Character Guest Post # 2:
NINA FLEET CONFESSES…
My name is Nina Fleet, owner of Fleet House B&B here in Cymbeline, Georgia, and I have a confession: I am not in any way, shape, or form a “foodie.”
Not that I don’t enjoy a good meal like everyone else. In fact, sometimes I enjoy my food a bit too much (seriously, I do plan on losing that extra 10 pounds at some point). But I’m not one of those people who see their kitchen as a culinary canvas, and their resulting meals a work of art. For most of my life I never cooked other than out of necessity, and only the most basic of dishes…salads, omelets, spaghetti, and that most important of the food groups, takeout!
In normal circumstances that would not be a big deal. Except that one of the “B’s” in B&B stands for breakfast. And my guests expect said meal to be memorable rather than simply edible. So, what’s a non-foodie to do?
Fortunately, I have a secret weapon – my friends, Daniel and Gemma Tanaka, who own the Peaches and Java diner/bakery. Gemma runs the diner, and her husband is the baker/cook extraordinaire. Just as with me, this is a second career for both, with Daniel being a former business executive originally from Hawaii and Gemma—a Cymbeline native—a former ER nurse. The diner reflects both their backgrounds, a mixture of downhome Georgia and kitschy Tiki that shouldn’t work but, like their marriage, does in a most spectacularly wonderful fashion.
Since the first day I opened the B&B (pretty much by accident, but that’s another story) I’ve had them cater in a breakfast buffet for my guests. During the summer months their teenaged daughter, Jasmine, bicycles over boxes of mini quiches, muffins, stuffed French toast, and other tasty breakfast staples (the rest of the year an Uber driver drops off my order). Fortunately for me, their place is just a couple of blocks away on the town square, so everything always arrives fresh out of the oven or just off the grill. I provide the coffee and juices and yogurt and cereal for those guests looking for something a bit healthier even while on vacation.
My other contribution is the whole presentation thing.
Yes, it might sound odd for a non-cook, but I really enjoy creating a pretty table. I’m talking folded napkins and a full outlay of flatware and dishes at each place setting. It helps that I inherited with my Queen Anne house some lovely vintage dinnerware and glassware that I mix and match with my own semi-vintage wedding china. The final effect is always Pinterest-worthy, if I do say so myself. I know that the trend will eventually wear out its welcome, but for now that’s how I roll.
But the best part of this catering arrangement is that, as the B&B owner, I’m expected to mix with my guests at breakfast. Which means that I get to eat Daniel’s fabulous menu items numerous times a week. And which also explains why those ten pounds keep stubbornly hanging on! But my non-foodie self agrees it is totally worth it. Why not make a reservation at Fleet House and see for yourself?
About Peaches and Schemes
In Anna Gerard's third delightful Georgia B&B mystery, Nina Fleet learns that despite the satin, lace, and buttercream trappings, weddings often prove to be anything but sweet...
Nina Fleet might be new to the innkeeping business, but she's savvy enough to know that Cymbeline's tourists aren't enough to keep her fledgling bed and breakfast going. And so, Nina decides to tap into the destination wedding market by taking a booth at the Veils and Vanities Bridal Expo. The twice-yearly event is sponsored by the town's two wedding pros: Virgie Hamilton, the sixtysomething owner of Virgie's Formals, and Roxanna Quarry, a Gen X event planner and Nina's new friend. But everything goes wrong during the expo's fashion show, when Roxanna comes tumbling out of an oversized prop wedding cake, strangled to death by her own scarf.
Virgie is arrested for the crime, thanks to Nina's statement to the police about having overheard the woman accusing her partner of embezzlement. Meanwhile, the situation grows tense with her sometimes nemesis and current tenant, the dashing out-of-work actor Harry Westcott. Harry is concentrating on plugging his most recent side hustle ...but he's not too busy to break the news to Nina that her ex-husband is engaged to be married again.
Certain that Virgie's only offense is a bad temper, Nina decides to do her own investigating. First, however, she and Harry retrieve Roxanna's now ownerless dog, planning to foster him until a new home can be found. But local gossip soon convinces Nina that others beside Virgie might have had reason to murder Roxanna. As Nina gets close to the truth, she's putting her own life at danger. And when Virgie vanishes after being bailed out of jail by an unknown benefactor, Nina fears that if she can't find the dress shop owner in time, tying the knot will take on a whole new meaning for them both.REVIEW
*I received a free copy of this book which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.
Welcome to the world of weddings with Nina as she expands her B&B business. To do that she attends a wedding expo. Things start out great with lots of crowds and contacts being made. Then we get to the fashion show. Each section goes without a hitch all the way to the grand finale when a giant cake is wheeled out. It gets stuck when they try to open it and after some struggling the lid pops free with Roxanna's body falling out. Nina tries to stay out of it but finds herself asking questions until she finds herself in trouble. Makes for a great read full of interesting characters that you will happy follow as the story progresses. The dogs are an added bonus I must say. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
About Anna Gerard
DIANE A.S. STUCKART began her writing career in the 1990s as the critically acclaimed author of historical romance under the names Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard. She later switched to the mystery genre and is the NYT bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries (written as Ali Brandon) and the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries. Her Tarot Cats Mystery series launched in 2018 with FOOL’S MOON. Her Georgia B&B Mystery series (also written as Anna Gerard) debuted in 2019 with PEACH CLOBBERED. Kirkus Reviews describes that book as “Filled with Southern charm and enough ditzy characters to keep readers guessing and laughing.” Book 3 in that series, PEACHES AND SCHEMES—her 17th published novel—will be on the shelves May 2021.