Christmas in the Sisters By Becki Willis Blog Tour

Christmas in The Sisters
The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series Book 6
by Becki Willis
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Latest book in the Award-Winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series! 
Madison Reynolds can’t wait for Christmas this year. Rebuilding her life as a single mom hasn’t been easy, but after a challenging twelve months, she’s excited about the holidays. She and her twins have settled quite nicely here in The Sisters, renovations on the house are complete, her business is slowly growing, and, best of all, Chief of Police Brash deCordova is in her life. Visions of the perfect Christmas dance in her head. 
The tinsel begins to tangle when someone targets the community for a series of ‘Christmas Crimes.’ Homes are broken into and wrapped gifts are stolen from beneath trees. Even vehicles loaded with presents aren’t safe, particularly on a lone stretch of highway. Things like this just don’t happen in Naomi and Juliet. Torn between solving the rash of burglaries and shutting down the gambling ring that’s active in the area again, Brash does the only thing he can: he hires In a Pinch to help with the investigation.
Finding the common link between cases is like finding the bad bulb on a string of lights. Every lead is a short circuit. The frustration mounts when Madison and the Angel Tree she’s involved with fall victim to the crimes. Only the worst kind of Grinch steals from needy children! 
Brash has plans of his own for the perfect Christmas. With the help of a new jewelry store, he thinks he’s found just the right gift for Madison, until the Grinch strikes again. This wasn’t the surprise he had in mind. 

Ready or not, Christmas is on its way, and time is running out to create the holiday of their dreams. As the house fills with unexpected guests, Madison and the twins honor favorite traditions from the past while creating a few new ones of their own. 
Who has time for being kidnapped by men in Santa suits and bad beards? 

This is one Christmas that no one in The Sisters will ever forget!

Don't miss the other books in The Sisters, Texas series!
The first four books of the series will be a Free Kindle book (in order) each Saturday in Oct, with the last book, Genny's Ballad, available for a .99 Kindle Countdown Deal Oct 24-31

Chicken Scratch
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 1

When The Stars Fall

The Sisters, Texas Series Book 2

Stipulations and Complications
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 3

Home Again: Starting Over
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 4

Genny's Ballad
The Sisters, Texas Series Book 5
The two towns comprising The Sisters community had a storied past.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Bertram Randolph was one of the wealthiest men
in the entire Brazos valley. As the undisputed Cotton King in all of central Texas, he
owned thousands of acres of prime farmland in River County. His plantation played such
a vital role in the industry that the Trinity and Brazos Railway -soon known as the Boll
Weevil- laid a set of track running strategically alongside his cotton gin.
During the heyday of cotton, the train made multiple daily stops at the Randolph
depot. The frequent stops were necessary during ginning season to transport the crop to
market; other times, the stops were necessary to fit the whim of Randolph’s two
Naomi and Juliet Randolph were the epitome of the spoiled Southern belle. When
Bertram’s wife died at an early age and left him with two young girls to raise, he did the
only thing he knew to do: he indulged them. No matter the whim, no matter the cost, the
cotton baron gave his beloved daughters anything they wanted.
The one thing he could not provide for them, however, was camaraderie. Even as
toddlers, the two girls were bitter rivals, constantly vying for their father’s undivided
attention. As the years progressed, so did their sense of competition. Their attempts to
monopolize the people in their lives -their father, their nanny, the cook, the maid, the
family pet, the other children who lived on the plantation- grew to such proportions that
the only solution seemed not to be to share, but to divide. By their teen years, they even
lived in separate wings of the house, and each had her own cook and her own maid.
The sisters often took the train into the nearby towns that bordered the plantation.
During their shopping excursions, they invariably caused a scene in town. The
accusations flew back and forth: the seamstress was catering to Juliet; the hat-maker
chose the more exquisite material for Naomi; the restaurant was not large enough for both
of them; Juliet’s special order of books arrived, so why was Naomi’s delayed? The
squabbles escalated until finally Bertram Randolph had enough.
His solution was to give each daughter her own town. By now, the cotton industry had
reached its peak and was beginning to decline. Some of his planting fields were already
abandoned in favor of raising cattle, so he sectioned off a large plat of land on either side
of the railroad to give to his daughters. A common area, however, would remain between
them. As the gin was still an important part of the community at large, it became part of
the shared property, along with the deep water well and the depot. The plantation had a
school for the children whose parents lived and worked on the farm, and that, too, was
designated as common ground.
Bertram built each daughter her own house, mirror images of one another on either
side of the track. He also helped them get their towns started. For every proprietor willing
to open an establishment in the new settlements, he offered a free lot on which to build
their home.
First, however, they had to meet the approval of the town’s namesake. Each woman
had the final authority on which businesses and which people moved into their towns.
And so the towns became as different and as opinionated as the women they were named
Juliet, who revered all things prim and proper, designed her town to be pleasing to the
eye. Flowerbeds lined her side of the train track. City blocks were laid with meticulous
care, with six of them deemed commercial property. Houses, particularly those along the
main avenues of the town, required white paint, black shudders, and well-kept lawns;
commercial buildings had specific height and color requirements, especially those facing
the railroad. With the popularity of automobiles coming into vogue, neat parking spaces
were designated around each commercial block; no parking was allowed on the brickpaved
streets. And even though some types of businesses were absolutely essential to a
town and could be delegated to the back streets, many establishments did not meet the
standards required in Juliet, Texas.
Naomi’s free spirit reflected in the town on the northern side of the track. There were
two long, distinct commercial blocks running horizontal with the railroad, but no
buildings faced the iron horses. Like its founder, the town was built to snub convention
and propriety; instead of posturing for the railway, the businesses presented their backs to
the line. The two strings of buildings opened toward each other, with parking spaces
lining both. When new businesses came to town, they squeezed in at random, giving the
streets odd angles and curves and unbalanced city blocks. The unconventional businesses
shunned in Juliet were welcomed in Naomi. The same could be said for many of the
residents. Naomi, Texas was soon known as either a gathering place for outcasts or a
gathering place for entrepreneurs, depending entirely upon who judged it.
As the years passed and the cotton industry further declined, Bertram Randolph
realized his plantation would fall to neglect if he did not find a suitable heir to take over
his farming operation. Neither daughter was interested in the land, so he gave the bulk of
the farm to his oldest and most trusted employee, Andrew deCordova. The deCordovas
had been a part of the plantation for as long as anyone could remember, living and
working alongside the Randolphs from the very beginning. It seemed only fitting that the
fertile fields be left to someone who loved the soil as much as Bertram did.
With the massive plantation now divided into three entities and with their father’s
health quickly declining, it was the perfect time for the sisters to make peace.
But the arrival of a private physician, hired to care for Bertram in his last days, made
reconciliation between the sisters forever impossible. Both women promptly fell in love
with Darwin Blakeley, but the handsome young doctor could not choose between them.
In the end, just before he was killed in a freak accident, the doctor gave them both a
part of himself. To Juliet, he gave his name; to Naomi, he gave a daughter. Thus the
circle of competition and bitterness continued, as did the legacy of the towns.
Juliet remained a town about appearances. Newcomers to the area who desired social
standing, prestige, and an air of refinement settled within the perimeters of the town to
the south. Through the years, property values in Juliet escalated and helped to control
“undesirable” citizens. Cotton was the only big industry welcomed there. Until her death
in 1984, Juliet Randolph Blakely remained in firm control of her town, personally
screening each business and home that came into her town. With no children of her own,
she left her estate to her cook’s daughter. Bertha Hamilton Cessna, known to most of the
town as Miss Bert, became heiress to the town of Juliet.
Across the tracks, Naomi remained a town known for its unconventional ways. Lower
property values -and according to some, lower standards- brought in more industry for
the northern town. It was not uncommon for someone to open a business in Naomi, but
choose to live in the more prestigious sister city. When Naomi Randolph died in 1986,
she was trying to convince a popular fast-food chain to open in her town, a first for their
rural area.
By the time the twenty-first century arrived, both towns had grown and prospered, but
old prejudices remained. The common area still existed between them, as outlined in each
town’s charter. The old cotton gin was now home to The Sisters Volunteer Fire
Department. Just across the tracks, and easily accessible by a footbridge, the old Depot
housed The Sisters Police Department and tiny jail. The shared deep water well sported a
modern day tower, and the school had long since grown and moved out across the new
highway, to property donated by the deCordova Ranch. The new highway ran
perpendicular to the cities, crossing over the railroad by way of a tall overpass. Ramps
exited off into each town, offering an alternate route across the tracks when a train was
coming and, most importantly, connected the sister cities to a world beyond their petty
Up and down the highway, billboards touted the beauty and friendly hometown
appeal of The Sisters. They were home to a Heisman trophy winner. They had the State
Championship basketball team. They had low property taxes and high test scores.
According to the signs out on the highway, they had it all.
Below the overpass, however, buried within the boundaries of the city limits and

within the confines of small minds, old rivalries and old loyalties still ran deep.
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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