Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Heavenly Hazelnut Murder + Giveaway

The Heavenly Hazelnut Murder

by CC Dragon

General Release Date: 5th January 2021

Heat Rating: Simmering
Format: EBOOK
ISBN: 978-1-83943-403-7
Sexometer: 1
Word Count: 54,935
Language: English
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 216
Genres: COMEDY AND HUMOUR, CONTEMPORARY, CRIME AND MYSTERY, SWEET ROMANCE

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Book Description

Everyone has secrets…even a pastor.

Life had been back to normal in Sweet Grove, with smoothie sales up and murders down to zero. With Gran’s shop doing well, Belle helps her best friend by tending bar at the Honey Buckle whenever needed. Belle tries her best to like Pastor Luke, who she’s been dating for the last few weeks, but when she finds out he’s been less than genuine, things end badly. Their break-up is epic gossip all around the small town.

When the pastor turns up dead, people rush to suspect her. Apparently, their fight about her spending so much time in a bar was overheard. Belle knows she didn’t do it, but who would kill a pastor? Who else would have a motive? With the handsome but romantically complicated sheriff asking her a lot of questions, Belle decides she needs to get to the bottom of it ASAP.

This had better be the last murder in Sweet Grove, or Belle’s amateur sleuthing might become a habit…

Reader advisory: This book contains references to parental abandonment, off-page murder and brief references to domestic abuse and infidelity.

Excerpt

“Harry!” I shouted across the back of the Honey Buckle bar. “Keg change now, please!”

One of Katie’s brothers gave me a thumbs up and went to the back.

“Busy?” Lurlene teased as she nursed a margarita.

“As a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, thanks for your concern,” I replied to my old high school nemesis. She and I had an uneasy truce, or she was being fake-nice. Sometimes it was hard to tell. In the south, people were nice when they were insulting a person to their face.

She smiled and glanced at my hands as I set down fresh coasters. “I could fix up your nails. A nice French tip or something. Clean but to actually show you’re a lady.”

“Thanks, but I do too much baking with Gran. I can’t risk any chips coming off in the dough,” I replied.

“Wear gloves. That’s how real places prep food. Yuck,” Lurlene said.

“Everything we do is homemade to the highest standards. Gran is a clean freak and you know it. But gloves are a good idea,” I admitted. “We use them at the shop, of course, but a lot is made at home.”

Katie sighed. “This is cute, you two actually talking nice for a minute, and we’re all happy you started cosmetology school, Lurlene, but Belle has customers. She’s here to work. Get yourself a life.”

Lurlene glared at Katie. That wasn’t normal for Katie at all. She got firm when needed with people who overindulged, but she’d never snap at paying customers. Maybe I was just off today?

“Sorry, it’s hard to be nice to customers and be efficient. We were cackling like hens. Where’s Martha?” I asked Katie. I had a degree in hospitality but the small town south had its own rules about being nice. I missed the city for the anonymity and the money. Still, Gran had had a few spells and needed someone around. My parents had run off after I was born, and my grandfather was dead, so it was down to me. I’d never minded being an only child before and I loved Gran to bits, but it’d be nice to have someone to share the pressure with—to run options with. But no, there was just me.

Martha, another friend from high school, was working tonight too. Katie pointed to the tables of thirsty patrons and I caught a glimpse of Martha in the crowd. “She’s got the tables now. You’ve got new guys at the bar. Keep ’em coming.”

I turned and smiled at the new guys. “What’s your poison?”

“Four beers,” one ordered.

I popped open four bottles of beer.

“We wanted tap,” he said, like I was an idiot.

I grinned. “People in hell want ice water. Keg is dead. I’m waiting for a change. You want it now? Then you get the bottle. Next round will be tap.”

They grumbled, but I kept a smile plastered on my face. More complaining and they might get around half off, but I wasn’t giving it away because we were busy.

Martha walked up with a tray of empties. “Sorry, my ex called twice. Like he can’t watch his own kids for one night.”

Harry carried out a keg. “Make way, ladies. I’m here to rescue the bar.”

“How helpful.” Martha blushed.

“You could’ve checked the kegs before opening and been a real knight in shining armor,” I scolded.

“Have you met my sister? We’re going to waste the last five glasses in one keg because it’s close to change? That’s not how you make money,” Harry warned.

Katie poked me in the arm. “He’s right. Let him work, and you hit the blender. Girls’ night in the corner and they want another round of margaritas.”

“On it. Strawberry again?” I enjoyed the blended drinks. It felt like making smoothies at my own shop.

“Yep, then we’ll be out of strawberries, but they won’t care. If they want another round, switch them out to lime.” Katie waved it off and her many bangles jingled.

She looked like she should be running a bar. Always dressed like a cowgirl, Katie wore a tight T-shirt that promoted her establishment. Big jewelry and a big smile were part of her ensemble. Her family was a mishmash of a train wreck, like mine, so we’d been besties forever.

While Katie filled Martha’s orders for the tables, I blended up a bunch of frozen cocktails. Harry set up the keg and drew himself one.

I shot him a look. “Saw that. Not when you’re working.”

“Gotta test my work for quality.” He grinned. “It’s mostly foam, it’s for the customers. They’ll get a good pull.”

“Working okay?” I teased.

He nodded.

“Great. I think we’re stocked now up here, so take those dirty glasses with you to the back. Run a load of glasses, then we might need you bouncing. People seem to want a keg attached to their mouths.”

“You’re as bossy as my sister,” he said.

“I’m happy to run the dishwasher if you want to tend bar. Bouncing, that’s not me. I’m a tiny blonde. They’d just laugh at me.” I checked my image in the mirror behind the bar. My ponytail was still high and tight. Makeup was fine. I wore a Honey Buckle T-shirt, jeans and gym shoes with good support. What? No one saw my feet behind the bar. When I went out, I could rock heels like any good southern girl, but the right shoes for the right job…

“Fine. I don’t like dealing with people. I got a new job anyway. Day job,” Harry said.

“Congrats. But your sister needs you now and that’s what family is for.” I nudged the tray of empty glasses at him to clear.

He did and disappeared in the back.

I loaded the margaritas up on a fresh tray as Martha picked up another one ready for her tables. “He’s so nice,” Martha said.

“Harry? Yeah, a prince. He’ll want a hug for running the dishwasher. Need me to take these?” I asked.

“I’ll do it. You spill,” Katie cut in.

It was true. I’m not the best with a tray. When I tried to waitress once, I failed miserably and ended up working in coffee shops. “I slung coffee at Starbucks for years, but those cups generally had lids. Why does coffee always have a lid and alcohol so rarely does? Seems like people drinking booze would spill more,” I pondered.

Katie chuckled. “They spill it, they want more, so they’ll just buy more. Better for business not to have lids. Coffee people would just demand a free refill.”

“You really did find the perfect business to run,” I teased my best friend.

“Thanks. Gotta go introduce the band. Gus is sitting with them sometime tonight…hope that’s okay,” Katie said.

“Sure. I’ve been dating Luke for a few weeks. Gus is old news,” I said. Gus was the local sheriff who’d been flirting with me since he moved into town. Unfortunately, his past was more complicated than he’d let on. Everyone had a past, but if a man doesn’t ’fess up and the other woman still has the ring, it’s just too much drama for me. Even if the man was tall, handsome, musical and seemed good at heart.

Katie arched an eyebrow but headed off. As the band played, without Gus as of yet, the crowd calmed down to nurse their beverages instead of downing them like they were dying of thirst.

Martha and Katie made it to the bar and we restocked a bit before enjoying the music.

“What happened with Gus?” Martha asked.

“Nothing, I told you…we were solving a murder together. We also happened to run into his ex-fiancée at a dive bar. She gave him the ring back. Very weird. But I’m not looking for that sort of drama or a guy that fresh off of a super-serious relationship,” I said.

“You and Pastor Luke are a couple now? Rebound maybe, but it’ll never work,” Lurlene snarked.

“Oh, goodie, are we back to the mean girls thing?” I teased.

Lurlene shook her head. “I’m being nice here. See, people always think I’m being mean when I’m trying to be constructively kind and give them a heads-up on the rest of the world. How people really think. You’re too sweet and Katie is too polite to tell you, but the pastor isn’t going to get serious about someone with your history. Your past—it’s not your fault but it’s not a secret.”

“That’s a pretty crappy pastor,” Martha remarked then waved back at a table signaling her. “I’m going to make a round.”

“Thanks, Martha. Lurlene, quit it,” Katie warned.

“No, go on. A pastor is going to judge me for my parents running off after I was born and leaving me with Gran? They were young and clearly not ready to be parents. That’s not my fault. I was raised right by my grandparents,” I defended myself.

“That is all true. You even try extra hard to be a Goody Two-shoes, and he’s not going to judge you for their behavior…he’s going to judge you for yours. Running off to the big city alone,” she pointed out.

“Otherwise known as going to college,” I replied.

“Not all colleges are big-city ones. Plus you’re working in a bar. You’re simply not pastor’s wife material,” she said.

“We’re just dating! I’m not looking for a husband! Hey, has anyone seen Big Ed? I know I don’t work every night, but he was a regular and he’s been gone awhile.”

“He’s a long-haul trucker. He’ll be gone a week or so at a time. Then he’s home for a week or just a weekend. Give it a week or so and he’ll turn up—he always does.” Katie waved it off.

“Nice trying to dodge the topic. You’d be better off with a guy like Gus.” Lurlene winked.

Just then, Gus sat at the bar. “Are my ears burning?’

“Katie mentioned you’d be sitting in with the band. Guess you’re late,” I replied.

“Sitting in doesn’t mean their whole set. What’s this I hear about your grandmother letting the musicians park on her land?” he asked.

I lifted a shoulder. “She’s nice to people. They needed a place to park and I guess the trailer lots around town were full. That or the guys made too much noise.”

“Very charitable of her. Any trouble, you call me.” Luke appeared through the crowd like he’d been lurking and listening.

I did my best to mask my surprise. He sat on the other side of Lurlene and another guy sat next him. There was enough of a resemblance between them that I knew he had to be a cousin or some relation.

“Hey, what can I get you two?” I asked.

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First For Romance

About the Author

CC Dragon

A loyal Chicago girl who loves deep dish pizza, the Cubs, and The Lake, her close fam moved to TN so she ends up visiting the South more than she ever planned! CC Dragon is fascinated by the magical and paranormal as well as the quirks of the south. She loves creating characters who solve mysteries. A coffee and chocolate addict who loves fast cars, she’s still looking for a hero who likes to cook and clean…so she can write more!

Check out CC Dragon’s website and follow her on Instagram.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous Goody Bag and a FREE CC Dragon mystery book!

CC Dragon’s The Heavenly Hazelnut Murder Giveaway

CC DRAGON IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GOODIE BAG AND GRAB YOUR FREE CC DRAGON MYSTERY BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 13th January 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.


Book Blitz & Excerpt: Demon’s Wish + Giveaway


Demon’s Wish
by Xenia Melzer
Book 1 in the Demon Mates series
General Release Date: 5th January 2021
Format: EBOOK
ISBN: 978-1-83943-091-6
Word Count: 53,035
Language: English
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 201

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL

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Book Description

Finding love is hard—especially when you’re a demon and your potential mate is your sacrifice…

Sammy is content with running his bookshop and leading a book club consisting solely of paranormal creatures. Despite the persistence of his friends, he has resolved himself to a life without romance, since he doesn’t think anybody could find him and his tendency to spill useless knowledge whenever he gets nervous attractive.

Dresalantion is a demon prince and slightly—make that majorly—annoyed when somebody persistently tries to summon him. He finally decides to show up and put the fear of Dresalantion into his summoners but finds himself rescuing their sacrifice instead.

Sammy intrigues him from the get-go, and when Dre realizes that Sammy can get him the manga he’s been hunting for months—not to mention that he refuses a wish he offered him—the sexy demon decides to get to know this fascinating man better. Much better.

Reader advisory: This book contans scenes of kidnapping and an attempted human sacrifice.

Excerpt

“Is everybody set?”

Sammy looked around the group of people gathered in his bookstore. It was Wednesday, which meant there would be a book club meeting after closing hours. Their little group met at least twice every month to discuss books and interesting topics related to books, and Sammy loved it. It had formed half a year after he had opened his shop, Sammy’s Book Corner, and the participants had become something like a family to him, which he desperately needed after his parents had died five years before. He gazed around to make sure everybody had their stash of cookies—this time provided by Mavis and Maribell, the two witches—along with their favorite drink.

The delicious smell of freshly baked cookies mixed with the aroma of two hazelnut toffee lattes, the sharper tang of two Chai teas—heavy on the cinnamon—and his own hot chocolate before the familiar background scent of books, both old and new, made him once again congratulate himself on buying the fancy coffeemaker and establishing the little lounging area across from his cash counter. The members of their book club were seated on the four old couches around two low tables, getting comfortable.

Sammy was especially proud of this setup, since he had found all the furniture at flea markets and had given them each a do-over. The whiskey-colored leather couch hadn’t been much work. Just cleaning and treating the leather with a special balm had made the piece shine again. It now smelled faintly of beeswax, something that made Sammy crave a peppermint tea with honey every time he sat on it. The two chaises had required more effort. He had upholstered them and given them each a new cloth as well. Now customers could sit down on the colors of the rainbow to read their latest purchase. The last item was a lounger whose frame he had painted in pink then sprinkled with golden glitter for good measure. A turquoise throw made the piece stand out. One of the tables was covered in dots of various sizes and colors, and the other one had wall tattoos of Drogon and Smaug looking at each other on a black background.

Sammy was the first to admit that his artistic talent was closer to what a six-year old could produce than the fine artistry people with a real gift made, but he had done a good job with the furniture and his shop. Perhaps it was because he loved his little haven of books so much that it brought out the best in him. Except for the laptop in his office and the coffeemaker, nothing in the shop was new. Most everything had come from flea markets and garage sales, making for an interesting and charming mix of styles. Sammy had dedicated quite some time matching his books with the furniture. His antiques were stacked in open wardrobes that matched their age—or came close to it. The fantasy and science fiction books lived on shelves from IKEA, which he had sprayed silver. The romance books had found their home in old wooden wine crates that were clustered around the shop in small stacks of six to ten. Comics and manga were stashed in big boxes he had built from panoplies and painted in different hues of blue. The shop was Sammy’s idea of home, a feeling that seemed to convey itself, because most of his customers were regulars and loved hanging out in the place.

Sammy looked at his fellow book club members and adopted family and felt a brief shudder when he remembered their last meeting, where Amber the banshee had insisted on providing the baked goods. She might be four hundred years old, but just like every other banshee in the world, her baking skills were those of a blind man who had to find his way in a kitchen with both arms tied behind his back. Nonexistent. According to Emilia, the vampire in their group, this had something to do with their magic, which allowed them to pinpoint the exact time of death for every person. Apparently, the mixture of being able to look into the future without upsetting the balance of time and still warning people of their impending end didn’t go well with any kind of cooking. As to why exactly that was, Emilia couldn’t—or wouldn’t—tell. As the only human in a group of paranormals, Sammy had gotten used to not knowing everything. There was too much going on and he had learned soon after stepping into this world that ignorance truly was bliss in many cases where paranormals were involved. He would have preferred to know about Amber’s anti-talent in the kitchen, though, before he’d accepted her offer to bring snacks.

Per group vote, Amber had been banned from ever bringing sweets to the meetings again, even though Jon, the zombie living in the cellar under the bookshop, had later confessed to Sammy that the stone-hard lumps weren’t that bad, once one managed to get through the crust—the burnt, black crust that may or may not once have been sugar. Sammy swallowed hard. Just remembering the taste made his stomach revolt. And he hadn’t even been able to get to the core of the—he tried to find a fitting word for the deadly pieces of ballistic bakery and finally settled for ‘pastries’. Declan and Troy, the two werewolf alphas, as well as Emilia, had sharper teeth and more strength in their jaws, yet the looks on their faces when the crust gave way had been disturbing, to put it mildly.

“I don’t see what’s so different about these,” Amber declared with a pout while holding up a perfectly shaped chocolate chip cookie. Her pixie cut with the neon green hair went well with the huge, sapphire-green earrings, the thick golden chain with various amulets dangling from her neck, the five leather bracelets with Celtic runes etched into them and the approximately twelve rings she was wearing on her fingers. Compared to her jewelry, her outfit was plain—black skinny jeans, black sneakers and a black shirt with a sparkling unicorn on it, declaring Eat My Stardust, Suckers.

“The difference, my dear Amber, is that these cookies can be eaten without costing you a tooth. I’m so sorry to break this to you, but your baking skills are what I imagine Terry Pratchett had in mind when he created dwarf bread.”

Declan put one of the cookies in his mouth, munched on it with an expression of pure bliss on his ridiculously handsome face and gulped it down. He and Troy, who wasn’t there on that day due to business, looked like everybody’s wet dream. They were tall and had angular faces with chiseled jaws and sharp cheekbones, broad shoulders, slim hips, long, muscular legs and hair so thick and healthy that Sammy knew women would murder for it. Apparently, the good looks were part of the genetic makeup of shifters, but Sammy still found it almost offensive how perfect Declan and Troy were. Like two sides of a coin, one dark and dangerous, the other blond and…well, dangerous, they were a constant temptation for women and men alike. When they’d first joined the book club, Sammy had had some disturbingly hot dreams about threesomes with them and it had taken him almost four months until he had been able to put them firmly in the ‘friend zone’. It had helped—once they’d felt comfortable enough to relax during the meetings—to see their true selves. Because, no matter how perfect their looks were, the two werewolves were almost annoyingly arrogant and overconfident, as was typical for alphas—or so Sammy had been told by Jon. Their saving grace was a great sense of humor and their unusual choice of favorite book—Pride and Prejudice. After they had confessed this, nobody in their little circle was able to take them too seriously anymore, because how could somebody who loved the perfect book be a bad person? The posturing was just that—a façade to frighten potential enemies away—and the paranormal world was full of those.

“Dwarf bread?” Amber lifted one of her meticulously plucked eyebrows, a hint of steel in her voice.

“Don’t take it to heart, dear. If you want, you can come over and maybe we can teach you how to get them right.”

Maribell smiled at Amber and patted her hand. The witch looked like a nice, elderly lady with her flower-print dress, the square handbag and the perfectly coiffed bun at the back of her head. Her thick black hair was infused with gray strands, and around her almond-shaped eyes—a heritage from her Asian father—laugh lines softened her features. Sammy knew better, though. Maribell reminded him of his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Smithson, who had been able to shut unruly pupils up with one stern look. Those who inspired her displeasure quickly learned that there was nothing worse than the wrath of a teacher provoked…except for the wrath of witches. And with Mavis and Maribell, the first lesson was also the last.

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First For Romance

About the Author

Xenia Melzer

Xenia Melzer was born and raised in a small village in the South of Bavaria. As one of nature’s true chocoholics, she’s always in search of the perfect chocolate experience. So far, she’s had about a dozen truly remarkable ones. Despite having been in close proximity to the mountains all her life, she has never understood why so many people think snow sports are fun. There are neither chocolate nor horses involved and it’s cold by definition, so where’s the sense? She does not like beer either and has never been to the Oktoberfest – no quality chocolate there.

Even though her mind is preoccupied with various stories most of the time, Xenia has managed to get through school and university with surprisingly good grades. Right after school she met her one true love who showed her that reality is capable of producing some truly amazing love stories itself.

While she was having her two children, she started writing down the most persistent stories in her head as a way of relieving mommy-related stress symptoms. As it turned out, the stress-relief has now become a source of the same, albeit a positive one.

When she’s not writing, she translates the stories of other authors into German, enjoys riding and running, spending time with her kids, and dancing with her husband. If you want to contact her, please visit either her website, or write her an email.

Giveaway

Enter to win signed/personalized copies of books 1 & 2 in the Club Whisper series and a $5.00 First For Romance Gift Code!

Xenia Melzer’s Demon’s Wish Giveaway

XENIA MELZER IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN SIGNED/PERSONALIZED COPIES OF BOOKS 1 & 2 IN THE CLUB WHISPER SERIES AND A $5.00 FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CODE! Notice: This competition ends on 13th January 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.


Note: You can go here, to See Sadie Read to see my review.

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