MAY & JUNE STAFF PICK

 

Like your ever-changing favorite Beatles song (Sun King), you go through phases with book genres. Maybe you love to read cozy mysteries? Well, one day you’ll probably find (after your 150th cozy mystery in a few month span) that you want to move on to another genre…and then you get absorbed in historical romances…until you inevitably find you want to try something else for a while. This happened to me with contemporary romances. I read so many great ones from some of the best authors out there—Jill Shalvis, Stacy Finz, Marina Adair, Jaci Burton—and one day I found that I didn’t want to read about finding love in adorable small towns anymore. I wanted to read about people with twisted minds who lived in London or Dublin…or some other wonderfully European locale where it seems that authors find plenty of inspiration for dark, sinister plots.

This was where I found myself when people in the office first started talking about Don’t Call Me Cupcake. They were LOVING it, and it seemed I kept hearing about what a fun book it was at every meeting I found myself in. I had to admit that the cover was adorable…and certainly left me wanting to make a quick trip to the bakery for a real life cupcake, and not just the perfectly pictured ones I was staring at underneath the kissing couple. Then someone mentioned that the book had magic in it. I had to admit that initially this made me question my interest…I didn’t think I would want a side of magic with my sweet, small town and creep of an ex-boyfriend showing up to try and reclaim our beautiful heroine now that she’d found her Mr. Right. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the only thing that could make a cupcake sweeter would be to have a special spell baked into it. One that might make the snacker happy or successful…or even fall in love.

So, I grabbed my copy of Don’t Call Me Cupcake, and immediately all the reasons I love contemporary romance came flooding back. The laughter, the tears…the inevitable happy ending. But the real question is, how will the author possibly get us there? After all, he’s afraid to commit—and he’s not staying in this small harbor town. And she just might lose her bakery thanks to his fancy new waterfront restaurant. Grab your copy and I can promise there will be plenty of magic and sweet treats along the way…so get yourself a cupcake (or a large slice of cake with plenty of frosting) and curl up with the debut from Tara Sheets. I’m totally back to my contemporary romance roots now—and I can’t wait to get my early copy of Don’t Touch My Petunia so I can catch up with Pine Cove Island again. After all, it’s my new favorite small town.

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Maybe it’s because my name starts with an M, but I’ve always been drawn to words that start with the letter M. Words like magick, mayhem, mystery, murder . . .

Those special M-words are at the heart of the Abracadabra Mystery Series, written by Sharon Pape. The newest entry (Book Three in the series) comes out in May (an M-month!) and is sure to bring plenty of merriment to cozy mystery fans.

The protagonist, Kailyn Wilde, is a third-generation witch with a feline familiar named Sashkatu, and the ghosts of her mother and grandmother to guide her. Then there’s the legendary wizard, Merlin (another M-name!), who’s landed in her potions shop through a time warp caused by a spell that went wrong.  When a journalist dies under suspicious circumstances, Kailyn and her cohorts band together to solve a murder and unmask a ruthless killer.  It’s all great fun with lots of twists and surprises. You might even say it’s magickal, mysterious, and marvelous!

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What better way to battle New York’s relentless winter weather, not to mention an overcrowded subway commute across boroughs, than with an oh-so-sweet, cupcake-themed romance!

DON’T CALL ME CUPCAKE by Tara Sheets is an absolutely adorable contemporary romance set in a Pacific Northwest cupcake shop. The twist? Shop owner Emma Holloway can infuse emotions into her delicious treats. Armed with her gift of spellbinding baking, Emma and her sassy cousin Juliette must whip up the perfect spell to win their town’s annual summer festival contract and make her handsome rival, Hunter Kane, leave forever. What I really loved about this story is that author Tara Sheets weaved whimsy and humor into the character of Emma while retaining her sense of self. Emma is strong, confidant, and knows what she wants. While the character would feel right at home in any early-aught rom-com, she is far from a “cool girl” or “ manic pixie dream girl” trope. Moreover, DON’T CALL ME CUPCAKE is the first book in Sheet’s new The Holloway Girls romance series, so there’s plenty more to come!

DON’T CALL ME CUPCAKE by Tara Sheets is on sale April 24th anywhere books are sold.

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I recently told Jeffe Kennedy that my idea of the highest praise and recommendation I can give a novel is to say it made me cry. To have fictional characters in a fictional world be written so elegantly, so multi-dimensionally that you feel emotions on their behalf is surely the work of an amazing author. So, let me tell you all – Prisoner of the Crown made me cry, openly and in public. It also made me laugh, made me hold my breath and sit on the edge of my seat, and made me want to immediately tear my way through every novel Jeffe has ever written.

Prisoner of the Crown is the first book in the new Chronicles of Dasnaria series, a high fantasy set in the same world as Jeffe’s previous two series, The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. Prisoner centers around Her Imperial Highness Princess Jenna, the eldest daughter of the emperor of Dasnaria. And while Jenna has never wanted for anything in her life, she has no idea just how many limitations have been placed on her – in Dasnaria a woman’s place is to serve and to provide, to be seen only briefly and heard even less, to be nothing more than a prize pearl for an advantageous husband. But Jenna’s new husband, while a powerful political ally, is vicious and sadistic. She knows she has to escape from his tyrannical control, but Jenna hardly knows where to begin – she’s never even been outside…

Prisoner of the Crown is a bold and timely story about a young woman desperate to free herself from an oppressive and cruel society. Jenna stands out as a heroine the reader can’t help but feel deeply for as she navigates delicate political relationships, a complicated family, and a terrifying new world. Fans of Jeffe’s previous series absolutely have to pick up Prisoner, and adult readers of The Queen of the Tearling and Throne of Glass should familiarize themselves with this amazing author ASAP. Sorry in advance that you’ll have to wait until September for the next book.

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I first met Penny Richards at the beginning of both of our careers. Her creativity and talent awed me then and continues to do so. When I moved to Kensington, Penny called me and said: “I have an idea about a heroine who is a Pinkerton Agent.” Penny had thoroughly researched the agency, and the fact that they employed women detectives, something that was highly unusual in the 1880s.

And so Lilly Long was born—a heroine who was a Shakespearean actress, but wanted more out of life. She wanted to help women who had been wronged, as she herself had been wronged. The first Lilly Long Mystery was the case of a missing pastor and his family. Lilly won my heart with her courageous actions to solve that heartbreaking mystery. Then she travelled to New Orleans in THOUGH THIS BE MADNESS—posing, with her partner, Cade McShane, as a married couple, going undercover as servants for a wealthy family being fleeced by two no-good conmen.
That brings us to MURDER WILL SPEAK, Lilly Long and Cade McShane’s third case—set in the bordellos of Fort Worth, Texas—truly the Wild West. What she finds there shocks even Lilly and her hardened partner.

I loved all three of the Lilly Long Mysteries—each one building upon Lilly’s fame. And I’m so delighted that I had the opportunity to work with the wonderful writer, Penny Richards, again on such a compelling series!

Feel free to visit Penny at www.pennyrichardswrites.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Penny-Richards-Author, and follow her at twitter.com/pennyRwrites.

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