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New Release | Teatime Trouble by Tonya Penrose #cozymystery #cozyreaders #newrelease #99cents


Author Tonya Penrose

Genre Cozy Mystery

Publisher Cozy Cat Press

Book Blurb

In Teatime Trouble, the sleuthing duo of Page and Betsy are back, and this time, they're in for a hauntingly good mystery! When they agree to cater a proper afternoon tea for a group of esteemed British authors at Three Fables Inn, Page's inklings lead her to the inn's picturesque gardens. But what she finds there is anything but pretty - a dead body draped over a bench. With the help of her always reluctant cousin Betsy, Page sets out to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death. But when strange and ghostly occurrences start happening around the historic inn, the sleuths realize this isn't your average mystery. Is Three Fables really haunted, as some claim? While Page and Betsy try to piece together the clues, they realize that the answer may be closer than they think. Join them as they delve into the inn's secrets and uncover the truth. Packed with suspense, humor, romance, and unforgettable characters, Teatime Trouble will keep you guessing until the very last page!

Bonus: Betsy’s sharing her recipes, including the enchanted honey cake.


Chapter 1

Page hung up the phone and turned to her cousin. “You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Betsy Ross.”

“Aw, thanks for the compliment.” Betsy tossed her head, trying to loosen a damp curl on her forehead. She let the wooden spoon take another turn in the mixing bowl. Honey Bees Shop’s marble kitchen counter lay covered in a heavy dousing of flour. Ingredients for banana bread were lined up like soldiers. “Aunt Tilly always said I had a gift for doing the exceptional.”

Page’s eyes narrowed. “It wasn’t meant as a compliment, and I don’t ever remember Aunt Tilly saying—oh, never mind. Do you know who just called?”

“Of course, I know.” Betsy laughed. “I was standing right here. You were talking to Alice, the new owner of Three Fables Inn. Isn’t it nifty how she’s attracting small groups for long weekends?”

“Real nifty. To continue—”

Betsy jumped in. “Maybe Three Fables’ reputation for being a smidge haunted is only known here in Shell Isle. Or maybe some guests are into ghosts.” Betsy sprinkled pecans into the mixture.

Page handed her cousin a loaf pan. “As I was attempting to say—”

“Get this. Alice shared that she’d experienced another unsettling moment last evening while in the attic rummaging.” Betsy leaned toward Page and whispered, “She saw a shadow.” Betsy swallowed. “She said it moved.”

Going along with her cousin’s attempt at distraction, Page replied, “Isn’t the inn like two hundred years old? It should have all kinds of creepy shadows and sounds, not to mention stories or fables.” Page grabbed a dish towel to wipe down the counter. “You’re very messy, Betsy. To get back to the subject of—”

“I keep meaning to ask Alice the origin of the inn’s name. Three Fables. Most curious.”

Page sighed and bit Betsy’s bait again. “I heard the name came from the original owner, who wrote the book The Three Fables. Now about Alice’s call—”

“Despite the woo-woo doings, Ina Funk and I had a delightful lunch there earlier.” Betsy poured the batter into the pan and turned back to Page. “The lunch menu special is fire poblano peppers in the most amazing sauce.” Betsy closed the oven door and set the timer.

“Enough about the woo-woo and your latest love affair with a hot pepper. I want to know what Alice meant about having our final head count by five o’clock.” Page moved closer and lifted a spatula from the canister. She waved it toward her cousin. “My answer, if you please?”

Betsy stepped back, grinning. “Now, Page, I can explain. You’ll be over the moon with what I’ve done to enhance our shop’s coffers. I acted on what you preach all the time.”

“Which is? Enlighten me.” Page didn’t bother to hide the sarcasm from her cousin.

“I acted carpe diem. I seized the moment for our Honey Bees Shop’s greater good,” explained Betsy.

Page frowned, letting the worry take hold. “Spill the whole story and start at the beginning for a change.”

Plopping down on the green metal stool, Betsy grabbed her hand fan and set it in motion. “These hot flashes need to end before I turn grey.”

“I may turn grey waiting for an explanation. I’m listening but maintaining a big dose of skepticism because this is you up to something. I know it. Betsy, tell me why we care about a head count?”

Betsy released a groan. “My surprise isn’t going how I planned at all. And this hot flash misery won’t leave me for five minutes of peace.”

“Enough about your flashes. Stop stalling. Maybe I should call Alice and have her—”

“You don’t need to call Alice. I was building up for my ta-da.” Betsy lifted a toffee cookie from the cooling rack.

“You can eat that later.” Page grabbed the cookie and placed it back on the rack.

Betsy’s eyes sparkled. “I’ve outdone myself by scoring our first catering job, and it’s at Three Fables. Get a load of my latest Best Betsy.”

“What in all that’s holy is a Best Betsy? That’s a new one. My worry just amped higher.”

Betsy waved her hand dismissively. “Hush yourself. A Best Betsy means I’ve done the exceptional like Aunt Tilly always said.”

“Stop channeling our Aunt Tilly and tell me what you’ve got us doing at Three Fables.” Page felt exasperation rushing through her mind to drain her emotionally.

“On Saturday afternoon, we'll serve high tea to a small group of bestselling authors from England.” Betsy folded her fan but kept her satisfied expression.

“You can’t be serious. Saturday, as in tomorrow?”

Betsy bobbed her head and tried again for the cookie.

Page snagged it and took a bite. “Honestly, Betsy, you live to give me a migraine. We’re supposed to discuss things regarding running Honey Bees.”

“And we usually do, but this was one of those moments to strike while the griddle is hot.”

Page made a sound. “It’s ‘strike while the iron is hot.’ We can’t do this job. There isn’t enough time to prepare.”

“Yes, we can. This catering gig will be a smashing success, and we will mingle with writers. Alice said they were arriving this afternoon. I wonder what they write. Very pip-pip books.” Betsy activated her British accent.

“Has it slipped your mind that we don’t know a lick about what makes for high tea and all the fancy cakes and sandwiches these tea aficionados will expect?”

Betsy pointed to her laptop. “I’m sure whatever we need to know is there waiting for a search. Besides, I dated this chef from Brighton years ago and I picked up some tricks of the trade from him. I think his name was Rhys. No, that’s not right. It was Rory. Boy, did he ever have this annoying habit of using a pendulum to decide what to eat. Do you know—”

Page lifted her hand. “Please spare me one of your past dating sagas. At fifty-something, I don’t know how there’s a man left out there you haven’t gone out with once.” Page finished the cookie and eyed her cousin.

“I’m ignoring that remark. We’re the same age and have the same birthday. You were fortunate to find a great fellow and marry once. My great fellow has yet to show.” Betsy’s voice held sadness.

“You’re right. I was fortunate.” Page nodded. “To return to the subject at hand.”

“Look, I’ve got it all sorted in my head. That’s another British way of speaking. I wish I had hailed from Oxford. I’d be ever so clever.” Betsy paused for effect.

“You’re clever enough. I can’t believe—”

“Listen. We’ll come in super early tomorrow morning and prep. The hoity-toity tea isn’t until four o’clock. Relax. Ina’s agreed to help.”

“Having Ina in the kitchen supervising gives me some comfort. Still, we don’t know what accompanies a proper English tea, although I’ve always yearned to attend one.”

Betsy reached for a notepad and pen. “It’s no big deal. First, we’ll make sure the crusts get trimmed from the bread. Then we create lovely little triangle sandwiches and dress them with what we wouldn’t eat, like butter and cucumber slices. Maybe a dash of hot sauce would jazz them up.” Betsy’s tone turned to cajole as she jotted a grocery list for Ina. “Simple as a crumpet.”

A flicker of impatience shone in Page’s eyes. “So simple. Nothing to it, except we can’t possibly pull this off in less than twenty-four hours. I’ve always admired the British and their excellent manners. And that’s how I know we can’t possibly rise to this occasion. We lack their tea etiquette.”

“We can and we will. Have faith. I’m sure Ina can guide us on proper tea brewing. She’s always got a cup of something in her hand. Come on, Page, it’s sandwiches and baby cakes. We put the hot water in a fancy floral kettle, toss in the teabags, and voila.”

Page lifted her hands. “See? We’re already in trouble. Even I know it’s a fancy China teapot that serves the tea. The kettle is the tool you boil the water in.”

“Right,” said Betsy, stretching out the word and nodding. “I got confused momentarily because Brits always talk about putting the kettle on. I love to watch any and all of their television mystery series. I’ve noticed the tea kettle gets activated a lot. Did you ever see the show—”

“Are you done?” Page moved toward the kitchen door.

“Not yet.” Betsy took the mixing bowls to the sink for a wash. “I’ve picked up some really good sleuthing tricks watching these shows, should we have the misfortune of getting another case. I’m so pleased we’ve had six blissful months without one of your inklings.”

“All true.” Page adjusted her yellow apron. “Don’t jinx us by talking about my inklings. Listen, I need to get back to the sales floor and—”

“We always end up in the thick of some sinister doings, with Detective Tanner delivering non-stop lectures. I hate his lectures about us being snoops. Don’t you, Page?”

“Enough of your deflecting jabber, Betsy. It’s not working on me.” Page paused. “I hear the customer’s bell jingling. We’ll continue this catering discussion later.”

“You go take care of them. I need to mix another praline cake. Ina should return any minute, and I don’t want her fussing about the batter becoming too thick.” Betsy’s arms motioned at her cousin. “Skedaddle.”

As Page stopped to straighten a display of honey body lotions, the surprise of an inkling washed over her. “Betsy Ross, you called this to us,” Page muttered. The flushing sensation passed, but not the knowledge that a tragedy would soon befall someone.

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Author Biography

As an author, Tonya’s moved by the effect humor and narratives have on readers.

That observation illuminates why her stories often convey messages inviting personal exploration. She is enthusiastic about crafting stories with beguiling characters, adding dashes of snappy humor and engaging dialogue that leaves her fingerprint on each page.

When Tonya relocated to the mountains, she found fresh writing ideas waiting. From her favorite porch chair gazing at a tranquil lake, the nudge to scribe her first novel came calling. From her beach chair, she got the idea for a cozy series, Shell Isle Mysteries. Tonya confesses new respect for a chair’s ability to motivate her to write. She chases her writing joy from the mountains to the seashore.

The Shell Isle Mystery Series introduces four novels: Baubles to Die For, Red, White, and Boom, Murder by Numbers, and Teatime Trouble. The characters of Page and Betsy keep chattering to Tonya, so expect future stories in this collection.

Tonya’s other books include Old Mountain Cassie: The Three Lessons, A Secret Gift, and Welcome to Charm.

Her book Venetian Rhapsody represents an exciting collaboration with award-winning composer David Bazo. Words and music present an unforgettable immersive experience in a book and a companion soundtrack album. Find the album at: David Bazo Sitio Oficial | Autor, Intérprete & Productor.

Tonya Penrose’s fiction and nonfiction stories are published in numerous anthologies, e-magazines, local press, and literary magazines. She’s a member of Poets and Writers. Tonya Penrose is her fiction pen name.

Social Media Links


X: @TonyaWrites

Instagram: @TonyaPenroseWrites @TonyaPenroseWrites

1 comentario

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N. N. Light
03 oct 2023

Thank you, Tonya, for sharing your new release with us!

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