Inspirational Romantic Mysteries
Briar’s Point is a whimsical little town with its fair share of colorful characters, crime, and a Cupid suffering from the denim blues…
See if you can find denim blue in each story!
Find out more here: http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1a.html (Denim Blues Mysteries)
Find out more here: http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/fiction1b.html (Red Velvet Mysteries)
After writing the Denim Blues Mysteries trilogy, I absolutely fell in love with Den and Sylvia, Orlando and Keeya, and Erin and Ty. I came up with an idea to extend this series. The way it’s set up now, Den and Sylvia are private investigators in the first book, Orlando is a police detective so the second story is a police procedural, and the last features Tyler, Orlando’s detective partner at the Briar’s Point PD, and his neighbor Erin who starts amateur sleuthing. All the books in the first trilogy feature something denim blue.
I’m planning to do another trilogy, this time called the Red Velvet Mysteries, in which all three books are set up the same way as the first trilogy: i.e., each story will continue to follow these same characters in their romances and mysteries, only with something red velvet in each story. If that goes well, I’ll extend into another trilogy: Black Leather Mysteries and White Satin Mysteries with a story for each couple. I may continue indefinitely to come up with as many spin-offs of these as I can think up and I’m inspired to write, using the (Color) (Fabric) theme.
Below you’ll find an excerpt from the first book in this trilogy with excerpts from the next two books to follow, all available now:
RETIRED AND ON THE ROCKS, Book 1 of the Denim Blues Mysteries
Awards & Honors:
5 stars from Miss Lynn’s Books-N-More
5 stars from Readers Favorite
4.5 stars from Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf
A missing engagement ring leads to murder…
It’s been a month since Denim McHart hung up his private investigating career after he ended up with a bullet in his leg. The injury has forced Den to re-evaluate future goals in his career, his love-life and his spiritual life. To keep himself busy in early retirement, he’s been attempting to restore an antique table and he’s officially bored. He can’t seem to keep his mind off his investigative partner, the lovely and complicated Sylvia Price whom he’s had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with in the past. When Sylvia calls him out of the blue, he doesn’t waste time getting down to their office.
In this past month, Sylvia has been dealing with her own feelings for Den, her overwhelming guilt for the pivotal event that happened years ago and caused her mother to be mentally unstable, coinciding with her inability to forgive herself the way she knows the Lord has forgiven her.
Before the sparks can fly between Den and Sylvia in the direction he has his heart set, she says they’ve got company. Jilted bride Naomi Deva tells him that her groom–Mayor Thomas Julian–dumped her at the altar. Reluctantly, she admits he’d caught her in a compromising position with the best man only minutes before the ceremony. Naomi also reveals the reason why she’s sought them: The local police department hasn’t been able to turn up the 6.1 carat diamond engagement ring Thomas gave her…and the groom wants it back. Immediately.
Retired and on the Rocks Excerpt
© Karen Wiesner
Whatever possessed me to think restoring antiques might be my retirement calling?
Den McHart gave the circa 1800’s table a kick, then followed it with a whack from his cane. He’d been trying to finish the stupid thing for too long. First repairing then stripping it, just as his father had done with antiques when Den was young. Only now could he concede what he’d been ignoring for the past month. He was bored out of his skull. Thanks to beating the table in disgust, his injured leg hurt again, too.
He’d done a lot of soul-searching of late. That, he assumed, was a prerequisite after being in a dangerous situation. A situation that thoroughly convinced him he could die. That shocking revelation had made him wonder if he’d subconsciously believed himself to be invincible. Maybe he had. But that wasn’t what filled him with almost constant self-disgust.
Predictably, the thought of what he’d nearly lost called forth now the same image Den saw in his mind’s eye from a hospital bed. Five foot nine inches of willowy, lethal to the heart, body and soul Sylvia Price. A honey with sultry dark eyes, deep enough to drown a man, hot enough to scorch him beyond recognition. Full, coral lips. Peach-soft skin with an all-over glow, that begged to be stroked and revered. Thick, silky chestnut hair falling halfway down her back.
Den’s mouth went dry at the picture he’d conjured in his head. It used to make him chuckle at how often she walked away from him. Now it stopped him dead. Funny how one beautiful woman can make the heart of a deprived dude like yours truly ache.
Wouldn’t hurt to call her now, he told himself—advocating precisely what he’d been fighting these past weeks. He limped out of the workshop he spent years putting together in anticipation of following in his father’s footsteps once he retired. At the moment, he’d be happy to never return to it again.
As a kid, he’d watched his old man begin the restoration process on many honking-ugly pieces. Each time, his dad claimed he experienced some inspirational epiphany over the piece. Den had seen him finish that same piece into something glorious—and valuable. But Den never had the fortitude to stick around for the in-between work. Maybe if he had, he wouldn’t have considered it his end-of-life calling.
He’d never expected to retire so early. Like his uncle, he expected to be solving cases until his health forbade it. After weeks of frustration, he could say without wavering that the old man could keep the antique restoration business. He had to find something else to amuse himself.
And maybe he was just as ready to hang up his not-so-prized bachelorhood. No denying that the idea of sweet Sylvia coming home to him every night had more appeal than ever for him.
Lord, here I am again, asking the same thing I do every time we’re together. Inspire Sylvia to forgive me for almost getting her killed, to miss me and pick up the phone today to tell me she can’t take another day apart. And let me be the one she needs to heal her of whatever’s hurt her so deep she’s in hiding. Teach me not to take everything so personal. Yeah, I won’t deny I do that all the time. You and I both know walking away only seems easier in the heat of the moment. I can’t be away from her for long. That’s a fact. I know it through and through…
Den heard the front screen door squeak and then slam. As he made his way to the kitchen, his father appeared at the other doorway into the room.
“How’s it going?” his dad asked, his arms covered in sawdust.
Den’s parents lived next door. In the past month, they’d been dropping by several times a day—his mother to smother and clean, the old man with any excuse to take a break. Though he enjoyed his mother’s irresistible brand of culinary hovering, he’d particularly needed the latter his father brought him. Anything to escape his own antique “baby.” His father used to say a project required frequent rest. About all Den could see of that mentality was that he needed a rest—from the boredom.
Den shook his head. Once again, the same knowing grin his parents and older siblings had shared since he retired lit his old man’s distinguished face. They knew as well as he did that he was one stripping away from pushing the antique table out the window. No stretch for anyone to figure out what really ailed him. He missed Sylvia and he missed his work. The past five years with her had seemed infinitely sweeter than ever before.
His dad got a soda from the fridge, offered it to Den, then took one out for himself. “Sylvia call yet, Shamus?” he asked—raising the issue that’d been weighing on Den’s mind for too many days.
Den shook his head, focusing on anything but the old man’s all-knowing gaze.
“No law that says you can’t call her.”
They both leaned across the wide island at the center of the kitchen. Den took three gulps for every one sentence he spoke out loud. He didn’t want to admit he’d spent nearly every minute since his self-enforced confinement thinking about his sweet Sylvia, praying to be rescued by her and her alone. Rescued from this misery. What right did he have to want that, though, when he’d put her life in danger so recklessly? But he couldn’t stop praying for it anyway.
“She’s probably glad to be rid of me.”
“You didn’t make that drug dealer pull a gun on the two of you, you know,” his pop insisted, far too intuitively. “And it doesn’t make you less of a detective, or a man, that you weren’t armed at the time.”
“Syl was,” Den muttered.
“She used to be a cop, son. Of course she’s comfortable carrying a piece.”
The words didn’t sound natural from a man who had no greater love for weapons than Den. He felt his father’s gaze in the silence that followed.
The fact was, Sylvia had saved them both.
“You should just be happy that you exposed a crime and helped the police put a kiddie drug dealer and his supplier behind bars, son. Your mother and I were proud of the both of you.”
Den felt his father’s gaze in the silence that followed. Much as he felt similar pride in how he and Sylvia had solved the mystery, all he could think about was his lack of preparedness. Why hadn’t he ever considering chasing bad guys could be dangerous? If it wasn’t for Sylvia’s ready-for-anything approach to life, they could both be dead. Oh yeah, he felt like less a man for not having any moves beyond questionable charm—and a flimsy ice scraper—to protect the woman he loved.
Out of nowhere, his dad burst out with the liturgy that usually came from Den’s mother. “Oh, for Pete’s sake, son, marry the girl and be done with it! You should have done that five years ago. Thirty-two is plenty long enough to be a fun-loving bachelor. All your brothers and sisters are hitched and enjoying the families God gave them.”
Den’s parents had married right out of high school and proceeded to produce two daughters and five sons—Den being the youngest—in under ten years. The Lord had blessed them with love, laughter and a steady commitment to Christ keeping them all grounded.
“I enjoy having my pick of the ladies,” Den said on a shrug, though the life of a bachelor had never been his preference, and he suspected his old man knew he wasn’t as girl-crazy as he made himself out to be. After he met Sylvia, he’d wanted one thing—a lifetime, love sentence with her.
“So did I. But I also had the sense to know your mother wouldn’t wait around forever while I took my own sweet time enjoying the single life. What is Sylvia now? Pretty close to your age, isn’t she? Oh, that darlin’s not gonna wait for you much longer, son. I suspect she would’ve been persuaded to say ‘Yes’ the first time around, before you broke her fragile little heart.”
Sylvia, fragile? That Den couldn’t imagine. She was nothing less than tough as nails. Never mind that she looked delicate as a wood sprite. Their on-and-off times together, there’d never been an official break-up. She’d simply push him away when he started asking too many questions and tell him to back off. That was how he found out she’d decided they were off again. Her decision had very little to do with his charm, he suspected. The heart of the matter came down to her unwillingness to give him the intimacy of knowing everything there was to know about her. Not that her hard-kept secrets ever stopped him from trying to woo her back into his arms. Optimistically, he believed she’d someday give him all the mysterious parts of herself she fiercely held away.
“Well, you do what you’ve gotta do, Shamus my boy—but, while you do it, you call that sweet thing and invite her to Sunday dinner. You may not miss her, but your family certainly does.”
Den was most certainly the one with the worst case of missing her. He’d suspected from the first time his parents, siblings and their seemingly uncountable offspring had met Sylvia, they’d all been waiting by the phone to RSVP the wedding invitation. Love at first sight all the way around between Sylvia and his family.
His father finished his soda. “Well, back to my new baby. You invite Sylvia now, you hear? Or your mother may take things into her own interfering hands.”
That dire warning would have kicked Den in the pants if he were in a coma. But first he needed something to dull the pain in his leg. As he reached for a bottle of ibuprofen, the phone jangled. He didn’t allow the first one to finish before he put it to his ear. “Syl?”
“Hmm, you’ve traded deduction for ESP now, lover boy?” her throaty voice purred across the wire.
“Maybe I have, since I don’t have Caller ID. It’s good to hear your voice, sweetness.” Now he wanted her to tell him her thoughts had been in the same place as his—on forgiveness followed by a blessed reunion of hearts and souls.
She paused—the iron soldier he’d been fighting to get her to cast aside apparently still hard at work. “You, too, Den,” she murmured.
Sylvia had called him Den since day one, and he loved the way she wrapped the pet name in pure satin every time she said it. He heard the longing in her voice, or at least tried to convince himself he did.
“Are you up to driving?” she asked, suddenly all no-nonsense.
His left leg had been the one to take the injury, so he could drive. Of late, he hadn’t enjoyed the getting in and out of his sporty ride much—a present to himself after he solved his first case. “I could handle it. Why?”
“I’d like to see you, of course. How fast can you get here?”
Ah sweetness, you know just how to make my day, Den thought, and I thank the good Lord for it.
“Give me twenty minutes, darlin’.”
Her “Hurry” made him forget he wasn’t whole enough to do anything fast any more. Then again, with the possibility of redemption and love on the line, he might find the strength after all.
Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 117 titles published in the past 18 years, which have been nominated/won 134 awards, and has 39 more releases contracted for spanning many genres and formats. Visit her website at http://www.karenwiesner.com and sign up for her free newsletter to qualify for her monthly book giveaways. Check out her author page at Facebook, where you can like, friend and follow her: http://www.facebook.com/KarenWiesnerAuthor.