My new book, The Pepper Peach Murder (from Wild Rose Press), is a cozy mystery—the first I’ve tried. My other books have all been romances, contemporary and paranormal. But to me, cozy mysteries are also romantic mysteries. Or anyway, they should be, as far as I’m concerned.
When I told friends and family that I was working on a cozy mystery, a lot of them asked me what a cozy was exactly. Some things about cozies are easy to explain. Most of them are written from the heroine’s point of view, and a lot them are written in first person. The heroine usually has some kind of interesting occupation: there are lots of bakers, for example, and caterers and crafters and owners of bookstores or country inns. But the image a lot of readers have of the cozy heroine is Jessica Fletcher, a decidedly unromantic lady who wrote mysteries in Cabot Cove, Maine. Jessica did occasionally have a date or two, but she was much more into solving mysteries than dancing in the moonlight.
As a romance writer, I didn’t want to limit my heroine that way. I wanted her to have a love life along with her jam making and murder solving because that was the kind of book I wanted to read myself. Donna Andrews’ Meg has her Michael; Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna has her Daniel. And my Roxy has her Nate.
Now since this is a mystery rather than a romance, Roxy also has a murder to solve. But since it’s a romantic mystery, solving the mystery will involve solving Roxy’s love life. She had a bad experience as a line cook in Denver and has come back to her hometown of Shavano, Colorado, to restart. But Roxy has concentrated on getting her jam business off the ground rather than her relationships with men until she meets chef Nate Robicheaux at the local farmers market. The two hit it off immediately. There’s just one problem (other than Roxy’s nervousness about getting back on her feet romantically): another local chef, Brett Holmes, wants Roxy on his arm and in his bed, and he won’t take no for an answer.
When someone kills Brett in his restaurant kitchen, Roxy’s the logical suspect since she and Brett had a shouting match in front of the farmers market vendors. Now, she’s got to clear her name and keep her business afloat while she and Nate discover just how much she’s back on her game again romantically.
There’s a lot on her plate, but Roxy can handle it. After all, she’s the Jam Queen of Shavano County, and she wants her romance to be like her jam: sweet, hot, and very tasty.