Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sleuthing Women II by Lois Winston, et al | Blog Tour with Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway

Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas
by Lois Winston, Allison Brennan, Laura Griffin, Maggie Toussaint, Jonnie Jacobs,
Camille Minichino, Heather Haven, Vinnie Hansen, Mary Kennedy, Rita Lakin, and Judy Alter

Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas
Genre: Cozy Mysteries
Self Published
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Print Length: 675 pages
e-Book File Size: 2232 KB
e-ISBN: 9781940795409
 Add to Goodreads

The Blurbs

Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is a collection of ten mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novella is a tie-in to an established multi-book series — a total of over 800 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, cozy, and female P.I. mysteries.

Frosted, A Moreno & Hart Novella by Allison Brennan & Laura Griffin — Three years ago LAPD Detective Scarlet Moreno and rookie cop Krista Hart were nearly killed during a botched sting operation. Now, they’re best friends and partners in the Orange County private investigation firm of Moreno & Hart. But their routine assignments are anything but safe. 

Crewel Intentions, An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Novella by Lois Winston — Craft editor Anastasia Pollack receives a desperate call for help from former fashion editor Erica Milano, now in Witness Protection. Erica is being stalked and is afraid to notify the authorities. She once saved Anastasia’s life. Will Anastasia be able to return the favor before the stalker strikes? 

No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint — Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns? 

What the Widow Knew, A Kali-O’Brien Novella by Jonnie Jacobs — Attorney Kali O’Brien takes on the case of a young woman accused of murdering her much older, very rich husband. As evidence mounts and other possible suspects are eliminated, Kali’s doubts about her client’s innocence grow. Meanwhile, Kali is also grappling with her feelings for longtime boyfriend Detective Bryce Keating. 

The Magnesium Murder, A Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino — While freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent prepares the body of a young bride-to-be, she learns the girl’s mother suspects foul play. Once again Anastasia is pressed into service as a sleuth, following a trail of clues in search of a murderer and justice. 

Honeymoons Can Be Murder, A Lee Alvarez Novella by Heather Haven — When PI Lee Alvarez goes on her honeymoon with bridegroom, Gurn Hanson, they find a dead woman practically on their doorstep. Kauai breezes may be soft, but there are gale force winds of accusation against Gurn. Will Lee find the real killer before her new hubby gets sent to a Hawaiian hoosegow? 

Smoked Meat, A Carol Sabala Novella by Vinnie Hansen — Baker and wannabe sleuth Carol Sabala visits her mother for a family Christmas get-together. It’s murder, in more ways than one. 

A Deadly Fundraiser, A Talk Radio Novella by Mary Kennedy — When radio talk show host Dr. Maggie Walsh and her pals start digging up clues in a scavenger hunt at a glitzy fundraiser, the game suddenly turns deadly. Will Maggie and her team be able to crack the case and solve the crime? 

The Color of Fear. A Kelly O’Connell Novella by Judy Alter — Kelly receives a written kidnap threat targeting her infant daughter, Gracie. Kelly’s assistant Keisha narrates as Kelly and her family plot their precautions, but as time passes and the threat still looms, fear takes a toll on the family… and on Keisha. 

Papa’s Ghost, A Gladdy Gold Mystery Novella by Rita Lakin — Gladdy and her girls accept an assignment iat a famous resort in Key West, thinking it will combine business with pleasure. Once they arrive, Gladdy suspects something is strange. Not only is their client an unexpected shock, but so is the case of murder they are expected to solve. Can they succeed when a whole city is against them? 

Some explicit language in a few of the stories.

The Reviews

I just read two of the novellas included in the mystery anthology Sleuthing Women II, y'all — Crewel Intentions by Lois Winston and No Quarter by Maggie Toussaint. Let me tell you a little about them.

Crewel Intentions by Lois Winston is part of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. I've read the entire series — five books and three novellas, all five-star reads. (I will be reviewing the next book, Scrapbook of Murder, on 11-10-17.) In Crewel Intentions, Anastasia visits  her former co-worker (and Mafia Princess) Erica Milano, to help Erica with a stalker. Erica's now in Witness Protection, with a new identity, and living in Pennsylvania — and she's not supposed to contact anyone from her past. (If you're curious about why Erica's in Witness Protection, I highly recommend Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, Book One in the series.) 

I enjoyed reading (well, re-reading actually) about Anastasia's sleuthing adventures in Oakmont, PA. Erica has received multiple, anonymous gifts — embroidery, on old cloth, and cards, on old paper — and thinks she's being targeted by someone she helped convict (in Book One). Anastasia wants to find the source of the old embroidery and cards, She investigates  in Oakmont with Erica's assistance, since it's Erica's new home turf, and unfamiliar territory to Anastasia. I especially liked the ending — sweet and poignant. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Crewel Intentions, and recommend it to all fans of cozy mysteries. I know it will have special appeal to fans of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and Lois Winston's other books, and to those who practice or admire the needle arts.

I absolutely love Crewel Intentions by Lois Winston, and hereby grant it our highest rating of Five Kitties! 
Five out of five kitties
Note: I received an advance review copy of Crewel Intentions,
and voluntarily reviewed it. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

No Quarter by Maggie Toussaint is part of the Cleopatra Jones Mystery series, a new-to-me series. I love Maggie's Dreamwalker series, though, so I suspected this novella would appeal to me. I was right! And it can definitely be read as a standalone. Since the novella begins with Cleo having amnesia, as she re-learns people's names and other facts, the new reader learns about Cleo too.

I delighted in getting to know Cleo in No Quarter. Cleo's transitions  from an amnesiac Jane Doe, to a person-of-interest in a murder, to a person-of-interest of another sort — make the novella fun and interesting. I like how the detective accepts the sleuthing insights that Cleo has, instead of discounting them as you find in some cozies. There's an exciting action scene, where Cleo saves the day. She is integral in solving the big case, also.

Maxie insisted that I include this snippet of conversation between Cleo and Detective Jack Martinez, about having kids. You'll see why.
...I asked if he had kids.
He snorted. "Not exactly."
He didn't know if he had kids? That didn't sit right with me. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"No two-legged kids. That I'm sure of, but the guys tease me about the cats all the time." 
He'd been teasing. I relaxed my guard. The thought of this brawny man with cats tickled me. "You have cats?"
"Inherited them when my mom went into a nursing home a year ago. She didn't make it out, and now I'm the humble servant of two Manx cats."
I look forward to reading all about Cleo in her earlier adventures. For more about Cleo, read the Guest Post below, by Maggie Toussaint.

I thoroughly enjoyed No Quarter, and recommend it to all fans of cozy mysteries. I thing it will have special appeal to fans of the rest of the Cleopatra Jones Mysteries, to fans of Maggie Toussaint's other books, and to accountants everywhere.

I absolutely love No Quarter by Maggie Toussaint, and hereby grant it our highest rating of Five Kitties! 

Five out of five kitties
Note: I received an advance review copy of No Quarter,
and voluntarily reviewed it. All opinions shared are 100% my own.

The Guest Post

The Cleo-ness of it all

Did you ever have to pick between two favorite desserts? It isn’t easy because you love them both. That happened to me with mystery series. My first series, Cleopatra Jones, was perking along just fine, but other stories demanded to be told. After three Cleo books, I gave in to the pressure.

Wouldn’t you know my fickle Muse took delight in having so much creative freedom? She wouldn’t let me alone until I wrote two standalones, a futuristic mystery series (Guardian of Earth series), and a paranormal series (Dreamwalker Series).

Underneath all of that creative chatter, the steady beat of Cleopatra Jones, accountant and amateur sleuth, remained. Fans clamored for more. Cleo clamored for more. But the cozy mystery paradigm shifted on its axis in 2016. Entire lines of mysteries got the ax, including mine. To weather that publishing storm, I combined forces with other authors in a first-in-series cozy mystery anthology, SLEUTHING WOMEN. So Cleo got her wish: her stories got a fresh start as new readers discovered her family in IN FOR A PENNY.

A year later, the anthology authors decided to do a novella anthology featuring the same sleuths. Cool. I was up for that, but there’d been a lot of stories across the transom since I last wrote a Cleo story. No worries, I read the entire series again (IN FOR A PENNY, ON THE NICKEL, and DIME IF I KNOW), falling in love with my zany characters all over again, and realizing that today’s savvy readers would demand that Cleo take better charge of her life. I got down to work, and after much gnashing of teeth and pressing of the delete key, I had “No Quarter.”

Cleo’s always been upfront with the men in her life. She wants to be married. Before Charlie ripped her heart out, she loved everything about married life. After Charlie, she went about raising her kids, running her accounting business, riding herd on her temperamental Mama, taking care of a friend’s pregnant St. Bernard, and trying not to get killed. She got her mojo back but something indefinable was missing. That feeling of being part of something more.

Feminists, don’t go getting your hackles up. Cleo doesn’t need a man to complete her. She manages just fine on her own. She even landed a hot boyfriend, and he’s loaded. These are all bits of backstory that play into Cleo’s persona.

The novella opens with Cleo in a hospital. She can’t remember a thing, much less her name. Her family finds her, but an entire day of her life is missing from her memory. Worse, the cops think she killed one of her elderly accounting clients. She has to prove her innocence, or risk going to prison.

I hope you’ll like the changes in Cleo in this story. She’s more self-assured, more confident, more determined to get her man.

Here’s a snip of “No Quarter” to whet your whistle:


“Ma’am? Are you all right?”

The voice sounded a million miles away. I barely caught the words. Didn’t matter though. I was too woozy to answer.

The voice persisted. “Ma’am. What is your name?”

Go away. Let me sleep.

Fingers pried an eyelid open, and a light blinded me. I startled, tried to rear back, only there was nowhere for my head to retreat. The light winked out, then it blazed into my other eye.

Leave me alone. I tried to curl into a fetal position, only my arms and legs didn’t move. I was paralyzed! Icy fear shot through my bloodstream. I was in danger. Had to hide. Had to sleep.

Painful tingles lanced my hands and feet. I groaned inwardly at the awful sensations. Why wouldn’t they leave me be? I felt like a slab of meat with people standing around and poking me.

“She’s coming round,” the voice said.

“Ma’am, can you hear me?” a deeper voice asked.

“Yes,” I said, only my lips didn’t move. Cold. I was so cold. I shivered and trembled.

“She’s going into shock,” the voice said.


The Authors

About Lois Winston

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

About Maggie Toussaint

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes mystery, suspense, and dystopian fiction. Her work won the Silver Falchion Award for best mystery, the Readers’ Choice Award, and the EPIC Award. Under her name and her pen name of Rigel Carson, she’s published sixteen novels as well as several short stories and novellas. The latest book in her paranormal mystery series, Dadgummit, released August 1, 2017. Maggie serves as Chapter President for Southeast Mystery Writers of America and as Vice-President for Low Country Sisters In Crime. Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com.

The Giveaway

Follow the tour, to read other Guest Posts and reviews , plus Interviews!


October 16 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 17 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 18 – Laura's Interests - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 20 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – INTERVIEW

October 21 - Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

October 22 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

October 23 – Nadaness In Motion - CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 24 – Island Confidential - CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 25 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW

October 26 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

October 26 – Valerie's Musings – INTERVIEW

October 27 – Back Porchervations - REVIEW

October 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

October 29 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 29 –The Book's the Thing – GUEST POST

October 30 – Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – Jane Reads – REVIEW, GUEST POST

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