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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Éclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Éclair and Present Danger by author Laura Bradford!

Author Guest Post

A Behind the Scenes Look Taste
at of the new
Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries
 by Laura Bradford

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling a little blue or physically run down, I crave a little a sugary treat. It’s like my body seems to know it needs a little outside help. That’s why I keep a stash of chocolate in my closet (for quick boosts when I’m tired) and various baking ingredients (for those times when I need to lose myself in something creative) on hand at all times.

So when I first came up with the concept of an emergency dessert squad for a new cozy series, I knew I wanted to make it fun—the kind of thing other dessert lovers, like me, would get a kick out of from start to finish.

Fortunately for me, Winnie, my main character, was as new to this whole notion of an emergency dessert squad as I was, so we got to build it from the ground up, together.

As far as the dessert squad itself, Winnie takes a field trip inside a modern day ambulance in Éclair and Present Danger to get a feel for the kinds of equipment housed in the back. And my research into the ambulances of the 1960’s (like the one Winnie inherits from her late friend, Gertrude Redenbacher) allowed her to make any necessary adjustments.

In terms of Winnie, she has a uniform similar to a real EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) but it says EDT, instead.

And the phone line? Renee (Winnie’s best friend and co-worker) answers that the way a real dispatcher might (which thrills Renee to no end).

My favorite part of crafting Éclair and Present Danger though, was modifying dessert names to reflect the kind of issues that might prompt a call to the Emergency Dessert Squad.

Hot Flash Fudge Sundaes (for those suffering menopause symptoms)…
Never Give Up-side down cake (for someone in need of a little encouragement)…
When Life Hands You Lemon (s) pie (for someone just dealt a lousy hand)…
Worry No S’more Bars (for someone who’s overly stressed)…
And on and on.

Every time I come up with a new one, I find myself giggling just as I imagine Winnie might if Mr. Nelson (her hard of hearing downstairs’ neighbor) or Renee (her best friend and co-worker) threw the same idea out during one of their dessert-naming sessions.

Sure there’s murder in the book—it’s a mystery, after all. But the emergency dessert squad concept just makes it all the more fun…

Now available!!!
Éclair and Present Danger

The first book in the delicious new Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery series from national bestselling author Laura Bradford.

With her rent rising faster than her pie crust, bakery owner Winnie Johnson had hoped to be rescued by an inheritance from her wealthy friend and neighbor Gertrude Redenbacher. Instead all she inherits is the widow’s hostile hissing tabby, Lovey, and a vintage ambulance, restored by Gertrude’s late husband. As her dream crumbles, Winnie makes her final delivery—a peach pie to an elderly widower. But she finds Bart Wagner lying on his kitchen floor, smothered by a pillow.

To comfort her frightened and grieving neighbors, Winnie comes to the rescue with her baked goods—and an idea is born: dessert delivery via her ambulance and a new business called the Emergency Dessert Squad. When she’s not speeding to the scenes of dessert emergencies, Winnie is also racing to track down Bart’s killer—before she needs to call a real ambulance for the next victim...

About The Author

Laura Bradford (aka Elizabeth Lynn Casey) is the author of several mystery series and a handful of romance novels. She is a former Agatha Award nominee and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. In her free time, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, baking, playing games, and catching up with friends. In addition to the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, Laura writes The Amish Mysteries and The Jenkins & Burns mysteries, as well as The Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (as Elizabeth Lynn Casey).

Author Website

Book Review

Éclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford
Book 1: Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries
Publisher: Berkley / Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Format: Paperback - 304 pages
               Kindle - 1620 KB
               Nook - 1 MB
ISBN: 978-0425280898
BNID: 978-0698193833
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

The first book in the delicious new Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery series from national bestselling author Laura Bradford.

With her rent rising faster than her pie crust, bakery owner Winnie Johnson had hoped to be rescued by an inheritance from her wealthy friend and neighbor Gertrude Redenbacher. Instead all she inherits is the widow’s hostile hissing tabby, Lovey, and a vintage ambulance, restored by Gertrude’s late husband. As her dream crumbles, Winnie makes her final delivery—a peach pie to an elderly widower. But she finds Bart Wagner lying on his kitchen floor, smothered by a pillow.

To comfort her frightened and grieving neighbors, Winnie comes to the rescue with her baked goods—and an idea is born: dessert delivery via her ambulance and a new business called the Emergency Dessert Squad. When she’s not speeding to the scenes of dessert emergencies, Winnie is also racing to track down Bart’s killer—before she needs to call a real ambulance for the next victim…

Book Excerpt:

"I’m sorry, could you, um, read that one more time, please?” Winnie Johnson rested her elbows on the edge of Charles Woodward’s desk and willed herself to concentrate. “I’ve been a little scattered these last few weeks, and I think my mind might be playing tricks on me.”

For a moment, she wasn’t sure he’d heard, but, eventually, he nodded, cleared his throat, and began reading from the semi-tattered paper in his hands.

“I, Gertrude Redenbacher, being of sound mind and body, do bequest my precious angel, Lovey, to my sweet neighbor, Winnie Johnson. I’m sure, given time, Lovey will come to adore Winnie just as much as I have these last two years.” Charles glanced up, his tired eyes pinning hers. “Are you still with me, Miss Johnson?”

All she could do was nod, and his focus shifted back down to the paper as she did. “Additionally, having never been blessed with any children of our own, I also must bequest to Winnie my late husband’s beloved vintage ambulance. He may not have finished restoring it to its original grandeur, but it runs, and it will keep Winnie from having to walk to the bakery in the rain.”

Nope. Her mind wasn’t scattered. She’d heard every last word exactly the same way the first go-round. Only this time, when the attorney’s monotone delivery came to an end, it touched off an almost maniacal laugh track in her head.

“Miss Johnson? Are you all right?”

She glanced around the room, her gaze falling on a miniature bonsai tree on the corner of the man’s desk. “Oh, I know what’s going on here . . .” Without waiting for a reply, she reached over, parted each branch, and then moved on to a complete and thorough inspection of the soil in which the tree was planted.

No camera . . .

“Miss Johnson, I notarized Gertrude’s wishes myself not more than six months ago.” Charles pulled the pot closer to his chair and brushed the disturbed soil back into place. “Her body was failing her, of course, but her mind was sharp as a tack. This is what she wanted.”

“Wait.” She fell back against her chair, a new and different laugh making its way past her lips. “Mr. Nelson put you up to this, didn’t he?”

“Mr. Nelson?” Charles parroted.

“Yes. Parker Nelson. My downstairs neighbor.” Suddenly, it all added up. Mr. Nelson was always playing tricks on her—whoopee cushions on her porch furniture, toy mice on her steps, even hiding her newspaper in a different place each day. Surely this whole cat-and-ambulance-bequeathing thing was just more of the same. “Okay. You got me.”

“I got you?”

“Yes. But how’d he get you to do it?”

“Excuse me?”

“Mr. Nelson. How’d he get you to read that version instead of the real one?”

Charles let her finger guide his attention back to the paper on his desk before he pushed back his chair and stood. Then, leaning across the polished mahogany surface, he pressed the intercom button on the side of his phone. “Susan? Could you please bring in Miss Johnson’s items?”

“I’ll be right in, Mr. Woodward.”

Releasing the button, he spun the paper around and scooted it across the desk to Winnie. “I’ll need to keep the original, of course, but I’ll see that Susan makes a copy for you before you leave. That way you don’t have to worry about taxes on the vehicle in the event the government should ever question—”

A door opened behind her, and she turned to see the same kind yet efficient woman who’d whisked Winnie into the attorney’s inner sanctum within moments of her arrival. This time, though, instead of Gertrude’s file and a mug of steaming black coffee, the secretary handed her boss a pair of keys and a brown and white tabby cat who promptly turned and hissed at Winnie.


She took a deep breath and yanked open the bakery door, the tower of boxes lined up along the southern wall no different than she’d left it an hour earlier. Likewise, its unassembled counterparts on the opposite wall also remained unchanged.

“What a difference an hour makes,” Winnie mumbled to no one in particular as she set the cat carrier beside the counter, exchanged her new set of keys for the folded pink apron she’d left behind the counter, and braced herself for the questions that were no more than five seconds away.

Five . . .

Four . . .

Three . . .

Two . . .

“Welcome to Delectable Delights, how may I help— Winnie! You’re back! Oh my gosh, how did it go? Are you rich? Can we stay open?” Renee Ballentine did a little jig halfway across the room, her voice dripping with unbridled excitement. “I didn’t bother packing any more boxes because I figured we’d just end up unpacking them the minute you got back, anyway. So? Tell me what happened. And don’t leave anything out.”

Me‑owww . . .

Renee shoved a wisp of white blond hair behind her ear and looked around. “Did you hear that?”

Meee‑owwwww . . .

“There it is again!” Renee craned her head to the left and then the right as her emerald-colored eyes surveyed the sidewalk outside the bakery. “It almost sounds like it’s in here with us, doesn’t it?”

Winnie stared up at the ceiling and weighed her options. She could pretend she didn’t hear anything and let her one and only soon-to-be-let-go employee think psychosis was setting in, she could act shocked to see the cage and the cat, or she could simply share the details of her morning and wallow in any pity that would likely come her way as a result.

She opted for the latter. “It sounds like it’s coming from inside because it is. And its name is Lovey.”


“Look, I didn’t name it. I just inherited it. From Gertrude.” She led Renee over to the cage and pointed at the cat. “See?”

Renee squatted her ample figure atop her three-inch sti- lettos and peeked inside the cage. “Oh, Winnie, she’s really, really cute.”


“You don’t think so?”

“It’s hard to think much of anything when she so clearly hates me,” Winnie said.

“Hates you?”

“She hisses every single time she even looks at me.”

“C’mon, Winnie, why would she do that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe she knows somehow.”

“Knows?” Renee asked. “Knows what?”

“That I killed the family goldfish when I was three.”

Renee laughed. “You killed a goldfish?”

“Yup. Two of them—Goldie and Silver.”

“And how did you do that?”

“I fed them salt.”


Even now, thirty-one years later, she felt the need to explain the actions that had led to her first and only true dalliance with crime. “I’d watched my mom shake the box of food over the tank countless times. It looked neat and like something I wanted to try, too. A saltshaker fit the bill. Next thing I knew, I was attending my first and last toilet-side memorial—as a murderer.” Winnie slumped against the counter and tried not to look at the boxes lining the walls of her dream. Two hours earlier, she’d actually thought there was a chance to keep her doors open. Now, unfortunately, she knew better.

“So the moral of this story, Lovey, is to be wary of your food, okay?” Renee poked a finger inside the cage, stroked as much of Lovey’s head as she could access, and then looked up at Winnie. “So what else did Gertie leave—”

The jingle of the door-mounted bell that had alerted them to customers over the past two years brought their collective attention to the front of the store and Renee to her feet.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! It’s him,” Renee whispered. “Master Sergeant Hottie.”

“Good almost afternoon, ladies.”

Winnie quickly parted company with the wall on which she’d been leaning, her mental eye taking in each and every detail of the man now standing inside her bakery in a standard paramedic uniform. A quick glance pegged him to be in his thirties, though if she had to venture a more specific guess, she’d put him around thirty-eight. A longer look had her noticing his hair (which was cut close at the sides and well shy of his ears), his shape (quite toned), his dimples (capable of causing momentary heart stoppage), and his eyes (the exact color of chocolate melting in the double boiler) . . .

Renee’s elbow found Winnie’s ribs and brought her back to the present and the odd look now sported on Master Sergeant Hottie’s ruggedly handsome face. “Oh. Yes. Good afternoon. Welcome to Delectable Delights. I’m sorry to say our inventory is a bit low today, but I can promise what we have is still—”

“Delectable,” Renee interjected. “Get it? Delectable Delights?”

He closed the gap between them in three long strides only to stop when he noticed the cat carrier. Bending down, he peered inside the cage and was rewarded with a quiet purr for his efforts. “Cute cat. What’s her—or is it his—name?”

“Her name is Lovey.”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Lovey.” Straightening, Master Sergeant Hottie offered his hand to Renee, and then to Winnie. “I’m Greg. Greg Stevens.”

She resisted the urge to reach across and wipe the hint of drool from the corner of Renee’s mouth and, instead, shook Greg’s hand. “I’m Winnie Johnson.”

“You’re new in town, aren’t you?” Renee asked in her usual get-to-the-point way. “A retired army medic, yes?”

A flash of surprise rolled across Greg’s features only to disappear behind a nod. “That’s right. Moved here about two months ago.” He smiled at Winnie and then pointed out the front window to the vintage ambulance parked across the street. “Is that your ride out there?”

Renee tried to cover her snort with a well-placed hand, but she was about a second too late. “Winnie doesn’t own a ride. She walks to—”

“Yes. That’s mine.” She could feel Renee’s eyes burning into the side of her scalp just as surely as she felt the notice- able cooling that came with the woman’s subsequent glance toward the road.

“Wait. You already bought a car?”

Ignoring her friend’s question, Winnie captured the end of her mousy brown ponytail between her fingers and kept her focus on Greg. “If someone called to complain about the siren, it was a mistake. I tried to find the blinker, and, well, didn’t.”

“Siren?” Renee echoed. “What siren?”

“That’s a 1960 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance. And it appears to be in pretty good shape,” Greg said as he gestured toward the window. “How long have you had it?”

She turned around, took note of the clock, and then wandered behind the dessert case with a renewed sense of dread. “An hour. Give or take a few minutes on either side.”

The paramedic’s surprise was back, this time in the form of a raised eyebrow. “Where’d you buy it?” he asked. “I’ve been looking for one of those for almost three years.”

Renee moved closer to the window, the mental wheels in her head virtually clacking along with the remaining hours Winnie had left as a bakery owner.

“I inherited it from a dear friend who passed away a few weeks ago.” Winnie peered through the rear access door of the glass-fronted case and then dropped back against the wall. “Now, instead of owning a bakery, I own an ambulance.”

Renee spun around. “Wait. Are you telling me that Gertie left you an ambulance?”

“I’m telling you she left me an ambulance and a cat. We must not forget the cat.”


“That’s it, Renee. Just an ambulance and a cat.” “No money?”

A lump rose inside her throat, making it difficult to speak. Instead, she shook her head and blinked rapidly against the tears that threatened.

“Oh. Wow.” Renee’s shoulders dropped a good inch or two. “So today really is our last day? For sure?”

When Winnie didn’t answer, Renee turned to Greg. “Winnie, here, is the most amazing dessert maker on the face of the earth. Every time you think you’ve eaten the greatest treat you’ve ever had, she follows it up with some- thing even better. It’s been her dream since she was a little girl, isn’t that right, Winnie?”

She tried to shake off the conversation, but Renee barreled on. “You should see her when she’s baking. It’s like this calm comes across her and she slips into her own little world. It’s mesmerizing to watch, really.”

Greg looked from Winnie to Renee and back again, the lighthearted aura he’d had only moments earlier suddenly gone, as if he sensed he’d walked in on something deep. Renee, of course, prattled on, filling in gaps the man never requested to be filled. “Anyway, the landlord has this crazy notion that Silver Lake is the next up-and-coming town. That people are going to flock here by the hundreds to do God knows what. So, in preparation of such a miracle, he’s raised the rent so high on this shop that we can’t afford to stay here anymore.”

“So reopen somewhere else,” Greg suggested.

Winnie liberated an unassembled box from the top of the pile and began to put it together. “There really is nowhere else unless I want to pick up and move.”

“Which she doesn’t,” Renee said emphatically. “There’d be a mutiny of old people if she did.”

Greg drew back. “A mutiny of old people?”

“That’s right. In fact that’s why you’ve probably never seen Winnie around town before. She prefers to hang with folks over seventy. She finds it more fulfilling.”

Winnie waved Renee off with a tape roll. “It’s not like that. It’s just . . .” She let the words fall away as she realized an explanation didn’t matter. Very few people understood her, least of all men. So really, why bother? “Anyway, if you’d like something from the case, it’s yours for half price. Maybe one day, you can say you had one of the last chocolate soufflés I ever made as a bakery owner.”

His gaze lingered on hers far longer than necessary before he stepped up, pulled a twenty from his wallet, and set it on the counter. “I’ll take what’s left of the tray. I lost a bet the other day at the station, and the guys have been giving me grief ever since. Maybe if I drop this off for them on my way home, they’ll finally shut their traps.”

She rested the tape roll on the edge of the counter and plucked the last to-go box from the shelf below the register. With quiet efficiency born from experience, Winnie placed each of the soufflés into the box and handed it to the man. “I hope they stop giving you grief now.”

“So do I. Though, working with these guys isn’t much different than what my sister went through in middle school. Same maturity level, same drama.” Greg reached into his front pocket, pulled out a notebook and pen, and wrote his name and phone number on the first page. When he was finished, he ripped it out and handed it to Winnie. “I know you’ve got a lot going on right now, but if you think you might be interested in selling that ambulance, give me a call. I’ll make an offer.”

Winnie folded the paper and shoved it into her back pocket. “I’ll give it some thought.”

“What’s an ambulance like that worth?” Renee asked as she came to stand beside Winnie. “Enough to keep a bakery going for a few more years?”

Greg took his box of soufflés and shrugged. “Probably not, I’m afraid.” He retraced his steps back to the door and then stopped to look at Winnie one last time, his warm, chocolate-colored eyes narrowing in on her blue ones. “Even if you decide you don’t want to sell, I’ve been told I’m a pretty good listener on occasion. So if you need a friendly ear, the number will work for that, too.”

And then he was gone, the odd silence that followed his departure quickly squelched by Renee. “Oooh . . . I think Master Sergeant Hottie likes you!”

“Because there’s so much to like about a thirty-four-year- old with no job, right?”

Renee’s face fell. “I’m sorry, Winnie. I’d really hoped that call from Gertie’s attorney would have been the ticket to keeping Delectable Delights open.”

“Me, too. But hey, maybe it’s time I find a new dream. Something less . . . messy.” Winnie grabbed hold of the box she’d successfully assembled and began loading it with trays and other paraphernalia she’d accumulated over the years, the pain in her heart making it difficult to breathe, let alone think. Still, she trudged on. Stalling the inevitable would change nothing. Her days as a bakery owner were over. “Come on. Let’s get this over with. I’ve got to get Lovey home and fed, and make good on one more order before I hang up my measuring cups and spoons once and for all.”

Copyright © 2016 Laura Bradford</div>

My Book Review:

Cozy mystery fans, boy do I have an entertaining new series for you to read!

In Éclair and Present Danger, the first book in the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries Series, author Laura Bradford weaves a thoroughly delightful cozy mystery that follows the amateur sleuth adventures of bakery owner Winnie Johnson.

When Winnie is faced with closing her bakery Delectable Delights due to a rising rent increase, she hoped that the inheritance that her neighbor Gertrude Redenbacher left her would be money, but alas, all she received was a vintage ambulance and an ornery tabby cat named Lovey! While making her final peach pie delivery, she finds her widowed neighbor Bart Wagner dead on the floor. Worried that a killer was out there stalking her elderly neighbors, Winnie comes to the rescue by launching a new enterprise: the Emergency Dessert Squad, delivering her delectable baked goods via the vintage ambulance. And if that isn't enough, Winnie goes into amateur sleuth mode as she tries to track down the killer before he strikes again.

Éclair and Present Danger is an entertaining cozy whodunit filled with enough humor, drama, yummy recipes, and a subtle romance that will easily keep the reader engaged and guessing the identity of the killer. I was really intrigued with the clever concept of converting a vintage ambulance into a dessert delivery service, and the to-die-for desserts with witty names like: Hot Flash Fudge Sundaes (for those suffering menopause symptoms) … Never Give Up-side down cake (for someone in need of a little encouragement) … When Life Hands You Lemon (s) pie (for someone just dealt a lousy hand) … and Worry No S’more Bars (for someone who’s overly stressed)… are enough to make your mouth water! Winnie is a sassy lady who I could relate to, and I loved the relationship she had with her elderly neighbors. I really enjoyed following Winnie and her friends on their amateur sleuth adventure filled with crazy trials and tribulations, and I really enjoyed the crazy antics from Lovey the tabby cat. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the inclusion of the delectable dessert recipes, oh my goodness they sound amazing and made my mouth water! 

Éclair and Present Danger is an exciting new cozy mystery story that will leave the reader wanting more. I look forward to reading the next adventure in the series. 


Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

June 1 – Girl Lost In a Book – REVIEW
June 1 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW
June 2 – Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW
June 2 – The Self-Rescue Princess CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 2 – cherylbbookblog – REVIEW
June 3 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 3 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
June 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
June 4 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – REVIEW
June 4 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST 
June 5 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 5 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – REVIEW
June 6 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
June 6 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
June 6 – fuonlyknew – REVIEW
June 7 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW
June 7 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 7 – Books Direct – GUEST POST
June 8 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW
June 8 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST
June 8 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW
June 9 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
June 9 – deal sharing aunt – REVIEW
June 9 – Mystery Playground – RECIPE
June 10 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, RECIPE
June 10 – Booklady’s Booknotes – REVIEW
June 11 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW
June 11 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 11 – The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW
June 12 – Book Babble – REVIEW
June 12 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, INTERVIEW


  1. Thanks for hosting me here today, Jersey Girl. I'm thrilled you loved Éclair and Present Danger!

    Jersey strong!!

    1. Hi Laura! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour. I loved reading this book, and I can't wait to read the next installment. :)

    2. I'm looking forward to reading the first in Laura Bradford's new series. I really enjoy the books that I've read in her other series.

    3. Hi Dianne! Thank you for stopping by my blog, I appreciate it. This is the first book and series from Laura Bradford that I read, but it won't be my last. :)