MAGIC IN HER EYES by Donna Dalton / Spicy Historical / Released June 23, 2017 by The Wild Rose Press
MAGIC IN HER EYES by Donna Dalton / Spicy Historical / Released June 23, 2017 by The Wild Rose Press
RIVER CITY DEAD by Nancy G. West / Traditional / Cozy Mystery / Released 2017 by Henery Press
Excerpt from Chapter One
Not every city has a river running through it. And not many women plan a rendezvous at a San Antonio River Walk hotel during Fiesta Week after years of self-imposed celibacy. I was about to make history.
Sam and I were meeting at Casa Prima Hotel. Hopefully our first days and nights together in River City would be more fiesta than fiasco. And we could avoid dealing with crime.
To calm the jumping beans in my stomach, I decided to make a quick detour to Barnes and Noble and headed toward Loop 410. If SAPD called Sam away, I’d need something to read. He assured me they wouldn’t contact him, but sometimes they had to rely on an experienced homicide detective for a difficult case.
Barnes and Noble was packed. After a lengthy search through half the store, I found aisles brimming with romance novels. I didn’t relish being caught scouring this area. In my Flash-News column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” I answered readers’ questions about everything from fitness to relationships. As an “expert,” I wasn’t supposed to need help.
It wasn’t as though I was innocent. I became painfully experienced after Lester the Louse seduced me when I was barely eighteen, impregnated me and vanished like mist. But stories of other people’s romances might be enlightening.
Slipping down an unoccupied aisle, I reached for a title that caught my eye, A Well-Spent Night. A bare-chested, muscled Scottish hunk wearing a plaid kilt bulged from the cover. I squinted at the title, which upon closer inspection actually read, A Well-Spent Knight. Worked either way. I flipped pages to the middle, found what I was looking for and started reading. There was a lot of heavy breathing and rippling biceps, but it never said why the guy wore a kilt or how he got it off. I’d wondered about that. Historical romance might not be the thing.
Another cover caught my eye with the title The Long Hard Ride. A shirtless muscle-bound cowboy stood spread-legged front and center while a steer romped around behind him. I snatched the book off the shelf.
From the corner of my eye, I saw a young sales girl eyeing me. Was my face flushing?
“Can I help you?” About twenty-five with swinging hair and a pouty mouth, she looked sexy, bored, and all-knowing.
I whipped the novel under the arm laden with my shoulder purse. “Imagine that. You even have westerns. So many choices.” I doused her with my superior bank-teller expression. “I doubt if any of these books are really that good.”
Some urge compelled me to jabber. “I don’t think he could ride a steer dressed like that.”
The new-fangled phone jangled in my purse. Digging to retrieve it, I dropped the books. The sales girl swiveled over and scooped them up. “I’ll keep these at the counter while you search for more.” She cocked a corner of her sulky mouth and walked away. I fumbled to flip open my Motorola StarTrac.
“Where are you?” It was Sam, using his professional detective voice.
“I just needed a few things. Have you seen the…our room?”
“You need to get down here, Aggie. We have problems. I’ll meet you in the lobby.” He hung up.
THE LADY’S ARRANGEMENT by Colleen L. Donnelly / Released May 31, 2017 by The Wild Rose Press
Ben was tall, and he felt even taller as he took a step closer and leaned my way. “It takes two to bind a contract, and since I’ve just withdrawn, your arrangement is null and void. And just so you know, you can thank your lucky stars I’m not staying to marry you, because I take surprises a lot better than I take orders.” His eyes stayed on mine until his gaze traveled from my face down to my boots. “And wearing trousers doesn’t make you any more suited to giving orders than wearing a skirt would make me fit for giving birth.”
My nails dug into my palms as I rolled my hands into fists. A word I’d heard Ted say when a pail slid off his bad arm came to mind. The word was immoral, but probably not too immoral for Ben Miller. “Just so you know, Mr. Miller, I’ve been running this ranch for three weeks now, in pants. I find skirts get in the way of things you’d probably be surprised I can do.”
The half-smile returned. “I won’t argue that. Skirts surely do get in the way.” Ben straightened and slapped his hat tighter on his head. “Been my experience, too.
Fortunately, neither one of us has to put up with one, since you can keep right on doing things the way you have been. I’m giving you an early parting. I’m leaving.”
BEARLY DEPARTED by Meg Macy / Cozy Mystery / Released May 30, 2017 by Kensington Books
The Silver Bear Shop & Factory might be the cutest place around, but there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about murder. . . .
As manager of the family business, thirty-one-year-old Sasha Silverman leads a charmed life. Well, except for the part about being a single divorcée with a ticking biological clock in small-town Silver Hollow. And that’s just kid’s stuff compared to Will Taylor, the sales rep who’s set on making drastic changes to the business her parents built from scratch—with or without Sasha’s approval. . . .
But before Will digs his claws in, someone pulls the stuffing out of his plan . . . and leaves his dead body inside the factory. Reeling from shock, Sasha’s hit with more bad news—police suspect her hot-tempered uncle may have murdered Will. Sasha’s launching her own little investigation to expose the truth and prove Uncle Ross’s innocence. As she tracks Will’s biggest rivals and enemies for clues, Sasha can’t get too comfy—or she’ll become the next plaything for a killer. . . .
“You’ll fall in love with this delightful debut mystery.” —Victoria Thompson, bestselling author of Murder in Morningside
By this time in my life, at thirty-one, I planned to be a happy suburban wife chauffeuring three kids and the dog in a van. That plan had quickly shorted out. Now I managed my parents’ business in Silver Hollow, Michigan. A toy shop exclusive to teddy bears fulfilled my love for children. I could make them happy, helping them choose a best friend, and then send them home. No tears, no temper tantrums, only happy faces and squishy hugs for their new toys.
“Hey, lady? Catch!”
A pugnacious little boy tossed a bear, which I grabbed before it bounced off the ceiling fan. “Ms. Sasha, that’s what you can call me,” I said and placed the bear in a bin chock full of other brown bears. “Let’s not play catch, though.”
He flashed a mischievous grin and grabbed a white bear. This time, I gave him an ‘I dare you’ stare. The little rascal squinted at me, gauging if I was serious, and then resorted to twirling the toy by one ear over his head. That didn’t worry me. Our bears were nearly indestructible – depending on the abuse, of course.
A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON by Katie Baldwin / Saving Graces Fantasies Book 1 / Spicy Contemporary Romance / Released March 2017 by the Wild Rose Press
Bethany Michaels leads a fairly isolated existence, but she longs to be an outgoing and sexually confident woman. When her celebrity crush comes to town, and literally falls at her feet, her prayers seem to be answered. But can she protect her heart while still experiencing true passion?
Hollywood celebrity Aidan Shannon, drunk and lost in small-town Virginia, finds himself in the home of a beautiful woman, and he finds her more than just a little alluring. Bethany is voluptuous and nurturing, fragile, yet steely. And that is a problem for a man who never wants to be tied to another woman again.
Living in the now is good enough for Aidan and Bethany for the short term. When the universe steps in and shows them what’s important, will Aidan take a chance on love a second time around when his girl needs him?
Well, either she was a crazy fan about to poison him or she was a shapely woman who was about to save him from a diabolical hangover. In for a penny, in for a pound. He eyed the tea one more time before making a decision.
Aidan carefully sipped the tea, unsure what to expect. Before the liquid touched his lips, his stomach clenched. This was going to be dreadful. Not even someone with his acting skill could pretend this tasted good.
“Drink it all, Mr. Shannon, or it won’t help,” the sweetly militant voice cautioned.
“It tastes worse than it smells,” he said, trying not to whimper. But then he realized she had said “Mr. Shannon.” He sighed. “It appears you know who I am.”
“Are you kidding?” The woman before him giggled softly. “The entire town is in ecstasy because you guys are filming your movie here.” She paused as she narrowed her eyes. “Wait a minute. Don’t try to distract me; drink your tea. How about this…? If you drink it, I will make you some eggs.”
He considered arguing but drank the whole thing down like a shot of whiskey.
WHITE WITH FISH, RED WITH MURDER by Harley Mazuk
When Cici came back down, she was in a silver satin men’s pajama top, long enough to come down to mid-thigh. Only the top button of the three it had was buttoned. “Oh, it’s good to get out of all those clothes after a long day.”
“All those clothes? You barely had on enough to ante up in a game of strip poker.”
“Sure I did, Frank. I had enough on because when I play cards, I win. Runs in the family.” Cici plopped down on the davenport next to me. She lifted her martini with her right hand, crossed one bare leg under her, and draped the other on my lap. She propped her left elbow on the back cushion and rested her head against her hand, smiling at me.
“I don’t know, doll. I saw Fenwick today. He doesn’t think the general lost all that money to Rusty.”
She sipped her drink and eyed me hard over the rim of the glass. “Fenwick don’t know nothing about it, Frank. I’ve got the paper. As a matter of fact, I want you to take those IOUs down to the probate court for me and file a claim. Now that Thursby’s dead, that’s the only way I can collect.”
“Well, that might have to wait a day or two.”
“Why wait, Frank?”
“I have to go up to Sonoma tomorrow. I’m going to go talk to Sally DeBains. I think I’d like to see the Blackbird vineyard too. I’ll have to take care of your claim on Thursby’s estate later in the week.”
She shrugged. “There’s time, I guess.”
“There’ll be plenty of time. I didn’t find any wine. There’s an abundance of good gin around, so I made martinis. How’s your drink?”
“It’s just what I needed. Thanks. There’s some wine in the cellar, but most of it’s at the restaurant. Rusty didn’t drink much wine. He liked his gin though.”
“Did he drink much when he gambled?”
She hesitated, and then nodded. “Sometimes.”
“Fenwick thinks he had plenty to drink when he was over there. You know, maybe his judgment wasn’t so good when he drank. Maybe he didn’t win all that money from Thursby.”
“Yeah? Well, maybe he did. What difference does it make what Fenwick thinks?” She sipped her martini. “Jesus, Frank, who says Fenwick thinks at all? He seems like . . . like such an animal.”
“He was okay when we dipped our bills today—just the two of us—in Thursby’s kitchen. Anyhow, I talked to some of the other suspects today too,” I said.
“People from the train. Suspects in the Thursby killing.”
She had another swallow of her martini and then set the glass down on the table. She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around my neck. The cool satin sleeves slid around me, just above the collar. “Frank, are the police hunting for any suspects in the Thursby killing?”
“No, they’ve got Vera.”
“Maybe you should just leave it that way.” She planted a kiss on my yap and gave me some icy cold tongue. Then she crammed a salty surprise, an olive, into my mouth.
“She didn’t do it.” I chewed the olive.
HONEYMOONS CAN BE MURDER by Heather Haven / Mystery / Released March 1, 2017 by Wives of Bath Press
When PI Lee Alvarez goes on her honeymoon with bridegroom, Gurn Hanson, they find a dead woman practically on their doorstep. Kauai breezes may be soft, but there are gale force winds of accusation against Gurn. Will Lee find the real killer before her new hubby gets sent to a Hawaiian hoosegow?
“Gurn, darling, wasn’t that woman lying in exactly the same position when we left for breakfast?”
Shading my eyes, I looked in the direction of a chaise lounge about seventy yards away sitting half in the lapping waves of the Pacific and half on the warm sands of Hanalei Bay. Dragged into position by sunbathers looking to have the best of both worlds, it seemed to be a common practice on the island. Ten or fifteen others dotted the Hanalei Bay coastline near their respective beachfront rooms.
I’d noticed the woman around seven o’clock in the morning when I stepped outside with my coffee and the morning’s newspaper. I would have liked to take a run along the beach before breakfast, but was recuperating from a sprained ankle, so instead I read “USA Today” while slurping my latte. A poor substitute.
Our honeymoon bungalow was set off in a corner of the Royal Kauai Hotel’s expansive beachfront property. Other than the mandatory public access, which allowed for occasional wanderings by guests along the beach, it was private, quiet, and heaven.
The slender woman was lying on her back in a rather racy red bikini. Legs outstretched, arms by her side, large floppy black hat covering her face, neck and hair, she hadn’t moved in over three hours. I unwrapped myself from my own lounge chair and stood.
“She was, wasn’t she? In exactly the same position.”
My husband of less than a week remained seated in one of the two turquoise and white beach chairs on our lanai. But he leaned forward, removed his sunglasses, his grey-green eyes focusing on her.
“You could be right, but I wasn’t paying attention to her, not really.” He reached up and grabbed me around the waist, pulling me on his lap. “I only have eyes for you, sweetheart.” He then proceeded to kiss my neck with loud, smacking noises, intentionally more comical than romantic.
“Yes, darling,” I said, wiggling within his embrace. “But seriously, I don’t think she’s moved in hours.”
Gurn glanced in her direction in earnest. “She could be sleeping one off.”
“She could.” My tone was doubtful.
“You think she might be sick or something? Why don’t you walk down there and have a chat with her? But if you wake her up and she gets a mad on, remember I told you so.”
“Why don’t we go together?”
I flashed him what I hoped was a winning smile. It must have been along the winning lines because he let out a sigh of resignation and released me. I removed myself from his lap and got to my feet. Gurn looked at me, the lopsided smile springing to his face.
“You’re lucky you’re so gorgeous I’ll do anything you want. You and your twilight colored eyes,” he added.
“Aw, I’m not so gorgeous,” I said modestly, batting said eyes at him.
“If you say so.” He shrugged.
I feigned shock at his words, gave him a playful smack on the arm, and we both laughed. Gurn stood, and with a groan stretched his now tanned six foot one frame. We’d been married right after he returned from a covert mission a little on the banged up side. It was just a few scrapes, bruises, and a black eye, nothing serious, but he’d made one weird looking groom.
To civilians, he was known as Mr. Hanson, CPA extraordinaire and owner of Hanson Accounting Firm. To the U.S. Navy, he was known as Lt. Commander Hanson, ex-navy SEAL, often called away on highly classified and secretive missions. To me, he was Gurn, the man I loved.
In fairness, I was a little on the banged up side, too, having just completed a case where the villain was unwilling to see my side of things i.e. going to jail for murder. I was for; villain against. After a few rounds, I had my way but not without sustaining a sprained ankle and a black and blue hand. The ankle was currently embraced by a support boot. The hand was on its own. Everything hurt, so I was either icing various parts, taking Advil, or downing the occasional Mai Tai. Rum can be very medicinal.
I studied the lone woman lying on the chaise. So did Gurn. Without saying a word, we walked hand in hand in her direction. Actually, Gurn walked. I hobbled in the cumbersome boot I was relegated to wearing for the next four to six weeks.
Once there, we unlocked hands, Gurn going around to the far side of the lounge. I looked at him and he looked at me. Raising his forefinger, he tapped the air in the woman’s direction, indicating it was time for me to do something.
I cleared my throat.
“Excuse me,” I said louder then waited.
“Miss?” This time I jostled the chaise lounge with my knee. The movement caused the sandal to drop off her left foot and land in the water. It bobbed on gentle waves.