Thursday, October 22, 2020

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Lost in Lavender by Lise McClendon

Lost in Lavender         

Lost In Lavender

(mystery/women’s fiction) 
 Release date: October 15, 2020 
 254 pages


Facing a crossroads– both career and personal– the youngest of the five Bennett Sisters, Elise, does what she does best: she runs away to think. This time she runs to a farm in Provence that produces heaven-scented lavender for oils. The area is famous for the beautiful purple flower, the symbol of this southern region of France. Her sisters are stumped. Elise never seemed like the farming type, or even gardening, for that matter. But she’s signed up for a farm stay vacation, an idea she got from an unlikely source, the trophy wife of one of her law partners. When she arrives, courtesy her older sister Merle who drives her to the Luberon from the Dordogne, she discovers she is the only guest at the picturesque family farm who is not a college student. The rest are all doing a French language exchange program and are 20 years younger than Elise, leaving her feeling like an outsider and wondering about her life choices. Not only is her judgment in men and careers awful, but she can’t even plan a decent vacation. Meanwhile in the Dordogne, Merle’s niece, Willow, arrives for some R&R before she starts law school. But she brings a few surprises with her, a boyfriend plus Elise’s fiancé. Or is it ex-fiancé? It will take several sisters– and of course Pascal– to unravel the facts as all descend on southern France for July in the heat and lavender. Suspense, romance, intrigue, and humor as the summer heats up for the Bennett Sisters again. Another delicious adventure in international travel and cozy mystery as the Bennett Sisters fight their way to truth, justice, and a perhaps a summer fling, deep in Provence. A summer fling in France never hurt anyone, now did it?
Works fine as a stand-alone


Merle began to rip the pages from the notebook but stopped. “Here, take it. I wrote down everything I could remember. It should get you started.”

Elise leafed through the pages. “You’re always so organized. Unlike some people.” She rolled her eyes. “I forgot a bunch of stuff.”

“I can get them for you.”

“No, I’m fine. It’ll do me good to improvise.”

“Nothing vital then, like toothpaste.” They walked back toward the manse. It looked smaller from the back, less imposing. There, under the eaves, was Elise’s nonfunctional window. “Did the fan work last night?”

“It rattles. But who cares, right? I’ll be here amongst all this beauty.”

Merle snuck a glance at her. Was she being sarcastic? Trying to put a good face on— whatever she was feeling? “I forgot to ask, how’s that guy you’re seeing? What’s his name? I know I met him at Christmas.”

“Scott? Oh, he’s fine.”

Merle waited for more but nothing more came. “He’s what? An accountant?”

“Right. Numbers, figures, columns. He’s a whiz.”

Again, a hint of sarcasm. “Successful, is he?”

“Partner at his firm.”

“What’s he think about this farm stay then? Did he want to come with you?”

Elise laughed, briefly. “A CPA on a farm? Can you imagine?”

Actually, Merle could imagine. Most of the guests here had the pallor of inside work. That was the point, wasn’t it? Get a tan, get your hands dirty? 

“You didn’t ask him then.”

 Elise sighed. “I wanted to come on my own. Use my muscles instead of my brain. Learn some French— okay, just a little. Experience a different way of life. I didn’t want to have my boyfriend watching me, buffering me from everyone, criticizing me.”

Merle frowned. “Does he— criticize?”

“Maybe I’m just sensitive. But whatever. I wanted to come alone. Is that so hard to fathom?”

“Of course not. It’s a great idea.” They had reached the gravel drive in front of the main house. Merle’s car waited there, under the willow. She still had questions. How was the food at dinner? How early did they go into the fields? Who were the others, where were they from? Why did you really come here alone? But Elise backed away. She was done talking, about herself, about the trip, and definitely about Scott. 

“So, I’ll see you in ten days.” Merle opened her car door. Something about Elise’s expression, her stubborn chin, her dark eyebrows furrowed together, her tight mouth: it made Merle sad. What was going on with her?

“Sure. Okay,” Elise said.

“Have fun. And call me if anything comes up. I can be down here in a flash.”

“Like if I break my leg or something? Haha.” There was no humor in her fake laugh. “Bye, Merle.”

A shiver of melancholy ran through Merle as she drove away, down the farm lane to the road, the dust kicking up behind the car. Elise was visible in the rearview mirror, standing alone outside the barn. Would she be all right there? She was hardly a child, Merle reminded herself. She had a phone, she had people around her. If she didn’t like farm work, she could quit. Who was going to stop her? She wasn’t going to be vital to the operation of the lavender farm. And she had promised to call if she needed anything.

Merle sighed and turned right toward Avignon, heading across the edge of the plateau where the world’s best lavender was grown, where the beauty stretched on and on. She was glad she had seen it, at the right time, just before harvest. Glad Elise had asked her to drive her here, glad she’d taken a few photographs. Next week, these fields would be stubble. Like most things in life, timing is everything.

Time. Calendars. Tick Tock. Life.


Lost in Lavender LiseMcClendon

Lise McClendon is the author of thirteen books in the Bennett Sisters mystery series including A Bolt from the Blue, Blame it on Paris, and DEAD FLAT. She wrote two mystery series, the Alix Thorssen and Dorie Lennox mysteries set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and World War II-era Kansas City (The Bluejay Shaman; One O’clock Jump). She also writes stand-alones as Rory Tate, including PLAN X, a thriller featuring a Bozeman, Montana policewoman. She edited the 2020 anthology, STOP THE WORLD: Snapshots from the Pandemic, bringing together 40 writers around the globe to discuss their experiences and emotions during this year, plus poetry and short fiction. Her short story, Forked Tongue, was included in the Anthony Award-winning anthology, The Obama Inheritance. As Thalia Filbert she wrote with four other well-seasoned crime writers the darkly comic culinary thriller, Beat Slay Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge. Lise has served Mystery Writers of America in the past as a national board member and Montana representative. She lives in wilds of Montana near Yellowstone National Park.
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My Review

Lost in Lavender is yet another good addition to Lisa McClendon’s Bennett Sisters Mysteries series. Even though this is part of a series, I believe readers can get by reading each one as a stand alone. But I would recommend to read all them. It is always great to catch up with the Bennett Sisters and seeing what else they wind up getting themselves into. I enjoyed the setting, the mystery, and the suspense. I found the whole story fun, entertaining and one that I could not put down until I had the whole book read in one sitting. From start to finish, it was pure delightful.

I am giving Lost in Lavender four and a half stars. I recommend this one for readers who enjoy suspenseful mysteries with several charming characters. 

I received Lost in Lavender from the publisher. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.

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