuneteller mentor and two girls who share her mysterious talents, she finally belongs after years of being a misfit. When she learns her new friends may be tied to freak “accidents” in town, Dawn has an important choice to make – continue developing the talent that makes her special or challenge the only people who have ever accepted her.
Dawn gave an involuntary shudder as they drove past the beach. The gray tide pitched forward, swallowing the slick mirror of sand. She gazed down at her knuckles, fisted in her lap. Her mother and Jeff worshipped the ocean, but to her it was a mysterious monster foaming at the mouth.
She heard Ken’s voice rambling about some girl, Renee, and how he planned to approach her at her locker. Renee had a boyfriend, but Ken had seen them fighting a couple times over the summer. Maybe if he started saying hi to her, he’d have a chance. After all, she’d smiled his way at the movies last weekend. At least, Ken was pretty sure the smile was meant for him. All his friends were getting hooked up and he wanted to find someone special.
Dawn turned away from the beach, surprised and a little flattered that Ken was confiding in her. “What’s she’s like?”
“Who?”
“Renee.”
“You listened to me talk to Billy last night, didn’t you?” he demanded. “I don’t believe this. I don’t get any privacy.”
Hot numbness swept over Dawn’s face. Oh, no. Ken hadn’t been speaking aloud just now. She’d picked up on his thoughts. Every once in awhile, that happened and Dawn couldn’t control it. Sometimes she caught on and managed to avoid making a fool out of herself. Other times, she blurted out something dumb. You idiot, you’ve got to think before talking, Dawn chastised herself.
“What were you doing, standing outside the door?” Ken asked.
“I walked by your door when you were on the phone. Sorry, I didn’t mean to overhear.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose.” Dawn swallowed as he tightened his grip around the steering wheel. What an awful day, and it was only 7:15 a.m.
“Why’d you bring up Renee now?”
“I don’t know. I … I thought maybe I could help.”
“I doubt it. Just forget it, okay?”
That was exactly what Dawn wanted to do.
“Sure.” She let out her breath as Ken fixed his attention on the road.
This curse had haunted her since she was seven. Dawn never confided in anyone that she was psychic, but whenever she slipped, other kids shrank away from her. Like last year, with Samantha, a transfer student Dawn tutored in math. She and Samantha hit it off until Dawn asked why Sam’s father was in prison. Samantha’s eyes narrowed and she asked how Dawn knew that. No one knew that. Soon, Samantha found a new best friend.
At least Ken had accepted her apology and his own explanation, even though it made her look nosy.
Something made her turn her head. A weather-beaten cream cottage rose on a bluff, stunted and defiant against the broad swath of sky. Shades blocked the windows and silver wind chimes swayed from an overhang on the white-painted porch.
Iciness dripped over her body. A word detonated in her mind.
Evil. 

 
Stacy Juba got engaged at Epcot Theme Park and spent part of her honeymoon at Disneyland Paris, where she ate a burger, went on fast rides, and threw up on the train ride to the hotel. In addition to working on her new Storybook Valley chick lit/sweet romance series, Stacy has written books about ice hockey, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette for kids, and determined women sleuths. She has had a novel ranked as #5 in the Nook Store and #30 on the Amazon Kindle Paid List. When she’s not visiting theme parks with her family, (avoiding rides that spin and exotic hamburgers), or writing about them, Stacy helps writers to strengthen their manuscripts through her Crossroads Editing Service. She is currently writing the next books in the Storybook Valley Series, Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty and The Cinderella Curse.
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Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker by D.E. Haggerty

 

NEVER TRUST A SKINNY CUPCAKE BAKER

Book 1 of the Death by Cupcake seriesby
D.E. Haggerty

GENRE: Cozy mystery
A cozy mystery with a heap of laughs, a generous portion of romance, and just a smidgen of suspense.
Callie’s life is rather awesome. She owns a successful bakery and teaches German literature at the local university. There’s just one tiny problem. She has no self-confidence when it comes to her body. And then there’s the little matter of her being accused of murdering her pole dancing instructor. There’s no way Callie’s going to risk losing her teaching position and thus she embarks, with her best baker bud Anna, on a journey to discover the real killer. Between stripper auditions and a detective who insists Callie is the woman of his dreams, it’s a roller coaster adventure. Cupcakes not included.
I set my menu down. “You’ve never had sushi? Why’d you bring us here then?”
He shakes his head. “When are you going to get it into your head that I’d do anything for you?”
“The Tokyo earthquake of 1923 brought sushi into restaurants. Before that, sushi was just a street food, but the quake destroyed much of the city and that caused real estate prices to drop so that sushi chefs could afford real restaurants.” I clamp my hand over my mouth when I realize that I am once again spouting weird trivia because Ben’s words unnerve me.
Ben grins and shakes his head. Then, he surprises the daylights out of me by leaning over and giving me a hard kiss. “You are the sexiest nerd on the entire planet.” He picks up his menu again as if he didn’t just rock my world. “So, what should I order?”
I let his ‘sexiest nerd’ comment drop because there is no appropriate response to crazy. “Is there anything you don’t like?” He shakes his head. “Afraid of raw food?” Another shake. “Okay, let’s order a platter with a mixture of everything.”
He sets his menu down and nods. “Sounds good. Do you think it will fill me up?”
“Well…” I scratch my head and look at Ben’s massive shape. “Maybe we should order some tempura.” The words are barely out of my mouth before I’m taking them back again. “No wait, that’s a bad idea. I shouldn’t be eating that.”
“Why not? Are you allergic?”
“No, not allergic. Tempura is fried. I should stay away from anything fried.” I fidget in my seat, uncomfortable with my confession.
“Why?” He looks genuinely confused.
I roll my eyes at him. “Because I can’t afford to gain any weight. It’s bad enough I run a bakery.”
Ben captures my hands with one of his enormous hands and grabs my chin with the other one. “I said no more putting yourself down.” I start to protest, but he pinches my chin to quiet me. “You’re gorgeous. I love your curves. You look like a woman should. Man, you’re so sexy, it was all I could do to not drag you into your apartment and have my way with you when I arrived and saw you in that sexy as all get out dress.”
Finally, he’s quiet and I think I can get a word in edgewise. Ben’s not that easily deterred, however. He leans forward and stops any response I would have made with his lips. He nibbles on my bottom lip like I’m some kind of delicacy. When he thinks he’s made his point, he leans back and releases my chin although my hands are still encased in one of his over-sized mitts.
I hear a sigh behind me and look over to see Mikki. “Oh man, that was hot. Do not let him go, Professor Muller.” She flips open her order pad. “Now, what do you want to eat?”

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner, and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

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