Death Under the Mistletoe: A Valentine Christmas Mystery… FREE

You know that saying, “when it rains, it pours?” That seems to be my life lately. Just when I think I’ve got myself organized to get everything done, something new is added. Between that, and a struggle to pace my work, I’ve running around like a mad woman.

I just turned in a draft of Southern Persuasion, book two of the Southern Heat series for review by my agent.  It’s a bad draft. I’m hoping my agent will be gentle. I’m expecting the copy edits on the first book, Southern Comfort, sometime this week. The three-book romance series will be released in 2016 by Penner Publishing.

Death Under the Mistletoe: A Valentine Christmas MysteryDespite all the chaos and busyness, I fulfilled my promise to release a Valentine story by Christmas. As a thank you to everyone who has been a fan of the Valentines, Death Under the Mistletoe: A Valentine Christmas Mystery (novella) is free. It’s available in .mobi (Kindle) and .pdf over in the SweetHarte group at Facebook. If you’re not yet a member, join and you’ll find the book under the “Files” tab. There’s no cost to join the group. You’ll get some freebies, heads up on new releases, behind the scenes info about the Valentines and other books, plus I frequently ask for help and feedback.

The novella will be available shortly at Amazon.

Description of Death Under the Mistletoe

Tess is excited to spend her first Christmas with her sexy husband, Jack Valentine, that is until the mall Santa staggers in her shop and drops dead underneath the mistletoe on Christmas Eve. There’s no shortage of suspects who wanted Santa dead. Was it his jealous elves? His estranged wife?  The in-laws who never thought Santa was good enough for their daughter? Or the neighbor who secretly coveted Santa’s wife? Although Tess and Jack are happy to let Detective Daniel Showalter deal with the case, somehow the newlyweds end up a target of Santa’s killer who plans to make sure Jack and Tess never celebrate Christmas.

Review: Altered

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Altered by Kelly Cain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not normally a NA reader, mostly because I keep forgetting the characters are in their early 20s and do things that annoy me. But I’ve been working on expanding my horizons and when Kelly offered me an advanced copy of the book, I wanted to give it read.

Liv is an interesting character, but like most of the books I read, it’s the romantic male lead that I’m drawn to. In most books, they’re handsome, in your face alpha males. Interestingly enough, Nicolas isn’t any of that, at least not initially. In fact, I don’t think anyone would cast him as a romantic lead. He’s bearded, scruffy, and prefers to keep to himself. He’s 18 years old in law school, making some of his classmates think he’s brilliant, but in a Rainman sort of way, so they brush him off as odd.

Of course, there’s so much more to him. And while Liv can be annoying (she’s only 23…I remind myself), she does see past his attempts to hide. At first becoming his friend, and then later, as happens in romance, after a little angst, his love.

The age difference was a little strange at first, but then I reminded myself, any kid who’s in law school at 18 is mature beyond his years and as the couple gets older, the difference is less of a big deal. When she’s 35, he’ll be 30, and that’s not so odd. The truth is, you forget the difference when it’s not brought up.

Over all I enjoyed the book and think anyone who enjoys NA will get a kick out of Liv, her friends, and of course Nicolas.

View all my reviews

Rediscovering Linda Howard

I’m a picky reader. While I read a lot, I don’t venture too far away from my favorite authors. My preference is romantic suspense and mysteries with a little romance strewn in. My go-to authors are Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, JD Robb (yes, I know that’s Nora), Janet Evanovich, Heather Graham and my newest is Michael Murphy’s Jake and Laura Mysteries (ala The Thin Man). But several years ago I read Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard and really loved it. I must have read a few other Linda Howard books at the time, but eventually, I stopped.

I picked up my running this summer and now I run long enough that even the music on my iPod isn’t enough to keep me from getting bored. I decided maybe listening to audio books would distract me. The first book I listened to was Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s The Heist, which I really enjoyed and will continue the series.

The problem with digital audio books is that they’re expensive. Audible is fairly affordable, but $15 for an audio book adds up if you buy a lot (granted, I spend a lot on print or ebooks, so maybe it’s a matter of changing my mindset).

My next stop was Overture, which allows you borrow digital books from your library. The only problem with this option is there aren’t a whole lot of audio choices (that I’d listen too…remember…I’m picky), and the ones that are there, have a waiting a list (I’m number 16 for a Sandra Brown novel). However, Linda Howard’s Prey was available and since I remembered Mr. Perfect, I decided to rent it.

I really enjoyed Prey, a story about two wilderness hunting guides who get stalked by a bear and a bad guy. So, when it came time for my next Audible rental, I chose Open Season, another Linda Howard novel.

You know how some books just stay with you? Mr. Perfect did and I think Open Season will too. Even though I make a living with words, it’s difficult for me to pinpoint what it is about this book that has me feeling sad that I’m about to finish it (I’m writing about it and I haven’t heard the ending yet!). The female protagonist, Daisy, is refreshing. She’s not innocent, though she is a little naive. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and she has really fascinating, and sometime funny, thought process. What could have been a cliched story about a tiny town, frumpy librarian, turns out to be really delightful. The male protagonist is strong and tough from Chicago via New York, but he’s not the typical brooding guy wanting to keep the world at a distance because of the horrors experienced as a former SWAT guy and a failed marriage. He’s brusk, but not mean and he gets as much of a kick out of Daisy as I do. Add in that the story is set in the south, which, when done well, becomes a part of the story as well.

The story is frumpy, 34-year old librarian Daisy determines she wants to get married and have kids, which means a makeover and visiting bars. Jack is the police chief, who notices Daisy before the makeover, but mostly because of her personality. After the makeover, many people notice Daisy. Jack doesn’t like that very much and although he’s not interested in settling down, he is interested in her.

Initially, Daisy is annoyed with him because he’s getting in the way of her plans to find a husband. But once he kisses her (her head dialogue during that kiss is great), she decides she likes his kisses and spends more time with him. When Jack learns someone is trying to track her down because she witnessed a murder, he goes into protection mode, which puts them together even more.

It all sounds pretty typical as I explain it here. And part of my enjoyment may be that the reader of the audio book is pretty good. Her southern accent is just what I might expect in small town Alabama. More likely it’s the humor, Daisy’s delightful personality and the fact that it’s romantic suspense without being dark and broody. The love scenes include Daisy’s effervescent outlook of the world and the humor that makes up her life (like when Jack refuses to wear the purple condom from the “Party Pack” of 72 condoms). A change of mood in reading is nice sometimes!

My only beef with Linda’s writing, which I experienced more so in Prey than Open Season, is a few too long narratives. She also revisits some of the narratives, which had me saying, “You already told me about that.” It would have been stuff I skipped if I was reading the book, but since I was listening to the audio version, I had to endure it.

All in all, I’m enjoying Linda’s stories. They’re not quite as humorous or quirky as Janet Evanovich or Jennifer Cruisie, but I still laugh out loud, which must be a sight when I’m running.

Annoying Characters

I’m breathing an tentative sigh of relief as To Love, Honor, and Kill: A Valentine Mystery Book Five receives its first reviews (three 5-star reviews so far). It’s always nerve-wracking to release a new book. Will people like it? Will they hate it? In this case, I was especially nervous because I included two other points of view.

Conflict is an essential part of any story, but as I’m sure you’re aware, there is a fine line between establishing realistic conflict and crossing over into annoying. This is a concern for me in most books, but especially so in To Love, Honor, and Kill. For one, I had to have a realistic reason for Daniel to avoid Kate for so many years, and an even better reason for him to finally notice her. At the same time, I didn’t want Kate to be the type of woman to simply fall into Daniel’s arms simply because she’d loved him for so long. The conflict and times of ease between the two of them needed to feel real, not forced. To be honest, I’m not sure I completely succeeded.

Fortunately, even the reviewer that said Daniel and Kate were annoying at times, enjoyed the book overall and gave it 5 stars.

Your Valentine Questions Answered and More

To Love, Honor, and Kill: Valentine Book Five

What chocolate confection will Tess make Jack for his birthday? Is the Senator really Jack’s biological father? What car did Tess buy to replace the one totaled in Old Flames Never Die? Will Daniel ask Kate out? All these questions and more will be answered in To Love, Honor, and Kill: A Valentine Mystery Book Five.

The first draft of Valentine five was written in November 2014 as part of NaNoWriMo. But plot issues and a busy scheduled prevented me from getting the book ready for release until now.

Not only will the book come out this week (watch for it Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015), but also, all the other Valentine books will go on special from Wednesday through Friday. Deadly Valentine: A Valentine Mystery Book One will be free and the other three will be $0.99 cents! That’s a whole lotta lovin’, murder and chocolate for very little price!

If you’re not yet a member of the SweetHarte street team, please join as I’m planning some fun stuff and freebies to celebrate the release.

WARNING: Explicit Content
The Delecoeur stories are adventures featuring a romantic couple who sometimes do what people in love do. Part of this story maybe be considered adult content, so if you are not of legal age or are easily offended, you should click the exit button.