Caprice DeLuca stages houses for high-end clients. When she discovers a body in the castle-mansion she staged to sell and starts asking questions, she finds herself in danger. On the way to solving the murder, Caprice’s large Italian family helps and hinders. She also finds romance with Dr. Seth Randolph. But does her brother’s partner, attorney Grant Weatherford, care about her, too? Or is he just worried she’ll get herself killed and her family will blame him?
Enjoy solving the mystery with Caprice, cook along with her, see her find homes for the stray animals she protects, be a part of the De Luca family…in STAGED TO DEATH.
Watch for Book 2, DEADLY DECOR, in June 2014.
Watch for Book 3, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, in February 2015.
Targeted Age Group:: 18 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have a rich Italian heritage and grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. All of the women in my family were terrific cooks and I learned from them. So my sleuth, Caprice, and I share many personality traits. Most of all, we share a love of animals.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Caprice is who I’d like to be. She is easy to write because she likes retro, home decorating and everything I do. I try to vary personalities with her two sisters and her brother, her nana and her parents, to make the story lines interesting. They are based on a conglomeration of people I’ve met over my lifetime.
STAGED TO DEATH
Karen Rose Smith
Published by Kensington Books
“I’m glad you’re here,” Roz said with a forced smile.
Caprice stepped into the foyer, practically the size of her own first floor. The gray, stone-paneled curved walls surrounded her. “Are you okay?”
“Better now because you can help convince Ted he’s being ridiculous. He insists he wants to show off the room and his swords, not hide what’s in it.”
When decorating the interior of their “castle,” Roz and Ted had opted for an old world look with heavy velvet draperies, giant gold tassels and thick decorative rods with upholstered valances. Iron-framed chandeliers, some immense, were supposed to add rusticity. On top of that, they’d filled too much space with monstrous sofas, gigantic black armoires and curio units as if they would run out of seating or surfaces on which to position sculptures and collectibles. It might have been a look they enjoyed, but the decor was one of the reasons the house hadn’t sold in the past six months.
After decluttering, Caprice had brought in furniture crafted from lavishly-grained wood and draperies fashioned of pastel damasks, silks and gentle wools. The overall feel of the interior now was warm, rich, bright and welcoming. But the decluttering process had occasioned a battle-royal between her and Ted. His philosophy was that he’d paid an exorbitant amount of cash for the furnishings, sculptures and paintings, and he wanted to show them off. But finally Roz along with Caprice had convinced him to put much of it in storage.
“I’ve hired the same security firm I always use out of York,” Caprice assured Roz. “They’ll mingle with the guests and not stand out. If I have to put a security guard just on Ted’s sword room, I can. You are putting your jewelry in your safe deposit box, right?”
When it came to her clients, Caprice would always rather be safe than sorry. She had a reputation to protect. One mistake, one robbery, one instance of vandalism could ruin the good name she’d developed over the past few years.
“I already took most of it to the bank. But Ted still has gold coins and silver ingots in the bedroom safe. He says no one will ever find it or be able to break into the triple locking mechanism. He’s just so mule-headed sometimes…”
To Caprice’s surprise and dismay, Roz teared up. She clasped her friend’s arm. “What’s going on?”
Shaking her head, Roz murmured, “Nothing, really. I’m just—” She shook her head again. “I think Ted’s having problems at work and he’s grumpy all the time. On top of that, he’s been out of town so much this month. I feel like my thoughts echo off the walls here. Do you know what I mean?”
A big-wig in Pennsylvania Pharmaceuticals Incorporated located just outside the Kismet town limits, Ted had high-pressure responsibilities in his position as Senior Vice President. Roz had told her that many times. But Roz hadn’t told her exactly why they were selling their dream home. Was it because Ted traveled so much and Roz felt lonely here? Or had Ted decided to sell it for some other reason?
Thinking about Roz’s question, Caprice realized she never felt as if her thoughts were bouncing off the walls. She had people she loved and pets around her most of the time. There was always someone to talk to, human or four-footed.
But she could empathize with her friend. “Staying here alone must be difficult.”
“A security system doesn’t make me feel secure,” Roz admitted. “Maybe if we have kids, I wouldn’t feel…abandoned,” she confessed, but then looked as if she was sorry she had.
“Is that Caprice?” Ted called from the cavernous interior.
“Yes,” Roz called back.
As she and Roz started for the great room, Ted emerged from the hall that led to his home office. “We need walkie-talkies,” he muttered. “That blasted intercom doesn’t function half of the time. Of course, if we had walkie-talkies, you’d probably forget to turn yours on,” he complained.
Ted was at least six-feet-tall, sharp-featured, with heavy dark brows laced with some gray. He was ten years older than Roz, and Caprice had never seen him wearing anything but a custom-tailored suit, dress shirt and designer tie. Today, however, he looked a little rumpled. Maybe it was just his fierce expression. He looked ready to growl or spit or take a good bite out of someone.
Often Caprice found herself in volatile situations. But she had two sisters and a brother and a family where Italian tempers sometimes flared. She could handle a disgruntled client.
“Roz relayed your concerns about your sword room,” she began diplomatically. “And I know about the gold and silver you want to leave in your safe. I’ll make sure a guard keeps a significant eye on the master suite. But do you really want your antique weapons available to be handled by strangers? Maybe no one will steal anything. But someone could damage a valuable collectible.”
They’d gone over this before, but sometimes she had to repeat common sense like a broken record to clients so it sunk in.
“You sound like Roz, talking as if these are toys that might break.” He waved his arm toward the east wing of the house. “Come with me.”
Keeping her temper in check—Caprice didn’t take dictatorial orders very well—she followed with Roz behind her. But they’d no sooner reached the sword room when Ted’s cell phone buzzed.
He grabbed it from the holster on his belt under his pinstriped suit jacket. “Winslow,” he barked.
Caprice stepped into the room. These walls had been treated to the specialty paint effect. The painter had used a gray base coat and added highlights and shadows with differing degrees of gray. The mortar lines must have been tedious to draw.
Caprice’s gaze had just settled on a foot-long dagger with a decorated scabbard when she heard Ted’s raised voice.
“If he does that, Thompson, I’ll kill him.”
Karen Rose Smith
Award-winning author Karen Rose Smith was born in the Susquehanna Valley. Although she was an only child, she remembers the bonds of an extended family. Since her father came from a family of ten and her mother, a family of seven, there were always aunts, uncles and cousins visiting on weekends. Family is a strong theme in her books and she suspects her childhood memories are the reason.
In college, Karen began writing poetry and also met her husband to be. They both began married life as teachers, but when their son was born, Karen decided to try her hand at a home-decorating business. She returned to teaching for a while but changes in her life led her to writing romance fiction. Now she writes romances and mysteries full time. Her 86th novel, GILT BY ASSOCIATION, will be released in 2015.
Presently, she is hard at work on her Caprice De Luca home stager mystery series for Kensington Books. When she isn’t writing, she cares for three rescue cats, strays and feral cats, gardens, and cooks. Married to her college sweetheart since 1971, believing in the power of love and commitment, she envisions herself writing relationship novels, both romance and mystery, for a long time to come!
Readers can email Karen through her websites at http://www.karenrosesmith.com or http://www.karenrosesmithmysteries.com. She posts excerpts there and info about upcoming titles. They can also follow her on Twitter @karenrosesmith and her Facebook page KarenRoseSmithBooks.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Link to Buy Staged To Death Print Edition at Amazon
Link to Buy Staged To Death Print Edition at Barnes and Noble