Fiona can’t wait to attend the performance of Coppelia at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh. Her old friend, Silja Ramsay, is dancing the principal role. They have dinner after the show, but when they return Pittsburgh Ballet Theater is down one dancer! Ballerina, Alexis Cartwright, has been found dead in the dressing room. Is this murder a result of hot tempers among the cast members? Or is it a random act of violence? Will there be more murders? Homicide Detective, Nathan Landry, isn’t taking any chances. After finding out Fiona has a strong background in ballet he recruits her to go undercover among the cast of Coppelia. Can Fiona help catch a killer, or will she be the next victim?
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Murder On Pointe: A Fiona Quinn Mystery definitely had A LOT of mystery to keep this lady sleuth engaged in the story.
C.S. McDonald (the author) gave us multiple murders to investigate, many suspects to choose from, and a few surprise twists that will make you happy you kept on reading, even when you think you’ve got it all figured out.
Yeah, I was 95% sure I knew how the story would wrap up and then a certain double-digit chapter happened. (Yes, I am being vague so no one flips ahead to check out his or her hutches.) Darn you C.S. McDonald, you pulled a fast one on me because I never saw that certain someone as a suspect. (Yup, I’m being vague on purpose – again.)
Ladies and gents, I encourage you to read Murder On Pointe: A Fiona Quinn Mystery. I wonder if you’ll be able to solve every single case. I’m thinking C.S. might just stump a few readers like myself.
For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was 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, 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. Now she adds the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series for her young granddaughters.
Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and her Cocker Spaniel, Allister.
If a gold medal was awarded for ‘Worst Day Ever’ Laney Calderone would win it today, hands down. She’s just discovered she’s pregnant, her fiancé abruptly dumps her when she tells him, and her new car refuses to start as a brutal snowstorm hits Toronto.
Good Samaritan Tyler Hammond offers to take her home; however, with the heavy snow falling and his patience dwindling, Laney’s gold medal day isn’t over yet.
Storms intensify both outside and in as Laney finds herself inexplicably attracted to this tall, dark and very handsome but infuriating stranger.
Can Laney fight her unwanted yet increasing desire for this man long enough to get through the relentless storm? And will Tyler let her walk out of his life as easily as she came into it?
“Need any help?” a deep voice penetrated the howling wind.
Laney heaved another sigh as she looked up and saw someone approaching. “No, of course not!” she snapped, in no mood for stupid questions. “I often come out here late at night during raging blizzards to study the complexities of my car engine! Would you like to join me? Perhaps later we could pop into the coffee shop down the street for a latté and scone, just to finish the evening off right.”
A low chuckle escaped the stranger’s lips. “All right, as you seem to have the situation under control, I’ll leave you to it. Goodnight.”
“Wait —” Through the swirls of snow Laney was now very much aware of the man approaching. Her eyes took in his massive shoulders hidden beneath a black leather jacket, and as he got closer, her gaze wandered higher taking in the full lips creased in a smile, a finely chiselled nose and steel grey eyes that seemed to be twinkling, then thick, dark curls which refused to be flattened by the huge, wet flakes.
“Sorry…this hasn’t been a great day for me and now this! Not my idea of fun.” She stamped her feet in a futile effort to thaw her toes.
His smile widened. “What’s the trouble?”
Was he completely dense? “If I knew that, would I be standing here freezing to death apologizing to a total stranger?”
Her stinging reply didn’t seem to bother him as his laugh broke the snowy silence. “Now, now,” he scolded. “Let’s start again. I’m Tyler Hammond. And you are?”
“Cold, tired, hungry, and fed up.” She didn’t bother adding pregnant, it was none of his business.
He raised an amused eyebrow. “Charming.”
Laney treated him to her most withering glare, then checked her watch. “Look, it’s getting late and I’d like to get home. Can you help me or not?”
“I’ll call you Jane. That’ll make this a little easier.”
“Jane? Jane? I don’t think so! I’m Alaina Calderone. Call me Laney.”
“Hello Laney. It’s almost a pleasure to meet you.” He grinned.
She shivered once more as Tyler turned his attention to her car. “Let’s have a look. Any idea why she won’t start?”
“How should I know?” Laney rapidly came to the conclusion that Tyler Hammond was a complete moron.
“It is your car. I thought you might know something about it.”
She stared at him. “Is there a new law I don’t know about that states Ontario citizens must be licensed mechanics to own and operate a motor vehicle in this province?”
“It would help,” he said dryly.
“Well, unfortunately, I left my mechanic’s handy roadside repair manual at home tonight.”
“Too bad. You could certainly use it now.” He leaned over and examined a few of the engine parts. “Is the key in the ignition?”
When she nodded, he climbed behind the wheel. Laney heard the painful whirr again and sighed heavily, realizing to her disappointment that Tyler Hammond was no mechanic. Still, her hopes weren’t high.
He climbed out of the car and smiled far too cheerfully for her liking. “Nope, she won’t start.”
“Brilliant deduction! Any other extraordinary insights you’d like to share with me, Sherlock?”
“You’re not earning many points for Miss Congeniality, you know.” He tried unsuccessfully to hide a smirk.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
I’m going to break this review up into two sections.
First 100 pages: Laney found out she was pregnant, told her fiancé (whom she didn’t actually love), and he (Ramone) was furious so he called off their engagement. Tyler is in the process of divorcing his wife, proceedings that aren’t going smoothly at all. By chance or by fate, Laney and Tyler’s paths cross on one snowy night in Canada.
They are stranded together for almost a week in his apartment. They mostly argued but they did have many moments when they got long famously, in other words they “made love.” “Made love” was not a word I wanted to use but it was thrown out there. Honestly, how can you “make love” to a person you don’t know. Tyler had no clue Laney was pregnant with her ex-fiancé’s child. Another thing that bugged me, on day six (6), when the snowstorm had passed, Tyler was furious Laney was leaving him because he wanted to discuss their future. The man isn’t even divorced yet; his divorce isn’t drama free, so why would he even contemplate another relationship.
Even if I could get past the numerous fights, childish insults, I couldn’t overlook the secret bun in the oven and the not yet finalized divorce.
Next 100+ pages:After Laney returns home, she’s immediately thrown into more stressful situations. Her mother is attempting to control her, her ex-fiancé want to marry her again, Tyler won’t let up on her, and she’s had to endure a heated confrontation with his (Tyler’s) estranged wife. As Victoria Grant, the author, made very clear.. stress is not good for a baby.
There were obviously times I felt compassion for Laney and her situation. However, for the majority of the book, I didn’t like her or her character. For some reason, she just left a sour taste in my mouth. I wasn’t a fan of Ramone either but I think most people won’t care for him and that’s Victoria Grant’s intention. Tyler, well, I didn’t really love or hate him. Really, I had no feelings regarding his character either way. Yes, he was a Good Samaritan and kept Laney safe in the snowstorm. On the other hand, he was too pushy for my liking. In my opinion, a man shouldn’t propose marriage when he’s still technically married. And, Laney shouldn’t have had sex with him without telling him she was pregnant with another man’s baby. Basically, they both made a bunch of bad decisions.
With all that said, I will give credit to Victoria Grant for writing a story that had plenty of drama because life is full of drama. Also, the book ended on a happy note. There was a surprise revelation along with the happy announcement but I will refrain from discussing it. I think Tyler’s reaction to the shocking disclosure sums up my feelings regarding the situation perfectly.
Born in England to a Lawrence Welk-loving mum and a Monty Python-loving dad – tea drinkers all – we moved to Canada when I was seven. “Say book, say look” my new classmates would hound me just so they could have a good chuckle at my accent. But being incredibly shy, this was a great way for me to make friends.
My love of words and a creative imagination prompted English teachers to urge me to write for a living, especially after I received a letter from the Prime Minister who thanked me for writing to him! That was pretty awesome for a twelve-year-old!
Through the years, I wrote all types of stories while I earned a living as an Administrative Assistant in various businesses including a bank, a car rental firm, an ice cream company, and a pharmaceutical manufacturer. I was more than a little peeved when I discovered none of them gave out free samples! I went on to own a Wedding Coordination business for six years (talk about romance!), all the while being happily married to the love of my life.
These interesting jobs plus wedded bliss gave me oodles of ideas for romantic plot lines, tall, dark and handsome heroes and feisty, beautiful heroines, and, of course, the happily ever afters.
So amidst endless cups of strong tea while Cole Porter tunes and the dead parrot sketch whirl around in my brain, I write romances with a dollop of humour. I have an irresistible need to create captivating characters whose lives I can make completely miserable before giving them their happy ending.
I currently live in Mississauga and spend time with family and friends, and struggle daily with the wine and chocolate that somehow magically appear in my house…
“There are rules. Never to be broken.” Freda looked Ann directly in the eye, and said, “Number one rule— never miss Knitting Club.”
Ann wondered, but not for long, what the consequences of missing a session might be, but Freda broke into her thoughts with, “Deadly consequences.”
Oh, is that all? Ann thought it might be something more serious like you’d be responsible for hosting the next meeting or be forced to eat more of Freda’s cooking.
The look on Freda’s face made Ann realize she was serious, which also made Ann want to burst out laughing. She looked around the circle, but no one was laughing. All heads remained lowered. How can these women take blankets and scarves so seriously? After all, it’s just knitting.
But it wasn’t just knitting. Knitting had very little to do with this knitting club.
“What are the other rules?” Ann wanted to know, since the first one was so pleasant.
Freda sat back down and relaxed her demeanor. “There are but two more.”
Karen, Goodreads Contributor, 5⭐: This is a great book! Interesting suspense that keeps you guessing until the end! It’s a very different premise that’s a pleasure to read. You’ll also need some cookies to munch on as you read!
Brigitta, Goodreads Contributor, 5⭐: The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I like cute covers. Couldn’t pass up on the puppy and cookies. When I first started the book I was not sure if I was going to enjoy it. But, then I reached a point where I could not put the book down. I lost some sleep with this book. Yes, we spent the night together. The author kept me engaged, wanting to discover more about this knitting club and their rules. The women each tell a heartfelt story which forms a bond with the reader. The characters are well-formed. The story is written well with a few chuckles. The recipes sound delicious. They are a nice bonus. I definitely recommend this one.
Jeff, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: The Future Diary of Ann Jones is well written and has many levels— romance, mystery, recipes, and humor. Made me smile. The female characters within the knitting circle share their own personal stories that pull at your heart. The action builds to a twist at the end. A good read.
John, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: Recommended by a friend and far afield from my normal interests, The Future Memoir proved well worth my time. Really fun read – perfect for summertime. The “vision” of Ann Jones transports the recent widow to a new town, new friends, and very new experiences. Curiously, her new acquaintances have more in common than pets, socializing together and their own common backgrounds. Coincidence? The book kept me guessing until the surprising twists at the very end. I’m looking forward to Ms. Bailey’s next adventure.
Alex Bailey was a bored writer/editor of documents as monotonous as vacuum cleaner manuals. She left that life behind to create more exciting worlds than the one she lived in. The Future Memoir of Ann Jones is the first book under her assumed identity. She also writes children’s books under the name of Hoot N. Holler. When Alex is not listening to friends reveal wild stories about their future, she tends to her organic garden while belting out show tunes. Alex and her husband started the garden with the intent to donate fresh organic food to their local food bank, and so far, it has been a smashing success. Ironically, Alex does not have the patience to sit still long enough to knit. But, some of her favorite hobbies include: embarrassing her children in public with her rhythmically-challenged dancing, cleaning the small disc around the stopper of the bathroom sink, and dallying.
The first book in A Dream Come True series is a heart-warming holiday romance set in “The Most Magical Place On Earth.”
Christmas. Disney. Romance. No greater magic.
When Sophie’s eight-year-old niece, Ariel, asks Santa Claus for a single wish to honor her mom’s memory, Sophie knows she must grant it. Unfortunately for Sophie, Ariel’s wish is to ride her mom’s favorite ride on Christmas day, and it’s at the last place on earth Sophie wants to visit—Walt Disney World. It will be the first Christmas without her sister, and reliving childhood memories of her best friend is not how she wants to spend her holiday. Sophie’s only desire is to spend Christmas on the slopes with her reliable and stable beau, Darren, who has reluctantly agreed to postpone their trip until the day after Christmas.
But when Sophie runs into a charming stranger, who offers up his extensive Disney knowledge, he instantly becomes her hero. A wave of relief washes over Sophie—he may just be the one to give Ariel the magical experience she desires. And, even though Sophie doesn’t realize it, he may be exactly what she needs too.
Can a bit of Christmas magic help this ruggedly-attractive stranger win Sophie’s heart when she believes it already belongs to Darren? And will Sophie continue to allow her painful past to haunt her, or will she let it go?
“Can I help you?” asked a quite attractive man wearing Mickey Mouse ears and a Mickey Mouse Hawaiian shirt, standing a few feet away from them. His broad shoulders and almost-black close-cropped beard and mustache completed his rugged outdoors-type look. He was the exact opposite of Sophie’s type.
Oh good, a concierge! “Yes, please.” Sophie was drawn into his smiling deep-brown eyes. “Could you point us in the direction of the restroom?”
“I’ll do you one better. Follow me.” He headed away from the Christmas tree with Sophie and Ariel in tow.
Ariel dumped her bags and ran in while Sophie tried to gather them. She needed to be in the restroom with her niece, Sophie didn’t allow Ariel to go into public places alone. But with her own luggage, she wasn’t able to manage it all. She looked at the concierge, muscles bulging under his short sleeves. He looks strong enough to carry all this. “Would you be able to take these bags to the check-in station while I tend to my niece?”
His confused look made Sophie wonder if Disney had slacked off of their standards of only hiring the chirpiest employees, or rather as Disney referred to them, cast members. “The bags?” She dropped everything back on the floor, except her cross-body purse.
“Okay, I get it now!” he laughed heartily. “You think I work here?”
“Well, don’t you?” She looked him up and down, as though her scan of his outfit proved the fact that he did, indeed, work there. When her gaze rested on his face, there was something pleasingly familiar about it. “The Mickey Mouse Hawaiian shirt? The ears?”
He eyed her as if she’d just said his foot was growing out of his nose and then shook his head. “You’ve never been here, have you?”
Annoyed at his insinuation, she said, “I have. But it’s been a while.”
“Well, stick around. You’ll see a lot of things here that you don’t see in everyday life.” Then he winked and said, “And you may just see some magic if you keep your eyes and heart open to it.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
I absolutely adored Once Upon A Romance by Alex Bailey. It, without a shadow of a doubt, captured the true magic of Disney.
If you’ve never been to a Disney park, I know you’ll be booking a vacation there after you read Once Upon A Romance. Alex Bailey’s love for Disney shines throughout the story. If you have been to a park before, then I’m sure it’ll bring back fond memories of your time there. It did that for me.
Like Sophie, Ariel, and Ray, I stayed at the Animal Kingdom resort. I didn’t go during the Christmas season but my time there was no less magical. Like Ariel, I was captivated by the wildlife grazing below my balcony. The resort is pricey but well worth every penny.
Disney is ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ for a reason. It brings joy to hearts, no matter what age, gender, ethnicity, color, and so on. Disney is all about love and happiness. Once Upon A Romance was all about love and happiness as well: the love for a deceased wife/mother/sister/daughter, the love for a deceased fiancée, the love and compassion a child expresses for everyone, and the love blossoming between two people.
I just can’t praise Alex Bailey enough for this feel-good book. I encourage everyone, young and old, to read Once Upon A Romance. It will warm your heart and make you smile.
Alex Bailey was a bored writer/editor of documents as humdrum as vacuum cleaner manuals. She left that life behind to create more exciting worlds than the one she lived in. The Future Memoir of Ann Jones was the first book under her (absolutely necessary) assumed identity (in order to hide Ann Jones’ identity). When she’s not dreaming of being swept away to “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” she’s tending to her organic garden while belting out Disney tunes. Some of her favorite hobbies include: telling her children that “Mother knows best,” attempting to convince woodland creatures to clean her house for her, wishing upon stars, and Disney-ing.
She’s no damsel. He’s no prince. Can their love still be strength enough to save them both?
Twenty years later, and the hole inside Emeline’s soul only got bigger, mourning the loss of her mother and brother and what could have been. A stranger comes along with changes to a career she loves, but will it be for the better and will he end up changing her, too?
Adam has been closed off to the world for nearly two decades, existing but not living. He doesn’t even realize the shell of a man he’s become until a woman he’s slowly falling for makes him examine his own reflection.
A modern twist on a classic tale filled with desire, passion, and one dangerous obsession.
“Of course not,” he replied adamantly, finally turning to face her. “I meant what I said before. You’re very valuable to this company and you’ve more than proven it. I also meant it when I told you that you would do great on your own. I don’t want you to leave.” He took her hand in his. “I want nothing more than for you stay, but I don’t want to hold you hostage. That was unfair of me. Please, forgive me.”
The truth was, she had forgotten about his threat. With the way he turned the company around along with giving her his friendship, not to mention the fact that she was in love with him, she was happy there again. She hadn’t thought about quitting or about going out on her own. The fact that he remembered and was apologizing for it and even willing to let her go without any repercussions stunned her. She had already forgiven him a while ago.
She watched a sly smile form on his lips, a devilish gleam in his eye. “No one should have to work for an asshole.”
“Good thing I no longer think of you as an asshole.” She glanced down at their joined hands. “I would like to stay.”
“You would?” He sounded surprised, hopeful even, and the look on his face confirmed it when she raised her head.
“And what about you, Adam?” she asked. “Do you intend to stay?” She knew it was a premature question, given the fact that it would be some time before he could present a tempting sale, but she felt like she needed to know if he even considered the possibility of actually keeping the company and running it himself.
He reached out and toyed with a strand of her hair. “I’d gotten so used to working with soulless corporations, people who wouldn’t hesitate to stab each other in the back. I guess you can say I’m pleasantly surprised. Publishing Enchanted is more than a company. It’s a family.”
“You’re part of it now.”
“And I don’t think I want to give that up.” He let go of her hair and brushed his knuckles down her cheek. “I have too many reasons to stay.”
They were so close now, their faces mere inches apart. Emeline couldn’t even remember how they had gotten there, but now she only wanted to be closer. “Adam,” she whispered, right before he closed the final distance between them and kissed her.
His kiss was soft, tentative at first, as if gauging her reaction, but when she wrapped her arms around him, he deepened it, moaning into her mouth as their tongues finally met and entwined. Finally, she got her wish and fisted her hand in his thick locks. His hair was soft, just as she’d imagined. Even his beard was soft against her skin. And God, he was such a great kisser, exploring her mouth thoroughly, lips and tongues feverishly connecting.
It was her turn to moan when he pulled her onto his lap and his hands began to roam down her back, her arms, and skimming down the sides of her breasts. He stopped kissing her lips long enough to move down to her jaw, her neck, and then all the way down to that deep V in the center of her cleavage, eliciting another, much louder, moan from her.
She was so lost in him, she hadn’t even realized at first that they were no longer moving, had no idea when they had stopped. Adam took notice of it, too, and paused his attentions to her. They were both panting as they stared at one another, and this time it was Emeline who leaned in and kissed him. She whispered, “Stay,” against his lips, the ache inside her for him too great to be able to part with him.
He practically growled in response and the two of them poured months of longing into their next kiss.
“I’m going to devour every single inch of you,” he said.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Emeline and Adam met by chance at a cemetery. He found her asleep, scolded her for her foolishness sleeping out there, and then he offered her money to get cleaned up. Emeline, feeling embarrassed and foolish, declined his offering and left the cemetery. As she drove away, neither had any clue their paths would cross again so soon.
Monday morning, Emeline met the new owner of Publishing Enchanted. He was the man from the cemetery. Their first encounter was a walk in the park compared to today’s events. She was not a fan of the boss or the changes he was going to implement. She even threatened to quit. Of course, her feelings towards him and his direction for the company soon changed. Hate became like and then like morphed into love.
Whether you like or love your boss, Elena (author) pointed out being involved with a boss/co-worker never comes without drama. In Emeline and Adam’s case, drama seemed to follow them wherever they went. A coffee shop, charity ball, parking garage, no place is safe when you have a deranged stalker harassing you.
Emeline and Adam each had their chance to come to each other’s rescue in their own way. However, despite everything, feelings were hurt and blood was shed.
Despite the drama, The Beast in a Suit cut the tension with random spots of humor. The bicycle lessons were actually adorable. It reminded me of Phoebe (from the television show Friends) and the less than graceful way she rode a bike.
Before I conclude my review, I would like to discuss a couple more things.
1.) I’m not sure I could train for a triathlon in 2 weeks. I think it’d pass out long before I ever saw the final line. 😀
2.) I was moved by Adam’s speech regarding why he was holding a charity ball for Cancer Families. Elena (the author) was absolutely on point when she had Adam says these key lines….
“Cancer is like an unwelcomed guest, insinuating itself into countless lives and definitely overstaying its welcome.”
“Cancer ravages the mind and body, it incites, fear, and then it leaves devastation behind.”
“No one should have to worry about not being able to afford their medical care, or of not being able to pay their mortgage, or to put food on the table during that trying time.”
I have a friend who is battling cancer. I know the financial burden her family is facing. Physically, mentally and emotionally, her and her family are weighed down by what cancer has brought upon them. If you have any money to spare, please donate to those in need or to any cancerresearch organization. Desperate families need your help. We need a cure for cancer before more lives are taken, before someone else loses a friend or family member to this terrible disease.
Elena Kincaid is an award-winning and Amazon best-selling author. She writes Paranormal and Contemporary Romances with alpha males who stop at nothing to protect their women, heroines who are anything but damsels in distress, and stories where the only love worth fighting for is the forever kind of love.
She was born in Ukraine and raised in New York, where she currently lives with her daughter. Her desk is constantly cluttered with journals, sticky notes, and torn-out pieces of paper full of ideas. When not working, Elena loves to spend time with her family, travel the globe, curl up with a good book, and catch up on her shows.