Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where, every Wednesday, readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge — but commissions are scarce. So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town rival.
As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a controversial subject. Her rival wants to ruin her reputation, her ex-flame wants to rekindle the fire, and someone’s setting her up to take the fall. Mix in her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into a corner she’ll be lucky to survive.
PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY
My bright yellow pickup glowed like a radiant beacon in the sea of black, silver, and white cars. I opened the driver door with a yank, cursing a patch of rust growing around the lock. Standing on my toes, I reached for the portfolio bag on the passenger side. The stretch tipped me off my toes and splayed me flat across the bench.
“I recognize this truck,” a lazy voice floated behind me. “And the view. Doesn’t look like much’s changed either way in ten years.”
I gasped and crawled out.
Luke Harper, Dustin’s stepbrother.
I had forgotten that twig on the Branson family tree. More like snapped it from my memory. His lanky stance blocked the open truck door. One hand splayed against my side window. His other wrist lay propped over the top of my door. Within the cage of Luke’s arms, we examined each other. Fondness didn’t dwell in my eyes. I’m never sure what dwelled in his.
Luke drove me crazy in ways I didn’t appreciate. He knew how to push buttons that switched me from tough to soft, smart to dumb. Beautiful men were my kryptonite. Local gossip said my mother had the same problem. My poor sister, Casey, was just as inflicted. We would have been better off inheriting a squinty eye or a duck walk.
“Hello, Luke Harper.” I tried not to sound snide. Drawing up to my fullest five foot and a half inches, I cocked a hip in casual belligerence.
“How’s it going, Cherry?” A glint of light sparked his smoky eyes, and I expected it corresponded with a certain memory of a nineteen-year-old me wearing a pair of red cowboy boots and not much else. “You hanging out at funeral homes now? Never took you for a necrophiliac.”
This time I gave Luke my best what-the-hell redneck glare. Crossing my arms, I took a tiny step forward in the trapped space. He stared at me with a faint smile tugging the corners of his mouth. If I could paint those gorgeous curls and long sideburns — which will never happen, by the way — I would use a rich, raw umber with burnt sienna highlights. For his eyes, I’d mix Prussian blue and a teensy Napthal red. However, he would call his hair “plain old dark brown” and eyes “gray.” But, what does he know? Not much about art, I can tell you that.
Larissa considers herself lucky to have taught English in Japan, escaped a ferocious monkey in Thailand, studied archaeology in Egypt, and survived teaching high school history in the US. However, adopting her daughters from China has been her most rewarding experience. After moving around the midwest, the south and Japan, she now lives in Georgia with her husband, daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn Terrier.
She loves small town characters with big attitudes, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (Henery Press, August 2012) is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner
Links to Larissa Reinhart’s website, blog, books, etc.
When I’m not writing about southern fried chicken, I write about Asian fried chicken at my blog about life as an ex-expat at theexpatreturneth.blogspot.com.
My writing friends and I also chat weekly about books on the Little Read Hens Facebook page. You can find me chatting on Facebook; Twitter; and Goodreads. I also loves pinning on Pinterest. My character, Cherry Tucker has her own Pinterest site now, too, for her love of DIY clothing, art, and Southern food. You can also find more information on my website at larissareinhart.com.