by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of the second book in the Bookbinding Mystery Series by Harper Kincaid, along with a fun interview with Harper. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
A Midsummer Night’s Scheme: A Bookbinding Mystery by Harper Kincaid
Review by Cynthia Chow
Having settled down back in her hometown of Vienna, Virginia, former English teacher and current bookbinder Quinn Caine is happily embracing her love of books while working in her family’s bookshop. Now that she’s recovered from the traumatic murder investigation that left her with a broken arm, Quinn and her fellow Prose & Scones employees are looking forward to the summer’s outdoor festivities. The arrival of another former high school classmate shatters their peace, as the hometown-boy-made-good Chad Frivole left more than a few shattered hearts in his wake. The Tony award-winning Broadway star intends on opening his own theater company in Vienna, but a Mean Girl cabal with their own Shakespearean witch vibe stirs up a hostile vibe with their threats to bring him down. So, when Chad veers off the road and crashes his car filled with a bag of venomous snakes and a written Shakespearean warning inside, Michelin-starred chef Ella Diaz is immediately pinpointed as the culprit. Not only does her boundary-pushing restaurant feature snakes on the menu, she was one of those wronged by the womanizing Chad back in his high school days and who vociferously vowed revenge.
Although Quinn promises her longtime crush Detective Aiden Harrington that she will stay out of his investigation, threats against another former playboy make that impossible. Quinn’s brother Bash may have also once broken Ella’s heart during his immature phase, but he has since reformed his ways and is now about to be engaged. As much as a home break-in and poisonous spiders left behind jeopardize the happy couple’s happiness, it’s the Caine family dinner that really casts a cloud over the festivities. Quinn’s parents might adore Bash’s girlfriend Rachel, but the news that Bash is converting his religion to that of his fiancée – and not the other way around – leaves them heartbroken and results in an evening of hurt feelings and estrangement. As distracting as the family drama is for Quinn and her novitiate sister Sister Daria, their policy of asking for forgiveness and not permission means that they will be delving into the late Broadway star’s life and the wake of disappointment and anger he left behind.
The mystery of this second of the series proves to be fun and fascinating, but the truly compelling aspect is in how it approaches the topic of religion. Many will relate to the uncomfortable family dinner when an engagement is announced between a multi-faith family, and the true reasons behind the confusion and hurt are compelling. Even though Quinn leads this series and is genuinely likable as she attempts to bring her family together while also solving a murder, her sister proves to be just as intriguing with her own personal journey. As much as Sister Daria –the wild child formerly known as Elizabeth Caine – denies that she is using the Church as an escape from her problems, it quickly becomes obvious that a devastating heartbreak led towards her distrust of relationships and why she avoids them at all costs. Training therapy dogs and closing herself off from romance is a safe alternative to risking another emotional loss, and it’s apparent that the independently minded and very spirited novitiate may not be the best candidate for a sheltered life. As Quinn settles down and finds her happiness amidst the books she loves, a next adventure following Sister Daria and the choices she needs to make could prove to be a worthy installment in this charming food-and-book-loving series.
Interview with Harper Kincaid:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Harper: I’ve been writing since I was four years old, but I had to wait forty more years until I was published.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Harper: My first was a novella called Rule Breaker. I think it was released almost ten years ago. It was an erotic romance with more of a rom-com premise: a young woman goes against a list of rules, given by her Southern mama, on how to land the man of her dreams. Such a ridiculously old-fashioned idea, but of course, she meets her man breaking every single one.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series??
Harper: Actually, I was looking to break into this genre and my agent told me she knew of an editor who was looking for a cozy mystery based in the South, with a feminist lead-with dogs and nuns! I liked the writing challenge. Ironically, that editor was the first to pass-which ended up being a blessing because that publishing house folded.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience?from your work?
Harper: For this series, I am primarily looking to entertain, but if you think a little along the way, that’s okay too.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Harper: I wish I did. My ADHD makes scheduling hard for me – plus the day job.
KRL: I can totally relate. What is your ideal time to write?
Harper: Anytime someone isn’t asking me for something lol.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it???
Harper: I absolutely outline. It’s the only way I can keep track of all that’s happening.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning???
Harper: I did not, but only because I came into publishing right when e-books were taking off and the romance publishing industry couldn’t keep up with the demand. I didn’t even need an agent back then. I look at my old romance novels as my gateway in-and a bit like my writing school. I’ve learned a lot since then.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Harper: Well, when I sent out the novella, Rule Breaker, I picked about a half dozen publishers. Four said no, Samhain Publishing said yes. Entangled Publishing also said no, but they said they liked my voice and signed me for another series as an add on. That book, Bind Me Before You Go, still sells well.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Harper: They are ALL interesting. Book lovers are the wildest characters. I’ve signed people’s body parts. I’ve gotten some of the best gifts. It’s a wild ride.
KRL: What are your future writing goals?
Harper: I’m developing a TV series. I’d also like to write some more edgy material.
KRL: How exciting! You will have to keep us posted on the TV series.
Who are your writing heroes?
Harper: My writing heroes are the women who’ve lifted me up along the way. Too many to name.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Harper: I do a lot of research, especially local history for the town of Vienna, Virginia where my story is based. I also did research on how to book bind.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Harper: I read everything. I tend to gravitate towards memoirs though.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Harper: I’m a big mafia fan – Goodfellas, The Godfather I and II, The Sopranos, Casino. I am a huge fan of documentaries. As far as TV shows, I love Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, that Indian matchmaking show, it depends on my mood.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Harper: Get involved in your local writing community. They offer classes and workshops, advice and critiques aligned with your interests.
KRL: What?is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Harper: I don’t know. I’m pretty much an open book.
KRL: Do you have any pets?
Harper: Yes! I have two dog babies. They’re adorable rascals.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Harper: Thank you for having me!
KRL: Thank you for chatting with us! Website? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?
Harper: Come to my website HarperKincaid.com and sign up for my newsletter. That’s where I share writing tips, upcoming events, and giveaways. I’m on IG @HarperKincaid and on Facebook my page is Author Harper Kincaid. I hope to see everyone there!
To enter to win a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Scheme, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “midsumer,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 8, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next month.
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.
Love the cover! Would really like to read the book.
A Midsummer Night’s Scheme sounds like a cozy tat I would love to read.
Always enjoy books about books.
Sounds good. thanks
This sounds fabulous! I would love to read it! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
The bag of snakes is a rough way to
kill somebody. Sounds interesting.
A new series and author for me. Sounds fun, we did a lot of Shakespeare in school.
I love the cat & dog on the cover.
Enjoyed the interview, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com
This sounds like such an interesting and fun read. Reading a cozy mystery with a nun will be a first for me.
We have a winner!