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Sue Hollowell

Muffins and Misdeeds (PAPERBACK)

Muffins and Misdeeds (PAPERBACK)

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A mysterious letter from the past, gut punching muffins, and funky smelling clues...

Tilly is settling into her new cottage and life in the quaint beach town of Belle Harbor. With her fledgling bakery partnering with the local coffee shop, she has high hopes that her business will soon take off.

Tilly’s new friend Fiona convinces her to rummage through her uncle's antique shop to find decor to fill her sparse home. But instead of the sought after beach treasures, they discover clues to a long ago unsolved mystery in the small town.

Coupled with the recent murder of a distillery owner, their investigation into the ancient family feud reveals shocking lies, sabotage, and the ultimate revenge. As they get deeper into the town’s historical secrets, they discover a stink they can’t ignore. Can Tilly’s budding friendship bloom into a dynamic duo of crime solvers in time to save her new friend from going to jail?


 Paperback 86 pages
 Dimensions 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
 ISBN 979-8543063392
 Publication date May 6, 2021
 Publisher Free Heart Productions


I switched off the TV and plunked into the lone chair in the cottage. The sparsely furnished room cried out for more pieces to appear like someone lived here. The wide-open windows beckoned the ocean air and sound to permeate the place. I wanted the full ambiance of beach living to envelope every aspect of my life. My move to Belle Harbor from Boston was intended to begin anew. And it was off to a great start.

Upon my exit from Boston, I left everything behind that I could. Certainly my ex and his new girlfriend. How was I to know that when I decided to enroll in culinary school that he would hook up with the instructor? I always wondered if that was payback in some way for my bold move to follow my dreams. He was never one to be supportive of much of anything other than what he wanted. Our life together had begun as a fairytale. He was from a prominent family, attended good schools, and was the perfect choice for my mate. I was so swept up in the fantasy I lost myself in the mix.

If not for Grandma Luna’s urging from her deathbed to follow my heart, I would not be in Belle Harbor. She was always one to set the trend. And it was usually not what everyone else was doing. Her free spirit was the guide for her life.

My parents were not fans of Grandma Luna. Their references to her hippie ways and lazy lifestyle always hurt my heart to hear. She was an amazing baker who owned a thriving bakery. Her friends and neighbors adored her, and she was generous to a fault, giving back on a regular basis to the local homeless kids. It was no doubt her hippie-looking appearance set my parents off. She changed her hair color monthly and dressed in outlandish clothes. She was by all accounts a very colorful character, not concerned about what others thought of her life. I secretly admired her moxie and wished for just a dollop of that to land on me.

I was sure my mom’s choices in life were deliberately in direct opposition to everything my grandma would have done. My prim and proper mom attended an Ivy League school to become an attorney. In the process she met my dad, who hailed from a prominent family. If she had a checklist of criteria for her ideal life, she would have ticked off every single item, right on schedule.

Circumstances deviated her from that roadmap as soon as her children arrived on the scene. Despite the overbearing parenting, neither my brother nor I fit into our parents’ mold. It wasn’t for lack of their trying to develop a mini-me. We attended private school, wore uniforms, and signed up for extracurricular activities to rub elbows with the elite.

At some point around middle school, my mom concluded that all hope was lost for her kids. She had been shipping me off every summer to visit with Uncle Jack and Uncle Frank in Belle Harbor. Just like my grandma, those two were living their best lives. The pull I felt toward that life ran deep. But it wasn’t until the culinary instructor incident that I finally chose for myself.

I was now on a path to open my own bakery just as Grandma Luna had done many years before. Surprisingly, I felt an emptiness for parts of my former life. I did miss my parents. And my loving younger brother. But establishing my own identity and life was now my priority.

Uncle Jack had welcomed me with open arms. His Checkered Past Antiques shop sat along the boardwalk on the beach. He and Uncle Frank had run that store for as long as I could remember. With Uncle Frank’s recent passing, I was glad that the timing of my move could provide Uncle Jack some family company. He graciously renovated a corner of his shop for my temporary baking kitchen.

Today, my new friend Fiona was meeting me at Unkie’s shop to look for items to decorate my cottage. I was all in for the beach theme and would take just about anything. Except for the small mirror by the door, my walls were bare. My teal-colored chair patiently waited for more furniture to fill the room. Truth be told, Uncle Jack had antiques toppling over one another. He couldn’t say no to an estate sale, always a sucker for more history. I think he liked the stories behind the pieces as much as he did selling them.

Uncle Jack and his friend Barney, the chief of police, had taken me out for a celebration to Fiona’s bar. Those two were in the matchmaking business, and in this case I was all in. Fiona was my age and full of energy. I had a feeling we were going to be great friends.

I looked around the room to size up what might be needed to make it feel more like my home. The white shiplap walls needed color. And if I wanted to entertain at all I needed more seating. I wouldn’t find that at the antique shop, but Uncle Jack had plenty of decor in his inventory to get me started.

The sounds of the sea soothed my mind. They were a far cry from the horns and sirens of the big city. And my neighbor’s little barnyard of chickens had become a gentle, lulling background noise. Last night at my arrival home on my moped, I had to dodge a couple of those wandering hens.

My phone buzzed. I stood and pulled it out of my pocket. Fiona was already at the antique shop, setting aside some things for me to look at. I hoped she had a better eye for design than I did. Left to my own devices I might not get much further than what I already had. Simple and minimal spoke to me.

I grabbed my backpack and latched the window so it remained open just a crack. My confidence had eked up a notch with my baking skills. And I was really looking forward to delivering the muffin samples today to Mocha Joe’s. I needed to get a cute name for them because calling them bran flax muffins wasn’t going to make them fly off the shelves.

Partnering with Joe was my first business collaboration. I was nervous about the reception of my product, but what was the worst that could happen? Nobody would like them and I could try something else. My ego would take a hit, but I was determined to be persistent toward my goals.

Thoughts of Joe made my stomach gurgle, and not just from the anxiety about my baking. I shook my head free of those thoughts. I couldn’t go there, not with so much on my plate with building a new life. I swung my leg over the moped seat, started the engine, and headed the short distance to Checkered Past Antiques.

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