Tag Archives: Juliet Blackwell

A day in the life of Mel Turner, Historic Home Renovator by Juliet Blackwell

Most days I grab my coffee with own hand and my toolbox with the other, call for my big brown dog, and head into San Francisco to work on some great old Victorian house. But lately, I’ve taken on a new challenge: restoring a historic lighthouse located on a tiny, secluded island in the Bay.

I couldn’t say no. I run a construction crew, and while I adore bringing all historic structures back to life — I’ve been accused of finding charm in even the most dubious, dilapidated hovels– Victorians are my clear favorite. My friend Alicia wants to transform the building into a cozy inn. And this is a lighthouse.

What is it about lighthouses. . .? They carry such a sense of romance and yearning; the wild natural setting, the solitude of the keeper’s life, the promise of safety for passing sailors. This particular lighthouse had been slowly crumbling ever since I was a kid; we used to pass over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and my dad would look over at the island and say: “Someone really ought to fix that place up.”

Little did I know that one day, that “someone” would be me.

One problem: I seem to have developed a teensy issue with heights since my last adventure, during which I fought for my life while rolling around on a steep roof, barely escaping being dashed against a Pacific Heights sidewalk several stories below. So there’s that.

My friend Luz has been pushing me to try acupuncture, since acrophobia isn’t something that meshes well with my current job. After all, I climb ladders and crawl around roofs for a living. And now that I’m supposed to be working on a lighthouse. . .well, I haven’t exactly managed to climb the light tower yet. Which isn’t very professional of me.

Also. . .it seems that there may be a ghost up in that tower. (Wasn’t a ghost practically guaranteed, given that this is a lighthouse?) The apparently angry spirit seems to be searching for a very young boy lost many, many years ago. Also, there appear to be folks looking for buried treasure hidden somewhere on the island, and when Alicia’s violent ex-husband shows up “just to say hi”, we know we’re in trouble.

To finish this Lighthouse Inn project on time and on budget –not to mention appeasing the resident ghost and solving a murder– I’ll have to figure it all out. Good thing I’ve got Dog at my side.


You can read more about Mel in Ghostly Light, the seventh book in the “Haunted Home Renovation” mystery series.

In the latest mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Give Up the Ghost, it will take a beacon of ghostly intervention to guide contractor Mel Turner to the truth. . .

Dangerous tides ahead. . .

When her friend Alicia hires Turner Construction to renovate a historic lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay, Mel Turner can’t wait to get her hands dirty. Alicia plans to transform the island property into a welcoming inn, and while Mel has never attempted a project so ambitious—or so tall—before, she’s definitely up for the challenge.

But trouble soon arises when Alicia’s abusive ex-husband shows up to threaten both her and Mel, and later turns up dead at the base of the lighthouse stairs. With no other suspects in sight, things start looking choppy for Alicia. Now, if Mel wants to clear her friend’s name, she’ll need the help of the lighthouse’s resident ghosts to shine a light on the real culprit. . .

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About the author
Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series, in which an ex-art forger attempts to go straight as a faux finisher. She also writes standalone novels, including The Paris Key and Letters from Paris. A former anthropologist, social worker, and faux finisher, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

Visit her at www.julietblackwell.net and join her on Facebook and on Twitter at @JulietBlackwell.

All comments are welcomed.

Buy Link

My Musing ~ A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell

A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell is the 8th book in the Witchcraft mystery series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, July 2016

A Toxic TrousseauThe New York Times bestselling author of Spellcasting in Silk continues as witch and vintage boutique owner Lily Ivory cracks open a Pandora’s box when she investigates some alarming apparel.

Even the most skilled sorceress can’t ward off a lawsuit, and Lily is not at her enchanting best with her hands full as the temporary leader of San Francisco’s magical community. So after her potbellied pig Oscar head-butts rival clothier Autumn Jennings, Lily tries to make peace without a costly personal injury case.

But any hope of a quiet resolution is shattered when Autumn turns up dead. As one of the prime suspects, Lily searches for a way to clear her name and discovers a cursed trousseau among Autumn’s recently acquired inventory. Lily must deal with a mysterious dogwalker and spend the night in a haunted house as she delves into the trunk’s treacherous past. She’s got to figure out who wanted to harm Autumn fast, before the curse claims another victim. . .

This is an enjoyable story that quickly became a page-turner as I had to know what happened next and the author did a splendid job in keeping me engaged in all the activities that occurred on the pages. The mystery was done to perfection that put me right there with Lily as she began her own investigation into the murder. Loved all the complexity and twists and turns that enhanced the telling of this tale and where each character played a pivotal role in the outcome of this delightfully charming drama.

Author Showcase ~ A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell

A Toxic Trousseau

Release: July 2016
Series: Witchcraft #8
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Random House

The New York Times bestselling author of Spellcasting in Silk continues as witch and vintage boutique owner Lily Ivory cracks open a Pandora’s box when she investigates some alarming apparel. . .

Even the most skilled sorceress can’t ward off a lawsuit, and Lily is not at her enchanting best with her hands full as the temporary leader of San Francisco’s magical community. So after her potbellied pig Oscar head-butts rival clothier Autumn Jennings, Lily tries to make peace without a costly personal injury case.

But any hope of a quiet resolution is shattered when Autumn turns up dead. As one of the prime suspects, Lily searches for a way to clear her name and discovers a cursed trousseau among Autumn’s recently acquired inventory. Lily must deal with a mysterious dogwalker and spend the night in a haunted house as she delves into the trunk’s treacherous past. She’s got to figure out who wanted to harm Autumn fast, before the curse claims another victim. . .


Chapter One

Small business owners have their morning routines. Some people switch on the lights, brew a cup of coffee, and read the paper before engaging with the day. Some count out the money in the register and tidy up the merchandise. Some sweep and hose down the front walk.

Each morning before opening my vintage clothing store, Aunt Cora’s Closet, I sprinkle salt water widdershins, smudge sage deosil, and light a white candle while chanting a spell of protection.

Such spells can be powerful, and for a small business owner like me they serve an important purpose: to help customers maintain their composure in the face of fashion frustrations, keep evil intentions at bay, and discourage those with sticky fingers from rummaging through the feather boas, chiffon prom dresses, and silk evening gowns and then trying to shove said items into pockets or backpacks or under shirts.

But protection spells aren’t much good against litigation.

“Lily Ivory?” asked the petite, somber young woman who entered Aunt Cora’s Closet, a neon yellow motorcycle helmet under one arm. She had dark hair and eyes, and I imagined she would have been pretty had she smiled. But her expression was dour.

“Yes?” I asked, looking up from a list of receipts.

She held out a manila envelope. “You have been served.”

“Served?”

“You are hereby notified of a lawsuit against you, Aunt Cora’s Closet, and one errant pig, name unknown. By the by, not that it’s any of my business, but is it even legal to own livestock in the city?”

I cast a glare in the direction of said pig, my witch’s familiar, Oscar. At least, I tried to, but he’d disappeared. Only moments earlier Oscar had been snoozing on his hand-embroidered purple silk pillow, resting up for a busy day of trying to poke his snout under the dressing room curtains while customers tried on vintage cocktail dresses, fringed leather jackets, and Jackie O pillbox hats. Now only the slight rustling of a rack of 1980s spangled prom dresses revealed his location.

“My pig’s being served with legal papers?”

“Not so much your pig, as you. Your property, your worry. At least, that’s how it works with dogs, so I assume . . .” The woman trailed off with an officious shrug as she headed for the front door with long strides, already pulling on her helmet. “But that isn’t any of my business; I just deliver the bad news. Have a nice day.”

“Wait—”

She didn’t pause. I followed her outside, where someone was revving the engine of a large black motorcycle. The woman jumped on the back and they zoomed off.

“Duuude,” said Conrad, the homeless young man who slept in nearby Golden Gate Park and spent the better part of his days “guarding” the curb outside of my store. In San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, many young homeless people lived this way, panhandling and scrounging and generally referring to themselves as “gutter punks.” Over the past year, Conrad—or as he liked to call himself, “The Con”—had become a friend and the unofficial guardian of Aunt Cora’s Closet. “You get served?”

“Apparently so,” I said, opening the envelope to find some scary-looking legal-sized documents filled with legalese, such as “party of the first part.”

My heart sank as I put two and two together. My friend Bronwyn, who rents space in my store for her herbal stand, had filled me in on an incident that took place a couple of weeks ago while I was out scouting garage sales for resaleable treasure. It seems a woman came into the shop and started flicking through the merchandise, pronouncing it “unsuitable—too much of that dreadful ready-to-wear.” Bronwyn had explained to her that Aunt Cora’s Closet doesn’t deal in high-end vintage; our merchandise consists mostly of wearable clothes, with the occasional designer collectibles. The woman then turned to my employee Maya and started grilling her about the ins and outs of the store, making none-too-subtle inquiries about where we obtained our specialty stock.

Oscar started getting in the customer’s way, making a pest of himself and keeping her away from the clothes. Bronwyn tried to call him off, but he kept at it, almost as though he was trying to herd her toward the exit. Finally the woman picked a parasol off a nearby shelf and started whacking Oscar, and there was a scuffle.

The woman had screamed and flailed, lost her balance, and fell back into a rack of colorful swing dresses. Maya and Bronwyn hastily extricated her, made sure she was all right, and offered profuse apologies. The woman had seemed fine at the time, they both said, and she stomped out of the store in high dudgeon.

But if I was reading the legal papers correctly, the woman—named Autumn Jennings—was now claiming she had been “head-butted” by an “unrestrained pig,” had been injured in the “attack,” and was demanding compensation.

It was a mystery. Oscar had never herded—much less head-butted—anyone in Aunt Cora’s Closet before. He wasn’t the violent type. In fact, apart from a few occasions when he intervened to save my life, Oscar was more the “let’s eat grilled cheese and take a nap” type.

He was also my witch’s familiar, albeit an unusual one. Oscar was a shape-shifter who assumed the form of a miniature Vietnamese potbellied pig when around cowans—regular, nonmagical humans. Around me, his natural form was sort of a cross between a goblin and a gargoyle. A gobgoyle, for lack of a better word. His was a lineage about which I didn’t want to think too hard.

“Bad vibes, Dude,” Conrad said with a sage nod. “Been there. Dude, I hate being served.”

“You’ve been served?” I asked. Conrad was in his early twenties and lived such a vagabond existence it was hard to imagine why anyone would bother to sue him. I could easily imagine his being picked up by police in a sweep of the local homeless population, but how would a process server even know where to find Conrad to serve him papers?

He nodded. “Couple times. But at least yours arrived on a Ducati. That’s a nice bike.”

“What did you—” My question was cut off by the approach of none other than Aidan Rhodes, witchy godfather to San Francisco’s magical community. His golden hair gleamed in the sun, a beautifully tailored sports jacket hugged his tall frame, and a leather satchel was tucked under one strong arm. As he strolled down Haight Street with his signature graceful glide, strangers stopped to stare. Aidan’s aura glittered so brilliantly that even nonsensitive people noticed, though they didn’t realize what they were reacting to.

This is all I need.

I girded my witchy loins.

Things between Aidan and me were . . . complicated. Not long ago I’d stolen something from Aidan, and I still owed him. And when it comes to debts, we witches are a little like elephants, bookies, and the Internet: We never forget. Even worse, Aidan feared San Francisco was shaping up to be ground zero in some sort of big magical showdown, and he wanted me to stand with him for the forces of good. Or, at the very least, for the good of Aidan Rhodes. It was hard to say exactly what was going on—and exactly what role I was willing to play in it—since the threat was frustratingly nonspecific, and Aidan played his cards infuriatingly close to his chest.

“Good morning,” Aidan said as he joined us. “Conrad, it’s been too long. How have you been?”

Despite their vastly different circumstances and lifestyles, Aidan treated Conrad with the respect due a peer. His decency sort of ticked me off. My life would be simpler if I could dismiss Aidan as an arrogant, power-hungry witch beyond redemption. His kindness toward my friend was difficult to reconcile with that image.

The two men exchanged pleasantries, chatting about the beauty of Golden Gate Park when bathed in morning dew and sunshine, and whether the Giants had a shot at the pennant this year. And then Aidan turned his astonishing, periwinkle blue gaze on me, sweeping me from head to foot.

Suddenly self-conscious, I smoothed the full skirt of my sundress.

“And Lily . . . Stunning as always. I do like that color on you. It’s as joyful as the first rays of dawn.”

“Thank you,” I said, blushing and avoiding his eyes. The dress was an orangey gold cotton with a pink embroidered neckline and hem, circa 1962, and I had chosen it this morning precisely because it reminded me of a sunrise. “Aren’t you just the sweet talker.”

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” my mama used to tell me. Did this mean I was the fly and Aidan the fly catcher?

“Is everything all right?” Aidan asked. “Am I sensing trouble? Beyond the norm, I mean.”

“Dude, Lily just got served,” Conrad said.

“Served? I fear we aren’t speaking of breakfast.”

“A lawsuit,” I clarified.

“Ah. What a shame. Whatever happened?”

“Oscar head-butted a customer.”

“That’s . . . unusual.” Aidan had given me Oscar and knew him well. “Was this person badly injured?”

“I wasn’t there when it happened, but according to Bronwyn and Maya the customer seemed fine. But now she’s claiming she sustained ‘serious and debilitating neck and back injuries that hinder her in the completion of her work and significantly reduce her quality of life,’” I said, quoting from the document I still clutched tightly in my hand.

“That sounds most distressing. Might I offer my services in finding a resolution?”

“No. No, thank you.” The only thing worse than being slapped with a slip-and-fall lawsuit—the boogeyman of every small business owner—was being even more beholden to Aidan Rhodes than I already was. Besides . . . I wasn’t sure what he meant by “finding a resolution.” Aidan was one powerful witch. If he got involved, Autumn Jennings might very well wind up walking around looking like a frog.

“You’re sure?” Aidan asked. “These personal injury lawsuits can get nasty—and expensive, even if you win. As much as I hate to say it, you may have some liability here. Is it even legal to have a pig in the city limits?”

“Don’t worry about it; I’ve got it handled,” I said, not wishing to discuss the matter any further with him. “Was there some reason in particular you stopped by?”

Aidan grinned, sending sparkling rays of light dancing in the morning breeze. He really was the most astounding man.

“I was hoping we might have a moment to talk,” he said. “About business.”

My stomach clenched. Time to face the music. I did owe him, after all. “Of course, come on in.”

The door to Aunt Cora’s Closet tinkled as we went inside, and Bronwyn fluttered out from the back room, cradling Oscar to her ample chest. She was dressed in billows of purple gauze, and a garland of wildflowers crowned her frizzy brown hair. Bronwyn was a fifty-something Wiccan, and one of the first—and very best—friends I had made upon my arrival in the City by the Bay not so very long ago.

“Hello, Aidan! So wonderful to see you again!” she gushed.

“Bronwyn, you light up this shop like fireworks on the Fourth of July.”

“Oh, you do go on.” She waved her hand but gave him a flirtatious smile. “But, Lily! Our little Oscaroo is very upset, poor thing! Maybe it has something to do with the woman with the motorcycle helmet who was just here—what was that about?”

“She was serving Lily with legal papers,” said Aidan.

Legal papers?” Bronwyn asked as Oscar hid his snout under her arm. “For what?”

“Remember when Oscar”—I cast about for the right word—“harassed a woman a couple of weeks ago?”

Oscar snorted.

“Of course, naughty little tiny piggy pig pig,” Bronwyn said in a crooning baby voice. “But I have to say, she really was bothering all of us. But . . . she’s suing you? Seriously?”

I nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

“Well, now, that’s just bad karma,” Bronwyn said with a frown.

“You said she wasn’t hurt, though, right?”

“She was fine!” Bronwyn insisted. “She fell into the rack of swing dresses. You know how poofy those dresses are—there’s enough crinolines in the skirts to cushion an NFL linebacker, and she’s, what, a hundred pounds soaking wet? I saw her just the other day, when I brought her some of my special caramel-cherry-spice maté tea and homemade corn-cherry scones, and she seemed fine. As a matter of fact, when I arrived she was up on a ladder, and she certainly didn’t seem to have any back or neck injuries. She was a little under the weather, but it was a cold or the flu.”

“When was this?”

“Day before yesterday, I think . . . I thought I should make the effort, since you weren’t even here when it happened. I just wanted to tell her I was sorry.”

“How did you know where to find her?”

“She left her business card. . . .” Bronwyn trailed off as she peeked behind her herbal counter. “I have it around here somewhere. Turns out, she’s a rival vintage clothing store owner, which explains why she was so interested. Her place is called Vintage Visions Glad Rags, over off Buchanan.”

“Really. That is interesting. What’s it like?”

“Very nice inventory, but if you ask me not nearly as warm and inviting as Aunt Cora’s Closet. She had some ball gowns that I’m sure were from the nineteenth century. But those are more museum pieces than anything someone would actually wear. The whole place was too snooty for my taste, by half. And expensive! Too rich for my blood.”

“Did anything happen while you were there? Did she say anything in particular?”

Bronwyn frowned in thought, then shook her head. “Nothing at all. She didn’t seem particularly bowled over by my gift basket, but she accepted it. But like I say, she told me she was a little under the weather, so maybe that accounts for her mood. She did have a very sweet dog, and I always say a pet lover is never irredeemable.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said, blowing out a breath. “If you think of anything else, please let me know. Aidan and I are going to talk in the back for a moment.”

“I’ll keep an eye on things,” Bronwyn said, lugging Oscar over to her herbal stand for a treat. Oscar was a miniature pig, but he was still a porker.

In the back room Aidan and I sat down at my old jade green Formica-topped table. I bided my time and waited for Aidan to speak first. In witch circles, simply asking “What may I help you with?” can open up a dangerous can of worms.

“I have to leave town for a little while,” he said.

“Really?” Even though I knew perfectly well that he had lived elsewhere in the past, including when he’d worked with the father who had abandoned me, in my mind Aidan was so associated with San Francisco that it was hard to imagine him in any other locale. “How long do you think you’ll be gone?”

“And here I was rather hoping you would beg me to stay,” he said in a quiet voice, his gaze holding mine.

“Far be it from me to dictate to the likes of Aidan Rhodes.”

He smiled. “In any case, I need a favor.”

Uh-oh.

“First,” he said, “I’ll need you to keep tabs on Selena.”

Selena was a talented but troubled teenage witch who had come into my life recently. She reminded me of myself at her age: socially awkward and dangerously magical.

I clenched my teeth. It wasn’t Aidan’s place to tell me to watch over Selena; she needed all of us with whom she had grown close. But it was true that Aidan and I had both been helping her to train her powers. In her case, as in mine, the biggest challenge was learning to keep control over her emotions and her magic in general. But even as he was asking me to partner with him, Aidan still fancied himself the head of the local magical community—me included. It was very annoying.

“Of course,” I said. “I have been.”

“Of course,” Aidan repeated. “And Oscar can come in handy with that as well.”

I concentrated on reining in my irritation. It wouldn’t do to send something flying, which sometimes happened when I lost my temper. Proving that Selena and I weren’t that far apart in some areas of our development.

“You’re not Oscar’s master anymore,” I pointed out.

He nodded slowly. “So true. Alas, I will leave that in your more than capable hands, then. Also while I’m gone I need you to fill in for me and adjudicate a few issues. Nothing too strenuous.”

“Beg pardon?”

He handed me a heavy, well-worn leather satchel tied with a black ribbon. “You’re always so curious about what I do for the local witchcraft community. Now’s your chance to find out.”

“I never said I wanted to find out. I’m really perfectly happy being in the dark.”

Aidan smiled. “Why do I find that hard to believe? In any event, find out you shall.”

I sighed. As curious as I was about Aidan’s world, I hesitated to be drawn into it. However, I was in his debt and the bill had come due. “Fine. I’m going to need more information, though. What all is involved in ‘adjudicating issues’?”

He shrugged. “Little of this, little of that. Mostly it means keeping an eye on things, making sure nothing gets out of hand. Handling disputes, assisting with certifications . . . Valuable job skills that really beef up the résumé, you’ll see.”

“Uh-huh,” I said, skeptical. At the moment I didn’t need a more impressive résumé. I needed a lawyer. “What kind of certifications?”

“Fortune-tellers and necromancers must be licensed in the city and county of San Francisco. Surely your good friend Inspector Romero has mentioned this at some point.”

“He has, but since I’m neither a fortune-teller nor a necromancer I didn’t pay much attention. So that’s what you do? Help people fill out forms down at City Hall? Surely—”

“It’s all terribly glamorous, isn’t it? Resolving petty squabbles, unraveling paperwork snafus . . . The excitement never ends,” he said with another smile. “But it’s necessary work, and you’re more than qualified to handle it while I’m gone. You’ll find everything you need in there.”

I opened the satchel and took a peek. Inside were what appeared to be hundreds of signed notes written on ancient parchment, a business card with the mayor’s cell phone number written on the back in pencil, and a jangly key ring. I pulled out the keys: One was an old-fashioned skeleton key, but the others were modern and, I assumed, unlocked his office at the recently rebuilt wax museum. “Aidan, what are . . . ?”

I looked up, but Aidan was gone, his departure marked by a slight sway of the curtains. Letting out a loud sigh of exasperation, I grumbled, “I swear, that man moves like a vampire.”

“Vampire?” Bronwyn poked her head through the curtains, Oscar still in her arms. “Are we worried about vampires now?”

“No, no, of course not,” I assured her as I closed the satchel and stashed it under the workroom table. “Sorry—just talking to myself.”

“Oh, thank the goddess!” said Bronwyn, and set Oscar down. Whenever Aidan was around, Oscar became excited to the point of agitation, and his little hooves clicked on the wooden planks of the floor as he hopped around. “Never a dull moment at Aunt Cora’s Closet.”

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About the author
Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Key. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series. A former anthropologist, social worker, and professional artist, Juliet is a California native who has spent time in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of A Toxic Trousseau. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end July 7, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Genevieve Martin by Juliet Blackwell

The Paris KeyNot long ago, a typical day in Genevieve Martin’s life changed pretty dramatically. After discovering her husband was having an affair, and then her beloved uncle passed away, Genevieve made an impulsive, life-altering decision: to move to Paris and take over her late uncle’s locksmith shop in the Village Saint Paul, in the 4th arrondisement of Paris.

It was a radical move, and every day Genevieve wonders whether she was crazy for relocating to a foreign country. But then, this being Paris, she usually gets distracted by amazing food or beautiful locales.

In her new home in Paris, Genevieve wakes up and throws open her windows to the cobblestone courtyard that houses a number of neighboring antiques shops. She musters her courage to try to speak French, and greets her neighbors and passersby, many of whom are strolling with fresh flowers or baguettes in hand.

Then Genevieve usually heads out to her favorite boulangerie to buy her own fresh baguettes – and perhaps a pain au chocolat (a mouth-watering chocolate croissant) – from her new Parisian friend, Sylviane. Sylviane complains to Genevieve about her five brothers, none of whom want to go into the family business, which leaves her saddled with the bakery and forever smelling like fresh bread. Not that that’s a bad thing, Genevieve tells her.

Afterward, Genevieve grabs her uncle’s old leather satchel full of locksmithing tools and makes house calls, opening a few locked doors, replacing antique locks, and installing security bars. Genevieve learned her trade at her uncle’s knee when she came to visit him as a teenager, not long after her mother died. For years, back in the US, she bought old locks at thrift stores and practiced opening them as a form of meditation. But now she’s taken over her uncle’s role as neighborhood locksmith, which allows her to peek into ancient stone homes and to get to know her Parisian neighbors.

Lunch is a falafel-stuffed pita from the Rue des Rosiers, or perhaps a sandwich from a cart – though, this being Paris, the simple bread filled with a little butter and ham is scrumptious. She eats in the Place des Vosges, one of the few plazas where people are invited to lounge on the cool lawn –usually in Paris people are asked to keep off the grass. A violinist plays in one corner, taking advantage of the acoustics of the covered walk’s vaulted ceiling. Genevieve likes to think about all the activities that have taken place in this town square over the years; especially the fact that Victor Hugo –-author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame– used to live right here, at apartment number 6.

In the afternoon, Genevieve might make a key for one of the clients who stop by the tiny locksmith shop – no bigger than a closet—on the Rue Saint Paul. Or she might continue the never-ending job of sorting through her uncle and aunt’s things in their little apartment behind the shop. Their daughter, Catharine, is now a therapist on the other side of town, near Montmartre. Catharine rarely comes back to the Village Saint Paul. Genevieve isn’t sure why, but she understands that family dynamics are complex. She’s happy to do her cousin this favor, and enjoys looking through the scraps and papers and antiques.

Finally, in the evening, a handsome Irishman named Killian stops by for something called “apero”—a little drink and snack before dinner. Killian’s a photographer, and if he can talk Genevieve into a little adventure they might well go down to explore the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris, or perhaps to visit an abandoned Chateau in the Loire Valley, just to see what they find.

Because for Genevieve Martin a “Day in the Life” in Paris is always a surprise.

About The Paris Key
An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.

As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, September 7th for your chance to win a print copy of The Paris Key. (US entries only, please.)

About the author
Juliet Blackwell’s latest novel is about a woman who takes over her uncle’s locksmith shop in Paris and discovers family secrets, entitled The Paris Key. Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling Juliet Blackwellauthor of the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. As Hailey Lind, she wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

Visit her at www.julietblackwell.net, join her on Facebook (JulietBlackwellAuthor) and on Twitter @JulietBlackwell

My Musing ~ The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell

The Paris KeyThe Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell, published by NAL Trade Paperback Original, September 2015

An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.

As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.

I like it. This is wonderfully-crafted story of a woman’s journey of self-discovery. I enjoyed seeing Paris, one of my favorite international cities, through the eyes of Genevieve and the author. The visualization, the mystery, the drama, the romance, just about everything was perfectly woven into the pages of this narrative that was so heartfelt that it warmed my heart as the book neared its finale. Juliet Blackwell’s treatment of this story left me hungry for more from this talented author.

A Day in the Life of Mel Turner by Juliet Blackwell

Keeper of the CastleOccupation: Home Renovation Specialist and up-and-coming Ghostbuster

First things first: as soon as I get up (which is eeeaaaaarly, since I’m in construction), I make myself a really good cup of strong French Roast. Then I feed Dog, a perpetually hungry former stray lab mix who I kept meaning to find a home for…until he decided this home would do quite nicely, thank you very much, and that he didn’t care to leave. Meanwhile, I fight off increasingly strident offers of breakfast from my Dad, who believes my refusal to eat breakfast is some sort of unhealthy teenage rebellion (no use telling him that I haven’t been a teenager for a good couple of decades).

Then I check in with our office manager Stan Tomassi, at the home office of Turner Construction. Dad started Turner Construction long ago, and my sisters and I were quite literally raised on a series of building sites. So a couple of years ago, when I went through a difficult divorce, abandoned my PhD in anthropology, and my mom passed away suddenly, I found myself back home and running Turner Construction (“temporarily”) for my grief-stricken father. He never came back to work, and now I’m General Manager, whether I wanted the position or not.

I hit the road by 6:30, usually with Dog by my side (he used to be carsick, but we’ve been working on the problem so he can visit sites with me). As General, I’m in charge of several different sites in various states of repair (or disrepair): everything from exploratory meetings with clients, to signing contracts, to pushing papers through City Hall, to actual construction and historic renovation – which is the best part of my job. I also get to look through junk stores and antique shops for parts to restore old homes – what’s not fun about that?

Lately, I’m working on rebuilding a medieval monastery out of ancient stones brought over from a Scottish Isle. It seems Ellis Elrich, the mysterious, wealthy CEO of a motivational empire, wants to turn the complex of buildings into a state-of-the-art retreat center in beautiful Marin County.

Only trouble is…he may have accidentally imported a ghost (or two) along with the stones. So now, not only do I have to figure out how to drill and reinforce a stone building in earthquake-prone Northern California (lots of rebar) and how to update it with modern conveniences like plumbing and electricity and technology, but also how to make peace with a couple of extremely confused entities who don’t recognize where they are. International (and time) travel can be very disorienting….

The good (and bad?) news is that rather than commuting all the way from Oakland, Mr. Elrich has invited me to stay at his fabulous house, right up the hill from the building site. The house needs a little work, but it includes a pool and a sauna and a 24-hour snack bar chock-full of organic delicacies prepared by a famous French chef. And Dog is welcome, too – he especially likes loping around the big field between the house and the ruins.

If only the eerie sound of a ghost flute didn’t float up the hill every night, disturbing my sleep. And when a building inspector is killed and someone I care about is attacked, all bets are off. I’m going to figure out what’s going on in this ancient monastery, if it kills me.

Just another Day in the Life of Mel Turner, contractor and (sometimes) ghostbuster.


You can read more about Mel in Keeper of the Castle, the 5th book in the “Haunted Home Renovation” mystery series, published by Obsidian. The first book in the series is If Walls Could Talk.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 22 for the chance to win a copy of KEEPER OF THE CASTLE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series, featuring a powerful witch with a vintage clothes store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. She also writes the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series, about a failed anthropologist who reluctantly takes over her father’s high-end construction company…and finds ghosts behind the walls. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series, in which an ex-art forger attempts to go straight as a faux finisher. She is currently working on a novel about a woman who takes over her uncle’s locksmith shop in Paris, entitled The Paris Key. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.

Visit her at www.julietblackwell.net, join her on Facebook (JulietBlackwellAuthor) and on Twitter @JulietBlackwell

Short and Quick Reviews

Crime RibCrime Rib by Leslie Budewitz is the second book in the “Food Lover’s Village” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, July 2014

I love the pace and the comfortable tone of this light fare filled with delicious food to savor and a mystery to solve. The main characters are back and this one kept me glued to the pages, as I had to know who did what to whom.


Cookies and ScreamCookies and Scream by Virginia Lowell is the fifth book in the “Cookie Cutter Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, July 2014

This was an enjoyable read that entertained and kept me engaged from beginning to end with a good mystery that quickly became a page-turner.


Grace Against the ClockGrace Against The Clock by Julie Hyzy is the fifth book in the “Manor House” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, July 2014

This is another great read from Julie Hyzy in a series that continues to shine with a cast of characters that have their own idiosyncrasies that plays in this strong showing.


A Vision in VelvetA Vision in Velvet by Juliet Blackwell is the sixth book in the “Witchcraft” mystery series.  Publisher: Obsidian, July 2014

This series gets better and better with each book and I’m glad. This was a great read and fun as well. I enjoy the interaction and dialogue among this great cast of characters. A good mystery that quickly became a page-turner. I look forward to the next book in this magically delightful series.


Terminal CityTerminal City by Linda Fairstein is the 16th book in the “Alexander Cooper” thriller series. Publisher: Dutton, June 2014

I love this book. The suspense kept me turning the pages and the banter between Mercer and Coop and Coop and Mike kept me entertained. I also love how Linda uses NYC as the backdrop and with this one gave us an inside look at Grand Central Terminal. Keep up the good work and I look forward to the next adventures with Mercer, Coop and Mike.

Home For The Haunting by Juliet Blackwell

Home For the HauntingHome For The Haunting by Juliet Blackwell is the fourth book in the “Haunted Home Renovation” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, December 2013

No good deed goes unpunished.

San Francisco contractor Mel Turner is leading a volunteer home renovation project, and while she expects lots of questions from her inexperienced crew, she can’t help asking a few of her own—especially about the haunted house next door…the place local kids call the Murder House.

But when volunteers discover a body while cleaning out a shed, questions pile up faster than discarded lumber. Mel notices signs of ghostly activity next door and she wonders: Are the Murder House ghosts reaching out to her for help, or has the house claimed another victim?

Now, surprised to find herself as the SFPD’s unofficial “ghost consultant,” Mel must investigate murders both past and present before a spooky killer finishes another job.

This was a good read that pulled me in immediately. The mystery was very interesting with a some twists and turns that kept me turning the pages. It was fun watching the dynamics of Mel and her family and I was pleased to see her relationship with Graham advancing. Boasting a good plot, good dialogue and a lovable cast of characters, this fast-paced read was entertaining and I look forward to the next book in this enjoyable series.

A Day in the Life of Aidan Rhodes by Juliet Blackwell

Tarnished_and_TornAidan Rhodes is the mysterious, “godfather”–like figure in the Witchcraft Mystery Series; he’s also a very powerful witch. Lily Ivory – the series protagonist– is never quite sure where Aidan’s loyalties lie, or whether or not he can be trusted. Perhaps if we follow him around for a day…

AR: A day in my life, you ask? That’s a tough one. Someone like me has to keep a lot of balls in the air…luckily I’m good at juggling. There’s my own work to attend to, of course, but more importantly I must keep track of all the magic folk here in the Bay Area. If you let them run rampant, it’s a recipe for disaster. Believe me, I know whereof I speak.

I can’t let on about where I actually live – that’s a well-guarded secret. Suffice it to say that I used to go every day to my office at the San Francisco Wax Museum—second floor, past the Chamber of Horrors, right behind the European Explorers exhibit. You might have visited the museum but not noticed my office door; I’ve cast a glamour upon it so you’d only be able to see it if you had an appointment.

I loved having my office at the Wax Museum; I got a real kick out of all those overgrown poppets –stand-ins for humans, life-sized voodoo dolls if you will. They put people on edge and off-kilter, which was very much to my advantage when they come for a visit. It opens the portals, makes it easier for me to manipulate or to “suggest” things to them. But not long ago, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to move into temporary quarters at the Ferry Building. I…don’t particularly like to talk about that unpleasant incident.

Anyway, when I arrive at my office –wherever that may be – I am greeted by my witch’s familiar, Noctemus, a lovely cat with long hair as white as snow. Noctemus is smart, pretty, and jealous, and every once in a while she shows her claws. In fact, she reminds me of another female in my life…Lily Ivory, the talented daughter of a beleaguered former colleague of mine. Lily intrigues me…but again, I should save that story for another day.

My office is decked out in high Victorian style because, after all, if you’re going to be a practicing witch in San Francisco, it seems the thing to do. Lots of dark woods and ruby-red velvet. Important to keep up appearances, after all. Some of my clients are very important people: respected politicians, business moguls, famous actors, and the like. They need to understand that I’m a professional, however unorthodox my methods might seem.

On my shelves are dozens of grimoires, books on demonology, and encyclopedias of magic. Like many of my ilk, I don’t trust the internet – that cybermonster in a box will wind up taking down civilization, you mark my words. Besides, books contain information one might never find on the web, since they carry with them the history not only of the author, but of all those who have held and read the book before. I also possess many a magical Book of Shadows, forfeited to me by their owners who have had…difficulties. Again, the less said, the better.

I hate to disappoint anyone who expects someone as handsome and urbane as I to be out on frequent romantic adventures, but the truth is that I spend a great deal of my time in quiet study and reflection. Because of an accident some years ago, I am forced to horde my energy in order to maintain glamours over my surroundings, and myself. It’s hard to explain…suffice it to say that when I use the term “glamour”, I am referring to a particular kind of cloaking magic, not the pictures one might see in a fashion magazine.

Still, nary a day goes by that I don’t have to intervene in some magical brouhaha or another in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently, the frustrating, thorn-in-my-side witch I mentioned earlier –Lily Ivory—needed help with a certain family member come to town, trailing with him a dangerous man in a sharkskin suit and wingtips. What a fiasco. All I can say is, if I hadn’t been on top of things, we’d all be in some serious trouble.

But does Lily understand that? Much less thank me for it? I think not. I am a man among men, but apparently my lot is to be taken for granted and underappreciated. I’m used to it, and it doesn’t usually gall me…but with Lily, well…I have a soft spot for that little witch.

Ah yes, back to a day in my life. At the end of a long day at the office spent in quiet divination, spell-casting, and meetings–my client list is a well-kept secret—I usually go to some function or another: banquets, balls, big to-do’s. This is my weak spot, perhaps: I’m a night owl, and I simply can’t resist the opportunity to don my formal attire. I do look splendid in a tuxedo, if I say so myself.

If you don’t believe me, ask Noctemus. She’ll be on watch, as always, over the door of my office.


Juliet is giving away one (1) copy of either TARNISHED AND TORN or another book in the series if you’re new to the series. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends July 24; US entries only.


You can read more about Aidan in Tarnished and Torn, the fourth book in the “Witchcraft” mystery series. The first book in the series is Secondhand Spirits.

Meet the author
Juliet Blackwell is the NYT bestselling author of the Haunted Home Renovation mystery series (If Walls Could Talk, Dead Bolt, Murder on the House) and the Witchcraft mystery series (Secondhand Spirits, A Cast-off Coven, Hexes and Hemlines, In a Witch’s Wardrobe, and Tarnished and Torn ). As Hailey Lind, Juliet penned the Art Lover’s Mystery series, including Agatha-nominated Feint of Art. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked and studied in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France. She now lives in a happily haunted house in Oakland, California, where she is a muralist and portrait painter. She was a two-term president of Northern California Sisters in Crime. Visit Juliet at www.julietblackwell.net; on Facebook and Twitter

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.