Sparks and Joy #1
Joy Russo loves chaos. From her life as a busy reporter to her brawling, coffee-obsessed
Italian family, there’s nothing she loves more than her messy, little life. Then the weird,
slightly out-of-this-world Aurora Sparks arrives, whose life seems to revolve around creating
order out of chaos.
The two of them have somehow ended up as roommates in the small Upstate New York town
of Bent River, and the old adage that says “opposite attract” couldn’t be further from the
truth! Sparks fly & tempers flare as each young lady tries to deal with the other’s
eccentricities while not compromising their own values. Much easier said than done.
But when a man is found dead and Joy’s father is the prime suspect, the two must put aside
their differences if they want to help him. They soon find that Joy’s tough, no-nonsense
demeanor and Aurora’s ordered, structured nature perfectly complement each other when it
comes to ferreting out clues. And, thankfully so, as the danger threatens to escalate unless
they can sort through the facts and solve this mystery in a hurry!
Aurora poked her head into the fridge and found a half-eaten sandwich, a carton of expired
milk and three entire bags of shredded lettuce which were now quite inedible. In the freezer
there was an unopened pint of Tutti-Frutti ice cream, which Aurora grabbed and cradled to
her chest as though it were her long lost lover. Walking over to the living room, she moved
a pile of magazines to make space on the sofa and sat next to the still-snoring Beppe.
She gave a little sigh of satisfaction as the ice cream hit her tongue, melting instantly and
coating her throat with coolness. She wasn’t the biggest fan of the flavor with its brightlycolored candied-fruits but, right now, it felt like a friend and a comforter all at once.
“Mm. Huh? G’way.” Beppe swatted at something in his sleep. “No! No! Lauren, stop!” He
tried to turn and, before Aurora could stop him, he crashed onto the floor, landing on a
cushion of newspapers, a purse and an empty deodorant can. He blinked sleepily and sat
up, one hand on his temple. His eyes squinted against the light as he turned to look at
“That was a terrible dream. Absolutely terrible,” he said to Aurora conversationally. “Rare
for me to have those. I normally sleep like a baby.”
“So you wake up crying a lot?” Aurora couldn’t resist asking.
He threw his head back and laughed, then pointed two finger guns at her. “Right, right.
Because babies cry. I guess the only people who say ‘sleep like a baby’ have never had one.
Like me. Never been married.” He thumped his chest. “Makes me an oddity in this town.
Why, Chip and I are the only ones who have never been married. Everyone else jumps to it
like cowboys to the gold rush. I ask you, is there any sense in that?”
“Er… no?” Aurora had a spoon half-raised to her mouth. She wondered if it occurred to
Beppe to introduce himself, or ask what a stranger was doing in his niece’s house. Or, for
that matter, what he was doing in his niece’s house.
“No sense whatsoever,” Beppe said. He smacked his lips then rose up slowly, one hand on
his lower back. “Well, I guess I’ll help myself to some water. You sit right here, don’t trouble
“Oh…” Aurora was suddenly unsure how to handle the situation. Technically, this was her
house now, which meant Beppe was her guest, too. Perhaps she should have offered him
something. Then again…maybe he would have been insulted at being treated like a guest in
a house that had once been his father’s.
By the time she’d worked it out in her head, Beppe was back with a spoon in one hand and
a tall glass of ice water in the other. Sitting next to her, he casually took a large scoop of ice
cream from the carton she was eating out of. Pausing only to sniff the ice-cream
appreciatively, he swallowed it in one gulp.
“Now, what I always tell Joy is that she needs to have her own life sorted out before she
invites others into it. My sister, Maria, says that Joy can’t sort out her life unless she invites
others into it. Nonsense. Utter nonsense. Solitude is the best way to know oneself, and
knowing oneself is the best way to be happy.”
“Mmm hmm.” Realizing that he intended to stick his now-used spoon back into the carton,
Aurora had been shoveling ice cream into her mouth at double speed. She could only
manage to nod and smile at Beppe as he talked on, unconcerned. Apparently, sharing ice
cream with a total stranger was alright with him. Aurora was germphobic at the best of
times, and the thought of his spoon touching any portion of her food gave her the chills. He
reached his spoon out and, with a sigh, she offered him the rest of the carton, which he
Thank you, Nancy McGovern and Lola’s Blog Tours
About the author
I’m a mother, wife, homemaker, pet lover, teacher, student, reader, writer,
drinker of tea & wine (depending on the time of day) and sleep-deprived
dreamer. I live in Northern New Jersey with my husband (a veterinarian and
writer), our three children and too many furred & feathered friends to list!
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The first winner will win a $50 Amazon gift card and three other winners will each win a physical copy of Death and Decluttering (US Only).
Later books in the series
Alibis and Arranging
Sparks and Joy #2
Suspects and Sorting
Sparks and Joy #3