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Friday, January 3, 2014

Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Bitter Pill by Author Stacey Kade!

Author Guest Post

Girl Detective, All Grown Up

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a detective more than anything. My favorite shows were all about detectives--Hart to Hart, Moonlighting, Remington Steele--and so were all my favorite books. I devoured Harriet the Spy and all the Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and The Three Investigators stories. I could solve crimes, sure! I was a nosy kid, and I even had "titian" hair like Nancy's. I was halfway there already, right?

Once, when we were on a family vacation, a church near where we were staying was robbed. I heard that detectives were there, and I begged my mother to let me go to the church. I so desperately wanted to see a real detective in action. I had a very glamorous, TV-version of the crime scene in mind. Glossy hair blowing in the breeze, guns drawn, and witty exchanges with whatever would-be thieves they'd managed to capture. (It's a very good thing my mother did not let me go.)

It wasn't until years later that I realized I'd zeroed in on the wrong part of the "detective story" equation--I liked the story part much more than the actual detecting part.

Therefore, Bitter Pill and Rennie Harlow are the culmination of life-long dream. And when I sat down to write this story, I wanted to recreate that same fun I used to have watching those shows and reading those books, only I wanted it to be relatable to my life now, as an adult.

So, I knew right away that Rennie couldn't be nearly as pulled together and perfect as so many of those fictional sleuths from my youth. I wanted Rennie to be more like me, more like the people I knew--messy, unpredictable, stubborn, prone to making decisions that would eventually come back to bite her.

I also wanted a story that focused more on her personal life, or the wreckage of it, anyway! Many amateur sleuth books for adults focus on hobbies or careers. But at the time I wrote the story, I felt like I could barely manage everything that was going on in my life: family obligations, work, marriage, friendships, big life decisions. If you'd tossed a dead body (and the ensuing investigation) into that mix, I'd have been a mess.

So, I made Rennie deal with it instead. :)

I am absolutely delighted that I got the chance to write Bitter Pill, and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

I have absolutely no regrets about growing up to be a writer instead of a detective. That being said, my critique partner is a former P.I. and darn, if I don't get a little bit of badge envy still. :D

About The Author

As a former award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead. She's the author of two YA series from Hyperion: The Ghost and the Goth trilogy (The Ghost and the Goth, Queen of the Dead, and Body & Soul) and Project Paper Doll trilogy (The Rules, The Hunt, Book 3 TBD).

Stacey lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their two retired racing greyhounds, Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy).


Book Review

Bitter Pill by Stacey Kade
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: October 28, 2013
Format: Paperback - 210 pages / Kindle - 1387 KB / Nook - 206 KB
ISBN: 0988585944
ASIN: B00G74P4O0
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Mystery & Suspense

BUY THE BOOK: Bitter Pill

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Rennie Harlow is having a bad year. She had a handsome husband, a good job, and a renovated condo in Chicago. Now, thanks to one "exotically beautiful" paralegal, she’s divorced, faking her way through a writing career, and living above her hypochondriac mother's garage back in Morrisville, the small town she couldn't leave fast enough at eighteen. On top of all of that, she just found Doc Hallacy, the local pharmacist, dead behind his counter. And the worst part is, he's the third body she’s stumbled across this year.

Jake Bristol has lived in Morrisville his whole life. A former bad boy turned sheriff, he doesn’t believe it’s just Rennie’s luck or timing that’s the problem. He thinks she’s too nosy for her own good. The last thing he needs is her messing around with his murder investigation so that she can freelance for the Morrisville Gazette. But as they both delve deeper into Doc's death, they find that things don't add up. This isn't a robbery gone wrong or the work of a desperate junkie. Someone has a secret they're killing to keep. The only question is—who's next?

Book Excerpt:

Bristol rubbed his face wearily, then stared at me, his warm brown eyes too intense. “How do you get yourself into this? The first person found on the scene is usually a viable suspect for the murder. But not in this town, not with you.”

“I can’t help it, it just happens.” I tried not to sound too plaintive.

“No, Rennie, lightning strikes just happen.” He shook his head with a tight smile. “You are a walking disaster.”

Stung, I shoved the thermos lid back at him, sloshing coffee onto the leather interior, and jabbed my car keys into the ignition. “Screw you, Bristol.”

He sighed. “Rennie…”

“What?” I jerked the gearshift into reverse.

He started to say something then shook his head. “I’m going to need you to come in to make an official statement.”

“Not till this afternoon.” I lifted my chin defiantly, daring him to challenge me. “I have to get home to explain to my mother that she’ll have to wait for her prescription and then I’ve got an interview with Gloria Lottich.”

“Fine. We’ve already got your prints on file, so we can rule out anything you touched.” His mouth tightened and he hesitated for the slightest of seconds. “We’re going to need your shirt.”

“What? Why?” I looked down at myself and saw, for the first time, a splotch of blood shaped like a tear drop on the stomach of my pale blue t-shirt.

“Crime lab will want to make sure that’s Doc’s blood and not the killer’s.”

I swallowed hard, struggling against the urge to pluck the fabric away from my skin. “So, I’m just supposed to drive home topless? This is Morrisville. There are laws about how long Christmas decorations can stay up. You’re telling me there are no ordinances about half-naked driving?” I asked, discomfort setting my tone a little too close to rude.

He walked back to his squad car, tossing out the remains of the coffee in the thermos lid on the way. He returned with a paper bag and a bright blue bundle of fabric. The fabric, a t-shirt, he handed to me, while he held onto the bag.

I put the car back into park and unfolded the t-shirt. The front had a small patch of writing over the left side in the shape of star. Morrisville Sheriff’s Office, it read. Interdepartmental Softball League. I flipped it over to look at the back. Bristol 17.

“Your softball shirt?” I asked. God help me, despite the circumstances, I loved the idea of his name on my back, his shirt against my skin. Bad, Rennie. Bad, bad.

He shrugged. “Unless you have a better idea.”

I shook my head. He stood and turned his back toward the window, blocking the view from the side of the car. That helped, but it didn’t keep anyone from looking through the windshield. I sighed. Oh, well, what little I had, they were welcome to see. Besides, Deputy Sheffey appeared to be occupied with taking notes anyway, and the first curiosity-seekers on the scene had their attention focused on the pharmacy door, now blocked off with crime tape.

I yanked the bloodied shirt off over my head, silently thanking whatever voice of caution in my brain had urged me to wear proper undergarments this morning. Much to my chagrin, bras were more wishful thinking on my part than a strict necessity. However, it would have been nice if the voice of caution had also recommended a little more time on my hair this morning—I could feel it standing up in messy spikes, like a blonde tumbleweed on top of my head. Very attractive.

I thrust my arms through Bristol’s t-shirt. The familiar smell of him, the clean scent of his clothing, surrounded me. I tugged the rest of the shirt down into place, loving the feel of it against my skin even as I knew it was wrong. After all, Bristol’s shirt smelled good, like him, because it had been recently laundered…by his wife, Margene.

Without thinking, I bumped his arm with the back of my hand to let him know I’d completed my wardrobe change. As usual, he’d rolled his shirt sleeves up, revealing tanned and strong forearms. I jolted slightly at the warmth of his skin against mine, and my heart flipped up and twisted in my chest, like a paper cutout on a string in the breeze.

Bristol turned around and opened the paper bag. I dropped my bloodied shirt inside.

“So, how’s Margene?” I asked Bristol, as I always did when I started having trouble remembering he was married.

His face closed down, like he’d shut some internal door against me. “Fine.” He didn’t really sound surprised at the strange conversation twist I’d thrown him. “Getting ready for the Garden Show.” He closed up the top of the bag with precise, crisp folds in the paper.

“Right,” I said. Margene had been more than happy to settle into her role of Mrs. Sheriff, second only to Mrs. Mayor, Gloria Lottich. Margene and I’d also gone to school together, although she was a couple years younger than me. She’d moved to town in the seventh grade when her father took a job at the propane factory. By her junior year in high school, she’d worked her way up from trailer trash to co-captain of the varsity cheerleading team, second only to Laura Brown. Apparently, Margene’s ambition had limits. Word was, she’d caught wind of Jake’s upwardly mobile plans as soon as he’d returned to town from the Army and she’d trapped him with her reportedly magnificent thighs. Chelsea was born barely inside of wedlock, and then all Margene had to do was sit back and wait while Jake’s star kept rising.

“And Chelsea?” I asked.

“Finishing fifth grade in a couple weeks.” He frowned at me, highlighting those marvelous wrinkles near his eyes.

Time to change the subject again. “What about Max?” I asked.

“Max,” he repeated with a frown.

“Yeah. Editor of the Gazette, nosiest human being alive?” I waited for some flicker of recognition from Bristol and got a grim nod. “He’s going to want details for a story. Time of death, potential motives, the weapon…”

Bristol frowned. “I don’t want to share any of that information with the public just yet. Incidentally, I think you’re right about the cane being the murder weapon.” His eyes dropped to the phone in my lap. “I don’t want that part in the paper, got it?” He rubbed his face, the stubble on his chin making a rasping sound against his hand. “I’d rather not have anything in the paper just yet.”

I shook my head. “Max is sitting right over there.” I pointed at the Gazette office. “It’s not like he can’t see it for himself. You know him, he’ll print something. Better he get most of the facts from a reliable source.”

“You run all of it past me before anything hits the printer,” he said.

I made an exasperated sound. “We’ve been through this before. I get the lecture from you about responsible media. Then I turn around and get the freedom of the press speech from Max.” I glowered at him. “I should put the two of you in a room together and let you duke it out.”

Bristol’s mouth twitched upward in a smile. “Wouldn’t be fair.”

“Why not?”

“Max could convince a snake to go vegetarian. I just have a gun.”

I pretended to consider his words. “True enough. I guess my money’s still safe on Max.”

“Oh, ha, ha.”

I smiled at him reluctantly. “I’ll see you this afternoon.”

My Book Review:

Bitter Pill is an entertaining mystery that follows the adventures of freelance writer and amateur sleuth Rennie Harlow, who has a knack of getting herself into trouble and finding dead bodies.

After four years of marriage and living in Chicago, Rennie Harlow's husband attorney Jeffrey Michael divorces her gets remarried three days after the divorce is finalized to Maria, his former legal assistant / mistress. Scorned and bitter, Rennie returns to her small hometown of Morrisville, Illinois, to restart her life. Living with her mother in an apartment above the garage, a year has passed since her return to Morrisville, and it has been anything but smooth ... especially when it comes to getting herself in the middle of trouble when she finds three local townspeople dead, and has a major crush on the town's married Sheriff, Jake Bristol. Written in the first person narrative, Rennie takes the reader along for the ride as she discovers the body of local pharmacist, Doc Eugene Hallacy, and is determined to investigate the murder and find the killer.

Bitter Pill is a fun fast-paced mystery that easily draws the reader into the story from the beginning. Author Stacey Kade weaves an intriguing whodunit that features Rennie's amateur sleuthing adventure to solve the mystery of Doc Hallacy's murder. The author does a great job of providing the reader with a small town full of secrets, and enough suspenseful twists and turns that keeps them guessing the identity of the murderer until the surprising conclusion. And if that isn't enough to peak your interest, the author provides a backstory into Rennie's marriage/divorce, her relationship with her hypochondriac mother, and her crush on the town's Sheriff.

Rennie is a bit of a mess, but she's a realistic and sassy lady who is easy to relate to, you can't help but like her. I really enjoyed that the story was told in the first person narrative, it was fun to follow Rennie on her amateur sleuthing adventure; and I really enjoyed the subtle crush, sexual tension, and humorous interactions that she had with Sheriff Jake Bristol.  Add in Rennie's lovable Greyhound Fritzy and some quirky townspeople with secrets and issues of their own, and you get a thoroughly entertaining whodunit that will have you trying to solve the mystery along with Rennie and Jake!


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card


A Signed Copy of Bitter Pill


An e-Book Copy of The Ghost And The Goth

Anyone who leaves a comment on the Bitter Pill tour page will be entered in the giveaway!

Three separate winners will receive one of the following:

A $20 Amazon gift card

A signed copy of Bitter Pill (US/CA only)

An eBook copy of The Ghost And The Goth by Stacey Kade

Anyone who purchases their copy of Bitter Pill before January 6 and sends their receipt to will get 5 bonus entries!

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

December 16 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
December 17 – Required Reading – Review 
December 18 – Endless Reads – Review & Excerpt
December 19 – A Blue Million Books – Q&A, Guest Post & Excerpt
December 20 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Review & Q&A
December 23 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
December 26 – Ai Love Books – Q&A& Excerpt
December 30 – Avid Readers Musings – Review & Excerpt 
December 31 – Literary Chanteuse – Excerpt
January 2 - Samantha March - Q&A & Excerpt
January 3 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
January 6 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review


  1. Thanks for being in the tour Kathleen and have a great 2014!

    1. Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event.