Author’s Note from back of book:
The setting for this book, The Columbia Inn at Peralynna, is quite real, and used with the permission of its owners, David and Dr. Cynthia Lynn.
My husband and I first discovered this intriguing boutique bed and breakfast in September. We were charmed by the unique layout and, particularly, by our warm and gracious hosts. We returned again in February, when the Lynns graciously showed us around their home and their community. (Royal Taj Restaurant, The Iron Bridge Wine Company, and the old Savage Mills cotton mill complex are also real places.) Cynthia and I spent many hours in the four story great room, discussing our mutual love for books and writing, and brainstorming future plots.
The inn has a fascinating story behind it. It is, indeed, fashioned after a CIA safe house in Germany that Cynthia thought of as her family’s vacation home. She told me she simply thought their parents threw a lot of parties and took their five children on spur-of-the-moment trips, often in the still of night. It was years before she realized her parents were spies and that those clandestine encounters were related to national security. In fact, the American pilot Francis Gary Powers (you probably remember the name from the blockbuster movie Bridge of Spies) was debriefed at the safe house her father.
During my last visit, I had the pleasure of listening to Cynthia and her sister Dot recall memories of the house, their parents, and their unique lifestyle abroad. Oh, the books these women could write! The character of CIA Agent Logan McKee is, in fact, Cynthia’s creation and will be the main character in a fiction series—non-classified, of course—that she plans to pen in the very near future.
I hope you enjoyed this book and the glimpse shared into The Columbia Inn at Peralynna. The next time you’re in the Baltimore/Columbia/DC area, you owe it to yourself to meet the Lynns and to stay in their beautiful home. Be sure and tell them I sent you. (And don’t forget to look for those secret staircases!)
By the way, Boonsboro, Maryland is only an hour away, where you can visit Turn the Page bookstore and the Boonsboro Inn, both owned by author Nora Roberts.
Until next time,
The Lilac Code
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 7
by Becki Willis
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Will a case of mistaken identity be the death of her?
Madison Reynolds is looking forward to a few days of rest and relaxation. Her best friend Genny is judging a celebrity bake-off near DC, so it’s the perfect opportunity for a girl’s getaway. With fun-loving Granny Bert in tow, the trio heads to the very heart of the Intel community. Deep in alphabet soup territory—surrounded by CIA, NSA, FBI and more—it takes only moments for things to go awry.
A mix-up at the airport leaves Madison with the wrong luggage, and a last-minute change in accommodations lands them at The Columbia Inn at Peralynna. How can they know its ties to the spy world will soon spin them into its web?
Designed as a CIA safe house, the inn has a fascinating history. When it seems a mysterious man in a dark coat is following her, Madison scoffs at her over-action imagination. She’s listened to too many spy tales, spun by the innkeeper herself. The stories of espionage and agents are intriguing, but too incredible to be real. The Texans know nothing about secret codes and counterintelligence. They’ve never heard of The Lilac Code, or the illusive agent-for-hire known simply as Kalypso.
Back home in The Sisters, a drama is unfolding that involves Madison’s precious twins. She’s raised them to do the right thing, no matter the consequence, but will their quest for justice put them in danger?
Thrust into impossible situations of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the twins risk everything to save their school, while deep in spy territory, Madison and Genny race against the clock—and the elements—to save Granny Bert’s life.
The award-winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series continues in this exciting Book 7. This is a stand-alone book, but best when enjoyed as a full series experience.
She seemed to fall forever.
Despite her own warning just seconds earlier, Madison let out a loud scream and rolled head-over heels down the side of the hill.
“Maddy! Maddy, are you okay?” Genny scrambled to the edge of the drop-off, trying to determine the best path down. She used her flashlight to search for her friend, but saw nothing. Her voice, low but stern, took on a stern, no-nonsense tone. “Talk to me, Madeline Josephine Cessna, so I know you’re still alive!”
Upon further investigation, Genny realized it wasn’t a low wall Maddy had seen, covered with tin. It was an entire building, backed up to the embankment with only its tin roof visible from above. It was built at river level and most likely used as a storage shed for machinery, meaning her friend had taken a long and nasty fall. Her voice turned frantic. “Maddy, talk to me!” she begged.
Madison’s voice was strangled and weak, but it carried above the sound of the river. “Alive,” she croaked from somewhere below.
“I’m coming down.”
Bracing her hand on the rusted tin of the building’s roof, and her foot against the crumbling brick exterior, Genny more or less climbed down the side of the old building. She clung to a nearby sapling for support when she could, and half-crawled, half-fell the rest of the way to the ground. Scrambling to her feet, she softly called for her friend again.
By the time Genny reached her friend, Madison had struggled into a sitting position and was examining her arms and legs for open wounds and broken bones. Finding neither, she started removing sticks and leaves from her hair.
“Are you okay?” Genny squealed, not bothering to censure her volume.
“Did you break anything?” When she attempted to rise, Genny shook her hands. “Don’t get up just yet. Take a minute to gather yourself.”
“This ground is cold and wet. Help me up.”
It took two efforts, a mumbled curse or two, and quite a few grunts and groans, but Madison was finally on her feet. “I lost the rope,” she realized. “We need to find it.”
“I’ll go back.”
A few feet away, Genny stumbled across the coil of rope. Literally. She caught herself just before falling. “Found it.”
“Shh,” Madison said. “Listen.”
They cocked their heads, straining to hear over the sounds of the river and the wind. It was faint, but the sound came again. A shrill whistle, somewhere nearby.
“Granny Bert!” Madison cried with relief.
Don't miss the other books in The Sisters, Texas series!
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 1
When The Stars Fall
Stipulations and Complications
Christmas in The Sisters
Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of '13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published eleven books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction and Best Audio Book, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.
An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel, but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.
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