Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Just Add Salt" by Jinx Schwartz

Just Add Salt
(Hetta Coffey Book 2)
by Jinx Schwartz

Just Add Salt is the second book in the Hetta Coffey series by Jinx Schwartz. The author stops by today to share an excerpt from the book. Also available: Just Add Water, Just Add Trouble, Just Deserts, Just the Pits, and Just Needs Killing'.

Hetta Coffey is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she's not afraid to use it!
A globe-trotting engineer with attitude, a penchant for trouble, and a yacht, Hetta is back, and this time she's steering us into hot Mexican waters. Miffed that vacation plans with her chronically absent boyfriend, Jenks Jenkins, have gone awry, she accepts a job in Baja.
So what, if she and her friend Jan are spectacularly unqualified to take her yacht on a thousand-mile cruise in the eastern Pacific Ocean during hurricane season?
Hiring a handsome, if somewhat fishy captain for the trip might keep them off the rocks, but probably won't do the same for her future with Jenks. Meanwhile, a little eye candy on board can't be all bad.
Hetta's fierce independence impels her to tackle a very profitable (if environmentally and politically incorrect) project south of the border. True to form, her irreverent nature and disregard for danger soon swamps her in a sea of mayhem, illegal aliens, a pesky whale, and a menacing Mexican machinator.
Set sail for Baja Mexico's Magdalena Bay as Hetta Coffey leads us once more into a morass of intrigue that will keep you laughing, breathless, and wanting more.

My name is Hetta Coffey: CEO, CFO, president and sole employee of Hetta Coffey, SI, LLC. The SI is my little phonetic prank on the pronunciation of Civil Engineer. An engineer by degree, I specialize in material management and, like ole Ben Franklin, leave nothing to chance. As he wrote, “For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for the want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of care about a horseshoe nail.” My job is to ensure no project nail is late, or lost.
But right now I had more than work on my mind. If Jenks Jenkins, my alleged boyfriend, didn’t return in time for a timely departure on our planned trip to Mexico, I’d have a cash flow crunch in my future. We had to leave and return as scheduled or by mid-January I’d be scrounging for my dock fee and boat payment. By February I’d be sunk, not a word one who lives on a boat uses lightly. What to do? What to do?
A freshening breeze made me thankful for the protection of my aft sundeck, or verandah, as I call it. Side curtains cut the wind, allowing us to drink our wine in cozy comfort. Furnished in fake rattan Brown Jordan with fashionably faded blue-and-white striped cushions, the deck sports a small table for outdoor dining, a gas barbeque, an ice maker and a wet bar stocked with blue and white plastic stemware for those times when we were underway and had the crystal battened down.
Even an unusually warm late August day in the Bay Area doesn’t count for much in the temperature department after four o’clock, when the wind whips over water. Jan and I grabbed blue and white Raymond Johnson windbreakers, two of a set of six given to me as a boatwarming gift, and blended into the deck decor. Tourists, shivering in their optimistic summer shorts, wandered around taking in the sights of Jack London Square, one of which seemed to be Jan and me. We smiled and acknowledged those who spoke.
“Wonder when they’ll leave, and for how long,” Jan said.
“These tourists?”
“No silly, Jenks and Lars. I mean, they could be back in time for our trip to Mexico.”
“We’ll soon know. I imagine Jenks will give me a few hours to calm down, then he’ll call from Houston.”
“Smart man, that Jenks Jenkins.”
“You already said that. And besides, I’m not that bad.”
“Are too.”
“Am not.”
Jan took a swig of wine and rolled her eyes. “How about the time you dumped what’s-his-name’s car in the estuary?”
I looked at the spot where Garrison’s Morgan took its swan dive and shrugged. “He deserved it and you know it.”
“And how about when you emptied your .38 into that Brit’s rubber dingy?”
“Jan, that Brit was trying to kill me. And it wasn't my .38, it was my shotgun.”
“Well, that’s true, but how about—”
“Okay, okay, I get your point. However, I’m a reformed woman.”
“Sure you are. So, what are you gonna do to Jenks? Inquiring minds wanna know. I’d like to sell tickets.”
I ignored her impertinent question. I hadn’t had time to come up with a suitable revenge for Jenks. Yet. “Jan, aren’t you just a lit-tle pissed off at Lars? We’ve had this trip planned for months. You and I, at great trouble and expense to ourselves, put our careers on hold. Turned down a couple of lucrative projects. Now the brothers Jenkins up and decide to leave us in the lurch. Take off for some godforsaken part of the world.”
“I’m not thrilled, of course, but we still have a month until we’re scheduled to leave. Maybe they just have to run over there and come right back. Don’t be so negative.”
“Perhaps you forget that I’ve been in this engineering game for a very long time. If they say you’re going to be stuck somewhere for a month, it’s six. If they say a year, it’s two. Remember when Baxter Brothers sent me to Japan for nine months? I got back two years later, practically in a body bag. Trust me, once our alleged boyfriends leave for the Middle East, we’re screwed.”
Jan giggled. “Or not, as it were. Don’t jump to conc—phone’s ringing, Hetta.”
“I hear it.”
“Aren’t you gonna answer it?”
“Nope. It’s yours.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I turned mine off.”
“Oh. Maybe it’s Jenks and Lars.”
“I am not here.”
Jan rushed into the main saloon and came back on deck with her cell phone stuck to her ear. “So,” she was saying in a honeyed voice, “how’s Houston, besides hot and wet?”
Lars must have had a properly lewd comeback for her unfortunate choice of words, for her cheeks flared. She quickly swung away from me and whispered several somethings into the phone. When she turned back, I rolled my eyes and gave her a "gag me" finger down my throat. She stuck out her tongue, shot me an evil grin and purred, “Oh please, Lars baby, put Jenks on. There’s a chunky little red head dying to talk with him.”
I considered pushing her overboard, especially for that chunky remark, but snatched the phone instead. “Who is it?”
“You know it’s me, Hetta.” Jenks’s deep voice set off a little twitch where it counts. He is a difficult man to stay pissed off at, but I was giving it my best. I clammed up and let him talk.
“I’ve been trying to call you, but I keep getting your voice mail. How’s my little sea wench?”
“Don’t you sweet talk me, you rat. What’s this about you deserting my ship?”
“Now Hetta, don’t be that way. Lars and I just have to go over for a sales meeting in Kuwait City, dazzle them with our software, and we’re out of there. They’re subbing out the hardware to someone else, so we should be back in Oakland in no time.”
“We leave for Cabo in a month,” I said, sounding petulant. I hate sounding petulant.
“I’ll do my level best to be there.”
“Go ahead, break my cardinal rule and lie to me. Tell me you will definitely be here.”
“Can’t do that, but I’ll try. Meanwhile, you’ll have to get Raymond Johnson ready to go. You can do it. You know your boat inside out. I’ll send you lists of provisions and spare parts I think we’ll need, you add to it, and together we can get a good deal of work taken care of before I get back. I’ll send you a schedule of what needs to be done, maintenance wise. That, you’ll have to hire out.”
“You mean you’re not even coming here before you leave for Kuwait?”
“Sorry, no can do. Lars and I take off tomorrow morning on a Halliburton jet. I’ll call you when we get to Kuwait City. And then from Baghdad.”
“Baghdad! Why are you going there?”
“Just for a quick meeting, then back to Kuwait. Don’t worry, I’ll call every day.”
“Gosh, can’t you work in three days and four nights in beautiful downtown Damascus? Jenks, I don’t like this. Forget the contract, forget the money. We’ll cancel the trip to Mexico. I’ll get a new job of my own and we’ll take our cruise later. You can get another contract here, where it’s safe. Please.” I was starting to sound needy and it did not sit well with my own independent self-image.
“Wish I could, but we’re committed. Can’t let the company down.”
“You are the company.”
“See what I mean?”
“Very funny, Jenks. I have to go now, I have a date with some stranger in a smoky bar.”
“Very funny, yourself. Bye now. Love you.”
“Yeah? Well prove it. Come home.”
I hung up and opened another bottle of wine. Jan gave me a wary look as I poured half of it into my glass. “Oh, relax,” I sneered, “I’ve decided not to throw your devious, albeit skinny, ass into the estuary.”
“Gimme some of that wine. See, I told you they’d be back in time. You worry too much.”
“What’s with you? I thought Lars was topping your S-list.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I just think, that, well, maybe we aren’t right for each other. Just a nigglin’ I can’t put my finger on. Don’t mind me. And quit being so negative about them making it back for our trip.”
“I’m negative because I just know they won’t. And what about this Baghdad thing? No telling what will happen to them, traipsing around over there.”
“Come on, Hetta, you’ve traipsed around all your life.”
“Yeah, and look what it got me. It’s taken thirty some-odd years to find a man who didn’t disappear on me and look what happens. He disappears. I can outdo David friggin’ Copperfield when it comes to making men vanish.”
“You are such a drama queen. Jenks has not vanished. He is coming back. Hell, even Hudson Williams came back. Sort of.”
“I’d hardly classify my ex-fiancĂ© turning up floating face down in my hot tub as ‘coming back.’ ”
“Well,” she giggled, “he did surface.”

Praise for the Book
"When I finished the first book in the series, I realized I had Hetta withdrawals. I hurried to Amazon and purchased Just Add Salt. I would advise reading the first book first because it supplies the background - where it all began. But I enjoyed the second book even more than the first. There is danger from the get-go and tension on every page. I love a mystery with a touch of romance, and this book has it all. What it doesn't have is over-the-top graphic violence or explicit sex. The Hetta Coffey mysteries are a refreshing change and I look forward to reading more." ~ Laurie Hanan, author of the Louise Golden Hawaiian mysteries
"After finishing the first Hetta Coffey, Just Add Water, I couldn't wait to read the second. Now I know I am going to work my way thru the series. Hetta has me laughing out loud as I listen on my headphones during my morning walk. I hope they keep on coming!" ~ Barb V
"Excellent continuation of the Hetta Coffey Mystery Series Book 1. Amusing, entertaining, enough mystery to satisfy, without a lot of dead bodies piling up in what I usually read. I enjoyed this and learned in the process, about whales, history, desalination plants, our Mexican neighbors, and even that fresh water pouring into the sea is harmful to sea life." ~ Doris Johnston
"Coffey is a really great character, edgy, funny and definitely unconventional. Her stories are a perfect blend of adventure and misadventure and Schwartz does a fantastic job at adding an equally entertaining supportive cast, whether it be her secret blabbing friend or a personal trainer in the gym, no opportunity for a laugh is wasted in this story, making the plot almost secondary to the fun that runs through the book. If you are looking for a good laugh and entertainment this series is for you." ~ Christoph Fischer
"Hilarious, witty, and entertaining are words that best describe this fast-paced adventure set in Mexico. The rapport between gutsy Hetta Coffey and her obliging sidekick, Jan, is humorous yet believable as these two women struggle to get out of life-threatening situations that come at them from all angles. The descriptions of the characters are distinct and I could picture each one in my mind - including the whale! Although I'm not familiar with the technical aspects of life aboard a yacht, the detailed explanations weaved throughout the story made it easier to grasp the gist of it. I highly recommend this action-packed mystery and look forward to reading more books in the series." ~ saniko

About the Author
Jinx Schwartz is the author of nine books, including the award-winning Hetta Coffey series. Hetta is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she's not afraid to use it!
A ninth-generation Texan, Jinx has lived and worked all over the globe, and much like the protagonist in her Hetta Coffey mystery series, she's a woman with a yacht and not afraid to use it.