Welcome Laurien Berenson!

Liz here, happy to welcome Laurien Berenson back to the blog! Christmas and New Year’s are over, so we’re moving on to Valentine’s Day – which is when her book, Killer Cupid, takes place. Take it away, Laurien!

Thank you to Liz Mugavero and the Wickeds for inviting me back to your blog!

Though I’m not a romantic person, I’ve always loved the idea of Valentine’s Day. After all, what could be better than a holiday devoted to the expression of love? As I see it, a Valentine shouldn’t need to be a lover, spouse or SO. Parents, children, best friends, and pets should all qualify too. The more, the merrier. 

There are several theories about the origins of the holiday. One is that it began with the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a festival of fertility held on the ides of February. Later, Pope Gelasius—who was opposed pagan rituals on principle–renamed February 14th Saint Valentine’s Day in honor of a martyred saint. During the Middle Ages, the day was believed to signal the start of mating season. Around that time, poets began to celebrate the romantic aspect of February 14th in their verses. Clearly it was a felicitous idea. Valentine’s Day is now celebrated in numerous countries around the world. 

The first Valentines were simple, usually consisting of hand-written notes, pictures, or poems. Over time, they grew both more fashionable and more decorative. By the mid-1800s the holiday had become so popular that Valentine’s cards were being massed produced. Valentine’s Day is now the second biggest card-giving holiday after Christmas. 

So why would a self-proclaimed “non-romantic” write a book whose plot centers around Valentine’s Day? Because characters don’t always do what you expect them to. Sometimes they run rampant through your plot, and occasionally they prod your subconscious with an idea whose time has come.

Melanie Travis is the main character in my cozy mystery series. After 29 books, she’s been through a lot. When the series opened she was a divorced single mother with a young son. Sam Driver appeared in the debut too. He started out as a potential suspect, but by the end of the book he’d decided he liked his prospects as a love interest. And when my characters talk to me, I tend to listen.

Over the course of the series, Sam and Melanie have had their ups and downs. They got together. Then they broke up. (It turned out Sam had an ex-wife he’d never mentioned, and she showed up to win him back.) Two books later, Sam and Melanie were together again. Sam proposed, Melanie turned him down. (Trust issues, naturally. I would have turned him down, too.) More time passed. Eventually they smoothed out their differences, got married, and had a baby. 

Domestic bliss with mystery-solving on the side. 

Except…I realized that in the decade Melanie and Sam have been a couple, they’d never been given the chance to spend any time alone together. Just the two of them–without the complicating factors of jobs, kids, Poodles, dog shows and the ever-meddling Aunt Peg.

If ever there was a couple in need of a romantic getaway, it’s these two. 

So in KILLER CUPID, Sam and Melanie sign up for a Valentine holiday weekend at a picturesque resort in the snowy Berkshire Mountains. They plan to go tobogganing, drink hot toddies, and cuddle in front of a cozy fire. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Readers: what’s your favorite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment below!

Laurien Berenson is the author of the Melanie Travis mystery series, including the new book KILLER CUPID. She also writes the Senior Sleuths series which debuted with PEG AND ROSE SOLVE A MURDER. Her books have won or been nominated for the Maxwell Award for Dog Fiction, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, Agatha and Macavity awards. She lives on a farm in Kentucky, surrounded by dogs and horses.

23 Thoughts

  1. Welcome back, Laurien. The new book sounds fabulous – and 29? Congratulations!

    Since Valentine’s Day is the anniversary of when I met my Hugh, we always have a nice dinner out (or in, in recent years). This year we’ll celebrate by flying to Puerto Rico for my son’s wedding!

    1. I love a low-key Valentine’s day. I hope you have a lovely dinner.

  2. Welcome back Laurien! 29 books is such an accomplishment and I love that you send Melanie and Sam off in this one! My husband doesn’t like Valentine’s Day so we are very low key. Going wild at our house it making chocolate-coated strawberries for each other.

    1. Thank you Sherry! After 29 books (in one series) it’s sometimes hard to think of something different for the characters to do. This book was a blast to write.

  3. My parents were the prime example of Valentine’s Day. They met on a blind date and were married 7 days later on Valentine’s Day. Most of my life Valentine’s Day was happily celebrating their anniversary. Now that they’re celebrating their special day in heaven and with hubby and I loving photography, it usually is spent trying to find some place to go capture some critters in photos and either finding a nice place in our search to eat supper or coming home to fix a meal with a quiet evening at home.

    KILLER CUPID sounds like a wonderful book and one I know I’m going to love reading.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay, that sounds like a perfect way to spend the day. And very much like what my husband and I will do.

  4. Welcome back, Laurien! Killer Cupid sounds fabulous. My husband and I usually have a nice dinner out on Valentine’s Day. Or on a day near Valentine’s if reservations are hard to come by. We’re flexible!

    1. Thank you Barbara! My husband and I follow the same approach you and your husband do. We’ve been married for 47 years, so celebrating on the exact day doesn’t seem that important anymore.

  5. Hi Bill! You know how happy I am that you’ve discovered my books. I hope you make it all the way to #29 (so far!)

  6. I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day for years. Being single and with the focus on a SO, I haven’t given it any thought. On the other hand, I don’t hate it, like so many single friends who seem to treat it as a day made to make them miserable.

    Congrats on the new book!

    1. Mark, I totally agree about Valentine’s day. It raises unreal expectations that nobody can live up to. Which is why my husband and I enjoy a quite night at home with the dog,

  7. Forty-seven seems to be a popular number of years to be married (so far!). We should all get together and have an Anniversary party. Sometimes we go out to dinner, sometimes we stay at home. We always get each other mushy cards. One year my hubby got me a national ZIP Code directory for a present. I know it doesn’t sound romantic but it is something I love having. This was before the internet when such info was much harder to come by. BTW, I still use it. It’s faster than the internet.

    1. Ginny, 47 for you too? Congratulations! (And what a funny coincidence.) I love the idea of your husband buying you something useful. Pre-internet, mine used to buy me maps, which I loved.

  8. Home night for us! We usually make a special dinner and one year, my husband made a cake – from scratch – his first. I think it took me a month to finally find all the frosting and clean it up, but in this instance, the thought was what counted, and the cake was fabulous.

  9. Aunt Peg (one of the characters in my books) and I agree on one thing. Cake is always a good idea. I’m glad yours was fabulous.

  10. We usually just exchange cards. Sometimes, we may fix something special. We are not a fan of crowds so we do not go to restaurants during peak busy days. Thank you for sharing. God bless you. Happy New Year.

  11. Welcome! I usually make red velvet pancakes for dinner. I also give my husband and kids some chocolate.

    Love the book cover!

    1. I’m glad you like the cover. The art director at Kensington (my publisher) does a terrific job with them.

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