Embellished to Death

Embellished to Death

by Christina Freeburn


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781940976273
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication date: 09/23/2014
Pages: 276
Sales rank: 846,326
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.58(d)

About the Author

The Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series brings together Christina Freeburn's love of mysteries, scrapbooking, and West Virginia. When not writing or reading, she can be found in her scrapbook room or at a crop. Alas, none of the real-life crops have had a sexy male prosecutor or a handsome police officer attending.

Christina served in the JAG Corps of the US Army and also worked as a paralegal, librarian, and church secretary. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, children, a dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid or allergic to felines.

Read an Excerpt


The sun peeked over the ridge and cascaded a multitude of colors onto Cheat Canyon, near the Cheat Lake resort area in West Virginia that would be our home and workplace for the weekend. OneRepublic accompanied the rumble and hum of the truck engine as Steve navigated the changing grades of Interstate 68. I was thankful for the almost non-existent traffic at six-thirty in the morning. The borrowed truck used all its power towing the large trailer filled with scrapbook supplies. As the main vendor for the Cropportunity National Scrapbook Day retreat, I convinced my grandmothers that bringing half the store's inventory to the event was a good thing. I might not think so when Steve and I had to unload and set it all up, but hopefully the retreat would pay off by putting us in the black before mid-year.

Up, over, and winding through the mountains was quite the experience as vehicles zipped past us. Steve remained calm and collected even when a tractor trailer managed to get up and over an incline before us. I had spent the last two hours drawing in gasps of breaths and closing my eyes. Going down was as bad as going up. Gratitude shot through me every time we passed a truck escape ramp and didn't have to use it. It wasn't that I didn't trust Steve's driving; I didn't trust all the other drivers on the road. Some seemed to travel way faster than they should when hauling rigs filled with goods, and especially when driving metal barrels labeled "gasoline."

I cringed as another truck flew past us. Fortunately for the driver, the song was at my favorite part so I didn't unplug my phone and snap a picture of the license plate and call the number listed on the bumper sticker. Good thing as I also didn't know if there was enough time for me to list out all my complaints before we got to the resort.

I retrieved my insulated cup from the cup holder and sipped my mocha cappuccino. The trip had me wired enough, so I used drinking as a way to keep myself from offering Steve driving advice. Again. Steve did not need any more of my suggestions and critiques on the speed, closeness, and switching lane techniques he used. I'd already offered my views on staying put in a lane, slammed my foot on the imaginary brake multiple times, and pointed out the emergency ramps. Steve had offered to let me drive, directing my attention to the rest stop and emergency lanes.

Fortunately, both of us knew that wasn't the best idea. I wasn't a bad driver. I was actually pretty good. I had only been in two fender-benders and received one speeding ticket in my almost thirteen years of driving. But I was used to driving small cars. The truck we borrowed from Wayne and Wyatt Buford was massive, and we towed an equally large trailer behind us. If I had driven, there was the likelihood we wouldn't reach the retreat until the day it ended.

"We'll be there soon." Steve smoothly took what I hoped was one of the last curves to our destination.

I normally loved the different views the elevation of West Virginia offered when on a drive. I loved reaching a peak and being able to see the "whole world." The lakes, the rivers, the forests and, even at times, small houses scattered throughout the landscape. Then everything shifted and the world became more personal as the images were no longer distant and out of reach but close by and almost touchable.

Something about being in the truck, and hauling half a store behind us, set me on edge. Not a good way to start the awesome weekend I planned. The Cropportunity Weekend Getaways chose a resort a few miles from Cheat Lake for the Friday to Sunday retreat. It was a beautiful location, without a lot of shopping distractions, and a great view of the lake and mountains. A nice relaxing place for scrapbooking, bonding with friends, and maybe even some romantic moments for those of us with significant others along.

I was excited about this event for two ... okay, three reasons. Scrapbooking time. Great venue for selling. Alone time with Steve, away from my grandmothers' watchful eyes. Hope and Cheryl wanted Steve and me together, but not together before we walked down the aisle. A wedding wasn't even in the distant horizon at this point in time, and I had no idea when I'd like it to appear.

The music cut off as my cell phone trilled. Ted's name and likeness flashed onto the screen. I fumbled for the phone and unhooked it from the auxiliary jack. Why in the world was Ted calling me at six-thirty in the morning? A question I hoped Steve didn't ask. Not that I'd have to lie, but it would still create an awkward beginning to a weekend I hoped had some romantic moments. It was common knowledge that homicide detective Ted Roget had more than a professional interest in me.

For some reason, Ted entertained wicked thoughts about me, and I unfortunately found myself wondering about the two of us every now and then. Something I shouldn't be doing as Steve and I were officially an item. I blamed it on my skittish nature when it came to relationships. I'd been scorched in the past and, while I wanted to leave the pain behind me, it lingered. And Steve had no idea about that time in my life, as did no one else in Eden — except for Ted.

The truck went around a sharp bend in the road. My stomach followed a few seconds later. The phone rang again.

"What?" I snapped, fumbling to keep the phone to my ear.

"Are you not a morning person, or have I once again caught you jumping into a heap of trouble?"

"How can I get into trouble sitting as a passenger in a truck?"

"If there's a way, you'd find it," Ted said.

"I need to act as back up for GPS directions, so tell me why you're calling or I'm hanging up."

"I got a call asking why you abandoned a car off exit ten. I knew you were going to Morgantown this weekend, and figured you found some mess to involve yourself in."

"I don't do mayhem this early in the morning."

"What's going on?" Steve asked.

I shrugged and held my hand over the phone speaker. "Ted called to ask why I abandoned a car."

"Why would he think that?" Steve merged over a lane.

I shrugged again and turned the question over to Ted. "Why do you think that?"

"My brother called," Ted said. "He asked why'd you'd be in Morgantown. There's an abandoned car off the exit and it has paperwork with your name laying on the passenger seat and also —"

I was hurt. "So, instead of thinking I was possibly broken down or kidnapped, you figured I ended up in some sort of self-created trouble?"

"Pretty much."

"Well, I'm not." My leg bounced up and down as anxiety raced through me. I knew I hadn't done anything wrong but an overpowering guilt complex built into my system went into overdrive. "What kind of paperwork was in the car? Directions to the scrap retreat?"

"Bob didn't specify too much." Evasiveness leaked into Ted's voice.

Right. He'd be horrible at planning a surprise party. "If Bob thought I had car trouble, why not look for me? What's going on?"

I craned my neck, trying to get a view of the approaching exit.

Ted groaned. "I should have known better than to tell you."

Yes. He should have. His brother Bob was a private investigator. Of course, I'd be curious why the man found a need to check out an abandoned car. "You brought it to my attention so tell me."

Ted sighed. "I don't know."

I snorted. "Not buying it. No matter. We're almost there. I'll get Steve to pull over so I can find out."

"Do not stop. Just go to the resort. If you're needed, the police —"

"Police are asking questions?"

"Tell Davis to keep driving."

I angled my body toward Steve. "Detective Roget says you should not stop at the abandoned car the police are examining that they believe is tied to me."

A nerve in Steve's jaw twitched. "Did he now?"

"I did not say that!" Ted bellowed. "I did not tell you the police are looking for you."

"You said if they needed to speak with me, they'd find me. So why not just stop and make it easy for them," I said into the phone. "Do my civic duty."

"And how are you going to explain magically showing up there?" Detective Smugness asked.

"The truth. Detective Roget from Eden called me and questioned me about my whereabouts." I ended the phone call and pivoted to face Steve. "Detour?" "Do I have a choice?" Steve eased the truck and trailer off the exit. "You'd find a way back here anyway. I'd rather you investigate while I was with you than alone. There's less chance of you irritating the police that way."

Two cars were parked on the asphalt shoulder just off the exit. Sunlight glinted off a bright yellow SUV packed to the gills with scrapbooking supplies. So much stuff was in the car, crafting goodies spilled out the back. The driver's door was open. I clambered out of the truck.

Private investigator Bob Roget eyeballed the huge Fix Your Flush emblazoned on the sides of the borrowed trailer. He cupped his hand over his cell phone. "New business?"

"It was the only trailer available to borrow for the weekend."

The van my grandmothers had rented wasn't large enough for the inventory I believed necessary for this venture, so I resorted to borrowing the trailer Wayne and Wyatt used for their plumbing business. Now I owed them a favor. I wasn't too keen about it, but the worst thing the brothers could ask, would be for me to stop giving them spots at our singles mixer. Their mother, Gussie, was way more interested in her sons getting married and giving her grandbabies than her sons were interested in having a wife and child.

I tried looking into the SUV but the tinted windows made it hard to get a view of what was inside. I peered at Steve and Bob. Bob was having an intense phone call, and Steve was trying to get cars to move along rather than stop and gawk at us.

Good. The men were preoccupied. I nudged the SUV driver's door open a little more with my shoulder. No purse. No keys in the ignition. No cell phone. A stack of papers taunted me from the passenger seat. I squinted and stared hard at the top sheet. I made out my name but nothing else. Drat. I leaned into the car to get a better look.

"I wouldn't do that." Bob tapped the screen of his cell and dropped it into the pocket of his white button-down shirt. He shoved the rolled up sleeves further up his amazing biceps. "The police are on their way."

I turned myself, and my appraising eyeballs, away from Bob. The Roget men were good-looking guys. Intense green eyes. Nice builds. Red hair that fought to swoop over brows. Bob was more congenial than his brother Ted. Of course, I wasn't interfering in a police investigation, the way Ted and I usually spent time together. Me investigating, and Ted threatening to throw me in jail if I didn't stop.

"I'm not going to touch anything," I said. "Just looking."

"Famous last words." Steve wrapped an arm around my waist and drew me away from the SUV. "How about you listen to this guy?"

I wiggled away from Steve. "I have every right to know what's in there that made him and Ted think I drove this car."

"I wasn't worried that you were driving," Bob said. "I was concerned about someone pretending they were you."

"What?" I gaped at him.

Bob stood beside me and held out his cell phone. "Here are some pictures of what's in the vehicle. I'm tracking down an identity thief and have reason to believe they were on the way to the crop at Eagle Mountain Estate Resort. When I saw the contract with your name, and a photocopy of your driver's license, I got concerned."

I examined the pictures. My name and signature were on the documents, along with a photocopy of my driver's license. I racked my brain trying to figure out when, and how, someone could've lifted my license and got a copy of it.

Steve looked over my shoulder. "You should run a credit check."

I leaned back into his strong frame. Great, someone was trying to steal my identity. As if one of me wasn't trouble enough.

Bob's phone buzzed. He glanced at the screen. Worry knitted his brow together. "Ted ran the plates. The car belongs to a Marsha Smith. This isn't looking good."

I wouldn't have to make numerous phone calls this weekend to cancel credit and debit cards. I walked around the SUV, inspecting the tires and ground. "She's one of the owners of the Cropportunity scrapbooking retreat business."

"Her name is actually Marsha Smith?" Bob pulled out a stylus and typed on the screen of his cell.

"Yep. She's partners with Lydia Clement." Packs of cardstock and patterned paper lay on the ground around the car. Small tubes sparkled from the grass on the hill side of the guardrail. Either Bob searched the car in a haphazard way, or Marsha left in a hurry.

"There are no flats, if that's what you're looking for," Bob said.

I halted. "Maybe she ran out of gas."

Steve removed his cell phone from his back jean pocket. "I'll call the resort and see if she's there. She might have broken down and walked to the resort."

"Or —" I began.

"Let's not turn this into a mystery you need to solve, Faith." Steve shot me a hard glare.

Something I also ignored. When a man insisted I listen to him, I wanted to do the exact opposite. I blamed it on the time I allowed not questioning a man to place me smack dab on the police's radar as a murderer.

Frowning, Steve bounced the cell phone against his palm. "No one is answering at the resort."

"We should head over and see if we spot her walking along the road." I gathered up the packs of paper from the ground. I went back to the truck and carefully deposited the items into the small back seat.

"What are you doing?" Bob and Steve asked.

"Helping. I'm sure these are items for the door prize table or goodie bags. I don't want to leave them on the ground." I retrieved some more items from the road. "They do have the crop's name on them."

"They probably are creating a hazard." Bob looked at the cars bottlenecking. "But, until we know what happened to the driver of the car, you shouldn't touch anything else."

My cheeks heated. He was right. "Sorry. Want me to inventory what I picked up? I'm figuring Steve and I should go." We didn't need to create an accident.

"Just send me a list." Bob handed me a business card. "I'll direct you out."

I settled the supplies in the middle of the compact seat behind us. In case we spotted Marsha walking down the side of the road, I wanted the seats near the door empty. Parking on the side of the road would be even harder than on the shoulder, so I wanted to make sure Marsha could quickly get into the truck. I dug around in my tote for my contract. I'd call Marsha's cell and see what was up.

Bob walked into the middle of the road and held out his hand in the international signal for stop.

Steve eased our mobile scrap store back onto the road. "Give me a description."

"Of what?" I roved my gaze between my cell, the phone number, and the window. The phone rang.

"Of Marsha. What else?" Exasperation wound around Steve's tone.

The phone continued to peal. "If you see a woman walking along the road, I'd say that's her."

"You don't know what she looks like?"

"No, Marsha is the scrapbooking guru of the duo. Lydia Clement is the business person. I met with Lydia to finalize the contracts."

"No picture of her on the website?"

Now who was being suspicious? "Some women don't like getting their pictures taken. It's an interesting and sad phenomenon in scrapbooking. Women, who spend countless hours documenting their families' lives, omit themselves from photographs and their scrapbooks because they're self-conscious about their appearances."

Marsha's voice mail clicked on. "Hey, Marsha, this is Faith Hunter. Spotted your car on the side of the road. If you're walking to the retreat, be on the lookout for a trailer with a toilet painted on the side. That's me and my boyfriend. We can give you a ride."

I disconnected the call. Why wasn't Marsha answering her phone? If I was hiking up a mountain, I'd be answering on the first ring.

Unless I couldn't.


A large sign with an eagle stretching out one wing pointed the way to the resort. Steve turned down the road. The truck and trailer plodded up the hill. The road leading to the main part of the resort resembled a race track. Around and around we went.

I bobbed and weaved my head to see between the trees standing straight and tall like soldiers at attention. I strained my eyes, searching for any sign of movement in the woods lining the roadway. Where was Marsha? We should've seen her by now unless she got another ride, or was no longer in the area. I called again. It went straight to voicemail.

"This is one long driveway." Steve maneuvered around a turn and then another.


Excerpted from "Embellished To Death"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Christina Freeburn.
Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A delightful mystery no person who loves crafts should miss. A little town, a little romance, a little intrigue and a little murder. Join heroine Faith and find out exactly who is doing the embellishing—the kind that doesn't involve scrapbooking.” — Leann Sweeney, Author of the New York Times Bestselling Cats in Trouble Mysteries

“Who knew a scrapbooking retreat could be so deadly? Christina Freeburn's Embellished to Death is a fast-paced crafting cozy that will keep you turning pages as you try to figure out which one of the attendees is an identity thief and which one is a murderer.” — Lois Winston, Award-Winning Author of the Critically Acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series

“Simply superb. A heart-wrenching cozy mystery, it delivers so much more with spot-on character and plot development...Don't miss this third book in this wonderful series by a writer who knows how to alternately make you laugh and cry and be eager for more of Faith's sleuthing.” — Pam Andrews Hanson, Co-author of the Chesapeake Antiques Mystery Series

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EMBELLISHED TO DEATH 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: EMBELLISHED TO DEATH - Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Book 3 Author: Christina Freeburn Published: 9-23-2014 Publisher: Henery Press Pages: 276 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Women Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuths ISBN: 13: 9781940976273 ASIN: B00N1ADXA0 Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.25 Stars I received a copy of "Embellished to Death" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Description “A delightful mystery no person who loves crafts should miss. A little town, a little romance, a little intrigue and a little murder. Join heroine Faith and find out exactly who is doing the embellishing—the kind that doesn't involve scrapbooking.” – Leann Sweeney, Author of the New York Times Bestselling Cats in Trouble Mysteries When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture. Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life. Books in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Cozy Mystery Series: CROPPED TO DEATH (#1) DESIGNED TO DEATH (#2) EMBELLISHED TO DEATH (#3) My Review of "Embellished to Death": Faith is a woman after my own heart. She is involved with those she cares about. She can be counted on to help a friend in need and she is intelligent and crafty in a good way. The confusion over the hit and run's intended victim. Who stole Faith's personal information, how and why. Who else was affected by the thief. Was the missing owner of the abandoned car the thief? If not why did she have her secure information? Did she have anything to do with the woman that was killed in the hit and run. There are numerous characters to keep the story lively. Most are well rounded and likable. There are two books prior to "Embellished to Death" and you may have a touch of trouble understanding how the characters interact with each other. If the back story can be overlooked, you will find this a story that draws you in from the first word and keeps you guessing as to whodunit until the last. This is a great cozy for scrappers with a pension towards light mysteries with strong witty characters and plots with plenty of twists and turns then pick up a copy of "Embellished to Death". My rating is 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Staci70 More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I really want to attend a weekend crop at a hotel. I DO NOT want there to be dead bodies like at the one that Faith and friends attend in this book. Each book in this series brings fuller development to the tried and true characters. I also love to relationship ins and outs between Faith and Steve & Ted. She's with Steve, but I'm firmly rooting for her and Ted to end up together. The murder plot has many twists and turns. Each time I thought I had a handle on who the murderer was going to be and why, the story would go off in a different direction. I would highly recommend this book and series to anyone.
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
4 stars Embellished to death was good. I was guessing all over the place on whom to trust. Had some twists I did not see coming. I really like Faith and her Grandmas. Though the Grandmas just had a cameo in this book. Most of the other characters were back. Faith and Steve were going to a scrapbook retreat. Her Grandma's store Scrap This was the major vendor. They were pulling a trailer with supplies in it. When Detective Ted called up asking why she abandoned a car on the road. Bob his brother found car off freeway with papers with her name on them. Faith was almost run over in the parking lot, but Steve got her out of the path but knocked out himself, then another lady was run over twice before the car disappeared. Faith has secrets about her past. She moved back home to West Virginia to be close to her grandmas and help in their store. She likes Steve her neighbor. Steve is a prosecutor in Eden, West VA. He has liked Faith since the first time he met her. Her Grandmas like him too. Bob Roget is a PI he is looking for a Identity thief he has tracked to the retreat. He asks Faith to help him and his boyfriend Garrison get into find her. Ted is his brother. Ted Roget is police detective in Eden. He knows Faith's secrets. He also tries to keep her from doing his job. He comes to the retreat when Faith texts him about his brother being in trouble. He likes Faith and had competed with Steve in the past. Lots of drama, surprises, scrapbooking, mysteries, murder all surround a weekend Scrapbooking retreat. It keeps you guessing. I have like all three books in this series and plan to keep reading Faith Hunter Scrap This Mysteries. I was given this ebook by Net Galley and Henery Press. In return agreed to give honest review of Embellished to Death.