Friday, July 1, 2022

A Brush with Murder by Gail Langer Karwoski

  A Brush with Murder

Book Summary

Jane Roland and her painter friends are enrolled in a watercolor retreat at the picturesque Gardens and Horses Resort. They're looking forward to a week of sun-drenched landscapes, sleek racehorses, art instruction, and — best of all — laughter and conversation.

Out for their first stroll, the women discover a dead thoroughbred in the pretty reflecting pool. Next evening, they find the handsome young stable man in the horse watering trough. Surely, there's a link between them?

When a painter from their workshop goes missing, Jane realizes that her class notes are valuable clues to catch the culprit in this light-hearted cozy mystery.
My Thoughts
A Brush with Murder by Gail Langer Karwoski has three women from Georgia heading to a painting retreat at the luxurious Gardens and Horses Resort.  After checking in, the ladies decide to explore the grounds.  They look in the reflecting pool to see a dead thoroughbred.  Their plein air watercolor retreat begins the next day.  One of the men from the stables agrees to give them a tour at the end of the day.  The ladies arrive at the stables to find the man dead in a horse trough.  Jane Roland believes the two cases are connected.  She takes the class roster and begins keeping detailed notes about each person.  When one of their fellow classmates turns up missing and is later found in the lake, Jane feels her observations could help catch the culprit.  
A Brush with Murder is the debut of A Watercolor Mysteries.  The author provides a Class List at the beginning of the book (a list of all the characters).  There are a number of characters so it can be difficult to keep them all straight.  The author is a detailed descriptive writer.  She likes to tell you what each person looks like (hair coloring, demeaner, clothing) as well as descriptions of the gardens, artwork, food, etc.  This type of detail does slow down the pacing of the story.  The book moves at a leisurely pace as the characters enjoy the watercolor class, tour the grounds, eat their meals, and socialize.  The mystery is not at the forefront of the story.  I wish it had been more prominent (with Jane searching for clues).  The death of the horse was disturbing, and it happened in the first chapter.  The details gave Jane and her friends nightmares as well as me.  There are several suspects, but one individual stands out.  I struggled to finish A Brush with Murder.  The pacing is so slow plus (I am sorry) it was boring.  There was no action or lively activity.  I did find some details to be off (when you find yourself saying that they never mentioned this or when did this happen you know something is off or left out).  A Brush with Murder is more cozy than mystery.  I liked that the main characters were older (in their 60s).  It is nice that they are close friends, so they know each other’s quirks and habits.  One of my favorite characters was Maggie, a fifteen-year-old with a domineering grandmother.  Maggie is a talented artist who loves horses.  A Brush with Murder is a lighthearted tale with plein air painting, gorgeous gardens, a retreat romance, suspicious passings, health happenings, essential notes, and a curious watercolorist.
A Brush with Murder is available from Amazon*.  If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read it for free.  You can find Gail Langer Karwoski's other novels here. Thank you for dropping by today and reading my review.  Tonya Kappes has Rangers, RVs, and Revenge out today.  It is the 26th A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery.  Amazon Prime Day is two days this year.  On July 12 and 13, there will be great deals available on Amazon.  That will be a good time to join Amazon Prime (I love the free shipping).  I am taking the next few days off to relax (aka reover) and enjoy the Fourth of July holiday. I have overdone it and I am having a flare up of my fibromyalgia (which means I am in a dark, cool room that is quiet where I can be in pain in peace).  It is my fault for doing too much (I know better than to overdo it).   I will return on July 5 with The Hidden One by Linda Castillo.  It is the 14th A Kate Burkholder Novel of Suspense.  I hope that you have a fun and safe Fourth of July.  Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!

Kris

The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

His Amish Sweetheart by Jennifer Beckstrand

 His Amish Sweetheart
Book Summary

Fondly nicknamed “The Peanut Butter Brothers,” Andrew, Abraham, and Austin Petersheim skillfully run one of Wisconsin’s most cherished family businesses. But their mischievous younger twin siblings have a talent all their own—for matchmaking . . .
 
Between work and keeping his little brothers out of trouble, Austin Petersheim barely has time to think, much less court the most popular maidel in town. But if he can establish a local market to direct-sell his family’s goods, he’ll stand out as a potential husband. He’s so grateful for the help of his longtime friend, Hannah Yutzy, who has such practical ideas—and is so easy to talk to . . .
While Austin embarks on his plan, his siblings have a plan of their own: to give Austin and Hannah a little nudge to show them they’re made for each other. When their antics wreak havoc with a rival family emporium, Hannah must help Austin set things right.  And as she does just that, Austin is stunned to realize his best friend could be his perfect wife. Now he’ll just need the courage and faith to find out if she agrees . . .
My Thoughts

His Amish Sweetheart by Jennifer Beckstrand is an entertaining Amish tale.  I laughed so often while reading this engaging story.  Alfie and Benji are a hoot.  The twin brothers are determined to get their bedroom back.  They do not like sleeping in the cellar (there are spiders, it smells, and a rat could eat them you know).  The boys decide the only solution is to marry off their three older brothers.  They have had success with Andrew and Abraham.  Austin, though, is going to be more of a challenge.  Austin is too handsome for his own good and a bit self-centered.  The twins believe Hannah Yutzy, Austin’s best friend, is the right person for Austin.  The problem is making Austin see it and direct him away from Priscilla Lambright.  Austin finds Priscilla to be the prettiest girl in their community and she loves the Petersheim peanut butter.  Alfie and Benji come up with a plan to nudge Austin in Hannah’s direction.  They enlist the help of two of Hannah’s young female cousins.  Can the twins get Austin married off so they can move back into their old bedroom?  

I thought His Amish Sweetheart was well-written with developed characters.  I just love the characters in this series especially the mischievous Benji and Alfie. Their antics had me laughing.  The addition of Hannah’s young cousins added to the hilarity.  We also get to catch up with the Honeybee sisters and their colorful aunt, Bitsy.  I like how everything tied together into one engaging story. There are good life lessons as well.  I enjoyed seeing the characters learn and grow.  I did not want this diverting story to end (I am still laughing about the BM cookies). The conclusion was delightful. His Amish Sweetheart (formerly known as Austin) is the third book in The Petersheim Brothers series.  Each book can be read as a standalone, but this is one series you do not want to miss.  I hope this is not the end of the road for Alfie and Benji.  His Amish Sweetheart is a heartwarming and humorous Amish tale with Petersheim Peanut Butter, inventive twins, luscious cinnamon rolls, a sign scrape, a cookie crisis, reading time troubles, and a merry market.


His Amish Sweetheart is available from Amazon*.  The first two books in The Petersheim Brothers series are Andrew (available through Kindle Unlimited) and Abraham.  Jennifer Beckstrand has The Amish Quiltmaker's Unconventional Niece publishing October 25.  It is the latest novel in The Amish Quiltmaker series.  She also has An Amish Christmas Inheritance releasing October 25.  It is part of the Amish Christmas Miracles series.  You can follow Jennifer Beckstrand on Amazon to receive an update when she has a new book release.   Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on A Brush with Murder by Gail Langer Karwoski.  It is the debut of The Watercolor Mysteries.  It is hard to believe that today is the last day of June.  The month went by so quickly for me.  The Fourth of July is just around the corner.  I like the holiday, but I dread it for my fur babies.  They are scared of the fireworks (poor things).  I end up having two cats and one large dog crowded on the couch with me.  I hope that you have a witty day.  Take care, stay cool (it is so hot), and Happy Reading!

Kris

The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A Chance to Heal by Vannetta Chapman

 A Chance to Heal
Book Summary

Can they let go of the past?

The Baby Next Door by Vannetta Chapman

When Amish single mother Grace Troyer and her baby girl move back home, Adrian Schrock can’t resist the little family next door. But his plan to nudge Grace out of her shell by asking her to cook for 
Englischers
 on his farm tour doesn’t go over well. After all, Grace is worried the job will expose secrets she hopes to keep buried…
Loving Her Amish Neighbor by Rebecca Kertz

After her buggy’s damaged in an accident, pregnant widow Lucy Schwartz is reluctant to accept help from Gabriel Fisher. He tugs at her heart and falling in love again is risky. But as her neighbor insists on pitching in while her buggy’s out of commission, keeping her distance from him could prove impossible. Because this wounded Amish bachelor might be just what she and her daughter need…

My Thoughts

A Chance to Heal contains The Baby Next Door by Vannetta Chapman and Loving Her Amish Neighbor by Rebecca Kertz.  The Baby Next Door is a sweet story.  I thought it was well-written with delightful characters.  It addresses a real-life issue.  Grace Troyer met an Englisch man and feel under his spell.  When she became pregnant, he disappeared.  Grace’s parents sent her to Ohio to live with an aunt.  Grace has returned home with her daughter, Nicole.  People were told that she is raising a relative’s child.  Grace is happy to be home except for Adrian Schrock’s new enterprise next door.  He has started an exotic farm and his animals manage to find their way over to the Troyer’s especially Kendrick the llama that spits.  Adrian needs to earn money to provide food for his menagerie.  He wants to start tours, but Adrian needs somewhere for the guests to get a meal.  Grace’s parents agree to Adrian’s proposal much to Grace’s dismay.  The last thing Grace wants is for Englischers to be near her daughter.  Grace comes up with a plan to discourage Adrian.  

I laughed often while reading The Baby Next Door.  It is an engaging Amish tale.  I can always count on Vannetta Chapman to provide me with an entertaining story with good life lessons.  I like that Adrian was a man of deep faith.  He felt he was doing the work that God meant for him and that He would provide a way to support his flock.  I thought it was great that we were given a unique character like Adrian.  He is not your normal Amishman.  There are some unique animals in the story.  Adrian has quite a variety of animals on his farm including a red-rumped parrot. I had to laugh at Kendrick.  He is a llama that escapes frequently from Adrian’s farm.  He will poke his head in the Troyer’s kitchen (he has a spitting problem though).  My favorite quote is from Adrian who says, “Normal is underrated.  Isn’t it?”  I especially liked the epilogue that nicely wrapped up the story.  The Baby Next Door is a heartwarming Amish tale with an escaping llama, galloping pygmy goats, an endearing Nicole, Cinnamon the Camel, troubled tours, and a gracious God.  

A Chance to Heal is available from Amazon*.  Vannetta Chapman has An Amish Proposal for Christmas coming out September 27.  It is the first book in the Indiana Amish Market series.  Her Amish Adversary is the second novel in the Indiana Amish Market series and it will be out on January 24, 2023.  You can follow Vannetta Chapman on Amazon to receive a notification when she has a new book release.
I appreciate you stopping by and reading my review.  I will return tomorrow with His Amish Sweetheart by Jennifer Beckstrand (formerly titled Austin).  It has been a long time coming, but it is finally being released.  It is the third novel in The Petersheim Brothers. I laughed frequently while reading it (Benji and Alfie are hilarious).  I hope that you have a peaceful day.  I have been avoiding putting my mother's new bookshelf together (so many pieces), but she is getting insistent.  I will be spending around two hours trying to make parts go together and muttering under my breath (there will be cats trying to steal parts and sleeping on the shelves as well).  Wish me luck!   Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!

Kris

The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Suspects by Danielle Steel

 Suspects
Book Summary

A dedicated CIA agent becomes an unexpected ally to a woman haunted by the kidnapping of her family, in this thrilling novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel.

Theodora Morgan is fashion royalty. Founder of a wildly popular online shopping service, she is one of the most successful businesswomen in the world, although she prefers to keep a low profile, especially over the last months. It was a year ago when the unthinkable struck her family, and her husband, industry mogul Matthieu Pasquier, and their son were kidnapped and held for ransom—a nightmare that ended in tragedy.
 
French Chateau
The case has gone cold, despite evidence linking the crime to Matthieu’s Russian competitors. Theo has reluctantly gone back to work running her company. On the flight to a launch party for one of her highly anticipated pop-up shops in New York City, she crosses paths with high-society networker Pierre de Vaumont. Theo politely invites him to her event—unaware that Pierre has been flagged by the CIA.
 
Senior supervising CIA operative Mike Andrews investigates Pierre’s suspicious Russian contacts and clears him to enter the country, but when he realizes that Theodora Morgan is on the same flight, he becomes concerned for her safety. Posing as a lawyer, Mike begins a covert mission—starting with Theo’s opening party. When Mike and Theo meet, their connection is instant, but Theo is completely unaware of Mike’s true objective or identity… or that the life she is rebuilding is in grave danger.
My Thoughts

Suspects by Danielle Steel is an intriguing romantic suspense.  The story is told from the point of view of Theodora “Theo” Morgan and Mike Andrews.  Theo owns an online clothing company that is a success.  She married an older Frenchman, and they had a son, Axel.  Unfortunately, Theo’s husband and son were kidnapped, and the case went sideways.  The kidnappers killed both the husband and son leaving behind a devastated Theo.  The case has yet to be solved and there are worries that the kidnappers will strike again since they only got half of the ransom.  Mike Andrews is a CIA agent in New York.  When Theo flies to New York to oversee the opening of a pop-up shop, Pierre de Vaumont is on the same plane.  Pierre must be vetted before being allowed into New York which is how Mike becomes aware of Theo.  Mike attends the opening of Theo’s New York pop-up shop and there is an instant connection.  Mike wants to protect Theo.  The only way to keep her safe is to find the men who kidnapped her husband and son.  

Retro New York Diner--Theo & Mike's first "date"

I enjoyed Suspects.  I thought it was well-written and engaging.  I liked the characters.  Theo is a smart woman with a head for business.  She is also creative, hardworking, and down to earth.  Mike is man with a good heart.  He is also intelligent, strong, and a diligent worker.  He has devoted his life to his career.  I liked Mike’s sister, Fiona.  She is a lively character and added humor to the story.  Suspects has tension, romance, drama, mystery, and intrigue.  The second half of the story moves at a quick pace.  I liked all the action.  There is some repetition, a small amount of foul language, and there are intimate situations (just so you are aware).  I found myself drawn into Suspects and quickly devoured it.  I liked the descriptions of Paris and the fashions.  I enjoyed reading Suspects and I look forward to Danielle Steel’s next novel. Suspects is a gripping tale with crazed kidnappers, a keen CIA agent, a withdrawn widow, a creative sibling, a smarmy matchmaker, and a rare romance.

Pop Up Shop
Suspects is available from Amazon*.  Danielle Steel has The Challenge coming out August 16, High Notes on October 11, The Whitters on November 22, and Without a Trace on January 3, 2023.  You can follow Danielle Steel on Amazon so you can receive an email when she has a new book release.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I want to share with you some of the other new books out today.  A few of the new books that were released today are:  His Amish Sweetheart by Jennifer Beckstrand, The Nurse's Secret by Amanda Skekandore, Dairy Dairy Quite Contrary by Amy Lillard (new series), A Hint of Mischief by Daryl Wood Gerber, Muddled Through by Barbara Ross, Finding Her Amish Home by Pamela Desmond Wright, Her Darkest Secret by Jessica R. Patch, Donut Disturb by Ellie Alexander, and A Chance to Heal by Vannetta Chapman.  There is something for everyone on this list (historical, cozy mystery, suspense, Amish romance).  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on A Chance to Heal by Vannetta Chapman (it is amusing).  I hope that you have cheery day.  Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!

Kris

The Avid Reader 

Would you do this on an airplane?

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Dairy, Dairy Quite Contrary by Amy Lillard

 Dairy, Dairy Quite Contrary

Book Summary

Looking for a fresh start, advice columnist Sissy Yoder heads to small-town Yoder, Kansas, to help in her aunt’s café. But when a milkman is murdered, the newcomer becomes the prime suspect . . .

After Sissy’s rodeo cowboy boyfriend turns out to be more of a rodeo clown, she packs a bag, picks up her Yorkshire terrier Duke; and leaves Tulsa, Oklahoma, bound for her parents’ former hometown. There are still plenty of Yoders in Yoder, Kansas, including Sissy’s aunt Bethel, who owns the Sunflower Café but recently broke her leg. It’s a homecoming of sorts as Sissy arrives to help in the café and reunite with her pregnant cousin Lizzie. Plus, she can continue to secretly write her newspaper advice column as seventy-year-old “Aunt Bess.” But it’s Sissy who could use some advice when she finds the milk deliveryman out behind the café with a knife in his back. As the sheriff’s prime suspect, it’s up to Sissy to catch the backstabber herself—before someone else gets creamed . . .
My Thoughts

Dairy, Dairy Quite Contrary by Amy Lillard is the debut of A Sunflower Café Mysteries. We meet Sissy Yoder and her Yorkshire terrier, Duke.  They have traveled to Yoder, Kansas to help her aunt, Bethel who broke a leg.  Bethel needs help running the Sunflower Café.  Sissy is glad for an excuse to get away from Tulsa, Oklahoma after breaking up with her boyfriend and losing her apartment.  Unfortunately, Sissy’s fresh start begins with the murder of the local milk delivery driver in the back doorway of the Sunflower Café.  Deputy Sheriff Earl Berry has Sissy at the top of his suspect list.  The only way to clear her name is for Sissy to find the real culprit. I like Amy Lillard’s casual writing style.  It is welcoming and friendly.  The pacing is leisurely and could have used an injection of caffeine.  Sissy Yoder is a friendly character who has an adorable dog named Duke of York (aka Duke).  We meet a cast of quirky characters as Sissy works in the café and investigates the mystery.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Yoder.  It sounds like a quaint small town that is a mixture of English and Amish. I thought Sissy’s new home was clever and cute (I am not going to spoil it for you).  

The murder of the milkman happens early in the story.  Sissy is the prime suspect even though she barely knew the man.  There are several suspects since the milk delivery driver is the local lothario.  There are few clues which makes it challenging for Sissy to solve.  Sissy gets help from local reporter, Gavin.  I wish the whodunit had been stronger and more complex.  I also thought the mystery needed a better conclusion with any lingering questions answered.  I kept hoping the bumbling deputy sheriff would find himself the next victim.  In the end, Sissy finds the final piece of the puzzle and identifies the guilty party.  Gavin Wainwright is a reporter for the Sunflower Express, the local underground newspaper.  He helps Sissy with the mystery plus he is her new love interest.  I did feel it was a little soon for a love interest since Sissy is still getting over her ex-boyfriend.  I am hoping that the romance will progress slowly.  

I like Sissy’s job as the syndicated advice columnist Aunt Bess.  Aunt Bess is a sassy, know it all seventy-year-old grandmother (at least that is what everyone thinks).  Aunt Bess is plain spoken with plenty of helpful advice (Sissy should take some of it herself).  There are quotes from Aunt Bess at the beginning of each chapter.  Of course, Sissy has to have a cover occupation because no one knows that she is Aunt Bess.    The food descriptions will have your mouth watering, especially for chocolate peanut butter pie.  I enjoyed my first visit to Yoder, Kanas.  I am curious what trouble Sissy will stumble upon next time.   Dairy, Dairy Quite Contrary is cute cozy with the delightful Duke, the grabby Bethel, the loving Lottie, the laid-up Lizzie, the bullying Earl Berry, the scrumptious chocolate peanut butter pie, the grinning Gavin, and a suspicious Sissy.

Dairy, Dairy Quite Contrary will be out on Tuesday, June 28 and it can be preordered from Amazon*.  Amy Lillard has The Amish Matchmaker coming out on September 27.  It is the second novel in the Paradise Valley series.  You can find Amy Lillard's other novels here.  I appreciate you stopping by today and reading my book review.  Tomorrow I am featuring Suspects by Danielle Steel.  I hope that you have a cheerful day.  I am off to work on another project around the house.  I am trying to get one item off the to do list each day (that should tell you how long a list it is).  Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!

Kris

The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Hint of Mischief by Daryl Wood Gerber: Review, excerpt, and giveaway!

 A Hint of Mischief

 

About A Hint of Mischief

A Hint of Mischief (A Fairy Garden Mystery) 

Cozy Mystery 

3rd in Series Setting - California 

Kensington Cozies(June 28, 2022) 

Paperback ‏ : ‎ 368 pages

The proprietor of a fairy garden and tea shop in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Courtney Kelly has an occasional side gig as a sleuth—with a sprinkling of magical assistance. . . .

Courtney has thrown a few fairy garden parties—for kids. But if a local socialite is willing to dip into her trust fund for an old sorority sister’s fortieth birthday bash, Courtney will be there with bells on. To make the job even more appealing, a famous actress, Farrah Lawson, is flying in for the occasion, and there’s nothing like a celebrity cameo to raise a business’s profile.

Now Courtney has less than two weeks to paint a mural, hang up tinkling windchimes, plan party games, and conjure up all the details. While she works her magic, the hostess and her girlfriends head off for an indulgent spa day—which leads to a fateful facial for Farrah, followed by her mysterious death. Could the kindhearted eyebrow waxer who Farrah berated in public really be the killer, as the police suspect? Courtney thinks otherwise, and with the help of her imaginative sleuth fairy, sets out to dig up the truth behind this puzzling murder . . . 

About Daryl Wood Gerber

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Fairy Garden Mysteries, Cookbook Nook Mysteries, and French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she penned the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes the Aspen Adams Novels of Suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Daryl loves to cook, fairy garden, and read. She has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line. And she has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and hitch-hike around Ireland alone. You can learn more on her website: httsp://darylwoodgerber.com

Author Links












My Thoughts

A Hint of Mischief by Daryl Wood Gerber is an enchanting cozy mystery. We return to Carmel-by-the Sea where Courtney Kelly owns Open Your Imagination.  The town is full of quaint shops (I want to visit and check out all the shops in the various courtyards).  It was nice to catch up with Courtney, Joss, Fiona, Megan, Pixie, and Brady.  There is a helpful list of the characters at the beginning of the book.  I thought A Hint of Mischief was well-written with great characters.  I like the author’s engaging writing style.  I found myself drawn into story.  I love the fairies in the story and that Courtney can see them. Fiona adds humor to the story.  I like that we get to learn more about the fairies (the various types) and their capabilities. There is one main mystery and two side mysteries.   Misty Dawn hires Courtney to organize an adult fairy birthday party for one of her sorority sisters.  When one of the party goers ends up dead, Courtney with help from her righteous fairy begins investigating.  This was a well-plotted mystery.  I had fun following the investigation and solving the crime.  One of the clues was cleverly done.  Courtney needs to work on her questioning technique (be less obvious because she does not want to alienate her neighbors).  There are several suspects, a red herring or two, and helpful clues.  The mystery is nicely wrapped up with all of the questions answered.  Someone is stealing from the shops in town.  Courtney intends to discover who is behind the thefts. 

Fairy doors are appearing around Carmel-by-the-Sea.  No one knows who is installing the fairy doors.  I enjoyed the fairy party planning.  Joss and Courtney came up with some clever ideas.  I love the fairy gardens that were created by Courtney and customers in Open your Imagination.  It gave me inspiration.  I like how the romance is progressing between Courtney and Brady.  I like that they are not rushing things.  I loved the epilogue where we learn something special.  While A Hint of Mischief is the third A Fairy Garden Mystery, it can be read as a standalone.  The author provides the necessary background information.  There is a preview of A Flicker of a Doubt which is the next A Fairy Garden Mystery at the end plus there are recipes for some of the treats featured in the story (Brookies, Chocolate Crinkles, Fairy Cookies).  A Hint of Mischief is a magical mystery with flitting fairies, fabulous fairy gardens, a slain sorority sister, a playful Pixie, baffling fairy doors, covert thefts, and a curious Courtney.

Excerpt

“Thief!” a woman cried outside of Open Your Imagination, my fairy garden and tea shop. I recognized the voice. Yvanna Acebo.

I hurried from the covered patio through our main showroom, grabbed an umbrella from the stand by the Dutch door, and headed outside, quickly opening the umbrella so it protected me from the rain. “Yvanna, what’s going on?”

Yvanna, a baker at Sweet Treats, a neighboring shop in the courtyard, was dressed in her pink uniform and standing at the top of the stairs that led through the courtyard, hands on hips—no umbrella. She was getting drenched.

“Yvanna!” I shouted again. “Were you robbed? Are you okay?”

She pivoted. Rain streamed down her pretty face. She swiped a hair off her cheek that had come loose from her scrunchie. “I’m fine,” she said with a sigh. “A customer set her bag down on one of the tables so she could fish in her purse for loose change. Before we knew it, someone in a brown hoodie slipped in, grabbed the bag, and darted out.”

“Man? Woman? Teen?”

“I’m not sure.” Her chest heaved. “That’s the second theft in this area in the past twenty-four hours, Courtney.”

“Second?” I gasped. Carmel-by-the-Sea was not known as a high-crime town. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. We had suffered two murders in the past year. Flukes, the police had dubbed them. “Where did the other theft occur?”

“There.” She pointed to the Village Shops, the courtyard across the street from ours. Carmel-by-the-Sea was known for its unique courtyards. “At Say Cheese.”

“The thief must be hungry,” I said. Say Cheese had a vast array of cheeses, crackers, and condiments. “Were you scared?”

“No. I’m miffed.” A striking Latina, Yvanna was one of the most resilient women I knew. She rarely took a day off because she had a family of six to feed—two cousins, her grandparents, her sister, and herself.

“Call the police,” I suggested.

“You can bet on it.”

We didn’t have CCTV in Cypress and Ivy’s courtyard yet. Maybe I should mention it to our landlord.  I returned to Open Your Imagination, stopped outside to flick the water off the umbrella, and then moved inside, slotted the umbrella into the stand, and weaved through the shop’s display tables while saying hello to the handful of customers. Before heading to the patio, I signaled my stalwart assistant Joss Timberlake that all was under control.

“Do not argue with me!” Misty Dawn exclaimed. “Do you hear me? I want tea. Not coffee.  Tea!” Misty, a customer, was standing by the verdigris baker’s racks on the patio, wiggling two female fairy figurines. When she spotted me, she uttered a full-throated laugh. “You’re back, Courtney. Is everything okay outside? Did I hear the word thief?”

“You did.”

“Hopefully nothing too dear was stolen.”

In addition to my business, the courtyard boasted a high-end jewelry store, a collectibles shop, an art gallery, and a pet-grooming enterprise.

“Bakery goods,” I said.

“And no one got hurt?”

“No one.”

“Phew.” Misty gazed at the figurines she was holding. “I swear, I can’t get over how young I feel whenever I visit your shop. It takes me back to my childhood, when I used to play with dolls. I’d make up stories and put on plays. At one point, maybe seventh grade, I thought I was so clever and gifted with dialogue that I’d become a playwright, but that didn’t come to pass.”

 Misty, a trust fund baby who had never worked a day in her life, even though she had graduated Phi Beta Kappa and had whizzed through business school, had blazed into the shop twenty minutes ago, hoping to hire me to throw a fairy garden birthday party for her sorority sister. In the less than two years that the shop had been open, I’d only thrown three such parties, each for children.

“Let’s get serious.” Misty returned the figurines to the verdigris baker’s rack, strode across the covered slate patio to the wrought-iron table closest to the gnome-adorned fountain, and patted the tabletop. “Sit with me. Let’s chat. I have lists upon lists of ideas.” She opened her Prada tote and removed a floral notepad and pen.

Fiona, a fairy-in-training who, when not staying at my house, resided in the Ficus trees fitted with twinkling lights that surrounded the patio, flew to my shoulder and whispered in my ear. “She sure is bossy.”

I bit back a smile and said, “The customer’s always right.”

“How true,” Misty said, oblivious to Fiona’s presence.

 I thought perhaps I should mention it to our landlord.

A Hint of Mischief will be out on Tuesday, June 28 and it is available from AmazonB&NKoboBookshopMurder by Book, and Mysterious Galaxy.  The other two novels in A Fairy Garden Mysteries are A Sprinkling of Murder and A Glimmer of a Clue (both books can be read for free with Kindle Unlimited).  You can find Daryl Wood Gerber's other novels here. Now for the giveaways!  
Daryl Wood Gerber is giving away your choice (pick one of the first two books in A Fairy Garden Mysteries) of A Sprinkling of Murder or a Glimmer of a Clue plus a fairy door (it is so cute), a fairy figurine, and a $15 Amazon gift card (sorry, but US only).  You can click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck!  I am also hosting a giveaway for one of the first two books in A Fairy Garden Mysteries (paper or ebook--your choice) which are A Sprinkling of Murder and A Glimmer of a Clue. Leave a comment with your email address (so I can contact you if you win) for a chance to win (sorry, but US only).  The contest ends on June 28 at 11:59 p.m. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, it gets you an extra entry (let me know when you comment). Good Luck! Thank you for joining me today.  On Monday I am featuring Dairy, Dairy Quite Contrary by Amy Lillard. It is the debut of A Sunflower Cafe Mystery series.  I hope that you have a delightful weekend. Take care, stay cool (it is so hot outside), and Happy Reading!

Kris

The Avid Reader 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Participants


June 21 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT 

June 21 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – GUEST POST WITH RECIPE 

June 21 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 

June 22 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW 
June 22 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
 

June 22 – Angel's Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY 

June 23 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

June 23 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT 
June 23 – This Is My Truth Now – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

June 24 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, GUEST POST WITH RECIPE

June 24 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 24 – Baroness' Book Trove - REVIEW

June 25 – MJB Reviewers - SPOTLIGHT, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

June 25 – The Avid Reader - REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

June 25 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT 

June 26 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 26 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

June 27 – Diane Reviews Books - REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY
June 27 – I Read What You Write – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 27 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

 June 28 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 28 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW

June 28 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.