Canada Day Sale on Deadly Devotion

Are you looking for a lazy summer day read? 

Looking for a mystery with a pinch of humour and dash of romance? 

The Ebook version of Deadly Devotion is on sale for 99 cents!

Already read the book? Please tell a friend about the sale. And check out Deadly Devotion’s bonus features.


Here are some of the online retailers it’s discounted at: 

Deadly Devotion is book one in the Port Aster Secrets series, set in Niagara, Ontario, about an herbal medicine researcher that turns amateur sleuth when her mentor’s sudden death is ruled, at best, the accidental ingestion of a poisonous herbal tea or, at worst, a suicide. 
Kate Adams is determined to do whatever it takes to unearth the truth about what happened to the woman who changed her life. But as she digs into the mystery, she unearths more secrets buried in her sleepy town and soon finds herself tangled in a web intrigue she might not escape. 
To read more, and to learn about print options, visit the Deadly Devotion book page and Deadly Devotion Bonus Features
This is what critics have said about Deadly Devotion:

“Romantic suspense maven Orchard (Shades of Truth) plunges readers into the fray immediately … Stakeouts, possible bombs, … keep up the breakneck pace of this tale as Adams and Parker try to uncover a killer and, perhaps, a little romance as well. … Fans looking for a quick read and a unique mystery will surely enjoy it.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“Orchard’s first Port Aster Secrets book is suspenseful with plenty of action and a fascinating mystery that readers as well as tea lovers will enjoy.”

RT Book Reviews

“I loved how the author used this understated, odd-couple comedy to not only raise the stakes for the characters, but to flesh out their personalities as the story progresses.”

-USA Today HEA blog

Last Day to Get Deadly Devotion & Blind Trust & Desperate Measures for a Steal!

All the E-retailers have price-matched or beat the 99 cent deal on Deadly Devotion!

And…have slashed the price on Blind Trust.

Some…such as Amazon and CBD (epub)…have even slashed the Ebook preorder price for Desperate Measures!!!

Here are some links for Deadly Devotion:

Kindle US
Kindle Canada
EPub Version from CBD

Koorong (Australia)

Ipad (ITunes Store)

If you know anyone who enjoys fast-paced mysteries, I’d appreciate you letting them know. Thanks so much!

Boxing Week Blowout & A Cat Question

Just a quick post to let you know that if you haven’t tried the Port Aster Secrets series and would like to read it on a Kobo, from now until January 5th, you can pick up Deadly Devotion, book 1 in the series, for only 99 cents. (Click image or “kobo” above for link)


I’m hard at work on the first book in my next series. My writing cave doesn’t look quite as cool as this:

Writing CaveBut I am locked away.

I added a heater to the room yesterday, so maybe I’ll be able to think better now. Although… the book is set in February, so all that shivering was inspiring. 😉

The opening scene happens in Buffalo, so at one point I have:

The chance of scoring a flight home to St. Louis tonight didn’t look good. And the frigid Buffalo temps would be nothing compared to the cold shoulder my cat would give me if he had to spend a second night with only my friend to look in on him. 😀

And here’s my question for you: What kind of cat should I give my heroine?

It is a he–Harold. It came with the apartment she took over from her Great Aunt. She’s never had a cat before so this is a new experience for her.

I snapped this pic of my friend’s cat in St. Louis (it refused to pose!!!), thinking “he’d” make a good model, except…would you say his coat has 3 colors? Because then he’d have to be a she, right?




Herbal Teas for What Ails You

Since the heroine of Deadly Devotion has a fondness for herbal teas,

This is the cover of the hard cover edition that releases in August


I thought I’d post on a couple of teas that are getting a lot of attention in our family these days.


As we’ve eagerly awaited the birth of our second grandchild, Red raspberry leaf tea has been a staple in our eldest daughter’s diet.




It’s supposed to encourage easy labor, and since her first child was born fifteen minutes after my daughter stepped into the hospital, she’s a believer in it’s helpfulness!


I try not to begrudge the fact that I labored with her all night and spent an agonizing two hours in delivery before the doctor finally yanked her out.

Wish I’d known about raspberry leaf tea!

Raspberry leaves are a rich source of calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium, and help decrease heavy periods. Magnesium and calcium also help relieve leg cramps during pregnancy.

Of course in these final days, with junior kicking my daughter awake in the wee hours of the morning, she’s been craving chamomile tea to help her sleep.

But alas, chamomile tea is one of the many herbal teas that pregnant women should limit or avoid during pregnancy.

So… I was thinking how much she’ll enjoy finally being able to enjoy a cup and a full night’s sleep when the baby arrives.

 Crying Baby

 Right, what was I thinking?! A full night’s sleep is not in her near future!

But if Junior proves to be a little colicky, the chamomile tea might help soothe baby’s uncomfortable tummy. We tried it with my first grandchild… without much success… but some mothers find it helps.

If all else fails, as my daughter falls asleep over her steaming cup of chamomile tea, she’ll discover it’s also great for brightening up dull, tired skin. 😉

Guess what? Steamed marigolds are great for this, too. Those who’ve read Deadly Devotion know why I bring up marigolds. 😆

Raspberry tea is also good for nursing mothers, as is fennel tea. It is safe for children and increases milk production. Fennel is also good for colicky babies.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite tea for what ails you?

Have you heard of The Book Club Network? The facilitators describe it as place where people can “feel safe, have fun, share hearts and embrace, Finding Hope through fellowship in reading groups.” Membership is free. And right now my publisher is giving away 5 copies of Deadly Devotion in the discussion we’re having in the “Revell” group. You must sign in and join the group to leave a comment to enter. We’re having a lively discussion and hope you’ll join us!

Crying Baby Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Meet Deadly Devotion’s Hero

To celebrate the release of Deadly Devotion, the book’s hero, former FBI agent, Tom Parker…picture Hugh Jackman in Australia, except in a sports jacket…is answering questions at Shelf Pleasure. Please click the link to hop over and hear what’s on his mind.

By the way, now that Deadly Devotion has officially released, the bonus features, such as deleted scenes, study questions, etc. are live, too.

Hope you have as much fun exploring them as I had putting them together for you!


Introducing Port Aster

Port Aster is the fictional town I’ve created in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula, Canada, for my new mystery series Port Aster Secrets. But I’d like to share some photographs of several of the real places that inspired me, which I then drew together to create my little town. 

The heroine, Kate Adams, is a herbal medicine researcher, who works at an agricultural research station outside of Port Aster, a place based loosely on what is still referred to by locals as the Vineland Experimental Farm, but which has now partnered with Guelph University and been renamed the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

 Vineland Experimental Farm

The town itself has a cobbled main street with flower baskets hanging from old-fashioned lamp posts, the smell of cinnamon buns wafting from the bakery, and enticing wares spilling onto the sidewalk from quaint little shops, and was inspired by the main street of historic Niagara-on-the-Lake…although its street isn’t cobbled. 🙂


This is the Old Niagara Bookshop in N-O-T-L, which actually carries copies of Deadly Devotion!


The social hub of Port Aster is the Tea Shop, which I conjured up from my imagination, although while visiting Colorado after writing the story, I found this shop, which has  the kind of ambiance I’d envisioned for mine. 

Port Aster's Tea Shop

Except that in Port Aster’s Tea Shop, there are rows of glass jars lining the counter, filled with herbs of every description that patrons can choose from to create their own tea blend.

 The story begins in May as fruit trees in the surrounding countryside are blooming.

Fruit Trees in Blossom

Then later, Kate’s situation turns precarious at the top of “Sumptner Falls” inspired by Vineland’s Balls Falls…at least as I wrote the scene, I pictured my heroine hiking the trail to the upper falls (before the new building). But the picture below is of a falls in the heart of Short Hills Conservation Area, because I couldn’t find a good angle to take a picture of the upper falls.


Don’t those images make you wish you could visit Port Aster? 😉

At the start of June, when Deadly Devotion releases, these photos and more will appear in my “bonus features” for “on location”.

Your Turn: Have you ever been inspired to visit an area you read about it in a novel?


A Poison by Any Other Name Can Still Kill You

Ever wonder how easy it would be to poison someone?

While doing research for my upcoming release, Deadly Devotion, I read about many deaths by poison–some intentional, some not.

Did you know that Jane Austen may have died of arsenic poisoning?

Jane Austen died at the age of 41 and there have been many theories about what caused her early demise. Most recently crime writer Lindsay Ashford, after reading Austen’s journals in which she describes her complexion as “black and white and every wrong color”–much like the raindrop pigmentation caused by arsenic–theorized Austen died of arsenic poisoning. Digging deeper, Ashford learned that a lock of Austen’s hair had been tested and found to contain arsenic.

Of course, if she died of arsenic, it may not have been intentional. Doctor’s dispensed it often in a medicine called Fowler’s Solution for a wide variety of ailments, including rheumatism, an affliction Austen also mentions in her journals. Ashford entertains the idea that it was intentional in her novel, The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen.


Did you know raw elderberries are poisonous?  

Every summer my neighbor treks through the fields to pick the elderberries that grow wild around the hydro towers. These berries are used to make delicious jams and pies, and are harmless once cooked. But don’t eat them raw!

They contain cyanogenic glycoside which causes cyanide poisoning. Definitely not a berry you want to send the kids out to pick for your pie!

Supposedly, if the berry is fully ripe, they are safe to eat and high in vitamin C. Some people juice them, but ensure they’re fully ripe.

Did you know that rhubarb leaves can kill you?

The leaves contain a variety of poisons including oxalic acid. I first read about oxalic acid after experiencing kidney stones. I began juicing and read that those with kidney stones should avoid rhubarb because the oxalic acid metabolizes with Vitamin C which can lead to more stones. Oxalic acid is found in much lower concentrations in the stalks and the levels are considered safe.

But beware of the cook who unwittingly stews the leaves with the stalks! If the meal is eaten, you may find yourself bleeding from the nose and eyes, vomiting, nauseous. Your throat and mouth may burn. You might have difficulty breathing. You could die of cardiac or respiratory failure. Puts a whole new perspective on eating healthy, huh?

Your Turn: Do you have any cautionary poison tales to tell?

Also happening this week:


On Thursday and Friday, I’ll be at The Barn Door Book Loft Stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Deadly Devotion. And please, tell your friends. 😉



photo credit for elderberry pic: Liamfm . via photopin cc

Behind the Scenes – An Unusual Weapon

With less than three weeks until the release of Deadly Devotion, I thought it would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look. 

Ever wonder what weapon you’d grab to defend yourself if you were cornered?

Kate Adams, the main character of Deadly Devotion, is a researcher specializing in herbal medicine. She works with plants every day. She’s surrounded by plants. She knows things about plants you’d never have imagined.

She’s also driven to find out the truth about how her fellow researcher and dear friend really died. And more than one person wants to stop her. 

So what weapon would Kate grab if cornered in her lab?

A cactus?


Or maybe stinging nettle?


myrtle spurge

If you guessed this last plant, you’re right. Do you know what it is?

Here’s the scenario:

She’s alone in her lab when no one should be in the building. She hears approaching footsteps, the scrape of a key in the lock to the only door in or out. She has no idea if the person about to come through the door is friend or foe. She  snaps off a runner of the pictured plant, and praying the juice doesn’t spurt on her fingers, brandishes it against her intruder, who responds:

“What did you plan to do? Whack me with that weed?”

She jabbed the air with it, trying to act playful. “You bet. This baby works way better than pepper spray. Not only will the sap make your eyes and skin sting horribly, it’ll make your face swell fatter than road kill on a hot summer day.” 

“Ni-i-ice.” He shuddered playfully. “Lucky for me I’m your friend.”

But is he???

And what is this strange-looking plant Kate brandishes as a weapon?

At the time I was writing this story, one of my daughter’s fellow horticultural students was thinning out this popular ornamental and got the sap on his hands, and face, and yes, it swelled and stung and was not pretty.

Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t learn from his mistake. The following weekend, while thinning out the same plant from our garden, she got sap squirted in her eyes. Oh yes, it stings!

After flushing them and calling poison control, she ended up going to the doctor’s for a salve to relieve the effects. And…

the scene above was born. 😉

Oh…and in case you were wondering, the plant is called myrtle spurge.

Your Turn: 
What’s the most unusual weapon you’ve read about or could imagine using if someone snuck up on your at work or home?

By the way…  Deadly Devotion is already available for preorder at many online stores at awesome sale prices–prices that often jump once the book releases. Click here for direct links to order Deadly Devotion.

Image of cactus courtesy of thaikrit at   Image of stinging nettle courtesy of BrianHolm at

What’s in a Home?


Welcome to my newly designed website and new blog home. It may not be a castle, but there is plenty of room for people to drop by for a visit. 😉

This is my first time writing in WordPress so I’m still feeling my way around, but I’ve found these cool faces. 🙄

I’m going to have lots of fun playing with those!

I invite you to wander around and explore. One cool new feature, especially for those not on Facebook, is my Facebook posts now stream to the blog. This month I’ve been posting about a lot of one-day free Ebooks as I discover them, so if you have an Ereader, you might like to check it out from time to time.

If you find anything broken or difficult to navigate, please let me know. I have a week to ask my web designer for any changes, so please don’t be shy. And be sure to get lost, you’ll discover the pages I had the most fun creating.

Click here to see what I mean. 😆

Oh, and please test out my comments below. The first time you comment on the blog, it won’t appear right away. I have to moderate all first-time comments to help fight spam. But once you’ve been cleared once…you’re in. 😎

Didn’t I tell you I’d have fun with all those cartoon faces?!

Okay, I need to get back to work, because…I have line edits due tomorrow on Fatal Inheritance and copy edits due Boxing Day on Deadly Devotion. Thankfully they are all minor tweaks, but I like to give each manuscript a final read through since this is my last chance to make any major changes–changes that could be critical to future books in my Port Aster series. For example, I discovered that a character I named Zoe in book one, I started calling Maria in book two. Not good! 😕

Your Turn: What are you up to this week?


Image courtesy of Matt Banks at

Deadly Devotion ~ I’ve got a cover!

Over the next couple of weeks my blog posts may be put on hold as my web designer transitions my blog to my website. Hopefully everything will transition smoothly and those who receive the posts by email or RSS feed will continue to do so after the transition without a glitch.

If weeks go by with no new post…you’ll know it didn’t, and I hope you’ll stop by my website and reconnect. In the meantime, I am sooooo excited to share the cover for the first book in my upcoming series with Revell~June 2013.

What do you think? Does it make you want to take a second look?

Here’s the blurb:

Research scientist Kate Adams and her colleague Daisy are on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy suddenly dies. Kate knows that if it hadn’t been for Daisy’s mentorship, she wouldn’t have the job she loves or the faith she clings to. So when police rule Daisy’s death a suicide, Kate is determined to unearth the truth.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker finds it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gives him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom’s just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation of her friend’s death, he knows his job is at stake. In fact, despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate looks a bit suspicious herself.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?

Hooked yet? I hope so. ~smiling~

I’m working on the second book in the series now…

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!