Book and a Brew with Ritu – Instant Karma Book 5 in the Hart’s Ridge Series by @kaybratt #NewRelease #BookReview #BookAndABrew

Yes, we are back with another Book & A Brew with Ritu post!.

Today, I am thrilled to welcome a dear friend and hugely prolific author, Kay Bratt, to my blog for a cuppa and a bit of a chat about all things bookish, but especially her latest release, Instant Karma, book five in her Hart’s Ridge series. It’s out TODAY!

Hello, and welcome to But I Smile Anyway, Kay! I will apologise in advance, but I am feeling a fangirl moment happening over here! Let’s get you set with a drink first. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or maybe a masala chai. I do have a Tassimo if you prefer a fancy coffee? Or maybe a sweet, iced tea? I know that is big over the pond, and I have been practising!

Ha! You know how I love my Southern sweet tea! But I grew up drinking hot tea, black with tons of sugar, and it’s still my comfort drink. Let’s go with that.

We can have some lovely homemade biscuits or my daughter, Lil Princess made fairy cakes! If you’re feeling adventurous, I can bring out some pakoras!

I’m all about fairies! Have you seen some of my fairy houses I’ve put out this year? I really do it for the grandkids. Making those memories of the silly Nana who had fairy houses tucked around her yard and fairy doors on trees.

Oh, what a special thing to do! Well then, it better be fairy cakes!

I am so thrilled to have you over, Kay. You have been a real inspiration to me over the last few years. When I was invited to join the Book Tribe group on Facebook by Amanda Prowse (My Book Friends, now), I didn’t realise how many friendships I would make, as well as learning about so many more amazing authors, you being one! I’ve read many of your books, and you write on such varied themes. Can you tell us a little bit about how and why you started writing?

First, let me say that when you talk about making friends with us authors, you really mean it. It’s not just an author/reader relationship. We are truly friends and can feel the love you send over the pond to most of us. And we were so happy to welcome you into the circle of being a published author! You worked so hard on your first book, and it was exciting to see it so well received.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. 😊

Like you, as a child, I loved to write short stories and poetry.

Do you remember your first short story? Tell us about it!

You know, I don’t remember my exact first story, but I will never forget an early poem which was about the relationship between my brother and me as children! I wrote it when I was around 9 years old. It was a typical love-hate relationship, so the poem showed that, too! And one memorable story I wrote was a fictional account of getting married and how I was feeling as a young British Asian girl. It won Highly Commended in a writing competition at school, too! I guess that segued into my Chickpea Curry Lit-style novels!

I remember mine! It was written when I was 11. My sister and I had just gone through a terrible tragedy in which we saw our best friend mowed down and killed by a car as we were all crossing the highway. The teacher knew I was shut down and asked me to write it out, to express it on paper.

I’ve always found that writing my feelings out helps immensely, so I am not bogged down with negative or worrying thoughts or energies. I guess it is why I blog.

As a young adult, journaling was the way that I worked through the hard things I was dealing with in life. I took that into my adulthood, and when I spent nearly five years living in China and volunteering in the local orphanage, those journal entries became my first published book, called Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope. A few years later, I was back on home ground and off and running with my writing career. I now have 31 books published, with three more to come before the end of 2023.

You really are an inspiration to me, Kay. And you’ve explored quite a range of genres in your writing too. Is there a favourite of the different genres you have written?

While now I concentrate on writing women’s fiction and small-town mystery, I truly loved writing historical fiction set during the Cultural Revolution in China in the mid to late 60s. The research I lost myself in was fascinating, especially because of China’s closed-door policy. Most of the world had no idea about the travesties that were happening there at the time. That book is called The Palest Ink.

Ritu, when writing your first novel, did you enjoy the research you put into it?

I did. A lot of the background, including locations and general information, as well as stigmas and family relationships, were things I live with daily. Though none of the books I write are autobiographical in any way, there is still a lot of ‘me’ in them. But I did research to make sure my memory wasn’t skewed since the books are set in the year 2000 and onwards. It was like a trip down memory lane, getting old photos out, as well as talking to different people to make sure I was on the right track. With my soon-to-be-released book, Straight As a Jalebi, given the MM romance within it, I also had to research India Legislation, as well as get sensitivity readers to make sure I was on the right track. And now, I am interviewing people to help me formulate the basis of the storyline for book three!

I would love to give you a little space to talk about the fantastic work you do with rescuing and fostering animals, especially about your special fur babies.  I know they take up a huge space in your heart, as well as a lot of your time. It amazes me how you still manage to write so much, given all you do for them!

I’m a director with a small rescue called Yorkie Rescue of the Carolinas, and I use my platform to advocate for displaced pups. We have also fostered more than a dozen dogs, with some of them ending up permanent Bratt Pack members. I’ve been known to put myself in dangerous situations to make life better for a dog and have negotiated myself out of trouble for it more than I can count.

I love to read the positive updates, but it can break a person’s heart when you post about some of the pups in need of homes!

I always like to ask about your writing space. Is it somewhere peaceful, or are you overrun with your fur babies?

Because I’m an empty nester, it’s peaceful for the most part, but my three fur kids are always with me in my office. They nudge me now and then to remind me to take a break and walk around, take them outside and stretch our legs.

Ritu, what is your writing space like?

I am lucky enough to have a lovely writing and reading space on a floor of my own in our home! We live in a dormer bungalow which means most of the living space is downstairs. However, the attic was converted into a strange-shaped room with a little toilet up there, too. Usually, I can be up here undisturbed, but Sonu Singh does like to come and sit with me, either to keep me company or to miaow at me, asking for treats! Sometimes he commandeers my chair or gets on the desk to block my work, but for the most part, he lays there being my furry muse!

Now, I could talk about animals all day. I know Sonu Singh would love that, but the reason you are here is so we can have a little catch-up about your latest release, Instant Karma. This is the fifth book in an eight-book series, set in the fictional town of Hart’s Ridge. I have loved each of the books so far. Again, this is a genre different to your past books. Each one has a link to a crime story that might or might not be inspired by a real event. How do you go about researching these crimes?

The research comes naturally to me because I’m a true crime addict! I love shows like Forensic Files, 48 Hours, Snapped, and all those good ones. For the first book in the series, I was on the interstate doing a six-hour round trip to pick up grandkids and was listening to HLN on satellite radio and heard the episode about a girl who was driving home from work and missing. I thought it would make a great novel, and my character, Joni Stott, was born.

Oh, it was a great read, so your inspiration worked well!

I love Taylor Gray, the female main character who is the thread to tie all the books together. I love how you have woven her character development into each book, as well as introducing us to the different members of her family as the series develops. Do you feel a special affinity to any of them, in particular?

Taylor is probably the one I connect with the most, as from the time I was growing up until I turned around 50, I was the sibling that was the natural-born peacemaker and tried to bring everyone together for family events. I finally realized that it took too much of my own emotional energy, and I eventually let the pieces of our fractured family fall where they may.

Taylor came from a broken family, and I did too, and like her, I worked hard to climb out of the mire and make something of myself. I have this one vivid memory that lingers around me all the time. I was around eighteen and had fled the apartment that I shared with my husband after he’d physically attacked me. He took my purse, my car keys, and there weren’t cell phones then. I ended up sitting outside a gas station on the curb, crying as I hugged my knees and wished I had somewhere safe to go. People passed me, looking at my face, then looking away quickly. I wished so badly that one would stop and just ask if they could help.

I was financially broke and emotionally broken, but something inside me wouldn’t let me give up. I went back and did another five years with my abuser, but I kept improving myself as I worked through each situation. Now, three decades later, I’m married to a wonderful man (just had our 29th anniversary). I’ve had a successful career in Human Resources, a fulfilling mission in China, and I’ve sold over a million books.

Who would’ve thought!?

As I said, you are an inspiration!

Back to the Hart’s Ridge series, all three of Taylor’s sisters have tiny bits of personality from my own sisters, though I’ll never tell which ones to which sister! That could get me in a load of trouble! I do like to explore family issues that are loosely inspired by my own experiences. For example, you’ll see many of my books have a mother-daughter conflict and the journey to forgiveness they take, and I think that’s my soul yearning for a better relationship with my own mom. 

Ritu, does your book have any of your life experiences mirrored in the themes?

I think, as writers, there is always a bit of us in our writing. I can recognise traits that I have given to certain characters that may or may not mirror people I know, but there is no one character who is based on one person. Though the father figure, Mohinder has a lot of qualities like my own Pops. And I may have heard of events that inspire my stories, but none so far have mirrored my life or that of anyone I know. The third one will be closer to home as its main subject is infertility, and we went through quite a journey to fall pregnant. My two kids are my miracles. They are hard work as teens, but like blessings to us. While the story won’t be mine, it brings back a lot of feelings from a very tough time in my life, so is hard but also cathartic to write.

A bit of a topic change again! There are always dogs in the books, which I love, and this time we even get a horse and a special bird, too, called Baby. Do you try and write an animal character into each book you write?

I really don’t intentionally set out to write an animal character, but it sort of happens as I’m fleshing out the characters. Animals are a big part of my own life, and I think I can’t imagine a set of people where at least one of them doesn’t have a pet. Animals are such amazing gifts from God, put here to bring people comfort.

Oh, I 100% agree with you on that! Sonu Singh has been a godsend to us, and we would love a canine companion, but while we are all working or at school, it would be unfair to have a pet who has to be carted to care everyday or home alone for long times. We just enjoy any time we get with friends and the neighbour’s pups!

I was honoured and thrilled to have a little mention as a character in book 4, Borrowed Time (check me out as a lawyer!), and I saw Ritu mentioned at the beginning of this book, too. Thank you for that, Kay. You truly made my day when I read that! She even had curly hair and loved to smile!

Yes! I had fun putting you in there, Ritu! I’m so glad you recognized her, and hopefully, you picked up on the soft and encouraging personality I gave her that mirrors yours!

You’re making me blush!

Do your books include any cameos from your real-life family or friends? Don’t you find yourself sometimes wanting to stick someone in there and be mean to them? (ha .. kidding..maybe)

Hee hee! Cheeky! There are so many times when I want to, but I just know it will get back to that person in a roundabout way! I did tell my lovely beautician that a character in book three may have a similarity to her… but no meanness!

Now, I know there are at least three books left in the series. Are these all you are working on at the moment, or do you have other projects on the go? (I don’t know how you do it all, honestly!) I know my readers would love to know!

Nope! I’m also working on writing a prequel to the series, as well as a book in an upcoming multi-author series. This is the year of writing myself into the ground, but I have big plans to relax a bit more next year. My close friend tells me I say that every year, but we’ll see!

I look forward to that! And I also agree that you need to have a little breathing space, as well, as much as I love your books, I know how much it can take out of you to write.

Looks like your teacup is empty there. I would offer you a top-up, but with our time differences, I know it may be hard to stay up for another!

Thank you so much for popping over, Kay, it has been a pleasure to have you here on But I Smile Anyway. 😊

Very thankful that you invited me, Ritu, and happy you are in my life.

The feeling is mutual, Kay!

Peeps, I do hope you get the Hart’s Ridge bug, because it is a pleasure to catch!

Now, as I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to read an ARC of Instant Karma, so let me share the blurb and my review.

The Blurb

In Instant Karma, the fifth book of the Hart’s Ridge small-town mystery series by Kay Bratt, Deputy Taylor Gray is hoping for a break after the recent crime wave that hit her town. But when a stranger shows up unexpectedly, she realizes that danger never takes a holiday.

Meanwhile, Cate Gray is cautiously optimistic in her hope for a solid future, and when karma finally seems to be on her side, she dares to dream of her own happily ever after.

But in Hart’s Ridge, nothing is ever as it seems. As secrets are uncovered and tensions rise, readers will be on the edge of their seats, unable to put down this suspenseful tale.

If you’re a fan of small-town mysteries with well-drawn characters and an engrossing plot, then you won’t want to miss Instant Karma, the latest book in the Hart’s Ridge series.

Instant Karma is book five of the new Hart’s Ridge small-town mystery series, written by Kay Bratt, million-copy best-selling author of Wish Me Home and True to Me.

My Review

Instant Karma by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore these Hart’s Ridge books by Kay Bratt and was thrilled to get a copy of Instant Karma, book 5 in the series, as an ARC.
This time, along with keeping up with Taylor Gray, the main character whose thread runs through all these books, we get to know more about her sister, Jo, and her son. Until now, readers haven’t had a chance to get to know much about her, other than that she is a single mother, so getting the background on her was another stepping stone to being immersed in the Gray family.
It was wonderful to see how Kate, Taylor’s mother, continues to build on her dream of an animal sanctuary, meaning we get to meet all wonderful animals, too!
Since there is always a crime or mystery to solve, we also have a chance to peep into the life of Faire, one of the long-term residents of Hart’s Reige, but someone who has become an almost recluse, with her bird, Baby, as her main company. Fearful of a lonely future, with not much money left in her coffers, Faire offers a room in her house to a lodge, which brings more than just rent money to the table.
Another truly wonderful read!
I can’t wait for number 6, and am even more excited knowing there are 8 in total!

Buy a copy of Just Friends For Now, HERE!

Author Bio

As a writer, Kay used writing to help her navigate a tumultuous childhood, followed by a decade of abuse as an adult. After working her way through the hard years, Kay emerged a survivor and a pursuer of peace–and finally found the courage to share her stories. She is the author of more than a dozen full length books, with ten of those published by Lake Union Publishing. Kay writes women’s fiction and historical fiction, and her books have fueled many exciting book club discussions. Her works have been translated into German, Korean, Chinese, Czechoslovakian, and Estonian.

As a rescuer, Kay currently focuses her efforts on animal rescue and is the Director of Advocacy for Yorkie Rescue of the Carolinas. As a child advocate, she spent a number of years volunteering in a Chinese orphanage, as well as provided assistance for several nonprofit organizations that support children in China, including An Orphan’s Wish (AOW), Pearl River Outreach, and Love Without Boundaries. In the USA, she actively served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children in Georgia, and spear-headed numerous outreach programs for underprivileged children in the South Carolina area.

As a wanderer, Kay has lived in nearly three dozen different homes, on two continents and in states from coast to coast in the USA. She’s traveled to Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Philippines, Central America, Bahamas, and Australia. Currently she and her soulmate of more than 25 years enjoy life in their forever home on the banks of Lake Hartwell in Georgia, USA.
Kay has been described as southern, spicy, and a little sassy. Social media forces her to overshare and you don’t want to miss some of the antics that goes on with her and the Bratt Pack.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and then buckle up and enjoy the ride. You can find a full list of her published works at — To be notified when new books are released, please sign up for my monthly email newsletter at

My interactive peeps!

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