I'm thrilled to be a part of Larissa's blog tour for her Cherry Tucker novel Still Life in Brunswick Stew.
Artist Cherry Tucker finds herself embroiled in all kinds of southern chaos as she juggles her work, her family, her friends, two men, and unsavory characters of the craziest kind.
Small town Georgia has never seen such drama.
Cherry is a fun, loving, caring woman who finds herself in all the wrong places, at the right times of her own free will. (Most of the time.)
I enjoyed Cherry's adventures, her take on certain folks, and the fact that she's dating a hunky police guy.
Or is she?
So many aspects of this book are fun, flirty, mysterious and laugh out loud. Larissa knows southern towns and characters and they come to life in Cherry's latest adventure.
Excerpt from Still Life in Brunswick Stew
I sped past the inflatable jumping games, wandered through the craft section, and halted at my partially dismantled booth. With sweat darkening his golden blonde hair, Todd leaned over the PVC pipe frame, yanking on two pieces fitted together. A pair of slot machine cherries tattooed one calf. Sweat glistened on his shirtless back as he tugged on a pipe.
“Todd,” I called. “Thank you for taking down the stand. I know it’s a pain.”
He stood up slowly, giving me an ample view of the lean physique and tight muscles that came from lifting weights and hauling boxes. Unlike Eloise’s boyfriend, Griffin, muscles suited his long body and weren’t propagated by supplements. He turned, rubbing his brow with the back of his hand.
My breath caught as he offered me a view of his upraised bicep and the hard swells and angles of his chest and belly. A vision for a Rafael-styled fresco on my bedroom wall with Todd as the subject danced in my mind before I caught myself. Damn this weakness for beautiful men, I thought. Eloise knew me too well.
I shuffled back a step and shoved my hands in the pockets of my shorts.
“No problem,” he smiled, offering two long dimples on each cheek. “I put it on my honey-do list.”
I edged back another step. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to call a favor for a friend a honey-do list.”
“I’m just joshing you.” He winked again and ambled closer, closing the distance between us. “We’re not married anymore. You sent me the papers.”
“You shouldn’t joke about it. Signing the annulment papers took longer than our Vegas wedding. That’s sad, not funny.”
“I wish I knew what happened to that ring. It sure was pretty. I looked for it in Caesar’s Palace. The security guards sure got ticked. You know, even if you take your shoes off, they don’t like people wading in that fountain.”
I rolled my eyes. “Never mind. I’ll help you load the stuff in the Civic.”
We worked together unscrewing the pipes and yanking them apart. Todd had nestled Eloise’s Raku pots in scraps of fabric and Styrofoam sheets within large boxes. I hoisted the last box in the hatchback of Todd’s Civic, keeping far from his pheromone-laden sweat.
Since Todd had already packed most everything else away in boxes, I poked my head out the back of his car to make a comment on his diligence but didn’t see him anywhere. The aroma of barbecue and Brunswick Stew floated past the truck in a sudden gust of wind, and a sound like a chainsaw cutting through a block of cement startled me. I clamped a hand over my stomach and felt the sharp knock of hunger. My middle reverberated with another deafening growl.
“Cherry.” Todd popped around the side of the booth next door, startling me. “I could hear you three doors down. You’re hungry. Let’s get something to eat. That pulled pork smells incredible.”
“I’m not hungry.” The chainsaw in my stomach revved again.
Todd’s eyebrows drew together. “If that’s not your stomach, what is that sound?”
“I can’t eat festival food, Todd. A bunch of people took sick. Eloise died.”
I nodded, biting my lip.
Without hesitation, Todd stepped forward, wrapped an arm around me, and pulled me against his slick skin. “I’m so sorry, baby. I didn’t know. When you said they were taking her to the hospital, I thought she got heat stroke. Figured you two were sitting in the sun. It was hotter than two cats fighting in a wool sock today.”
“We were under the tent.” I pressed my hands against his stomach to shove myself away, but the bumpy ridges of his abs felt so pleasant under my fingers, I let them rest. My head dropped against his chest, and Todd stroked my hair.
“You’ve been through a lot today. How did she die?”
“It looked like she was having a fit. I guess it had something to do with her disease. Her daddy wants an autopsy.” I sucked the inside of my cheek to prevent tears from welling in my eyes again.
“That’s strange.” Todd kissed the top of my head and nestled me tighter. “Poor Eloise. I didn’t think she had anything life threatening.”
“I know. Food poisoning doesn’t usually kill people. It doesn’t sit right with me or with her family. They don’t trust the authorities. They want me to look into it.”
“Of course they want you to look into it. You like to stand up for people like the Parkers. You got a talent for telling the big folks how the cow eats the cabbage.”
A trickle of sweat dripped off his chest and smeared my face. I rubbed the wetness from my cheeks and pulled my head away. Looking up, I saw Todd’s eyes darken. A familiar feeling washed over me. A feeling I once had in Vegas. Just before Todd snookered me into marrying him for a couple of hours.
Hindsight has taught me it’s wiser, as well as cheaper, to avoid those particular feelings.
Larissa Reinhart loves small town characters, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) is the second in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. The first, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website, her facebook page, or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.
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**Everyone who leaves a comment on the Tour Page Click Here will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Still Life in Brunswick Stew before June 10 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**