Shannon here: Donna Schlachter shares an excerpt from her Christmas Romantic Mystery anthology, A Mistletoe Mystery included in the Merry Little Mysteries collection. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for an ebook copy. Deadline: Nov 5th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Donna:
Romance and Mystery in One by Donna Schlachter
If you enjoy a little romance, a little history, and a little mystery, you’re going to love “A Mistletoe Mystery” in the Merry Little Mysteries anthology. A half dozen authors have banded together to bring you a collection of contemporary and historical mysteries, all clean and sweet, that are sure to tickle your funny bone all the way down to your toes in your stockings.
My story, A Mistletoe Mystery, is set in Boulder Colorado in 1883, and it opens with Holly and Ivy Christmas discovering that somebody has seeded their champion spruce trees with dwarf mistletoe, a parasitic plant every bit as destructive as the ordinary kind of mistletoe, but not quite as pretty. They follow the trail to a neighbor’s property but lose the tracks because the wind blew the snow away.
Still, it is suspicious.
Particularly since the neighbors are brothers they have history with. Including a stolen kiss in third grade.
What follows is a typical mystery in that the four band together and follow the clues, ask questions, narrow down the list to a few suspects, and trigger a meeting of the bad guys by putting pressure on a weak link.
While they’re doing this, they’re also spending time with each other. Figuring out they like how the other person has turned out. Wonder why they ever stopped talking to each other. And—well—love blossoms, as it should, in any good romantic mystery.
A Sneak Peek:
Holly & Ivy Christmas Tree Farm, Boulder, Colorado
December 3rd, 1883
Holly Christmas froze in her tracks. Not because the temperature hovered around ten degrees—although it did. Not because she’d tromped around her thousand-acre Norway Spruce tree farm for almost three hours—although she had. And not because the sun only now cast a blush on the Rocky Mountains as it peeked over the horizon—although it was.
No, Miss Holly emulated a statue because of what hung from the branches of the prime specimen before her. A tree destined to decorate the grand ballroom of the governor’s mansion in six days’ time. Already paid for. Already marked with a red flag for cutting and shipping tomorrow.
She tore her gaze from that monster of a spruce and scanned the next in line. This one, a foot shorter than its neighbor’s fourteen feet, for the mayor of Kansas City. Again, due for cutting next week.
Holly pushed her spectacles higher on her nose. Didn’t change what she saw.
Her heart pounded in her ears at the sight before her. And at its ramifications.
Dwarf, to be exact, if she knew her botany.
Native to Colorado. Usually found in stands of spruce and pine that suffered from disease, or overpopulation, or overgrowth.
Never in her tree farm.
Not before today, that is.
Holly slogged through the knee-deep snow back to the barn, hitched a wagon to their cart horse, tossed a couple of long poles into the bed, then headed for the house.
She scraped her boots before entering through the back door.
Her sister, Ivy, stood at the stove cooking breakfast. She looked up, all rosy cheeks and steamed up spectacles. “You’re back early.” Her brow pulled down. “What’s wrong?”
Ivy knew her too well. “We got trouble.”
“With the trees?”
“What else?” She snagged her sister’s winter coat and woolen cap from the hook near the door. “Come on. Daylight’s a-burnin’.”
Ivy chuckled at her voicing about their father’s favorite witticism. “Barely.”
Holly led the way to the wagon and clambered aboard. She nodded when Ivy, younger than her own twenty-nine years by eleven months, slid onto the wooden seat. Slapping the reins, Holly urged the gelding into a quick walk.
Ivy tugged on her sleeve. “You gonna fill me in?”
“Somebody is out to destroy us and our farm.”
Question for Readers: When do you put up your Christmas tree? Is it real or artificial? If real, do you get it from a farm, a lot, or your own property?
About Donna: A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter.
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About A Mistletoe Mystery included in Merry Little Mysteries:
Boulder Colorado 1883: Two sisters living next door to two brothers. When bad stuff starts happening, who is behind it? If not a neighbor, then who? Can the two ranches, competing in the Christmas Tree Market, cooperate enough to save their land? Or are they doomed to lose all?
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Interested in Donna’s other titles?
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Preorder Merry Little Mysteries The print book releases mid-November at the same link.
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