Food writer meets hitman with delicious results!

AgnesHitmancoverYikes! Just remembered February only has 28 days, so I haven’t actually got another couple of days to get this post up. Which is why I’m sitting here at my desk on Sunday at 12.30pm instead of taking advantage of an empty house while DH takes the kids to the pools for a swim. Drat.

Another bunch of really great books this month, and I’ve already discussed Soulless, Archangel’s Kiss and Beautiful Creatures over at the Writers Gone Wild blog. All totally awesome in completely different ways, BTW!

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick was another fab YA read this month. Was toying with whether or not to let my daughter read it, as it seemed a bit too real-life scary in parts — creepy mask-wearing stalkers and home invasions aren’t generally the kind of stuff I want my 13 year old to be dealing with! But suffice it to say, the paranormal element came to the fore and tied all the nasty stuff up in a beautiful gory bow. And she likes to read horrors, so I figured this, she could handle. And she did. And loved the book, too.

But I figured it was time to feature something with no paranormal or fantasy element for a change.

*Gasp!* Yes, I do actually read “normal” stuff. I’ll read just about anything…. Except for horrors. Not a fan of horrors. I think I got put off them as a teenager, when a bunch of us were supposed to be going to see Flashdance and somehow we ended up at Amityville 2, The Possession. The guys were rapt. Me? I spent the entire movie with my hands over my eyes, inevitably daring a peek just as something horribly ghastly occured on the big screen. Timing has never been my strong point, LOL. I did watch The Ring on TV a couple of years back. Scariest damn movie ever. And left me with no desire to watch another horror. Gimme a nice, gory, shoot ’em up, high-body-count action flick like Kill Bill or From Dusk Till Dawn or Desperado, any day. I’ll take my gore with guns, not spooky stuff.

And speaking of guns, I gotta say, I loved Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.

I’ve read a couple of Jennifer Crusie’s books (Getting Rid Of Bradley, and Faking It) and I love her writing. She writes funny, wonderful characters, and funny, wonderful books. And I’ve been lucky enough to hear her speak when she was one of our key-note speakers at our RWNZ conference a couple of years back. She was fabulous.

I remember her mentioning that  she’d written a book with Bob Mayer (also a hugely successful author). And her brief on the pros and cons of collaborating on a romance novel with a former Green Beret (who had a very different approach to the writing process than she did), was the stuff of much amusement and amazement.

In fact, their website sums it up perfectly: “What happens when a perfectly nice romance writer writes a book with a grim paranoid action adventure novelist?” Visit to find the answer!

Anyway, Agnes and the Hitman is one of the results of that collaboration. And boy, is it seamless.

Agnes, is a food writer with well-known anger management issues… specifically the efficient way her frypan has connected with the skulls of a couple of no-hoper boyfriends who screwed her over. When she’s stressed, she often has conversations in her head with her court-appointed psychiatrist in her head. Like when a gun-toting kid tries to dog-nap Rhett, her drooly old Bassett hound, forcing Agnes to wield her frypan yet again. With disastrous results.

Shane, has been dispatched by his uncle Joey to protect Agnes. Shane’s a hitman for a rather ruthless government agency, and he finds himself seduced by Agnes’s incredible cooking skills… among other things. The result is funny, complex, wonderful, and very, very clever. As the book cover says, “Sometimes instant attraction is a recipe for disaster.” And what a glorious disaster it is!

Here’s a sample:

Agnes got to her feet, wishing she had her frying pan back. “Shane. Okay, Shane, thank you for scaring the hell out of me, but this is my house, so I’ll ask the questions.” She took a deep breath. “Joey sent you. Why?”

“I’m here to protect some kid. Little Agnes?”

“That’s me,” Agnes said.

There was a silence long enough to hear crickets it, and Agnes thought, If he makes some crack about me not being little, I’m gonna hit him again, and then he spoke.

“I’m here to protect you,” he said, sounding resigned. “Unless you hit me again, in which case, whoever I’m supposed to save you from can have your ass.”

“Protect me?” That wasn’t good. She’d been worried about the police finding out about her record, but Joey thought she needed to be protected from something else, something only somebody like this guy could stave off. Which meant something was seriously wrong. Not that the guy who was now a corpse in her basement hadn’t been a tip-oof, but if Joey thought something was so bad that she needed this guy, it must be really bad, because a guy like this could protect her from…


Out in the front hall, Brenda’s ugly black grandfather clock began to chime the hour in big gongs that sounded like Death’s oven timer, and Agnes looked at Shane again.

Big. Broad. Dark. Strong. Handsome if you liked thugs. Looked like Joey. And he was here to keep her safe.

How are you feeling right now, Agnes?

Could be worse.

“Okay, Shane,” Agnes said as Brenda’s clock gonged midnight. “I got Joey in the kitchen, a cop in the front hall, a dead body in the basement, and you in my bedroom. Where do you want to start?”

Throw in the wedding from hell, a jerkoff fiance who’s already married… to the woman who’s running a real-estate scam on Agnes, five million bucks, a bunch of Southern mobsters, and a couple of pink flamingoes, and you’ve got the recipe for a great read. Enjoy! I know I did.

Here’s my February reading list:

  • Tonight, My Love by Tracie Sommers
  • Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly
  • All He Wants For Christmas by Jill Shalvis**
  • My Grown-Up Christmas List by Jacquie D’Alessandro**
  • Soulless by Gail Carriger
  • Dark Visions: The Strange Power by L.J. Smith
  • Dark Visions: The Possessed by L.J. Smith
  • Dark Visions: The Passion by L.J. Smith
  • Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • the Last Vampire by Christopher Pike
  • Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
  • Claiming His Brought Bride by Rachel Bailey
  • Stone Cold Lover by Mel Teshco
  • Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  • Claiming His Bought Bride by Rachel Bailey
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
  • Come Toy With Me by Cara Summers
  • And a Dead Guy in a Pear Tree by Leslie Kelly**
  • The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
  • Up On The Housetop by Jamie Sobrato**

**Heating Up The Holidays anthology



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