The Sisters, Texas Series Book 1
by Becki Willis
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Five years ago, my son was married along the Brazos River, at a rustic ranch venue that was once part of a cotton plantation. The simple blacktop road out front squiggles through the river bottom, weaving past old cotton gins, through white fields ripe with cotton, tracing the graceful bends of the Brazos, and crossing over the iron tracks of a railroad.
On one side of the railroad is a hundred-plus-year old ranch, registered with the State of Texas as a historical landmark. Several interesting-looking old buildings are clustered near the railroad, reminiscent of share croppers’ shacks.
On the other side of the tracks is an old train depot, even though the nearest town is miles away. There is also an active feed mill, with its industrial silos and bins, and an entire railroad at its disposal. The cars stop on site to load/unload their burdens.
Something about the railroad sparked an idea for a story, and I could only imagine how things might have been back in the day, when cotton was king and the rails offered the ultimate source of transportation. I imagined a cotton plantation along the river, so big and so important that the railroad came to them. Before long, I had the back-story for my series. Bertram Randolph was the undisputed cotton king of the Brazos Valley, but he was saddled with two spoilt, selfish, impossible-to-deal-with daughters who constantly feuded with one another. The only way to keep peace was to ultimately give each of them their own namesake town; Juliet’s town lay to the south of the tracks, Naomi’s town to the north. Any chance of the sisters reconciling was forever lost when they both fell in love with the same man. To Juliet, Darwin Blakely gave his name; to Naomi, he gave his child. And with Darwin’s untimely death, the rivalry between the two sisters – and their respective towns – exploded.
The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series is set in the modern-day communities of Naomi and Juliet, and revolves around the citizens (all two thousand of them!) determined to keep that rivalry alive and well.
The main character is Madison Reynolds, who finds herself widowed and penniless at the ripe age of thirty-nine. With her teenage twins in tow, she moves home to live with her eighty-year-old grandmother, the patriarch of Juliet. Granny Bert is a live-wire, full of home-grown wisdom, cantankerous charm, witty sayings, and undying devotion toward her family and her home. Genesis Baker, Maddy’s best friend since childhood, has recently moved back, as well, and now owns a popular café in Naomi.
With her support team firmly in place, Maddy tackles the challenges of starting over as a single mom. To make ends meet, she starts In a Pinch, but many of her clients seem to confuse her services for those of a private investigator. No case is too small, or too quirky, for her to turn down, and she soon finds herself embroiled in a variety of unique mysteries and dangerous situations. Good thing she has Chief of Police Brash deCordova looking out for her, as well as Firefighter Cutter Montgomery and, soon, a growing number of friends and supporters.
Please join us in The Sisters, where you’ll find real-life characters, mystery, and intrigue, tossed together with a touch of romance and a dose of laughter.
When the Stars Fall
Stipulations and Complications
Home Again: Starting Over
When Madison Reynolds finds herself widowed and penniless before forty, she does the only thing she knows to do – she packs up her teenage twins and moves back home with her eighty-year-old grandmother. Life in The Sisters, Texas has not changed much since she’s been gone, but at least her best friend Genesis is there to soften the transition back into small-town life.
To make ends meet, Madison opens In a Pinch Temporary Services. Her first real client is Ronny Gleason, but when she shows up for the first day of work at the Gleason Poultry Farm, Madison makes a gruesome discovery. The dead body she finds belongs to Mr. Gleason. When a local man is arrested for murder, Madison takes on the job of proving his innocence. Even though she is not a private investigator, both mothers are desperate: Lucy Ngyen to clear her son’s name, and Madison to pay her bills. But as she begins asking questions around town, her interference is not welcome.
With a daughter determined to go back to Dallas, a son settling into small town life, a feisty grandmother who knows all the town gossip, bill collectors calling, and now someone trying to keep her silent, Madison has no time for re-kindling her high school crush with police chief Brash deCordova. She has her hands full just trying to stay alive.
If she survives her amateur investigation, Maddy has a decision to make. Will she go back to her life in Dallas, or will she build a new life here in The Sisters?
When The Stars Fall
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 2
Madison Reynolds is rebuilding her life, one obstacle at a time.
But the building blocks aren’t standard issue: widowed at thirty-nine…betrayed by her late husband…mother of teenaged twins…finances in shambles…living with her eighty-year-old grandmother…still attracted to her teenage crush Brash deCordova, who just happens to be the Chief of Police in The Sisters…embroiled in yet another murder mystery… How will she ever get all the blocks assembled and stacked one upon another, in order to build a future for herself and her children?
Madison’s newest client at In a Pinch Temp Service is a suspicious wife, up against a formidable foe—the lovely Caress Ellingsworth, former soap opera queen. When the star is murdered and Madison is eyewitness to the deed, she wonders if the shadowed person she saw commit the crime might really be her client. Now Madison is torn between uncovering the truth and keeping her client’s name off the suspect list.
Caress is not the only star in town these days. With a little help from Granny Bert and Madison’s best friend Genesis, the popular television show Home Again arrives, with some crazy notion about remodeling the Big House for Maddy and her twins. The problem is, Madison can’t afford to buy the house, much less pay to have it renovated. No matter how tempting the offer—or how tempting the show’s star, Nick Vilardi—Madison sees it as just another block that will not fit.
Even if she manages to stack the blocks in a semblance of order, even if she climbs her way up and reaches for the sky, what happens when the stars fall?
Stipulations and Complications
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 3
Life comes with stipulations.
If you want to fit into last year’s swimsuit, you can’t eat ice cream and a Gennydoodle cookie after every meal.
If you want to go to Heaven, you can’t raise Hell on Saturday night and show up in the church pew on Sunday morning, hungover and reeking of cheap perfume.
And if you want your hundred-year-old mansion completely updated and remodeled for free, you have to sacrifice.
Stipulations, my child.
-Granny Bert Cessna
Now that Madison Reynolds has agreed to be part of a reality-television home remodeling show, she barely recognizes her own life. The show is an instant success, bringing cameras and reporters right to her doorstep, eager to chronicle her every move in the small Texas town.
Between her cantankerous grandmother, a moody teenage daughter, an ever-starving son, townspeople eager to grab their fifteen minutes of fame at her expense, and a mother-in-law appalled by her undignified foray into the public eye, Madison had her hands full, long before the skeleton was discovered. Now work is interrupted at the Big House, ghost stories abound, more secret passages have been unearthed, and someone is trying to scare her away from her new home.
What she needs is another session of Brash deCordova’s unique ‘river therapy’… not to mention the kiss that eludes them with frustrating regularity.
What she gets is another round of stipulations and complications.
Named "Best Mystery Series of 2017" by Texas Association of Authors
Things in The Sisters are heating up, and Madison Reynolds is in the hot seat.
When a local woman dies in a most unconventional way, In a Pinch takes on the quirky case and once again, Maddy finds herself in the middle of a would-be murder investigation. Even with the help of her grandmother and best friend Genny, this case may be too hot to handle.
As summer scorches its way across Texas, drama as thick as the August humidity rolls through the twin towns of Juliet and Naomi. Granny Bert reveals a secret that rocks Maddy’s foundation. A celebrity designer joins the renovation crew at the Big House, bringing twice the chaos and twice the fans. Madison’s estranged mother-in-law convinces the twins to spend the summer with her in Dallas. As if all of that isn’t enough to wreak havoc in Madison’s life, Barry Redmond continues to propagate his ridiculous grudge against her.
Things really start smoking when Cutter’s grandfather, rodeo legend Sticker Pierce, returns to The Sisters and tries to rekindle a romance with old flame Belle, aka Granny Bert. And Maddy’s latest brush with death prompts Brash to finally make his move.
With renovations almost complete and the love of a good man behind her, Maddy is ready to tell the world: I’m home again, and starting over.
Don’t miss Book Four in the award-winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series.
By all accounts, everyone loves Genny.
So why does someone want her dead?
There’s something special about Genesis Baker, owner of The Sister’s popular New Beginnings Café. With her dimpled smile and twinkling blue eyes, Genny has practically the entire town eating from the palm of her hand. But Genny is hiding a secret. Despite her sunny disposition and golden touch, there is heartache in her past, and heartache, they say, comes in threes.
Heartache Number One: An unwelcomed customer shows up at New Beginnings. Apparently, the restraining order against him has lapsed.
Heartache Number Two: Genny’s arch nemesis from high school returns to town. Twenty years has done nothing to mellow the bitter feud between these two women.
Heartache Number Three: As Genny finally acknowledges her feelings for a younger man—sexy firefighter Cutter Montgomery—memories of her first love come back to haunt her.
On top of it all, someone is stalking Genny, determined to make her life miserable.
As it turns out, being kidnapped is only the beginning of her troubles…
Great as a stand-alone, but Book Five of the award winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, voted Best Mystery Series by the Texas Association of Authors, two years in a row!
Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of '13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published eleven books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction and Best Audio Book, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.
An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel, but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.