Posted in excerpt, Historical, Spotlight, Supernatural, suspense on March 12, 2017

Synopsis

Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

1588 – Near the town of Bedburg, Germany

It had been some time since Investigator Heinrich Franz had inspected a murder scene, and he relished the opportunity. As he removed his black gloves to inspect the body, a tingle ran down his spine.

The victim’s body was situated near a tree, tucked away from any trails or passing eyes.

“Our killer wanted to make it difficult to identify the victim, but not to find her,” Heinrich said to his right-hand man and bodyguard, Tomas.

He crouched over the body. Her exposed entrails had been dragged around the trunk of the tree, separating her legs from her torso. Her right foot was missing three toes, and her left arm was missing altogether. Her mangled face was a canvas for flesh-eating insects. He could only tell the victim was female by the tattered blue dress she wore and the stringy blonde hair plastered against her head.

Heinrich glanced at the dress. Maybe it will help to identify her, he thought, and then looked at her face. Because that certainly won’t.

Heinrich prodded beneath the dress, but found no signs of defilement. The stench of decay was not yet overwhelming, but still strong enough to offend his keen nose.

“She’s been dead for less than twenty-four hours,” the investigator said. He turned to the frightened farmer standing behind him. “And you found her when?”

“This morning, sir.” The farmer held a grimy cap close to his chest. “I was walking my dogs when the wind brought her smell right to me. Then I saw crows circling—”

“I didn’t ask how,” Heinrich said, “just when.

The investigator circled the tree and bent down to examine the torso with a magnifying glass. Flies and maggots crawled over her body and through her deep cuts. Heinrich put a finger to one of her small, exposed breasts. It was cold and clammy.

“She was killed in broad daylight, sir?” the farmer asked.

Heinrich ignored the man. He pocketed his magnifying glass, stood up with creaking knees, and wrestled his hands back into his gloves. “Judging by the size of her breasts and feet, I’d say she was no more than fifteen years of age.”

“Just a child,” the farmer murmured. He started fidgeting with his cap, and then stammered. “There wouldn’t perhaps be any kind of . . . reward for finding the body, would there, sir?”

Heinrich gave the man an icy glare and spat on the grass. Heartless swine, he thought, shaking his head. Trying to profit on the death of a child. He started pacing in front of the farmer, and then stroked his chin and twirled his thin, wispy mustache. He stared at the man’s fat, doughy face. He was middle-aged, with a patchy gray beard. His eyes were soft, and he looked harmless, but Heinrich knew that appearances never made the man, nor told the whole story.

“The real question I have,” Heinrich said, “is what was a young girl doing out here alone, so far from any roads?”

“Perhaps she was lured here?”

The investigator eyed the farmer. “A fine observation,” Heinrich said with a disingenuous smile. Then it vanished. “My next question is what were you doing out here so far from the trails?”

The farmer scratched his scalp, and then his face slowly distorted and his mouth fell open. He stammered some more. “Y-you can’t believe that . . . that I . . .” he trailed off. “I told you, sir, I was leading my dogs—”

Heinrich nodded and Tomas came to the farmer’s side and grabbed his arms. The farmer shouted and squirmed and tried to break free.

“You can’t do this, sir! I came to you only trying to help!”

Yes, trying to help your purse.

Tomas looked pale and queasy as he wrestled with the farmer.

“Take him to the jail,” Heinrich ordered. “I’ll be by a bit later. Find out whatever you can.”

Tomas nodded and turned away.

“And Tomas,” Heinrich added. The soldier spun on his heels, and Heinrich stared into his eyes. “Whatever means necessary.”

Tomas nodded again. “What are your thoughts, sir?”

Heinrich sighed and put his hands on his hips. “I’m thinking the Werewolf of Bedburg has returned.”

About the Author

As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?

And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.

So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.

Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.

Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery on March 8, 2017

Facials Can Be Fatal (A Bad Hair Day Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
13th in Series
Five Star Publishing (February 22, 2017)
Hardcover: 286 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1432832827

Synopsis

During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building preservation society. Marla’s stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val’s demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She’d better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder.

Excerpt

A blood-curdling scream pierced the air. “Oh, my God, what is that?”

Without hesitation, Marla sprinted toward the sound. She came to an abrupt halt further back among the maze of rooms where people formed a semi-circle. They faced a man slumped against the wall, a screwdriver-type tool sticking from his chest. Crimson stained his dress shirt.

“It’s Jason Faulks,” Marla said, recognizing him. “Is he dead?”

“I think so,” squeaked a trembling woman in a housekeeping uniform. She must have been the person whose shrieks had summoned them.

“Stay calm, the police will want to talk to you. That goes for everyone here. And stop taking videos, please.” Horrified that some of the onlookers were filming like they had at her day spa after Val’s death, Marla personally knocked down a few of the people’s raised arms.

“What’s going on?” Dalton’s voice thundered from behind.

With a whoosh of relief, she spun to face him. “It’s about time. Where have you been?”

“I was interviewing folks.” His gaze swung toward the object of people’s fascination. “Oh, no. Don’t tell me you’ve found another one.”

She gave a hysterical half-laugh. “Not me. That maid was first on the scene.”

Dalton was already pulling out his cell phone. He barked a few orders to the crowd and then stepped aside for privacy while he called for assistance.

Marla’s glance returned to the photographer who wouldn’t be covering these events any longer. And speaking of coverage, where was Jason’s camera? His camera bag lay open on the floor, but a quick glance told her it was empty. The camera had been too bulky to fit in a pocket.

She scanned the area, wishing the onlookers would disperse but knowing the cops had to get their statements and contact info first. The space was cluttered with furniture needing repairs, heavy-duty cleaning equipment, extension cords, and other miscellaneous items that would make a search difficult. Her stomach sank. It also meant Dalton might not be home for hours.

About the Author

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list and been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Texas on March 8, 2017

Synopsis

One cowboy. One cowgirl. One ranch.

Who will win the Double Deuce by the Fourth of July?

Adele O’Donnell knew that Double Deuce Ranch had to be hers the second she walked onto the property. Freshly divorced, she sees it as the perfect spot for her and the kids to start a new life. Remington Luckadeau was always a carefree playboy…until his suddenly orphaned nephews became his responsibility. The Double Deuce Ranch would be the perfect place to raise two boys. But some fiery woman is fighting him for it, and Remington is not sharing—no matter how the sparks fly when he and Adele are together.

Excerpt

The gleam in the old cowboy’s blue eyes and the way he rubbed his chin were Adele’s first clues that he definitely had something up the sleeve of his faded, old work shirt. He glanced first at her and then over at Remington Luckadeau.

She bit back a groan. The good old boys’ club was about to rear its head. They’d argue that ranching took brawn and muscle and that a woman couldn’t run the Double Deuce all alone, that women were respected in the ranching business these days, but when it came right down to it, he would feel better selling to a man.

No, sir!

She didn’t hold out any hope that the old toot would sell the ranch to her.

“Well, now.” Walter Jones gave his freshly shaven chin one more rub. “I expect we’ve got us one of them dilemma things, don’t we?”

That sly smile on Remington’s face said he already knew she would be going home empty-handed. With that mop of blond hair that kissed his shirt collar, those steel-blue eyes, and his chiseled face and wide shoulders—Lord have mercy—any woman would roll over and play dead to give him what he wanted.

But not Adele.

She wanted the Double Deuce, and she’d do whatever it took to get it so she could have a place to raise her daughters. Remington Luckadeau could spit on his knuckles and get ready for a fierce battle.

The Double Deuce Ranch was absolutely perfect in every aspect. The two-storied, four-bedroom house couldn’t have been better laid out for Adele and her two daughters, Jett and Bella. The acreage was big enough to make a living but small enough she could manage it on her own, for the most part. And it was close to her family—the O’Donnells over around Ringgold, Texas.

“You both want the ranch, but I can only sell to one of you. I talked to my lady friend, Vivien, about it. I talked to God about it before I went to sleep, and I talked to my old cow dog, Boss, about it this mornin’ before y’all got here.”

“And?” Adele asked.

“And not a one of them was a bit of help, so I don’t know which one of you to sell this place to any more than I did yesterday, after you’d both come and looked over the place and left me to think about it.”

Adele had known there was another person interested in the ranch. Walter had been up-front about that, saying he’d talked with Remington Luckadeau that morning and he was ready to meet Walter’s asking price.

“We can’t both buy it, so I guess you’ll have to make a decision,” Adele said.

Remington nodded.

***

Remington slid down in the kitchen chair so he could study the red-haired woman sitting in front of him. The hard Texas sunlight flowing through the kitchen window brought out every cute, little freckle sprinkled across Adele’s nose. Faded jeans, a chambray shirt worn open over a bright-yellow tank top, and cowboy boots worn at the heels said she was a no-nonsense rancher.

Those two feisty girls out there on the porch with his two nephews were dressed pretty much the same way as their mother. Any other time, he might have tipped his hat and given her the option to buy the Double Deuce, but not today. The ranch was the perfect size for what he had in his bank account. The house would be just right for him and his two nephews, Leo and Nick, the boys he’d inherited when his brother and sister-in-law were killed in a car accident several months ago. And besides, it wasn’t far from his Luckadeau relatives in Ringgold and Saint Jo, Texas.

So today, Adele O’Donnell was going to have to walk away disappointed. Too bad, because he’d always been attracted to redheads, and he’d have loved to see how she felt in his arms on the dance floor of the nearest honky-tonk.

“So.” Walter cleared his throat. “I’ve come to a decision.”

Remy straightened up in his chair.

“The Luckadeaus are my friends, but so are the O’Donnells. So I can’t sell this to either of you on the basis of friendship. Vivien and I have planned a monthlong cruise, and we are leaving in one week. We fly out of Dallas on the last day of May and get back home on the last day of June.”

“I’ll beat your asking price,” Remy said quickly.

“It’s not got to do with money. Here’s what I am willin’ to do, though. You both move in here on the morning that me and Vivien leave. Y’all take care of this ranch for me for a month. When I get back, whichever one of you is still here can have it. If you both still want it, we’ll draw straws or play poker for it. If you decide you can’t work together or that the ranch ain’t what you want, you can call Chet to come take over for you. His number is on the front of the refrigerator. Only rule I’ve got is that you’d best take good care of Boss. He’s been a good cow dog, and he likes leftovers from the table, so cook a little extra at each meal. He’s not real picky. He’ll eat most anything a human will, but he doesn’t like pizza. And you have to take real good care of Jerry Lee.”

“Who is Jerry Lee?” Adele asked.

“He’s my rooster. Pretty little thing, but he never has learned to crow in the morning. He’s a late riser, so he crows either in the middle of the day or about dinnertime. I named him Jerry Lee because he’s got swagger and he sings real pretty like Jerry Lee Lewis.”

“I’ll take good care of your dog and your rooster,” Adele said, shooting a defiant look right at Remy.

“So will I.” Remy nodded coolly. “What about the one who doesn’t win the luck of the draw?”

“Then that one gets a decent paycheck,” Walter said.

“I don’t need to think about it,” Adele said quickly. “I’m in.”

Remy nodded. “I don’t have to think about it either.”

Walter pushed back his chair and stood. “Good, then I’ll look for you both to be here a week from today. You’ve seen the place. There’ll be hay to cut and haul, fields to plow, and planting to do, as well as the everyday chores with feeding and taking care of the cattle and ranch. I’ve made a list of what I want done before I get back, and I’ll leave it stuck to the refrigerator door.”

“I’m not afraid of hard work,” Adele said. “One question, though. How does Boss feel about cats?”

“Strange as it seems, he loves them. My wife, God rest her soul”—Walter looked up at the ceiling—“used to have an old barn cat that had kittens real often. Boss thought he was their grandpa.”

“Then you don’t mind if we bring our cat?” she asked.

“Not a bit. You got a problem with that, Remy?” Walter asked.

Remy shook his head.

“Thank you,” Adele said softly.

Crap! Remy didn’t hate cats, and thank God the boys weren’t allergic to them, but that soft, sweet, southern voice could easily distract him from his mission. Remy would have to keep on his toes every day for the entire month of June, and that wouldn’t be easy. For years, every woman had been a potential notch on his bedpost. Six months ago, Remy had been the resident bad boy of the Texas Panhandle. He’d spent his weekends in local bars, dancing and sweet-talking the pretty girls into his bed. Then his whole life turned around when his two nephews were tossed into his life. Since he’d started taking care of them, dating had slowed down. Now, he’d be forced to live with a woman he was clearly attracted to.

Walter started toward the door. The meeting was over. “Just bring your personal things. When I sell this place, it goes lock, stock, and barrel—furniture, equipment, everything but my own keepsakes,” he said. “Vivien and I are leaving at nine o’clock. If one of y’all ain’t here, then the other one will automatically get the place.”

Adele pushed her chair back, and in one fluid motion, she was on her feet. He’d figured she was tall when he sat down across from her and his long legs almost touched hers under the table. But when she stood up, he got the full effect of the way her hips curved out from her small waist, and for a split second, he could feel her in his arms.

Remy shook the image from his head. He had a long, hot month ahead of him, and he needed to think of Adele as an adversary, not a potential date.

“Do we move?” Nick asked when Remy stepped out onto the porch.

“We are moving onto the ranch to take care of it for Mr. Jones for a month. If we do a good job, he might sell to us in time for the Fourth of July party we’re planning.” Remy told his fourteen-year-old nephew.

“Mama?” asked the smaller of the two girls that Adele had brought along with her.

“Same thing here, girls. We’ll be moving here in one week to live for a month. Then Mr. Jones will decide which of us gets to buy the ranch,” Adele answered.

“You”—the girl pointed at Leo and wiggled her head like a bobblehead doll—“are going down. You don’t know jack squat about a ranch, so you might as well give up before you even start.”

“Jett!” Adele chided.

“Well, it’s the truth,” Jett said. “He don’t even want to live on a ranch. He’s a city boy who don’t even know who Billy Currington is. He’d hate living on this ranch.”

“Just because you lived on a ranch don’t mean you’re that smart,” Nick shot back. “Uncle Remy can teach me everything about ranching in one afternoon. I’m a fast learner.”

“Me, too.” Leo combed his carrot-red hair with his fingertips and tipped up his chin three notches.

“Okay, boys. It’s one thing to say something; it’s another to do it. Let’s get on home and get our things in order so we’ll be ready to move next week. There’s only four bedrooms, so you’ll have to share.”

Leo, who had already left the porch, kicked at the dirt. “Uncle Remy, Nick gripes if I even leave a wrinkle in the bed. He’s so neat that he shoulda been a girl.” He sighed.

“No!” Nick raised his voice. “Leo never picks up anything and—”

“Enough,” Remy said. “Into the truck. We’ve got a lot to do and a short time to get it done.”

Leo crawled into the big, black, dual-cab truck. Just before he slammed the door, he caught Jett’s eye and stuck out his tongue.

“Young man, you’re going to have to live in the same house and work with those girls,” Remy said sternly.

Leo rolled his eyes upward. “They are so bossy. Living in the country isn’t going to be easy, but living around those two prissy girls…” He sighed. “Do we really have to do this, Uncle Remy?”

“We’ll come out stronger men,” he said.

A picture of Adele’s full, kissable lips flashed through his mind. Prissy wasn’t a word he’d use to describe any of the O’Donnell women.

Nick groaned. “If we live through it.”

“We are Luckadeau men. We’ll take the bull by the horns, look him right in the eye, and dare him to charge at us.” Even as the words came out, Remy wondered if he was talking to his nephews or himself.

“I’d rather fight a bull,” Leo grumbled. “And they ain’t bulls. They’re girls, and we’re Luckadeaus.”

“Daddy used to tell us that when a Luckadeau sets his mind, it’s set forever,” Nick said.

“Your daddy was right.” Remy nodded.

Moving the boys from their house in the middle of Denton, Texas, to a ranch would be tough on them, but Remy could not live in town. He’d been fortunate enough to sell his brother’s house for enough to pay off the existing mortgage and put a little into savings for the boys’ college funds.

Remy had worked for the past fifteen years on a ranch out in the Texas Panhandle. He’d started as a hired hand and worked his way up to foreman. Today, he had enough money in his bank account to buy the Double Deuce, and it was the perfect place for the boys to have a brand-new start. It damn sure wouldn’t be easy to live in the same house with a woman like Adele and not flirt, but it was doable with the ranch as a prize at the end of the road.

“So you boys going to help me make those women see that they don’t really want our ranch? Or are we going to let them win?” Remy asked.

“Ain’t no way I’m going to back down from them two,” Nick declared.

Leo chimed right in. “Me either.”

***

“Let’s look at another ranch. I don’t want to live in the same house with those two obnoxious boys,” Bella said as they drove away from the Double Deuce.

Adele smiled. “You must really not like those boys to be pulling out your four-dollar words.”

“That tells you how much, Mama,” Bella said.

“We don’t have time to train them,” Jett added.

Adele didn’t think they’d have to do much training. Not with a cowboy like Remy Luckadeau for an uncle. That man was comfortable in his skin, and there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that he’d know the business every bit as well as she did. In any other circumstance, there could be chemistry between them. He was exactly what she’d always been attracted to, with his blond hair, blue eyes, and cowboy swagger, but then he was also what she’d been running away from when she’d married Isaac Levy.

You see how that turned out, the smart-ass voice in her head said.

Yes, she did see how it turned out. Isaac was the only son of a family who had dealt in diamonds right in the middle of Dallas, Texas, for more than fifty years. When they’d married, he’d moved Adele into his penthouse apartment, and she’d lived the life she’d thought she wanted.

Right up until Bella was born two years after the wedding. And then she’d started to yearn for her country roots. A child needed fresh air and sunshine, not parties and nannies. Isaac had loved her enough to buy a two-hundred-acre ranch between McKinney and Blue Ridge. The commute wasn’t bad because he had a driver, but after Jett was born, he spent more and more weeknights at the penthouse.

“Why do we have to move from our ranch anyway?” Jett folded her small arms over her chest.

“The same reason we had to change our last name to O’Donnell,” Bella answered. “Father has a new wife and a son, and we don’t matter anymore.”

Her daughter’s tone created a lump in Adele’s throat that she couldn’t swallow down. Tears welled in her eyes, but she kept them at bay. Bella had put it into the simplest language possible, but the story was far more complex than that.

“Your father will come to his senses someday,” she said softly.

“But it might be too late,” Bella declared. “He’s mean, making us move off the ranch.”

It wasn’t the time or the place to tell the girls that part of the marriage problems had been her fault. Isaac thought he was getting a socialite who loved the fast lane, and he never would have asked her to marry him if he’d realized she wasn’t ready to break all ties with her country roots.

“We are going to love this new ranch so much that we’ll never look back at the old one. Even though they don’t have any ranching experience, I just wonder if you two are big and mean enough to show those two boys that nobody can outwork three tough O’Donnell women.”

Jett unfolded her arms, leaned up from the backseat of the bright-red, dual-cab truck, and patted her mother on the shoulder. “They ain’t got a chance in hell.”

“Jett!” Bella scolded.

“Well, Uncle Cash says that, and nobody fusses at him. Besides, I believe it. We’re tough and mean, and we can out-ranch any old boy in the state of Texas,” Jett said.

“We’ve got a week to pack all our things, put them in storage, and load up the truck with just what we need for a month,” Adele said as she turned east toward Gainesville.

Adele’s cell phone rang. She saw a picture of her sister, Cassie, smiling at her. She answered it on the fourth ring and hit the Speaker button.

“We have not bought the ranch yet,” she said and went on to tell her sister the deal that Walter had come up with.

Cassie giggled the whole way through the story.

“What’s so funny about that?” Adele asked.

“Those boys don’t stand a chance. Not any one of them—the grown one or the two kids,” Cassie said. “I’ll put my money on my sister and my nieces any day of the week.”

“Yes!” Bella and Jett squealed at the same time.

“Thank you, Aunt Cassie. We won’t let you down,” Jett said.

“What are you doing today?” Adele asked her sister.

“Haulin’ hay, but I’d rather be doing something else in the hayloft with my boyfriend,” Cassie said.

“Cassandra Grace O’Donnell!” Adele raised her voice.

“Don’t you double name me. Only Mama gets to do that, and I was talking about kissing my boyfriend. He’s really good at kissing.” Cassie laughed.

“I miss y’all,” Adele said wistfully. “If I get to buy this ranch, I’m having a big Fourth of July party to celebrate. Y’all had better be there.”

“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away. Is this new cowboy sexy? Maybe I’ll visit for a weekend between now and then,” Cassie said.

“No!” The girls’ loud voices bounced around in the truck cab.

“Why? Don’t you want to see me?” Cassie asked.

“We love you,” Bella said. “But we don’t want Remy Luckadeau in the family at all, and if he sees you, then he’ll fall in love with you. Besides, we like Clinton just fine. Go kiss on him in the hayloft, and stay away until the ranch belongs to us.”

“If you promise to work hard and show Mr. Jones that you are the right people to sell his ranch to, then I’ll stay away until you’ve run those old boys off your land. But, girls, Clinton and I broke up a while ago,” Cassie said seriously. “The new man in my life is Dusty Dillard. We’ve only been on two dates, but I like him a lot.”

“Is he as pretty as Clinton?” Bella asked.

“No, but he’s a lot nicer,” Cassie said.

“I thought Clinton was nice, and I like his name better than Dusty,” Jett said.

“Wait until you meet him. Are you taking Blanche?” Cassie asked.

“Of course,” Jett answered quickly. “We wouldn’t leave her behind. Mama, please tell me that man didn’t say we couldn’t bring Blanche.”

“I asked about bringing a cat and he said it was fine,” Adele said.

Cassie laughed again. “The old hussy would die if you left her. Besides, isn’t she about ready to pop out another litter in the next couple of weeks?”

“Yes, she is,” Bella said. “And I hope both of them boys hate cats.”

“And you, Sister Adele? How do you feel about living with a cowboy?”

“I’m not living with him. I’m sharing a house with him for a month. And don’t call me Sister Adele. I’m not a nun,” Adele said curtly.

“These past two years you have been. Promise you’ll call me often,” she said. “Got to go. The hay wagon is here, and it’s time to stack bales.”

Adele hit the End button, and the screen on the phone went dark. She caught a movement in her peripheral vision and glanced over to see two little boys glaring at her from the windows of a black truck. A whole month with those two smart-ass kids just might make her move all the way to Wyoming or Montana.

She looked in the rearview mirror, and there was Jett, giving the boys the old stink eye. In seconds, they sped on past her, whipped over in front of her truck, and moved on ahead pretty quickly. No doubt about it—this was going to be a long month!

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author and RITA Finalist, Carolyn Brown, has published more than seventy books.  These days she is concentrating on her two loves:  women’s fiction and contemporary cowboy romance. She and her husband, a retired English teacher, make their home in southern Oklahoma.

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Monday, mystery on March 6, 2017

A Ghostly Mortality: A Ghostly Southern Mystery
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Witness (February 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0062466976
E-Book ASIN: B01GONIFFI

Synopsis

That ghost sure looks . . . familiar

Only a handful of people know that Emma Lee Raines, proprietor of a small-town Kentucky funeral home, is a “Betweener.” She helps ghosts stuck between here and the ever-after—murdered ghosts. Once Emma Lee gets them justice they can cross over to the great beyond.

But Emma Lee’s own sister refuses to believe in her special ability. In fact, the Raines sisters have barely gotten along since Charlotte Rae left the family business for the competition. After a doozy of an argument, Emma Lee is relieved to see Charlotte Rae back home to make nice. Until she realizes her usually snorting, sarcastic, family-ditching sister is a . . . ghost.

Charlotte Rae has no earthly idea who murdered her or why. With her heart in tatters, Emma Lee relies more than ever on her sexy beau, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross…because this time, catching a killer means the Raines sisters will have to make peace with each other first.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

“Lawdy bee.” Granny scooted to the edge of the chair and lifted her arms in the air like she was worshiping in the Sunday morning service at Sleepy Hollow Baptist and the spirit just got put in her.

I sucked in a deep breath, preparing myself for whatever was going to come out of Zula Fae Raines Payne’s mouth, my granny. She was a ball of southern spitfire in her five-foot-four-inch frame topped off with bright red hair that I wasn’t sure was real or out of a L’Oréal bottle she’d gotten down at the Buy and Fly.

“Please, please, please,” she begged. “Let me die before anything happens to Emma Lee.” Her body slid down the fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair as she fell to her knees with her hands clasped together, bringing them back up in the air as she pleaded to the Big Guy in the sky. “I’m begging you.”

“Are you nuts?” My voice faded to a hushed stillness. I glanced back at the closed door of my sister’s new office, in fear she was going to walk in and see Granny acting up.

I sat in the other fancy, high-back mahogany leather chair next to Granny’s and grabbed her by the loose skin of her underarm. “Get back up on this chair before Charlotte Rae gets back in here and sees you acting like a fool.”

“What?” Granny quirked her eyebrows questioningly as if her behavior was normal.

My head dropped along with my jaw in the “are you kidding me” look.

“Well, I ain’t lying!” She spat, “I do hope and pray you are the granddaughter that will be doing my funeral, unless you get a flare up of the ‘Funeral Trauma.’” She sucked in a deep breath and got up off her knees. She ran her bony fingers down the front of her cream sweater to smooth out any wrinkles so she’d be presentable like a good southern woman, forgetting she was just on her knees begging for mercy.

“Flare up?” I sighed with exasperation. “It’s not like arthritis.”

The “Funeral Trauma.”

It was true. I was diagnosed with the “Funeral Trauma” after a decorative plastic Santa fell off the roof of Artie’s Meat and Deli, knocking me flat out cold and now I could see dead people.

I had told Doc Clyde I was having some sort of hallucinations and seeing dead people, but he insisted I had been in the funeral business a little too long and seeing corpses all of my life had brought on the trauma.

Truthfully, the Santa had given me a gift. Not a gift you’d expect Santa to give you, but it was the gift of seeing clients of Eternal Slumber, my family’s funeral home business where I was the undertaker. Some family business.

Anyway, a psychic told me I was now a Betweener. I helped people who were stuck between here and the ever after. The Great Beyond. The Big Guy in the sky. One catch . . . the dead people I saw were murdered and they needed me to help them solve their murder before they could cross over.

“I’m fine,” I huffed and took the pamphlet off of Charlotte Rae’s desk, keeping my gift to myself. The only people who knew were me, the psychic and Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, my hot, hunky and sexy boyfriend. He was as handy as a pocket on a shirt when it came time for me to find a killer when a ghost was following me around. “We are here to get her to sign my papers and talk about this sideboard issue once and for all.”

Granny stared at me. My head slid forward like a turtle and I popped my eyes open.

“I’m fine,” I said through closed teeth.

“You are not fine.” Granny rolled her eyes so big, I swear she probably hurt herself. “People are still going around talking about how you talk to yourself.” She shook her finger at me. “If you don’t watch it, you are going to be committed. Surrounded by padded walls. Then—” She jabbed her finger on my arm. I swatted her away with the pamphlet. “Charlotte Rae will have full control over my dead body and I don’t want someone celebrating a wedding while I lay corpse in the next room. Lawdy bee,” Granny griped.

I opened the pamphlet and tried to ignore Granny as best I could.

“Do you hear me, Emma Lee?” Granny asked. I could feel her beady eyes boring into me. “Don’t you be disrespecting your elders. I asked you a question,” she warned when I didn’t immediately answer her question.

“Granny.” I placed the brochure in my lap and reminded myself to remain calm. Something I did often when it came to my granny. “I hear you. Don’t you worry about a thing. By the time you get ready to die, they will have you in the nuthouse alongside me,” I joked, knowing it would get her goat.

About the Author

Tonya KnappesTonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand. More than anything, Tonya loves to connect with readers, with a loyal ‘street team’ of fans and followers on social media.

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

February 27 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, EXCERPT

February 27 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

February 28 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

February 28 – Book Babble – REVIEW

March 1 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 2 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

March 3 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW, EXCERPT

March 3 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

March 4 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 5 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 6 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

March 7 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – fuonlyknew – REVIEW

March 9 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

March 10 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 11 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW, EXCERPT

March 12 – Curling Up by the Fire – REVIEW

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, romance on March 3, 2017

Title: Her True Match

Author: Paige Tyler

Series: X-Ops, #6

ISBN: 9781492625926

Pubdate: March 7, 2017

Genre: Paranormal

Synopsis

FORCED TOGETHER

When feline shifter Dreya Clark is escorted from the police interrogation by two secret agents, she thinks she’s dodged a bullet. That sexy detective Braden Hayes caught her stealing red-handed. When she finds out what she has to do to stay out of jail, suddenly she’s missing the hot cop with the piercing gaze. She’s being recruited for her shifter abilities by the Department of Covert Operations.

WILL DANGER RIP THEM APART?

Braden has been chasing the smart-mouthed cat burglar for years. But when Dreya’s taken away, he knows their game of cat and mouse has turned deadly-serious. There’s no way he’ll let her go off alone. Fur flies and temperatures flare as Braden realizes Dreya is much more than she appears. Thrown together on a dangerous covert mission, this unlikely pair will have to rely on each other to make it out alive.

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Little Known Fact from Her True Match

Thorn wants to send DCO agents Landon Donovan and Ivy Halliwell up to Maine to look for a doctor (Kamal Mahsood) who may have finally figured out how to make functional hybrids. Landon and Ivy have no idea why Thorn wants to get his hands on a hybrid, but they know they have to stop him. Handling this side arc and the main arc with Dreya and Braden added a lot of timeline complexity to the story, and definitely kept hubby, who’s my writing partner, and me on our toes from a brainstorming and advanced planning perspective.

Excerpt

“How do you know I wasn’t testing the security system?” Dreya asked, her lips curving into a coy smile.

Braden sat across from the beautiful thief in one of the burglary section’s interrogation rooms, working hard to keep from smiling back at her. Even though he knew her record backward and forward, he was still having a hell of a time maintaining a professional detachment. He was good in the interrogation room, but Dreya was better. She charmed, she flirted, and she controlled where she wanted the conversation to go. Braden had already been forced to toss Mick out of the room. His partner had come damn close to asking their suspect out on a date, even though she was sitting at the table wearing a pair of handcuffs.

Though Braden had to admit she made the cuffs look good. Even now, she was sitting at the table with her long, blond hair cascading around her shoulders, talking animatedly with her hands as if the heavy stainless steel cuffs were a fashion accessory. He wasn’t even sure when she’d gotten her hair out of the braid it had been in before, but he had the crazy urge to run his fingers through it. He resisted—barely. Dreya had been saying since they’d brought her in that this was all a big misunderstanding and that she could straighten this out if she could talk privately with the owner of the art piece they seemed to think she’d stolen. Like that was going to happen. Something told Braden that putting her in the same room with some rich playboy would be an incredibly bad idea. All she had to do was bat those hazel-green eyes at him a few times and tousle her hair with her fingers, and the guy would agree with anything she said. Hell, the guy would probably give her the silly blue balloon dog thing sitting on the table between them as a gift.

“If we’re going to talk about security systems, Dreya, let’s start with how you managed to climb the wall of that apartment on the south side of M Street. Because I gotta tell you, that was damn impressive.”

He expected her to deny it had been her—or beam with pride at the compliment—but her eyes widened in shock. For the first time that night, there was fear on her face.

“You saw that?” She darted a nervous glance at the one-way glass mirror to her left, the one Mick was standing behind.

He nodded. “Sure did. In fact, we have it all on video. The climb, the walk across the cable, the jump you made to the balcony.”

On the other side of the table, her face went pale. Shit, was she starting to hyperventilate?

“How many people have seen the video?” she demanded.

Braden frowned. Why the hell was a second-story thief worried about how many cops had seen her display her talents? That made no sense.

“Just my partner and me,” he assured her. “But while the video is amazing, it doesn’t explain how you were able to scale that wall. Were you using something on your hands to get a grip? I searched your bag but didn’t find anything.”

Dreya swallowed hard. In all of the previous occasions he’d questioned her, she’d been confident and posed, but suddenly it was like she’d been hit by lightning. She seemed off balance…lost.

“You can’t let anyone else see the video,” she said.

He shrugged. “That’s not really up to me.”

She stared at her cuffed wrists, her shoulders slumping in a defeat he hadn’t seen coming. “What if I confess?”

She said it so softly he wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly. “What?”

Dreya lifted her head to look at him, that usual glimmer missing from her eyes now. “If I confess right now, will you destroy the video?”

Braden hoped to hell his mouth wasn’t hanging open. Being interrogated by the cops could make people say strange stuff, but Dreya had to know that even with the evidence they had on her, a woman with her background and clean record could likely get a case like this whittled down from the standard five to seven to less than two years. Why would she agree to a written confession? What the hell was on that video she was so terrified of letting anyone see?

He knew he needed to be careful, but right then it was hard to think of Dreya as the hardened criminal he’d always believed. He was smart enough to know she wasn’t a saint, but there was something going on here. She was so terrified she was on the verge of tears.

The sudden aura of vulnerability had his heart beating hard and fast. The urge to protect her from whatever was freaking her out was impossible to ignore. Part of the reason he’d become a cop was to help people in trouble, and Dreya definitely seemed to be in trouble.

About the Author

Paige Tyler is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. Paige writes books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. She lives with her very own military hero (a.k.a. her husband) and their adorable dog on the beautiful Florida coast.

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Giveaway

Enter to win one of ten copies of Her Perfect Mate, the first book in Paige Tyler’s thrilling X-Ops Series!

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on March 2, 2017


Keeping Kinley by Annette K. Larsen

He’s noble. She’s common. It’s complicated.

Kinley is content with her common life until a chance meeting with an old friend—a noble—brings the possibility of love. Though Rylan pursues her with a charming carelessness, she doesn’t dare hope that their relationship will be accepted. When Kinley’s livelihood is threatened, she is thrust into his world as a servant, but the Rylan she encounters there isn’t the quirky friend she thought she knew. Can she trust him, or will she be forced to accept that her dreams are only that—dreams?

Excerpt

My breath caught as soon as he said the name and my eyes searched his features, looking for the little boy I had known in the man that stood before me. “Rylan?” I breathed and he nodded, still with that familiar grin in place. “Oh…my,” was all my idiot brain could say as I took in his fine horse and his fine clothes and his fine eyes.
I probably still had pear juice on my face.
“How are you, Miss Kinley?” he asked with the same light in his eyes that he used to have whenever he would tell me about his favorite part of a lesson.
“I am…well,” I answered in a breathless sort of stuttering. “Very well, thank you. I hope all is well with you and your family. How are Lord and Lady Baylor?”
“My father runs his business affairs with an iron fist and my mother coddles the staff, so everything is as it should be.” He grinned.
“Good.” I had to ignore the grin so that I could speak. “And Master Welsley and Tayana?”
“Welsley takes life too seriously, but is ready to take over for father at a moment’s notice. Tayana is soon to be married.”
“Good, good. That’s very good.” It was so very awkward to be standing in front of this man who had befriended me as a child. How was I supposed to act?
“And what of your family?” he asked eagerly. “It was your brother, was it not? That married…”
“Princess Ariella, yes.” No one seemed to be able to say it out loud, worried that if they were wrong, I’d somehow be offended. I was used to finishing the thought.
He gave a crooked smile. “That must have been an interesting adjustment.”
I laughed, surprised at how succinct that description was. “It was a surprise and an adventure, and I really do adore her.”
“I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her, but everyone seems to have an opinion one way or the other.”
“I can only imagine.” While most of the common folk had accepted Ella and Gavin, I knew that the nobility had not been so easily convinced when she’d stooped to marry a commoner.
He smiled, so casual, so comfortable.
I felt the need to fill the silence. His horse bobbed its head, trying to get Rylan’s attention. I pointed to him. “And who is this?”
He reached up, stroking the horse behind its ear. “This is Apollo. Say ‘Good day,’ old man.”
The horse actually nodded its head up and down. I was reminded of Herman, who I had abandoned.
“I should go.” I gestured awkwardly down the lane. “It was a pleasure seeing you.”
“Wait, can I see you tomorrow?”
My confusion made the corner of my mouth quirk up. “Why would you do that?”
“Because I’d like to speak with you again,” he said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“Oh, um.” He was nobility, and I was decidedly not. “I have to get Herman. My pony, he’s—” I pointed behind me as if that would explain my inability to speak coherently, then turned to walk back the way I had come.

 

 

About the Author

I was born in Utah, but migrated to Arizona, Missouri, and Virginia before settling in Idaho.

Though I dabbled in writing throughout school, being an author seemed like an unattainable dream. It took me seven years to write my first book, Just Ella. During that time, I taught myself how to write a novel. Not the most time effective method, but it gave me an education I wouldn’t have received from a class or a how-to book. Something about the struggle of writing without a formula or rules worked for me.

I write clean romance because I love it. Jane Eyre is the hero of my youth and taught me that clinging to your convictions will be hard, but will bring you more genuine happiness than giving in ever can.

I love chocolate, Into the Woods, ocean waves, my husband, and my five littles. And I love books that leave me with a sigh of contentment.

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Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/9/17

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 the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Spotlight, women on March 2, 2017
~ All That Glitters by Liza Treviño ~
Book Tour – 1st to 10th March
 

Title: All That Glitters – A
Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams

Author: Liza Treviño
Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Koehler Books 
Published Date: March 1, 2017
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1633933083
ISBN-13: 978-1633933088



 

Synopsis
Alexandria Moreno—clever, sexy, ambitious and, at times, self-destructive. She blazes a path from Texas to Los Angeles at the dawn of the 1980s to make her dreams of becoming an A-list Hollywood film director come true. She and her best friend arrive in Los Angeles with little more than hope and the determination to make it big. Alex, a beauty as dark and mysterious as her scarred heart, stands at the bottom of the Hollywood mountain looking up, fighting for her chance to climb to the top. Will her quest to live fast and take no prisoners on her way to success destroy her in the end?

All That Glitters is a women’s fiction Jackie Collins-type saga that introduces a strong, driven Latina heroine at the center of a rags-to-riches story spanning a decade of action. Along the way, Alexandria walks the fine line separating ambition and self-destruction, and discovers that some sacrifices will cost her everything.


What early readers are saying


“Treviño tells her story with wit, intelligence, and an undercurrent of sadness at the plight women face to make a name for themselves as human beings instead of strictly as women. Treviño may have cloaked her ideas in entertaining vignettes and snappy dialogue, but underneath is a bite that stays with you.”  — Jonathan Marcantoni, author and publisher of La Casita Grande Press.

“Liza has a way of taking you with her as she tells this very compelling story. She draws readers in with her as she describes scenes and characters with colorful detail and vivid imagination. This story is a testament to it’s title: it really glitters!”  —Reesha Goral, author, The Servant Boy

“With distant echoes of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls in the background, Alexandria Moreno, the protagonist of All that Glitters, chases after the allure of Hollywood, all the time substituting pills, booze and sex for genuine happiness. It is only after she reaches success that she has an awakening leading her to realize the emptiness of her aspiration, and finally accepting true love. Kudos to Liza Treviño for giving us this unique image of the New Latina! I urge reading All that Glitters. You won’t regret it.” —Graciela Limón, author


Excerpt

Los Angeles
Oscar Night, 1990

When did things start going wrong?
Alexandria Moreno gulped another swig of champagne from the bottle. She picked at its broken gold foil. It was the same stuff she used to buy back in the days when spending more than ten dollars on bubbly was an extravagance. Now she sat in the best limo money could buy, inching along the craggy hillside road waiting for her turn to put in an appearance at the first of many scheduled post-Oscar parties. She was obligated to dole out heartfelt hugs and kisses to any of the beautiful people who might want one. Tonight, everyone was going to want a piece of her. She was the girl of the hour.
Until recently, Moreno had been an unknown writer-producer. She rocked Hollywood, winning Academy Awards for Best Director and Original Screenplay for the lushly violent, low-budget film, Win or Lose. Moreno, widely considered a dark horse contestant in the Oscar race, was the first Hispanic woman to be nominated, and win.
Two golden statues for writing and directing lay on the limo’s floor and the vehicle glided to the top of Hollywood’s heights. Beyond the winding canyon road, the Los Angeles electrified grid shimmered like Moreno’s own personal cauldron of gold. She understood that more than just a movie had won tonight.
She had won.
So why doesn’t it feel better?
Why don’t I feel better?
Despite everything she’d done to reach this moment of glory, Alex understood that none of it mattered. Not one bit. No matter what happened to her, she was still alone and drinking the same convenience-store champagne.
“Want some of this blow, babe?” Nick sniffed and dropped his head back with a slight shake, giving the chemicals a little jumpstart in the brain he liked to say.
“No thanks,” she said, “I don’t want to mix tonight.” Alex turned her attention from the scrubby hillside to handsome Nick Sirianni sitting across from her, casually relaxed in his Armani tuxedo. Though he favored stiff Wall Street suits, Nick was always casually relaxed due to the fact that he was worth millions from a Hollywood Midas touch.
Alex heard Leonard Cohen’s gravel-rubbed, breathless voice floating faintly through the air, crooning his patented melancholy love proclamations, and she couldn’t help but let her eyes wander along Nick’s impeccably tailored suit. Her hands absently grazed the familiar bluish-purple marks on her wrists currently hidden under make-up.
Nick’s thin lips curled into a slow, understanding grin. “Fine, but I have some X for later, and I don’t care what you’ve taken already,” he said in a tone Alex had learned not to question. “I’ve got plans for you, babe.”
“I guess it’s gonna be a long night.”
“The longest ever.”
Alex could tell he had taken off. She absently twirled a lock of her black, shoulder-length hair.
“Hey,” Nick nudged her leg with his polished leather dress shoe, “let me see.”
“Not right now.”
“I’m not asking, Alley Cat. Let me see. And do it right.”
Alex locked eyes with him, but she relented.
She found the fold of her straight wraparound skirt of crepe and beading that draped to the floor. She peeled it back and uncrossed her legs beneath the gown, giving Nick a peek-a-boo of her
narrow ankle and high-heeled foot. She loosened her knees, proving to Nick she’d followed his instructions.
Nick looked her over and loosened his collar.
“Good girl,” Nick said and shifted toward her, the leather seat creaking beneath him. He knelt between her legs and softly traced the length of her pale grey stocking from her shoe, along her leg, up to the matching garter, and over her supple brown thigh exposed between the garter and its straps. Nick kissed her just above where the stockings ended. He breathed in deeply and peered up to her.
“I gotta have a taste, baby,” he said and dipped his handsome face between her thighs.
Alex sighed and sank back into her seat.
How did things get so out of control? Isn’t tonight supposed to be everything I’ve worked for? Everything I’ve sacrificed for? Or, what I’ve sacrificed everyone for?
Alex knew she had purposely cut off anyone who had the misfortune of ever giving a damn about her. And there were such people.
It certainly wasn’t Nick. She’d made her deal with this particular devil nearly a year ago. Things between them were comfortably tawdry. Nick owned her. She knew it. He knew it. They had an understanding.
A flicker nudged her: so many things that could have been. She took another swig of champagne, letting the alcohol’s fizz and burn push everything back into the darkness.
Alex registered Nick’s velvet tongue expertly stroking her crevices, and she couldn’t help but give him all the access he wanted. She felt him smile when she dropped her head back and settled deeper into the limo’s bench. The car halted forward and the lazy, swaying sax turned up the tension in Cohen’s sonic plea for love.
Alex peered beyond the cracked sunroof, searching the starless LA sky for some answers. A corner of the tinted sunroof caught her faint reflection and she saw a vacant-eyed, thirty two-year-old wasted stranger. She’d never known herself less than at this moment. Her passion for work was burned out and, even tonight, she couldn’t muster excitement. Now, everything was just a game requiring too much effort.
She shut her eyes tight and sucked in air sharply, breathing in the car’s mixture of broken-in leather and artificial lemon scents. She clasped at Nick’s broad shoulder, wringing the expensive jacket sleeve as if it were nothing more than a cheap cocktail napkin. After a moment, she relaxed.
Nick brushed a sweet kiss on her inner thigh before he returned the thin black crepe material of her skirt to its full length. He slid back to his seat across from her and smoothed his hair back.
“Damn, you taste good, honey.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“We’re next in line, ma’am,” the chauffeur’s voice crackled through the intercom. The limo moved into place with a definite stop.
Nick grinned. “It’s show time, Alley Cat.”
The cool night air took Alex by surprise as she waded into the sea of people and flashing cameras. She staggered, unsure she could move.
“One foot in front of the other,” Nick said in his soft voice through her hair. “I’ll get you a drink once we get inside.”
Alex smiled serenely and nodded. She focused on the live band somewhere in the distance belting out a Sinatra standard. Her eyes found the majestic Griffith Observatory looming in the distance, hovering above the white party tents.
Inside, the camera flashes kept coming.
“And here we are,” Nick offered as he swiped a couple of champagne flutes from a roving waiter’s tray. “This should get ya right, babe.”
Alex took the glass automatically. Another bulb flashed near her and she saw blue sprinkles. She regained focus quickly, but then her stomach dropped. Across the room was the last person she wanted to see.

◊◊◊

Jamie Douglas stood out in any crowd. Angular looks punctuated by oceanic blue eyes, a naturally lean athleticism, and down-to-earth boyishness had made him a reigning movie star around the world for almost twenty years. And right now, Alex saw Jamie’s eyes find hers through the crowd. When they caught each other, a flash sparked between them like one of those popping camera bulbs. Jamie’s surprised look gave way to a lopsided grin; it was a look so familiar to her.
Alex registered Nick snake his arm around her thin waist and she broke her gaze from Jamie.
“Okay, Alley Cat, time for our victory lap.”
“Perfect timing,” she said.
Timing—everything always came down to timing. It seemed to her that her timing had always been off. Not crazy off, just that extra millisecond that pushed everything either too early or too late. And now, she understood that it was too late.
Suddenly, she couldn’t bear to go through with the whole charade of tonight. Maybe, she couldn’t even bear to go through with the whole charade of her life any longer. Just leave, a soft voice whispered inside her head. There’s nothing written you have to stick around. It’s practically programmed into your DNA that you’ll be checking out of this world early.
All at once, Alex understood that simple fact. She, Alex Moreno, would leave Los Angeles tonight as anonymously as she had arrived nearly a decade earlier. She knew that wasn’t an entirely accurate account of how she’d started.
Now I’m alone, and that’s just how I knew things would always turn out.

About the Author

Liza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine.






Catch Up with Liza Treviño on her Website

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Giveaway, romance on March 1, 2017

Synopsis

Forget all those other best-friend romances you might have read.

Jace and Isabella have only known each other…since kindergarten. And he hasn’t been secretly in love with her…for more than six or seven years. She doesn’t make him bristle with jealousy when she goes out with other guys…that he’ll admit to. And she doesn’t get all flustered and confused when she starts to find him incredibly sexy…too often.

But they definitely don’t transform their friendship into romance…right away.

Isabella has known Jace all her life, and she’s been best friends with him since high school, when she used to date his best friend. Now she’s ready to settle down and get married, and she’s decided that her sister’s wedding in three months is her deadline. She’s going to find the man of her dreams in time to take him to the wedding.

Now if only Jace would stop acting strange and territorial so he could help her.

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Excerpt

An excerpt from Speed Dating

Copyright © Noelle Adams and Samantha Chase 2017

She stared at him fixedly until she saw the corner of his mouth twitch just slightly.

“I knew it! You’re bluffing!”

“Never.” He was obviously still trying to hold onto his composure, but his eyes were brimming with humor, and he was having trouble hiding a smile.

“Cheater!” Bursting into laughter, she tackled him, playfully pushing him down so he was lying on his back on the floor. “You’re cheating, and you know it, so you have to forfeit the game.”

She realized her mistake when Jace’s hard, lean body started to rub against hers. Her heart began to race with excitement as her breath quickened and shivers of excitement ran up and down her spine.

His hand slowly slid down her back until he was cupping her hips, almost—almost—touching her bottom. “I’ll never forfeit. I’ll go to my death declaring that Zoroastrian is a perfectly legitimate Scrabble word.”

Despite his light tone, his expression had changed again. His eyes were hot. So hot. As hot as she felt.

She couldn’t stop herself from rubbing against him again, and she suddenly realized how tense his body was.

Tense. And tight. And hard.

So hard.

All of him hard.

He shifted beneath her weight, and every little move he made against her fired all of her sensitized nerve endings.

She wanted him to roll over on top of her. Sink into her completely.

She wanted him to bury himself in her and never come out.

Jace closed his eyes and took a slightly shaky breath, and she knew now why that was.

He was aroused beneath her. She could feel it very starkly when she rubbed her pelvis against his.

She made a breathless noise at the realization, and she trailed her hand down his chest to his belly.

Jace jerked in what looked like surprised pleasure.

“Jace?” she whispered, her hand grazing down even further.

It felt like there was some sort of magnetic force drawing her hand down toward the bulge of his erection. He was sweating a little—she could see it—and his breath was blowing in and out in short huffs.

He grunted, not really forming a complete word.

Isabella’s hand had reached his belt, and she idly played with the supple leather. Maybe it was the wine. Or maybe she’d been holding back for too long.

But she heard herself saying, “I know that we’re just friends, and that we said that kiss didn’t mean anything. I know touching like this is really against the rules.”

Her hand slipped down even lower, brushing against the bulge at the front of his trousers. Jace let out a soft strangled sound in response, as if he were desperately trying to hold himself back.

The knowledge was all she needed to know.

He wanted this just as much as she did.

“But I was wondering,” Isabella continued, lifting her upper body so she could look down on his strained face, “if maybe we could break that rule… a little.”

About the Authors

Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.

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Samantha Chase, a creative writing teacher, released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Since then, she has published seventeen more titles and has become a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She lives with her husband of twenty-four years and their two sons in North Carolina.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, romance on February 21, 2017
~ Release Day Blitz ~
A Way Back Into Love by Veronica Thatcher
21st February, 2017

Synopsis

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love… Well, that makes complicates everything complicated. When you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.

Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life is turned upside-down when she realizes she’s in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken.

Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home… to the man she left behind?

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Excerpt

Emily stepped back from him and shook her head. “Oh, you know damn well what I mean. You know what, Derek? I’m done having this conversation with you. I’m so done with this conversation and I’m so done with you,” Emily spat out angrily before brushing past him.

“Emily, wait,” Derek said, catching her by her arm. “Where are you going?”

Emily spun around and gave him a bitter look before looking down at his hand gripping her arm. “Leave my arm,” she said in a low yet threatening voice, “And why do you care where I’m going? It’s none of your business.”

Derek didn’t leave her arm in spite of her warning and said, “Em, you’ve had too many drinks. You can’t drive in this condition. I’ll drop you home.”

Emily jerked her arm free from his grasp and replied in a bitter voice, “Thank you, but no. I’m perfectly capable of getting myself home on my own. I don’t need you to drop me home. Do you get it, Derek Thorpe? I DON’T NEED YOU!” Emily yelled the last words, causing a few people to look their way.

About the Author

Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them.  She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!

Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it.


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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Young Adult on February 19, 2017

Synopsis

What if you thought you could play a better god than God?

Mudmen is a story unlike anything you have ever seen before. It all starts with a half-crazed dwarf scribbling furiously on a piece of paper while the world outside his little cottage is ravaged by a great storm. There is an artifact in his possession which gives him power over all else, but that artifact is stolen by the very creatures that he gave birth to in his frustration – these creatures are what we come to know as the Mudmen.

Excerpt

And for the first time in days he dreamt. He was climbing up a hill. It was the dead of the night and moonlight was his only guide to what lay ahead. His short legs carried him up the hill at a far slower pace than he had expected to cover.

Wait! What had he expected to cover?

All of a sudden the ground beneath his feet began to shake and a grumbling sound emanated from the top of the hill. It was almost as if the great giant that rests beneath the earth had finally decided to move and he was standing directly over him.

Why were there no trees on the hill? Why was the ground so barren?

He saw a light at the top, an orange glow that seemed to be taking on a more solid form as each second passed by and every step he took brought him closer to it. It was almost as if the night sky was on fire.

Oh no! This was not a hill – it was a volcano, one that was about to spew forth molten lava and rocks.

He fell down as the earth beneath his feet shook even more violently. A black cloud of smoke blocked out the moon but he could see the world around him a lot clearer now in the light of the fire that rained from the skies above. He turned around, willing himself to run away but his feet would not obey him. And then he remembered that he had to get to the top of the volcano no matter what happened, for what waited for him at the top was the only thing that mattered.

About the Author

Shitij Sharma is a nineteen year old budding author from India.He is the author of the book – THE GIRL FROM ROSTOV. He believes that he can successfully explain the world’s current situation in this one paragraph

‘This world was a strange place to live in. It was disorderly and chaotic. Therefore, we had to find our way through this labyrinth of human emotions and actions to arrive at a place where there was some resemblance to order, order in the form of disorderly governments and a moral compass that does not always point north.’

He currently resides in New Delhi, India. He spends most of his time writing his second novel which he hopes to complete before this year is out.

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