Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Art of Love and Murder by Brenda Whiteside: Book Review and Giveaway

Kinky Vanilla Romance is pleased to share The Art of Love and Murder by Brenda Whiteside, a 342 page romantic suspense book released May 2, 2014 from The Wild Rose Press.

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Brenda will be awarding a $20 gift card to The Wild Rose Press to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. Remember, the more you comment, the better your chances to win.

The Art of Love and Murder by Brenda Whiteside

Lacy Dahl never questioned her past until the deaths of her adoptive parents and her husband. A husband who wasn't what he seemed. Her research uncovers secrets about the mother she never knew; secrets that dispute the identity of her father and threaten her life.

Sheriff Chance Meadowlark is still haunted by the murder of his wife and the revenge he unleashed in the name of justice. When he meets Lacy he is determined not to become involved, but their pasts may make that impossible. As they move closer to the truth, saving Lacy may be his only salvation.

Lacy begins to think the present is more important than her past...until Chance's connection to her mother and a murder spin her deeper into danger and further from love. Will the truth destroy Lacy and Chance or will it be the answer that frees them?


Lacy quickened her pace. The footsteps behind her did the same. As fast as her feet touched the bricks, her heart beat twice that speed. If only she could clear the narrow alley, step onto the lit sidewalk… Like a magnet, the street light pulled her forward, and she lunged out of the darkness. Her hand slammed to her chest. After a hard intake of breath and a fast exhale, she cast a furtive glance over her shoulder. With the strap of her purse in a tight fist against her breast, she whirled around to cover the last block at a trot.

She didn’t see him until too late.

As if she’d hit a cement wall, she careened off balance, but his hands grabbed her shoulders keeping her upright. She gasped and reared back and out of his arms. Her fisted purse became a weapon as she hurled a defensive blow to his chest. Her knee came up, landing a jab to his thigh. “Ehhh,” she cried out from the pain of contact.

“Lady, I’m not going to hurt you.” He held his ground and loomed over her, his hands at his chest fending off the swing of her fist.

Her vision filled with the imposing figure, and a chill shivered her body. Run screamed in her head. This time the swing of her purse missed her target when she turned to escape. His hand caught her arm and pulled her close.

“Help, help me!” Her voice came high and hysterical.

“I am trying to help.”

Both hands gripped her shoulders now, and her feet came partly off the ground, forcing her to look into his face.

“What’s wrong? Are you in trouble?”

Her head swung side to side, but the empty street and sidewalks could have been a ghost town. In the distance, a jazzy tune drifted through the air with voices too far away to help. She gulped.

He waited.

Book Trailer

My Rambles

The first thing that drew me to the book was the cover. I really like the couple - setting combination on the front. The cover colors are warm and eye-catching. I was delighted to discover that the story was set in Arizona. The author does such a good job of describing the setting that it is almost like a character in the book.

Lacy Dahl heads to Flagstaff, Arizona because she wants to learn more about some art that she inherited. She encounters danger from the very start of her journey. After eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant on day of her arrival, Lacy senses that she is being followed on her way back to her hotel room. Unfortunately (or fortunately), her sense of flight or fight kicks in right as she runs into Chance Meadowlark. Literally runs into him (see the excerpt above). A scuffle ensues and we get a glimpse of the first sparks of interest between Lacy and Chance. These are sparks that neither intend to flame. Lacy's path continues to cross with the handsome Mr. Meadowlark during her stay. When Chance (widower and local sheriff) realizes that the danger Lacy feels is real, he can't help but get involved. Their undeniable attraction lights up the pages as Lacy pursues the truth about the art and her past.

The characters are where The Art of Love and Murder excels. It is a character-driven story whose plot style reminded me of the premise of television show Motive. It is a fast-paced, suspenseful storyline where you know who the bad guy is upfront. The "mystery" is revealed in finding out the motives of players involved.

If you enjoy love stories mixed with mystery and intrigue like I do, I think that you'll find The Art of Love and Murder an interesting read. It is a story of deception and second chances. I read it over a weekend. This is the first book that I have read by the author. I look forward to reading more of Brenda Whiteside's works.

Side note: I have been reading a lot of new adult stories recently so I really appreciated that the characters in The Art of Love and Murder were over forty.

About the Author

Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States - multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.

Although she didn’t start out to write romance, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or mystery, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Visit Brenda at

Or on FaceBook:


She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at

She blogs about writing and prairie life at

NOTE: This post is part of the The Art of Love and Murder virtual book review tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Welcome to Kinky Vanilla Romance, Brenda. I am happy to have to you here.

    What came first for The Art of Love and Murder, the characters or the story itself?

    I hope that you have a great tour.

    1. Like you said, it is a character driven story and that's what came first. Thanks!

  2. Good morning. Thanks so much for reviewing my book, Skeeter.

  3. Great review, I can't wait to read the book.


  4. Great review. Thanks for the giveaway

  5. Mystery and intrigue are my favourite elements in a book. Looks like this book is right down my alley!

  6. A final thank you for hosting and reviewing, Skeeter. I so appreciate it. I'll choose a winner later today and notify by email. Goddess Fish will post the winner.