A Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Book 1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Date of Publication: August 30, 2013
Number of pages: 169
What happens when Dynasty meets Honey BooBoo, they have a baby, and that baby is raised by Charlie’s Angels? You get TIARA TROUBLE, a bedazzled cozy mystery full of gritty glitz.Excerpt:
One foreign policy question five years ago sent Destinee Faith Miller’s dreams of being Miss American Universe up in flames and landed her back in her hometown of Phenix City, Alabama, with her tail between her legs. But like the mythological bird that her hometown is misspelled after, she rose from the ashes to create Destinee’s Dolls, a thriving pageant consulting business knee-deep in pink, prints and tulle.
A death at the local level of a national event lands her the job of pageant emcee, and Destinee dares to dream of bigger things—maybe even a reality TV show! But when judges start dropping like flies, she has her hands full keeping herself alive long enough to see those dreams come true. Contending with catfights, car bombs, and the camouflage-colored funeral of a redneck’s dream, Destinee gets a little help from her friends, family, and a pit bull named Clarabelle.
The competition for the Miss Alabama American Universe title that would lead to a shot at the Miss American Universe event had been fierce. It came down to a real battle between Tonielle West, the sleek, elegant brunette representing Auburn, and Deenie Paul, the busty, bubbly blonde from Huntsville. When the final moment came down, the two of them standing there holding hands, grinning at each other, and whispering words of encouragement as they waited for the emcee to read the name of the winner, we were all holding our breath.
Personally, I was torn. I thought Tonielle’s beauty and interview had been the best, but Deenie had knocked it out of the park in swimsuit and talent. For me, it came down to the fact that our family Rolls Tide, so I just could not in good conscience root for anyone from Auburn—whether she went to school there, or not. For the record, she did.
Drums rolled for what seemed like minutes, and the tension built until the emcee opened the envelope and said, “Your new Miss Alabama American Universe is,” he paused again, causing Tonielle and Deenie to crunch up their shoulders and clutch hands even tighter, “Miss Auburn American Universe, Tonielle West!”
Both women screamed, hugged each other, and stayed there together for a moment, but then Judy Clawson, the current reigning queen, and I stepped up to draw Tonielle away into her own solo spotlight. I was a bit disappointed at the outcome, but not nearly so much as Deenie Paul was. Deenie clung to her victor’s arms, seemingly unable to believe Tonielle had won. In fact, I had to pry one of Deenie’s hands off Tonielle’s bicep, and the emcee had to help pull her backwards so that a junior girl could shove the First Runner Up trophy into her hands.
I had one eye on Deenie as I handed Tonielle her bouquet, and I couldn’t help thinking that the way she was looking between her trophy and the back of Tonielle’s head boded no good. It looked an awful lot like she might be thinking it was heavy enough to do some serious damage to her rival’s skull. But violence was avoided for the moment and Tonielle took her winner’s walk down the runway. Finally, after all the photos were snapped, short interviews were given, and autographs were signed, we were on our way back to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Birmingham, the official hotel of the Miss Alabama American Universe pageant.
It was a short ride, and we arrived just after the bus dropping off all the pageant contestants was pulling away, so we entered the lobby to a rowdy group of young women in sequins, sashes, and sky-high heels, toasting one another with champagne—a few of them drinking straight from big, green bottles. Everyone was happy and cheerful, as most girls are after the stress of an event like that is over with, and the after party was in full swing only moments after we’d all gotten inside.
Girls crowded around Tonielle. Every one of the fifty losing contestants came over to offer their congratulations and make over her crown, her sash, her trophy, and her bouquet, fairly smothering her with tipsy affections until the pageant handlers eased a throughway so she could pass all the way inside the lobby.
I saw Deenie Paul in the crowd and thought she looked especially happy, her lips turned up in grinchy glee, as she buttered a roll she’d grabbed up from a catering tray nearby. I thought she might just be excited to eat a carbohydrate, as those are verboten during pageant events—no one wants to be puffy for her close-up—but then I saw that she was watching our new reigning Miss like a hawk.
An official pageant photographer asked Tonielle to climb up the wide, white granite steps that led up to the second floor conference area. He wanted to get a few shots of her alone, before having the other girls crowd in to fill the stairwell for a group shot. Tonielle made it up the steep staircase, holding on to the chrome-plated rail. She had a funny look on her face when she got to the top, and I realized she was having trouble walking. I was trying to figure out if the trouble was her shoes, or how tight her evening gown fit her, when she did a little shuffle with her feet. Her arms flew out to either side and she started flailing.
It wasn’t a second before she was falling backwards, crumbling and tumbling. She didn’t even have time to scream before her head hit the edge of that first stone step with a horrible crunch, and then about every other one on her way down, leaving splashes and slashes of crimson on the light granite stairs and the glass partitioning along the rails.
When she finally landed at the foot of the stairs, her limbs were akimbo, and her head was tilted at an angle far too square to her shoulders. Her mouth was twisted and eyes were wide and staring up as though mortified by the splatters of blood that painted the gowns and faces of the beauty queens crowded around her. For a moment it was absolutely silent. It was so quiet you could hear the false eyelashes batting, as the gathered girls blinked, squinted and tried to make sense of what they’d just seen. Then, one girl started to scream and that set off the rest of them like car alarms in a parking lot.
Deenie Paul put down her roll, daintily wiped the corners of her mouth with a cocktail napkin, and strode over; bending to pick up the crown that had bounced off Tonielle’s head, somewhere halfway down the stairs. She considered it, turning it over in her hands twice before using her thumb to wipe away a smear of blood. Then, she put it right on top of her hairdo, whipping out a bobby pin from her chignon to hold it in place. That done, she walked back over to where she’d been standing. She noticed me gaping at her, looked me in the eye and grinned. Then, she picked up her roll again and licked it right down the center, her tongue coming away yellow before disappearing back into her smile.
Today, we welcome Author Name to Musings and Ramblings. Let's all give her a big Geeky welcome!
I have some questions for you that are writer specific as well as some fun stuff so that we can really get to know the real you. *grin* Plus we will finish things off with round of Think Fast. Ready to begin?
1. Tell us something about yourself that's not in your bio:
I am a military brat, so I moved around a lot growing up. I went to nine schools in twelve years, and had lived in six states before I was ten. Phenix City, Alabama is where my father grew up, and where his parents lived. My mom’s parents were in Columbus, Georgia. When Dad was overseas, Mom and I lived in Phenix City, and until I was eleven, I spent every summer with my grandparents in Columbus. I’m a Texan now, but my heart divides right along that state line between Alabama and Georgia. I love that little blip on the map like Scarlett loved Tara. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.2. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
It’s pretty twee to say I like to spend time with my family, but that’s the truth. My husband, my mom, and my son are my favorite past-times. I have the most awesome little boy, and when I am not writing, I am usually in a tickle fight, discussing the virtues of Lego Chima, or peeling him off my back, which is where he prefers to sit.3. How did you choose the genres you write in?
It usually happens that I have an idea, or a theme I’d like to explore. The genre takes shape from there. With TIARA TROUBLE, I knew I wanted to try my hand at a cozy mystery, but nothing really spoke to me until I had this insane moment where I crossed the streams of reality TV and hand-painting a pair of sneakers in hot pink, zebra, and sparkling black—BOOM! Destinee was born.4. Is there any particular author or book that has influenced you or your writing?
Pamela Dean’s book TAM LIN has been a great influence on me. Dean is a lyrical, romantic writer, and I have three copies of that one book. I have a hardback she autographed, a paperback I keep on the bookshelf in pristine condition—just in case—and a paperback I’ve read so many times the pages are falling out. You don’t see her influence in TIARA TROUBLE because Destinee’s voice overpowers my personal style, but I have bits and phrases of Dean’s floating around in my head all the time.5. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
When criticism is constructive, it might be tough to hear but I never mind it. I look at it as someone telling me my skirt is tucked into my underwear. I wouldn’t want to walk around the grocery store with my backside hanging out, and I don’t want to expose my worst writing to the world either. I am very fortunate to have some excellent, honest, brilliant Beta readers. They tell me the truth about what works and what doesn’t, and I smooth out the rough patches accordingly.
I did have someone post a nasty, nasty comment on a poem I’d written once. It stung like a slap because it was so disdainful and it has stuck with me to this day. But, I can’t drive myself crazy over things like that. Not everyone is going to like what I write, and that’s perfectly fine. My style isn’t determined by someone else’s taste.
The best compliment? Gosh. The best compliment is when someone is reading my book and they laugh out loud. I love to laugh, and I love to make people laugh.Fun Stuff
6. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, fictional or real, who would it be and why?
Just one person? Nooo! I’m going to have a big dinner party with Pamela Dean, Judy Blume, Madeleine L’Engle, Martha Brockenbrough, C.S. Lewis, Tom Robbins, Bill Fitzhugh, S.E. Hinton, J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare, and my family. And I am inviting all those people so I can say thank you to them. I want to throw them a big party for making my life such a colorful place. Books were my friends when I was moving so often, and it was so hard to make real ones. We’ll have Voltaire jump out of a cake. That should be festive!7. You are going to be stranded on a deserted island and bring 3 luxury items. What would they be?
I’ve read ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS. I know I need a knife, a net, and something to hold water. Wasn’t that a great book? Those aren’t luxury items, though. So, along with my knife, net, and bowl I’m going to have a pen and journal book, and a camera.8. Pick two celebrities to be your parents. Who are they and why?
Bill and Claire Huxtable. Do they count? They are imaginary people. How about David Bowie and Iman? But how weird would it be for me to have a crush on my dad? Never mind that. I would have George Clooney and Sandra Bullock for celebrity parents because I would be growing up in a house full of laughter on Lake Como, and I would also be insanely good looking with amazing teeth and hair.9. What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
You don’t want to know. I am about as domestic as a Komodo dragon.10. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
The Outside LaneThink Fast
Summer or Winter? Winter
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Cake or Pie? Yes, please
Car or Truck? Car
Print or Electronic? Electronic
Thanks for coming by and spending some time with us. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?
Thank you so much for having me! I loved your questions, and I really had to stop and think about them. I don’t have anything wise to say, I’d just like to reiterate my appreciation for you taking the time to host me on this blog tour. I’ve had a lot of fun here!
This is the first book in the Destinee Faith Miller Mystery series by Lane Buckman. When I saw the tour for this book, I was a little uncertain about it since this is a book about a former beauty queen and I have never been a girly-girl. I was afraid I wouldn't connect with the character. But I do love a good Cozy Mystery so I decided to give it a shot. Well first off, yes, Destinee Faith is a former beauty queen, but she is also a true G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Raised In The South) and that I CAN relate to. As a matter of fact, much of Destinee's life is very relate able to any girl with a close, involved family and a drive to follow a particular dream.
The story opens with Destinee remembering a scene she witnessed 7 years prior at the Miss Alabama American Universe pageant. She was Miss Teen Alabama American Universe and saw the true lengths some of the girls were willing to go to in order to win the crown. It was an eye opening experience for her and will continue to haunt her for years and years to come. Up until recently, Destinee thought she saw the depths to which people could sink. She will soon learn differently.
The next chapter takes place in April of last year and continues on in a type of retrospective style. The entire story is told from Destinee's view point in a very narrative tone. It is a bit different than I am used to, but when I got to the end I figured out why it was important. Just go with it and trust in it. It really does make sense in the end.
One of the things I really liked about Destinee, is that she tries very hard to be the good, kind person. She tries to rise above insults and slights and is very aware of being a role model and exactly what that means. This doesn't men she let herself get pushed around. Destinee firmly, but politely, sets her expectations and encourages you to meet them. She is the type of person that I try, and fail (to be honest), the majority of the time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying she is perfect. Oh no. Destinee can also be a bit of an idealist as well as seem the ditzy blond. Of course, her major bloopers have all managed to be caught on camera and shared with the world . This more than anything has helped to keep her humble and down to earth.
Bottom line, I really liked this book. I totally connected with Destinee. She is likable and real and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.
Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card!
Anyone who purchases their copy of Tiara Trouble before November 18 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.
Book Tour Info:
Don't forget to check out the other stops on the Book Tour:
Lavender & Camomile Press
Musings and Ramblings – Review & Interview
My Book Views – Review
Chick Lit Plus – Review
Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review
Reading a Little Bit of Everything – Interview
Ai Love Books – Review
Book Mama Blog – Interview
Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review & Guest Post
Brooke Blogs – Review
Steph the Bookworm – Review
Everything Books and Authors
Lane Buckman is a former beauty queen from Phenix City, Alabama. Growing up, she wanted to be Miss America, a criminal lawyer, a super model, the President, a Bond girl, a brain surgeon, a journalist, a back-up singer for Duran Duran, and a college professor of Medieval Literature. In order to fulfill those dreams, she became a writer. She lives in Texas with her family, and enjoys every miserably hot second of it.
To connect with the author online:
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