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Clean but not Cozy: Deadly Choices, a new Thriller from Karen Randau

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An elderly woman with an arrow in her chest. A murdered journalist. A decades-old cover-up. In Deadly Choices (Rim Country Mysteries Volume 3), Rita and Cliff Avery team up again to solve a spate of murders in their picturesque Arizona mountain town of Rim Vista. Rita’s mother Willow delivers gun-wrenching news while falling for the man who could be responsible for four deaths. And Rita must escape a string of life-threatening predicaments thrown at her by an assailant willing to do anything to scare Cliff off the case.

If you enjoy suspense, but don’t care for explicit language or adult scenes, this clean (but not cozy) thriller might be exactly what you’re looking for. Deadly Choices is the third book in the Rim Country Mysteries, but can be read as a standalone.

Karen, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Rita?

Rita Avery is a middle-aged woman raised by vegetarian hippies who legally named her Lovely Rita after their favorite Beetles song, “Lovely Rita Meter Maid.” She married Jared Warren immediately out of high school, who fought in the first Gulf War as a Marine. They had two children. When Rita and Jared were celebrating their thirtieth wedding anniversary at a movie theater, a disturbed young man shot and killed fourteen people, including Jared. During the next few months, Rita discovered that her entire marriage had been a lie. She found love again, married Detective Cliff Avery, and honeymooned in Scotland, where she decided to try to reunite with her mother Willow after twenty-five years. Now, she is learning that even Willow lied to Rita.

How much do you and Rita have in common?

There is a lot of me in Rita. In many ways, she thinks like me and acts like me. In other ways, she is who I wish I could be. I like her; she feels comfortable to me. While she can be friendly and engaging, she may be difficult to get to know. She is adventurous and can be fun to be around. Most of all, I feel drawn to her because she is an overcomer who believes she can accomplish anything if she is willing to work hard enough.

Do your characters change throughout consecutive books in the series, or do they stay the same?

Rita has had a dramatic character arc in the three books of the Rim Country Mysteries. She started out naïve and shallow, more concerned about fashion than the people around her. In book 1 (Deadly Deceit), she grew into an independent woman who could trust her own instincts. Because of the extreme trauma she encountered in book 1, she now has PTSD and suffers panic attacks. She barely considers fashion anymore, but she can still spot a good deal. By the end of book 3, she has accepted who she is and is overcoming her panic attacks.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

No. All of my characters has elements of people I’ve known throughout my life, but I didn’t specifically create any of them to kill them. Sometimes, I’m sorry I had to do them in.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

My fictional setting is a picturesque small town in the mountains above Phoenix, Arizona. It is strikingly similar to the town where I live, but I’ve used aspects of other places I also like. I do a lot of research to try to be realistic in the situations, culture, and setting.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

Ashley Judd is Rita Avery and David Boreanaz is Detective Cliff Avery.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

The best advice is to write what you know about. That makes it a lot easier to be realistic. I didn’t realize how much I knew about until I started putting it into novels, though. The worst advice I’ve heard is that you don’t need an outline. I outline by books, and then rework the outline as the characters take me in different directions than I planned.

About The Author  

Karen Randau is the author of the Rim Country Mystery series. Her fast-paced novels include Deadly Deceit, Deadly Inheritance, and Deadly Choices, each with intricate plots and lots of action and told from the point of view of protagonist Rita Avery.


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New suspense and character interview: A Game of Deceit by K. A. Davis

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A father’s disappearance never solved, a mother’s secret taken to the grave, a daughter deceived…
Kathryn Landry thinks her life is just about perfect. She is the owner of a successful interior designer business in Newport Beach, California, and she has an attentive, supportive husband. But her world comes crashing down when her husband, Neil Landry, vanishes without a trace… in a situation almost identical to the disappearance of her father twenty years before.

With her father’s disappearance still a mystery, Kathryn is skeptical that the detective assigned to her case will be able to find her husband. Determined to uncover the truth, Kathryn is plunged into a world of politics, high-priced call girls and wealth. As she begins to search for her husband, a decades-old secret her mother took to the grave threatens to destroy all she holds dear. Caught up in a web of betrayals and deceit, and not knowing who to trust, Kathryn must find a way to survive as she discovers the past has a way of repeating itself.

Character interview: Kathryn Landry

Kathryn, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers a little bit about  yourself? 

I didn’t have the best teenage years after my father disappeared when I was fourteen. I felt pretty lucky when I met my future husband, Neil, in college. He was strong and I was happy to let him take care of me. Once we graduated, I found my passion and started up an interior design company in Newport Beach but let him take control of all the decisions. Once he disappeared, I was lost when it came to how the business side of my company was ran. And then all sorts of terrible things started happening to me, like my apartment being broken into, someone forced me off the road which landed me in the emergency room, and then someone tried to abduct me. Never in a million years would I have thought I could handle traumas like this but I’ve found that I’m a much stronger person than I realized.

Who’s the character you get along with the best?

My assistant, Marianne Patton. She’s a grandmotherly sort, taking strays like me under her wing. I envision my own grandmothers, whom I never had the chance to meet, as being women like Marianne. Marianne also likes to bake and cook and always has food to share with friends. I try to ignore my sweet tooth but it’s pretty hard when she is passing around her delectable treats.

I understand there’s one person you don’t get along with so well.

Detective Mike Williams. I was warned about him after he was assigned to my husband’s disappearance case. He’s a bit chauvinistic and inclined to blame me for my husband leaving instead of doing his job and finding the truth. We seem to butt heads often and I don’t like that he yells at me on occasion. Some people might say I deserve it but I think there are better ways to communicate displeasure.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author, Kim Davis?

I’d be a lot happier with her if she spent as much time with me as she did with her friends on Facebook! I mean, come ‘on… how many of those people have had their father and their husband disappear without a trace? Instead she relegates me to the dark files of her computer for months, if not years on end. I’ll cut her some slack though, on the amount of time she spends with her granddaughters, Jaidyn and Emory. I’d ignore me too if I had sweet little girls to dote on.

What’s next for you? 

I think I have a chance at finding my happily-ever-after but once again my author is relegating me to the dark recess of her mind. She says there’s a wannabe cupcake baker caught up in the murder of her best friend that needs some help. I’m not giving up though, my story isn’t finished and I have a couple secrets I haven’t shared with her yet.

About The Author

Kim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband, near wildfire country. During the Portola Hills fire in October 2007, she had to evacuate her two young granddaughters, one of whom has Rett Syndrome, as a wall of one hundred foot flames crept towards their home. Thankfully, due to the brave efforts of firefighters, their neighborhood was spared and no loss of life or property occurred. She was able to use that experience to write a harrowing scene in A Game of Deceit.

She writes the Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder blog and has had several children’s articles published in Cricket, Nature Friend, Skipping Stones, and the Seed of Truth magazines. Kim Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.


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A novella a month: How’s my 2017 resolution going?

So far so good!

January: To solve the mystery of a disappearing corpse, Mary-Alice has to endure a visit to the Swamp Bar (where decent ladies don’t go) and battle her vindictive cousin, Mayor Celia Arceneaux. Will her gentle temper and unshakable faith in human nature endure?  

The Vanishing Victim

February: Mary-Alice Arceneaux just got a big surprise for her 70th birthday–a trip to Hawaii, courtesy of young Fortune Morrow. But with bounty hunters on their trail, and family secrets lurking in the unlikeliest of places, the southernmost state has a few more surprises in store.  

Aloha, Y’all

 March: Professor Gwendolyn Jackson’s husband sends her a voice mail from the road, telling her he’ll be home soon. Just one problem…by the time the message was sent, he was already dead. When the police dismiss her concerns, Professor Jackson turns to her former student, Fortune Morrow, for help.  

The Two-Body Problem

 April: Mary-Alice is thrilled to be invited into an investigation into a series of disappearances in Upstate New York. but by the time she arrives at the forbidding Kilmer House where she will spend the night, she realizes she may be in over her head.  Black Widow Valley

Black Widow Valley

 May:  Mahina State’s fundraising office tasks Professor Molly to serve as the personal tutierge (that’s tutor-concierge) to Jeremy Brigham, whose mother happens to be fabulously wealthy and gravely ill. But once inside the Brigham House, the pregnant Professor Molly realizes something is very wrong. Now she has to decide whether to mind her own business, or risk everything to prevent a murder.  

Mother’s Day

June:  When a young woman vanishes from a roadside motel, Mary-Alice and the gang leave Sinful and head across the border to find her. They soon discover that the unprepossessing McCully Inn holds some Texas-sized secrets.  

The No-Tell Motel

July’s novella is Vampire Billionaire of the Bayou.

The Sinful Ladies’ Detective Agency has just scored a cushy gig: Doing surveillance for a businessman who claims business rivals are after his trade secrets. But just as Fortune, Gertie, Ida Belle, and Mary-Alice are deciding how to spend their easy money, the unthinkable happens.

The Sinful Ladies team up with Sheriff Robert E. Lee, who wants to prove he’s not quite ready for the glue factory. Together, they discover that a bizarre death in a haunted plantation house is far from the strangest thing about this case.

In this modern adaptation of the classic tale The Circular Study, the Sinful ladies encounter ghostly rumors, an unspeakable family secret, and a strangely ageless corpse with a cross draped over his chest.

$1.99 on Kindle

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A New Resort to Murder Mystery (with giveaway and author interview): ICED by Avery Daniels

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Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime.

She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who knows what’s best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn’t understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice.

Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?

Interview with Avery Daniels

Avery, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell us something about Julienne, the protagonist of Iced?

Julienne LaMere, or Julie for short, lost her mother to Breast Cancer as a young teen. Her father, who made good money and is retired in Florida now, wants to see her married to a well-to-do man and living a country club life and providing grandchildren for him to spoil – not working for a living. Julienne still misses her mother deeply and works at a luxury resort in a management-training program because this is her ticket to live and work around the world. She has wanderlust and doesn’t want to live in just one place, and not just vacation and sightsee exotic locations – but live there. She has many posters and books about resorts everywhere and this is her dream career. The series will follow her to resorts. As for providing grandchildren for her father to spoil, she isn’t inclined towards that either.

How much are you like Julienne? 

I took clarinet lessons as an adult and am nowhere near as good as Julienne who is symphony quality. The townhome complex where Julienne lives is loosely inspired by where I live. Her French heritage is perhaps my wishing I had grown up with more of the French culture from my great-great grandmother who came to America from the Alsace-Lorraine area of France, but sadly didn’t pass down any of the culture or language. I took French in high school and college and in 2010 finally got to travel to Paris for ten days. I was in Notre Dame Cathedral Christmas day and spent an entire day at the Louvre, but only made it through about 65% of the museum.

I think Julienne and I would be friends. She enjoys people, which makes her good at her job. She is a loyal friend, as we find out in this first book in the series.

Will your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

Absolutely. Even in this first book we see Julienne face some issues left from her mother’s passing when she was an impressionable teen and how it has impacted her romantic relationships.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

It is a joke among mystery authors and considered therapeutic. I am planning on getting the t-shirt that says “I’m a writer. Be careful or I may kill you in my next book.” Yes, such a shirt already exists. But seriously, only after the last bad relationship breakup have I considered it. Friends joke about how they can guess who the victim is in some future book.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

The setting in Iced, the first of the Resort to Murder series, is a large mountain resort in Colorado Springs. It is inspired by the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort. I have taken only a few liberties and changed the name to be the Colorado Springs Resort. This stunning and glamorous resort is in my backyard and I grew up visiting the grounds. The lake was open to the public to feed the ducks and walk around, but it has since been closed off. The Broadmoor has many shops and is still open to the public, you just have to go through the hotel to access the lake currently.

For the next book in the series, Nailed, I am planning on using the Sonnenalp Hotel, a five star Bavarian style resort in Vail, as the setting. I will sadly be forced to go visit for research. I may have to fudge a few details to work the plot though – they will be snow bound for a few days!

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

I always envisioned Julienne as Connie Seleca in her twenties – I’m not sure of a similar looking actress today. Suggestions? For Mason, I describe him in the book as a cross between a young Hugh Jackman and Aidan Turner (Poldark Actor). For the movie or TV series I can go with Aidan Turner, twist my arm.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

That is a tough question. I have taken writing classes that focus on everything from plot development, character development and arcs, sizzling dialog, description and setting, theme, and on and on…but the best advice is to look at what I love in the books I read now (which every successful author reads a lot.) Not to copycat, but to learn from those authors. How do they pace and build the suspense, draw out the tension between romantic interests, drop the subtle clues of the murderer?

The worst advice is not to worry about details or editing, yes some out there think that it ruins the creative flow captured in your first draft. Another worst piece of advice is to have anybody you know (whether they know and like the genre you are writing) to be beta readers or critique partners and work to please them. I am fortunate to have two great critique partners who understand the cozy mystery genre and give constructive insights, then leave the rest to me.

About The Author

Avery Daniels was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life.  Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units (plenty of fodder for stories there!).  She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her loving companions.  She volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic.  She inherited a love for reading from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books and history at the dinner table.  Her first try at writing a fully developed story was as a teen was a tale of a girl trying to nurse a fawn back to health and then release it into the wild again.  She is plotting her next Resort to Murder novel and struggling over which Colorado resort should be her setting.

Author Links

Web – Avery-Daniels.com

Facebook –   https://www.facebook.com/AveryDanielsAuthor

GoodReads –   https://www.goodreads.com/Avery-Daniels

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A Margin of Lust (The Seven Deadly Sins) by Greta Boris

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Gwen Bishop, wife, mother, and struggling real estate agent, has two big fears: claustrophobia and being buried in suburban obscurity. When she signs her dream listing, a multi-million dollar beachfront property in Laguna Beach, California, she’s sure her problems are behind her. And they would be, if it wasn’t for the secret in the basement and the body in an upstairs bedroom.

When the crime scene tape comes down, Gwen enlists the aid of a handsome co-worker with a background in construction to help her ready the house for sale and bolster her flagging courage. But every time they’re ready to put it back on the market, something goes horribly wrong. She must face old fears and new ones, temptations and buried truths. Gwen is determined to sell the dream house—or die trying.

Author Interview

Greta, welcome to Island Confidential and congratulations on A Margin of Lust. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist? 

Gwen Bishop is the mother of three school aged kids, the wife of a Lutheran School Principal and a real estate agent. She was a stay-at-home mother until her youngest started full days at the Lutheran school and has only been back in the work force for about three years when the book opens.

Gwen’s a type A personality. The lust she struggles with is primarily for prestige and financial success. Although she is attracted to one of her co-workers, that’s not the kind of lust that defines her. Her greatest fears are claustrophobia and being buried in suburban obscurity.

Hmm…Greta and “Gwen” are not dissimilar names. Coincidence? How much are you like Gwen?

Gwen’s degree was in Performing Arts, and she’d planned to be an actor. She gave up that dream when she married Art. My second major was also Drama and that was my plan. She has a conversation with her husband, then fiance, in which he tells her he just couldn’t stand watching her do love scenes with other men. That scene was pretty true to my life. My husband, then fiance, told me he didn’t think he could be married to an actor for the same reason.

Other than that, Gwen and I aren’t much alike. She’s much more driven than I am, has a much hotter temper, and she’s more impulsive. I would love to hang out with her. Despite her flaws, she has a big heart, good sense of humor, and I think she’s interesting.

Will your characters change and evolve throughout the series?

Each of the stories in my series has (will have) a different protagonist. The main character’s story will have the strongest arc. However, many characters make appearances in several, if not all, the books. Olivia, who is the mother of one of Art’s students in book one, is the main character in the second book in the series, The Scent of Wrath, out this December. Art plays a small role in that book as well.

I do try to add some hints about what’s happened in character’s lives between stories if it fits. For instance, I left some of the marriage issues between Gwen and Art a bit open-ended at the end of A Margin of Lust, but fill in some of those details in The Scent of Wrath.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

I’ve joked about it frequently, but no, not really. I don’t like readers to get too attached to my victims, so the victims are either very minor characters, or the crimes happen off set. I don’t like to read stories that are too horrifying or too sad, so I don’t write them. However, there are personality traits that annoy me and I do build characters with those traits into the stories. Maybe I’ll kill one someday, you never know.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

By and large the settings are real. A Margin of Lust is set primarily in Laguna Beach, California. The street names are real and I try to give a sense of the place. The house where many of the crimes happen is completely fictional. There are no homes in Laguna that have basements created from a warren of caves tunneling into the cliffs. But how cool would it be if there was!

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

A: Oh, that’s hard. I know a lot of writers have actors in their heads as they write, but I see my characters as unique people. I guess I’d cast Connie Britton, the actor who plays the mother in Friday Night Lights, as Gwen, Liam Neeson as Art, and Ryan Gosling as Lance.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

The worst advice I’ve gotten is all the “rule” stuff, like never use adverbs, or don’t spend time on settings or descriptions, or never use any dialogue tag but “said.” While too much of a good thing is like too much icing on a cake, it’s still nice to have some icing. I find when I focus on what you’re not supposed to do, it inhibits my writing. I’d rather go back and cut if I’ve overdone things than get myself all tied in knots afraid to put a word on the page.

The best advice I’ve gotten is to be persistent. Every author you’ve ever read received tons of rejection before they got a publishing contract. Every New York Times bestselling author has hundreds of one star reviews. You just have to put your head down, write the next story and hope each is better than the last.

About the Author

Greta Boris is the author of the 2017 releases, A Margin of Lust and The Scent of Wrath, the first two books in her 7 Deadly Sins domestic suspense series. She’s also the Director of O.C. Writers, a community of over 800 published and aspiring authors in Orange County, California.

She’s published articles on culture, health, and entertainment for a variety of national magazines including Victorian Homes, Zombies, 50 Scariest Movies, Exodus, and Women of the Bible. She’s also the author of the Amazon Kindle Bestseller The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Sip, Savor, and Strengthen for a Healthier Life.

You can visit her at http://gretaboris.com. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno

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New Quilting Mystery and character interview: Knot What You Think

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The newest member of Martha’s close-knit quilting circle has an eye for couture. But when the designer’s fingerprints are found blanketing a crime scene, Martha must prove that he didn’t have a hand in homicide!

Martha Rose is alarmed by the discovery of Dolleen Doyle’s dead body, especially when evidence suggests a fellow quilter committed the crime. Set on clearing her pal, Martha searches for answers—but with ties to a convicted fraudster’s stolen millions and a secret office room, the victim’s past raises even more questions. As Martha inches towards the culprit, she learns that wrapping the case up—and living to baste another square—will be trickier than she ever imagined . . .

Character Interview with Yossi Levy

Aloha Yossi, and thank you for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

YL: My name is Yossi Levy, but my friends all call me Crusher. I got that name because of some undercover work I did in the ATF. A paramilitary group was planning to blow up the Federal building on Wilshire Boulevard in LA. They used a construction company as cover. Anyway, I managed to infiltrate. My job was to operate a big machine that crushed rocks into gravel, and the name stuck.

I met my girlfriend Martha Rose while I was running an op out of a bike shop in Reseda, posing as the leader of the Valley Eagles biker gang.  We were after some local skells selling stolen military ordinance to terrorists overseas. We were so dark, even the LAPD didn’t know who we were.

A civilian who was doing some technical work for us got accused of murder. Martha was his neighbor. That’s how I met her.

Who’s the character you get along with the best?

YL: You know, I’d like to say Martha, but the truth is, she’s hard to pin down. I want to get married, but she’s afraid to commit. The guy I really like is her Uncle Isaac. He’s an 80-year-old scholar.

I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in New York, and although I’m not strictly observant anymore, I still keep a lot of the traditions.  I didn’t go to public school. I studied in a private Yeshiva. That’s a school which focuses on learning Jewish sacred texts. I loved that stuff. Now I look forward to discussions with Isaac when we celebrate the Sabbath together.

Which other character do you have a conflict with? 

YL: Are you kidding? Beavers! LAPD Detective Arlo Beavers. He was Martha’s boyfriend when I first met her. Then he cheated on her. That’s when I saw my chance and took it. The dude still comes sniffing around, hoping to win her back. But I can’t blame him. Martha is one sassy woman; smart and sexy.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

YL: Mary Marks? She’s one spunky old gal. She didn’t publish her first book until she was 70 years old. Now she’s 74 and publishing her fifth murder mystery. One word for her is eccentric. She used to have gray hair. Now it’s turquoise and purple. She also pierced her nostril. And, I hear she plans to go skydiving on her 75th birthday.

What’s next for you?

Well, I’m staying in the ATF for now. And I really want to get married. I’ll just have to wait until Martha is convinced I won’t abandon her. Isaac is helping me with that. 

About the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program.

Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011. She is currently a reviewer of cozy mysteries for The New York Journal of Books at www.nyjournalofbooks.com.

Readers can visit her at www.marymarksmysteries.com and https://www.facebook.com/mmarks2013

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New Cat Cafe Mystery: Cat About Town by Cate Conte

The first novel in a frisky new mystery series set in a small New England town, where an unlikely citizen is called in to solve the purrfect crime. . .

Maddie James has arrived in Daybreak Island, just off the coast of Massachusetts, eager to settle down and start her own business—and maybe even fall in love. When a stray orange tabby pounces into her life, she’s inspired to open a cat café. But little does Maddie know that she’s in for something a lot more catastrophic when her new furry companion finds the dead body of the town bully. Now all eyes are on Maddie: Who is this crazy cat-whisperer lady who’s come to town? If pet-hair-maintenance and crime-fighting weren’t keeping her busy enough, Maddie now has not one but two eligible bachelors who think she’s the cat’s pajamas . . . and will do anything to win her heart. But how can she even think about happily-ever-after while a killer remains on the loose—and on her path?

Maddie, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? 

Thanks for having me! I’m Maddie James, and I’ve just returned to Daybreak Island, where I grew up. My grandma just died, and my grandpa Leo needs me. But that’s nothing new – my family thinks I’m their own personal Dear Abby. You readers may pick this up as you start reading the series, but they all really love it when I solve their problems. Even when I was out west, it was inevitable – once a week I’d get a call from someone with a crisis to handle or problem to solve. Like the time my dad needed talking points written for an event he was attending and his assistant couldn’t do it. Then my sister Sam called me from the hairdresser’s chair once to ask me how many inches she should get cut off her hair! I mean, seriously. I’m not sure what any of them would do if I got hit by a bus.

Which character do you get along with the best?

Aside from JJ the stray cat I picked up? My best friend Becky. We’ve known each other since we were kids, when I was a burgeoning entrepreneur and she was dreaming of being editor of the Daybreak Island Chronicle. We stayed friends throughout my travels west, and now that we’ve both reached our goals and I’m back in town, we’re just picking up where we left off. She’s my voice of logic, my sounding board—and my main source of news, both on and off the record.

Which other character do you have a conflict with?

Officer Craig Tomlin, my high school boyfriend. It’s an interesting conflict—neither of us will admit it’s really a conflict! First he’s in the uncomfortable position of having to interview my grandpa – his former boss! – in a murder. To make it worse, I think he’s thinking we can rekindle our romance. I’m not sure I want that, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings. It’s kind of a dilemma.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

Ha! Love this. She needs to write faster! I have so many more stories to tell and adventures to have. And she needs to stop procrastinating too. I’ve heard that’s her worst habit…

What’s next for you?

I’ve got to get the cat cafe up and running! That’s if I decide to stay on the island…Keep reading, though. I assure you JJ and I will have plenty more adventures to tell you about.

About The Author

Cate Conte is the alter ego of Liz Mugavero. Liz is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series from Kensington Books, the first of which was an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She currently lives in Connecticut.

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New from Maggie Toussaint: Dadgummit

>>>Enter to win  your choice of book from Maggie Toussaint’s Backlist <<<

Amateur sleuth Baxley Powell is on vacation at Stony Creek Lake in the north Georgia mountains. Her parents, best friend, and ten-year-old daughter are camping with her. Almost immediately, a young man’s body is found beside the lake. Strangely, there’s no apparent cause of death. The local police have heard about Baxley’s skill at closing unusual cases, and at their urging she agrees to help.


Her psychic sleuthing leads the police to a halfway house. There they encounter eight comatose victims and an odd man named Jonas, who also has supernatural abilities. Baxley senses Jonas cruelly drained their life force energy. Jonas escapes, taking the sheriff as a hostage. Deputy Sam Mayes, a Native American, leads the manhunt, and he keeps Baxley close, knowing she’s the key to capturing this powerful criminal.

Baxley’s paranormal talent of dreamwalking, which she uses to traverse the veil of life, draws the unwanted attention of beings believed to be Cherokee folklore. Jonas stole a treasured artifact from them, and they want it back. They hold Baxley’s best friend and two others because they know Baxley can help them. As the clock ticks, Jonas taunts this crime-fighting duo and proves to be a wily adversary.

With the body count rising, Baxley and Mayes realize they are up against an entity who appears to be invincible. Do they have the power to subdue an energy vampire, turn the tide of evil, and save the day?

Death and taxes are not certain
By Maggie Toussaint

Psst. I have news.
My amateur sleuth Baxley Powell became a widow when the army declared Roland, her soldier husband, dead a few years ago. The trouble is Baxley doesn’t believe them. After all, a wife would know if her guy was gone, and she more than most.
Baxley’s dreamwalker talents allow her to search for spirits among the dead. She’s looked and looked, but Roland’s not in the afterlife. Since he isn’t dead, she concludes he must be alive. But where? And why isn’t he coming home to her and their ten year old daughter Larissa?
That uncertainty and lack of closure haunts her days and nights. A few guys ask her out after she legally became a widow by she refuses them. She can’t possibly date anyone when there is a chance Roland lived.
Meanwhile, her days are full of caring for pets and plants, raising Larissa, dreamwalking, and police consulting. With summer drawing to a close, her entire family goes camping in the Georgia Mountains.
Two very different and very troubling things occur once a young man is found dead of no apparent means, and Baxley is asked to consult on the case. First, she’s paired with Deputy Sam Mayes, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. Second, they are kidnapped by entities straight out of myths and legends. Both encounters rattle the foundations of Baxley’s world.
Sam Mayes, in addition to being ruggedly handsome and a rock solid cop, is another dreamwalker. He understands the challenges Baxley faces as she seeks justice for the dead using her extra abilities. In essence, he speaks her language.
Their kidnappers are known to Mayes. He’s visited the Nunne’hi before, seeking wisdom. This time though the Nunne’hi have their own agenda. They expect Baxley to contact her Other World mentor who will then punish the man who stole a precious artifact from them. To ensure her cooperation, they keep several adults, including Baxley’s best friend, hostage.
While these actions are upsetting on several levels, Baxley is exposed to the concept of multiple realms between the living and the dead. It occurs to her that her missing husband could somehow be trapped in an interim realm, and she renews her pledge to find and rescue him.
As the case wraps up in the Georgia Mountains, Baxley realizes she enjoys working with Mayes. She isn’t ready to say goodbye. Turns out, he feels the same way. Mayes makes it known that he wants to date her, and when she declines a romantic relationship, he says he’ll be her friend instead.
Death and taxes aren’t certainties in Baxley Powell’s world. The only certainty in her world is change. Things continue to change, no matter what she does. These changes seem to be for the good. She has a new idea about where to search for her missing husband and another powerful dreamwalker to help her.
For more about Baxley’s adventures camping in the mountains, check out Dadgummit, book 4 of the Dreamwalker Mystery Series.

About The Author  

Formerly a contract scientist for the U.S. Army and a freelance reporter, mystery and suspense author Maggie Toussaint has thirteen published books. Her recent mystery releases include Gone and Done It, Bubba Done It, Death, Island Style, and Dime If I Know. Her latest mystery, Doggone It, is Book Three in her dreamwalker series about a psychic sleuth.

Maggie won the Silver Falchion Award for Best Cozy/Traditional Mystery. Additionally, she won a National Readers’ Choice Award and an EPIC Award for Best Romantic Suspense. She was twice nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award and finaled in the Beacon and the Readers’ Crown Contest.

Maggie lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com.

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From Cake Wrecks: Kawaii Cakes

Yesterday, we introduced a new bakery-themed mystery series from R.L. Syme.
Since I’m in no hurry to leave the topic of sweets, here is a post from the archives of Cake Wrecks. Enjoy!

“Kawaii” is the Japanese word for “cute” – used as both an adjective and a noun – but it’s much more than that. It’s a style, a culture, a land of lollipop dreams and squishy pastel hugs and everything sweet and squee-worthy.

Like this!

(By Cottontail Cake Studio)

Cuteness overload! I love the upside-down ice cream cone (with the penguin playing in the melted cream!), and the raccoon popping out of the cupcake. And don’t think I didn’t notice the unicorn farting out that rainbow on the right. Ha!

Kawaii likes to put cute little faces on inanimate objects, and I think you’ll find most everything is improved by this:

(By Sugar Canvas)

There’s also a huge emphasis on desserts, because sweet-looking sweets are pretty much the epitome of cute.

(By Torta Couture Cakes)

Also, macarons. SO MANY MACARONS.

(By Catherine Beddall)

And so not complaining.

Then there are Kawaii animals and characters, which can be just about anything:

(By Whipped Bakeshop)

Happy whale, anyone?

Pusheen the cat is popular, since she’s pretty much Kawaii to begin with:

(By The Cakecuppery)

But you can make almost anything or anyone Kawaii, including – hold on to your hot dogs – Slimer from Ghostbusters:

(By Syliva Castaneda)

Adorable little spud, isn’t he?

(Leave it to me to work Ghostbusters into a Kawaii post. Where there’s a geek, there’s a way.)

Or how about some prickly little cacti?

(By Sugar High)

Those colors are perfect together – I love the orange!

Rilakkuma is a popular teddy bear in Japan, and you’ll see him a lot in Kawaii designs. Here he is with an enormous cupcake… of himself:

(By Artisan Cakes by E.T.)


And finally, as if cuteness and cake weren’t enough, let’s bring in one more of my favorite things:

(By C For Cupcakes)

Ermergersh, I’m melting! Just like the Pooh bear and Aurora ice cream cones. And look at little Mike stacked on Sully! Ah! Squeeing forever.

Hope you guys enjoyed the cute! Happy Sunday!


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

from Cake Wrecks http://bit.ly/2pTs7p6

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A Delicious New Mystery Series from NYT Bestseller R.L. Syme

>>> Win a 15-piece macaron collection <<<

Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where the undead consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh.

But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.

So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.

Forced into the role of investigator, this new-in-town bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a dating debacle brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find the who-dun-it.

Book One in a cozy culinary mystery series from USA Today Bestselling Author, R.L. Syme.

Rebecca, welcome to Island Confidential, and congratulations on your new series! Can  you tell us about your protagonist? She’s had an unusual career path, hasn’t she?

Vangie Vale is an exiled pastor who opens a bakery in the town she moves to, because there isn’t a bakery there, and she loves to bake. She also needs an income, since she’s only working a few hours a week at the church that agreed to take her. Very smart, but very curious.

How much do you and Vangie have in common?

I don’t think Vangie is me at all—she’s way cooler than I am. But both my mom and my best friend think she’s me. So apparently, I didn’t do as good a job of making her not-me as I thought.  But I think I’d love to hang out with her if I knew her. We’d watch Sherlock together.

Will Vangie change throughout the series?

Vangie definitely evolves through this series. In fact, in a lot of ways, her arc is the whole series. She keeps solving these mysteries, but the reality is, every one is changing her just a little.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean? 

Oh, like, writing someone into my book? Yeah, I definitely did that in a previous book. Not that I killed someone I knew, but that I wrote them. It wasn’t at all as cathartic as I thought it would be. But every book is a little bit of catharsis for me, too.

That sound interesting–maybe I’ll be able to talk you into doing a guest post on revenge-writing sometime! So how realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

My setting is very realistic. In fact, I’m pretty unapologetic about the fact that these little Montana towns are all based on very real places. I’ve lived in Montana a good portion of my life, so I feel like I know it.  It helps me to be able to write the place with some reality.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

Mandy Moore would be Vangie Vale.

Kevin McKidd would be Malcolm Dean. Leo would be Theo James. Henry would be James Norton. Derek would be Jason Momoa. Emma would be Drew Barrymore. Clearly, I’ve thought about this.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

Oh, that’s a great question. I think the best advice was “you can’t edit a blank page.” Nora Roberts is famous for saying that, and she’s so right. I’ve heard a lot of bad advice in my day, and I’ve probably given a fair share of it myself. But I find that most bad advice is at least well-meaning, even if it’s still bad.

About The Author

Rebecca Syme writes small town romance as Becca Boyd and cozy mystery as R.L. Syme. She is a long-time foodie and loves fancy cheese. Becca calls the mountains of Montana her home and draws inspiration from the beautiful vistas and heartwarming people. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Line of Fire series of sweet romances and part of the Chick Tales series set in Somewhere, TX. You can find her on Twitter talking #fancycheese or #Chopped, and on Facebook with her fans in Becca Nation.

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