Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Guest Post by Julie Sarff


Lily Bilbury needs to find the remnants of the French Blue and find them fast. It’s been three long years since her Italian husband cheated on her, and she is facing financial ruin. In desperation, she teams up with fellow housemaid, Francesca – an irascible Italian fashionista and self-proclaimed psychic. Together they search Villa Buschi for some of the most famous gems in the world, the diamonds that were cut away from the French Blue to make the infamous Hope. 

But when Lily can’t find the diamonds, and nothing seems to go her way, she briefly contemplates running around ranting drivel and frightening the whole reserved population of Arona, Italy. 

Follow Lily and several rambunctious rescue kittens on her quest for precious antiquities; a journey which may lead to something far better than long lost gems. 


Writing the Sweet Delicious Madness mystery series all started after reading a book about the lost and stolen treasures of the antiquity world. These true stories seemed more fabulous than anything a fiction writer could invent. Fights over antiquities between upstanding museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the government of Turkey put a spotlight on the murky underworld of smuggled artifacts and the desire by some in the antiquities world to obtain the treasures at any cost.

As a reader, I have always preferred the stories of the hapless heroine that works her ways into our hearts by being the everyday sort. This kind of heroine isn’t pulled together or polished, but rather struggles to pay her bills, take her kids to school on time. This kind of heroine never has a good hair day. Enter Lily Bilbury, one extraordinary mess who takes a job as a maid in a villa on the romantic shores of Lago Maggiore. It is here that she enters into the world of dusting around Imperial Faberge Eggs while being unable to make her rent payment at home. When a fellow maid, Francesca, claims to be a psychic channeling Carlo Buschi, former owner of the villa, Lily doesn’t pay much attention – after all she has a lot on her mind. She’s trying to obtain a divorce from a cheating husband, she has children to look after, and she is several thousand miles for her closest relatives.

The stakes soon rise for Lily when her big-hearted girlfriend also falls on hard times. After learning that Carlo Buschi was an avid collector of smuggled antiquities, Lily teams up with Francesca to search for the remnants of the French Blue, the diamond that was last seen intact before the French Revolution. The same diamond that was later cut into the Hope.

The search for the diamonds that were cut away from the Hope is the first in a series of mysteries based on stolen and lost antiquities that will lead a very unlikely heroine into the dark world of antique smuggling. Along the way she will fall hard for the new owner of the villa, Hollywood heartthrob Brandon Logan. One part romantic comedy, one part cozy mystery, the first book in the Sweet Delicious Madness series was released March 21st.

*This guest post originally appeared on Dianne Harman's blog.


I am a happily married mother of two. Raised in Colorado, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of years of my life in Northern Italy. I graduated with an M.S. in math and economics from The Colorado School of Mines, and then promptly went to work on the Titan program for Lockheed Martin Astronautics.

I have to say, I worked on the more boring bits of rocketry, but the fun thing was we all got to wear shirts that said, "Actually, it is Rocket Science." Around the same time, I began working as a part-time professor of Economics and Statistics. Some people find these subjects a little dry, but I made my classes super scintillating by dressing up on occasion as Professor Trelawney form Harry Potter and trying to forecast the future. 

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be the next Carolyn Keene. When I was in third grade, I used to sit on the porch and read Nancy Drew in the morning, and then write my own mysteries in the afternoon. My characters in Sweet Delicious Madness are completely fictitious, but draw on people I met when I lived in Italy. For my first series I wanted to write a Cinderella story, I wanted to ask, what if a perfectly ordinary woman, flawed in many ways, messed up her life the first go around, but got a second chance to meet and fell in love with her own version of Austin's Mr. Darcy. And what if, along the way, she met and learned from other characters who surrounded her; characters that had quirks of their own - a women with a passion for animal rescue, an Italian housemaid who talks to the dead, and a curator of a museum who intimately knows the history of the stolen antiquities market. All of these items synthetized into the making of The Sweet Delicious Madness Series.

In 2015, I am busy tying up loose ends in the fifth book in the series, tentatively titled The Knotty Bride. I am also asking myself a new question: what if Arthur Pendragon had a daughter? I look forward to releasing my newest series, Magda Pendragon: Heir to Arthur in the coming months. Oh, and for the record, I was lucky enough to meet and marry my own version of Mr. Darcy on the first go round. We live our lives in the Colorado sunshine, with an ever-changing collection of adopted dogs and cats.

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