Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap Series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family.

In this interview, Pepper talks with us about The Juliet Code, book number three in her Freddie and Grace Mystery Series.

FF: What inspired the story in your book?
Since The Juliet Code is the third book in the series and I knew my hero/heroine were traveling to Italy, I tried to think of what sort of mystery I could place in such a beautiful and creative part of the world. With a little encouragement from author Lynn Blackburn, I took the mystery in an ‘art heist’ direction but wanted to make sure it was artwork connected to a ‘story’ so Grace could highlight her bookish brains. I’ve always loved the idea of finding treasure, and knew Grace would too, so everything started with all of those ideas coming together to create the mystery in TJC.

FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Freddie and Grace Percy are only married a few months by the time we get to TJC and they’ve already been through a lot of dangerous situations during their brief marriage. The great things about them, though, is their mutual gratitude of how God took a very rocky start to their romance and has turned it into something better than either predicted. Freddie is the more logical and cautious of the two, and he comes into this book with a higher bit of fear related to his young bride since she nearly dies in book two, The Cairo Curse. Grace is the epitome of her name, but also this lighthearted and clever young woman who has a rather unique perspective on life, love, and…well, everything.

FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Lydia Whitby. I didn’t expect to kind of fall in love with her character as much as I did. I already adored Freddie and Grace. Jack was a super fun surprise too.

FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Because we find in stories relatability. C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone” and in stories we can connect in intimate ways, allowing people to ‘watch’ how these fictional people respond to situations not too different from our own in the nonfiction world. In this way, in the thoughts, feelings, and lives of our characters, we can show hope, faith, joy, perseverance, strength, and, most importantly, God’s grace—whether that is in an overt or covert way. Our world is and always has been in need of hope. I think, in writing the stories we do for God’s glory, Christian authors have a unique opportunity to offer hope in print.

FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
My next book is a romantic comedy called Loyally, Luke and it’s just a fun book about a regular guy and a princess trying to figure out where true identity is found…and if together is a better (or even possible) place to be than apart. I cannot WAIT for folks to have the opportunity to read this book. It is such a blast to hang out with the Edgewoods!

FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Lots of video-watching to help me ‘visit’ Venice and I had to keep up with some of my historical research for daily life stuff. The Juliet paintings are not a real set of paintings, but I still set them within a certain style, so I researched a little about that too.

FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
Hope. Christ’s hope to help us in trial, in suffering, in danger, in love, in friendship…in life. And there is also a great deal of peace in knowing who holds us in this life and the one to come.

The Juliet Code
Freddie and Grace Mystery Series #3
Pepper Basham
Barbour Fiction
Genres: Historical, Mystery & Suspense, Romantic Suspense
Release Date: December 1, 2023

ISBN-10: ‎1636096948
ISBN-13: ‎978-1636096940

Book Summary:
Newlyweds Lord and Lady Astley Finally Reach Their Honeymoon Destination Only to Encounter a New Mystery in Need of Solving

Frederick and Grace Percy finally make it to Italy to enjoy a delayed honeymoon and explore the beauties of the historic city of Venice. To their surprise, their friend, Detective Jack Miracle, is also in the city, investigating a series of art heists starting at the house of eccentric millionaire, Laraby Covington. Drawn into a world of boat races, mysterious houses, and parties of the rich and unusual in Venice, Frederick and Grace learn of the existence of the Juliet paintings, (Renaissance paintings feature Shakespeare’s tragic heroine) rumored to hold a secret code to an underground vault of similarly treasured artwork assumed lost over the centuries. As Freddie and Grace are pulled deeper into the mystery and their beloved Detective Jack disappears, can they use their wits and work as a team to find the thieves and Jack before it’s too late?

The Juliet Code is a Freddie and Grace Mystery, sequel to The Mistletoe Countess and The Cairo Curse.


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About The Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, N.C., where she is the mom of five kids, speech-pathologist to about 50 more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, 2015's The Thorn Bearer, garnered awards such as Reader’s Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, shortlisted for the Inspy Awards, and a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards.