Cozy Mysteries with a Touch of Romance
Newest Release: The Key to Secrets, the seventh of the Hearts in Hazard series
Debutantes should snare fiancés, not murder them.
When Constable Hector Evans returns to Chalmsley Court, he doesn’t expect the violent crime to be the murder of one of Lord Chalmsley’s guests. His lordship wants a quick resolution, before gossip about the crime’s salacious nature and trap-like killing becomes widespread. With no murder weapon, no identifiable clues, and no eyewitnesses, Hector has little to build a case. He has plenty of suspects, even when he realizes the murderer must be a woman.
Even though other guests could have killed the man, Hector finds himself focusing on the Chalmsley family. Was it compulsive Cordelia? Obsessive Portia? Mad Aunt Beth, who gives him riddling clues as snippets of ballads. Hector would blame George, who grew up tormenting his sisters and torturing small animals, but George left two years ago for a rest-cure in Vienna. He can’t have returned, can he?
Bee Seddars, the girl who broke his heart, is a distraction he doesn’t need, especially as she and her cousins are among those celebrating recent engagements. Bee is as lovely as he once thought her and seemingly the most rational member of the Chalmsley family, but he wonders if a few brief months so many summers ago could possibly give him an understanding of who she is. Hector can’t get her to open up about the Chalmsley family secrets. Unlocking those, he believes, is key to solving the murder. Yet Bee seems to mistrust him—while he thought she was the one who broke the trust between them, since she refused to write him after he was sent away to join the Bow Street Runners.
In his first twelve hours on the case, the murder scene is torched and the victim’s journal is burned. In his second twelve hours, a second fiancé is murdered with the missing weapon. And Hector’s suspect lists remains an ell long and a grief wide.
With madness looking like the strongest motive and only circumstantial evidence to build his case, will Hector find the murderess before she strikes again? Or will he discover his lost love is causing bloody death?
He needs The Key to Secrets at Chalmsley Court.
A cozy mystery of 66,000 words, The Key to Secrets is the seventh entry in the Hearts to Hazard series of Regency mysteries. Each book is a standalone novel, complete unto itself, with loose interconnections of characters.
Constable Hector Evans was first introduced in The Danger to Hearts, the sixth Hearts in Hazards.
Recent Release: Christmas with Death
Christmas is for miracles, merriment, and murder.
An English country Christmas in 1919 should be a joyful celebration. Isabella Newcombe, however, discovers only petty sniping and bitterness when she and her friends (Cecilia Arkwright and the brothers Madoc and Gawen Tarrant) are invited to Emberley.
Sir Reginald and the Malvaise family filled the grand house with friends, acquaintances, and business associates. With money tight, Isabella and her friends enjoy the rich meals, hot fires, and comfortable rooms.
Yet rumors of affaires and drug addiction as well as accusations of blackmail sour the holiday atmosphere. And the invitation to the four friends was driven by an avid relish to hear about Cecilia’s upcoming divorce from her gaoled husband and the two deaths at Gawen Tarrant’s archaeological dig in October.
They plan to leave before New Year’s Eve, then Isabella and her fiancé Madoc discover the body of a fellow visitor, shot dead and left lying in an ice-skimmed pond.
With multiple motives and suspects, will Scotland Yard solve the crime before Isabella is the murderer’s next target? Will an imperfect murder be impossible to solve?
A cozy mystery of 53,000 words, Christmas with Death is the second novel in the Into Death series. While it follows Digging into Death, it is not a sequel. Each novel of the Into Death series is complete and not a cliff-hanger. Readers, however, will have a richer experience should they read the first two novels in the series, as the primary characters repeat. Find CHRISTMAS WITH DEATH here.
The Dangers to Hearts
Do broken hearts destroy all dreams?
Years ago, Agatha Helmes’ lover abandoned her. When her baby died at birth, she thought all her hopes for the future had ended.
She poured herself into her family’s farm, but in the last year, mismanagement by three different stewards has the farm losing more money than she can pour into it.
Jess Carter occasionally crewed for a known smuggler to bring a little extra into his home. He fell for a maid working at the Hawthorn Inn. Then the smuggling ring was arrested. The woman he thought he loved married another man. With a bruised heart for company, he packed up all his possessions and left his home.
Not knowing where to go, Jess consulted the smugglers’ fence Richard Helmes who directed him to Helmes Farm to assist the current steward. His cousin Agatha Helmes, he says, will hire anyone he sends to her.
When Jess arrives, the current steward is assaulting Agatha. He routs the old steward and finds himself in a job he doesn’t understand, taking advice and orders from a woman.
Agatha knows only one thing about her new steward: he doesn’t lie. Jess admits what he knows and doesn’t know about farming. He admits that he is avoiding arrest for smuggling. That is more than she can say about her former stewards and her former fiancé.
Trust between Agatha and Jess grows from a seed to a mighty oak. Attraction entwines them with compatibility and grows the first tendrils of love.
Then the steward’s cottage is set on fire, and Jess barely escapes.
The burned house reveals an old murder as the bones of Agatha’s former lover are discovered—with a bullet hole in the skull.
And the deed to Helmes Farm and other documents go missing.
With Agatha’s cousin trying to steal her farm, can Jess reveal her cousin hired him to watch out for his interests?
Will the constable investigating the new arson and the old murder think Agatha guilty of murdering her lover when he wouldn’t marry her?
And will their new love survive the questions and confusion?
The Dangers to Hearts is a sweet romantic suspense of approximately 50,000 words. While the novel is the sixth in the Hazards to Hearts series, it is complete and contains no cliffhangers. The character Jess Carter was introduced in the first Hearts in Hazard book, A Game of Secrets.
The Dangers for Spies
Past actions cause present dangers.
Eugenie DesChamps thinks she is safe, hidden in the English village of Little Houghton. She paints landscapes to supplement her income. She embarks on a flirtation with Charles Audley. To her the world seems radiant, so very different from eight years ago.
No one knows that she once was a toast of Paris, a pretense she used to acquire information to pass on to English spies. Eugenie hated the corrupt French government that had caused the deaths of her family. Then a French agent discovered her double game. She barely escaped with her life.
Eight years ago, Tobias Kennit worked with Eugenie, stealing information about Napoleon’s troop movements. Then their operation crashed. He fled, believing that Eugenie was executed as a traitor to her home country. Toby abandoned his undercover spying and became a gamester and a rake.
Yet now the English spycatcher Roger Nazenby has approached Toby once more. He wants him to protect a cryptographer living in the village of Little Houghton. French spies have infiltrated England to capture Charles Audley and return with him to France. Toby agrees to the assignment only because the woman he wants to marry (Melly Ratcliffe) lives in that village.
Charles Audley returned to his home village for peace and quiet after stressful years in London developing a series of ciphers for English agents. His latest ciphers led to English victories in the Peninsular War.
In Little Houghton, he is charmed by Eugenie DesChamps, a mysterious French artist. Their flirtation distracts him from his cryptography, but he feels no guilt whenever he is in her company.
When Toby sees Eugenie, he is shocked. Eugenie is not dead, and he wants answers from a woman he thought was a double agent. Is she in Little Houghton to help kidnap the cryptographer? She convinces him that she is not—but who is the threat to Charles Audley? And can they protect Audley when they do not know when or where the attack will strike?
French agent Didier Poulaine has spent eight years weaving together the snippets of threads to help him locate the only two spies who ever escaped him: Eugenie de la Croix and an Englishman masquerading as a French military officer. He tracks them to Little Houghton, the location of the cryptographer he came to England to kidnap—or kill.
Poulaine’s threads have woven together. Three lives intersect again and involve a fourth. Blood must be shed before the past is purged. Whose blood?
The Dangers for Spies is a romantic historical suspense set in Regency England, part of the Hearts in Hazard series. While this novel and The Game of Spies have interconnected characters, D4Spies is a complete work on its own. However, readers will have a richer experience if they have also read The Game of Spies.
Approximately 49,000 words. Find the DANGERS FOR SPIES here.
The Dangers of Secrets
Secrets of family. Secrets of hearts. Secrets of blood and pain.
Secrets can kill.
Maddy Whittaker, on the shelf for years, never expects the man of her dreams will be the one she once called a stick in the mud.
Banished from a country party so she won’t ruin her sisters’ chances in snaring husbands, Maddy is sent to visit a cousin named Simon Jespers, who is hosting his own Valentine’s party. She expects three weeks of boredom.
Gordon, Lord Musgrove, expects he will propose to a biddable lady and live unhappily ever after.
He escapes his mother’s country party (where the dowager Musgrove expects her only son to snare a wife) for one last bid at freedom. He decides to retreat to his friend Simon Jespers. Gordon never expects that his friend will be hosting a Valentine’s party. He does expect days and days of boredom.
On arrival at Jespers’ country manor, Maddy and Gordon meet for the first time. A quick flirtation finds them well matched in mind and soul, and the flirtation changes into romance.
Yet a secret from Maddy’s past threatens their future.
And a serial murderer threatens Maddy’s life.
Can Gordon overcome past secrets and present dangers to marry his perfect match?
The Dangers of Secrets is a romantic Regency mystery.
The character of Gordon, Lord Musgrove, was first introduced in A Game of Spies, published in the fall of 2015.
Warning: While the romance is sweet, the murders have been described as sordid. Unwanted memories of abuse may be triggered. Please be cautious.
Here is the joy of working with a great cover design group like Deranged Doctor Design:
- I say artist in Greece, they find images with sketches of Greece.
- I say heroine’s favorite color is periwinkle; they find a place to use it.
- I say set in early 20th century; they find a costumed model with a period-appropriate dress.
- I say beach; they give me a beach with a lovely sunset.
- They actually gave me two cover options, one with a beached boat that had lovely colors . . . but no boat in this book.
Give your cover designer ideas but very little direction. Trust the designer’s aesthetic.
Find a cover designer with your aesthetic; my search took almost two years, which gave me time to focus on other writing. The wait was useful: I published the first three books in the Hearts in Hazard series back to back, which I believe increased their sales.
Digging into Death
Stranded on Crete, Isabella Newcombe finesses a refuge with English archaeologists resuming their dig after WWI. Her sketches fortuitously land her a job illustrating the dig for Prof. Gawen Tarrant. His magnetic brother Madoc charms her with his interest.
The dig seethes with undercurrents, revealed when a worker is murdered. The archaeologists dismiss his death as a village vendetta. Then the dig sites are vandalized. Artifacts go missing. And Isabella’s former employer may be involved in buying stolen artifacts. With evidence amassing, they must admit the worker was killed when he spied something incriminating—but what? And who murdered him?
Suspicions escalate. All three professors have motives beyond simple profit. Are the Tarrant brothers stealing to fund more digs? Is Nigel Arkwright undermining the dig as revenge for Gawen’s flirtation with Nigel’s wife? Is Monty Standings damaging Gawen’s reputation? Even the archaeological students could be involved, for their own profit or to assist a professor.
Falling in love with Madoc, Isabella doesn’t know who to trust. Then one of the students is murdered while his photographic archive is destroyed. With her illustrations as the only record of the artifacts, Isabella belatedly recognizes the dangers of Digging into Death.