Peaches and Schemes: A Georgia B&B Mystery by Anna Gerard
About Peaches and Schemes
In Anna Gerard's third delightful Georgia B&B mystery, Nina Fleet learns that despite the satin, lace, and buttercream trappings, weddings often prove to be anything but sweet...
Nina Fleet might be new to the innkeeping business, but she's savvy enough to know that Cymbeline's tourists aren't enough to keep her fledgling bed and breakfast going. And so, Nina decides to tap into the destination wedding market by taking a booth at the Veils and Vanities Bridal Expo. The twice-yearly event is sponsored by the town's two wedding pros: Virgie Hamilton, the sixty-something owner of Virgie's Formals, and Roxanna Quarry, a Gen X event planner and Nina's new friend. But everything goes wrong during the expo's fashion show, when Roxanna comes tumbling out of an oversized prop wedding cake, strangled to death by her own scarf.
Virgie is arrested for the crime, thanks to Nina's statement to the police about having overheard the woman accusing her partner of embezzlement. Meanwhile, the situation grows tense with her sometimes nemesis and current tenant, the dashing out-of-work actor Harry Westcott. Harry is concentrating on plugging his most recent side hustle ...but he's not too busy to break the news to Nina that her ex-husband is engaged to be married again.
Certain that Virgie's only offense is a bad temper, Nina decides to do her own investigating. First, however, she and Harry retrieve Roxanna's now ownerless dog, planning to foster him until a new home can be found. But local gossip soon convinces Nina that others beside Virgie might have had reason to murder Roxanna. As Nina gets close to the truth, she's putting her own life at danger. And when Virgie vanishes after being bailed out of jail by an unknown benefactor, Nina fears that if she can't find the dress shop owner in time, tying the knot will take on a whole new meaning for them both.
My name is Nina Fleet and, unlike most women I know, I’ve never much cared for weddings. Heck, I barely managed to get through my own nuptials almost twenty years ago. It’s not that I wasn’t excited about marrying my husband-to-be, a good-looking golf pro working at a small country club in Atlanta. At the time, I was in love and thought it would last forever. You know, the whole better or worse, richer or poorer, ‘til death do us part thing. (We actually made it to “richer,” which eventually led to the “parting” part of our union.)
Nope, marriage wasn’t the problem…at least, not at the beginning. What was too much for me was all the wedding planning. Pre–internet and social media, I didn’t have wed-ding blogs and websites and Facebook pages for guidance. I was more than a little overwhelmed deciding on venues and menus and showers and cakes and a proper dress. It didn’t help that my mother was consumed with the impending birth of my sister’s first child. My niece ended up arriving a week before my wedding, and so both Sis and Mom were mostly absent from their respective matron-of-honor and mother-of-the-bride roles. As for my groom, he shrugged and said he was good with whatever I chose.
In the end, however, the license was signed, birdseed in lieu of rice was thrown, and a honeymoon commenced. And I vowed that it would be my last wedding, except as a guest. I even turned down a couple of bridesmaid stints, just because the entire prospect gave me the willies, as my grandmother used to say.
But weddings and their related festivities can be lucrative business if you happen to own a bed-and-breakfast, which I do. Which is why I agreed to take part in the third annual fall Veils and Vanities Bridal Expo here at Cymbeline High School.
And which is also how I came to be hiding in the down-stairs girls’ restroom of CHS overhearing a heated argument that I later would realize was a motive for murder.
About Anna Gerard
Book Covers Uncovered
By Anna Gerard
Despite the popular admonition not to judge a book by its cover, every writer knows that the public does just that. Disastrous artwork on a stellar work of fiction can cause a would-be reader to skip right over to the next book on the shelf, while a compelling cover illustration can mitigate the worst of literary sins within. (For examples of the former, do a web search for Wordsworth Classics and treat yourself to some real howlers.) But what many readers don’t realize is that not only is the author not the one who designs their book’s cover, occasionally they don’t even get an opinion on what it will look like.
Fortunately, most of my editors have solicited my input, and the majority of my book covers have been pretty great. But not all of them.
The first “oops” for me was with my fourth historical romance. The publisher had switched the cover art style for my line from the previous sedate flowers-and-furniture imagery to the traditional “bodice-ripper” clinch. The problem was, I knew nothing about what was coming until my editor abruptly mailed me a bunch of cover flats for promotional purposes. Fittingly, as the book’s title was ROSES AT MIDNIGHT, the artwork featured an elaborate mirror atop a background of roses. The tastefully dressed couple was reflected in the mirror…he, tall dark and handsome…she, an exquisite blonde. It was all quite lovely, except for the fact that the heroine of that book actually was a redhead, which description was mentioned numerous times throughout the story!
I’ve had a couple of other cover art bobbles over the years, but the most glaring has been with my current series, the Georgia B&B mysteries. They are typical cozy covers featuring a rendition of the titular B&B inn along with my amateur sleuth’s dog, Mattie, front and center. The covers are cute and fun, and I really love their whimsical vibe. The only problem is that Mattie is an Australian Shepherd, while the dog pictured on the covers looks suspiciously like a Border Collie!
So how did that happen, when I gave a description of the correct dog as part of my cover notes? All I can guess is that the artist must never have seen an Aussie before and pulled the wrong reference photo by mistake. And, unfortunately, the launch book’s cover was already too far into the production process to change when I realized the problem. When the time came to make cover suggestions for the second book in the series, I had a chat with my editor about the wrong dog issue. She and I eventually agreed that it would be best to keep the same dog on all the subsequent covers, simply for brand consistency. And so, with the third in the series, PEACHES AND SCHEMES, we still have a cute Border Collie instead of an Aussie gracing the front of the book.
Sure, I was rather bummed about that error in the beginning, but over time I’ve come to embrace that errant pup. On my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/blackcatmysteries), Mattie the Aussie does a lot of the posting. She always makes sure to mention that she uses a “stunt dog” on “her” book covers, usually because she was too busy helping at the B&B to pose for the artist. And on my website www.georgiabbmysteries.com I have a special note that explains why the dog on the cover doesn’t match the canine in the book.
And when readers who missed the explanation write to point out the error, I simply remind them that you can’t judge a dog by its cover model.