today’s 1st book: Mistletoe and Murder
We are continuing this year’s blog series spotlighting (over 70 this year) new and recently-released Christmas reads! This is the 7th year for the Christmas Reads Giveaway series, and I think I get more excited about it every year 🙂 Christmas is only 20 days away, according to Google! So… snuggle in, grab your fave hot beverage (wassail anyone?) and comfiest blanket, turn on some Christmas tunes and start your bookish Christmas list! And no doubt you know the drill by now – there are GIVEAWAYS with EACH POST in this series??!! (Because authors are awesome!)
MISTLETOE AND MURDER by Connie Berry
SERIES: Kate Hamilton Mysteries #4.5
GENRE: Amateur Sleuth Mystery (Clean)
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Books
RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2023
In Connie Berry’s festive holiday novella Mistletoe and Murder, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton has a long way to go before she gets down the aisle, but will someone stand in the way of her happily ever after?
Five days before her wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, Kate Hamilton finds her friend Sheila in need of her help. Sheila, a soon-to-be bride herself, needs Kate’s help to get Carl Curtis, her fiancé, out of Venezuela. His passport was taken from him by the authorities, and they say he owes them money. Carl says it’s a bribe, but he’s unable to leave unless it’s paid.
Sheila decides to sell her grandfather’s coin collection, including a valuable gold coin presented by Queen Victoria to her great-grandmother. Among her grandfather’s stored possessions is a letter from the Queen. When someone breaks into Sheila’s house, all signs point to even more foul play. As Kate deals with a disturbing number of wedding-plan hitches, a fire in town reveals a body. Unfortunately, the burned-out flat is next to the bridal salon where Kate’s dress is being altered. Can the cleaners really eliminate the odor of smoke?
As the clock ticks down to Kate and Tom’s “I do”s, Kate goes to Sheila’s house to help her search for the royal letter, but she’s nowhere to be found. The house has been torn apart, and Sheila is missing. Could Sheila’s disappearance be connected to the death in town? Kate will have to piece together the clues.
OH, THOSE TREASURED HOLIDAY TRADITIONS DISASTERS
by Connie Berry, author of Mistletoe and Murder
Most of us have treasured holiday traditions—some repeated every year and others simply memories from the past. They can be as meaningful as reading the Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel or as silly as wrapping an old baby’s rattle as a “special gift” from Santa for an unsuspecting family member. Both traditions come from my own family. We still read the Christmas story at our family party every year, but the baby rattle thing ended when someone mislaid it over the summer (maybe my mother). The smallest things can mean “Christmas”—special cookies, favorite ornaments, funny stories of Christmases Past told every year without ever growing old. We have our share—my late cousin Ron playing the piano at the family Christmas party and singing “It Is Well With My Soul” in his big, booming baritone; Uncle Ed as a singularly unconvincing Santa; the Christmas everyone came down with the flu. the year my cousins and I got matching Dorothy Hartline majorette costumes and did some serious damage learning to twirl our batons.
The stories we remember best are usually the ones where something went wrong. One of the stories my family never fails to bring up is the Deadly Turkey Soup Fiasco.
The year my boys were two and five, I decided to follow my mother’s example and use the holiday turkey carcass to make soup. What a great idea, right? I simmered the carcass for hours in a huge stainless pot. By then it was pretty late, and since I was too exhausted to do anything more, I put the pot in the extra refrigerator in the basement. And completely forgot about it. Weeks later, realizing the “soup” was now aswirl with deadly organisms, I transferred the pot to the cold garage. And completely forgot about it again. Until the spring thaw. With no clue how to dispose of the lethal brew without slaughtering innocent animals—or people (could water treatment really neutralize what were probably undiscovered toxins?)—I carried the pot outside and stuck it under a tree at the back of our property until I could figure out how to safely make it go away. Out of sight, out of mind. Come summer, the pot with its murderous contents was still there. My husband got rid of it, expensive stainless pot and all. I never asked how.
The stories we remember usually involve something that went seriously wrong. In Mistletoe and Murder, a novella, Book 4.5 in the Kate Hamilton series, Kate and Tom are dreaming of a magical Christmas Eve wedding. Here’s a preview:
Exactly when things started to go wrong, I couldn’t say, but I’m pretty sure it was Monday, five days before my wedding, when I tempted Fate. Twice.
Normally, I’m a glass-half-empty sort of person—“hoping for the best but expecting the worst” is how my late husband, Bill, used to put it. This time I state—out loud, mind you—that everything was going to be absolutely perfect. Not that I’m superstitious, but still, you don’t go around saying things like “What could possibly go wrong?” or “No worries—I’ve done this a thousand time,” do you?
It was a bright December day in the Suffolk village of Long Barston. Signs of Christmas were everywhere. Wreaths of cedar and spruce adorned nearly every door. On the village green, the giant Nordmann fir had been hung with glittering balls and thousands of tiny lights. Along the High Street, last-minute shoppers stopped to admire the window displays of Father Christmas and his elves. A Salvation Army volunteer rang his bell and wished everyone a happy Christmas.
At the Cabinet of Curiosities, Ivor Tweedy and I were wrapping up our weekly Open Appraisal Day. The late-afternoon sun slanted through the small-paned front window of the antiquities shop.
“Everything set for the wedding, Kate?” he asked. “Any way I can help?”
“Nope—it’s all in hand. Tomorrow I pick up my dress; everyone flies in from the States on Thursday; the rehearsal’s Friday evening; the flowers and cake arrive Saturday morning before the ceremony.”
And the bridegroom—the dashing Detective Inspector Mallory?”
“Tom’s wrapping up a few minor details at the police station. So, you see?” I shrugged. “Everything is going to be absolutely perfect.”
Someone really should have stopped me.
So how about you? What are the treasured holiday traditions in your family? Any great disaster stories?
Connie Berry, award-winning author and former aspiring archaeologist, expertly weaves her passion for history and antiques into the Kate Hamilton Mystery series. Set in the UK, the series mirrors Connie’s own unique upbringing and love for the British Isles, gained through her studies at Ohio State University, Germany, and Oxford, England.
Her debut, A Dream of Death, won the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery and became a Silver Falchion and Agatha award finalist. Connie’s first novella, Mistletoe and Murder, released on October 17, 2023. The fifth novel in the same series, A Collection of Lies, is expected in 2024.
Published by Crooked Lane Books and represented by Paula Munier at Talcott Notch Literary Agency, Connie’s works captivate readers with gripping mysteries set in the enchanting landscapes of the United Kingdom. Residing in central Ohio and northern Wisconsin with her husband and dog Emmie, Connie invites readers to explore her world at her website.
Connie Berry is offering an ebook copy of Mistletoe and Murder to one of my readers! (Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Mistletoe and Murder by Connie Berry? What are the treasured holiday traditions in your family? Any great disaster stories?