I'd like everyone to welcome the fabulous Nancy J. Parra to The Stiletto Gang today. Nancy is an amazing lady and a wonderful author. After years of writing romances, she began penning mysteries. Her first mystery, Gluten For Punishment, (one of now three series that she has sold) hit shelves on May 7th. And I'm pretty sure after you read this post you'll be zipping off to the store to check it out!
Thanks to Joelle Charbonneau for asking me to guest blog. What I love most about the Stiletto Gang isthe wonderful cast of strong, powerful women. When their world needs fixing they don’t run away, they don’t play at being helpless. Instead they step up, get to the facts, follow the clues and make their world a better place.
In Gluten For Punishment, my protagonist is Toni Holmes who dares to return to her hometown of OilTop Kansas and set up a gluten free bakery in the heart of wheat country. Toni has every reason to hide in her bed. Her husband cheated on her, her mother just died and left her to deal with “the family.” Included in her family is her eccentric Grandma Ruth – a lifetime mensa member with a scooter on the go. Not to mention Toni’s 52 cousins and a small town that never forgets what you did in high school.
Hint: Toni was not prom queen
Instead of crying in her gluten-free beer, Toni faces the challenges head on including investigating a murder which happens in front of her bakery.
Gluten For Punishment – excerpt:
“Toni, did you kill George Meister?”
My mouth went dry. My jaw went slack. The camera’s flash kept popping, blinding me. “What?” I glanced toward Grandma Ruth for some help.
Candy Cole, OilTop’s ace reporter, pushed on. “You, yourself, told everyone you were inside the store at the time he was murdered.”
“I was?” I shivered at the idea. It was bad enough to have a dead body nearby but to have a murder happen within a few feet of you? Nauseating.
“Honey,” Candy pushed. “You had motive and opportunity. Did you do it?”
“Seriously?” I asked her. Here I’d been ready to give her a free cup of coffee. Not anymore. I stepped back.
“Did you?” Her mic wafted under my nose.
“Of course not, I wouldn’t kill anyone.”
“Are you telling me, it’s a coincidence you’re new in town and a man gets murdered outside your bakery?” Candy’s eyes glittered like a snake’s.
“I’m not new in town,” I crossed my arms in front of me. “I grew up here. Are you saying any murders that happened while I lived here as a kid were my fault?”
“No,” Candy said thoughtfully. “But it’s a good angle. I can check and see how the murder rate was when you lived here and what happened after you left.”
“Stop it,” Grandma Ruth slapped the counter. “Toni wouldn’t kill anyone.”
“Oh, really? Then why is the Chief at the courthouse right now getting a warrant signed to search your home and your bakery for evidence?”
I sat down hard at the word warrant.
“Put your head between your knees.” Grandma was beside me. Her sharp tone of voice combined with her palm on the back of my head had me doing exactly what she said. I have to admit staring at the black and white tile floor was a bit more calming than looking at Candy. Her delight at my distress was unnerving.
“I thought we were friends, Candy,” I muttered.
“We are friends, honey,” Candy came around the counter and squatted down to peer at me. “That’s why I came before the Chief.”
I turned my head. “You came to warn me?”
“Good friends hide the body, honey, remember?” Her gaze took on a warm and concerned look. I wasn’t sure if I should believe it.