Poison in Paradise By Melissa Baldwin: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Sep 19, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of Poison in Paradise, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

Poison in Paradise: A Tropical Mystery Novel By Melissa Baldwin

Sailing, Sailing Into Mayhem and Murder
Off to sail the Caribbean, Alexa Walker loves her job as lifeguard on the Legend, a marvelous vessel in the Epic Cruise Line fleet. Lexi had always dreamed of being a lifeguard in some capacity since her personal water rescue by a handsome surfer when she was fifteen, but she recently has had a desire to expand her onboard responsibilities taking advantage of a part-time position with Port Adventures. Her work schedule has her very busy, but the opportunity to go off-board is one that excites her. Her roommate with Chloe is a Norwegian Londoner, and as a hopeless romantic, she puts pressure on Lexi to check out the new crew members to see if any might be perfect for an “onboard love affair.” It’s always good to have friends…and the corporate exec might just be the ticket!

Poison in Paradise earns 5/5 Ports of Call…Entertaining Fun!
Passengers hoping to explore the ports of call head over to the Port Adventures and book a exciting excursion from up close animal interactions to once-in-a-lifetime explorations. Not always the easiest task for Lexi when one wants “this” and another wants “that,” but it is rewarding to help create forever memories. Her first client of the day arrives and turns into an unexpected reunion. Josie Brooks was a close childhood friend, but her parent’s divorce caused Josie to move away and the two friends to lose contact. Now, she stands in front of Lexi as the recently knotted Mrs. Phillip Edwards with a obscenely large diamond ring perched on her finger. An all-day excursion, perfect, a belated wedding celebration, romantic, an island resort with friends…murder! Unfortunately, the spouse is often first on the “person of interest” list, and this spurs Lexi into uncharted territory as an amateur sleuth.

All Aboard! Melissa Baldwin is a new-to-me author who has penned a delightful cozy using a first-person narrative for readers, like me, to vicariously participate with the “I” perspective. This first book, hopefully of a series, starts with character intros and background, but doesn’t waste too much time before getting into the “cozy” drama. Melissa’s writing style is entertaining as she slowly reveals several suspects and motives, adds a second death, and casts a wide net of suspicions to ponder. Jack Carson, the corporate exec, adds conflict with his mandate to revamp how Port Adventures does business, but he also solicits a few romantic dreams hard to ignore. Descriptive language uses a colorful brush for the setting and characters, dialogue does well to illustrate tone and various personalities, and predicaments provide fun and some nail-biting. Great read!

Be a Big Melissa Baldwin Fan!
Melissa Baldwin is an author who “took her dream to the next level, and is now an award-winning, bestselling author of seventeen Romantic Comedy and Cozy Mystery novels and novellas. [She] writes about charming, ambitious, and real women, and considers these leading ladies to be part of her tribe.”

Facebook: Author Melissa Baldwin
Gemma Halliday Publishing: Melissa Baldwin
Twitter @mpbaldwinauthor

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Interview with Melissa Baldwin:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Melissa: I’ve loved writing since I was a young child. When I was in college, I started writing a book about my dating experiences, but I never actually finished it. That book would’ve been a combination of comedy and horror. HA!

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

Melissa: My first published novel, An Event to Remember… or Forget came out in 2014. It’s a first in series- romantic comedy. I’m currently working on Book #20!

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?

Melissa: I actually began my career writing Romantic Comedy. I branched out into the Cozy Mystery Genre, with my Madness and Murder Series. It’s been a lot of fun to mix things up!

Melissa Baldwin

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

Melissa: My publisher had the initial idea of a story set on a cruise ship. I’m a huge fan of cruising, so I loved the idea. I live in Florida and have visited the Bahamas many times. I love the vibe of the islands and thought it would be a fantastic setting for Poison in Paradise.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Melissa: I definitely write to entertain. I believe real life is serious enough and we all need an escape.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Melissa: In the beginning of my career I wrote at night after my daughter went to bed. Over the years I’ve switched to writing in the day. When I’m working on a new book, I try to be very disciplined with timers and a specific schedule.

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?

Melissa: I create a general outline because I usually end up changing things as I get into the story. I tend to be more of a pantser so new ideas come to me as I’m getting to know my characters.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Melissa: I enjoy writing in the early morning and finishing so I can spend evenings with my family.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Melissa: I began my career by self-publishing. I signed with Gemma Halliday Publishing for my fifth book, Friends for Never.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Melissa: Yes! I met an author who had signed with Gemma Halliday Publishing at a conference in New York. Shortly after returning from this trip I finished writing Friends for Never. I was out for a run on a humid Florida morning and suddenly felt prompted to submit the book to Gemma. Thankfully, she loved it and the book released a few months later.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Melissa: To keep writing and releasing books

KRL: Writing heroes?

Melissa: Anyone who has the courage to bring their stories to life is a hero to me.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Melissa: People watching is my favorite kind of research. 🙂

KRL: What do you read?

Melissa: Romantic Comedy, Cozy Mystery, Women’s Fiction

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Melissa: General Hospital (no judging!) and Beverly Hills 90210 🙂

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Melissa: Be patient and don’t give up.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Melissa: I’m so grateful to my readers. I hope that my stories continue to bring them joy.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Melissa: My daughter and I were on Good Morning America while vacationing on a Disney Cruise ship.

To enter to win an ebook of Poison in Paradise, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “poison,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 26, 2020. US only, and must be 18 or older to enter. 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. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase this book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

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.


  1. Cruise ship mysteries are a sub-genre I enjoy. Count me in!

  2. Thanks for the interview and the chance to win! JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

    • This sounds like the perfect read for me! Thank you for the chance.

  3. Sounds like a great book. Looking forward to reading it.

  4. Haven’t been on many cruises
    but it would be fun to read about
    working on one. thanks

  5. thanks for the interview.

  6. We have a winner!


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