Jinn & Tonic is now available!

Jinn & Tonic is the first book in my Pandemonia series. It’s one of four books that were finalists in the Golden Heart contest. You can see the full list of awards won on my website under Jinn & Tonic.

The Kindle version of Jinn & Tonic is available now. Click HERE to buy. The paperback version will be available soon. 

Mix two lonely mortals, two meddlesome jinn, and a collection of classic Errol Flynn adventure films, and you have the ingredients of Jinn & Tonic.

Susan Sheridan may have her doubts about Bock, the jinn who pops out of her antique tonic bottle, but she loves the vividly real dream worlds he builds after watching her favorite movies.  Then she discovers that the hero of her dreams, dashing pirate captain Rob Flynn, is also a mortal dreamer, as real as she is.

Rob wants to meet in the waking world, but Susan resists.  It’s bad enough that he’s a lawyer and she’s on parole.  It’s even worse that she tied him to a bed and had her way with him–in a dream they both remember!

As their adventures carry them through the pirate world of Captain Blood, the saloons of Dodge City, and Robin Hood’s Nottingham Castle, can Susan and Rob risk their hearts to find love–and their mortal lives to defeat the evil jinn whose ambitions would separate them forever?

Carl Hiaasen’s Squeeze Me

I have long delighted in Carl Hiaasen’s wild and wacky tales of life and death in Florida , particularly since I lived there for a good many years. I put off reading (or even buying) Squeeze Me until after the election as part of my general avoidance of all things Trump. (As I write this, 48 hours remain until Biden’s inauguration.) Warning: browsing reviews on GoodReads, and probably anywhere else, shows a sharp divide on appreciation of the book clearly based on political opinion.

I loved Squeeze Me.

The title, while reminiscent of an erotic romance novel, actually refers to the Burmese python whose presence on the grounds of a ritzy Palm Beach estate during the Irritable Bowel Syndrome fund raising gala causes chaos. Enter Angie Armstrong, a new inhabitant in Hiaasen’s universe (and I hope we see more of her in future books), proprietor (and sole employee) of Discreet Captures, prepared to remove any pest from mice in the kitchen to—you guessed it—stray pythons. Angie is suspicious of the very large bulge in the belly of the very large python, especially after hearing of the disappearance of the very small socialite during the gala, but somehow the body of the snake is stolen from Angie’s storage unit before she can deliver it to the state wildlife folks.

And from there Hiaasen introduces us to as wide and weird a cast as he ever imagined (or pulled from the headlines of Florida newspapers). There are burglars, cops, secret service agents, a group of elderly, wealthy, and frequently tipsy socialites who call themselves the Potussies, a poacher who has been stalking Angie for years, and even Skink, the one-time Florida governor who has hidden in the swamps, living off road kill and booze, for decades (and eight Hiaasen novels).

At the center of it all sits the POTUS, at his winter White House, Casa Bellicosa. Known as Mastodon to the Secret Service (he likes the name so much he wants to see a real one; the agents tell him it’s on loan to a zoo in Christchurch, New Zealand), he manages to turn the disappearance of the socialite into yet another attack on immigrants. Meanwhile, the FLOTUS rather likes her code name, Mockingbird, almost as much as she likes her lead Secret Service agent. And there’s a tanning machine lurking in the background, surely a disaster in the making.

Through it all we see Hiaasen’s love of Florida, his distress at the ecological damage piling up, and his amazement at the antics of all too many real life “Florida Men.”

Two New Books

Well, I didn’t catch up by the end of the year, but I’m working on it. Here are two 2020 releases (if nothing else, the year did produce some good books!) I’ve enjoyed in the last couple of months.

In Lowcountry Boughs of Holly, number ten in Susan M. Boyer’s Liz Talbot series, Liz and her partner (and husband) find themselves investigating the death of a Santa Claus murdered during the annual Christmas celebration on their island home of Stella Maris. Since the tiny Stella Maris police force has no detective bureau, Liz and Nate are on call to fill in, in the unlikely case that their services are needed.

There’s no doubt as to the identity of Santa Claus, despite the fact that his wallet, watch, cell phone and red Santa gift bag are missing when the body is discovered in a rowboat washed up on the shore. Liz and Nate know C.C. Bounetheau—they’ve worked for him before, and the experience left them no desire to work with his wealthy and prominent (but decidedly unpleasant) Charleston family. What on earth was C.C. doing on Stella Maris in the first place? It might have been a robbery gone wrong, but a whole list of possible motives—and suspects—quickly turn up.

Meanwhile, Nate is planning a blow-out Christmas trip for the whole family—Liz’s parents, her sister and brother, and their spouses—but he won’t tell anyone where they’re going. Or, Liz worries, how he’s going to pay for a trip for eight over Christmas.

Lowcountry Boughs of Holly involves old family secrets, a few more recent puzzles, and a wandering reindeer named Claude. It’s another excellent entry in a series I have enjoyed very much.

Natalie Meg Evans’ The Paris Girl is the sequel to The Secret Vow. The books follow the lives and loves of Katya and Tatiana Vytenis, born Russian princesses, refugees from the Russian revolution, now deeply involved in the fashion industry in Paris. When The Paris Girl opens, it’s 1923, Tatiana is engaged to a marquis and working as a mannequin for Maison Javier, in which Katya is a partner. But some terrible truths about her fiance’s family send Tatiana’s life spinning in an unexpected and frightening direction. Spoiled and self-obsessed as the novel begins, Tatiana grows up at last, but it’s not easy.

I’ve enjoyed several of Evans’ novels, but my favorites are set in Paris and in the fashion industry. The Dress Thief is set in the late 1930s, as the characters wait for the beginning of war, and The Milliner’s Secret in the early years of World War II. A few supporting characters tie the books together, although only The Secret Vow and The Paris Girl are closely related.

If you enjoy deeply emotional historical fiction and an amazing sense of time and place, pick up anything by Natalie Meg Evans. You won’t be disappointed.

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