Executive Lunch

Rated 4.33/5 based on 6 reviews
Sedona is given the opportunity of a lifetime: play an up-and-coming executive with all the trappings of wealth with someone else footing the bill. The catch: find out who is stealing company funds before the criminals find out that their program is being debugged.

Sedona runs into danger, the corporate glass ceiling, and an occasional chance at romance in her quest.
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About Maria E. Schneider

Maria writes cozy mysteries, romantic fantasy, paranormal mysteries, urban fantasy and has just completed a ghost story. Audio books for some of her novels can be found on google play or kobo books.

Introduction to Author Maria Schneider

It’s gardening season again! I go out every morning to water and plant. Had just started the sprinkler, when I realized a bird had become tangled in the support strings hanging off the tomato cages used to prop up large tomato vines.

Upon closer inspection the fluttering, frantic “bird” was actually a baby dragon. “Not again,” I muttered. Dragons were so temperamental. Birds couldn’t singe me while I freed them either.

“Okay, you. Hold still.” I shut the water off, leaving the poor baby dripping. His dark blue head feathers hadn’t yet hardened into spines. Most of his iridescent scales were a mix of brown, light yellow and white. Later in life he’d probably turn more beige and sage to match the desert terrain.

I retrieved clippers from my garden cart, an old rag that used to be a kitchen towel and approached slowly. The dragon’s eyes were huge, wide orbs staring piteously up at me.

“You’re gonna hafta hold still,” I ordered. “I’ll cut you free.” Scissors would be a better tool, but I hated to leave him there, dripping, sad, and at his young age, vulnerable.

“Do not flame me,” I instructed, cutting at string behind him. This particular piece of twine wasn’t holding him at all, but he needed to adjust to my intent. Snip, Snip. The string frayed instead of cutting clean, but I kept at it. The dragon’s snout was wide open in distress.

“Gimme a couple of minutes and you’ll be free.” I ran the old towel down his back, squeegeeing his scales and accidentally smashing down a few feathers. He looked worse for it, but he barely dripped anymore. I finally freed one clawed foot. Predictably, he tried to fly, but his wing still had a cotton string running under and around. I latched onto it and half pulled, half cut the threads. He shredded the rest of the string and left a pretty good sized trench in the back of my hand from a toothy, smokey strike.

“Dammit!” I snatched my hand back. “Ease up, little one!” More cutting and suddenly he squawked, much like a bird, and bounced off the wire gate. He was still pathetically wet and in such a hurry, he splatted rather ungracefully onto the ground face-first.

A large shadow covered the sun, putting me and the little dragon in a gloomy, dark shade. The baby bobbed onto clawed feet, trilled an excited call and stared over my shoulder.

I swallowed hard, still leaning over the little guy. The clippers were a visible, threatening, but inadequate weapon.

With my heart making more noise than the baby dragon, I dared turn my head and only my head. Like a giant scaled bear sitting on her haunches, there was mom dragon. Her gray snout wound between two juniper trees, easily capable of taking a chunk out of my butt, which was inconveniently still high in the air. I knew the rules. Humans who saw what they weren’t supposed to see had to die, lest the magical others be discovered. “Never saw a thing,” I said. “Wouldn’t dream of telling a soul.”

Her diamond eyes seemed small compared to those of the baby dragon, but that was because her head was longer than my leg. She didn’t blink, letting slit, golden eyes convey a very nasty threat. She didn’t let loose with flame, even though a mysterious forest fire that cindered me, my house and my garden would likely be blamed on an errant lightning strike. Her gaze did search the sky hopefully, but the desert of New Mexico is often devoid of clouds.

“Not a soul,” I repeated, while baby dragon fluttered, fluffed and hopped over to his mother.

A tail many times larger than the largest of rattlesnakes snaked out from behind a pinon pine, gathering junior dragon inside protective scales and muscles. His protesting squawk was a direct result of her hurry and displeasure.

I straightened. No sense dying in a bad position with my butt up in the air.

She regarded me with solemn focus before one giant, black talon stepped back. Scales rippled with desert colors, reflecting gray-brown tree limbs mixed with mottled green and blue sage speckled with chamisa yellow.

“Nary a word,” a dry, hot wind boomed.

My hair blew straight back, and the ends split from the sudden heat. “Not a word,” I agreed with a very emphatic nod.

Of course I was lying. In the dark of the night, behind closed doors, I write about dragons all the time. Dragons of Wendal is the first book of one such series. Sure, it’s billed as fiction. No need to have mom dragon come back looking for me!

Visit Maria at her blog: www.BearMountainBooks.com.

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About the Series: Sedona O'Hala Mysteries
A humorous cozy mystery series.

Also in Series: Sedona O'Hala Mysteries

Also by This Author

Reviews of Executive Lunch by Maria E. Schneider

Kevin A. Lyons reviewed on Oct. 6, 2015

I really enjoyed this book. The storyline was original, the characters were well-developed, and the ending was both logical and still a surprise.

Some of the plot elements nearly go over the top, but that's not unusual in a "cozy mystery."

This is a good, quick read. It's not the kind of literature that will change the world, but it was a welcome diversion from reality for me.

I enjoyed it!
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)
GraceKrispy reviewed on Sep. 22, 2010

Sedona thinks it's just another boring day at Strandfrost, as she goes about her normal activities. And it is a boring day....until she accidentally stumbles upon a mugging happening right there in the hallway! A six-inch switchblade, a shady director, some seedy characters sprinkled in, and suddenly Sedona is unwittingly thrown into the role of "bait" so management can solve a crime of embezzlement going on right under its nose.

"Executive Lunch" by Maria E. Schneider is a combination of a few of my favorite genres; it's chick lit with a little "cozy" thrown in. The main character, Sedona, is someone you can't help but like. She's reminiscent of some of our favorite hapless female heroines; accidental sleuths (with an edge) who somehow stumble right into the thick of things. She's joined by Huntington (whose motives initially seem unclear), Turbo (always there when you need him...well, except when you *really* need him), Marilyn (a bigger part of this than even she knows), and the rest of the interesting characters that make up this cast.

Although I liked the overall plot and I was eager to read to the ending, I have to admit to being confused by some of the transitions. I had to reread some action scenes to get a grasp on who was doing what, and several times I was surprised to see a character start speaking when I had no clue that character was even in the vicinity. Upon looking back, I'd sometimes see that the character was introduced by not being introduced- in the excitement of the moment, Sedona recognized that body/face/shape/walk, and then we'd find out in the next chapter who it was because he or she would start speaking. I am all for tension building to end a chapter and I think it's a great technique to build suspense, but it seemed that a great deal of the moments in the story were introduced this way. After a quick-moving beginning, the story slowed down and sagged a bit in the middle, and I began to wonder if we were still heading in the direction I thought we were heading. It seemed to meander a bit before it picked up again, drawing me in once again.

Overall, I would recommend this story. It's a quick, fun read, and the characters are nicely developed, which makes them interesting. You look forward to seeing what they'll do next, and who they'll do it with. You want to follow them into their next adventure, which, luckily for us, is already available in the next story in the series, Executive Retention. I give it 3.5 stars, which rounds up to 4 here.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)
Stacy Daniels reviewed on July 24, 2010

Executive Lunch is a delightful and engaging book! The plot had plenty of surprises, with excellent attention to technical details without going over the top. The dialogue was realistic and humorous and the entire book just flowed very well, it was hard to put down. The characters were well developed; Sedona is adorable and I love her interactions with her family and friends. She stands up for herself and her antics had me laughing out loud on several occasions!
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
maria kennedy reviewed on June 8, 2010

There is a lot happening in this fast paced book. It hits the ground running right from the first sentence and really never comes up for breathe. There is a good mix of action and fun with a few laugh out loud moments.
Even the fact that I worked out a lot (but not all) of the solution before Sedona did, didn't spoil my fun.
It's always nice to give a book a good review. It's even better when the book's author is someone you know and like. I'm looking forward to reading more of Sedona's adventures.
(reviewed 5 months after purchase)
trik reviewed on Feb. 24, 2010

A very funny read and Sedona is an attractive heroine always falling in and out of trouble. A good mix of humour, crime and romance. Well worth reading.
(reviewed 42 days after purchase)
Kerrie Smith reviewed on Dec. 11, 2009

Strandfrost is a very ordinary computer company located in a fourteen-story office building outside the downtown area of quiet Denton, Colorado--an unlikely spot for a mugging. And Sedona O'Hala leads a very quiet life in one of its testing labs, that is, until she comes to the attention of the board, after foiling an attack by three thugs. Admittedly she had attended self-defence classes, but she had never expected to have to use her skills in real life.

As a result of her successful bravado, Sedona is given the opportunity of a lifetime: play an up-and-coming executive with all the trappings of wealth with someone else footing the bill. The catch: find out who is stealing company funds before the criminals find out that their program is being debugged. Sedona runs into danger, the corporate glass ceiling, and an occasional chance at romance in her quest.

EXECUTIVE LUNCH struck a chord with me. Not only is it full of humour, many of you will also be aware that I work for a "computer company", and I could imagine how some of the scenarios in this story could work in the real world. It is a light read, enjoyable, but at the same time a puzzle to be solved, and Schneider does a pretty good job of tying off the threads.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

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