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I’ve always loved romance novels. In fact, I began my publishing career writing historical and contemporary romances. To me, time period didn’t matter as much as the message of romance: that women are strong, determined, and capable, that the men in their lives can be supportive and loving (as well as sizzling hot), that there is hope in the world, and that the possibility for happily ever after when two people establish a loving, caring relationship isn’t far-fetched.

Still, as much as I enjoyed writing romances, I’d always been a mystery reader and the chance to write novels with twisty turning plots, red herrings, and a dead body (or two) really appealed to me. Even then, my mysteries had a hint of romance. In the mysteries I wrote as Casey Daniels, Pepper Martin had her hot cop boyfriend, Quinn. In the Ethnic Eats mystery series I wrote under the name Kylie Logan, there was hunky Declan, the proprietor of the Irish shop across the street from the restaurant Laurel managed. These sorts of relationships in a mystery are a great way to let readers see another side of the heroines who investigate crimes.

Then it hit me–there was an even better way to have romance take center stage in my novels. Thus, Love Under the Covers was born, the specialty romance bookstore owned by Lizzie Hale, the heroine in my new Love is Murder mysteries.

Owning a bookstore is Lizzie’s dream, and she’s moved from Chicago to Tinker’s Creek, Ohio, to make it come true. There, she’s not only made a home for herself, but she’s built a community of book lovers and readers. The local romance writers’ group meets at her store, and customers line up to purchase their favorite subgenres. Contemporaries have their own sleek and modern room in the old house Lizzie has turned into the shop; historicals are in a room with a fireplace and easy chairs; erotica (of course) is shelved in a bedroom; paranormals in a sunroom that includes weird plants and vintage Halloween kitsch.

All is not ideal, though. How can it be when Lizzie finds local bison rancher and ladies’ man, Brody Pierce murdered? She’s got to act, and fast, before Max Alvarez, the park ranger who’s investigating, catches wind of the fact that Brody and Lizzie’s aunt, Charmaine, have a connection, and that Charmaine just might be Suspect Number One. And it gets worse, because whenever Max is around, Lizzie’s insides wiggle like Jell-O, her outsides itch, her tongue gets tied, and her knees get weak. You see, there’s a secret Lizzie is determined to keep–though she might be an expert when it comes to fictional romance, she’s a total non-starter when it comes to real-life romance. Lucky for Lizzie, there’s one thing she can discuss with Max without melting into a puddle of mush–murder!

Romance, murder, a shaggy dog, and plenty of suspects keep Lizzie busy in the first in the new series, Death of a Red-Hot Rancher.

Mimi Granger is a pseudonym for Connie Laux, an established mystery author. She is the author of the League of Literary Ladies Mystery series, the Button Box Mystery series, and the Haunted Mansion Mystery series. Mimi resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Learn more online at mystery-book-series.com.