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Matrimony. Mayhem, and Murder (A Fiona Quinn Mystery) by C.S. McDonald (Book Review)

Matimony Mayhem and Murder (A Fiona Quinn Mystery) by C.S. McDonald

 
The venue is set, invitations sent, and the flowers ordered. It’s almost time for Fiona and Nathan to get married…again. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing…well, until the wedding planner is found dead.
Then the woman Fiona has never met shows up–Nathan’s enigmatic mom, Rita Landry. And she’s wearing a gorgeous but mysterious necklace. Worse, Rita is being followed by two sinister-looking men, forcing her to flee the country. And who gets dragged along? None other than the bride-to be! How does a girl prepare for all of that? Looks like Fiona’s perfectly planned matrimony has morphed into mayhem and murder!

You’re formally invited to Fiona and Nathan’s wedding. Question is: Will the wedding happen?
 
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
It’s very common for some hiccups to occur in preparation for a wedding or even during the big event. However, no one could have foreseen the details unfolding before Nathan and Fiona got married for a second time.


First off, their wedding planner gets whacked, and Fiona’s brother is the prime suspect. You’d think that’s the worst event to happen, but that is just the beginning of the drama. A very important and expensive necklace has gone missing, two persistent Russian agents are following Nat’s mom around, and yet that’s still not all the drama. 


C.S. McDonald has named this book appropriately because there was Matrimony. Mayhem, and Murder. There was also a meddlesome mom, aka Nancy, Fiona’s mom. If I’m ever in trouble, I want her in my corner. I want Rita (Nat’s mom) as well! 


While the story does contain a murder, which is not a funny crime, C.S. McDonald included much humor in this story. I found Rita’s interaction with the Russian agents quite amusing. Fiona’s retelling of Chad’s “band performance” was also quite comical. 


From beginning to end, I was entertained by Matrimony. Mayhem, and Murder. It’s a story I would proudly recommend others to read. 

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 
❤❤
 
 
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Meet the Author: 
For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time, she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series that everyone, including teens and tweens, can read and enjoy. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries nine books with a tenth slated for 2021. The books are also available on audio, narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg. Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The female protagonist, Alexa Owl, is much different from Fiona Quinn. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy! Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.
 
 
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The ‘Annie Oakley Mystery Series’ by Kari Bovee (Book Series Spotlight)

Book 1
GIRL WITH A GUN (an Annie Oakley Mystery) by Kari Bovee

2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards: finalist in historical fiction
2019 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards: first place in the mystery/crime category
2019 Hillerman Award for Southwest fiction
 
 

She’s on the rise to fame and fortune, but her sudden notoriety comes with some deadly consequences.

Annie Oakley thrives as a sharpshooter in the Wild West Show. Finally, she has a chance to save her family’s farm—and make her dreams come true.

But her act misfires when she discovers her Indian assistant dead in her tent. Uncovering a shocking secret from her assistant’s past, the girl with the gun believes it’s murder. Determined to find the truth, she ruffles some horse feathers, making enemies along the trail.

​But, when her prized gelding is stolen, Annie realizes she might have been the target all along.

Can Little Miss Sure Shot save her equine friend and find the killer before everything she’s worked for is destroyed?

​If you like a cunning mystery, a feisty heroine, and a fast-paced plot that keeps the pages turning, you’ll love this wild ride with the iconic Annie Oakley in the saddle.

 
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Book 2

Shoot Like a Girl (a prequel to the Annie Oakley Mystery Series) by Kari Bovee

She would do anything for her loved ones, even if it meant she’d be lost to them forever.

Young Annie Oakley never expected to be saddled with responsibility so soon. Following her father’s sudden death, the spirited girl finds herself shipped to a nearby county working for a couple promising a good wage. But when she discovers they are not what they seem, Annie suddenly fears her life may be in peril.

Determined to help her mother and siblings, she endures the hardships and mistreatment from the couple. But when that cruelty is targeted at the beautiful Buckskin horse who is her only friend, Annie decides to take matters into her own hands.

Will the spunky teen return to her loved ones, or will her decision land her in jail?

Shoot like a Girl is the prequel novella to the Annie Oakley mystery series. If you like a fiercely loyal heroine who won’t be anyone’s victim, then you’ll love Kari Bovée’s thrilling story of America’s best-loved sharpshooting sensation.

 

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Book 3

Peccadillo at the Palace (An Annie Oakley Mystery) by Kari Bovee

She’s outgunned her opponents at every turn, but will it be enough to solve a royal case of murder? Annie Oakley can’t believe her good fortune at an imperial invitation.

Queen Victoria wants Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show to perform for her Golden Jubilee. But during the voyage to England, a royal escort is murdered and the gun-slinging star finds herself at the center of an assassination plot against the crown.

Determined to catch the killer, Annie tracks down the clues. And by the time they reach London, she thinks she’s right on course. But when her husband falls mysteriously ill, and an assassination attempt is made on the queen, the sharpshooting amateur sleuth may find herself out to sea before her ship comes in.

Can the clever markswoman solve the double-barreled mystery before it’s too late?

Peccadillo at the Palace is the second novel in the Annie Oakley Mystery Series. If you like a fast-paced mystery with unexpected plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very end, you’ll love this riveting historical mystery featuring America’s favorite sure-shot.

 

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Book 4

FOLLY AT THE FAIR (An Annie Oakley Mystery) by Kari Bovee

She never misses a target. But unless she can solve this murder, she’ll become one…

Chicago World’s Fair, 1893. “Little Sure Shot” Annie Oakley is exhausted from her work with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. But when a fellow performer scuffles with a man who threatens her harm, she has to keep her eyes peeled. And when the heckler is found dead under the Ferris Wheel, Annie won’t rest until she proves her defender is innocent.

Before she can rustle up any clues, an old friend asks Annie to protect her young daughter. And as more bodies turn up around the grounds, she’s going to need all her sharpshooting skills just to stay alive.

Can Annie live up to her reputation and put a bullseye on the killer?

Folly at the Fair is the third book in the Annie Oakley mystery series. If you like strong heroines, Wild West adventures, and suspenseful twists and turns, then you’ll love Kari Bovée’s fast-paced whodunit.

 

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 Meet the Author:
Autor Kari Bovee

 
When she’s not on a horse, or walking along the beautiful cottonwood-laden acequias of Corrales, New Mexico; or basking on white sand beaches under the Big Island Hawaiian sun, Kari Bovee is escaping into the past—scheming murder and mayhem for her characters both real and imagined, and helping them to find order in the chaos of her action-packed novels. Bovee writes the award-winning Annie Oakley Mystery Series and the Grace Michelle Mystery Series, and has more ideas than time for many, many more.

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Love, Second Time Around: A Summerfield Village Sweet Romance by Penny Appleton (Book Review)

Can Maggie Stewart find love, second time around?

Maggie Stewart is a retired environmentalist, working to preserve the heritage of her little English cottage in Summerfield village. Her children have grown and she’s content to ride horses in the countryside and enjoy her retirement.

Except she needs money for her renovations – and she’s lonely.

When she joins her old environmental team to go up against an oil company intent on destroying a pristine Scottish river, Maggie finds herself working in opposition to a man she once loved from afar, many years ago.

Idaho ranch owner Greg Warren is rich and entitled, with a dark past that he hides behind a professional smile. But inside, he struggles with loneliness after the loss of his wife and the rage of a wild daughter who won’t let him move on.

Love blooms as Maggie and Greg take a chance on a new start, but can they find a balance between the two worlds they inhabit?

In this sweet romance, set between the English countryside and the wide expanse of the Idaho plains, can Maggie and Greg find love second time around?

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It’s dawn and raining hard on a Thursday in Summerfield, but my garden robin is an optimist. He pours his liquid song from the top of a birch tree, telling the world it’s spring, even as leaves blow wildly across the lawn.

I smile and check that the back door and windows are locked as I walk through my cottage. A faint aroma of toast lingers in the warm kitchen, and my big Aga stove purrs quietly as it adjusts the central heating. 

As I pass the breakfast bar, I touch the photos of my wonderful children hanging on the wall behind. Samantha, grinning at Luke on their wedding day, and Harry, surfing with friends. I pause to look more closely at the lovely one of the three of us laughing together, Mother’s Day two years ago, with glasses of champagne in our hands. Happy days, indeed.

I check the dining area next to the kitchen, the center of so much of our family life. I remember Harry, aged nine, sitting at the old oak table, his legs curled around the chair, busy drawing monsters. I look up at the collection of antique milk jugs on the top shelf above, each a chipped and lovely treasure, discovered in Oxford flea markets with my daughter, Sam.

But there’s no time for memories now. I check my watch again, switch off the light, and go into the sitting room.

Like many old English cottages, the front door opens into this living space opposite the narrow staircase, but I don’t use it much. The back door is nearer to the garage and a much better place for storing coats and boots, muddy from walking the fields in the early mornings.

It’s getting lighter outside and I cross to the window that looks out onto the driveway. It’s still raining, and there’s no sign of the taxi. It’s not late, and there’s plenty of time, but I’m eager to get going. I feel a pitter-patter of nerves and breathe, exhaling deeply. I know it will be okay, but this is the first conference since my retirement last year, and I want it to go well. As much as I love this cottage, it needs a lot of upkeep, so I need the work.

My familiar leather briefcase, raincoat, and overnight bag wait on a chair by the door. There is nothing left to do, so I straighten the cushions again and re-fold the throws on the two soft couches. The logs are stacked in the big, open fireplace and the kindling is laid, all ready for when I get home.

I love this room on wild winter nights, all curled up and cozy in the firelight. My Moroccan rug covers half the floor in a palette of reds and blues against a pattern of gray, polished flagstones. The low oak coffee table has two neat piles of books and the latest Horse Magazine that I’m looking forward to reading when I get back. I’m excited about this trip, but no matter how many times I leave, I always want to return to Square Cottage.

Headlights flash across the wall, and a white taxi turns through the gray dawn into the drive. I open the front door and wheel out my bag, eager to get going.

“Taxi to Oxford Station?”

“Morning, Jim.” I smile as he climbs out of the driver’s seat and touches his cap. He takes my overnight bag. “What’s with the cap-touching formality?”

“Just practicing to be the Summerfield taxi driver of choice, Maggie.”  

“Good job, but you’re the only Summerfield taxi driver.” I chuckle as I turn back to ruffle my fingers through a bowl of rose potpourri by the door. The scent of summer fills the air, and I know it will linger in the cottage until I get back. Grabbing my raincoat and briefcase, I pull the front door shut behind me, duck my head, and hurry through the rain to the taxi.

“Early start?” I brush water droplets off my suit as Jim reverses into the lane. My friend Selena waves from her bedroom window above The Potlatch Inn next door, and I wave back with a smile.

“You’re the first today,” Jim says, “but I had a terrible one yesterday. 3:00 a.m. to central London for the Eurostar.”

I make sympathetic noises and turn to look back at Square Cottage as we drive away. It’s three hundred years old with ashen stone walls and a darker gray roof rising to a central chimney on the top. It looks like a cottage teapot without a handle or a spout.

I fell in love with it when we first looked over the gate–Samantha, Harry and me, a little family in need of a home. The cottage was run down and broken. Patching it up took all my savings, but in rebuilding it, we became even closer, and together, we turned it into our family home. Those were happy years, and now that the children are grown up, I’m content living here on my own.

Most of the time.

Jim peers at the road ahead through the driving rain. “Excuse me for not talking, Maggie. The bends are slippery, and wet leaves are everywhere.”

I nod and relax with the swish-swish of windshield wipers and faint music from the radio. From the back seat, I can just see my reflection in Jim’s rearview mirror. My hair is shoulder length and still my natural corn-blonde color, with a bit of professional help. It’s twisted into a smooth chignon today.

The executive businesswoman, professional but not distracting. Good enough. I comb the soft wisps around my face with my fingers and check to see that I’m wearing both earrings. A lesson learned from the past – hurrying out the door, juggling two kids and a demanding job.

I stare out at the rain-drenched fields passing by. Soon we’re into Oxford and pulling onto the station forecourt, where Jim helps me with my bags.

“Have a good trip, Maggie.”

A chilly wind blows across the station as Jim waves from the driver’s window and pulls out into the early morning traffic. I pull my raincoat tighter around me. There’s just enough time to buy a newspaper and a coffee before the train pulls in on Platform 7.

It’s busy, but I find my reserved seat quickly, take off my coat, and settle into my seat. A shrill whistle echoes along the platform, and the train slides out of the station exactly on time. As we leave the suburbs of Oxford, I drink my coffee and look out at vivid green fields with cows and horses by the edge of the river. There are boats moored under the willow trees, their branches trailing in the current.

Rain slashes diagonally across the windows as the train gets up to speed. I read the news headlines, but I’m distracted. There’s so much riding on this conference.

Just after Reading station, the train slows down.

After a few minutes at this reduced speed, it stops completely.

My heart beats faster, and I keep looking at my watch. The minutes tick by faster as the train finally begins to move again, but creeps along by inches.

I turn to the lady next to me. “Any idea why we’re going so slowly? I didn’t see anything on the train app.”

“Something to do with the flooding. I did this journey earlier in the week, and we went at a snail’s pace. Could be a while.”

I try and stay calm, but I can’t miss that flight.

Finally, we pull into Paddington. The doors unlock and I half-jog across the station, dragging my wheelie bag. I make it to the Heathrow Express to find a line of frustrated people and a Cancelled sign. I don’t wait to see what the problem is, I just turn and puff my way to the station entrance, where black London taxis crawl in and out like ants. I join the funnel of commuters and finally make it to the front of the line.

The price to Heathrow makes me wince, but there’s no alternative. My anxiety rises and rises as the taxi inches out of the city and onto the motorway toward the airport. My calm day has fallen apart. I’m disheveled now, my hair and makeup no longer perfect. The rain and wind and running around have flushed my cheeks, and my hair is flyaway. I do my best to touch it up in the back of the cab.

When we arrive at the airport, I thrust money at the driver and sprint to Check-in, making it just before it closes. Of course, there’s a long security line, and I shift from foot to foot, trying to calm my breathing.

Come on, come on or I’m still going to miss the flight.

Cell phone and laptop out, liquids in their plastic bag. I take off my coat and suit jacket and slip them into the tray. Counting precious seconds, I silently plead with the security guy to ignore my shoes.

“Shoes off,” he says.

“Final call for the remaining passenger on flight BA1434 to Edinburgh. Your flight is ready to depart, and all other passengers are waiting for you.”

I run to the gate, blushing as I dash into the cabin. I’m the last to board, and the attendant closes the door behind me. I’m out of breath, flushed, and flustered.

So much for my careful planning and preparation.

I look down at my ticket. Window seat, 12A. Thank goodness it’s quite near the front, so I don’t have to walk the whole length of the cabin in embarrassment.

A man stands in the aisle, stowing his bag in the overhead locker. I wait to squeeze by and he turns as he closes it.

“Thank you.”

I glance up. The man smiles down at me with dark, intelligent eyes behind stylish, black glasses. He’s tall with close-cropped silver hair and a strong, close-shaven jawline. He wears a charcoal business suit expertly tailored to his athletic frame, and he smells of pine forests after rain.

My eyes widen. I take a breath, but suddenly, there’s not enough air.

Greg Warren.

I freeze, my eyes locked on his face.

“Hello, Maggie,” he says, in the beautiful American voice I haven’t heard in so many years.

 

Continue the journey in Love, Second Time Around by Penny Appleton. Available on Amazon in ebook, print and Large Print editions.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

Young or old, everyone deserves a chance at love and I am thrilled Penny Appleton focused her love story around two individuals with a few extra years under their belts. These added years also meant they had a bit more baggage than most young, budding romances do such as prior spouses and full-grown kids.

As much as I love rekindled relationships, I somehow didn’t fully embrace this couple. I felt as if Maggie loved the Greg she knew from the past and those memories clouded her judgment of him now. He didn’t show her the appropriate amount of attention she deserved when she flew all the way to Idaho for him. Plus, I couldn’t shake the feeling he really thought a woman’s place was in the kitchen. And, there’s the conversation between Barb and Maggie. Barb’s description of Greg nagged at me through the rest of the story. Barb: “But Greg was hard to live with at times. He can have flashes of temper and lay down the law as if he’s Moses.”

I know Greg and Maggie were not getting any younger but, no matter the age, there’s something to be said about getting to know your potential spouse before you pledge your undying love. Making sure you’re truly compatible.

Now for more positives: Penny described both England and Idaho so beautifully that each sounded like a wonderful place to visit. I also appreciated the bit of history she weaved into the storyline: Wolf Recovery Program, Nez Perce (Native Americans), and Native American Heritage Day (day after Thanksgiving). It’s always nice to learn something new.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤

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Penny Appleton is the pen name of a mother and daughter team from the south-west of England. We both enjoy traveling and many of the Summerfield sweet romance stories contain aspects of our adventures. We both enjoy walking in nature, and a gin & tonic while watching the sun go down.

Some of our favorite romance authors include Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts, plus we love The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloch, as well as Jane Austen and Stephenie Meyer. Our favorite movies include Legends of the Fall, A Room with a View, and The Notebook.

We are good friends … although sometimes we want to strangle each other! Family relationships are at the heart of our books.

You can find all the books and sign up to be notified of new releases at: www.PennyAppleton.com 
or check out my pictures on Facebook.com/PennyAppletonAuthor

 

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