AUTHORS: Nancy McGovern & Cyra Bruce
Faith Franklin is a dreamer. She dreams of cakes & pies. She dreams of crepes & brownies. And, more than anything, she dreams of making a career of serving her delicious treats to an adoring public.
So, when her grandmother calls and asks her to move to Florida to help run her café, she cannot get out of Minnesota fast enough! And before she knows it she is standing in Paradise Point, the beautiful, oceanside plaza in which Bessie’s Café is located, hardly able to believe her good fortune.
Life is now exactly how Faith had imagined it could be. She’s made wonderful friends. The café, now renamed the Slice of Paradise, has been renovated to showcase her amazing desserts. And both locals & tourists are loving it!
Well, all except for one…
The owner of a nearby cupcake shop is not at all happy with Faith’s arrival in Paradise Point. She has accused Faith of trying to ruin her by stealing her recipes & designs. And she is not shy about letting everyone know it.
So, when the woman is found dead the day after their confrontation, people immediately begin to consider whether Faith is the killer…
Is Faith guilty of murder? If not, who is? And can Faith find a way to clear her name before her dreams turn into nightmares?
Find out in A Cherry Sinister Murder!
“Slice of Paradise Cozy Mysteries” is a Culinary Cozy Mystery series written by #2 Bestselling Author, Nancy McGovern, and the talented newcomer, Cyra Bruce.
Join the “Slice of Paradise Mailing List” inside this book and receive updates on the series, behind-the-scenes info & a FREE “SLICE OF PARADISE” STORY called The Cream Pie Alibi!
Targeted Age Group:: Appropriate for all ages.
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Writing cozy mysteries is our passion! There is no better feeling than crafting a whodunit that you feel will keep your audience guessing until the very end! And when the story involves a dessert shop serving pies, tarts & cupcakes, it is even better!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
While all authors have to say they created their characters out of thin air to protect themselves, in this case that wouldn't be entirely true! Our characters definitely share some traits with individuals from our personal lives, including friends & family. And those who are meant to be disliked are, quite often, the easiest to develop after having a run-in with such a person in the real world! As for Faith Franklin, she sure seems a lot like Cyra…
“And the coconut flour,” Faith Franklin said, pouring the avalanche of white powder into her favorite mixing bowl, the one her Grandma Bessie sent all the way from Florida. It was one of those large heavy traditional ceramic bowls, creamy colored on the inside and a gorgeous shade of delicate teal on the outside. And Faith’s mom, Diana, had bought her matching wooden and teal spoons and whisks and measuring cups until the set was complete.
Diana was sitting at the kitchen table, flicking through a manuscript she was supposed to be editing, her glasses pushed down her nose and a pencil behind her ear. “Faith, you really must make something of your baking talent. I’m sure you can make a living from it.”
Faith blew out a stream of air and turned the brownie mix – gluten free and vegan, especially whipped up for her mom’s dietary preferences – a little too vigorously. Of course she wanted to use her passion for baking to make a living. She couldn’t imagine anything better than kneading and mixing and measuring all day, working in a room filled with the warm, sweet, comforting smell of baking. Living in her ditzy floral apron. Discovering new treats and making everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside. In fact, she’d whiled away many hours daydreaming about it, ever since she was little. At seven years old she even made a shoebox model of just how her very own bakery would look. Faith’s Special Treats, she’d called it. And she’d designed numerous menus over the years, which her mother had kept to whip out and embarrass her with on special occasions, in the most affectionate way.
Extending the embarrassment further – and probably a factor in her breakup with Jeremy, she thought – were Polaroid pictures Faith had snapped of when she’d decorated the kitchen table with tinsel and random ornaments and made her mom sit down for a feast of poorly raised cakes and too-hard cookies. Her sandy hair was scraped back into pigtails and freckles covered her nose and cheeks. Enthusiasm shone so bright in her eyes and her gap-toothed smile dominated the shot as she held the camera. “Don’t you look so… powerful?” her ever-empowering mother always said, looking down at the album proudly, while Faith hid her head in her hands.
Faith’s baking skills had improved vastly and the two pigtails of course were long gone, her hair now always in a long messy ponytail of wave-straight-curl-tangle that took a lot of effort and time to tame. Time Faith would much rather use creating a brand new recipe, like peanut butter chocolate gateau, or raspberry and white chocolate brioche casserole. That was always a favorite when her friends came over. Her own favorites were cupcakes, and some days she made rows and rows of them, all in different flavors. The dusting of freckles was still there too, and her love for baking, of course. But her confidence, that absolute conviction that she was going to own her own vastly successful café or bakery? That had dwindled away over the years. Now it was hanging by a thread, and could snap off at any moment. After all, what did she know about marketing or decorating or health and safety paperwork? She could bake, sure, and had a sense of the aesthetic. But what about everything else? It was much easier not to face up to the practicality. She could keep her dream just that, a dream.
“Mom, don’t start. Please. Not now.” She snapped the lid on the jar of milled flaxseed and tried to change the subject. “How’s the book?”
“Not bad,” Dianne said with a weary smile, putting her glasses down on the page. “It’s a passionate young writer, you can tell that much. They’ve got a good story, but they have to learn a bit about the craft. It’s not really my thing, though. It’s time travel romance.” She walked over to the fruit basket and picked up a banana.
“Mm hmm,” Faith said, folding over the flap on the coconut flour. “Oh, don’t have too much, you’ll spoil your brownies.”
“I won’t, mom,” Dianne shot back with a grin. “As I was saying, it’s not my thing, time travel. But I do it because it pays the bills.” She cleared her throat, leaning against the counter as she peeled her banana. “You know, in a big two bed apartment I need because of someone still living here.”
“I know, mom, I know.” At 24, Faith knew it was The Right Time to move out of their apartment. Heck, it had probably been The Right Time an awful long time ago, but everything seemed to conspire against Faith when it came to jobs. When she had tried to join her mother in fiction editing she felt lonely and bored witless and ended up making so many mistakes she wasn’t allowed to carry on. Then working in a store as a sales assistant made her feel all pushy and salesy, and she ended up telling the clients to go across the street because there was an awesome blouse in there that was just their color. That hadn’t gone down well. Eventually she’d snagged work as a cashier in a grocery store, but the hours weren’t regular enough for her to move out. Her mom always talked about moving into a little cabin in a more rural area of Minnesota, “my writing and editing cabin by the lake,” she always said.
Faith really wanted her mom’s dream to come true – they got on so well and, if a little unorthodox, her mother had always been super supportive. But it looked like her mom’s dream was in Faith’s uncertain and slightly fearful hands. “As soon as your brownies are in the oven I’ll go look for jobs on the iPad,” Faith said. “I’ll just get anything, not even baking related.” She felt her heart sink, but put on a brave smile. “Anything will do, as long as it has better hours than where I’m working now.” Faith pretended to herself she was one of those people who could handle working in a dead end 9 to 5 she hated with a passion. But she knew she wasn’t.
It seemed her mother knew that, too. She sighed when she smiled. “All right. But look into baking first.” The phone started ringing. “A job you hate can feel like a noose around your neck at times,” she said as she walked into the hall to pick it up. “I remember when I first came—” She interrupted herself by picking up the phone. “Hello?… Oh, mom, hi.”
It was Grandma Bessie. Faith rushed to the hallway and took the phone – Grandma Bessie always asked to speak to her. Though Bessie was somewhat finicky and difficult to please, she had a good heart, and their shared love of baking held them together.
“Hey, Grandma,” Faith said, taking the phone into her bedroom and collapsing onto her bed. “How are you? I’ve just been making a gluten free vegan brownie for mom.”
“Gluten free what? These new fangled things,” Grandma Bessie said, impatient. “Anyway, I see you’re still living at home. The job and apartment plan gone down the tubes?”
Faith picked at the lace on the edging of her bedcover – she liked everything super beautiful, with soft colors and lace and pearls and trimmings. “Old lady style,” her mother teased her. “It’s shabby chic!” Faith always protested.
“Yeah,” Faith said, dejected. “I’m finding it hard to find work up here. It’s a small town, not much going on. I’m working at a corner store but the hours are like, nonexistent.”
“Good to hear,” Grandma Bessie said.
Faith frowned, rolling over on her back to stare at the white Christmas lights strung up on her ceiling. “Huh?” She wondered if Grandma Bessie’s hearing was going. “No, Grandma, I said—”
“I heard what you said,” Grandma Bessie snapped. “I think you would do well with a new start.”
Faith gazed out the window, where the creamy blue sky heralded the beginning of summer. It was too cold in Minnesota, she’d always thought. She remembered catching a commercial about Jamaica when she was little, and had begged and begged her mom with pleas and long lists about why visiting there would be a great thing to do. She’d even taken her small self into the travel agents and picked up a brochure, then spent hours designing their ideal itinerary in her room. Of course they didn’t have the money to go, and Faith soon gave up on it. She wondered about where she might have A New Start, dreaming of beaches and green palms swaying in the breeze, but she already knew it was just another dream.
“Yeah, it would be nice.”
“Come to Florida,” Grandma Bessie said. “Look after the tea room for me.”
Faith sat bolt upright. “Huh? What?”
“Don’t make me repeat myself, young lady. I’m getting too… Well, this modern generation wants everything quick quick quick. I haven’t got the time to be running after them, I want this coffee and that coffee and this tea and this pastry, all within a minute while talking on their Blueberries and their E-Phones and not observing common decency.”
Faith was too stunned to laugh or correct her. “You mean, you want me to come and run it? Me?”
“No,” Grandma Bessie said. “The cat’s mother.” She even tittered at that, and it took a lot to make Grandma Bessie laugh.
“Me? Are you… are you sure?” Faith said.
Her dream hurtled toward her, and already her mind was ticking over with just how beautiful it would look, and the creations she would serve up, and the specials blackboard she’d place out the front. The last time they’d visited her tea room had been five years before – Faith’s mom didn’t like to travel much – and Faith had redesigned it all in her mind then, too. It had been dated, in all truth, and the regulars were mostly elderly people who had been coming there for “donkey’s years” as her mother said – slang she’d picked up from her student days in England, that meant ‘forever’. And the place was too dark and dingy. Grandma Bessie was proud for sure, and she’d never even allowed Faith to so much as look at a baking utensil on their last visit, so this was a shock for sure. In fact, when Diana had suggested Faith come to apprentice with Grandma, Bessie had looked like someone had just killed her cat, and Faith had quickly changed the subject.
Gazing far beyond her little box room, Faith’s imagination ran away with her – lovely duck egg blue colored shutters they’d open to let the sunlight in, and cream and beige upholstery with stripes and matching duck egg blue flowers imprinted on it. Glass tables, perhaps, or white wood with lace stenciled designs all over. And vintage tea cups with saucers, to hold the sugar sachets. And the most beautiful range of cakes lined up inside the counter, so beautiful that people would always say, “Ooh, I don’t know which to choose.”
Grandma Bessie sounded cantankerous. “You think I would ring up this long distance call if I wasn’t sure? Do you want to come or not?”
It finally sank in for Faith.
“Yes, yes! Of course I want to. Thank you so much, Grandma. I’ll make you proud. I promise. I’ll tell mom and get a flight down as soon as I can.”
Grandma Bessie went quiet for a moment, and when she spoke it sounded like tears were welling up in her blue eyes. “All right. See you soon, kiddo.”
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