Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas - Gold, Frankincense and Murder

Every weekday (Monday through Friday) for the month of December I will spotlight a story here on my blog. Yes, this is 17 days of Christmas book browsing. And on Christmas Eve I will announce the lucky winner (at least two that I know of right now). The person who leaves the most comments throughout the month will receive their choice of any one of the books spotlighted. That's from me. Other prizes are being offered by the individual authors.

Welcome, Barbara and thank you for joining me this Christmas season. I really enjoyed your story, but I especially love the heroine's name. Matter of fact, the first time someone said it in the story, I actually wanted to look around and see who was talking to me. LOL


High school geometry teacher, Donna Russell likes her life well-ordered and logical, even if it is a tad solitary at times. But when a charming co-worker at the local food bank disappears just before Christmas, Donna is left with more questions than solutions.

After the missing man's neighbor, muscle-bound EMT Sam Holton, volunteers as Donna's crime-fighting sidekick, sparks fly between them. Donna wonders if Sam can be trusted, or if he's trying to throw an unknown into her calculations—and her life.

And when police recover a body from the icy Niagara River, Donna is faced with the most frustrating equation of all: can murder plus mayhem ever equal romance?


The next time the bell above the door jangled, a petite blonde pranced in. She wore a form-fitting coat and dainty blue fuzzy earmuffs. “Whew! It’s cold out there!” At least she appeared blonde. I had doubts. She spotted me behind the counter and her shoulders sagged.

“Good morning,” I said, as she leaned in to sign the client sheet, giving me the perfect vantage from which to examine her roots. I was right.

I handed her one bag, and she headed straight to the canned fruit section. I glanced at the name on the sheet. Daphne. Of course, she is.

“We just got in some peaches, Daphne,” I called out after her.

“I see them. Thanks.” She tossed a few cans into her bag. “Hey, what happened to the guy who’s normally here?”

“Neal? I don’t know. He’s AWOL.”

“Hmm.” She turned to our meager selection of protein and snagged two cans of tuna. Odd. I would have pegged her as a vegetarian. She must have seen me looking at the cans. “For my cat,” she said. “Anyway, I’m a little concerned about Neal. He didn’t say anything to me about going anywhere. Maybe he’s sick or something.” She ran a hand through her hair. Static held one strand straight up. I considered telling her, but I enjoyed it too much.

It’s not that I had anything against petite, blonde vegetarians in particular. But throughout my life, I’d watched many of my male friends fall head-over-heels for that particular species, only to be dumped for a new flirtation. And then old pal Donna, the gangly brunette with pale blue-gray eyes hidden behind thicker and thicker glasses and no flirtation skills whatsoever, was always right there to help—with the heartbreak and their math homework. At least until the next cute blonde batted her eyelashes. But that was high school. And college. And grad school. Okay, maybe I did have a problem with petite, blonde vegetarians.


Ms. Early shares a wonderful sense of humor in her writing. as well as a genuine sense of curiosity that just oozes from Ms. Russell, the heroine of the story.

Hmmm, an absent co-worker, a math teacher who can’t make things add up, and a hunk of a neighbor who’s too good to be true…

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a good mystery. Ms. Early did a very nice job of not giving away whodunit. Matter of fact, I had no idea at all until the last pages (although I suppose a better sleuth than I might have seen clues that I missed). Some of her ideas certainly sounded possible to me!

A very cute and clever story! I really enjoyed it!


  1. I still love the cover of this book - it's too cute! And judging by the excerpt, the storyline is every bit as good. Gonna have to add this one to my list...

  2. What a great excerpt! Sounds like so much fun. I love the title and the cover! It's definitely on my list.

  3. Thanks, ladies. And Nicola did a wonderful job on the cover. It made me cry when I first saw it.

    That's perhaps my favorite excerpt. I'm going to have to start sending that to people who ask for one, instead of the beginning. Nice pick, Donna.

    And thanks for having me today. I would have been here sooner, but I was having internet issues of my own this morning.

  4. LOL this is my first chance to get here, but it's a wonderful story - glad I could share it!

  5. Sounds like another great book TBB!

    Good luck & God's blessings.

  6. Thanks, Pam--and thanks again, Donna, for having me!

  7. Is this a medical sort of mystery then? I like that kind best!

  8. Nope, sorry, not the medical kind.

  9. Another good read.