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Erin is one smart cookie, but can she keep the holiday spirit—and herself—alive till Christmas?
In Jewel Bay, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily has turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.
When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?
Includes delicious recipes!
For Better or For Worse, but For a New Kitchen, Too?
by Leslie Budewitz
Years ago, long before I was married or bought my first house, a woman I worked with told me about the bathroom remodel she and her husband had done over the weekend. Before they started work, he put his hands on her shoulders and said “No matter what happens, I love you.”
I kept that moment in mind when Mr. Right and I bought this house nearly twenty years ago. I’d owned two elderly homes as a single woman and did a lot of work on them myself. He’d had a few remodel experiences himself, and was good with basic tools. This house was new. We didn’t imagine it would need much work other than painting. Mr. Right, for all his talents and willingness, is allergic to painting and lawn mowing, but he happily moved furniture, then helped pick specs of Spruce, Vanillin, and June Flag out of my hair.
I kept that moment in mind when we remodeled the kitchen ten years ago. You know how kitchen remodels go—we ended up changing every surface on the first floor. And although we hired out most of the work—moving walls and re-doing what the electrician generously called the “homeowner wiring” that had come with the place is well beyond our skill set—we managed to get the project finished on time and on budget, and stay married. Even though we lived on the 2d floor of the house for 8 weeks, with the cat, cooking in a microwave in my office or in our ancient camper, parked in the front yard.
For the current project, remodeling the upstairs bathrooms and changing the carpet for wood floors, we decided paying professionals was the wiser choice. Happily, though the camper is gone, we’ve been able to sleep in the loft of Mr. Right’s music cabin in our back meadow. I’m still working in the house some days; on noisier days, the cat and I carry the laptop, my coffee cup, and his food bowl out to the cabin and write away.
And I kept my co-worker’s tale in mind when my girl Erin, star of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, and her beau, Adam, began their own product, a complete remodel of the Orchard House Erin’s grandparents built in the 1950s. It’s a house full of memories, the house where her father and uncles were raised. Her parents bought it after their marriage, and Erin and her brother and sister grew up there. The tree house that she calls her Happy Place still sits amid the cherry trees. Her long-widowed mother has remarried and it’s time for the house to be home to a new generation.
Remodeling a house that your mother still considers hers? Home to her memories as well as yours? That’s an extra twist, isn’t it? I hope Erin put her hands on her mother’s shoulders before the project started, as well as on Adam’s, and said those magic words.
“No matter what happens, I love you.”
About the Author
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician, and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model, and avid bird-watcher.
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