Bennett Sisters Mysteries
All the Adventures of the Bennett Sisters
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“If you haven’t read the Bennett sisters series you are missing out. Truly. Everything about the books is fabulous: the French settings, the descriptions of the food and the buildings, the sisters’ relationships and Pascal. Pascal, who we all dream of meeting somehow, someday. Trust me. Read them. Read them all.”
How it all began: Bennett Sisters Mysteries #1
Just like Jane Austen’s fictional creations, Lise McClendon’s Bennett sisters are five women strong. Introduced in ‘Blackbird Fly’, the five sisters’ stories are told in the first book by middle sister, Merle. She is a lawyer — but so are all four of her sisters. Their father and grandfather were also attorneys.
Blackbird Fly begins with a sudden death. Merle Bennett’s husband has a heart attack, leaving her and their teenage son to grieve and figure out the rest of their lives without him. Secrets and lies, betrayals and surprises: all wait for Merle as she goes to France to fix up the house her husband left her. Her finances are precarious and she needs this house to provide for her son’s future. As one reviewer said, “Life, death, lost love, murder, mystery, new love, inherited French manor, and a treasure of lost wines! What more could you want?”
Bennett Sisters Mysteries #2
The Girl in the Empty Dress
Merle is back in France with all four of her sisters plus one extra, a law colleague of one sister who upsets the “finely-tuned five-spoked karma.” Merle is celebrating her 50th birthday, tramping along the backroads of the Dordogne, when the women find an injured dog in the ditch. Their idyllic women’s vacation takes a dark turn as it appears that many people are interested in this dog. And just who is this Girl in the Empty Dress?
Merle Bennett is spending another summer in France, vacationing with her four sisters and one friend, lawyers all, tramping around the backroads of the Dordogne. The sixth member of their walking tour is a law colleague, Gillian Sargent. She hasn’t made a good impression on the Bennett sisters, being annoying and secretive and upsetting the delicate karma of sisterhood. When Gillian finds an injured dog along the roadside and wants to keep it for her own, the idyllic summer trip of sisterly bonding and wine-drinking turns dark and dangerous. Who else is after this dog? Why is she so special? And what secret is Gillian Sargent keeping so close to her chest that her co-workers call her ‘The Girl in the Empty Dress?’
Lise McClendon introduced Merle Bennett in Blackbird Fly, taking readers on a journey of self-discovery for Merle as her late husband’s life opened up its secrets. He left her a stone house in the Dordogne he never mentioned, his family estate. Merle’s efforts to fix up the abandoned ruin, extract a squatter, and discover the family secrets help her through her grief.
Now, back in this corner of southwest France of dark, oaky wine, rocky hills, foie gras and earthy truffles, she juggles sibling bickering, her teenage son, two boyfriends, and the law. All she wants is to unwind in the golden light of France. But France has a few tricks up its sleeves again. Thanks to a sad, dirty little dog and a woman with too many secrets.”
Truffles, wine, romance, sisters, and intrigue.
“A perfect summer read: it had mystery, romance, the complexities of family relations and the beautiful countryside in France. The author’s writing was engaging and I loved how the different storylines were interconnected. I recommend and enjoyed this story.” — Book Nerd
“I liked Lise’s writing style, loved her brilliant descriptions like: “He had the face of an ice block hardened by many winters”, [they] brought her characters alive. The situations they found themselves in often made me laugh and there was just the right amount of ooh-ing and aah-ing over the tasty French cheeses, truffles and wine to remember they were in France and loving it. I can recommend both Blackbird Fly and The Girl in the Empty Dress (Bennett Sisters Novels) as perfect summer holiday reads. I will be looking out for more Bennett Sisters Novels“ — French Village Diaries
Bennett Sisters #3
Give Him the Ooh-la-la
It’s the festive season: food, wine, and merriment. Champagne, skating, and — drag queens?!
Merle Bennett is in New York City for the holidays. Her sister Annie is getting engaged and Merle’s sometime French beau, Pascal, flies over for the party. But is Pascal in town to visit Merle? Does he have another agenda, one that involves wine and the French consulate? Is the Strachie dirty laundry from ‘Blackbird Fly’ going to be aired again — only worse? And why does Pascal take Merle to see a drag queen who sings in French?
All this and more in Give Him the Ooh-la-la!
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“Lise McClendon has done it again. She keeps you wanting more. You fall in love (& hate) with the characters in her books. The twists & turns are fresh & new & keep you in suspense. I never expect the ending to be as it is.”
The Things We Said Today
#4 in the Bennett Sisters Series
Another summer, another Bennett Sisters adventure!
This time the whole family travels to Scotland for oldest sister Annie’s wedding to a handsome Scot. They take over his family hunting lodge in the Highlands for a week. But is Annie, fourteen years older than her groom and a confirmed bohemian, ready to give up her independence in her middle 50s? This is just one of the obstacles to the general happiness in a week with a torrential rainstorm, a recalcitrant housekeeper, a sister who tipples, and another who chases after a sketchy Frenchman. Will Merle accept Pascal’s invitation to go back to France with him? So many questions, so many sisters. How will they sort it all out? Find out in “The Things We Said Today,” the fourth Bennett Sisters novel.
G e t t h e A u d i o b o o k n o w
“I love weddings! And mysteries and mayhem! This was my favorite book in the series. A taste of everything and everyone. You grow to love Merle, her sisters and family with each passing book. And, Pascal?! So much to look forward to. I am a Bennett sisters addict and am moving onto the next book. I am sure it will leave me wanting for more just as this one has done!”
#5 in the Bennett Sisters Mystery Series
Merle Bennett goes back to France — and her Frenchman — in this fifth installment. Sure that La Belle France will cure all her ills, and help her write a novel about the French Revolution, she sets out to prove her theory correct. Pascal, her Frenchman, scoffs at this. As a policeman he knows France is pretty to look at but not all that pretty under the surface.
While Merle writes and renovates her stone cottage, Pascal encounters an old enemy, a man he put in prison years before. When Pascal disappears Merle isn’t sure if their relationship is over, or something terrible has happened.
A soupçon of danger, a brush with ‘madame guillotine,’ and the quirky characters of the French countryside, all collide here in la belle France— where, obviously, wine, sunshine, sunflowers, and Frenchmen cure all ills. Or do they?
Available also as a hardcover on Bookshop.org
“Lise did it again entertaining us with wit, humor, sassy dialogues, sexy police officers and the usual village suspects of Malcouziac. France is charming but also can tax a foreigner with rigid rules and the insouciance and lackadaisical ways one lives there. Fun read, intriguing mystery and a novel way to drop in another story, ‘Odette and the great fear.’ Southern France never seems to age, rural agrarian life still holds its charms. A vivid look at life in France.”
#6 in the Bennett Sisters Mystery Series
Odette and the Great Fear
A gothic romance “written by” Merle Bennett
After reading the excerpts as Merle writes her story in The Frenchman, read the expanded version of the novella here. Set during the French Revolution, a young woman travels on foot from Paris to the Dordogne to start over as a goat herder on a farm. But the revolution follows her south, as a Count deals with unruly farmers, weather ruins crops, and a handsome soldier, wounded in battle, shows up on the doorstep. NOW IN AUDIO!
“Her book was about the French Revolution which was a terrible time in that country. The nation was divided and lacked proper leadership. This is the story of a young woman who lived and loved during that time. Beautiful, poignant story. Well written and edited, interesting and informative.”
#7 in the Bennett Sisters Mysteries
Blame it on Paris
This time it’s Francie’s turn to be heroine, aided by Merle and Pascal in Paris. Francie Bennett, sister number four, is not having the best year at her law firm. She is forced to take a leave of absence while an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment takes place. Around the same time she gets a letter from a stranger whose friend has been arrested in Paris for drug crimes. Why is she contacted? When Francie realizes her own connection to this American student, she agrees to help with his legal case. The leave of absence takes on a new light when she goes to France.
Off to Paris! Where who does she run into at the Pont Neuf but an old law school boyfriend. Francie dumped Dylan Hardy back then, although she can’t remember why. His appearance brings back all Francie’s regrets and self-criticism for all her flighty, flirty ways that have gotten her into trouble over the years. Will he help her or hurt her here in Paris? Can American legal brains get a student out of one of Europe’s most notorious prisons?
And will spring ever come to Paris? Francie endures rain, dreary weather, and a search for flowering pink cherry trees as she works tirelessly to conquer her inner wounds, and save a young man from a stretch in a French prison.
#8 in the Bennett Sisters Mysteries
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#9 in the Bennett Sisters Mysteries
A Bolt from the Blue
Paris beckons the Bennett Sisters again… with fine wine, abandoned villas, classic apartments, and hidden secrets
When Francie Bennett goes back to Paris to help untangle an old woman’s estate at first she is confined to escorting the grumpy heir to fancy dinners. Not that she’s complaining because… well, PARIS. She’s up for more though, and the client turns out to be a a Frenchwoman who hates France she is intrigued to say the least.
When Axelle Fourcier left Paris behind after the student riots of 1968, she vowed never to go back. She despises Paris, for reasons she won’t relate. She made a life for herself in America as a professor. But now a beloved aunt, age 104, has died and left her an inheritance to be shared with a cousin she never met. A fabulous Belle Époque apartment in Paris filled with pop art from the ’50s and ’60s is just the start of Axelle’s discoveries in Paris. Wrangling with her slick cousin for the proceeds is distasteful but oh so French.
“Of all of the Bennett Sisters books, I believe that I liked this one best. The story was complex, as it was actually two stories in one. Both Axelle and Phoebe, one nearing the end of her life and the other just beginning hers. Each character grows and becomes stronger, and each of them struggle. It is a really good read. Enjoy!!!”
#10, #11, & #12 in the series, featuring Pascal d’Onscon
1: Bottle of Lies
2: Outside the Bubble
or get the complete trilogy
The sisters’ favorite wine detective gets caught up in Champagne country, investigating a bottle scam, murder, and more.
Lost in Lavender
#13 in the series
Mystery, romance, adventure, and more are in store for the youngest of five sisters, lawyers all, when she signs up to work at a lavender farm in Provence in Lost in Lavender, a Bennett Sisters Mystery.
Facing a crossroads– both career and personal– the youngest of the five Bennett Sisters, Elise, does what she does best: she runs away to think. This time she runs to a farm in Provence that produces heaven-scented lavender for oils. The area is famous for the beautiful purple flower, the symbol of this southern region of France. Her sisters are stumped. Elise never seemed like the farming type, or even gardening, for that matter. But she’s signed up for a farm stay vacation, an idea she got from an unlikely source, the trophy wife of one of her law partners.
When she arrives, courtesy her older sister Merle who drives her to the Luberon from the Dordogne, she discovers she is the only guest at the picturesque family farm who is not a college student. The rest are all doing a French language exchange program and are 20 years younger than Elise, leaving her feeling like an outsider and wondering about her life choices. Not only is her judgment in men and careers awful, but she can’t even plan a decent vacation.
Meanwhile in the Dordogne, Merle’s niece, Willow, arrives for some R&R before she starts law school. But she brings a few surprises with her, a boyfriend plus Elise’s fiancé. Or is it ex-fiancé? It will take several sisters– and of course Pascal– to unravel the facts as all descend on southern France for July in the heat and lavender.
Suspense, romance, intrigue, and humor as the summer heats up for the Bennett Sisters again. Another delicious adventure in international travel and cozy mystery as the Bennett Sisters fight their way to truth, justice, and a perhaps a summer fling, deep in the French countryside. A summer fling in France never hurt anyone, now did it?
“I’ve been hooked on this series since reading Blackbird Fly before a trip to the Dordogne some years ago. This book, which expands the sisters’ travels to Provence, is another delightful installment, perfect light reading for these times of too much gloomy pandemic and political news! Escaping to Provence, with a little rosé wine, a little mystery and a little romance was just what I needed this weekend. Enjoy!”
Birds of a Feather
#14, #15, and #16
Birds of a Feather 2: Crazy as a Loon — February 2021
Birds of a Feather 3: Fly the Nest — March 2021
These three books form a trilogy that follows the events of Lost in Lavender. Elise Bennett, the youngest of the sisters, joins her new boyfriend, Conor, in Wales for the holidays. When Elise is confronted with unwelcome attention from one of the relatives, two sisters decide to provide her with emotional support. Merle and Annie, with their partners, arrive from Scotland and France. Country house drama, a gaggle of annoying relatives, pub crawls, and French food: all combine for a riotous, eventful holiday in the wilds of Wales.