As you might recall, a few years ago I penned a cozy mystery series. I decided to take a break from that and focus on a new series and a new set of characters.
Characters like these … A thrice-married aging bombshell. Her respectable sworn enemy. A scheming young executive. A long-absent father. A bored daughter with a secret romance.
These characters and others populate A Fatal Reception, An Ashton Arbor Mystery. As the first installment in the serialized saga begins, the beautiful Jenna and handsome Greg are preparing for their wedding, unaware a murder will mar their special day. With elements of a soap opera, the mystery features blackmail, double crossings, affairs, decades-long grudges, corporate espionage, and a whodunnit cliffhanger.
The book blends elements of two of my favorite genres – mysteries and soaps. In fact, I wrote the mystery because, like one of the characters in the book, I miss soap operas of my youth. Alas, unlike the character, no one could ever describe me as a bombshell.
You might be asking yourself, “Self, if this book contains elements of soaps, does this mean it will include an amnesiac evil twin who returns from the dead?”
Spoiler alert: There are no amnesiacs as well as no twins, evil or otherwise, in this book. I also don’t plan to raise characters from the dead in the series. Instead of focusing on those types of tropes, I want to celebrate the soapy goodness of betrayal, secrets, and lies.
A couple times whilst writing, I had ideas for character motivation or plot movement and said to myself, “Self, this is so soapy. Dare you include it?”
Spoiler alert: I absolutely did.
A Fatal Reception is different from my previous cozy mystery series in a few ways. For starters, it’s not set in Eastern Kentucky. Also, it’s not a cozy. But it’s cozy-adjacent. It’s certainly not a hardboiled mystery. After all, the murder occurs off stage. And while there are a few four-letter words here and there, it’s nothing I wouldn’t have heard on a soap when I was a wee lass.
There are also no explicit love scenes, so imagine my surprise when a friend who’s read the book described it as racy. Spoiler alert: It’s not racy. Maybe a little suggestive, but not racy.
Said friend redeemed himself when he told me that the story reminded him of soaps he watched with his mom. Huh. What do you know? That’s exactly the mood I wanted to create.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.