But before we get to all of that, let's check out the book, shall we?
**Thanks to my pretty prancy PA, Christina from The Book Hookup, for letting meThe truth is a bitter pill...
Rennie Harlow is having a bad year. She had a handsome husband, a good job, and a renovated condo in Chicago. Now, thanks to one "exotically beautiful" paralegal, she’s divorced, faking her way through a writing career, and living above her hypochondriac mother's garage back in Morrisville, the small town she couldn't leave fast enough at eighteen. On top of all of that, she just found Doc Hallacy, the local pharmacist, dead behind his counter. And the worst part is, he's the third body she’s stumbled across this year.
Jake Bristol has lived in Morrisville his whole life. A former bad boy turned sheriff, he doesn’t believe it’s just Rennie’s luck or timing that’s the problem. He thinks she’s too nosy for her own good. The last thing he needs is her messing around with his murder investigation so that she can freelance for the Morrisville Gazette. But as they both delve deeper into Doc's death, they find that things don't add up. This isn't a robbery gone wrong or the work of a desperate junkie. Someone has a secret they're killing to keep. The only question is—who's next?
Rating & First Reaction:
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this story. It was a quick, entertaining read that left me wanting more. No, really. I hope there's more [and I'll be bugging Stacey about this] because the ending nearly had me screaming. If it wasn't for the "The End" on the bottom of the page, I would have thought there was a problem with my e-book...
Rennie: Recently divorced, Rennie comes back to her small town home to live with her mom. She's quick to find trouble and whether she likes it or not, realizes that she has feelings for the very married sheriff. I feel like Rennie is the type of girl who would get arrested when she goes out with a group of friends, but not for anything serious. It would be for something trivial law like wearing flip-flops while walking down a sidewalk on a Tuesday afternoon. Does that make sense?
I loved being in her head. She's hurting over the situation that she's in, but by the end of the book, I knew that she was strong enough to get through it all. Even if we don't get anything else from these characters, I'm certain that Rennie is going to prevail in whatever she does.
Bristol: He is a good, strong man. A stand up man with convictions. Bristol loves his job, the law in general, and seems to see most of his life in the same sort black and white. Except when it comes to Rennie, she's very much a grey area. The sparks between Rennie and him are very apparent and even if he's aware of the town whispering, he never shows it. I would have loved to have gotten even one chapter from his point of view [hint, hint], I'm very interested in the maybe history he and Rennie had...
There weren't swoons in the conventional way, but there were some moments where I gasped at what was happening. But, as River Song says, spoilers.
Max: Editor of the town newspaper and Rennie's sort of boss. He's a Morrisville transplant and definitely gives off the vibe of "big, bad city guy". But, under all of that gruff exterior, there's a bit of a gooey inside. His exchanges with Rennie are interesting. His respect for her writing shows and sometimes it felt like there was a sort of father/daughter relationship, but it was the mood swings and erratic behavior that kept me curious.
The Rest of the Town: There's quite a mix of people in the small town of Morrisville and while we only got snippets of most of them, there are a few that I should have added to this. However, I don't want to spoil anything, I want you to experience them for yourself and trust no one. Perhaps you'll be able to pick out the killer. ;)
Plot & Pacing:
Well, it doesn't get any faster than starting the book out with having the MC find a dead body. This book is fast paced from the get go. There were several components happening all at the same time. Not only is it a whodunnit, but there's a real exploration of different types of relationships that made for some interesting scenes. There were some definite twists that I didn't see coming. I spent the entire book thinking I knew who was behind all of it and I was way way off.
Absolutely. If you're looking for a fun murder/mystery with a sharp, trouble finding heroine and a smoldering, but straight laced sheriff, this one is for you.
And now for the interview!
1. Where did the idea for Bitter Pill come from?
A couple of different places, actually. It's the only one of my books where a dream played a role. I woke up from a nap one day with the phrase "Pharmacists know all of our dirty secrets" running through my head. Then I had to figure out what that meant, in terms of a story.
But the idea for Rennie's personal life and her decision to go back home actually came from an incident in my newlywed days. My brand-new husband and I were arguing, likely over something stupid, like who emptied the dishwasher last, and I wanted nothing more than to walk out the door in a grand dramatic exit and slam the door after me. (No worries; the husband and I have been married form almost 15 years now!)
But I realized then, for the first time, that there wasn't a place for me to go. Once you're married, you've kind of tossed your lot in with someone else's...no matter how infrequently they unload the dishwasher. :)
So I gave that place to Rennie and tried to figure out what one does when one's life implodes, as hers had.
By the time my husband tracked me down in the downstairs family room, I was in full note-taking mode and not angry anymore! :D
2. What do you love most about Rennie and Jake and why should we root for them?
Jake Bristol is one of the most honorable men/characters I've ever written, I think. I both love and hate him for that. I want him to give in to temptation, but I know, as Rennie does, that it might change who he is, if he does. He's a total white hat but so very human and trapped in a bad marriage. To me, it was interesting to see which side of him would win out.
He needs Rennie because she is someone who sees him for who is is as a person, rather that a status symbol. And her wholehearted belief in his goodness/honor (vs. her lying, cheating ex) is what draws him to her and also makes things complicated. We all want someone who believes the best of us, you know? But if he follows through, then will Rennie see him as that good man? Will he be able to believe it himself?
Rennie is, I hope, one of those complicated people. She knows exactly how awful it is to have someone you love betray you with another person, and yet, she's dancing on the edge of being "the other person" and playing a role in the destruction of someone else's marriage. She's trying to figure out who she is and what she's capable of (good and bad). She's been battered and tossed around by her circumstances, and she has to figure out whether she's going to rise above and be the person who is worthy of Bristol, even if that means, rather contradictorily, that she can't have him.
You should root for them because they are two people who belong together. :) What remains to be seen is whether the world will cooperate with that idea.
3. What was the weirdest thing you googled while researching?
I don't know that I googled anything all that strange, but I had a very detailed and awkward conversation with a lovely and obliging pharmacist about what kind of pills could be used to drug someone without their knowledge and how that might happen. It was one of those moments where I was pretty sure the phrase, "I promise, Officer, it's research for a book," was going to become very relevant to my life.
4. What was your favorite part about writing this book?
I loved writing this book. I cackled with glee every night when I settled in to write. It is almost an homage to all the mystery novels I loved as a kid (Rennie is my grown-up version of Nancy Drew) and I was writing it just for me, just for fun. I loved sticking Rennie in situations and then watching everything go wrong.
5. Describe Bitter Pill in 5 words.
A funny, small town mystery.
Speed [ish] round:
1. You get the call/email/letter that says you're being published for the first time. What happens next?
Does "shriek in disbelief and sheer joy" count as an action? :) Because that's exactly what happened.
2. What three things would you take to a desert island?
Short of a helicopter, an experienced pilot and a book to read on the flight of the island? I'd have to say sunblock, an iPad (with an endless battery and internet access) and an inflated air mattress. Sand makes me itchy.
3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
4. What are you reading right now?
Parasite by Mira Grant
Huge thanks to Samantha at CLP for providing the review copy and to Stacey for taking the time to answer my questions! Make sure you're following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her blog and adding all of her books on your GoodReads shelves.