The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift! Only $2.99. Book 2 in the bestselling Happy Homicides Anthology Series. Available for a limited time at this low price. Thirteen mysteries (600-plus pages) by thirteen bestselling and award-winning authors. With free bonus file of recipes and craft ideas. These clean mysteries detail crimes of the heart. Authors–Joanna Campbell Slan, Teresa Trent, Neil Plakcy, Elaine Viets, Annie Adams, Camille Minichino, Nancy Jill Thames, Linda Gordon Hengerer, Kathi Daley, Carolyn Haines, Anna Celeste Burke, Randy Rawls, and Maggie Touissant.
Stupid Cupid: A Cara Mia Delgatto Novella by Joanna Campbell Slan—Cara Mia’s search for love gets her involved in a star-crossed, homicidal romance.
A Heart for Murder by Teresa Trent: An expensive family heirloom is stolen from a local jewelry store, and Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick would love to figure out who’s responsible.
For the Love of Dog by Neil Plakcy: A young woman’s death causes a man to consider the many aspects of love. Is it ever a justification for murder?
Wedding Knife by Elaine Viets: A groom learns to take his vow–Till death do we part—very, very seriously.
Death and a Dozen Roses by Annie Adams: Plucky florist Rosie McKay is reunited with an old love, thanks to complications that happen when she tries to deliver a dozen roses.
The Sodium Arrow by Camille Minichino: The love of a student for a favorite teacher drives a freelance embalmer to seek out justice.
Sweets, Treats, and Murder by Nancy Jill Thames: Jillian Bradley is a widow with no children, but she still has a keen sense of family. Her love of a good mystery sets her and her canine companion, Teddy, on a quest for justice.
Dying for Valentine’s Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Novella by Linda Gordon Hengerer: The three Powell sisters want their friend Thelma to find true love, but they’re having trouble believing her fiancé has her best interests at heart.
The New Normal by Kathi Daley: Although her own dreams have been shattered, Ellie Davis finds it impossible to quit loving an old friend, even after he’s accused of murder.
Bones and Arrows by Carolyn Haines: Intrepid Sarah Booth Delaney would rather face a gun than a party on Valentine’s Day. Not surprisingly, she’s decided that Cupid is a big phony. But is he a jewel thief, too?
Murder at Catmmando Mountain: Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery 1 by Anna Celeste Burke: Georgina Shaw loves her cat, chocolate, and cooking. When she’s framed for a crime, she’s forced to reconsider her priorities.
The Missing Jacket by Randy Rawls: A golfing buddy offers Jonathan Boykin big money to retrieve a stolen jacket, but Jonathan suspects something else is going on. Jonathan is smart enough to discern the difference between love and lust. But can he also figure out the scam?
Really, Truly Dead by Maggie Toussaint: Lindsey McKay has no desire to return to small town life. But her love for her father brings her back home when he’s accused of murder.
~ Bonus Story~
Impediments: A Kiki Lowenstein Short Story by Joanna Campbell Slan: Family problems and priestly politics threaten to derail a love match, until Kiki Lowenstein suggests a surprising solution.
By Joanna Campbell Slan
“He did not give you a dozen roses. There are only eleven.” EveLynn jutted out her jaw stubbornly. “Count with me. One, two, three…”
Since EveLynn has Asperger’s, I usually overlook her brusque behavior. Occasionally, I remind her to tone it down. I carry a certain amount of influence because I’m her boss, sort of. My name is Cara Mia Delgatto, and I own The Treasure Chest, a store specializing in recycled, upcycled, and repurposed décor items with a beach theme.
Fortunately, I usually don’t have to worry about EveLynn’s off-putting ways, because she works from home. But today was the day after Valentine’s Day and she’d stopped in to take an inventory of her soft goods and to drop off her mother, Honora McAfee. Honora is as sweet and thoughtful as her daughter is tactless. We put up with EveLynn because she’s fantastic with numbers, which makes her a phenomenal seamstress. But today, her Asperger’s also made her a giant pain in the backside as she insisted on counting all the roses my staff and I had received for Valentine’s Day.
“Eleven?” Skye Blue’s lower lip quivered. Silver crescents of tears brimmed in her eyes. “Why would Lou only send me eleven roses?”
I couldn’t stand this. Skye had never gotten roses before. Lou’s gift had sent her over-the-moon with joy. Now she was on the verge of a giant melt-down.
I stepped between EveLynn and the vase of flowers. “Okay, EveLynn, we get the point. There should be a dozen roses here, and there are only eleven. Big deal. So the florist miscounted. The point is that Lou intended to send a dozen red roses to Skye–”
But before I could finish, EveLynn had counted to eleven. With a blah look on her face, she pointed at me. “You didn’t get a dozen roses either. There are only eleven in your batch. Neither did MJ. In fact, Mom didn’t get a dozen. She only got eleven. I counted those, too.”
“What’s your point?” I asked.
She shrugged. “Only that there aren’t a dozen roses in any of the bouquets. Even in Mom’s.”
“Isn’t it time for you to go home, dear?” Honora hustled her daughter toward the back door. After closing it behind EveLynn, she faced Skye and me. “I’m so sorry if EveLynn ruined your flowers for you. You’re probably wondering why she sent me a dozen roses. Well, because of the Asperger’s, she doesn’t understand that red roses are for romantic love. She simply knows people send them.”
“That’s all right.” Skye braved a smile. “I know she didn’t mean to be hurtful.”
“Right,” I echoed. But my mind was busy doing what I do best. Making business calculations. All of our bouquets had come from Gina’s Flowers, a small local business. Gina Mason and I had met at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in January. As female entrepreneurs, we’d instantly clicked. When we bumped into each other at the post office two days before Valentine’s, she’d told me she had orders for 112 red rose bouquets. The bouquets were selling at $120 each. She expected to run out of bouquets early Valentine’s Day morning.
“It’s almost pitiful,” she had said. With a soft chuckle and a shake of the head, she added, “There are always a few dense husbands who wait until the last minute and come rushing in. They’d pay any amount to buy roses. When I tell them there are none to be had, they totally panic.”
What if someone had access to roses on Valentine’s Day? What if that person preyed on hapless men coming out of Gina’s shop? Couldn’t that person make a lot of money?
I picked up the phone and called Detective Lou Murray. He answered on the first ring.
“Let me get this straight,” Skye said, as she ran one fingertip around the petals on a rose. “Gina hired a kid named Jeremy to help Gina’s delivery guy, Paul. Jeremy grew up here, so he offered to drive. That way he—Jeremy–could keep the truck running while Paul took the flowers up to the doors, right? But what Jeremy was really doing was swiping roses. He hijacked four dozen flowers by pulling them, one at a time, out of bouquets while Paul was ringing doorbells. Jeremy stashed the stolen flowers in a big black garbage bag behind the driver’s seat. Paul didn’t notice because he was too busy running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.”
I nodded. “Right. When they went back to the store to pick up more flowers, Jeremy handed the bag of flowers to his girlfriend Nixie. She’d been stationed at Gina’s store, waiting for the truck to return. They set out to deliver more bouquets. Meanwhile, Nixie watched as men came out of Gina’s shop. If they looked upset and weren’t carrying roses, she’d run up and offer to sell them a dozen at a premium price.”
“She even offered to throw in a vase. It’s easy enough to find glass vases at resale shops for a dollar or two.” Skye leaned in to sniff her flowers.
“Working together, Nixie and Jeremy made nearly $2000.” Skye shook her head. “And no one complained, because who counts the roses? Except for…”
“EveLynn!” We said in chorus.
I’m reading through this collection now and really enjoying it so far. There are stories by some tried and true cozy authors, and some new-to-me authors. I love that there are so many great stories all together. I’m a bit behind in my reading schedule~I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks and it turns out I have pneumonia. I’m finally starting to feel a little better, and will update my review soon.
Find out about the authors below:
Joanna Campbell Slan
Nancy Jill Thames
Linda Gordon Hengerer
Anna Celeste Burke