Thursday, November 5, 2020

Relatively Risky by Pauline Baird Jones


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When an aspiring illustrator attracts the attention of a New Orleans mob family, and secrets long hidden are unearthed from the past, a handsome homicide detective may be her only chance of surviving the Big Easy.

The oldest of thirteen, Alex Baker does two things: he solves murders and avoids children. Until the day Nell Whitby foils a carjacking, knocks Alex off his feet and turns his life upside down.

When the shots start flying and every rock he turns over reveals another wise guy, Alex decides he needs to stick close to the quirky yet captivating children’s book author while he discovers who is behind a series of mob hits. But can he resist the urge to kiss the kid magnet now in the crosshairs?

A relative newcomer to New Orleans—with no family but her college friend—Nell spends her days in seeming obscurity, sketching tourists in the French Quarter and serving canapés for her friend’s catering business. When a chance encounter makes Nell the target of a mob hit, the only silver lining is meeting the cute cop who is determined to protect her.

But when she finds herself at the head of a second line made up of goons and gangsters, and secrets start bubbling up out of her own past, Nell must figure out what she's made of so she can live long enough to kiss the cop again…

Stay tuned for FAMILY TREED: The Big Uneasy 1.5, coming the fall of 2013. It's an amuse-bouche (An amuse-bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre), though in this case it's a single "bite" in the series. The short story will feature Nell and Alex and some more of her truly awful new relations.

We left New Orleans ten years ago - two years later Katrina struck — after 18 years of learning how to love living there. (Grew up in WY, the polar opposite of New Orleans!) I wasn’t sure we’d back, but I knew we’d never be the same.

I returned a couple of times, and each time I did, the city began to feel more and more like itself — though many of the places we loved are gone forever. It’s a city that has had to learn to reinvent itself over and over.

When I decided to return to writing romantic suspense, a friend reminded me of a fragment of a story that I’d sent her some years back. I opened the file, started reading, and the memories came flooding back. I thought it might be hard to write about the Big Easy after being gone so long, but the Big Easy is, well, easy.

Except when it isn’t.

But even when it isn’t easy, it’s always quirky and fun and funny — and the perfect place for fictional mayhem. There is something about a hot sultry night filled with lots of exotic smells that brings out the best — and the worst — in people.

And then there is the food.

I got so hungry and so homesick writing this book. And I still miss that spicy scent that is SO New Orleans. One of the hardest moments for me, my first visit back after Katrina, was walking off the plane and NOT smelling New Orleans. I used to love that “our” airport didn’t smell or sound like anyone else’s. There was only one working terminal. Too few people. No jazz being piped in. And no spicy smells. It broke my heart.

Happily for Orleanians — and the people who love to visit — the smells, the sights and the sounds are back. But for those of you who can’t visit, I hope you get a glimpse of the “city that care forgot” while reading this book.

If you love exploring New Orleans in this book, be sure to check out Do Wah Diddy Die, Mystery Collection, and A Dangerous Dance (releasing fall, 2013).

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