Fortune for Fools is the third book in A Merchant Street Mystery series. The fictional street came about after visiting a wonderful little antique store in Murray, Utah. The owners made my family feel so welcome and special. We were greeted and fell in love with one of the owners’ Italian Greyhound dog, Luigi. What a sweetheart. After we left the store, Rusty and Marci were still rushing after us to give us items. Yes, that’s what I said: They were giving us items for our movie-star-themed Christmas tree!
In the series, I tried to recreate that downhome feeling with lovely shops that have to compete with a new shopping center in Salt Lake City. Each book is a romantic suspense rather than an actual murder mystery with a gumshoe detective and clues, however every book has some sort of mystery going on.
Another situation that inspired the relationship between Lavinia Vega and Zeke Abberely was a M*A*S*H episode called Edwina. The nurses refuse to date until their lonely colleague Edwina gets a date, so the men draw straws. Hawkeye draws the short straw, and Edwina about kills him on their date. Lavinia’s and Zeke’s own misadventures happen through the whole series.
This was my first experience at writing a series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you will enjoy reading it too!
Story-line: Risk-taker Zeke Abberley knows how to be bold when it comes to his antique shop on Merchant Street in Salt Lake City, Utah. He successfully bid on a collection of 1800s antiques in Nauvoo, Illinois that may contain a valuable Hayez painting. However, love is another matter. Afraid that all women are users, he’s always injuring his dates, particularly Lavinia Vega, who works at her father’s art gallery.
Studious Lavinia Vega is tired of proving to Zeke that she has no ulterior motives. When Zeke brings her a damaged painting to restore and authenticate, she is eager to help but not get involved. When she uncovers a hidden map behind the painting that leads to valuable buried coins, the game plan changes. Or so Zeke thinks.
Will the mysteries Zeke, Lavinia and her Poodle, Vivete, uncover teach them that fortunes are for fools and love is everlasting?
Excerpt: Zeke Abberley stared at the damaged 1859 painting with a scowl on his face. Why me? He had bid on the Illinois estate sale as a whole specifically because of this piece and now it had arrived damaged, with a crunched frame and punctured canvas. He had been assured the painting was in perfect condition. He bit his lip, continuing to stare at the entrancing image of the unrecognizable couple from the Middle Ages embraced in a kiss with shadowy forms lurking in the background. Although one of Francesco Hayez’s best known works, this was not the most famous rendition of the pose or lighting—but still the mastery of Hayez. From Zeke’s research, it seemed this particular rendition had never been seen on the market.
That is, if it is an original Hayez. Zeke tapped his index finger on his lips. It still needed to be authenticated by an expert. The family selling the contents of their attic had no desire or time to search for appraisals and had posted the estate sale as a whole. Imagine finding a Hayez.
Although it appeared there were other prized antiques in the collection, Zeke hadn’t understood why he had wanted to purchase an out-of-state collection, especially with their antique shop overflowing as it is and sales down due to the economy. Something had possessed him, though, and this painting had something to do with it.
Aunt Adele walked into the room and set a box of pastries on the conference room table. “You’re looking down in the mouth. What’s happened?”
“Can you believe it? Can you just believe it?” he said, shaking his fist at the painting.
Life was definitely not going smoothly for Zeke. He and his younger brother, Zach, had that confrontation with Pop which had ended up with Pop walking out on them and the business. Then Zach and Holly had married and left on a very long honeymoon. And he couldn’t forget Aunt Adele suddenly marrying Kipp Waterbury at their annual street BearBQ where they barbequed a bear. Aunt Adele hadn’t been around to help with the business, either. His disastrous relationship with Lavinia Vega, the break-ins on the street, and now the damaged painting did not bode well for Zeke either. He sighed. Yeah, most of them were happy events for those involved, but he had taken the blunt of everyone’s absence and had been working double duty for weeks on end. Sure everyone was back and the long winter blues were over, but all the lovebirds kept wandering off.
Trying to manage Abberley Antiques, Zach’s thrift shop, and Kipp’s clock shop had run him ragged. No wonder he was a basket case and his and Lavinia’s relationship had ended. It would have never worked out anyway, not with the way her father felt about his family and not with how reclusive Lavinia kept herself. After all their secret dates, she still hadn’t opened up to him. She was a closed book, albeit a beautiful, gorgeous closed book.
The memory of her attractive, vanilla blonde bob, soft, full lips, delicate curves, and hint of lilac perfume sent his senses tottering and his libido hopping. However, no one, and he meant no one, would ever penetrate that armored fortress guarding her frozen heart. Futile. Utterly futile.
“Did you hear me?” Aunt Adele asked.
“Oh, sorry. What did you say?” He laid the painting down on the table and pinched his chin.
“Do you think the shipping company damaged it?”
“Most likely. I viewed the painting on Skype and didn’t see the damage. Of course, it could have been masked. Just my luck.”
“It’s The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, isn’t it?” Aunt Adele said, moving to the small fridge for a quart of milk to go with the pastries.
“Yes, well, no. This is one of the five renditions Hayez did with different lighting, but not the most known. I don’t think this one has surfaced before. That is, if it really is a Hayez.”
“So I guess you know what you have to do.”
“What’s that?” He wrapped the painting back in brown paper and bubble wrap.
“Take it to Lavinia.”
He fumbled the painting as he tried to slide it into the box. It landed on the floor, and he accidentally kicked the painting across the carpet as he reached to pick it up. “Are you joking?”
“I can’t even mention her name without you turning into a spaz.” She smiled and shook her head. “Holly’s right. You have that—what did she call it?—pistanthrophobia.”
Bio: Cindy writes sweet romance with humor, suspense…and dogs! She’s the mother of two awesome boys who just happen to be autistic. Dogs have helped her through multiple health issues so she honors them in her books and donates both time and money to help them. She lives with her wonderful family and delightful dogs in West Jordan, UT.
Here’s what her books give you:
* A clean read with no bedroom scenes or offensive language.
* A tantalizing, fast-paced plot.
* A story without a lot of boring description.
* Down-to-earth heroes and heroines with everyday jobs.
* A rollercoaster ride of emotions you face right along with the characters.
* A special dog to steal your heart.
* A few added facts, a good message, and that important happily-ever-after ending.
Sweet Cravings Publishing: http://bit.ly/WdkOU0
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/VmNLee
All Romance ebooks: http://bit.ly/1186k6h
Note: Fortune for Fools will be out in paperback in October.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Beverly and Tamara. It’s been fun.
(Tag suggestions: clean romance kindle books, sweet romance novels, romantic suspense, pg rated, classic romance, good romance, clean romance books, Cindy A. Christiansen, dragonfly, dogs, humor, LDS author)