Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Guest Blog by Jenn McKinlay and Giveaway - February 4, 2015

Please welcome Jenn McKinlay to The Qwillery. At the Drop of a Hat, the 3rd Hat Shop Mystery, was published on February 3rd by Berkley.

        I am a hat girl and always have been. No, sadly, not the fancy hats to which the British are partial. I think Americans are too obsessed with their hair to ever truly embrace the hat. Pity. Still, I love a good hat, and I own several fuzzy winter hats, floppy sun hats, utilitarian (i.e. hide the unwashed rat’s nest) baseball hats.

        My fascination with headwear was definitely a driving force in writing the London hat shop mysteries and because I love research this has been one of the best parts of the whole adventure. The history of millinery, famous milliners, the evolution of the hat, all of these things have contributed to the writing of the books.

        In AT THE DROP OF THE HAT, Viv and Scarlett are asked to mend a bridal hat made by their grandmother over thirty years before in the early nineteen eighties. It is an emotional moment for the girls to have something that their grandmother made and they are determined to fix the hat for the bride Ariana Jackson.

        Of course this part of the plot led me to research hats of the eighties which naturally guided me to Princess Diana and her famous milliner John Boyd. I read his bio, studied years and years of his hats and now follow him on social media. The man is simply a genius.

        Here’s a quote from his webpage ( so you can see what I mean:
“Making hats isn’t just a romantic story of sitting there waiting for some great creation to come. Millinery is deception all the time. If a client’s nose isn’t straight you twist her hat brim slightly the opposite way to straighten it. If she’s got two chins, you give her a face lift by tying a veil under one of them. The wearer doesn’t deceive, I do it for them.” --John Boyd
        See? Certified artistic genius. And although I have a total fan girl crush on the eighty-nine year old Scotsman, John Boyd is just one of so many famous hat makers that fill the pages of fashion, art and history. Writing this series has been a pure joy because I have learned so much and because I get to spend hours turning the pages of old fashion magazines at my library, studying the fads and fashions of days gone by.

        But there’s more than hat history involved in AT THE DROP OF A HAT. Things have been tense between Scarlett and Viv as Scarlett can’t shake the feeling that Viv is hiding something from her. She hopes that working on Mim’s old hat together will bridge the distance between them. Viv is delighted to take on the job of restoring Ariana’s hat. It means so much to her to refurbish one of Mim’s original designs. Unfortunately, contacting Ariana with the estimated cost becomes difficult when she never answers her phone.

        Finally, Scarlett decides to go visit the young woman at her place of work and give her the work estimate in person. When she arrives at the solicitor’s office in Kensington, she finds Ariana in the alley, standing over the body of her dead boss who looks to have fallen to his death. The police think the man was pushed, but Scarlett refuses to believe Ariana is the murderer. It is now up Scarlett and Viv to find the real killer before Ariana’s future is boxed up for good.

        Is Ariana a murderess? Do Viv and Scarlett manage to refurbish Mim’s bridal hat to its original glory? What secret is Viv keeping from Scarlett? You’ll just have to pick up a copy of AT THE DROP OF A HAT to find out.

        Happy Reading! Jenn

At the Drop of a Hat
A Hat Shop Mystery 3
Berkley, February 3, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Library Lover’s Mysteries and Death of a Mad Hatter comes a tale of hat shop owners who put a cap on crime.


Cousins Scarlett Parker and Vivian Tremont’s fashionable London hat shop, Mim’s Whims, is visited by a new customer bearing an old hat box. Ariana Jackson is getting married and wants to restore her mother’s bridal hat and veil for the occasion. The elegant item was made by Scarlett and Vivian’s grandmother over thirty years ago, so Viv is delighted to take the job.

When Scarlett goes to Ariana’s office to consult about the restoration cost, she finds her outside, standing over her boss’s dead body. Though Ariana claims to know nothing about his demise, the investigation unveils a motive for murder. Now, with the bride-to-be in custody and the wedding on hold, Scarlett and Viv must find the real killer before Ariana’s future is boxed up for good.


Cloche and Dagger
A Hat Shop Mystery 1
Berkley, August 6, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

An all-new series from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay

Not only is Scarlett Parker’s love life in the loo—as her British cousin Vivian Tremont would say—it’s also gone viral with an embarrassing video. So when Viv suggests Scarlett leave Florida to lay low in London, she hops on the next plane across the pond. Viv is the proprietor of Mims’s Whims, a ladies’ hat shop on Portobello Road bequeathed to both cousins by their beloved grandmother, and she wants Scarlett to finally join her in the millinery business.

But a few surprises await Scarlett in London. First, she is met at the airport not by Viv, but by her handsome business manager, Harrison Wentworth. Second, Viv—who has some whims of her own—seems to be missing. No one is too concerned about the unpredictable Viv until one of her posh clients is found dead wearing the cloche hat Viv made for her—and nothing else. Is Scarlett’s cousin in trouble? Or is she in hiding?

Death of a Mad Hatter
A Hat Shop Mystery 2
Berkley, May 6, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages


Scarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim’s Whims—their ladies’ hat shop on London’s chic Portobello Road—to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children’s hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.

Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it—he’s been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who’s mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat…

About Jenn

Jenn McKinlay is what is known as a dessert-freakosaurus. She has been known to eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the frozen top tier of her wedding cake didn’t stand a chance of seeing its first anniversary. Luckily, her husband is more of a salt guy. Since the arrival of the hooligans (her sons), she has honed her culinary skills to include cupcakes and has baked and frosted cupcakes into the shape of cats, mice and outerspace aliens to name just a few. Writing a mystery series based upon one of her favorite food groups (cupcakes) is as enjoyable as licking the beater and she can’t wait to whip up the next one. She is the author of another mystery series under the name Lucy Lawrence and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her musician husband Chris, their two sons, two cats, one dog and one fish.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~  Twitter @JennMcKinlay

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of At the Drop of a Hat by Jenn McKinley from the publisher. US ONLY

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on February 12, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. looks great, and thank you for the chance to win :)

  2. I have several friends that wear hats quite often. I think I might try it, too. Love your mysteries---thanks for the contest.

  3. I haven't worn a hat in years. The last hat I worn was a white beret.

  4. Thanks so much for inviting me to visit!

  5. I LOVE hats! I have quite the the cover!

  6. I haven't read this series, but I would like to.