Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am happy to welcome Anna Gerard to Escape With Dollycas today!
A Georgia B&B Mystery
by Anna Gerard
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m the NYT bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series (written as Ali Brandon) and have published two other series…the Tarot Cats Mystery series from Midnight Ink and the Leonardo da Vinci Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. I’ve also published five historical romances under the names Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard. PEACH CLOBBERED, first book in my upcoming Georgia B&B Mystery series (written as Anna Gerard) will be my 16th published novel. I live in South Florida, though I was born and raised in Texas.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
I’ve never snow-skied, I’m allergic to apples (and peaches!), and I have three tattoos.
What is the first book you remember reading?
I know I read books long before this, but the first title I remember is THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN VOLCANO LAND.
What are you reading now? I have a huge TBR stack that I need to delve into once I’m off deadline. But I most recently finished reading an ARC for Maggie Toussaint’s DREAMED IT paranormal mystery, which should be published later this year (go pre-order it!).
What books have most inspired you? Throughout high school, I read nothing but romantic suspense and gothic romances, which I’m sure have a bearing on my writing style today.
What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries? Because, although I started out publishing historical romances, all my books had dead bodies lying around. It seemed a natural progression to move into the mystery genre.
Do you have a special place you like to write? Nothing fancy. Either my desk in my home office; or, if I need a change, I move my laptop onto my back screened-in porch and let the cats help me write.
Where do the ideas for your books come from? Anywhere and everywhere – it’s rare I can pinpoint an actual inspiration.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging? Giving it priority over the 999 other things I need to do (especially when I’m on deadline).
What do you think makes a good story? I want to see a distinct beginning/middle/end to the tale. And, the main characters (even if not entirely likable) must be fully developed and relatable. And at the end of the book, I want to see a goal reached, a lesson learned…basically, a payoff for having spent those hours reading. It never hurts to have a cute dog or cat as part of the story, either.
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you? Probably Nina Fleet, the B&B owner and amateur sleuth of my current Georgia B&B Mystery series. Although there is a lot of me in Darla Pettistone from my Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series.
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre? Since there are so many great cozy mystery authors out there, I can’t claim to be a better writer or have more clever plots than anyone else. But I think my stories have heart as well as suspense and a bit of humor, plus I include felines and canines that aren’t just cozy window dressing but are fully realized characters. If you don’t cry at least once and laugh out loud at least twice when you read my books, then I’ve fallen down on the job.
What’s next on the horizon for you? I’m finishing up the manuscript for my next Georgia B&B Mystery, PEACHY SCREAM, and am waiting on word on hopefully reselling my Tarot Cats Mystery series to a new publisher.
Thank you, Anna, for visiting today!
Keep reading for my thoughts about Anna’s Peach Clobbered.
What’s black and white and dead all over? Georgia bed and breakfast proprietor Nina Fleet finds out when she comes across a corpse in a penguin costume.
Nina Fleet’s life ought to be as sweet as a Georgia peach. Awarded a tidy sum in her divorce, Nina retired at 41 to a historic Queen Anne house in quaint Cymbeline, GA. But Nina’s barely settled into her new B&B-to-be when a penguin shows up on her porch. Or, at least, a man wearing a penguin suit.
Harry Westcott is making ends meet as an ice cream shop’s mascot and has a letter from his great-aunt, pledging to leave him the house. Too bad that’s not what her will says. Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty have lost their lease. Real estate developer Gregory Bainbridge intends to turn the convent into a golfing community, so Cymbeline’s mayor persuades Nina to take in the elderly nuns. And then Nina finds the “penguin” again, this time lying in an alley with a kitchen knife in his chest.
A peek under the beak tells Nina it’s not Harry inside the costume, but Bainbridge. What was he doing in Harry’s penguin suit? Was the developer really the intended victim, or did the culprit mean to kill Harry? Whoever is out to stop Harry from contesting the sale of his great-aunt’s house may also be after Nina, so she teams up with him to cage the killer before someone clips her wings in Peach Clobbered.
Welcome to Cymbeline Georgia. A place Nina Fleet and her Australian Sheepdog, Mattie now call home. She bought a historic Queen Anne house therwat the spur of the moment following her divorce and loves it. Harry Wescott the great nephew of the previous owner believes the house should be his and shows up at her door to tell her so, dressed in a penguin suit. Seems he is working as a mascot for the local ice cream shop to make ends meet.
Nina had big hopes of opening it as a B&B but zoning regulations have held up her plans. That is until the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty were evicted from their convent when the landlord refused to renew their lease. The mayor came to Nina personally promising to cut through all the government’s red tape if she allows the sisters to stay with her until their new orders come through.
After the nuns are all settled they tell Nina of their plan to protest their former landlord’s business. Nina goes along hoping to keep the nuns out of trouble, but during a lunch break, she hears a scream. She rushes into an alley to find a man in a penguin suit has been stabbed. But it isn’t Harry Wescott in the suit this time, it is the sister’s landlord, Gregory Bainbridge! Could one of the nuns have done the deed or did the killer think it was Harry in the suit? Nina finds herself right in the middle of The Murder of the Man in the Penguin Suit! What a way to start her new life.
Penguins, Nuns, and Murder, Oh My!
What a great start for this series! I loved Nina (Nine-ah) immediately. She is smart and savvy, ready to live life on her own terms. The nuns were fantastic, feisty, mostly elderly women who have been together for over 50 years. They become fast friends with Nina and enjoy checking out all the take-out meal options now available to them. Nina does her best to keep these vital and active women busy as they await to see what the future hold for them. Harry is a conundrum, an out of work actor who wants to take her house away who is not the most likable person. Nina’s dog Maddie is precious. She is empathetic when needed and a wonderful watch dog too.
Ms. Gerard has twisted together a terrific mystery plotline with very interesting subplots as we get to know our protagonist and the residents of Cymbeline. The pacing was perfect and each chapter drew me right into the next. I was engaged by the characters completely and was anxious to see how everything in this novel panned out. She brought in a surprise item that turned my thinking totally around but I was still taken aback by the big reveal.
The setting of the story was just peachy. A Georgia B&B is absolutely ripe for many more mysteries too. I am excited to see who checks in next!
This was a marvelous mystery and I highly recommend it for all cozy mystery fans!
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More About Anna Gerard
DIANE A.S. STUCKART is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series (writing as Ali Brandon). She’s also the author of the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries, as well as several historical romances and numerous mystery, fantasy, and romance short stories. The first book in her Tarot Cats Mystery series is FOOL’S MOON, available in trade, large print, and Kindle versions. Her Georgia B&B Mystery series from Crooked Lane Books launched July 2019 with PEACH CLOBBERED, written as Anna Gerard.
Diane is a member of Mystery Writers of America and has served as the 2018 and 2019 Chapter President of the MWA Florida chapter. In addition to her mystery writing affiliations, she’s a member of the Cat Writers’ Association and belongs to the Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association. She’s a native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, but has been living in the West Palm Beach FL area since 2006. She shares her “almost in the Everglades” home with her husband, dogs, cats, and a few beehives. Learn more about her books at www.dianestuckart.com
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”