Title: Autumn at the Grand Hotel (White Pine Island Series)
Author: Amie Denman & May Williams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A murder mystery weekend at the Grand Hotel reveals a case of true love…
Cora Phillips plans a murder mystery weekend for a special group of guests at the Grand Hotel, but a jewel thief takes the action in an unexpected direction. To unravel the heist, Cora relies on a handsome local cop who discovers the clues to the mystery and the keys to her heart.
Tim Newcastle takes the job of island cop on peaceful White Pine Island, but the quiet pace offers him no chance to gain the heroic acclaim he craves. When he chases down a threat to Cora’s beloved family hotel, he discovers what being a hero means.
Love, like fine wines and classic homes, becomes more delightful with time…
Ten years ago, Vintner Anthony Donati foolishly pushed his young love Katherine Phillips away. When she returns to White Pine Island, divorced and with a daughter, he sees an opportunity to right the past. Katherine, recovering from the stress of a bad marriage, wants to prove her independence to herself and her family as she takes on the massive renovation of the Plantation House. The centuries old structure deserves a second chance so she works to revitalize the building in time for its grand opening during the Thanksgiving holiday.
As Katherine’s romance with Anthony rekindles during the autumn days and nights, she wonders if they have a second chance, too. His rejection years ago hurt her deeply, but like the fine wine Anthony produces and her beloved Plantation House, some things improve with age. Can these two lovers cork up the past and move forward into a sparkling future?
The gleaming white 1925 Rolls Royce parked on the wide front lawn of the Grand Hotel was attracting a lot of attention. Too much attention, Cora thought nervously. Never before had her family’s prestigious resort attempted a mystery-themed weekend. She was the one who’d talked the rest of the Phillips family into it, and if it turned out to be a humiliating failure—well, she could always move to another island.
“Is it all original?” a man in a dapper black suit asked Cora’s brother Grant.
“As far as I know. We borrowed it for the weekend from a friend of my father’s on the mainland. It’s his pride and joy, so I’m out here making sure only sunlight touches it,” Grant replied. In the spirit of the weekend, he wore a gray fedora and pinstriped suit as he stood next to vintage luggage on the famous front porch of White Pine Island’s finest hotel.
Although the pine trees that gave the island its name were unchanged from season to season, other trees on the Grand Hotel property were in various stages of putting on their autumn show. A whisper of cool breeze carried the scent of leaves and made Cora think of evenings in front of one of the many fireplaces in the venerable hotel.
Cora handed out nametags from a basket looped over her arm. The black fringe dangling from her white flapper dress tickled her knees, and her matching black and white cloche hat shaded her eyes from the October sun. She usually wore her strawberry blonde hair in a bob, and she’d bravely cut a few wispy bangs after a glass of wine with her sister Samantha the previous evening. Her slim figure was just right for the straight-cut dress, and her love of what she called the Gatsby era had been her inspiration for the weekend’s theme.
“We’ll probably station a guard out here overnight,” Grant added, chuckling and using the guest’s phone to take a picture of him in front of the car.
“You’ve gone all out. My wife has been looking forward to this weekend for months,” the man said.
Cora felt a thrill of nerves swoosh through her core.
“And here comes my favorite police officer,” she whispered to her brother. “He’s probably going to run the plates on the antique car, just to make sure it wasn’t used in a robbery during prohibition.”
Grant grinned. “That would be awesome. We could tell people it was, just to fit the theme of the weekend. I’d be happy to make up a wild story if you like.”
Cora mouthed the word “no” and swung to face the uniformed officer. Her long string of pearls swished and clinked softly.
Tim Newcastle, a member of the small White Pine Island police department since early summer, braced one polished black shoe on the lowest riser of the porch steps. He took off his dark sunglasses, let his eyes rest on Cora for a flash of a second, and then smiled at her brother.
“Just the man I wanted to see. We’re putting together a team of police and firefighters for a fall and winter bowling league. Want to sign on?”
Grant and Cora exchanged a glance and grinned.
“I’d have to join the fire or police department to be on the team, wouldn’t I?”
Tim wrinkled his brow. “Mike?”
“Dangit. I can never tell you two apart. Since when do you wear a suit?”
“When my little sister dreams up a murder and makes me an accessory.”
The police officer straightened and scowled at the siblings.
“Relax,” Cora said. She turned and greeted a group of guests as they climbed out of the hotel van. “Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, and watch out for gangsters and bootleggers.” She handed them blank nametags. “Your first assignment is to write on this nametag anything you want your name to be while you’re here. You’re on vacation, but we’re also counting on you to keep your eyes and ears open for nefarious criminals.”
Tim tucked his sunglasses in the pocket of his uniform shirt. The gray shirt’s row of buttons aligned perfectly with his belt buckle. Tall and slim with long legs, Cora imagined him as more of a basketball player than a bowler. His military-short dark brown hair and gray eyes gave him the appearance of someone who’d been born to be a cop.
Grant’s twin brother Mike loped across the lawn toward the hotel. He also wore a dark pin-striped suit with a wide necktie. His fedora was black, though, and he carried an obviously fake black plastic tommy gun.
“You better check your six o’clock,” Cora said.
Tim cocked his head and worked his jaw.
“I heard it on one of those cop shows,” she said.
Shaking his head, Tim blew out a long breath. “Those should be illegal.” He turned and saw Mike striding toward him with the phony machine gun. To his credit, Cora thought, he only stiffened for a moment and made a tiny movement toward his own gun.
“If you’re here recruiting me for your team,” Mike said, “I already signed on with the old farts instead of the young hotshots.” He rested the gun on his shoulder. “Old guys are always better bowlers, and winning makes the beers taste even better.”
“We’ll see about that,” Tim said. “Good luck with your pretend weekend,” he said, addressing his words to Cora.
“It’s a real weekend,” she said with a smile that challenged him to disagree. “Only the murder will be pretend. You hope.”
Tim blew out another long breath and turned toward his police cruiser parked discreetly among the golf carts at the side of the hotel.
“We’ll call you if any serious capers go down,” Cora called to him. He hesitated for just a moment before he continued putting one long leg in front of the other.
If you could dress up as anything or anyone this Halloween, what or who would it be and why?
May and I both love dressing up, and this year we would have to go with a Roaring Twenties theme in honor of the wonderful new Downton Abbey movie.
Explain why your featured book is a treat to read:
Our book Autumn at the Grand Hotel is a treat to read because it includes two novellas: a murder-mystery weekend at the Grand Hotel with a 1920s theme and a second chance novella that will tug at your heartstrings.
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Runs October 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on November 1.
Amie Denman lives in a small town in her native Ohio with her husband and sons, two cats and one large yellow labrador. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys walking, kayaking, and running outside. Born with an overdeveloped sense of curiosity, she's been known to chase fire trucks on her bicycle just to see what's going on. Amie believes that everything is fun: especially roller coasters, wedding cake, and falling in love.
May Williams believes reading and writing are the best forms of escapism. "Retreat to fiction" is her mantra. Currently, she's busy working on the next book in the popular Grand Hotel series that she writes with critique partner, Amie Denman. May lives happily in a little town on the shores of Lake Erie with her husband, two teenage children, an inordinate number of cats, and one over-sized dog.
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