Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson
Victoria Square Mystery Series, Book 6
Published December 31, 2019
Berkley Books, 304 pages
The charm of Victoria Square may prove to be only skin deep when murder follows the arrival of a tattoo parlor in town in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.
A tattoo parlor on Victoria Square? Some of the merchants get hot under the collar at the proposal, but could they be driven to kill to stop it? That’s what the sheriff’s office and Katie Bonner want to know when the building’s owner is electrocuted with his own saw.
Meanwhile, tensions rise when a hot chef takes over the square’s tea shop. Will Katie have three men vying for her affections, or will her rival take the tea cake?
When a tattoo shop plans to open on Victoria Square it shakes up more than the merchants view of what business should be on the square. When the owner of said tattoo shop dies one of their own is the prime suspect.
Katie is the owner of Artisans Alley and Tealicious as well as president of the Victoria Square Merchants Association. She is a strong woman, not intimidated and an amazing entrepreneur. Katie finds herself in the middle of murder, trying to help a friend, playing detective and trying not to second guess everything she sees. There were moments when I thought Katie was overreacting and other when I thought, girl you got this together.
Murder Ink is my first read in the Victoria Square and an enjoyable one. It did take me to be to catch up with who was who and how they all worked together but I got it. I enjoyed the mystery that kept me guessing. I’m a romance reader first and foremost so Katie and Andy’s romance and squabbles were a bonus to this read. The writing style of Lorraine Bartlett is fun and keeps the pages turning. I was able to feel like I was right at home with these characters even though this was my first read of the series.
One Hex of a Wedding
Chintz ‘n China Series, Book 5
Emerald O’Brien is about to tie the knot with her fiance Joe, but one uninvited guest to their engagement party reminds her that some ties still need to be severed. Her ex-hubby Roy can’t hold his liquor–or his temper–and after brawling with Joe, he threatens to ruin their wedding. When Joe is wounded from a gunshot the next day, Roy becomes the prime suspect. Emerald knows her ex has a mean streak a mile wide but doesn’t believe he’d be capable of attempted murder. And when a sinister presence starts stalking her maid of honor, Em begins to worry that her marriage has been cursed before she’s even walked down the aisle…
Nothing like a wedding to shake things up…. Even magically.
Ms. Galenorn takes us out of the tea shop and the craziness has hit the fan. Emerald’s family is in town, the drunken ex shows up and the BFF has a stalker. That doesn’t even include the paranormal aspect of story! I loved all the family moments of One Hex of a Wedding. Getting to see a different side of Emerald, that just shows what a wonderful character she is.
Ms. Galenorn ends the Chintz ‘n China Series on a high note. One Hex of a Wedding has a good plot, excellent character development, great paranormal aspects and a well written mystery. Many moments to laugh out loud with. Along with a storyline that will keep you turning the pages. Ms. Galenorn consistently gave readers an engaging story, while keeping them guessing through the entire series. Emerald has grown considerably throughout the series, magically and personality. I have enjoyed spending time in the tea shop and shall miss visiting with them.
Mayson Dickson Mysteries
Following the latest cryptic message that might lead them to the truth about their parents, Emme Mayson and Jackie Dickson are pulled into another murder investigation when a man dressed in a kilt falls from the sky onto their truck.
As if a dead body isn’t enough, FBI Special Agent Chris Meechum and sexy caretaker Sam Fender try to rein in their sleuthing, but the sisters are determined to solve this murder. Men in kilts, Renaissance Faires, and a few mobsters in all the wrong places complicate the case.
Emme Mayson is a Southern charmer from Alabama. Jackie Dickson is a straight-forward professional from Boston, they aren’t exactly a match made in heaven. The only thing keeping them from starting another war between the states is the mystery surrounding their parents, and their own lives.
Mayson-Dickson – Northern logic, Southern charm, and murder!
Jackie Dickson glanced behind her at the long truck bed. “Why would you buy a pisser like this?”
“Don’t you be calling my pickup a pisser. That is just not nice.” Emme patted the dashboard. “I like Cleo, and I’ve missed having my truck.”
“Cleo? You realize this is a machine, right? Nuts, bolts, an engine, nothing more.” Just when she thought her “maybe” twin sister, that was still to be determined, was going to be tolerable to live with, she goes all Alabama redneck.
“At least, it’s more practical than that little skateboard you bought.” Emme snarled at her.
“Skateboard? That blue beauty is a Z4 BMW roadster that tops out at a 165 MPH.” Patting the dashboard of the truck sarcastically, she moaned. “What does this tank do? A slow crawl through Dixie?”
“It ain’t all about the speed. Cleo can pull a boat, haul anything you want, lets me see over traffic, and as a bonus, I can run right over your puny little Beamer.” She smiled.
Such was life with Ellie May Clampett. Jackie wondered what karmic debt she owed to have been sent here. It must have been a whopper.
“Did you put those coordinates into the GPS?”
“No, I’m just riding shotgun, while throwing biscuits to Jethro in the back.”
Emme swerved a bit to the right, driving through the center of a huge pothole. The sudden impact jolted Jackie off her seat, crunching her elbow against the door. Then a loud thud hammered the back of the truck sending a shudder through the metal. The truck swerved, and Emme fought the wheel.
“Being a smart ass is one thing, trying to kill me is another.” Jackie snapped.
“It wasn’t me,” Emme pulled the steering wheel hard. “I think we blew a tire.” Easing the truck onto the side of the road, she pushed the four-way lights on and slid out. Tilting her head to one side, she looked at the tires, gave a shrug, started to walk to the back and stopped dead in her tracks.
Emme’s hazel eyes grew large, the color drained from her tanned face and every part of her body was frozen into place.
This was one of those moments when Jackie had to decide if she really wanted to look behind her or not. They probably ran over some poor woodland animal. Those beasts were all over the place down here in the south. It’s remains were probably scrambled over the side of the truck, and this miserable humidity would make it start stinking.
Emme stood on tip-toes, tilted her head to one side, and crooked her finger motioning Jackie to get out. Damn, there was no way of getting out of seeing what carnage was underneath the truck. Shoving open the door, she stepped onto the gravel shoulder, turning.
“Holy shit, what is that?”
“I think it’s a body.”
They walked toward the bed of the truck where booted feet hung over the side. The edge of the truck’s bed was now a funky ‘U’ shape, the feet were perched at odd angles, and the branches of several pine trees nearly covered the rest of the body. At least, Jackie hoped there was a rest of the body.
“No. Hell no. Not another dead body. Seriously? Who the hell did we piss off so bad?” Jackie shook her head. Three dead bodies in a matter of weeks wasn’t normal. Normal? Ha! It was downright screwed up.
“Eww, eww,” Emme peered into the truck bed first. “That is nasty.” Walking to the back, she stepped up on the bumper.
“What are you doing?” If she thought it was nasty why was she getting an even better look?
“Huh, will you look at this.” Two cars sped past, their breeze making Emme hang onto the tailgate. “What do y’all think this is a NASCAR race?” She shouted after them.
Jackie hesitated. They’d seen enough mangled bodies recently to last a lifetime. Just a few weeks ago, they hadn’t known each other existed. Jackie was a happy executive with a pharmaceutical company in Boston, and Emme was an architect working in Alabama. Then they both received a cryptic letter to come to Washington, D.C.
Since then a man was assassinated in front of them, they’d been shot at, moved to a ‘safe’ house by some agency – they didn’t know which one – told their recently deceased parents were spies, and decided to open a private investigation office as a way of hiding their search for the truth about their parents. That was all it was supposed to be a PI agency that acted as a good cover story in their search. PI credentials opened doors.
Then they solved a high profile murder after a dead body slammed into them. That gave them a good paycheck, let them help the local cops put a murderer behind bars and put them square in the PI business. They had managed to keep their names out of the paper, barely. Publicity wasn’t a good thing for people in a jacked-up witness protection program.
Jackie was hoping for nice little cases that involved cheating spouses or worker’s comp fraud, not real dead bodies.
Standing on the bumper beside Emme she looked at the surprisingly intact body. It was a man in his mid to late thirties, Caucasian, brown hair tied in a ponytail, and dressed in, wait, what? A Scottish kilt.
“What the hell?” They exchanged glances. Jackie took one of the pine branches and lifted the kilt.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m checking to see if he was a real Scotsman.” She dropped the branch.
“And you think looking at his junk is going to tell you? That is just rude.” Emme jumped down just as a convertible sports car stopped.
“Hey, sweet thing do you need some help?” The driver’s bald head glistened in the sun, his neon blue mesh tank top had been blown to an odd angle off one shoulder, and he was in serious need of a shave. He gave the engine a few revs.
“We sure do, honey.” Emme pointed to the truck. “We could use some help dumping this dead body.” The man the floored the convertible for all it was worth.
Did her sister really just tell that man there was a dead body in their truck? Yes, dammit she did.
“You know that man is calling the cops right now.”
“My call will trump his.” Emme smiled. “I have Agent Meechum’s private number.”
Interview With Emme Mayson – the Southern Sister
Hey, y’all my name is Emme Dickson. I’m the Southern half of Mayson-Dickson Investigations. I’m glad you invited me over.
What did you think when you met your Boston sister?
When I first met her? Honestly, I didn’t think much of her. I mean, whew, she was all power suit and condescending attitude. After a while though I discovered she was a pretty awesome lady – for a Yankee. Plus, we still don’t know if we’re really sisters or not. You see someone, we don’t know who, seems to have tampered with the DNA test we took.
Tampered with a test? Any idea of who that might be?
Honestly, no. I mean who would want to mess around with DNA test? That’s alright, I can get another one.
The lawyer that summoned both of you was shot and killed, and didn’t answer all your questions. Do you have any ideas what’s really going on?
That poor, poor man. A sniper put one right between his eyes. He managed to croak out a final word or two before he transpired, but neither Jackie nor I had a clue what he meant. The next thing we know this scary secret agent woman Sydney, was ushering us out the door.
The only thing we know is that our parents were afraid and tried to protect us. They split up and they split us up to keep us safe. Our quest now is to find out who they really were, and why someone might have killed them and is likely trying to find us.
Do you think your parents were spies?
We don’t know, but we’ve made a good start on finding out.
On your first walk in your new location you stumbled on a dead body. Did that make you want to pack your bags and leave?
Ewww, that body smelled like a dead pig on a hot August day. I swear every time you mention it, I recall that smell. To answer you, no it didn’t make me want to leave, it made me want to find out who killed him.
Did Jackie feel the same way?
She did, but she sure wouldn’t admit it. It took a few margaritas to convince her.
Tell us about the two men that stumble into your lives at your new location?
First, there is Fender. He is the caretaker of the property we live in and he is a cutie. The man is all beach wave hair, tanned body and he has a thing for Jackie.
Then there is Agent Chris Meechum. He is on special assignment for the FBI and this is one hot agent, let me tell you.
Neither man wants us to start our PI business, but we have a secret weapon – Zack. I just got the loud clearing throat signal from our author Jocie, so you’ll have to read the book to find out about him.
Thanks for having me today. I hope y’all will head over to Amazon and put yourself up a copy of Mayson-Dickson, The line is Drawn, Book One. Grab a sweet tea, and a comfy chair and enjoy.
You can purchase Mayson-Dickson at:
You can learn more about Jocie online at:
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