Roxy Constantine is the jam queen of Shavano, Colorado, and she’s fine with it. Not that things couldn’t be better. Her social life is a bust, and she’s still recovering from a bad experience as a line cook in Denver. But things are looking up when she meets local chef Nate Robicheaux. Roxy would like to get closer to Nate, but she’s fending off the unwanted attentions of another local, Brett Holmes, who won’t take no for an answer. When Brett threatens to derail Roxy’s appearance on a national cooking show, the two have a very public fight. A few days later, Brett is found murdered in his restaurant kitchen, and suddenly Roxy’s a prime suspect. Now Roxy, Nate, and her other friends must find out the truth about Brett’s background and his murderer before the town of Shavano decides Roxy’s reign as jam queen is over for good.
It would be better for him to hear it from you than to discover it on his own.
Nate’s voice still echoed in my ears. For a moment, I wished I’d asked him to come with me. But I had to face this on my own. It was my disaster, after all.
I climbed up the stairs to the front door, pausing for a moment to check the directory on the wall inside. The chief’s office was on the first floor, right down the hall. Once I turned in that direction, there’d be no going back. I’d be committed to confessing.
I walked down the corridor, feeling like I was going to the executioner’s block.
There was a receptionist for the chief’s office along with the county attorney and the sheriff. I didn’t recognize her, which was just as well. This visit wasn’t something I wanted shared on social media.
She looked up expectantly. “Yes?”
“I need to see Chief Fowler.” I was amazed that my voice was steady.
“Do you have an appointment?”
I shook my head. “He’ll want to talk to me. Tell him it’s Roxy Constantine.”
The receptionist picked up her phone and dialed a number, turning away from me as she spoke.
Of course, I wasn’t absolutely sure Fowler would want to see me. Maybe he’d be too busy. Maybe he wasn’t interested. Maybe…
The receptionist glanced up at me. “Go on in. He’ll see you now.”
So much for hope. I opened the office door and stepped inside.
Fowler was sitting at his utilitarian, city-issued desk. He gazed up at me with that same unsmiling, inscrutable look he always seemed to wear. I wondered if he ever smiled. Probably not at people like me, people he suspected of murder.
I cleared my throat. “I have some things to tell you.”
He gestured to the chair in front of his desk. “Sit down, Ms. Constantine. I’ve been expecting you.”
Roxy Constantine: Jam Queen
At the beginning of The Pepper Peach Murder, my heroine, Roxy Constantine, has a laser focus on jam. She spends most of her time making jam, selling jam, and thinking about jam. After all, the local paper has called her “The Jam Queen of Shavano County.” She’s got a lot to live up to.
Roxy has come back to her hometown of Shavano, Colorado, after a bad experience as a line cook in Denver. It’s soured her on doing much besides concentrating on her jam company, Luscious Delights. Her business is just beginning to take off after a lot of hard work. And getting Luscious Delights off the ground has occupied most of her time. Roxy hasn’t done much in the way of socializing for the past couple of years. But thanks to her booth at the farmers market where she meets local chef, Nate Robicheaux, things may be looking up in the romance department.
Unfortunately, another Shavano chef, Brett Holmes, is trying to rain on Roxy’s parade. The two of them worked together in Denver, and even then he was someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Roxy doesn’t want to go out with him since he’s a definite sleaze, but he just keeps asking. And, in fact, it isn’t really asking . Brett’s demands move closer to threats, and Roxy has had enough. She tells Brett off in front of most of the vendors at the Shavano Farmers Market, which means half of Shavano gets the idea that Brett and Roxy are definitely not soulmates.
When someone kills Brett in his own kitchen a few days later, Roxy finds she’s got some major problems. A lot of people in town think she’s the killer, including the new chief of police, Ethan Fowler. Even though Roxy has an alibi, she decides she needs to investigate—Luscious Delights is in jeopardy since nobody wants to buy jam from a murderess.
Roxy’s investigation is the central focus of The Pepper Peach Murder. Well, that and her developing relationship with Nate. She’s got a lot to figure out and a lot to overcome if she’s going to maintain all she’s accomplished so far and all she wants to do in the future.
The Jam Queen of Shavano County is on the case, and she’s definitely got a lot of reasons to find the killer. Whether she can do that, particularly when she discovers some people she cares about may be involved, is another question. That’s one question she’ll have to answer if she wants to keep her title.
Meg Benjamin is an award-winning author of romance. Meg’s Konigsburg series is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Salt Box and Brewing Love trilogies are set in the Colorado Rockies (all are available from Entangled Publishing). Her new cozy mystery series, Luscious Delights from Wild Rose Press, concerns a jam-making sleuth based in the mythical small town of Shavano, Colorado. Along with contemporary romance, Meg is also the author of the paranormal Ramos Family trilogy from Berkley InterMix and the Folk trilogy from Soul Mate. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers, and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers. Meg’s Web site is http://www.MegBenjamin.com. You can follow her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/meg.benjamin1), Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/megbenjamin/), Instagram (meg_benjamin) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/megbenj1). Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at email@example.com.
The buy links for Pepper Peach Murder is https://www.amazon.com/Pepper-Murder-Luscious-Delights-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0BKYJPN22/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3PHU83N6E7I8N&keywords=meg+benjamin+pepper+peach+murder&qid=1668885185&s=books&sprefix=meg+benjamin+pepper+peach+murder%2Cstripbooks%2C105&sr=1-1
Meg Benjamin will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.