Friday, March 8, 2019

Release Blitz: Perilous Pottery by Author Mildred Abbott

Release Blitz, Perilous Pottery by Author Mildred Abbott
Fred & Watson are back in another Cozy Corgi Mystery.
Mystery, Thriller and Suspense for ONLY 0.99
Read FREE with KindleUnlimited
Perilous Pottery new release
Estes Park is fired up by a new coffee shop and pottery studio bringing chocolate espresso pastries, fierce competitive spirits, and murder…

Winifred Page might feel apprehension as she steps into the Koffee Kiln—Carla Beaker’s new charming coffee shop and pottery studio—but her corgi sidekick, Watson, welcomes the idea of a new place for snacks. With Carla’s disdain for the Cozy Corgi Bookshop and Bakery, Fred fears the caffeine will come with a side of drama. What she finds is delicious chocolate espresso scones, decaf coffee… and a dead body.

As Fred and Watson fire up their investigative savvy, they face down one of Estes Park’s cold-hearted matriarchs. To solve a murder, Fred must confront her own insecurities as she navigates the tangled coils of obsessions, business deals, and betrayals.

(This culinary cozy mystery includes a recipe for a sinfully delicious chocolate espresso torte.)
perilous potter paperback


Watson’s reflection cocked its head, and one of his corgi eyebrows seemed to arch.
“Don’t look at me like that.” I met his warm brown gaze in the bedroom mirror. “You’re only making me more nervous. And I shouldn’t be nervous to begin with.” I refocused on a smattering of freckles crossing over my bare shoulders and gave a matching head-cock of my own. “Maybe I’ll use that fox fur wrap Percival gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I’ve been looking for a reason to wear it.”
Another check of Watson’s reflection revealed the second eyebrow arch.
“Okay, you’re right. I’ve not been looking for a reason to wear it. I know it’s faux fur, but still… Not to mention, the coloring is a little too close to your fur—it would be like I was wearing a corgi over my shoulders, which was probably Percival’s intention anyway.” I took a step back to get a better view in the log-trimmed full-length mirror. Even that small movement caused a cascade of sparkles from the gemstone-encrusted bodice I wore. I winced and turned to face Watson directly.
He took a wary step away, a concerned rumble rising from his chest.
“Oh, come on, I don’t look that bad, do I?”
Watson took another step back in way of response. It looked like it took an effort for him to keep from flattening his pointed fox ears.
Sparkling caught my attention through the doorway from another reflection in the bathroom mirror. I was nervous enough I nearly jumped at the sight of the stranger. I looked back at Watson with a sigh. “I don’t look bad, I just don’t look like your mama, do I?” I gave a final glance at the full-length mirror—I hadn’t scrutinized myself so much in decades—then chuckled. “Actually, I look like a nearly forty-year-old version of your mama trying to go to her high school senior prom.” Not that I’d worn such a dress back then, either.
Without another thought, I wrenched my hand behind my back and jerked down the zipper. At least I could tell Katie I’d tried. I’d sworn that I’d never wear the gaudy seafoam gown when she forced me to buy it a couple of weeks earlier. Katie insisted I needed to trust her. That the coloring did amazing things to my skin tone, auburn hair, and blue eyes. She was right. It did. She’d sworn that the cut flattered my fuller figure, morphing me into some sort of voluptuous 1940s pinup girl, instead of a frumpy bookshop owner who took too many trips to her best friend’s bakery upstairs. She was right about that too—it did, mostly. The gown worked miracles. So many miracles, that Winifred Page had ceased to exist. I wasn’t sure who this other woman was, but she wasn’t me.
Some of the anxiety dissipated as the gown pooled at my feet. I stepped free of it, leaving it where it lay. Watson padded over and gave the material a hesitant sniff before growling as I headed back to the closet. I’d wasted too much time trying to talk myself into wearing the monstrosity, and now I had less than ten minutes to get ready.
I had a couple more formal pieces, also forced on me by either Katie or my mother, but I rejected them. One I’d worn on another date—a date that seemed like a lifetime ago, a date that left a bitter taste in my mouth.
In a reaction to that, I pulled out my go-to—a long, crinkled broomstick skirt of soft turquoise blue and faded brown. In honor of the occasion, and as a compromise to Katie, I chose a newer, dusty-rose peasant blouse instead of the mustard yellow I favored.
After slipping into the normal clothes, instead of inspecting the mirror, I turned to my overly fluffy corgi and spread out my arms. “Well, what do you think?”
Watson barely spared me a glance before looking longingly through another doorway that led to the living room and into the kitchen. Clearly, serving as fashion consultant had made him ready for a snack. Things were back to normal.
“Perfect. I’ll take that as a yes.” I glanced at the clock. Five minutes. With another bit of hesitation, I made up my mind and hurried to the restroom. I might be wearing my typical Fred clothing, but I could at least show that I’d made some effort for the special occasion. With a couple of twists and bobby pins, my long hair was piled in a loose bun on top of my head, a few tendrils escaping here and there. Different than my standard, but… I still looked like me. And it showed off the dangling earrings of pounded silver shaped like corgis.
From the bedroom, Watson let out a sudden, frantic bark of pure excitement and tore off in a run. From the sound of his claws on the hardwood floor, I could tell he slipped a couple of times before he barreled toward the front door.
Only increasing Watson’s frantic joy, a knock sounded.
Leo was early.
I started to leave the bedroom, then realized I hadn’t put on shoes. After rushing to the closet, I reached for my standard cowboy boots, then noticed the rhinestone-and-gem-encrusted boots my stepsisters had made for me. They were garish and ridiculous and had only been worn once. Not to mention, they were heavy enough they could be used by the mob for weighting people down when they threw them into a river. I stuffed my feet into them on a whim and yanked them on. They’d be mostly covered by the broomstick skirt anyway.
Watson was practically in seizures, barking and doing a combination of dance and crazed frolic by the time I got to the front door. “Breathe, buddy. It’s not like you don’t see him every day.” I twisted the deadbolt and opened the door to my little cabin. A gust of wind ushered in a wave of snow. Without a greeting, I reached out and grabbed Leo’s arm. “Get in here. Sorry you had to wait, I’m still getting ready.”
“That’s all right, I’m early.” Leo allowed himself to be pulled inside, then sank instantly to one knee to greet Watson’s hero worship at eye level.
I shivered as I shut the door. Only more proof I was right not to wear the ridiculous gown. Who went bare-shouldered in the middle of February in the Colorado mountains?
Leo was giving Watson a final pat on his head and standing as I turned back around. “It’s actually turning into quite the snow…” Though his mouth stayed open, Leo went wordless, and his honey-brown eyes widened as he looked at me.
I flinched and my heart sped up. For a second I thought I’d made a mistake, then recognized Leo’s expression for what it was and felt my cheeks burn.
Leo lifted a hand toward my face, then paused, proving that the barely month-old transition from friends to something more was still new to us. After closing the distance, he touched a cold thumb to the lobe of my ear, causing the earring he’d given me so long ago to shimmy, and then trailed his finger over my jaw and down my neck. “I’ve never seen you with your hair up. You look beautiful.” His cheeks pinked. “Of course, you always do.”
I laughed self-consciously, both happy I hadn’t opted for the gown and simultaneously wondering what he’d feel about it. “Thank you. Glad you think so. Katie’s going to kill me when she finds out I wore a broomstick skirt on Valentine’s Day.” Maybe someday I’d get used to the way Leo looked at me, maybe. In the meantime, I distracted him by pulling up the hem of the skirt a little bit and shaking one of the boots, causing a kaleidoscope of rainbows to shoot around the room like a disco ball. “I do have these, just in case you didn’t think I dressed up for the occasion.”
He glanced down, chuckled, and a grin spread over his handsome face. “Verona and Zelda will be pleased.” For a moment it looked like Leo was going to touch me again, but Watson reared up on his tiny back legs and shoved his forepaws into Leo’s knee, earning him a scratch on his head. “Yes, yes, you look beautiful as well, little man.”
The distraction gave me a chance to inspect Leo. From the brand-new dark brown boots he wore, it seemed he’d gone shopping as well. He’d traded in his park ranger uniform and the jeans and T-shirts he normally wore for a pink dress shirt under a casual suit jacket and form-fitting dress pants. “You look rather beautiful yourself.” The words were out before I realized I’d spoken the thought aloud.
Leo’s gaze flashed back up to me, and though clearly embarrassed, he also looked pleased. “I’m happy you approve.”
Anyone with eyes would approve. And again, though the change in our dynamic was both natural and easy, at times it was still a little overwhelming. “We’re going to be late. Let me grab Watson one of those dental chew bones, so he’ll be distracted for a few minutes after we leave. They’re supposed to last for days, but you know him. In about five minutes, he’ll be finished and plotting our murder for leaving him behind.”
“I expect no less.” He gave Watson another scratch on his head.
I started to head toward the kitchen, but when Leo grabbed my arm, I paused.
“It’s okay to be a little late.” He stepped into me, his beautiful eyes heated and gentle. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Fred.”
With that, he kissed me, and my nerves faded away.

“Oh… my—” Leo cut off his words by clearing his throat as the two of us halted just inside the door of Habaneros.
I had a similar reaction and focused on closing my gaping jaw.
In front of us, Marcus Gonzales, the owner of the Mexican restaurant, stood in front of the welcome stand, a bright smile across his face and his arms spread wide in greeting. He wore a red patent-leather tuxedo, complete with a vibrant pink tie and matching loafers. “Winifred, Leo! Happy Valentine’s Day!” He walked toward us as if getting ready to give us an embrace and glanced down at our feet, his expressive face shifting to clear disappointment. “Where’s Watson? You know he is always welcome!”
“I figured he should stay home, considering it’s a special occasion.” I liked Marcus well enough, but took the opportunity of his distraction to pat him on the shoulder and avoid the impending hug.
Marcus’s eyes narrowed. “How are you supposed to solve a murder in my establishment without your sidekick?”
I laughed. Marcus always wanted his restaurant to be the center of a murder. He seemed to view the whole thing as a soap opera drama with his restaurant as the stage, overlooking the implications of a dead body.
Leo chuckled as well. “Has there been a Valentine’s Day murder, Marcus? If so, we can turn right back around and go get the little guy.”
Excitement flared and then disappeared just as quickly. “No.” Then he grinned and winked. “At least not yet. But now that you’re here…”
“Oh, knock it off, Marcus.” His wife arrived as if from thin air, dressed in a gown that matched the pink of Marcus’s shoes and tie. It resembled the seafoam one I’d left on the bedroom floor. However, despite her being nearly a decade older than me, Hester Gonzales pulled it off flawlessly. She shoved Marcus aside playfully and focused on Leo and me. “The only person close to getting murdered here tonight is my husband. At least if he keeps saying ridiculous things like that.” She took my hand. “Follow me, quickly, before Marcus decides he needs another picture with you.” She motioned toward the framed photographs that lined the walls, Marcus the center of each one.
He gave a dismissive snort. “Why would I? There’s no murder, no dog, no fun.” Grinning, he stood aside and let us pass.
I halted again as Hester led us into the main dining room. The restaurant was always over the top, with its cacophony of brightly painted Mexican colors and the large rainforest mural that spread across the far wall—it was beautiful, fun, celebratory. However, my eyes watered at the clashing pink and red spread everywhere. Every single chair had at least three heart-shaped balloons tied to its back. Streamers looped and twisted, covering the entirety of the ceiling, even hanging down in spirals to the floor here and there. A golden table had been placed in the center of the room, with a massive white plastic fountain large enough to be in someone’s front yard placed on top. Chocolate sprayed from the utmost peak and cascaded down the sides.
Suddenly, I realized Hester had paused a few feet away, and she and Leo had both turned around to look at me. From Leo’s expression, it appeared he was barely holding back laughter. Thankfully, Hester couldn’t read my reaction as well as Leo. She beamed. “Marcus went all out. He did a wonderful job, didn’t he? After this, we’ll knock Pasta Thyme out of the top slot for the most romantic ambience of Estes Park.”
I opened my lips but couldn’t find the words, which—knowing my tendency to shove my foot into my mouth—was probably a blessing. I settled for a huge nod.
Satisfied, Hester turned and continued weaving through the crowded room until she came to a small table for two near the front window that overlooked the parking lot and the snow-covered mountains with stars twinkling overhead in the background. Once we were seated, Hester assured us that our server would be over shortly, then disappeared.
A ridiculous grin still spread over Leo’s face as he gestured at the speaker above our heads. “At least they nailed the romantic music. The rest…”
I hadn’t even noticed. But he was right. The Spanish music was soft and beautiful, in direct contrast to the harsh mishmashed color scheme. I peered around at the other diners crowding the space. It seemed I had been in the minority. Nearly all the women were dressed like they were at a formal affair. I turned back to Leo. “Katie tried to get me to wear a gown. Apparently she was right.”
“A gown?” He winced, his expression reminding me of Watson. “The idea of you wearing…” His eyes grew wide, as if he’d made a mistake, before he rushed ahead. “Not that you wouldn’t look gorgeous, you would… It’s just that… well… that’s not you.”
“You’re fine, and I agree.” I reached my hand across the table and took his reassuringly. “Well… not that I would look gorgeous, but that it’s not me. Not at all.” Over his shoulder, another redhead caught my eye—Delilah Johnson. I hadn’t noticed her when we’d walked in. She was seated with a man I didn’t recognize. Delilah had poured herself into a skimpy black sequined gown, and she looked like every man’s dream of the ideal woman.
“I’m glad of that.” Leo’s warm tone pulled my attention back to him. I wasn’t sure if he’d seen my spark of insecurity or not, but either way, his sincerity couldn’t be clearer. “All that flash would only take away from how beautiful you really are.” I didn’t know if I would ever get used to being called beautiful. At least not in the matter-of-fact way that Leo said it. Before I could figure out how to respond, he glanced around, and whatever insecurity I’d been feeling seemed to be contagious. “Even so… I should’ve gone with a more traditional Valentine’s Day option—a place without a chocolate fountain.”
At that, I reached my other hand across the table and enclosed his, waiting for his gaze to meet mine. I knew what he was thinking. Pasta Thyme was classic, elegant, and romantic at the best of times, and I was certain even more so on Valentine’s Day. It was also about five times more expensive. “You have no idea how relieved I was when you suggested coming here. Pasta Thyme is delicious, but this is much more my style.”
“Still, you deserve the…” He shook his head. “I wish there were more options up here.”
Even more than his limited funds on a park ranger’s salary, though unspoken, I knew the deciding factor in not eating at the exclusive Italian restaurant was the fact that I’d gone on more than one romantic date with Branson Wexler at the restaurant. I loved that Leo simply had known how much I would’ve hated having our dinner there. “This is perfect. Literally.”
He smiled, seemingly convinced, and then a dreamy look entered his eyes. “Do you remember this time last year?”
I had to think for a second, and when it hit me, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought about it before. I barked out a laugh. “We were here. You, me, and Katie, protesting Valentine’s Day as nothing more than a holiday to make single people feel inadequate.”
Leo nodded. “We weren’t wrong.”
I laughed again. “No, we weren’t.”
“It helped that Habaneros didn’t look like Cupid had thrown up all over it last year.” He shrugged. “But… this is kind of fun.”
“True.” I hadn’t celebrated Valentine’s Day for at least fifteen years, not since the first year of my marriage. I’d worn a gown for that, come to think of it, at Garrett’s insistence. I shoved the memory aside. “Next year, how about we go even more low-key and do something at home. Maybe invite Katie over and make heart-shaped dog snacks for Watson?”
Leo gave the smallest of flinches, then beamed. “It’s a date. And it sounds perfect.”
Only then did I realize I’d just insinuated we would be celebrating the next Valentine’s Day together as if it was written in stone. For a moment, my nerves started to spike, but they gave less than a halfhearted attempt before fading away. Maybe it wasn’t written in stone, but it was close. It’d taken Leo and me long enough to make the transition from friendship, but now that we had… well… it was about as close to stone as you could get.
“Marcus and Hester sent this over special.” Our server arrived for the first time and plopped a bottle of champagne in an elegant silver ice bucket down on our table, causing me to have to release Leo’s hands to pull my arms back in time. “It’s pink champagne, of course.”
“Of course it is.” Leo chuckled again and smiled at our waitress. “Please tell them thank you.”
She nodded with a little sniff and then pulled out a pad and a pen from her apron. “Are you two ordering from the menu or doing the five-course Valentine’s special? It’s only $32.95.”
Still laughing, Leo grinned at me and waggled his eyebrows. “What do you say, Fred? Should we shoot the moon?”
Before I could reply, there was a screech from across the restaurant. All three of us turned to look, as did the rest of the diners. I might’ve groaned, or possibly cursed, who knew? My Uncle Percival, dressed in a tux equally as garish as Marcus Gonzales’s raised both his hands in the air and hurried toward us. “Fred! Leo!”
From across the room, Delilah caught my eye and grinned conspiratorially.
Gary called after Percival, pulling my attention back, then with a shake of his head gave up and followed his husband.
To make matters even more beautifully awkward, my mother and stepfather were also in tow. Before I could think of what to say, Percival was upon us. “My, Leo, you clean up nicely. Even more handsome than usual, which I didn’t think would be possible.” He started to bend his tall lanky frame down to kiss me on the cheek, then halted and straightened once more, his brows furrowing as his voice lowered to a hiss. “What are you wearing, Fred? Katie showed me pictures of your dress over a week ago.” Even as his brows creased further, his eyes somehow managed to widen. “You didn’t even do special makeup! Really… Fred!”
Gary arrived just in time and finished the kiss to my cheek that Percival had abandoned. “What your uncle is trying to say is that you look gorgeous as always, my dear.” As he pulled back, he glanced under the table. “No Watson?”
“Oh, thank goodness.” Percival fluttered a hand at his chest. “At least there was some common sense going on.”
Mom and Barry arrived, with another couple right behind them. Leo and I stood, and there was a flurry of hugs and greetings.
Barry, his pink and yellow tie-dyed tux shirt peeking out from under his winter coat, gestured to the two women. “Fred, Leo, you’ve met Violet and Joan before, haven’t you?”
“Of course they have. Joan and I have been into the bookshop many times.” The statuesque woman clasped my hand graciously, her thick white hair done in a matching style to my own, but the resemblance stopped there. She, too, was dressed in a gorgeous gown, as was her wife, who was giving a quick hug to Leo.
“I figured you had.” Barry nodded in approval and glanced over to where they’d abandoned Hester in the middle of the restaurant. “I wish I had known you two were dining here. I would have added you to our reservation. Doesn’t look like you’ve gotten your dinner yet. I can see if they can squeeze two more chairs at our table.”
“Don’t you dare!” Mom swatted Barry away and gave me a meaningful look. “We are not going to intrude, I promise.” She cast an apologetic expression toward Leo. “At least not any more than we already have. If I’d known you two were coming here, I would’ve insisted on us going somewhere else.”
I could’ve sworn I’d mentioned it, but apparently not, although Mom tended to be forgetful. Before I could respond, Percival spoke again. “Well, who would ever guess you two would spend your first Valentine’s Day here. Habaneros is wonderful, of course, but for a truly romantic experience, you should’ve gone to Pasta Thyme. It’s where all—” The elbow from Gary came at the exact moment I saw the realization cross Percival’s eyes. He’d been so excited when Branson had taken me on our first date to the Italian restaurant. “Oh… right.”
Leo shifted uncomfortably.
Violet came to the rescue, though I wasn’t certain if it was intentional or not. “As your mother said, we won’t take more of your time, but any chance you two are coming to the Koffee Kiln after this? We’re meeting my friend Rachel.” She winced and lowered her voice. “She got divorced a couple of years ago and is a bit of a downer on romantic occasions, so we didn’t invite her to this part.”
“Oh, that’s too bad, I hope she—” Before I could finish, the name of the shop clicked, stealing my words. It had taken me a second to place the name, though it shouldn’t have. Perhaps I’d tried to shove it as far from my thoughts as I could.
She hurried on. “I didn’t see you at Carla’s grand opening yesterday, but they’re having a special Valentine’s event this evening. Very romantic.” Concern crossed her features. “Oh, that won’t be pleasant for Rachel.” Violet shrugged after a second and excitement returned to her voice. “Each couple will get their own miniature potter’s wheel. The two of you should come. We can all reenact that scene from Ghost.”
Percival snickered. “Oh yes, Fred, do! That would make Carla’s day.”
That time, Mom swatted at her brother, ignoring Violet’s perplexed expression, and then she gave me a brisk hug. “We’re going to leave you two alone now. Have a good night, dear.”
After another quick round of goodbyes, they returned to an exasperated-looking Hester.
I watched them go and sat down with a sigh. “At least they’re seated on the far side of the restaurant, so the chocolate fountain pretty much blocks them from view.”
Leo attempted a smile but still seemed a little thrown off by the Pasta Thyme reference, or maybe just from having my family descend on us in the middle of the date. “We both know there isn’t a fountain, no matter if it’s the size of a small mountain, that will keep Percival from spying if he gets it in his mind to do so.”
“You’re right about that.” I attempted some levity. “Violet might’ve had a good idea, though. You think we should swing by Carla’s new shop after this?”
Leo joined right in. “Oh, absolutely. Nothing would top off Valentine’s Day like ending the night with poisoned coffee.”
I laughed. “You know, I wouldn’t put it past Carla to poison me.”
Our waitress arrived once more. I hadn’t even realized she’d disappeared in the chaos of my family. “I believe you two were about to order the Valentine’s Day special, correct?”
I started to nod, but Leo spoke up, his voice hesitant. “Actually… how about we get the Valentine’s Day special to go?” He looked at me questioningly. “What do you say, Fred? Take our Valentine’s celebration to your house? Hang out with Watson on the sofa? Get a jumpstart on next year’s plan?”
Relief flooded me. “I’d say that sounds perfect.”
From our waitress’s expression, she didn’t agree. “I’ll have to go check with Marcus and Hester.”

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mildred abbott pic
Reading the Cozy Corgi series is pretty much all you need to know about Mildred. In real life, she’s obsessed with everything she writes about: Corgis, Books, Cozy Mountain Towns, and Baked Goods. She’s not obsessed with murder, however. At least not at her own hands (nor paid for… no contract killing here). But since childhood, starting with Nancy Drew, trying to figure out who-dun-it has played a formative role in her personality. Having Fred and Watson stroll into her mind was a touch of kismet.

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