What’s in a Name?

Coming up with character names for a story falls just shy of coming up with a book title on my fun meter. Love it!

Sometimes the names are deliberate. For instance, Lisa in my grim reaper series is named after my sister, and the main characters in my new release, Properly Groomed, are real-life people I know. Sometimes I’m looking for something unique, sometimes common, but always easy to read and understand. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Lord of the Rings, but seriously Mr. Tolkien, Gimli, son of Glóin, nephew of Óin, and the first cousin once removed (of Balin, Lord of Moria, and his brother Dwalin. I spent more time trying to figure out how to pronounce the names than reading the actual story. But to be fair, that’s fantasy, which has its own rules, and today I’m talking about romance.

So where is the best place to find name inspiration for romance characters? Why Tinder, the casual dating site, of course. On the Tinder website there’s no worry of getting caught up in lengthy bios or detailed likes and hobbies, just a lot of pictures and names. If you’re attracted to the person swipe right, if not—swipe left. Simple, uncomplicated, and great for name research.

At the end of 2016, Tinder released the top ten male and female names that were swiped right. Let’s count them down, shall we?

  1. Sara (without an h) & Andrew
  2. Anna & Adam
  3. Katie & Ben
  4. Samantha & Justin
  5. Emily & Brandon
  6. Rachel & Josh (Call me old school, I’m still partial to Rachel and Ross.)
  7. Julia & Nick
  8. Lauren & Matthew
  9. Emma & Ryan

And the #1 names for 2016—drumroll please……………

  1. Hannah & Lucas

Just reading this list makes me want to run to my office and pound out ten new adult, college-based romance novels featuring each of these couples. Simple, relatable names. After all, who doesn’t know a Hannah or Josh?

So if you’re searching for a good character name, or having a baby, or thinking about hitting the world of online dating, you now have numerous name choices compliments of me and Tinder. Happy reading!


Wedding Favors #3

Properly Groomed

Playing house just got real…

When Joya Bennett wakes up after her brother’s wedding, half-naked and lying next to her lifelong crush, she’s mortified. OMG, did she try to jump his bones? Worse, did she succeed? Intending to lay low and housesit for her brother until the embarrassment fades, she sneaks away before he wakes up.

What she didn’t plan on is having company.

Lincoln Fisher doesn’t do relationships, but if he did, his friend’s little sister would be the one to tie him down. Good thing Joya had one too many drinks during the reception or he’d have crossed a line. Her brother would kill him if he found out all the places Linc wanted to kiss the sexy, auburn-haired beauty.

And now they’re stuck in the same house. For two weeks.

She’s off-limits. And he needs to keep it that way, even if the heat building between them is hot enough to blow off the roof…

Each book in the Wedding Favors series is a stand-alone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.

Book #1 Bridesmaid Blues
Book #2 Random Acts of Marriage
Book #3 Properly Groomed

Romance Contemporary [Entangled Lovestruck, On Sale: January 2, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781633758582 / eISBN: 9781633758582]

About Boone Brux

Boone Brux

Amazon Best Selling Author Boone Brux’s stories range from high fantasy to humorous paranormal.

Having lived all over the world, and finally settling in the icy region of Alaska, she’s always looking for the next adventure. It’s not unusual to find Boone traversing the remotest parts of the Alaskan bush, gathering information for her stories. No person or escapade is off limits when it comes to weaving real life experiences into her books or blogs.

Join Boone’s V.I.P. Club and be first to hear about new releases, events, free read, contests and giveaways, and so much more. Sign up for her newsletter and stay informed.

Bringer and the Bane | Wedding Favors





Lucky Penny Ranch #4

Wicked Cowboy Charm



Josie Dawson is new in town, but it doesn’t take a local to know that Deke Sullivan is trouble–in a smokin’ hot package. He’s sweet, sexy, and has charmed just about every woman in Dry Creek, Texas. Well, Josie won’t be next. She’ll keep her distance, even if he is great with babies and makes a mean cup of homemade hot chocolate.

Deke Sullivan really is a one-woman type of guy. He just had to do a lot of looking to find that one woman. Now he thinks he’s found her and he won’t let a strong, sassy gal like Josie slip away. Just when he’s wondering how to convince her he only has eyes for her, they get stranded in a tiny cabin during a major blizzard. If Deke can melt her heart before they dig out of the snow, he’ll be the luckiest cowboy in Texas . . .

Romance Contemporary | Romance Western [Forever, On Sale: January 31, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781455534968 / eISBN: 9781455534982]

Josie could hardly take her eyes off Deke’s strong arms as he carried a pile of wood the short distance from the box to the fireplace. To have those arms around her, to cuddle up next to him on one of those bunk beds—she shook her head to get the picture out of it and reached for the tin box of matches on the mantel.

“How many do you need?” she asked.

“Just one,” he answered.

“Confident, aren’t you?”

“Not confidence, just practice, ma’am.” He got the fire going with the first one.

“Impressive,” she said.

“We’ll get it warmed up in here soon enough.”

Josie sat down on the sofa facing the fireplace and took stock of the little cabin. A set of bunk beds covered the wall to her right. A doorway into a bathroom was to her left along with crudely made bookshelves with about a hundred well-worn paperback books. A deck of cards was in the middle of a card table with a couple of folding metal chairs on either side. A second table was fitted into the small corner from the end of the bunk beds to the wall and another oil lamp had been placed in the middle of it.

“We’ll survive,” Deke said.

“Who are you trying to convince? Me or you?” Josie asked.

“Both of us. It’s better than freezing to death in our vehicles. Lord, I wish I would have turned around and gone right back home when the first snowflake hit,” he answered.

“Me too.” She threw one arm over her head and groaned.

“Top or bottom?” Deke asked.

“Well, now that depends on lots of things,” she said before she thought.

Deke whipped around, his eyes big as silver dollars. “What did you say?”

She blushed and quickly covered her blooper. “I don’t care. I could sleep right here. Maybe I’ll wake up to find this is all a dream.”

“Okay then, I’ll take the bottom bunk. Rascal gets restless if he’s not sleeping right beside the bed on his blanket or else on the foot of it. And darlin’, if you wake up and find this is a dream, don’t leave me behind.”

“No way, cowboy. You are stuck with me for the duration of this damned storm.”

“And you, darlin’, are stuck with me.”

About Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today best selling author and a RITA Finalist who has sold more than 2.75 million books. She presently writes both women’s fiction and cowboy romance. She has also written historical single title, historical series, contemporary single title, and contemporary series.

She credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. She was born in Texas but grew up in southern Oklahoma where she and her husband, Charles, a retired English teacher, now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Spikes and Spurs | Cowboys & Brides | Luckadeau Cousins | Honky Tonk | Cadillac, Texas | Burnt Boot, Texas | Lucky Penny Ranch


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Top 5 Baseball Songs List

Everyone has a favorite baseball song and Heidi McLaughlin is no exception. As the author of the Boys of Summer series and big baseball fan, she’s got her go-to tunes ready to go for the season.

Top 5 songs for baseball in the Boys of Summer series.

  1. Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond (not really baseball but played at the Red Sox games)
  2. Centerfield by John Fogerty
  3. Cheap Seats by Alabama
  4. The Greatest by Kenny Rogers
  5. Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen

What tunes do you hum or associate with the summer sport of baseball?

About Heidi McLaughlin

Heidi McLaughlin

Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup, and a Highland West/mini schnauzer, Jill.

When she isn’t writing stories, you’ll find her sitting court-side during either daughter’s basketball games.

Virtuous Paradox | Boys of Summer


HOME RUN by Heidi McLaughlin

Boys of Summer #2

Home Run

Cooper Bailey finally has a shot at being a major league ballplayer, but it will take all his focus and energy during spring training to make it happen. Complicating things is his instantaneous connection with Ainsley Burke. He can’t get enough of her, and before he knows it, they’re spending every night together. But as happy as he is off the field, his focus on it is suffering, and he isn’t willing to risk his lifelong dream over a girl.

But without Ainsley, Cooper’s miserable, and his game is still off. No matter what he tries, he can’t get her out of his head, and he’s starting to realize that maybe he doesn’t want to. Baseball is just a game, but Ainsley might be the real thing. Now he just has to convince her of that.

Romance Sports [Forever, On Sale: January 17, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781455598281 / eISBN: 9781455598281]

The Boys of Summer

Third Base
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Home Run
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Grand Slam
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Jessica Lee | I Seem to have Lost My Underwear…

Hello, everyone!

I’m so excited to be featured at Fresh Fiction today. What a great way to start the new year!

How many of you went out this New Year’s Eve to a party or bar and had some random stranger saunter up to you, lean in, and unload the cheesiest or raunchiest pick-up line? Maybe it hasn’t recently happened to you, but perhaps at some point in your life you may have been the unfortunate victim of a bad pick-up line. How do you handle it? Do you laugh in their face? Play along and meet someone new who possesses an interesting sense of humor? Or do you ignore them, hoping they go away? For me, controlling the knee-jerk reaction of being rude and laughing in their face would be incredibly tough.

In FALLING FOR THE PLAYER, my upcoming New Adult release from Entangled Publishing’s Embrace line, my two protagonists, Max and Patrick meet for the first time at a bar. Patrick is a star running back for his college football team, and Max…well, Max is a straight A, pre-law student.

Total opposites.

So what could be more fun than placing these two together for a chance meeting, then to sit back, wait, and see who makes the first move? Will there be a cringe-worthy pick-up line…?

Oh, please, no. I certainly hope not. *wink*

Because one of my character’s is a football player who meets his hero at a bar, a friend pointed me in the direction of an online site where they’ve listed some of the most hilarious sports related pick-up lines. Of course, I couldn’t resist sharing some of my favorites with you today.

  • Do you play football? Because you’ve got a tight end.
  • You’re so hot, I’d let you penetrate my defense.
  • Do you prefer two hand touch or full contact?
  • I’d love to touchdown in your end zone.
  • How about we kick off a new relationship tonight?
  • I’ve never made an incomplete pass, and I hope you won’t be my first.
  • Wanna be my receiver tonight?
  • Are you an eligible receiver… of my phone number?
  • I wish you were on the team because I’d love to see your backfield in motion.

Are these ridiculous or what? I can’t even imagine what I’d say if someone tried one of these on me. What are some of the worst pick-up lines you’ve had punted your way? Did you see what I did there? “Punted” your way. You can find all these, including the title of this post in its entirety, and more here

What is the worse or the funniest pick up line you’ve ever heard? Let’s keep them as close to PG as possible. LOL One randomly chosen commenter will receive a $5 Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of the book of their choice from my backlist. Good luck!


Falling for the Player

Bad boy and former NFL running back Patrick Guinness is tired of meaningless sex. Ever since his scorching hot one-night stand three years ago, no one has interested him. So when Max Segreti wanders into his mechanic shop—and his life again—Patrick can’t stop thinking about the totally-out-of-his-league law grad and the possibility of getting him out of his system once and for all…

Max Segreti has spent his entire life doing what his father wants. But when he runs into the hotter-than-hell player he’s never been able to forget, he’s not thinking about studying for the bar. A distraction is the last thing he needs, but after an encounter leaves him wanting more, Max embraces the chaos that Patrick brings…even as he knows it can’t last. They’re too different to ever have a future together.

Romance Gay | New Adult | Gay / Lesbian Romance [Entangled Embrace, On Sale: January 16, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781682814017 / eISBN: 9781633757981]

About Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee

Almost every author’s bio states they’ve been writing since they learned how to read. It’s what they’ve always wanted to do. Well, my journey wasn’t so straight and narrow. I was a nurse for over twenty years and hold a bachelor’s degree in science with a major in biology. So as you can see, my career path originally went in the opposite direction. I didn’t discover my passion for the craft until after I’d had my son and decided to work part-time.

I’ve always loved to read but had never read a paranormal romance. Then one night on break at work, I began reading Karen Marie Moning’s Spell of the Highlander. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing, and I immediately fell in love with the genre.

I wanted to write like that. I wanted to create worlds where others could find the same escape and fascination I had when I read my first sensual paranormal romance.

And I hope that’s what I’ve accomplished in my work. Please dive in, hold on tight, and enjoy the adventure.

Jessica Lee lives in the southeastern United States with her husband and son. She loves writing and can’t wait for that quiet time each day when her son is in school, and she can get lost in another place and world with the fantastical, sexy creatures in her head.



Meet the Author: Rachael Thomas!

I live in West Wales and run a farm with my husband and eighteen year-old son. I love escaping to the world of my stories when I’m writing and the two jobs complement each other well, although they do keep me rather busy! When I do take time out I love visiting old castles or grand houses where I can indulge my other passion of photography.

Guilty pleasure? Living on a farm means early mornings are the norm, so having a lie in. ~It doesn’t happen very often though.

What’s in your coffee/tea? I love my morning coffee with frothy milk.

Last picture you took? The sun coming up as I walked my dog across the fields.

Biggest Fear? Heights.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Being able to read superfast – then I could keep up with all the fabulous books out there!

Least favorite food? Not keen on baked beans.

Favorite junk food? A cheeseburger and fries.

Favorite meal? I love Italian food.

Biggest pet peeve? Miserable shop assistants.

First author hero? Jane Austen

Last book you read? Joanne Dannon’s An Unforgettable Holiday.

Favorite 80’s song or artist? Now that’s a hard one, but I did love Duran Duran.

Last movie you saw in a movie theatre? Bridget Jones’s Baby.

Favorite cookie? White chocolate chip.

Favorite dessert? Anything creamy.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Hairdresser and a nurse were a few of my ideas. When I was about nine I decided I wanted to be a writer but I tried out various other things first!

What TV show do you miss that’s been canceled? Downtown Abbey.

Last TV shows you binge-watched? Having discovered it late – Scandal.

Favorite TV show when you were a kid? I loved The Clangers and The Wombles as a child.

If you were a Disney princess, which one would you be? Snow White

What movie made your cry the most? War Horse and Me Before You.

Is that your real hair color? Blonde, yes – just a shade darker!

About Rachael Thomas

Rachael Thomas

Rachael Thomas grew up in the Midlands in England, but when she moved to Wales, over twenty years ago, she found a place to finally put down roots. She married into a farming family and embarked on a massive learning curve which also saw her learning Welsh when her two children were small.

Writing is something she has always wanted to do and she can still remember the thrill of one of her short stories being held up as an example to the class when she was about nine. It wasn’t until her own children were in school that she seriously started to pursue her dream. She joined a local writing group which met every Monday afternoon and being with like-minded people was the boost she needed.

Reading romance had always been her first love, and just about every short story she wrote was romance, so she decided to write her first book. During that process she also attended her first weekend writing course with Kate Walker and joined the RNA’s fabulous New Writers’ Scheme. A short time later she joined Romance Writers of Australia and learnt a lot from entering their competitions. She sought out courses and you can imagine her joy when she discovered Sharon Kendrick’s course in beautiful Tuscany.

She loves to escape to distant shores with her characters, entering their glamorous world and feeling all the emotions they experience as they discover their love for one another. A love so strong it will overcome all obstacles eventually, leading to that promised happy ever after.

The Billionaire’s Legacy



One Night With Consequences

A Child Claimed by Gold

A scandal of their own making

Nikolai Cunningham has kept his family history secret for seventeen years. So when photographer Emma Sanders is granted exclusive access to his childhood home, he returns to Russia to ensure it stays hidden.

Though she tries to keep her eye on the story, Nikolai’s potent sexuality proves too much for Emma’s untouched body to resist! But, convinced she only wanted a scoop, Nikolai casts Emma out, unaware she’s pregnant!

When the consequence of their recklessness is revealed, Nikolai will legitimize his heir—with a gold wedding ring!

Romance Contemporary | Romance Erotica Sensual [Harlequin Presents, On Sale: January 1, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9780373060344 / eISBN: 9781459292604]

Enter to win signed copies on Goodreads.


Now that Rachael has shared with us, it’s your turn! Tell us what Disney princess you’d be and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of her book, A CHILD CLAIMED BY GOLD

Exclusive Excerpt MIDNIGHT OBSESSION by Melinda Leigh


Midnight Series #4

Midnight Obsession

In Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s edgy new thriller, Louisa Hancock thought she was safe…but there’s a new killer in town.

When a mysterious package lands on Louisa Hancock’s doorstep, the Philadelphia museum curator can hardly anticipate the nightmare that’s about to envelop her. The package is addressed to her father—an expert in Viking culture—and inside is a ninth-century sword, a chilling thank-you note, and photos of two dead bodies in a tableau evoking a Nordic funeral. The gruesome images match a recent crime scene. But before the police can investigate the killer’s connection to Louisa’s father, Ward Hancock vanishes.

Sports bar owner Conor Sullivan wants nothing more than to spend his life with Louisa. Devoted and protective, he refuses to leave her side after her father’s disappearance. When a troubled young boxer he’s been coaching is suspected of the murders, Conor is pulled in even deeper. Desperate, Louisa and Conor take it upon themselves to find her father, but soon another ritualistic slaying makes it clear there’s a Viking-obsessed serial killer on the loose. And he has a new target: Louisa.

Romance Suspense [Montlake Romance, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781503939257 / ]

Showered and dressed, Louisa crossed the master bedroom before seven a.m. Kirra, sensing something was amiss, stuck close. Louisa eased to her knees and hugged the dog. Kirra never minded tears in her fur, and there was something about the dog’s presence that always brought her comfort.

Rising, she left the room. The door to the guest suite was closed, and she hoped Yvonne and Tyler were still sleeping. They’d all been stuck at the fire scene giving statements and waiting to see if and when Yvonne might be able to get into her apartment to collect anything that was salvageable.

Unfortunately, what the fire hadn’t consumed, the firemen had destroyed with their axes and hoses. From what Louisa had seen from the street, Yvonne and Tyler had nothing. They hadn’t made it back to the condo until nearly midnight.

She went into the kitchen and found Conor assessing the contents of the refrigerator. He removed a carton of eggs.

“I’m not really hungry.” She stood next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. Kirra leaned on her shins.

“When was the last time you ate?”

“Good point.” Yesterday was a blur.

“I made coffee.” He nodded toward a mug on the counter. “You tossed and turned a lot. Did you get any rest?”

“A little.” A disturbing mix of dreams and nightmares had invaded her sleep. “I dreamed of a vacation we took when I was in grade school. I don’t even remember where we were, somewhere tropical. It was just the three of us. We’d taken a small sailboat out to watch the sunset. There wasn’t much wind, but no one minded.” Louisa closed her eyes for a few seconds, reliving the damp warmth of a tropical breeze across her face, the restricting bulk of the life vest they’d always made her wear, the scents of Coppertone, insect repellent, and the sea mingling in her nose. “We saw dolphins and sailed until the sun went down. I remember the lights along the shoreline dancing on the water.”

“It sounds all right so far,” he said.

“The first part was.” She paused, a shudder rippling through her. “The dream ended with the boat sinking and my parents being sucked into the sea while I watched, bobbing helplessly in my life vest on the surface.”

Conor turned to press a kiss to her temple. “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t know why I dreamed about that night. It was a quiet sail. Nothing special happened.” Despite its nightmare finale, the dream soothed her.

“Maybe you just needed to remember that they loved you before it all went to hell.”

“I don’t think I ever forgot, but I definitely let bad memories crowd out the good ones.”

“You were awfully young. Children can’t control how they react. Your happiness was ripped out from under you. The adults in your life left you to fend for yourself. I don’t think it takes a psychologist to make the parallel between that dream and the way your future spun out of your control.”

“Probably not.” Louisa set the dream aside and reached for the coffee mug. “I hope Yvonne got some sleep. I still can’t believe her boss fired her for missing a second day of work under these circumstances. What is she going to do?”

The anger that fired in her belly felt a heck of a lot better than the cold horror she’d been harboring.

“You’ve given them a safe place to hide from the gang. For now, that’s about all you can do.” Leaning over, Conor kissed her temple. He lit a burner under a frying pan, cracked eggs into a glass bowl, and began to whip them with a wire whisk. “We’ll stop and buy them some clothes. I can offer her a job.”

Best. Man. Ever.

Even in her current state of despair, she held onto gratefulness for having him in her life.

“I love that you help everyone,” she said.

“Yvonne’s a waitress. I need a waitress. Seems logical.” Conor poured the beaten eggs into a frying pan. The embarrassed flush on his face made her smile. Chivalry wasn’t dead. He was in her kitchen making sure she didn’t face another terrible day with an empty stomach.

How did she get so lucky?

About Melinda Leigh

Melinda Leigh

Melinda Leigh abandoned her career in banking to raise her kids and never looked back. She started writing as a hobby and became addicted to creating characters and stories. Since then, she has won numerous writing awards for her paranormal romance and romantic-suspense fiction. Her debut novel, She Can Run, was a number one bestseller in Kindle Romantic Suspense, a 2011 Best Book Finalist (The Romance Reviews), and a nominee for the 2012 International Thriller Award for Best First Book. She is the author of the Midnight Novels, including Midnight Exposure (a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and Midnight Sacrifice.

Midnight Series


Angelic Banana Bread by Sofie Ryan

In the Second Chance Cat mysteries you can always count on three things when it comes to those senior sleuths known as the Angels. One, they’re actually pretty good detectives. Two, they drink gallons of tea. And three, a cup of tea tastes better with a little something sweet on the side—at least according to Rose Jackson. Rose is often the source of those sweet treats, anything from oatmeal cookies to cinnamon coffeecake to her popular banana bread.


  • 1 cup of mashed bananas
  • ⅓ cup butter or margarine
  • ⅔ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


Grease a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with the mashed bananas to the creamed ingredients. Mix well.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan then remove and cool on a wire rack.


Walnut-Bourbon Banana Bread loaves.


Second Chance Cat Mystery

Telling Tails

The New York Times bestselling author of A Whisker of Trouble returns as secondhand shop owner Sarah Grayson and her rescue cat, Elvis, get caught up in a case of she said, she said….

When Sarah Grayson opened a secondhand shop in the quaint town of North Harbor, Maine, she was expecting peace and quiet. Then she was adopted by a rescue cat named Elvis and a kooky trio of senior sleuths known as Charlotte’s Angels. Now she has nine lives worth of excitement…

Sarah’s friend and employee Rose is delivering a customer’s purchase when the quick errand becomes a deadly escapade. Rose arrives just in time to see the customer murdered by his wife, but before she can call the police, she is knocked out cold. When she wakes up, no one believes her, especially after the woman claims her husband is very much alive and has left her for someone else—and has a text message and empty bank account to prove it.

Despite her convincing story, Sarah is sure something is fishy—and it’s not Elvis’s kitty treats. Sarah, Elvis, and the Angels are determined to unravel this mysterious yarn, before the feral killer pounces again…

Mystery Pet Lovers | Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781101991206 / eISBN: 9781101991213]

About Sofie Ryan

Sofie Ryan

Sofie Ryan is the pseudonym of young adult writer and mixed-media artist, Darlene Ryan. Sofie/Darlene lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. And she admits to having a small crush on Matt Lauer.

Second Chance Cat


Diana Orgain | Researching a Haunted Castle for THIRD TIME’S A CRIME.

It began like most things begin today – with a google search. I was hunting for the perfect location to set my next mystery THIRD TIME’S A CRIME. The mystery is the third book in my reality TV series where I’d concocted an unsolved murder at a haunted castle. I needed an eerie location as a starting point for my story.

When I found the Preston Castle in Ione, California I knew I had it! From the Preston Castle website: “Experiences at the castle have included EVP, humming, whispers, touching, channeling, and seeing and recording orbs and apparitions. There have been no harmful events and no one has been hurt during these overnight events.”

You see this is no ordinary castle – it was the home of Preston School of Industry, one of the oldest and best-know reform schools in the United States. It is said to have been the sight of many mysterious tragic episodes, violent encounters and even unsolved murders. The accounts of visitors are that the castle is rife with ghost sightings. The fact that the castle sponsors overnight ghost tours seemed like just the ticket for my research.

I dialed my dear friend and paranormal mystery author, Kirsten Weiss.

“Want to go on a haunted castle flashlight tour with me?” I asked.

Kirsten laughed a response.

“Why are you laughing?” I asked, fearful that my request was too over the edge even for a paranormal mystery author.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am to be invited on a haunted castle tour,” Kirsten said. After I explained the details to her, Kirsten added. “Can we stop at a winery I like in Lodi?”

Now I couldn’t believe my luck. We were going to explore a historic site in California and include wine tasting?


We arrived at The Preston Castle as the sun was setting. It was wintertime and the light didn’t hover for very long. Before we knew it, our view of the Castle turned from breathtaking to downright eerie. The docent handed us flashlights and ushered into the vast foyer. The castle is 46,000 square feet, has 77 rooms and no fewer than 43 fireplaces and 257 windows!

We were cold beyond belief; every window in the place was broken, cracked or gone. We were only allowed to tour the first few floors and the basement. The third and fourth floor were closed due to the condition of the roof (I believe there’s a hole in it and those floors are beyond repair).

The first stop on the tour was the “prayer” room. It was set up like a small chapel, but instead of praying we watched an intro video that included the history of the construction of the castle and famous inmates (among them, my favorite country singer of all time Merle Haggard!)

Most of the public rooms on the main floor – like the dining room and hall – were enormous, while the private bedrooms on the second floor were tiny. Of note, on the second floor one side of the hallway had rooms with a sink, while the other side had rooms with a fireplace.

The dining room fascinated me. “Where the kitchen?” I asked the docent.

“Downstairs,” she told me. “It’s where they found the body of the head housekeeper, Anna Corban.”

A chill danced across my spine. Poor Anna.

“Can we see the kitchen?” I asked.

The docent took us down a narrow staircase and showed a small cupboard where Anna’s body had been hidden. The cupboard was so small it seemed impossible that anyone would fit in it.

It turned out the kitchen was small too. All the food was prepared there and then transported through a dumbwaiter up to the dining room.

The cupboard, along with the kitchen and especially the dumbwaiter sparked an idea for me, and shortly after THIRD TIME’S A CRIME was written! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Preston Castle 1

THIRD TIME’S A CRIME by Diana Orgain

Love or Money Mystery #3

Third Time's a Crime

Ex-detective Georgia Thornton returns to reality TV in the third mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of A Second Chance at Murder


After two hit reality TV shows brought ex-detective Georgia Thornton into America’s living rooms, audiences can’t get enough of her quest for love and justice. Now producers have come up with an all-new show set in a haunted castle in Golden, California. Georgia and nine other contestants will need to solve the mystery of a young woman who disappeared at the castle in 1960.

Except there’s one rather substantial problem waiting for everyone when they arrive: a groundskeeper is found drowned at the bottom of the castle’s empty pool. Now Georgia and the other contestants will need to work together, because there’s a different sort of game afoot—and it’s not one they can afford to lose…

Mystery [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425271704 / eISBN: 9780698140172]

About Diana Orgain

Diana Orgain

Diana Orgain is the author of the Maternal Instincts Mysteries and coauthor of GILT TRIP with Laura Childs in the New York Times bestselling Scrapbooking Mysteries. She holds a B.A and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University with a minor in acting. Diana has acted professionally both on stage and in national commercials. She’s written several plays, which were produced at San Francisco State University, GreenHouse Productions, and PlayGround. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three children.

Love or Money Mystery | Scrapbook Mysteries | Roundup Crew


Dead Cold Brew: A Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle

It’s official. After sixteen books, our Greenwich Village coffeehouse manager, Clare Cosi, finally becomes engaged to her boyfriend, NYPD Detective Mike Quinn. Unfortunately, the vintage diamond Mike slips on Clare’s finger in DEAD COLD BREW, opens a Pandora’s box to a cold case murder that occurred sixty years before.

This chilling homicide happened in a stateroom of the Andrea Doria, a luxurious Italian ocean liner that tragically sank off the coast of Nantucket in 1956. On board that ship was a gifted Italian artisan named Gus Campana, the jewelry designer who created Clare’s engagement ring.

When Clare finds Gus poisoned behind his West Village workshop, she won’t rest until she uncovers who may have done it and why. Her search uncovers family scandal, a charming thief, and a deadly adversary.

If you are new to our long-running Coffeehouse Mystery series, don’t hesitate to pick up DEAD COLD BREW. You can read it as a stand-alone, and if you like it, you have 15 more mysteries to enjoy. But don’t miss this latest entry. It’s embedded with twists, turns, and wonderful secrets about New York City that we’ve discovered over the years—from an exclusive room in the legendary 21 Club, to the underbelly of the city’s Diamond District, to a hidden train platform beneath the Waldorf-Astoria.

“A fabulous diamond, blackmail, embezzlement, surprise inheritances, murder, and a decades-old family scandal…with lusciously rich recipes.”

—Publishers Weekly on Dead Cold Brew

About Cleo Coyle

Alice Alfonsi and her husband, Marc Cerasini, who write as Cleo Coyle.

CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, now celebrating over ten years in print. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together, including the national bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.

Coffeehouse Mystery


CLEO’S NEWSLETTER: Fun contests, bonus recipes, book news, and videos. To sign up, simply write an e-mail that says “sign me up” and send it to CoffeehouseMystery@gmail(dot)com
FREE TITLE CHECKLIST: Get a title checklist with mini summaries of all 16 Coffeehouse Mysteries and links to free recipe guides. To download the list as a PDF document, click here.

DEAD COLD BREW by Cleo Coyle

Coffeehouse Mystery #16

Dead Cold Brew

From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Dead to the Last Drop, comes a gripping new entry in the “highly satisfying”* Coffeehouse Mystery series. (*Publishers Weekly)


Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear…

After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare’s finger, Clare’s eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.

First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare’s daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare’s ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York’s most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.

With recipes to die for, including how to make cold-brew coffee at home!

Mystery Cozy | Mystery [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 10, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425276112 / eISBN: 9780698167407]

DEAD COLD BREW is also a culinary mystery, with an appendix of more than 25 recipes, including Cannoli Cream Cupcakes, Perfect Pumpkin Quick Bread, Blueberry Buckle Cake, (Meatless) Baked Ziti, Chicken Cacciatore (Red and White Versions), American Fettuccine Alfredo, Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate-Espresso Cookies, tips on how to make Cold Brew Coffee like a pro, and much more.

To see the book’s Free Recipe Guide, click here.

Jenn McKinlay | The Best Part of Writing: Research

Hello, Readers,

The fifth Hat Shop mystery ASSAULT AND BERET is on the shelves now and since I wrote it a year ago, I had to go back and remind myself of what happened in the book. It sounds crazy, I know, but after I finished that book, I went on to write four more so you can imagine that all of those characters, plots, and settings fill up the filing cabinet in my head and make it very difficult to remember who did what to whom, when and where.

Which brings me to the best part of writing, at least for me, the research! I love doing the ground work for a book. Usually, I learn so much more than I can ever stuff into a story, but when the book is released, it gives me a chance to revisit all of the facts that I learned and much like reacquainting myself with the characters, it’s like visiting with old friends. I usually remember exactly what I was doing when I learned a new fact or read and interesting story. That is, when I take the time to revisit the book that is being released.

True story, funny story: I was once doing a book signing during a time when I had a cluster of books coming out, like, every two months and even I was having a hard time keeping up with them all. When someone asked me to tell them a little bit about the book that I was there to sign, I couldn’t remember ANYTHING. Finally, a writer friend bailed me out by chiming in and saying, “There are cupcakes and people die.” Ha! Take that, Cliff Notes!

After that, I learned my lesson and now I go back and peruse the book that’s coming out, so that when someone asks me a question, I have a chance of answering it or at least I can reference the right book. This month I was delighted to go back to Paris with Scarlett and Viv and the gang from Portobello Road and revisit all that happened to them while they were there. It is the series finale so quite a bit happens, actually.

While I was skimming it, I remembered that one of my favorite components of the book was William Graham, Viv’s estranged husband, who is an insurance investigator in the art world. His profession allowed me to research how paintings are evaluated by authentication or attribution, which was fascinating. I particularly enjoyed learning about the piece Red, Black, and Silver possibly by Jackson Pollock. It was rumored to have been painted for his lover who hired forensic experts who found a polar bear hair from the polar bear rug he had in his studio at the time the piece was painted and they used that information to argue that it was indeed a Pollock. Pollock’s wife, however, hired the old school art connoisseurs, professionals who likely knew Pollock’s work better than he did himself, and they argued that the piece was inconsistent with his body of work. Both women have since died and the case has never been resolved. The researcher in me loves this stuff!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the word-smithing part of writing just as much as the research, but there is no doubt that the more I research a time, place, or profession, the more material I have to work from, which is always a good thing. Now here’s a brief description of ASSAULT AND BERET, so you can say you’ve done your research before you grab a copy of the book!

Allons-y to Paris for more hats and homicide from the New York Times bestselling author of Copy Cap Murder!

London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can’t wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.

William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it’s up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They’ll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in the art of deception…



About Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay took her first decoupage class when she was twelve years old. Since then, cutting and pasting have become a way of life. With two small children at home, she finds decoupage a fun craft as well as a very handy tool, especially when used to cover up doodles made in permanent marker on otherwise lovely furniture. And yes, they know her by name at her local Michael’s Craft Store. She is the author of three previous novels under the name Jennifer McKinlay and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her musician husband Chris, their two sons, two cats, one dog and one fish.

Library Lover’s Mystery | Cupcake Bakery Mystery | Hat Shop Mystery



Hat Shop Mystery

Assault and Beret

Allons-y to Paris for more hats and homicide from the New York Times bestselling author of Copy Cap Murder!

London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can’t wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.

William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it’s up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They’ll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in the art of deception…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425279595 / eISBN: 9780698187818]