Today we have a fun treat! Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth are here with the exclusive cover reveal and an excerpt to their upcoming mystery and romance, Murder Most Lovely. Just reading the first line of the blurb makes me want this book right now! 🙂 So check it all out and let us know what you think.
A killer at a small-town literary festival. Bumbling drug dealers. A kidnapped cat. Starting a romance among all this chaos might be the death of them.
Michael Fleishman is excited to meet his favorite mystery writer, Russell Withingham, at Lacetown’s Literary Fest. He is not expecting to cross paths with sexy hairdresser Jasper “Jazz” Dilworth—or become embroiled in a real-life mystery. As Lacetown’s only mortician and the county coroner, Michael is called to his first murder scene and is shocked to recognize the victim—Russell’s young lover.
Jazz only wanted to confront his ex, Russell, over his cheating. Instead, he meets the adorably awkward Michael and becomes a murder suspect. Soon Jazz is teaming up with Michael to clear his name. Along the way, they are helped and hindered by Michael’s sassy assistant, Kitty, the grumpy Sheriff Musgrave, Russell’s creepy PR rep, Norbert, and Michael’s lothario grandfather, who likes his manhattans strong and his women saucy. And of course, Mr. Pickles Furryton the Third….
After a third glass of chardonnay, Michael seemed much more relaxed, and Jazz had a nice buzz. They dropped their cups in the trash just outside the book cover photo booth and stood side-by-side, looking at the selections. There were many different themes, from romance to science fiction to murder mystery. As they perused the options, Jazz felt Michael’s shoulder brush against his own. He glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, happy to see Michael smiling as he surveyed their choices.
“What do you think?” Jazz said. “Anything catch your eye?”
“They’re all pretty great,” Michael said. “What about you? Which do you like?”
“I think the bodice ripper cover is timeless.” Jazz pointed to the sample that showed a muscular man with an unbuttoned shirt blowing back from his amazing torso, and in his arms was a beautiful woman with long hair and a Victorian dress so tight her breasts practically popped out of it.
“What? No!” Michael’s nervous laugh made Jazz laugh himself.
“Okay, fine. But I bet the costumes would be fun to get into.”
“Be that as it may, I still say no.” Michael blushed and looked back at the samples. “How about the detective novel?”
Jazz frowned at the cover with a Dick Tracy–esque man and a woman with a gun.
Before he could think of a way to say “no” and not bring up his unfortunate spousal arrangement on a first date, Michael shook his head.
“Actually, let’s do one that doesn’t remind us of everything heinous in the last twenty-four hours.” Michael pointed to a cover with two cowboys on horseback. “How about that one?”
Thrilled once more to be on the same wavelength as his date, Jazz grinned at him. “A little bit of a cowboy fetish there, Mr. Fleishman?”
Michael shrugged. “I don’t know. I think it just looks cool.”
“I’m teasing you.” Jazz bumped his shoulder against Michael’s. “Let’s do it.”
They pulled the loose-fitting costumes on over their clothes, and Jazz picked out a black hat for Michael, setting it on his head and taking a step back to look him over.
“Oh, my. Seriously sexy.”
“No, stop it.” Michael passed a white cowboy hat to him. “You’re definitely a white hat kind of cowboy.”
“Virginal?” Jazz said, batting his eyes. He did his best to look offended when Michael laughed. “You don’t think I’m a virgin?”
Michael touched the brim of his hat and nodded. “A cowboy never tells. Shall we mosey on out to the corral, pardner?”
“I’m liking this cowboy persona you just adopted,” Jazz said as he followed Michael out of the costume tent. “You might want to invest in a hat. And maybe a leather vest. And some leather chaps.”
“Hello! Welcome to Book Cover Magic!”
A black woman stood by a camera attached to a computer, her smile so big her cheeks nearly covered her eyes.
“I’m Doreen, and I’m going to be taking your picture today. From your costumes I can tell you selected the science fiction cover, right?”
Jazz exchanged a confused look with Michael, then said, “Um, no. We wanted the Old West book cover.”
Doreen winked and laughed. “Got you! Okay, let’s get the horses moved into frame and we’ll get started.”
“Horses?” Michael’s eyes were wide and his smile childlike. But when he saw that the “horses” were actually saddles on green padded sawhorses, his disappointment was evident. “Oh. They’re not real.”
“Oh, honey, I wish to all that’s holy and magical that I could afford to haul real horses around to all the small-town festivals I’m signed up for. Come on now, hop on your saddles. Go out there and rope those doggies! Woo-hoo! Ride ’em, cowboy!”
Doreen had them laughing and acting crazy as she took several photos. When she was finished, they gathered at the computer and looked through the options, laughing at their expressions. In the last picture, Doreen had captured them looking at each other and laughing, Michael with his black hat in hand and waving overhead, and Jazz holding up both of his plastic six-shooters.
“That’s the one,” Jazz and Michael said at the same time, then looked at each other and grinned. Their smiles faded a little as their gaze lingered. Jazz was overwhelmed with the sudden desire to gently take Michael’s glasses off so he could get lost in those chocolaty brown eyes.
Michael licked his lips and was the first to look away, still smiling.
Doreen smiled as she looked between them, and then she leaned in and asked in a quiet voice, “First date?”
“What?” Michael’s blush returned, redder than ever, which made Jazz want to kiss him right there in front of Doreen, her teenage assistant, and God and everyone.
“Oh, you don’t have to be scared of me, honey,” Doreen said as she clicked the mouse and typed a few things on her computer keyboard. “Love is love, that’s the only way. Now, what would you like the title of your book to be?”
“How about, Our First Date?” Jazz suggested.
Michael grinned and nodded. “I like it.”
“Me too,” Doreen said and her fingers tapped across the keyboard. “Okay, and who are the authors?”
“By Jazz and Michael,” Michael said.
“Oh, Jazz and Michael. I like that. And I’ll put a fancy ampersand in there to make it even better. Take a look at the monitor right there and tell me what you think.”
Jazz stood shoulder to shoulder with Michael as they looked at the large monitor. The picture was perfect: the two of them on horseback, with a stagecoach in the background, all done in a tintype style. The title and their names were in an Old West font that perfectly captured the feeling of it all.
“I love it,” Michael said and smiled at Jazz. “What do you think?”
“It’s perfect,” Jazz said, smiling back.
When he’s not writing, Hank loves to read, go to movies, watch some TV, and because of Paul Hollywood’s influence, has recently been trying his hand at baking. He visits his mother once a week, not just for the free cookies, and enjoys spending time with close friends drinking wine and making up ridiculous things that sometimes show up in his books. Although he hates the process of travel, he does enjoy experiencing new places. His dream trip is to one day visit the country of Greece, and he is currently saving his nickels and dimes to make that a reality.
Back in the 90s, he met a man who understood and encouraged his strange, creative mind, and who made him laugh more often and more freely than anyone else. Today they are legally married and still laugh often as they live in a suburb just north of Detroit with their two cats who act as both muse and distraction to him while he writes.
When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and will often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes quiet times in her garden when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the inner workings of their relationships has always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.