Lucky Stiff by Deborah Coonts

Title:  Lucky Stiff

A Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure

Author:  Deborah Coonts

Published:  February 2011, Forge Books

Genre:  Mystery

About:  (from the book flap) Lucky O’Toole – head of Customer Relations at premier megaresort the Babylon – thinks it’s just another night in Las Vegas. A tractor-trailer has spilled its load of a million honeybees, blocking not only the Strip but the entrance to her hotel. . . . The district attorney for Clark County – apparently the odd man out of a threesome on the twelfth floor – is hiding in the buff in one of the hotel’s laundry rooms. . . . And Numbers Neidermeyer  – one of Vegas’s less-than-savory oddsmakers – is throwing some major attitude at Las Vegas’s ace private investigator, the beautiful Jeremy Whitlock.

The next day, Lucky discovers Ms. Neidermeyer has been tossed into the shark tank at the Mandalay Bay Resort as a snack for the tiger shark.  When the police show up at the Babylon with a hastily prepared search warrant, applied for by the district attorney himself, and Jeremy lands in the hot seat, Lucky realizes her previous night was far from routine. . . .

My take:  If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Wanna Get Lucky?, I recommend you do just to get the full story on several characters. Many of them are back in action in Lucky Stiff  and I was happy to see them again. This time there’s a murder to solve, a wacky scheme for Lucky’s mom to make money, the boxing match of the year at the Babylon as well as a convention of entomologists – Lucky’s life is never dull.

Deborah Coonts described a vibrant Las Vegas. From the pulsing music in the clubs and the sounds of the slots in the casino to the sultry desert air – I felt immersed in the Vegas experience. I also had fun trying to figure out who fed Numbers Neidermeyer to the sharks and how it was done.

Lucky Stiff is an entertaining Vegas romp. Lucky O’Toole is a plucky girl who loves her job, her friends and family, and hopes she’s found her true love in Teddie. I hope she has too and I can’t wait to read more in the Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure series.

Source:  FSB Associates

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Mailbox Monday – November 28

 

Hosted in November at  Mailbox Monday

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Last week I used a credit at Audible.com to buy Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber. The movie version is being shown on the Hallmark channel this season but I also wanted to read it. Macomber Christmas themed books are heartwarming. A few days later I received an email from Audible announcing a sale – 100 books priced at $4.95 each (it may still be going on). That was hard to pass up especially when one of the books offered was one I’ve always meant to read but never got around to:  Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl (narrated by Simon Vance). I also picked up Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook. My hubby recently won an iPad 2 at work and gave it to me. I’ve been tempted to buy this cookbook and thought I’d try it on the iPad. I’ll let you know what I think in a few weeks. Hm, interesting mix of books, wouldn’t you say? 😉

    

Then I ventured out for a little shopping on Small Business Saturday. The local indie bookstore was my destination. I picked up two copies of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. Those are Christmas gifts – and they’re signed! I also found a book for my Book Blogger Swap-ee (to remain a secret – I bought the same book for me). And I had to pick up The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt  by Caroline Preston because of all the book blogger rave reviews. Merry Christmas to me 🙂

  

So what was in your mailbox last week?

Guest Post: by Deborah Coonts

Today I welcome author Deborah Coonts to Bookfan. I read Deborah’s book Wanna Get Lucky? a few months ago and really enjoyed it. Next week I’ll review the second book in the series: Lucky Stiff. I asked Deborah to write about her inspiration for the Lucky series.
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Inspiration for the Lucky Series: A Sinful Escape
By Deborah Coonts,
Author of Lucky Stiff

When my then fifteen-year-old son suggested a family relocation to Las Vegas, my then husband and I started packing. Okay, maybe we didn’t think it through, but after five years in suburban Maryland we had yet to find our niche, so we were ready for a change. Little did I know, the story I had been looking for was lurking in Sin City. In retrospect, perhaps it should’ve been obvious, but back then I was pretty naive.

With bags packed and good wishes ringing in our ears (The one I remember the best was: You’re going to finish raising a hormonal teenage male in Las Vegas? Are you on drugs? I’m still thankful those ‘friends’ didn’t call Social Services), we packed two cars and a moving van and headed toward the bright lights.

A lot of people say Vegas is an acquired taste — not for me.

Where else outside of maybe New York City can you watch an everchanging cross-section of the world parade past and still go home and sleep in your own bed? Absolute heaven for a storyteller.

However, it is true that everyone sees something different in Vegas.

I see magic.

And this is the Vegas I wanted to write about. The fun stuff. Not bodies buried in the desert. Not mobsters. Not fools losing everything. But the real Vegas. The forty-five million visitors a year — each of whom are on a mission of mischief, the celebrities, the singers, the shows, the amazing shopping — that Vegas.

My Vegas.

Wanna Get Lucky? is the beginning of the story. Of course, the story had to be set in a huge strip casino/resort, and since I’m a storyteller, not a reporter, I created my own — The Babylon. And who better to tell the story than a woman in her early thirties (old enough to know better, but young enough to ignore it) who is the Head of Customer Relations?

On a roll, I wrote the first sentence of the story — I’m big on beginnings — then came to a screeching halt.

Great, forty-three words into the next Great American Novel and I had writer’s block. This was going to be harder than I thought.

That’s when I started hearing voices.

At first, I thought maybe this ought to worry me, but then I remembered an interview with P. D. James. When asked how she came up with her stories, she said something to the effect that she sat in a room with her characters, listened to what they had to say, then wrote it down. I was so there. And, by all accounts, Ms. James did all right. So, if it was good enough for her, it was fine for little ol’ me.

Lucky, my protagonist, was the first character to speak to me. Apparently fed-up with my waffling, she spoke up loud and clear — she told me her name — while I was minding my own business sitting on the porch at the Grand Lake Lodge in Colorado. Vacation interrupts. Two women and one man (my then husband) do not make a great vacation. Of course, if we’d been in Vegas, that would’ve been just an interesting evening . . . or so I’ve been told.

But I digress. Being given my protagonist’s name was a good start, but I was hoping for more. Lucky didn’t disappoint — she introduced me to her friends: The Great Teddie Divine (Las Vegas’ premier female impersonator who is straight and, understandably, has a tough time picking up women), Miss Patterson (Lucky’s plucky assistant and a cougar), the Beautiful Jeremy Whitlock (a private investigator and prime cougar bait), The Big Boss, and Mona (Lucky’s bordelloowning mother).

The whole female impersonator thing sort of opened the door for me. I mean, some of the impersonators in this town are amazing. And then I started wondering . . . well, anyway, I finally ended-up wondering what would a straight guy do if he spent his professional life sheathed in Oscar de la Renta? How would he do with women? Of course, this being my fantasy, I decided he might do all right. Think about it. A man who can speak Jimmy Choo? A man who can help me with make-up (I’m not a girly-girly.) A man who would not only know who Rodgers and Hammerstein were, but who could even hum a few bars of I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair. All this and sex too? Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she? So, Teddie was born.

The cougar thing . . . well, I’m of a certain age — old enough to find that concept interesting. Enough said.

And who wouldn’t wonder what it would be like to have a mother in ‘the business’? This is Vegas after all.

The cast set, I actually had to come up with a story. Porn stars and spouse swappers?

The genesis for the porn star angle was a chapter of a book, Skin City by Jack Sheehan. Jack is a Vegas author and quite wonderful. The vignette he wrote that inspired me was a recitation of his attendance at the real adult film awards held in Vegas each January. I laughed so hard I had tears rolling down my face. So, of course, I had to have porn stars — of my own creation, of course.

And the spouse swappers — that idea came right out of Sixty Minutes.

Put the two together, along with a young woman who falls out of a tour helicopter, landing in the middle of the Pirate Show in front of Treasure Island, add some Vegas magic, and romance . . .

So, do you Wanna Get Lucky?

© 2011 Deborah Coonts, author of The Lucky O’Toole Vegas adventure series

Author Bio
Deborah Coonts, author of Lucky Stiff, says her mother tells her she was born in Texas a very long time ago, though she’s not totally sure — her mother can’t be trusted. But she was definitely raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. She currently resides in Las Vegas, where family and friends tell her she can’t get into too much trouble. Silly people. Coonts has built her own business, practiced law, flown airplanes, written a humor column for a national magazine, and survived a teenager. She is the author of the Lucky O’Toole Las Vegas adventure series.

Her first book, Wanna Get Lucky?, was released in 2010.

For more information please visit http://www.deborahcoonts.com, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

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Thank you, Deborah. I love that Lucky named herself 🙂 I hope she introduces you to many more characters! I can’t wait for her next adventure.

Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log by Karen A. Chase

Title:  Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds)

Author:  Karen A. Chase

Genre:  Travel Memoir

Published:  October 2011

My take:  Karen A. Chase celebrated her 40th birthday by treating herself to a month in Paris. She immersed herself in all things French by living in a rented apartment, riding a bike or walking most of the time, shopping the markets, and enjoying the cafes. Well, really, much more than that!

Chase shares her experiences (mostly good) of living among Parisians. If you are looking for the courage to live in another country for an extended period look no further than Bonjour 40. Of course, her circumstances were perfect: a job that allowed her to take the time off; no childcare arrangements to make; and a partner who promised to meet her for the final week of her holiday. Even so, reading this short memoir made me feel it would be possible to do the same. Where there’s a will. . . right?

One more thing. I loved all the photos scattered throughout. They made me feel like I was looking through a travel scrapbook.

Source:  I bought it.

Disclosure Policy:  see sidebar

NOTE: This book is available as an eBook. I read it on a device using e-ink. A few weeks after I wrote this review I read Bonjour 40 again but this time on an iPad. The photos look clear and crisp – superior to the e-ink experience. That said, either version is recommended.

 

Making Waves by Tawna Fenske

Title:  Making Waves

Author:  Tawna Fenske

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Published:  August 2011 – Sourcebooks Casablanca

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) When Alex Bradshaw’s unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb after 20 faithful years as an executive with the world’s largest shipping company, he sets out to reclaim his dignity and his pension. Assembling a team of fellow corporate castoffs, he sails to the Caribbean to intercept an illegal diamond shipment. None of them counted on quirky blonde stowaway Juli Flynn, who has a perplexing array of talents, a few big secrets, and an intoxicating romantic chemistry with Alex…

My take:  I first heard about Making Waves at The Debutant Ball. Tawna Fenske was one of the Debs of 2011. I like Romance and I like it funny. Fenske did not disappoint! Juli is a charming and quirky heroine. She becomes an unwitting stowaway on a ship that happens to be manned by first-time pirates. Let the hilarity begin. And it does. I read it quickly because the pages almost turned themselves – and I giggled a lot. It’s a funny and sexy romp filled with memorable characters in wacky situations.

If you enjoy Contemporary Romance that makes you laugh you might like Making Waves. I really did and I look forward to reading Tawna Fenske’s next book.

Source:  I bought it.

Disclaimer:  See sidebar.

Haunted Ground by Erin Hart

Title:  Haunted Ground

Author:  Erin Hart

Genre:  Mystery

Published:  April 2003 – Scribner

About:  (back of the book) When farmers cutting turf in an Irish peat bog make a grisly discovery – the perfectly preserved head of a young woman with long red hair – Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin must use cutting-edge techniques to preserve ancient evidence. Because the bog’s watery, acidic environment prevents decay, it’s difficult to tell how long the red-haired girl has been buried – two years, two centuries, or even much longer. Who is she? The extraordinary find leads to even more disturbing puzzles. The red-haired girl is not the only enigma in this remote corner of Galway. Two years earlier, Mina Osborne, the wife of the local landowner, went for a walk with her young son and vanished without a trace. Could they too be hidden in the bog’s treacherous depths, only to be discovered centuries from now? Or did Hugh Osborne murder his family, as some villagers suspect? Bracklyn House, Osborne’s stately home, holds many secrets, and Nora and Cormac’s inquiries threaten to expose them all.

My take:  If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know it’s rare to find a mystery review. I met Erin Hart at my city’s Irish festival in August and bought three of her books which she kindly signed for me. Haunted Ground is her first book. I loved that the setting is where my father’s family is from – County Galway. I’ve visited twice and hope I can return someday.

From page one I was drawn in as Cormac and Nora discovered clues that led to solving the mysteries. The characters intrigued me and most were under suspicion. One character I hope to see in future books is Detective Devaney. He’s the guy I’d want in my corner. He’s a regular man with regular problems and even though he was taken off the case, he can’t not see it through. As wrapped up in the case as he is, he also wants to be more involved in his family – especially his youngest daughter who has recently shown an interest in learning trad music, one of his passions.

I found the details about traditional music, archaeology and preservation, and Irish history really interesting. The importance of history and passing it on to the next generation is a theme that stood out for me.

If you enjoy a gothic mystery and an Ireland setting then you may enjoy Haunted Ground. I loved it and can’t wait to read Erin Hart’s next book.

Source:  I bought it.

Disclaimer:  See sidebar.