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I just read a great set of books that was RIGHT up my alley. Some interior design and a great mystery, all wrapped into one. Or Two?
MYSTERY AT MAGNOLIA MANSION
Brenda Maxwell’s new interior design client tells her to “paint, wallpaper, whatever” his hundred-year-old landmark mansion, “but for God’s sake, don’t go overboard.” When she figures her grandiose plans will fit handily into his edict’s “whatever” section, they’re launched into a constant head-bumping mode.
Brenda’s poor money management skills (that’s his view, but what does he know?) and lawyer David Hasbrough’s ridiculous need to control her life (that’s her well-reasoned evaluation of the situation) combine to keep the battle going. Is this couple’s romantic goose cooked? Well, she can’t be near him without sparks flying and goose bumps popping out everywhere. But that mansion has to be done right!
NOTE: Don McNair actually lived in this house, and did the very things to it that he has heroine Brenda Maxwell do.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
She jumped. There he stood, directly in front of her, stark naked! Well, except for a bath towel wrapped snugly around his hips. He was dripping water on her nice clean floor. She tried to turn away, but her muscles refused to budge. His chest, sprinkled with curly black hair, narrowed to a tight stomach which showed off six-pack abs. His muscular bare arms and legs were certainly not those of a desk jockey. No, the man got exercise somehow.
“Oh! Oh, I’m sorry!” She finally insisted that her muscles work, and they grudgingly turned her toward the door. Her cheeks burned. Her mind was in turmoil.
“Me, too,” he said. He flashed a silly grin, backed into the room he’d come from, and closed the door. It was a downstairs bedroom right off the kitchen, complete with a full bath, which she’d earlier pegged as a live-in maid or cook’s living quarters. He’d apparently swung a big deal at that garage sale because she’d noticed the mismatched bed, chest, and end table in that room, which weren’t there on her first visit. The only other furniture in the whole house was the rusty chrome-legged kitchen table and its four matching chairs he’d apparently bought at the same time. If that was his idea of a great décor . . .
MYSTERY ON FIREFLY KNOB
When Erica Phillips visits choice inherited property on a Cumberland Plateau knob overlooking a beautiful valley, she finds scientist Mike Callahan camped there to study unique fireflies. She needs to sell it fast to buy a new building for her antiques business, but he freaks out when a condo builder offers her a contract. Miffed, she tells him, “If I have my way, this place will be sold within the week. And, Mr. Callahan, I will have my way!”
Their budding romance plays out before a background of a murder mystery, distrust, and heart-racing hormones. Will it blossom into a lifetime relationship?
Excerpt from the book:
They sat, and the condo man breathed deeply again as he laid his thin leather briefcase across his knees. Mike was still whistling and sweeping. He turned to face them at the yard’s edge beyond the cabin’s corner, next to the downed tree that had killed her father, and swept industriously toward them while Donovan opened his briefcase and searched inside. In moments Mike stood before them. Between him and the forest behind him lay a two-foot-wide, twig-free, L-shaped path.
Erica tugged his pants leg. “What are you doing?” she asked.
He glanced down at her. “Sweeping the yard.”
“I can see that. But what on earth for?”
He didn’t answer. He started walking again and swept on to the yard’s other edge, and peered back over his handiwork. Apparently satisfied, he switched hands and swept back toward them, widening the debris-free trail. Now he hummed. The condo man was talking, but her attention was on this strange man sweeping her yard. He again reached them and stopped.
She frowned. “But why a broom? Why not a rake?”
He looked up. “Couldn’t find one. You know, you’re lucky I found this broom.”
Peter Donovan, eyebrows raised, glanced at Mike, then at Erica. He shrugged and retrieved a brochure from his briefcase and smiled. “I thought you’d like to see some of our completed projects,” he said.
Mike now stood in front of them, shading her from the hot sun. He stared down at Donovan, still sitting on the porch’s edge. “I’ve heard of your company,” he said. “And of certain—well, certain environmental concerns regarding it.”
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