Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so excited to welcome Karen Rose Smith to Escape With Dollycas today!
by Karen Rose Smith
Developing a new series is a powerful experience. With tea as my focus, I could have taken many different paths. I chose an area I know well for the setting—Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I created the fictional town of Willow Creek so I could include businesses that would make a mystery series unique and interesting.
When I think of Lancaster County, I picture Amish buggies, manicured gardens, fertile farms, hex signs on barns, delicious baked goods, and home-grown food, handcrafted quilts and cottage industries. As I researched elements I wanted to use in the series, I took a drive, concentrating on the towns of Bird In Hand, Paradise, and Intercourse. As I passed Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, I realized a rhubarb festival was being held! There was a rhubarb race-car derby, a Best Rhubarb Dessert contest, and a mini parade. It emphasized all the feelings that I want my readers to have when enjoying DAISY’S TEA GARDEN Mysteries—a strong sense of home, belonging, friendship and warmth. Setting the series in a similar town was taking a step back in time to when values, home, and hearth mattered.
My sleuth, Daisy Swanson, is a widow with two teenage daughters—Violet aka Vi and Jasmine aka Jazzi. Daisy’s mother Rose named her two daughters Daisy and Camellia. Rose’s sister’s name is Iris. Flower names are a family tradition. Since Daisy likes to garden, she followed the tradition. BTW, Daisy and her daughters adopted two cats—Marjoram and Pepper.
As I mentioned earlier, the barns in Lancaster County are iconic. So I decided to do something a little different with one of them. When Daisy moved back to her hometown of Willow Creek two years ago, she bought a run-down barn and transformed it into her home.
Daisy’s Tea Garden, a Victorian house in downtown Willow Creek, has become a gathering place. Daisy and her Aunt Iris are the proprietors. Although Daisy’s aunt is in her golden years, she’s enjoying the company of Harvey Fitz, wealthy CEO of Men’s Trends. Lemon tea cakes are Harvey’s favorite snack at the tea garden. The only problem is that Harvey isn’t yet divorced. When Harvey is murdered on the tea garden’s patio with a foot-high unicorn statue as the weapon, Aunt Iris is the prime suspect. But Daisy soon discovers many residents of Willow Creek are suspects—from Harvey’s soon to be ex-wife, to his children to his business colleagues.
The first book in Daisy’s Tea Garden mysteries, MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES, was released December 26, 2017. The second book, MURDER WITH CINNAMON SCONES, will be released in June. At present, I’m working on book #3, MURDER WITH CUCUMBER SANDWICHES. I hope you enjoy them all. I like to chat with my readers on social media. You can find me on Facebook at KarenRoseSmithBooks and on Twitter @karenrosemith. Find out more about my mysteries at https://www.karenrosesmithmysteries.com.
Thank you, so much for visiting today, Karen.
Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes (A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Kensington (December 26, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B06XZ99HCY
In an old Victorian in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson and her aunt Iris serve soups, scones, and soothing teas to tourists and locals—but a murder in their garden has them in hot water . . .
Daisy, a widowed mom of two teenagers, is used to feeling protective—so when Iris started dating the wealthy and not-quite-divorced Harvey Fitz, she worried . . . especially after his bitter ex stormed in and caused a scene at the party Daisy’s Tea Garden was catering. Then there was the gossip she overheard about Harvey’s grown children being cut out of his will. Daisy didn’t want her aunt to wind up with a broken heart—but she never expected Iris to wind up a suspect in Harvey’s murder.
Now the apple bread and orange pekoe is on the back burner while the cops treat the shop like a crime scene—and Daisy hopes that Jonas Groft, a former detective from Philadelphia, can help her clear her aunt’s name and bag the real killer before things boil over . . .
Includes delicious recipes for Iris’s Lemon Tea Cakes and more!
I was captivated by this cozy from the first chapter.
Daisy Swanson’s husband Ryan, passed away about 3 years ago. She and her daughters have moved to Willow Creek so Daisy can partner with her Aunt Iris owning and operating Daisy’s Tea Garden. Daisy also purchased and renovated an old barn into an extraordinary home. Iris is dating Harvey Fitz, owner of the men’s clothing store down the street, a very wealthy man. The problem is that while he is separated he is not yet divorced making people a little uncomfortable with the arrangement. Plus his wife appears to not be giving in without a fight. Harvey may have changed his will cutting off his adult children too.
Before the divorce is final Iris finds Harvey dead on the tea garden patio and she and Daisy become the police’s prime suspects. Daisy is going to need a little help but she is going to try to find the real killer.
I love the strong family bonds in this story. They are very believable. Daisy has a very strong bond with her aunt. Iris and her sister, Daisy’s mom, have a lifelike sisterly bond on well. They have no trouble telling each other what they think. Daisy is a great mom but her daughters, Violet and Jasmine are dealing with being separated since Vi is now in college and there is something else bothering Jazzi. Daisy also has a sister Camellia. As you can see, flower names are a family tradition.
The author has set the story in the beautiful Amish Lancaster County. Iris and Daisy use fruits and vegetables from the farmers at the restaurant and the town has places for buggies as well as cars and trucks. Daisy’s home has me wishing for something just like it. The tea garden seems like a place I would want to visit every day.
The mystery was harder to solve than I initially thought it would be. I had my suspects down to two when more suspects were brought forward for consideration. A shocking twist turned my thinking completely inside out.
An inviting setting, engaging characters, and a well-plotted mystery made this a story I didn’t want to put down. Ms. Smith really intrigued with this book. I want to get to know these characters better and visit Willow Creek again soon and often.
This series is off to an excellent start.
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