Sarah Andre: Locked, Loaded, & Lying

Sarah Andre’s debut novel, Locked, Loaded, & Lying is a fast-paced, page-turning tale of romantic suspense.

Locked Loaded LyingLock Roane, known on the professional ski circuit for his Bad Boy persona Lock and Load, doesn’t remember if he killed his girlfriend, Tiffany van der Kellen, almost a year ago. He knows he was found, covered in blood, with her body, and he knows he’ll be standing trial for her murder in a few days, but there’s an essential blank in that terrible evening he hasn’t been able to fill in. Even his lawyer believes he did it, and Lock is afraid it’s true.

Jordan Sinclair is a free-lance reporter searching for Lock, who has been successfully hiding from the public and press since making bail (under questionable circumstances) after the murder. A tabloid paper is offering a huge reward for a photo and article on the skier’s whereabouts, and Jordan desperately needs the money to pay off a dangerous blackmailer from her past.

 Lock and Jordan collide when she runs off the road while searching for the cabin where she suspects he is hiding, and he rescues her from a snow bank. Once safe in the cabin Lock shares with his brother Leo, Jordan claims she’s a private investigator out to prove his innocence.

Both Lock and Jordan are running from the past, Lock from guilt, Jordan from fear. Solving the mystery of Tiffany’s murder may be the only way for either of them to reclaim their lives—but will Jordan ruin Lock’s in the process?

The mystery central to Locked, Loaded, & Lying is deep and complicated, and Andre handles it beautifully. Sparks fly between Lock and Jordan from the moment she wakes up in his cabin, and burst into flame even as they try to hide their personal truths from each other. Will they discover the truth behind the murder before the past overtakes them? You won’t put the book down until you find out.

Writer Wednesday: Summer Vacations

When I was a kid, we had bicycles instead of cell phones. I’m truly grateful I did not grow up on an electronic leash. I lived a couple of blocks from Lake Michigan, in the suburbs of Milwaukee. There WW Junewere half a dozen kids or more on my block, two of them girls my age, Elizabeth and Alice. Alice’s mother, a doctor, let us ride sitting on the back of her VW convertible, which says something about parenting in the 1950s right there. We spent our summer riding our bikes, usually with playing cards stuck in the spokes (one of my mother’s cousins owned a bicycle shop, so I had a better bike that I probably would have otherwise), playing softball and tag amid the oak trees on the boulevard, and reading. The library was right around the corner. Our parents only asked that we be home for supper, or before it got too dark, which was pretty late in the summer in Wisconsin.

I was one of a group of eight cousins, five of us girls fairly close in age, and we spent a lot of time together. My dad’s family owned a summer cottage on Round Lake in central Wisconsin (my cousins still do) and we spent part of every summer up there, often my mom and aunts, me and my cousins, while our dads stayed in the city during the week. We swam, fish, fell out of the canoe, and wondered what was going on at the Campfire Girls camp on the other side of the lake. When I was very young we had an outhouse and a pump, but my uncle in the plumbing business fixed that in the mid fifties. We had to drive our trash to the nearest town from time to time, but the trip was fun. I still have a little wooden trinket box, with Wild Rose, Wis on the lid, that I picked up on one of those trips.

Here’s a somewhat embarrassing picture from very early on at the cottage. I don’t believe I’ve been photographed in bathing attire since, and this photo may be the root of my reluctance. According to the caption, that’s my mom in the background, but it’s hard to tell.
Kay at cottage

We moved to the suburbs of Miami when I was ten, but I spent a couple more summers with my cousins in Wisconsin  before I settled into life as a junior high and high school kid. The weather was better in south Florida, but those summers in Wisconsin were hard to beat.

Hop over to the sidebar to visit the rest of the Writer Wednesday blogs, and join us again next month when we reminisce about natural disasters (let’s see, I’ve spent most of my life in south Florida, southern Louisiana, and coastal Texas—how could the weather possibly go wrong?).

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Recent Reading

No particular theme today, just three more books I enjoyed. I’ve been lucky so far this year—I’ve enjoyed just about all of the books I’ve read.

The Tropic of SerpentsMarie Brennan’s The Tropic of Serpents is the second volume of Memoirs by Lady Trent, although our heroine remains Mrs. Isabella Camherst, widow, mother, and dragon naturalist. In the first book, A Natural History of Dragons, Isabella and her fellow explorers made their way from their home in Scirland to the mountainous pseudo-Balkans of Brennan’s wonderfully developed world. In Tropic Isabella, leaving her toddler son behind and wondering if she is the worst mother in all of Scirland, leads her party to the world’s pseudo-Africa in search of snakes and swamp-wyrms. Once again, Isabella’s first person narration and Victorian style, as well as Brennan’s fabulous world building, captured me completely.

The preface to Tropic is signed “Lady Trent, Amavi, Prania, 23 Ventis, 5659,” reminding us just how totally not-ours Isabella’s world is. The next volume, Voyage of the Basilisk, is waiting on my shelf.

Checked Out is the latest case in Elaine Viets’ Dead end Jobs mysteries. I love this series. I’ve been following Helen Hawthorne’s adventures since she first appeared in 2003 in Shop Til You Drop. The Checked Outsettings are always fun and well researched, and the characters – Phil, Margery, Peggy, and Pete the Parrot, along with numerous less permanent visitors, continue to hold my interest.

In Checked Out, Helen goes undercover as a volunteer at a small, upscale library, searching for a John Singer Sargent water color (“Muddy Alligators,” signed on the back by Clark Gable, who lost it in a poker game in 1924) accidentally left in a donated book–somewhere in 300 boxes of books. And there appears to be a ghost, or at least a squatter, hiding in the library. Meanwhile, Phil is courting sunburn as an undercover gardener Peggy is worried about Pete’s personal life, and the new tenant at the Coronado Tropic Apartments is showing off his mojitos.

If you enjoy humorous mystery, you can’t do better than Elaine Viets.

Born With TeethOkay, so I’ve been a Star Trek fan since the original series (when I fell in love with Mr. Spock—c’mon, I wasn’t the only one), and I was delighted when Voyager came along with a female Captain. I couldn’t resist when I learned that Kate Mulgrew, Kathryn Janeway’s alter ego, had published a memoir, Born With Teeth. The book is well written, often funny, sometimes sad, always enjoyable. It ends rather abruptly around 1997, but I’m hoping (and the acknowledgments at the end suggest) that Mulgrew has another book in the works.

Recent Reading: Friends

Today I am blatantly promoting books by friends, women I have met through RWA’s Golden Heart contest, but I wouldn’t steer you wrong. These are books, and writers, that I enjoy.

Nan Dixon is a Starcatcher (2011) and Lucky 13 (2013) GH finalist. Her debut novel, Southern Comforts, offers the reader a lovely trip to Savannah (with a side trip to Boston) and food and wine descriptions that will leave her mouth watering. (Psst: the recipe for those brandy pecan bars is on Nan’s website!).

Southern ComfortsAbby Fitzgerald is determined to make a success of her family’s bed and Breakfast, Fitzgerald House, but her long term plan is to add her own restaurant, Southern Comforts, and prove her standing as a top-drawer chef. And despite the business assistance of her two sisters, Bess and Dolley, she’s set on doing it herself. Her irresponsible father and the chef who dumped her in New York, blocking her culinary career, have led her to distrust men—and their money.

And money is what Grayson Smythe has a lot of. The Boston businessman has booked a six-month stay at Fitzgerald House while he oversees the conversion of a warehouse to condos, and Abby’s sister has forgotten to tell her that the deal includes dinner. Gray quickly falls in love with Abby’s cooking, but admitting that he’s falling in love with her is another matter. And persuading her to trust his good intentions is even harder.

I thoroughly enjoyed Southern Comforts and I’m looking forward to reading Bess and Dolley’s stories one of these days.

Heather Ashby is a Firebird (2012) GH finalist, and a Navy veteran (and long-time Navy wife) herself. UnforgetttableWith co-author (and retired Marine) Christopher Bergeron, she wraps up her four-book Love in the Fleet series with Unforgettable, a follow up to the previous book, Never Forget, continuing the story of Royal Navy Lieutenant Gwyn Pritchard and Marine Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor and adding a romance for Navy pilot Mike Nickolopoulos and Marine pilot Cate Hawkins. Unforgettable also ties up the stories of the 9/11 spirits trapped aboard the U.S.S. New York. Ashby and Bergeron blend romance and healing among the officers with exciting military action and suspense, producing a very satisfying finale to the series.

Susan Boyer is also a Firebird. Her 2012 GH finalist mystery novel, Lowcountry Boil, won an Agatha Award for Best First Book. Lowcountry Boneyard is the third installment in Susan’s Liz Talbot mystery series. Liz is a private investigator based on Stella Maris, an island off the coast of South Carolina, a ferry ride from Charleston. She works cases with her partner Nate Andrews and occasional well-placed help from the ghost of Colleen, her long-dead high school best friend, whose mission in the afterlife is to protect Stella Maris.

Lowcountry BoneyardIn Lowcountry Boneyard, Liz and Nate take on the case of missing heiress Kent Heyward, cutting their way through long-buried family secrets and rivalries. They have some problems of their own to solve, too—their business may do well with Liz based on Stella Maris and Nate a few hours away in Greenville, but their romantic relationship is suffering.

I’m looking forward to Liz’ next case (Lowcountry Bordello, due out in November) and hope there will be many more. By the way, if you enjoy cozy regional mysteries, check out Susan and Liz’ publisher, Henery Press.

I found the corkscrew!

Months ago, when I went hunting for the corkscrew I was sure resided somewhere in my kitchen, I was horrified by the amount of forgotten equipment I had stuffed into the cupboards in the nearly forty years I have lived in this house. A couple of days ago I finally decided to do something about it—this weekend I would declutter the kitchen. I did about half the kitchen Friday, a little bit more yesterday.

Today I set out to finish the job. I found about fourteen pieces of Pyrex glassware—I don’t remember when I last used any of it, and it’s not staying. I found way more Corningware cookware, in two patterns, than I will even need, but I’m keeping that—sentiment. I found two Comet Rice cookers. Don’t know why I thought I needed two, only keeping one. Two enormous soup pots and two turkey roasters—out. Now there’s plenty of room in that cupboard.

Then I tackled the last cupboard. That’s where I found three toasters, two blenders, and a toaster oven with all its accessories. I found food dishes, combs, and a leash, all belonging to a dog who crossed the Rainbow Bridge several years ago. A large collection of nearly empty boxes of storage bags fell out of a plastic basket.

And way in the back, another plastic basket full of small kitchen gadgets: an egg beater, a garlic press, nut and/or shellfish crackers, apple corers and egg slicers, can openers and ice cream scoops, scissors and Corkscrewspoons and cookie cutters. Something that looks like an oversize garlic press—I think it was meant to crush ice cubes long ago. It belonged to my mother and will probably stay.

And down at the very bottom of the basket, the old wooden corkscrew. The shiny new one I bought to replace it works much better, but I’m still glad I found the old one, in the very back corner of the very last cupboard. I knew it was here somewhere!

Excavating the Kitchen

Several months ago, during a fruitless search for a corkscrew, I realized that I had accumulated forty years or so of mostly unused and unneeded kitchen junk in my cupboards. Recently I picked up a couple of new gadgets designed for people like me, who live alone, don’t cook much, but like the occasional hardboiled egg or baked potato. It’s not a big kitchen, and finding a place to store them, other than on the counter, has thrown me into cleaning out the cupboards.

Years ago, when I was cooking for three, and even baking, I needed a lot of this stuff. I even have some indestructible wedding presents (and I was married in 1969). But what did I ever think I was going to do with the box of knives I just found? Apart from a few cute little specialty knives left over from a cheese-of-the-month club we belonged to thirty years ago, they’re headed out, along with the utility candles in the same box. I have candles that smell good now.

Kitchen 1

I didn’t even remember that I had a George Foreman grill. Minus the drip tray. Or the instructions. Into the out box it goes, along with the microwave sandwich maker (no instructions, and apparently no longer made, since I can’t find instructions on line). Lots of microwave cookery gadgets with no instructions. I think one of them is supposed to make omelets. I’ve never made an omelet in my life. And then there’s the electric rice/vegetable steamer, suitable for feeding a crowd.

Kitchen 2

Cooling racks, muffin tins, pie plates—I haven’t baked anything in more than a decade. Among the large collection of wooden carving boards (I’ve long since switched to plastic) I even found an old fashioned wooden rolling pin! I’m not sure I ever used that. Three sets of mixing bowls. Three lasagna pans. Rusty cookie sheets. At least I’ve found a use for that microwave oven carton I never recycled—instant trash bin.

Kitchen 3

I’ve cleared enough space to stow my new toys and most of the stuff cluttering up the counter. Not much left there now but the microwave oven and the toaster. I’ve hauled two boxes (one of them so heavy that I’ll have to divide it before I try to move it again) out to the garage.

And I’ve only done half the cupboards. Somewhere there are still three or four toasters that did not meet my exacting standards, a blender or two, a couple of crockpots, and a countertop toaster oven. And a LOT of old pots and pans. Maybe tomorrow.

I still haven’t found the old corkscrew. But I have a new one, and a bottle of wine waiting . . .

Writer Wednesday: Secrets of the Desk

WW MayThis month’s Writer Wednesday prompt is “show us your favorite item on your desk,” and my first impulse was toward one of the stuffed animals in my writing alcove (once upon a time the dinette area, which explains the chandelier). The desk is really a six-foot long all-purpose table, the kind with collapsible legs, long enough to hold all my computer equipment (tower, external hard drive, monitor on a stand, keyboard and mouse, and printer). Then there are containers of binder clips and paper clips, a mug of pens and markers, assorted flash drives (six at the moment—remember when they were exotic and very expensive?), scattered business cards, a stapler, stacks of those note pads that come with charity requests, a folder containing the pages from my last critique group meeting, and so forth.


 The inventory doesn’t even include the cards, certificates, calendar/clock, and assorted keepsakes on the window shelves behind the desk, or the old computer desk to my left, with plants, notebooks, box of charging cables, another box of music CDs, reams of paper, spare toner cartridge, mail rack, and a box of light bulbs (for the chandelier).

Computer
And the stuffed animals: a fat bumble bee watching me from the top of the tower, a small dinosaur on the window shelf, and a cheerful yellow creature of indeterminate species, covered with multi-colored polka dots, supervising from the old desk.

But my favorite little item, I realized as I went through the list, is a small pin-back button, mounted on a binder clip, which has sat near or below my computer monitor for more years than I can remember, through several computers and multiple desks.
Keep Smiling

I have half a dozen other Sandra Boynton buttons pinned to a strip of seam binding hanging from a bulletin board, including the very appropriate “I’m Not Messy, I’m Creative.” But “Keep Smiling” has held a place on my desk for a very long time. Jack probably gave it to me—he liked buttons and funny post it notes and, for that matter, stuffed animals. And heaven knows we managed to Keep Smiling for a lot of years.

To visit the desks of the other Writer Wednesday bloggers, check out the list to your right. And see below for Her Hometown Reporter, a new release from our own KD Fleming, and the schedule of upcoming Writer Wednesday topics.

 

TOBY HENDRICKS HAS THE INSIDE SCOOP ON GINA LAWSON 
HerHometownReporterThe reporter is looking for a story that’ll be his ticket out of his small Georgia town. With her political connections, legal assistant Gina Lawson could help Toby realize his aspirations. Their friendship is just an added bonus, but falling in love isn’t part of his five-year plan.

Gina’s devoted to her family and community, and doesn’t plan to ever leave. Though she finds her favorite reporter maddeningly irresistible, she must guard her heart. But when a betrayal of trust threatens to shatter both their dreams, will Gina and Toby learn that they share the same values after all?

Pick up your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Harlequin!

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