Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Spotlight on November 30, 2015

SouthernPeachPie

SOUTHERN PEACH PIE AND A DEAD GUY
(Poppy Peters Mysteries Book 1)

Synopsis

After an injury derails Poppy Peters’ ballet career, she gathers the courage to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and attend Calle Pastry Academy in a small-town in Georgia. Poppy has her work cut out for her not only fitting in with her charming (and not-so-charming ) Southern classmates but also proving her worth to her teachers after her first publicly humiliating attempt a making the school’s famous peach pie. But Poppy’s pastry problems go from bad to worse when she’s suddenly accused of stealing expensive black truffles, and her attempt to clear her name goes awry…resulting in her finding a dead body instead! If Poppy’s going to survive this culinary experience, she’ll need to find the missing truffles and track down a killer, all while honing her baking skills to compete in the school’s dessert competition for a coveted pastry internship in Paris. Can Poppy prove she’s one tough cookie? Or is her life about to crumble?

**Recipes Included**


 

ChocolateMacaronsandaDeadGroom (1)

CHOCOLATE MACAROONS AND A DEAD GROOM
(Poppy Peters Mysteries Book 2)

Synopsis

When Poppy Peters takes an internship in Paris working for a top pastry chef, she realizes that bakery life isn’t all cupcakes and frosting. The sous pastry chef dislikes foreigners, her mentor only speaks French, and to top that all off she finds the groom of the wedding she’s catering dead in his own backyard. But Lord Dovington wasn’t just a handsome royal waiting to sweep his bride-to-be off of her feet. He was also a well-known playboy with a long line of vengeful exes.

Now, as one of the prime suspects, Poppy must prove she’s innocent . . . and that her recipe for chocolate macaroons isn’t to blame. But the clock is ticking, and with a missing diamond, a break-in, and a hot batch of reporters on her tail, Poppy has a lot of sifting to do. Will she find the killer before she too gets baked?

**Recipes Included**


 

BananaFosterandadeadmobster

BANANAS FOSTER AND A DEAD MOBSTER
(Poppy Peters Mysteries Book 3)

Synopsis

Reluctant sleuth Poppy Peters is back in Georgia, and her last semester of pastry school is no icing on the cake when a body is discovered at the local farmer’s market, and the murder weapon has Poppy’s name on it. Not to mention, the victim belonged to a deadly southern crime family. Now, Poppy is being tailed by the mafia, and it doesn’t help that the school’s new pastry instructor has her working with her worst rival. But after a heart-stopping car chase, a frightening discovery at an old jam factory, and a spontaneous trip to New Orleans, Poppy discovers a secret that makes her past feats look like a piece of peach pie. Poppy’s chances of making it to graduation day are about to go up in flames just like her Bananas Foster.

**Recipes included!**


Praise for the Book

“A sweet and satisfying mystery that will leave you hungry for more! A. Gardner’s Poppy Peters Mysteries have earned a place on my keeper shelf!”
~ Gemma Halliday, New York Times bestselling mystery author

“Charming cozy mystery featuring likable characters.”
~Debbie Wiley, Fresh Fiction

“A. Gardner cooks up one fabulous mystery with this Southern suspense.”
~Pauline Michael, Night Owl Reviews

Excerpt

My first encounter with a southern guy isn’t going so well. So far I’ve admitted I have never tried sweet tea, and my big toe is a little too long for the shoes I am wearing. Nice one, Poppy. Now he is going to think I am a weird westerner with a foot fetish. I try hard not to look down at my black, high-heeled boots. Why am I the only one on campus wearing any black?
“My name is Cole,” the man says with a grin on his face. I reach out to shake his hand. My palms are sweating just like every other place on my body. I haven’t even turned thirty yet, and I’m already having hot flashes. It is going to take me some time to get used to this heat.
“Poppy Peters,” I reply. I wipe my forehead and underneath my eyes. I bite my lip when I see a bit of smeared mascara on the side of my finger. It is so humid my makeup is melting off. “Is it always this hot here?”
“Welcome to Georgia.” Cole chuckles and shrugs as we walk towards the student bakery. Cole is one of the first students I bumped into at the registration office. His lemon-colored T-shirt shines bright compared to his dark skin, and his impressive physique makes me look at him twice. His eyes are intriguing—an even mix of blue and green.
As we walk, I can’t help but admire how lush the vegetation is on campus. Every tree outstretches towards the sidewalks, providing a much needed break from the glaring sun. The patches of grass remind me of ocean waves, if the ocean sparkled like emeralds. Even the flowerbeds near the Administration building had bundles of purple and orange wildflowers that couldn’t be contained.
“What’s that smell?” I ask. “And don’t say it smells like fresh meat. I heard a teacher in the Registrar’s Office use that joke about a hundred times.”
“I’ll show you.”
I follow Cole across campus until the heavenly smell of baked bread and sugary doughnuts grows stronger. I long for that smell sometimes. It takes me back to my schoolgirl days when I spent my weekends in the kitchen with Grandma Liz. My Grandma Liz came to Calle Pastry Academy when she was in her early twenties. I imagine her tiny frame and long, dancer legs. It’s a miracle that she came to this school and still stayed so thin.

 

A GardnerAbout the Author

A. Gardner is a native westerner exploring the sweet bites of the south. After years of working in the healthcare industry, she moved across the country with her husband and adventurous baby boy. She is a mystery and romance writer with a serious cupcake obsession and a love of storytelling that began at an early age. When she is not writing, she is either chasing after her son, out for a swim, trying out a new recipe, or painting her nails bright blue.


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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on November 30, 2015

search of scandal

Title: In Search of Scandal
Author: Susanne Lord
Series: London Explorers, #1
Pubdate: December 1st, 2015
ISBN: 9781492623502

 

A DARING EXPLORER

All of London is abuzz with the tale of Will Repton. The lone survivor of a massacre in Tibet has returned to England a hero, but the traumatized explorer has no time for glory. Another dangerous expedition awaits. Nothing will deter him from his quest, and no one will unearth his secret—until Will meets Charlotte Baker.

IS NO MATCH FOR AN ADVENTUROUS HEART

Vivacious Charlotte Baker also has a mission—to find a man whose bold spirit matches her own. When she meets Will Repton, she immediately recognizes him as her soul mate, and she’s naively willing to turn her back on the rules of propriety to ensnare him. Will is torn between his fascination with Charlotte and his vow to finish his quest. He knows what it is to risk life and limb—but what if his most perilous adventure doesn’t lie across an ocean, but within his own lost heart?

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This December, debut author Susanne Lord releases the first in her London Explorers series, In Search of Scandal! To celebrate, Susanne is here to share one of the facts she uncovered while researching for this adventurous new series:

Explorer Fast Fact: 20th Century exploration still harbored many dangers. Michael Rockefeller disappeared in Papua, New Guinea in 1961. The cause of his presumed death is suspected to be either drowning, or death by an aboriginal tribe that practiced ritual cannibalism at the time.

Excerpt

Charlotte caught her breath and unclenched the grip she had taken upon his hand. “You cannot pretend to like me, Mr. Repton. I just wonder—I have always wondered what I have done to offend you.”

His arm tightened and his lips were right back to hovering over her ear. “Wait…”

More silence. Honestly! She would not stand here and let him trample her heart.

She ripped herself from his arms. “It is fine. I hardly require every man to like me, Mr. Repton. Be assured I am aware of your feelings and you will not have to suffer my attentions anymore.”

She whirled to leave but a steel hand gripped her arm.

God! Blast it! Now what have I done?” he growled, his blue eyes wintry in the moonlight. “I thought we were getting on. I wouldn’t mind being your friend, as long as you understand that’s where it ends.”

Wouldn’t mind? I have more friends than I can count, I hardly need—”

He yanked her hard against him. “Then what do you want?”

“I…I will not argue—”

His hands gripped her waist. “What do you want, Charlotte?” He growled. “What do you want me to do?

Her words died in the face of his rising frustration. What did she want? What had she ever wanted but him? She wanted him still. From the first sight, the first instant. Every day, every hour, she wanted him. In a deep, tender, precious place she could not touch with reason. And all he did was sneer and push her way.

“Why didn’t you ignore me as you normally do?” she asked hollowly. “Why did you talk to me at all tonight?”

He said nothing. He didn’t move. Something furious and wild thundered through her breast. “You don’t belong here!” Her fist clenched, wanting to slap that frozen look off his face. “Say something!” She launched against him, gripping him about his hard neck. “Say anything!”

But his stubborn lips were sealed, and before she could stop herself, she mashed her mouth against them.

Instantly, she regretted it. Their chins knocked, their teeth scraped, and a grunt of surprise sounded from his throat.

Oh God, what was she doing? She didn’t know how to give a kiss and he certainly didn’t want hers. His hands dropped off her and she sobbed sharply against his mouth. Mortified, she crumpled against his neck.

Oh God, oh God, how will I face him?

A hard hand seized her neck and forced her head up. Blue eyes blazed into hers. “Damn it all!”

Warm lips clamped to hers expertly. Shocked, she sank to her heels but his arm tightened and locked her against the hard wall of his body.

His deep groan shook her.

But it was a sound of surrender.

In-Search-Of-Scandal---Release-Graphic

About the Author

Susanne Lord is a writer of Victorian-era romance and author of the London Explorer series published by Sourcebooks. Originally from Okinawa, off-base and on, she now makes her home in Chicago where she is an active member of Chicago North RWA. When not writing, attending theater or reading, she enjoys hiking the English countryside and visiting historic homes and gardens.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on November 29, 2015

one rogue at a time

Title: One Rogue at a Time

Author: Jade Lee

Series: Rakes and Rogues, #2

Pubdate: December 1st, 2015

ISBN: 9781492605027

 

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…

A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose

As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.

Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide

Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.
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The second in Jade Lee’s saucy Rakes and Rogues series, One Rogue at a Time, comes out this December! To celebrate, Jade played a quick round of ‘Would You Rather?’ with us and sent an excerpt from the book to share.

Would you rather be bald for the rest of your life or never be able to cut your hair again? BALD. Give me a wig or three dozen. Make them all sorts of fun colors and styles. It would be awesome!

Excerpt

In this excerpt our heroine (nicknamed Bluebell) is angling for our hero to take her to London where she can meet her father for the first time. She’s bargained for speaking lessons, and now she’s bartering for a ride to London. But she isn’t prepared for the price he demands.

“You want me to take you to Oxfordshire and then on to London,” Bram accused. “You want me to dress up this fine carriage and let you appear before your relations like a fine lady. You’ve been planning that from the moment you met me.”

“Ooo, an’ me a simple maid from ’Ull. Wot makes ye think I could muster all that?” She exaggerated her accent such that his back molars ground together in disgust.

“Admit it. That’s what you want.”

She lifted her chin. “And what if I do? You’re free t’ say no.”

“No.”

“There. Fine. Ye’ve said it. But I can pay—”

He grabbed her chin, pulling it—and her—toward him. Part of him thrilled at finally touching her pristine skin. Part of him watched how her eyes widened and the pupils darkened, her mouth slipping open on a gasp. Was she afraid of him? Yes. Obviously. And he tried to care. He tried to tell himself that he didn’t want to punish her for crimes she hadn’t committed. But she was a schemer just like the others, and so he damned her all the same.

“I will take you to London,” he said, his voice low, his breath hot.

She didn’t answer, and he didn’t care.

“But there’s only one payment I’ll take.”

“No,” she whispered. “I’m a lady.”

“Say it all you like, Miss Bluebell, but I know the truth.”

She swallowed, trying to pull herself back, but she was still sitting on the barrel, so she had nowhere to run. She stilled and her eyes narrowed.

“Wot truth? That I want to go to London? That I want proof o’ my father? Or that you’re nothing but a man with ruttin—”

He kissed her. He wasn’t slow, and he wasn’t remotely gentle. And the fact that she was completely untutored in the way of kissing infuriated him even more. She was a lie. She deserved all the pain he could give her. She was…

She was an innocent, and he had to soften. He had to become gentle with her, and so he did. He didn’t want to, contradictory beast that he was. He liked his anger. Stoked it to a hot flame, but not against her.

So he softened. He gentled.

Where before he had simply wrenched her mouth to his, he now petted her chin. And though he had forced his tongue into her, he eased his penetration. He teased her and then pulled back.

“You are a lie,” he said to her panting chest.

“You are a brute,” she answered, anger vibrating out of her.

“Yes, and worse. I’m a bastard.”

“You’re not even ashamed.”

Oh, he was. He was riddled with shame, but he wouldn’t let her see it. She had to know the truth about him before she tried to play her games. “I’ll take you wherever you want to go, Miss Bluebell. But I’ll be taking you as I do it.”

He felt the impact of his words on her body. She shuddered, but she also licked her lips. Part of her wanted him, brute though he was.

“I am a lady.”

“Ladies spread their legs for me all the time.”

“Not me.”

“Then I’ll not take you anywhere.”

He felt her accept the truth of his words. Her body bowed, and her shoulders drooped. But when she spoke, her voice was strong with conviction.

“I don’t need you to take me. I’ve coin eno’. The mail coach goes to Oxfordshire and London.”

“You’ll be prey to every bloke who sees you.”

She finally jerked her chin away from the stroke of his fingers. “’At’s been true since I first started filling out a dress.” And then before he could anticipate her move, before it even registered that he was in danger, she lifted her knee.

How she’d maneuvered it so perfectly, he didn’t know. But one moment he was hard as a rock, still thinking of ways he could make her willing. The next there was a blinding flash of white-hot pain, and he was crumpled onto the ground.

He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. He just knew pain. And one word:

Bravo.

About the Author

jadesittingUSA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been crafting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ballgowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of reader awards, she brings laughter into the sexy nights of England’s elite. Quirky characters and sexy banter are her hallmarks.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on November 28, 2015

cover shot large banner640

COVER SHOT

Cover Shot
A Headline in High Heels Mystery
5th in Series
Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press (November 10, 2015)
Paperback: 312 pages

Synopsis

AGATHA NOMINATED SERIES

It’s been a slow news month in Richmond, and crime reporter Nichelle Clarke is enjoying the downtime when ominous messages and a dead body kick things into high gear. And that’s before the guy with the rifle takes a hospital full of people hostage.

Up to the top of her knee-high Prada boots in leads, Nichelle finds her favorite detectives under pressure to make an arrest, but it doesn’t add up—and ignoring the “why” of this story could cost Nichelle the most important person in her life.

With too much to lose, a shot at the story of a lifetime, and a missing bullet that might be the key, landing this headline could save the day, but can Nichelle dig up the truth before the killer buries her with it?

Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations.

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Books in the Headlines in High Heels Mystery Series

Front Page Fatality (#1)
Buried Leads (#2)
Dateline Memphis (novella after Buried Leads in Heartache Motel)
Small Town Spin (#3)
Devil In The Deadline (#4)
Cover Shot (#5)

 

About The Author

LynDee headshotLynDee Walker’s award-winning journalistic work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the nation.

Her debut novel, FRONT PAGE FATALITY, is an amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 bestseller, and was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. DEVIL IN THE DEADLINE is the fourth in LynDee’s Headlines in High Heels mystery series. The fifth COVER SHOT is out November 2015.

LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is either playing with her children, working on her next novel, or admiring beautiful shoes she can’t wear.

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Posted in Book Blast, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on November 27, 2015

Wasted time mya
Wasted Time by Mya O’Malley

Do you believe that some souls are destined to be together, even through hardship and deceit?

After 9-11, Declan’s heart is torn between wanting to stay with Morgan and needing to fight for his beloved country. Knowing that the future may be uncertain, he kisses his fiancée goodbye and focuses on his mission until that dark day from which he will never fully recover. Injured in Afghanistan, Declan has lost more than part of his leg; he’s lost part of himself, now plagued in grief and guilt. How could he possibly ask Morgan to take care of him for the rest of his life, being nothing but a burden to her? Which would be more heartbreaking, feigning his own death or bringing her unhappiness every day? If only he could eradicate her from his mind and be at peace with his decision.

Morgan prays day and night for Declan’s safe return, but when his letters stop coming, Morgan knows in her heart that she has lost him forever. Morgan has a hard time believing in fate and destiny after her fiancé is taken from her. With Declan gone, Morgan’s hope for true love is destroyed, but eventually she finds comfort in the arms of another, even though Morgan’s new love knows that her heart belongs to Declan.

Will Morgan eventually be able to move on, or will Declan haunt her dreams forever?

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Excerpt

Her face was the only thing that had kept him sane during his deployment. At this moment, however, thoughts of Morgan had been pushed to the side for reasons of pure survival. Declan wiped the mud from his eye with a swift movement of his hand, just quick enough so that he could see again. Booming thunder went off near and far.

Swearing under his breath, Declan closed one eye and squinted the other shut as he spied his target. Breathe. One, two, three… he could do this. The first time he’d had to shoot another man he had faltered, hesitated only the briefest of seconds, during which time the man escaped his line of sight and shot a fellow soldier in the leg, causing serious injury.

This time, Declan concentrated, aimed his M4 rifle, and fired. The distinct thud of a man dropping to the ground confirmed the target had been hit. Swiping at the sweat in his eyes from the sweltering mid-day heat, Declan gulped and struggled to his knees. Lining up his rifle again, his neck and shoulders ached with fatigue. He bit down and gritted his teeth, tasting dirt while fighting off the pain.

It seemed as if hours had gone by, when in fact, it had probably only been minutes when finally the haunting sound of gunfire ceased. Not one to trust silence in any setting, Declan mentally counted upward until he reached near fifty.

“All clear,” his buddy, Sean, called out. “All clear.”

Declan, always cautious, still maintained his position until he heard his fellow soldiers from his platoon begin to speak. Peeking up from his ravine, Declan rose slowly to his feet as the rifle was pressed to his side.

Surveying the damage, it appeared that several of their enemies were lying still on the ground. The man he had shot lay still, appearing lifeless. Another man lay several feet away. It seemed the enemies had taken off, deserting the boundaries of the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. His platoon mates fell silent, all business as they quickly gathered their belongings to head back to base.

Declan clutched his rifle, drawing closer to his victim. Curiosity had gotten the best of him. Fully aware of his previous actions, Declan stepped even closer. He had never killed a man before — injured, yes, but never killed. This man did not appear to be alive.

His heart sped up as sweat caused his fatigues to cling to his body. For God’s sake, the man looked to have been only in his early twenties at best. What have I done? What are we doing here? Waves of nausea rose and Declan swallowed hard.

“Hey! Step back!” Sean called out. “Move out! I repeat, move out!”

Hearing his friend call out to him, Declan turned toward the sound of his voice, realizing his mistake seconds too late. He should have known better; he should have. But no amount of training can prepare you for taking another man’s life.

Glancing swiftly at Sean through tear-stained eyes, he saw the movement in his peripheral vision. Sean raced to the open dirt road. They were sitting ducks, in plain sight. The man that Declan had presumed dead, the one he had shot, raised his own rifle and fired at Sean, who dropped instantly to ground.

“No! No!” Declan spun his head back to the imminent threat, a moment too late. The force of the explosion knocked him to the ground in an instant. Morgan’s face was the last thing that registered in his mind as another shot fired, leaving his world black.

****

Clouds scattered overhead, cries of gulls bringing back another time, a different memory, sitting here with Declan by her side. Morgan squeezed her jaw, fighting back the pain.

Months later, there was still no word from Declan. On the Internet, she had searched out his name relentlessly but there was no mention of Declan, no death certificates and his name couldn’t be found on any list of casualties of the war. It was as if he had simply disappeared, but that wasn’t possible and she feared the worst. He was gone and there was no closure for Morgan, as his only living relatives were his mom and some family living on the west coast, whom Declan hadn’t seen in years. Even she and Declan’s old friend, Stephen seemed to be losing touch.

She could sit on this beach and watch the water forever; it was a place Declan had cherished, a place she felt close to him. Never again would her life be the same without Declan Blake. How was she going to make it without him?

The world was quiet and without joy for Morgan. Even Morgan’s mother nagged her to speak with a therapist. She didn’t see the purpose of smiling or laughing when it was all forced. Constant thoughts of Declan plagued her day and night.

Morgan nearly jumped when her cell rang. First instincts were to let the call go to voicemail, but she knew the person calling would only persist. That’s how it had been lately; she would ignore phone calls only to find tons of messages waiting.

It was Elle, calling for the second time that day. “Hi, Elle.”

“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to call you for hours,” Elle exclaimed.

“I don’t know, I’m just hanging out.”

“Down by the river again?” Elle inquired.

“Yup,” Morgan responded as she moved her foot around in the sand.

“Figured as much.”

Elle’s voice sounded odd, almost as if she were hearing her close by. Morgan turned to see her friend walking toward her on the grassy path leading to the small beach.

Rising to her feet, Morgan felt tears escape. Elle was by her side, arms wrapped around her within moments. Morgan released Elle and took a small step back.

“Oh, Elle, what am I going to do?” she sobbed.

“You’re going to live, dammit. Declan would want you to be happy.”

“How? How can I forget about him, just move on?” It wasn’t possible, she had tried, and it just wasn’t working. Even when she was at work, she was just going through the motions; she did her job, but her heart wasn’t the same.

“I think it’s time for you to see someone to talk about all of this. You’ve waited long enough.”

She was right and so was her mother, believe it or not. “I will, Elle. I will because I don’t know what else to do.”

“Morgan, you’re the strongest person I know. You have so much happiness and love to share. I have full confidence in you. You’re going to make it and come out stronger in the end.” Elle spoke through her own tears.

“Thanks, Elle. I love you.” Morgan felt better knowing there was someone on her side rooting for her.

 

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Mya OmalleyAbout the Author

Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of a boxer, Destiny and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.

Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her eighth novel.

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Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/16/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Posted in Spotlight, Thriller on November 25, 2015

SecretKeepersFrontmed

Synopsis

In the sequel to award-winning spy thriller, Deadly Exchange, when Sara Nardell and Peter Wellington meet with a man telling a tale of an upscale brothel in the heart of Manhattan, it disrupts the easy life of reunion that Sara and Frank Revere have enjoyed over the last year and a half.

Peter springs into action and assembles the Team, now part of a United Nations Special Operations unit. And Sara soon discovers a world rampant with sex trafficking, from Vancouver to China.

What begins as a relatively simple mission blows up into something with much larger consequences, including economic world dominance, which endangers members of the Team and citizens of all western nations.  At the center of it, shrouded in deception, hides a Chinese government-sanctioned group, known only as The Elders.

Like sediment stirred in a stream, deeper layers only further muddy the waters of truth…and increase peril for all.

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About the Author

Geoffrey M. Gluckman is the author of The Secret Keepers, the sequel to the award-winning spy thriller, Deadly Exchange (2007) (2009 Los Angeles Book Festival, runner-up to the Grand Prize winner).

He also authored Murder of Sex (2013), a steamy-romance suspense novel.

Previously, he has acted as a second level judge in the Maryland Writer’s Association Novel Contest (2011/2012), critiquing entries for fiction selection. He has been a featured author for the Foothill College Author Series, University of British Columbia creative writing classes, and Simon Fraser University writing classes, as well as numerous radio, print, and online interviews. In the past, he wrote full-length features for various print publications in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, such as Iron Horse Magazine and Law Enforcement Technology.

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Posted in excerpt, Guest Post, Historical, romance, Spotlight on November 24, 2015

I, Mary banner

I, Mary

Title: I, Mary
Author: Mike Hartner
Publisher: Eternity 4 Popsickle Publishing
Pages: 266
Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

Mary Crofter’s first trip on the water was just after her first birthday, when her parents came from her birthplace in Kilwa to Portsmouth. She’s been on several trips from Portsmouth to London and other places since. She loves the water and the water seems to love her. Can she survive on the water? Will people ever take seriously a GIRL as a sailor? Will she ever come off the water? If she does, will the lure of the ocean draw her back?

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Excerpt

I looked upon the gray waters that surrounded me. To the west it was dark and cloudy, the wind blustering. But as I braced myself against the gale hitting full force against my peacoat, I smiled.

It was fitting that I was here, and nothing could ever convince me otherwise. I’d been birthed on land but it wasn’t long afterward that I was on the water—and acquiring my sea legs. From the time I could walk, I learned to balance myself on the uneven deck. And later to climb the gnarly spars and ultimately the sayles. My parents taught me my numbers and to read and write as well. Numbers, well, was my best subject, and I was good at that. But my time at sea was what I loved the most. In truth, the only fun I remember in my childhood was when they took me on our merchant ship from our home in Portsmouth to London or to Bristol. It wasn’t the location that I liked or the end of the journey; no, for me it was the sayling, standing on the deck, listening to the wind, watching the ocean and the clouds and . . . late at night . . . the stars. I wanted to be on the sea forever, and I knew this from my very first time aboard ship.

I remember very well every one of those trips, because during each voyage I would close my eyes and concentrate, and it was as if I were talking to the water. And through a combination of waves and the ship’s motion, it felt as if the sea was in turn communicating with me.

I recall all of the journeys with my father and his good friend, Captain Jose. The saylors on those ships were always good to me, and I came to respect all of them. They taught me sayling while they went about their own jobs. Even as a little kid I was taught how to tie knots. And when I was eleven they instructed me on how to throw knives and swing a cutlass. Soon afterward I was taught how to prime, load, and shoot a musket. But I turned up my nose at the musket, even the smaller flintlock pistols. To me, there was no honor in this sort of fight. No great talent was needed to shoot somebody. Any idiot could pull a trigger. In my mind, it required real skill to defeat a man, or woman for that matter, with a cutlass.   And, yes, I will take up swords against a woman. Because, you see, I am one also.

Captain Jose had been a friend of the family since before I was born. He’d sayled with my father, James, and my mother, Rosalind. I heard the stories of the trip from Kilwa, where I was born, and then to Portsmouth, where we now live. I don’t know how they originally met because I haven’t been told that yet, but Captain Jose is so close to the family that I’ve always called him Uncle Jose or Uncle for short.

Currently, I am not quite twelve years old, thin as a rail, a little over eleven hands high, and maybe weighing four stone soaking wet. My hair is long enough to wear tied behind so it looks like the tail on a pony, but many men wear their hair the same way, so no one would know I was a girl just by looking at me.

I was in the office of Crofter Shipping Yards one day when Uncle Jose called me to him said, “Come over here and sit down.” He was always so nice to me that I never hesitated at any request of his, so I took a seat next to him. He gave me a funny look, kind of sly but not really since he smiled right away. “I’ve already talked to your parents, and both James and Rosalind agree with me.”

I looked at him and fidgeted, not having a clue what he was going to say next.

“You’ve sayled with your father and me all your life. We brought you to Portsmouth on a carrack many years ago. You’ve been on the caravel we sayled to Le Havre and on a special boat too, a cog—the one with just one sayle—when we sayled to London.”

I nodded at him, but I was confused. Had I done something wrong?

“Mary, there is a caravel that will be leaving these shipping yards in a little over a week. It’s headed to the north of Scotland. Seldom do pirates sayle these waters, so other than weather it will be relatively safe and . . .” My eyes widened. Was I getting the right message? Was he really doing this? Was he really going to make my dream come true? “If you should be interested, I can schedule you to take your sayling tests in the next few days so you can be on that caravel and start out as part of the crew on this trip. This way, you can see if sayling is really what you want to do.”

I threw myself at Uncle Jose. “Yes, yes. Please, yes.”

He laughed. “Then let’s go get you some sayling clothes and set you up to crew on your very first ship. Then I’ll introduce you to the captain.” I jumped up from my chair but Uncle Jose pointed to me so I’d retake my seat. His face turned solemn, almost to a frown. “There’s something we need to discuss, and this won’t be easy to talk about. I brought this up this with your parents, and they told me to go ahead and tell you.”

Uncle Jose’s change of attitude was so great that I was startled. “I don’t understand.”

“I’ve already spoken to the captain, since I assumed you’d say yes. And he assured me that his main crew will respect you as a girl and also as a Crofter. But there are always new men brought on board. And even though the regular crew is honorable as far as this captain knows, they are still men of the sea. Mary, do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

“Your crew was always wonderful to me.” As soon as I said this I started to think back to all the times the men had helped me.

“You were a young girl who was the daughter of the owner of the ship, and I was the captain who knew each man well. If anyone had stepped out of line, he would have been run through or thrown overboard. This will be different, and you must understand that you are older now, almost a woman if you aren’t already. I don’t know how else to put it, but to say you will have to be on your guard at all times. The captain will have a couple of his most trusted men watching over you, but even a caravel is a big enough boat that . . . well, no person can be looked after day and night.”

I hadn’t given what Uncle Jose was talking about a single thought, but I wasn’t scared. “I’m not saying I can take down a saylor, but I know how to defend myself, and Mother has taught me how to hurt a man where it hurts the most.”

Uncle Jose let out a muffled laugh that might’ve been a groan. “Always know who’s around you, and be aware that you’re going to constantly have to prove yourself.”

“Because I’m a girl?” I snapped, mad that I’d done so at Uncle Jose.

“Yes,” he came back just as fast, but then he smiled and showed his big teeth. “Just be aware that nothing I have said was with the intent of trying to talk you off the boat. I just don’t want you—”

“Uncle Jose, I’ve heard the men talk on the boats since I was first able to walk the decks. Sometimes I’d hear things that I know I wasn’t supposed to, and as I got older many saylors didn’t even think I was not one of them, so I’m not unaware that men are going to be men at times. I can handle myself, I promise.”

“Let us hope you don’t have to.” He stared hard at me. “At least with the crew.”

Guest Post

Books are the backbone of existence.   That is my belief.  Whether we learn to read before kindergarten, which is common, or learn to read after school, which still happens, the beauty of a book is the worlds it allows us to enjoy.

I’m partial.  I write books.  Specifically I write historical fiction books with romance.  And these books can take us to any era of existence, and build on what we consider in the time.  I ground mine in the history of this Earth as we know it, and my series started in the 1600s.   1600s was the time of King James, who commissioned the King James version of The Bible, as well as many other writings.  It was a time of Exploration when the powers of France, Spain, Britain, and Portugal (Among others), were seafarers and exploring Africa, Asia, the Spice Islands, and the Caribbean.   It was a time when society was in the throws of the Renaissance, and Creativity was causing great passions and advances in the world.   So, I combined my love of history, with a touch of Romance, and a love of The Canterbury Tales to create The Eternity Series.   And I truly hope that readers consider these Mythical Books.

My favorite authors were ones whose books I considered Mythical.  Authors like  Victor Hugo, who wrote of the French Revolution in books like Les Miserable; Alexandre Dumas (the father) who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, and the six other books including The Man in the Iron Mask  that completed that series of stories about D’Artagnan’s life.   Even more modern authors like Mark Twain who wrote A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and The Prince and the Pauper among others.

Each of these books was a statement on a life at that time.  Now, the interesting thing about Twain is that both of these books are, in fact, historical fiction.   And they’re based, somewhat loosely, on surrounding facts.  Did  you know that the Prince in Prince and the Pauper was loosely fashioned after a REAL British king (some say George III) who lesser nobility and parliamentarians considered just slightly crazy?   What better explanation than to give him a doppelganger who is a Londoner himself?

Mythical Books are the ones that absorb you into their own world, and make you fell like you are part of the action.  For me, all of the big authors did that. Steinbeck made me feel like I was in the barrios of southern California; Bradbury allowed me to feel like I was on Venus and looking for the sun (The Illustrated Man),  Tolkien (JRR) made me feel like I was in middle earth.   Each of these authors and many more created Mythical Books.

Today, there are many more opportunities to read Mythical Books from new authors:
Bernadette Pajer puts the reader into 1900s Seattle and makes them feel like they are a part of Professor Bradshaw’s contemporaries as he solves mysteries in the vein of Sherlock Holmes.
Selah Tay-Song can easily be considered Tolkien’s successor, and her Dreams of QaiMaj series certainly transports us to middle Earth.
Jesikah Sundin would be my favorite for a modern day Bradshaw, or maybe, more appropriately, modern day Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Her creation of the Biodome Chronicles and release of the second book in September 2015 ( congrats Jesikah), is a tour-de-force in today’s writings.
Rob Slater is writing Deserted Lands, a series of post-Apocalyptic stories. His first All is Silence  from 2013 certainly puts him in the company of Hugh Howey, and M.R. Carey.   His second, Straight Into Darkness, was released in mid-September 2015, and is already getting great buzz.
Charity Langley’s Myrthical Book is Wicked Intentions.  This book has Lauren, a Kick-ass female protagonist in a werewolf, vampire and all things extraordinary life.  It opens The Abattoir series.
Or the Look for Me series by Janet Shawgo, who writes about nurses who travel to the battlefields to do their work.
See?  It’s not difficult for a lover of historical fiction to read other genres.  And each of them has transported me into a world out of the ordinary;  a mythical place where everything is new and interesting.

About the Author

Mike HartnerMike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

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Posted in 5 paws, Adventure, Children, Review on November 23, 2015

Chickadees Book Cover

Synopsis

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half, by Jeffrey Politsky, is a vibrantly illustrated adventure book meant to inspire children to follow their urges to explore and to appreciate diversity. It is recommended for ages 4-9.

“Kids who still have their parents read to them really like the book, as do kids who are independent readers,” says Dr. Politsky. “The reviews of parents and children who have read the book are very favorable: adults really like the message and the children just love the story. I hope many more children will get to read it.”

The book starts off when “One day a little brown monkey with dazzling olive green eyes, a friendly smile, and a long curly tail asked his father if there was more to the life than just hanging around with other monkeys and eating bananas.” Before long he meets a lovely grey cat and a majestic blue pelican each on their own quests. Together, they explore a foreign island and when their journey takes them into a private swath of land, they befriend a local dog who takes them further than they ever imagined.

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half emphasizes several significant values, which help us subsist and ultimately thrive: learning through independent exploration, the need for friendship, the importance of respect and tolerance for other cultures, languages, and lifestyle diversity, along with a healthy understanding of the powers of mother nature.

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Buy the Book – Fifty percent of the proceeds of the sale of each book will be donated equally to research programs dedicated to the study of dementia and memory dysfunction, and to the study of breast cancer.

Review

This may be a children’s book but what a tale it weaves with some good life lessons disguised within the pages about diversity and acceptance.

This is the tale of 3 animals that take a journey to an island off of Maui to see another part of the world than where they live. Along they way they meet up and experience the island together and come in contact with other animals and learn something from each of them and each experience.

This would be a great book to read with your children because it is longer (but at most a paragraph per page) and discuss the adventures of the animals.

The illustrations are beautiful and depict the stories well and we give it 5 paws up.

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About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Politsky grew up in Toronto, Canada. He obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Toronto and his medical degree at the University of Western Ontario before moving to Vancouver for his residency training in Neurology. He moved to Boston in the late 1990’s to complete his epilepsy fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and has lived in the United States ever since. Today, Dr. and Mrs. Politsky live in New Jersey with their two children and two giant schnauzers. While he has written numerous articles and chapters related to the neurologic sciences, Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half is Dr. Politsky’s first serious non-academic venture.

Dr. Politsky began writing Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half on Formantera, one of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean Sea off of the east coast of Spain.

“As I began pondering what makes free-form travel so interesting, I decided to try and create a story that would be appealing to youngsters. All of my back-packing adventures, like so many other travelers, had common themes: selecting a location, landing in a foreign place and feeling very foreign, attempting to understand the culture and fit in, survival, discovery, problem solving, raw happiness. I incorporated several of my own experiences in the text,” says Dr. Politsky. “I decided to weave into the story the linguistic nuances that my grandfather used when he would joke with my brother and me when we were youngsters – in essence we would ask him a question and he would answer using neologisms and in a manner that made absolutely no sense at all and then start laughing in a jolly fashion, quite amused with himself. I cherish my memory of my grandfather. His good nature and terminology stuck, much of it is incorporated in the book. In fact, some of his favorite expressions make up the book’s title.”

Dr. Politsky’s grandfather died in 1989 of complications related to multi-infarct dementia.

Tony Santiago illustrated the book with Dr. Politsky’s children and grandfather individually represented in the characters.

In 2011, Dr. Politsky’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is fine now; but the process was quite an ordeal. Anyone who has been through this or a similar experience understands this. Dr. Politsky sees and treats patients every day with epilepsy and related neurologic & medical conditions – in many cases illnesses appear like an unexpected storm and can turn people’s lives upside down and inside out like a tornado. By the end of 2012, Kim had been diagnosed, treated, and had achieved full physical recovery.

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, mystery, Spotlight on November 22, 2015

Rotten Peaches

Synopsis

“Animal Dwarf Bandits” with Tommy Guns are on a crime spree in Georgia!

Dillinger-style bank heists are being committed by a dangerous gang of little people wearing animal masks. Enter ursine photojournalist Thelonious T. Bear. Still smarting from his misadventures in Norfolk, he’s eager to begin his assignment in the American South. However, Thelonious soon learns that the South isn’t all fried chicken and sweet tea. In between encounters with a trigger-happy farmer and a fire-and-brimstone preacher with a snake, he’s stalked by a man in a red pickup truck and nearly bear-napped by a family of hillbillies. Thelonious’s resemblance to one of the bank bandits puts him on the radar of Sheriff Maynard Grizzle and budding reporter Nate Jessop, both of whom are convinced he’s in the gang. As the robberies gain more media attention, locals smell fame in the air. Suddenly everyone wants in on the action. And Thelonious finds himself at the heart of yet another series of crimes!

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Excerpt

By late afternoon a tired and hungry Thelonious was ready to pack it in for the day—until he saw the ruined timber barn. It was set well back from the road in a field so long untended it actually seemed to consume the structure. An oak tree had fallen onto the roof, causing it to collapse. The tree was thriving and had even become part of the barn, feeding new life into something left to die. Parking at the edge of what once had been a driveway, Thelonious got out of the Mini. He stood for a moment perusing the site. Slinging his camera bag over one shoulder, he trundled forth into the overgrown field. A No Trespassing sign lay on the ground, covered over with weedy detritus. It was still attached to a chain that had fallen down between two rotted posts. He passed right by, never seeing it.

Thelonious photographed the barn from various angles, changing lenses as he saw fit. Although the weight of his camera bag was a nuisance, he dared not set it down for fear it would be swallowed by the overgrowth. Approaching the barn’s entrance, he noticed several bales of hay inside that had been left there to rot. Rust-covered farm implements lay scattered about both inside and out. He included them in some of the images, since they lent extra character to the scene. He even captured a triangle of sunlight coming through the barn’s collapsed roof as it returned the mouldering hay to its original golden splendour, zooming in when a mouse poked its head out to feel the sunshine on its whiskers. The light shifted and changed hue, adding shadow, depth and richness to his compositions. Had Thelonious’s attention not been caught by a ramshackle assemblage of containers off to one side, he might’ve seen the figure skulking in the shadows behind him.

A rusty metal cylinder with a triangular-shaped lid had been set up in a corner of the barn. An encrusted pipe had been attached to the top, the elbow joint bending it sideways connecting it to a worm-eaten wooden barrel; its remaining iron bands had turned green with corrosion. Glass jugs and jam jars lay strewn about on the dirt floor. Some looked as if they had mouse droppings on them. Thelonious’s nostrils detected the odour of fermenting grains. It appeared that he’d stumbled upon a moonshine still.

As Thelonious framed it in his viewfinder, he heard a loud explosion. A bullet whistled past his right ear, nearly taking his deerstalker hat with it.

“Hold it right thare!”

A wiry old man with a shotgun stepped out from the shadows. He planted himself solidly behind Thelonious. A long scraggly beard hung from his chin; it would’ve been white if not for the dribbles of tobacco juice. Thelonious was pretty sure he saw things moving in it.

The ancient codger aimed the firearm at Thelonious’s chest, the brown sticks of his arms surprisingly steady as they stuck out from his tattered bib overalls. “This here’s private property!” he shouted.

Thelonious took a few steps back, feeling his bowels loosening. “I thought the barn was abandoned?” he croaked.

“Abandoned?” The old man spat into the dirt. “This here barn ain’t abandoned!”

“I must’ve made a mistake.”

“Ah’ll say y’all made a mistake! This here’s my farm!”

“Sorry.”

“Hmmph…” The farmer squinted hard at his intruder, his creased face like a dried plum above the beard.

Thelonious shifted the camera bag to his other shoulder. “I’ll just be on my way then.”

But the farmer had other ideas. He moved nearer, closing the gap between them. “Did that no ’count Bobby Ray Tuggle send y’all down here to steal my corn liquor?”

“No!” Thelonious shook his head until he thought it would fall off. The cosy relationship between the old man’s index finger and the shotgun’s trigger was making him nervous.

“Y’all don’t know Bobby Ray?”

“I don’t know anyone!”

“Okay. If’n y’all say so.”

Hoping this was the end of it, Thelonious turned to go.

“Not so dang fast! Didn’t y’all see my ‘no trespassing’ sign?”

“What ‘no trespassing’ sign?”

“Y’all walked right on past it. It’s thare, plain as day!” A skeletal brown finger pointed toward the barn’s gaping entrance. “C’aint miss it!”

“But I didn’t see any sign!”

“Ah shoot trespassers.” The farmer gave Thelonious a grisly brown grin. “Shot me one last year. He’s buried out back of the barn. Wanna see?”

About the Authors

Mitzi SzeretoMitzi Szereto is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog, and a web TV channel Mitzi TV, which covers the “quirky” side of London. Her books include Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)—the quirky crime/cozy mystery series co-authored with Teddy Tedaloo; Love, Lust and Zombies; Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance; The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers; and Silk Sheets: Collected Stories of Mitzi Szereto.

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Teddy Tedaloo is an author, celebrity teddy bear and the publisher and editor of The Teddy Tedaloo Times. He’s also a trendsetter, world traveller, and the production assistant extraordinaire/co-star of the web TV channel Mitzi TV. Popular in social media circles such as Facebook and Twitter, he’s known for his entertaining commentary and opinions as well as being an advocate for animal welfare. He lives (and goes) wherever Mitzi lives (and goes). He’s the co-author of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles). Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) is his second novel in the series.

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, mystery, Spotlight on November 21, 2015

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

Synopsis

Pub landlords are being murdered in Norfolk!

Thelonious T. Bear, ursine photojournalist, leaves behind the big city life of London to take an assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to find the real England. Instead he stumbles upon gastropubs, crazed Audi drivers and murder. As the hapless Thelonious keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, he attracts the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID, who’s determined to tie Thelonious to the crimes. Add in a pair of hoods from London’s East End, celebrity TV chef Paolo Louis Black, and plenty of oddball local characters and it all adds up to a madcap journey through England’s most quirky county, where everything is normal for Norfolk!

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Excerpt

Little Acre was all abuzz with news about the murder of one of their native sons. Derrick Pickles, long-time proprietor of The Black Stag public house in the adjacent village of Kelton Market, had been found bludgeoned to death. Pickles had lived in the village since the day he was born, the pub having been in his family for generations. He’d taken it over from his father, who’d taken it over from his father, and so on and so on. The Pickles were a Norfolk institution, and Derrick was well-liked and respected in the community. Not even the taint of his only son going off to work in The City rather than positioning himself to one day take over the reins of the family business could dampen the locals’ affection for the family, though forgiveness wasn’t always as easy to come by. Feelings and memories ran deep in this part of the world, despite young Pickles defection to London taking place nearly two decades before, which, at least to the locals, might as well have been yesterday. Not even the death of his mother many years later could bring young Pickles back in line. But old Derrick stubbornly clung on, running the pub long after most publicans would have sold up and retired to Spain or Portugal—especially a widower with no one to stay behind for.

Being the only pub in the village, The Black Stag was a magnet for the locals, not to mention tourists in search of some local colour. Kelton Market was conveniently situated in the county, what with the ruins of an old castle located just outside the village and a bustling crafts and antiques market taking place on weekends, so it was a rare day, indeed, when the pub wasn’t busy. The fact that a murder had been committed was not something the residents of this part of Norfolk were accustomed to. The most crime they ever got was of the sort involving the theft of a cockerel from a farm or some youths out joyriding on a tractor. But murder? No. Murders happened in London and Birmingham and Glasgow. They did not happen in Kelton Market.

Therefore when Thelonious heaved open the heavy glass door of Little Acre’s one and only newsagents in his quest to buy a copy of the local newspaper (or as local as he could get), he discovered quite a crowd gathered inside the cramped little shop. A trio of men representing three generations and an elderly woman who had to have been pushing the century mark were gathered in front of the till, talking animatedly and all at the same time, the garrulous din being added to by a frumpy sixty-something woman behind the counter. She appeared to be refereeing the conversation, her heavy arms flapping and waving about as if she were attempting to direct a newly landed plane to an airport gate.

The youngest of the men was dressed in a white beekeeper’s suit, the hood of which had been pushed back behind his head. Hair the shade and texture of the round bales of hay Thelonious had seen in the fields of the surrounding landscape kept falling down over his eyes, causing him to reach up to swipe it away, whereupon the same thing happened all over again. He had the open and guileless mien of someone who’d grown up in the country and had little to no experience with big city life. The oldest of the trio had a pickled and world-weary look about him that could only have been achieved from a lifetime of heavy drinking. His deeply creased face was the colour of cured tobacco leaves, his overall appearance untidy and unwashed. He clutched an unlighted cigarette between the fingers of his right hand, the skin and nails stained a sickly yellow-orange from nicotine. Had it not been for his expensive-looking leather jacket, Thelonious might have mistaken him for a homeless man. The third fellow was aged somewhere between the two and, judging by his collar, appeared to be a vicar. He kept trying to get the group to quiet down, his pale palms making circles in the air as if he were washing invisible windows. Instead of having the desired effect, the group became even more animated, as if seeking to exorcise the vicar’s fruitless attempts at calm.

The elderly woman to whom no one paid any mind bashed the rubber-tipped feet of her Zimmer frame against the worn linoleum floor until she was in danger of toppling over. Nevertheless, the accompanying staccato of protestations coming from her shrivelled maw continued to fall on deaf ears. Her hunched form looked as if it might crumple into a heap of ancient bones as she slammed the rattling frame of steel to the lino again and again, her grey head bobbing up and down on her withered neck like a nodding dashboard dog. But no matter how much she crashed and banged and spluttered, she could not be heard above her village compatriots, who were determined to get their points across despite the fact no one was listening to anyone.

It didn’t take long for Thelonious to determine that something was definitely up—and the headline shouting at him from the front page of the Walsham Courier pretty much confirmed it. He pulled a copy out from the news rack and waddled over to the side of the counter, stretching upward on his short legs to hold out some coins to the sour-faced shopkeeper, who abruptly ceased her refereeing to gawp at him. Not that this was unusual—Thelonious got gawped at a lot, especially by people who’d never encountered his sort before. You would think she’d be a bit more discreet when it came to paying customers, he grumbled inwardly, biting back the urge to tell her to get a new front door fitted. The one she had weighed as much as a London bus. His right shoulder was beginning to ache something awful from the impact of it against the glass when he’d pushed it open. He hoped the B&B his publisher’s UK office had booked him into had a bathtub and decent hot water system so he could have a long soak later, because he didn’t fancy looking elsewhere for accommodation, especially at the beginning of the summer tourist season. For him to be able to work, he needed a home base, a sense of order. Chaos was not Thelonious’ style.

With newspaper in hand, he made his way out of the newsagent’s, only to pause outside to examine the cards and notices that had been placed in the shop window (which apparently cost each poster the princely sum of five pounds a week to display). He was curious as to what kinds of items and services people put on offer in these Norfolk villages and expected to see advertisements of either an agrarian nature or for church jumble sales. Not surprisingly, they were positioned too high up for him to read properly, but he did manage to make out a card for an electrician slash handyman as well as a flyer for a beekeeping school before his neck threatened to join his shoulder in protest.

Thelonious trundled back to where he’d left the Mini, climbed up onto the driver’s seat with the usual fanfare and aggro, then set off down the little high street with its requisite tea shop/café, gift shop, post office (closed due to government cutbacks), and pub, which went by the rather portentous name The Drowned Duck. Within moments he’d reached the Norman church that marked the end of the village high street. It was also the turnoff for Baxter House Bed and Breakfast. Home at last!

About the Authors

Mitzi SzeretoMitzi Szereto is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog, and a web TV channel Mitzi TV, which covers the “quirky” side of London. Her books include Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)—the quirky crime/cozy mystery series co-authored with Teddy Tedaloo; Love, Lust and Zombies; Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance; The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers; and Silk Sheets: Collected Stories of Mitzi Szereto.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Mitzi TV * Blog

Teddy Tedaloo is an author, celebrity teddy bear and the publisher and editor of The Teddy Tedaloo Times. He’s also a trendsetter, world traveller, and the production assistant extraordinaire/co-star of the web TV channel Mitzi TV. Popular in social media circles such as Facebook and Twitter, he’s known for his entertaining commentary and opinions as well as being an advocate for animal welfare. He lives (and goes) wherever Mitzi lives (and goes). He’s the co-author of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles). Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) is his second novel in the series.

Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

 

 

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