Out of Temper (Bean to Bar Mysteries) by Amber Royer


Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has been the scene of two murders – both of which she has been instrumental in helping solve. So when she gets invited to demo her chocolate skills aboard a cruise ship sailing out of the local port, she’s excited at the chance to get away from the shop long enough to regain her equilibrium. She even brings her best friend along, and makes plans for time at the spa. But when she gets on board, she finds out that she’s been booked for a mystery-themed cruise, and said best friend, Autumn, has to finally deal with the real reasons she quit writing mysteries. Only – if that wasn’t stressful enough – it doesn’t take long before there’s a real murder on the cruise, and someone Felicity knows becomes the prime suspect. When said suspect asks her for help, she can’t exactly say no, can she?

Felicity finds herself surrounded by cruise goers who all had connections to the victim – and finds that both Logan (her business partner, whom she recently kissed) and Arlo (the cop who was once Felicity’s first boyfriend, before she moved away from Galveston) are dealing with the case until more official help can arrive. How will Felicity survive the ensuing awkwardness?

One thing that helps: the retired police dog turned therapy dog she meets on board. Satchmo helps Felicity deal with being back on the water after tragedy in her past – and also helps her uncover a vital clue to the case. Can Felicity unmask the killer and keep a friend from being framed before all the suspects leave the ship?

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“That’s right,” Liam says, reading stiffly off his phone. “The thief is somewhere among you – or among the staff in the boutiques and shops on board. You should speak with everyone, including other teams – and make sure to get the clues from each shop. And if that means taking a break for a little shopping – there will be special discounts for LARPers that won’t be lower at any other time during the cruise.”

Imogen adds, “Use the form on your table to collect clues and make your guess as to the thief’s identity. If you get stamps from all the shops, even if you aren’t the first team back, you will still get a collector’s mug commemorating the experience, and one of these lovely question-mark shaped keychains.” She holds up a purple keychain. “They’re made of material that changes color in the sun. Each team can approach myself, the great detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Chief Inspector Liam twice to ask for help during the game. Have fun, but be safe. There won’t be any clues in hard-to-reach places, and there is no need to run.”  She raises her hand in the air. “The game shall now commence!”  She drops her hand with a swish, and the room erupts into conversation as the different teams reach for forms and start planning a strategy.

Bea suggests, “I say we head down the promenade and start with the shops. We can each take a store, collect the clues and have a better idea what to ask the other teams.”

“Good idea,” Logan says. “We definitely need to get a head start on Drake’s team.”

“Why?” I ask. I knew Logan was competitive, but this seems excessive.

“We may have made a little wager. If he and Autumn win, I have to scrape the barnacles off his houseboat. Since he found out I dive, he thought that would be hilarious.”

“Drake has a houseboat?” I ask.

At the same time, Arlo asks, “So what does he have to do if you win.”

“Change the oil in one of my planes.”  Logan pinches his lips together. “I’m not sure if I should really let him, though. Does he seem mechanically inclined to you?”

Arlo shrugs, “Drake said he’s good at sports, but that’s not the same thing.”

Bea says, “I see now why you’re so keen to win. Your life may literally depend on it.”

At the sound of her voice, Satchmo raises his head, which had been resting on my shoe. The beagle has really taken a shine to me since Bea gave me permission to give the dog a few bites of my filet mignon.

Imogen hands out walkie talkies and tells each team how to set them to a unique channel, so that if we decide to split up, we can still keep in touch across the ship. Since we’ll be more or less together, I drop mine into the bag I’m carrying.

As she takes a walkie talkie, Bea asks Imogen, “How did you get interested in LARPing?”

Imogen says, “One of my close friends was starting a group. I’ve always loved games and puzzles, so it just seemed natural.”  Imogen lays a reassuring hand on Bea’s forearm. “You’ll have fun tonight, I promise. We tried to make it interesting, even if you’re not super into games.”

Bea says, “That’s sweet, but I intend to win.”

About the Author

Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course.

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