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Books and Bribes by Lucinda Race is a Cozy Mystery Event pick #free #freebie #cozymystery #paranormalcozymystery #mustread #giveaway

Title: Books & Bribes


Author: Lucinda Race


Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery


Book Blurb:


In a small town like Pembroke Cove, Maine, everyone has something to hide. But when bookstore owner Lily Michaels takes a tumble and hits her head, and her cat Milo starts talking to her, she discovers she has something to hide, too. She’s a witch, and Milo is her familiar. And she’s not the only one in town. Lily has been hiding something else, too. Even though she’s always kept Gage Erikson in the friend zone, her feelings for the man Milo calls Detective Cutie go a lot deeper than she’s willing to admit. 


Gage has a secret too. He’s always had a crush on Lily. But if he gives into his feelings, it might mess up the wonderful friendship they have. With his cowboy boots and cherry red pickup truck and knack for just letting folks talk, people might underestimate just how good a detective Gage actually is. But is he good enough to discover all of Lily’s secrets? 

Somebody in Pembroke knows a lot about the secrets people are keeping, and isn’t above a little blackmail. While Lily struggles with learning how to be a witch, she works with Gage to uncover the truth, and a new kind of magic develops between them. Will they continue to be just friends, or will they finally admit to the secret love they’ve been hiding? 




Achoo. A thick cloud of dust flew up from the pages of the hefty book that had fallen off the shelf. It barely missed my head as it hit the floor with a thump. I stumbled backward and let out a scream as I tried desperately to catch myself on anything before falling. 

A sandpaper-like sensation scraped over my cheek from the wooden floor, and I slowly opened my eyes. There was Milo, my gray tabby cat, hovering over me. I scratched his long, soft coat. “Hey, little man. I’m okay. Just took a tumble.” I eased myself to a sitting position and gently rubbed the back of my head where it had connected with the floor. Not a great way to end a Monday.

A deep gravelly voice said, “You’ve been lying there for several minutes out cold. I didn’t think you’d ever wake up.”

I looked around. “Who’s there?” My heart rate increased as I scrambled to my feet and grabbed the heavy book. As I hurried down the aisle of the bookshop, scanning right and left, I wondered who was in my store. I was certain I’d locked the front door at four on the dot after my last customer left.

I checked the empty sitting area in front of the oversized north-facing windows. It was comprised of two wingback chairs, a small table between them, and a round table in front of them. It had great natural light for reading. But I was alone.

Shaking my head gingerly, I surmised it must be the residual effect from hitting my head. Glancing at the fat black book in my hand, Practical Beginnings, I decided I’d find a place for it tomorrow. Walking back to the wide wooden counter, I dropped it on top and stroked Milo’s soft fur. “Ready to go home?” My besties were meeting me at the library for classic movie night. Tonight was Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, and I didn’t want to be late. 

I had locked the cash register when I heard a scratchy, but kind voice say, “Ready when you are.” 

With the stapler in my hand, I twirled around, shaking it in the air. “I demand you show yourself!”

“Lily, it’s me. Your old buddy Milo.” 

“Stop it. Right now!” Who was in my shop?

“Look at your cat,” the voice urged. 

My heart thudded in my chest. Was something wrong with my sweet baby? “Milo?” I scooped him into my arms and held him tight. 

“Need. To. Breathe.” He squirmed in my arms and escaped to the counter. 

I stumbled back against a long table stacked with bestsellers. Some dropped to the floor as my weight sagged against it. “Did you just speak?” The words came out as a croak. 

“I’ve been waiting for you to open that book for ages. Remember Aunt Mimi asked you to read it on your last birthday?” 

I nodded, dumbfounded. This couldn’t be happening. I could hear him, but his tiny mouth wasn’t moving. I lifted my hand and grazed the slight bump on the back of my head. My cat was talking to me. Wait, I must have hit my head harder than I thought or worse, had something possessed me? I rubbed the back of my head again. Ouch. “No, I must be concussed.”

I walked around the room, checking to make sure the windows were secured and double-checked the front door was locked. “Yup, all tight as a drum.” 

“We already knew that.” Once again, it was the same voice. My legs jiggled like rubber. I dropped to the chair and put my head between my legs just in case I felt faint. After a few seconds, I sat up. This was stupid. I was having a conversation with a prankster. 

“Milo, if you’re really talking, come over here and sit in this other chair.” 

I watched as he walked to the edge of the counter and dropped to the floor, only to hop up in the chair opposite me. This couldn’t be happening. No way he understood. 

Licking his front paw and rubbing it above his eye, he said, “Now what do you need me to do for my next parlor trick so that you’ll believe me?” 

“Tell me what I’m thinking?” I leaned closer, giving him full access to my face. The close proximity would help me see if his mouth was moving. 

“I’m not telepathic. I’m your familiar, and yes, that means you’re a witch. Finally, the truth is out.” He stretched over the cushion and rolled on his back as if I was supposed to scratch his tummy. “Feel free.”

Like when Milo always rolled over, I obliged by scratching his belly and his eyes would close in contentment, but this time he was giving me directions where I should be scratching. 

“If you’re going to be bossy, I’m done.” I went to stand up and dropped back in the chair. “Wait, what did you say about being a witch? I own a bookshop. There is nothing special about me.” 

My cat opened his eyes, and he rolled to his side, never bothering to blink. “You can believe that’s nothing special, but a few witches live in Pembroke Cove, and you are one of them.”

Once again, I felt as if I had fallen from the stool and conked my head, but I was sitting on a comfy chair, talking with my cat who just announced I was a witch. “Wait.” My thoughts were spinning. “Does that mean Aunt Mimi is one, too?” 

“Stop repeating yourself, and now you’re catching on.” Milo jumped to the floor and looked up. “I thought you said we were going home. I’m hungry.” 

My breath came rapidly, and my head swam. This couldn’t be happening. I must be dreaming. As I bent over to put my head between my knees, which seemed to be the thing to do again, a tapping on the glass in the door drew my attention. Who on earth would stop by now? I looked at my watch. It was almost five. Again came the insistent knocking. 

I got to my feet, albeit unsteadily, and waited until I felt I could plaster a smile on my face before going to the door. When I peeked out, relief washed over me, and my breathing slowed. Why I was being such a nervous Nellie was beyond me. Must be all this talk of familiars and witches. With a glance over my shoulder, I jabbed a finger in Milo’s direction. “Shush.”

“No one else can hear me. When I talk, they hear a cute little meow coming from my tiny mouth.” 

I frowned. “Tiny is debatable at this point.” I pulled open the door. The minute I saw his handsome face and the dreamy hazel eyes, my knees went weak. It was one of my oldest and dearest friends and also the guy I’d been in love with my entire life. Gage Erikson.

“Hi there. I was expecting to see you later at the library.” 

Gage walked in and looked around. “I thought I heard you talking. Are you alone?” 

Heat flushed my cheeks. This wasn’t something I was about to share with anyone, having a conversation with a cat and the cat talking back. I forced a grin and added an extra dose of cheeriness to my voice. “Just talking to Milo. There’s no one else here.” 

Gage bent over and scratched between the kitty’s ears. Instead of a purr, I heard, “Hmm, that feels good. Thanks, Detective Cutie.” 

There was no reaction from the man, so at least there was that. Milo opened one eye, and I would swear the cat winked at me.

“Gage, what brings you around? Did you want to drive to the movie together?” I clamped my mouth shut. That sounded way too much like a date. I didn’t want to do anything to make our friendship awkward, so I rushed ahead with, “Nikki and Steve are meeting us there and maybe even Aunt Mimi and Nate O’Brien.”

“Sounds like it’s going to be a packed house.” He looked at me while he scooped up Milo to continue giving the kitty attention. 

“I guess.” Seeing Gage holding Milo was like kryptonite to me, causing my heart to do all kinds of crazy flips. Anyone who loved someone else’s cat had to be a keeper, right? I sighed, and his brow quirked. 

“You okay?” 

“Oh. Yes. I fell off the stool earlier and hit my head.” 

Concern filled his golden-hazel eyes. He deposited Milo in the chair and took a step in my direction. “Where did you hit it?” 

My hand went to the tender spot on the back. “I’m fine.” 

“Turn around so I can take a look.” 

I did as he asked, enjoying being fussed over a little, but not wanting to appear like some weak girl who needed his attention like those girls at the coffee shop. They were always giggling whenever he walked in, especially when he used to wear his police officer’s uniform. He pushed ever so slightly on the spot that had connected with the floor, and tears sprang to my eyes as I cried out, “Ouch. That hurts!” 

His laugh was comforting. “Guess I found the spot. You should put ice on it and take it easy for tonight.” 

I turned back to face him. “I can’t miss the movie. It’s one of my favorites.” 

“Mine too, but that’s why I stopped by. I can’t make it tonight. I have to cover a shift for Mac Sullivan. His wife’s gone into labor, and we’re short a man.”

 “That’s exciting. About the new baby I mean, not about you working.” I had to hold my disappointment in check again so as not to appear as anything more than a friend. “We’ll miss having you there to chow down on popcorn and red licorice.” 

Gently, he tucked a stray lock of my hair back behind my ear, a motion he had done thousands of times. But it made my heart race. I kept my eyes glued to the old oriental carpet in the middle of the room. No way was I going to let him see my eyes. He was way too perceptive and would see how I felt about him which I’ve spent years hiding.

“Maybe I’ll swing by tomorrow around ten with coffee?” 

When I looked into his eyes, I wondered if I saw a flicker of hope that I would say yes. Which I would, about anything. Dang it, in my head I sounded like a freshman in high school with a crush on the football star. “That’d be great. But if you’re bringing coffee, any chance you can get one of those pecan buns, you know, with extra icing?” 

“Is that your way of asking if I’ll stop at the Sweet Spot?”

“Well, you offered coffee, and William makes the best pastries in three towns.” I playfully batted my eyelashes just because I could and knew it always made him laugh. 

Right on cue, he grinned. “That can be arranged.” His cell rang, and he glanced at the screen. “I gotta take off. Duty calls.” 

He dropped an almost kiss on my cheek on his way out the door and called over his shoulder, “See you in the morning.” And then he was gone.

After a long sigh escaped my body, Milo said, “Really? Do you think he does not know that you’re into him?” 

Turning my back on him, I said, “I will not start talking to my cat about my love life.” 

Milo trotted in the direction to where I stored his cat carrier. “You mean your nonexistent love life, don’t you?”

“Milo?” I meant for it to come out as a warning to hush up, but it sounded more like a question to my ears. “Do you think Gage knows I have a crush on him?”

“Yeah. And if you opened your eyes, you might see the feeling is mutual.” 


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What makes your featured book a must-read?


The fun, quirky, paranormal cozy mystery will encourage you to kick back with a mug of something warm and settle in for a fun read.


Giveaway –


Enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card:



Open Internationally.


Runs February 21 – February 28, 2024.


Winner will be drawn on February 29, 2024.


Author Biography:


Award-winning and best-selling author Lucinda Race is a lifelong fan of fiction. As a young girl, she spent hours reading cozy mystery and romance novels and getting lost in the fictional worlds. While her friends dreamed of becoming doctors and engineers, her dream was to become a writer—a novelist.

As life twisted and turned, she found herself writing nonfiction but longed to turn to her true passion. After developing the storyline for the McKenna Family Romance series, it was time to start living her dream. Her fingers practically fly over computer keys she weaves stories with strong, quirky characters, snarky humor, and toss in a bit of romance. To date, she has published over 30 novels paranormal cozy mysteries, and romance.Lucinda lives with her two little dogs, a miniature long hair dachshund and a shitzu mix rescue, in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts. When she's not at her day job, she’s immersed in her fictional worlds. And if she’s not writing novels, she’s reading everything she can get her hands on.


Social Media Links:




Lucinda’s Heart Racers Reader Group



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Feb 26

Thank you, Lucinda, for sharing your book in our Cozy Mystery Bookish Event!

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