Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Marquesa's Necklace by P.J. MacLayne

I want to thank the ladies at Goddess Fish for hosting me today. They have been a pleasure to work with.

I come from a long line of strong women on both my father's and mother's side. Both of my grandmothers raised large families without a lot of money, but with a lot of hard work. And my parents passed on the same ethics to me. In fact, I dedicated this book to my mother, because I'm sure I gave her more headaches and heartaches than I should have.

So I guess it's no surprise that I write my female characters to be strong. Harmony Duprie, the main character in my new book, The Marquesa's Necklace, has the rather unusual occupation of doing historical research for a writers' cooperative, a job she invented. That means she spends much of her time with her nose buried in a book or staring at a computer screen.

The weekly self-defense class she takes helps her stay physically in-tune. Of course, she doesn't expect to ever use what she learns, because nothing bad ever happens in Oak Grove, the small town she lives in.

Yeah, right.

As Harmony tries to put her life back together, she learns that sometimes being strong means letting other people help you., as in this excerpt below.

The detective was pacing at the bottom of the stairs, and Piper was going crazy as I parked Dolores. I walked around her front and lightly touched her hood before exiting the garage and closing the door. I decided to buy her one of those heated blankets for the winter. Oak Grove isn't in the lake effect snowfall belt, but we do get some bitterly cold temperatures.
“Hello again, Detective Thomason,” I said, unable to think of him any other way.
“Harmony,” he said.
So we knew each other's names. We got that out of the way. “Someone broke into my apartment?” I patted Piper to calm him, and me, down.
“Yes. Your landlords reported it.” He shook his head as I scratched under Piper's chin. “It seems this dog wouldn't stop barking the other night, they heard noises coming from your place and called 911. The intruder or intruders left before the officer on duty got here.” He handed me a key. “The lock has already been changed.”
“What did they take?” He knew what my place was like. Furniture not worth stealing, and I'd taken most of my measly collection of jewelry with me. I don't keep much cash around, and what I do have is in a glass jug. Lots of coins, but not much of a haul. Even my laptop has seen better days. The most valuable things I have are some rare first edition books. Most thieves wouldn’t know what to look for on my over-packed bookshelves.
“You'll have to tell us.” He cleared his throat. “Whoever did this left a real mess. It appears they were looking for something in particular.”
Okay, so he had me worried. Officer Clearmont joined us and I started up the stairs with both men following.
I slipped the key into the unfamiliar lock and turned it. The door swung open easily without squeaking—someone must have oiled the hinges too—flipped on the lights, and stepped backwards. It's a good thing that Detective Thomason was so close, because I might have fallen down the stairs. The expression about looking like a bomb had gone off—yeah, it was that bad.
The cushions in my favorite easy chair were slit and the stuffing thrown all over the front room. My books lay scattered on the floor and the bookshelves pulled down on them. My African violets, inherited from my mother, had been dumped from their pots, the dirt spread everywhere. A quick glimpse of the little kitchen showed pots and pans strewn all over.
I wanted to cry. Correction. I wanted to scream and curse and hit something and wrap my hands around someone's neck and choke them. Either that or kick them where it would hurt the most. I did cry. And when Detective Thomason wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his chest, I let him. I guess, despite our history, he wasn't all bad. His aftershave smelled nice, anyway, fresh like a mountain stream. And that's when I began to think of him as Fred.

The Marquesa's Necklace is for sale at major ebook retailers.

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