Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, Spotlight on April 9, 2017

Title: Between a Wolf and a Hard Place

Author: Terry Spear

Series: Silver Town Wolf, #7

ISBN: 9781492645115

Pubdate: April 4, 2017

Genre: Paranormal

Synopsis

In Silver Town, the secrets run deep…

Alpha werewolf Brett Silver has an ulterior motive when he donates a prized family heirloom to the Silver Town hotel. Ellie MacTire owns the place with her sisters, and he’s out to get her attention.

Ellie is even more special than Brett knows. She’s a wolf-shifter with a unique ability to commune with the dead. Ellie has been ostracized, so she protects herself and those she loves by revealing nothing—not even when strange and dangerous things begin to happen in Silver Town. And especially not to the devastatingly handsome and generous wolf who’s determined to win her over…

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A SIGN YOU MIGHT BE A SHIFTER

If you suddenly don’t need a light to see in the late evening or early morning, when others can’t see a thing in the dark.

Excerpt

When Brett and CJ arrived at the inn, they got out to help guide the piano movers. Laurel met CJ outside, giving him a big hug and kiss. Brett sighed. He’d love it if he and Ellie got to that point in their relationship—and soon. They’d both been busy lately, she with the inn and he with reporting about Victorian Day festivities. So he hadn’t seen her as much as he would have liked.

As soon as they went inside, he saw Ellie showing the movers where she thought the piano should go, while Meghan insisted it should be more to the right of the stairs.

Then Ellie caught his eye and smiled, and he felt his whole outlook brighten. She was the darkest-haired redhead of the bunch, her long, curly hair auburn in color, and to him, sexier and more mysterious. He wanted to ask her out tonight. He could cook, though he’d do better grilling outside.

She turned her attention to the piano again, frowning. And Meghan was frowning too.

Poor movers. Brett thought the two ladies would have the men relocate the piano all over the lobby before settling on the perfect place for it. Instead, Ellie suddenly looked pale and said it was fine where it was. Meghan quickly nodded, looking just as ashen.

CJ and Eric readjusted the burgundy, brocade-covered bench in front of the piano, which made Brett remember he needed to box up all the sheet music and books and bring them over. He’d taken them out of the bench when he had its seat cushion reupholstered last year, and they were still sitting in a box in the spare bedroom.

Brett paid the movers and they cleared out.

“Got to get back to work,” Eric said, giving Brett a knowing look. “Late shift working as a park ranger tonight.”

“Yeah, I’ve got to get back to the business of sheriffing.” CJ smiled at Ellie. “Can you drop me off at the station, Eric?”

“Sure thing,” their eldest brother said.

Sarandon was admiring the piano, arms folded across his chest, when he realized his brothers were leaving and snapped out of his thoughts. “Yeah, I’ve got to get back to work too.”

Brett knew Sarandon didn’t have a guide job in the park tonight, so he was glad Sarandon was vacating the premises pronto, taking his brothers’ cues. Now if only Ellie’s sisters would leave the two of them alone.

Laurel took Meghan’s arm and hauled her toward the back door. “Let’s go fix supper, why don’t we?”

“For two, three, or four of us?” Meghan asked with a smile in her voice as they disappeared outside.

Brett didn’t hesitate before he moved toward Ellie, placed his hands on her shoulders, and leaned her gently against the piano, blocking her from escape if she thought to put on the brakes again. “Would you be up for dinner for two? You don’t have any guests for the next week,  unless something has changed.” He rubbed his thumbs against her shoulders, loving the feel of her, the sweet, fresh fragrance of her. She looked beautiful in her soft teal sweater, rust-and-teal-plaid skirt, and high-heeled boots, her dark-red hair in silky curls around her shoulders.

She was soft in his arms and appeared receptive when he leaned down to kiss her. It seemed like the perfect time. No one was around. The piano had been the perfect gift. Now it was time to kiss her like he’d wanted to since they’d first started dating. As soon as their mouths touched, she responded by wrapping her arms around his back, but then Eric felt her jump a little and pulled his mouth away, wondering if he was going too fast. If he’d done something wrong.

She quickly moved against him, pushing him away from the piano, her heartbeat racing, her breathing unsteady, the color that had infused her cheeks instantly draining from her skin.

“What’s wrong?” he asked as Ellie moved him even farther from the piano. He thought maybe she had gotten static-electric shock from touching it.

“Let’s go have dinner,” she said, her Irish accent more pronounced as it was whenever she was overly worried. The sisters had been born in the United States, but their parents had been born in Ireland, and they’d picked up their parents’ accent. He loved it. “Any place is fine.”

Yet she was visibly upset, and he wasn’t sure what the difficulty was.

“Thanks for the piano. It’s beautiful.” Ellie glanced back at it, but not in an admiring way. She was looking off to the right of it, a frown marring her temple , which he thought was odd.

“Why don’t I take you to the Silver Town Tavern? If you like steak, they have great cuts there.  And we can catch up on what’s been going on.”

“I hear you’re working on some interesting  stories.”

“Yeah. My favorite? The last time the Silver Town Inn was part of the Victorian Days celebration. The idea seemed appropriate since this will be the first time the inn is open for business during the festivities since then.”

“I can’t wait to read it.” Ellie glanced back at the vicinity of the piano one last time before she shut and locked the front door to the inn.

“We can help you move the piano again if you don’t think it’s in the right place,” Brett offered, getting the car door for her.

“Uh, no, I think it’s fine.” But she didn’t sound like she thought so.

He was afraid he’d pushed her too fast on the kiss, yet she’d seemed so willing. He didn’t know what he had done wrong, but he had every intention of proving how much being with her meant to him, no matter what the difficulty might be.

***

Ellie couldn’t believe that not only had Chrissy shown up, looking interested in the piano, but so had some other woman. She was older, with white hair and dark eyes, and had appeared when Brett leaned Ellie against the piano and gave her the beginning of a spine-tingling kiss. It was so reminiscent of the start of the dreams she was having about him that Ellie could have screamed when seeing the ghost shook her up and ruined the in-the-flesh fantasy with Brett.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Terry Speer has written over 35 paranormal romances featuring werewolf and jaguar shapeshifters. In 2008, Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Spring, Texas.

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Posted in Giveaway, Inspirational, romance, Spotlight on April 4, 2017

Synopsis

When Amanda Jarvis prays that a special friend will move into the vacant house near her isolated mountain home, she isn’t upset when God sends a boy instead of a girl. But Amanda’s not the only one receiving unexpected answers to her prayers. After fleeing with his mother from an abusive father, Tyler Armstrong finds much-needed love and acceptance with Amanda’s family over the next ten years.

​As high school graduation nears, Tyler is shocked when one carefree afternoon with Amanda churns up an inner turmoil he would have never imagined; he’s crushing on his best friend. And for the first time in his life he’s hiding a secret from Amanda. Convinced the timing is all wrong, Tyler pushes his feelings aside as he and Amanda prepare for the future. He will soon begin training to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy Seal, while Amanda makes plans to spend the summer in Manhattan with her aunt and then return home to the community college.

​When Amanda’s summer job catapults her into a modeling career, she readily accepts the much-needed distraction. Tyler’s impending deployment is turning her world upside down. Along with the fact that she’s falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she’s hiding a secret, too.

​Phoebe Garrison, Amanda’s controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the power to act on behalf of her underage niece. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda’s manager is just what she’s been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe’s obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that will send ripples of turbulence across their futures.

About the Author

I began writing as a hobby while raising my two children. In 2015, I dusted off my stories and my dreams to see if I could turn my hobby into a career. My first story, Season of Hope, was inspired by summer vacations which always included a trip to Franklin, North Carolina, to visit family and explore The Smoky Mountains. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with family and most anything that involves being outdoors, especially camping and hiking. I currently live along the Emerald Coast of Florida and never complain about the hot, humid summers, because that’s exactly how I like them! ​

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Posted in excerpt, nonfiction, Spotlight on April 3, 2017

Synopsis

Do you ever ask yourself, ‘What is my purpose?’

Life’s Equation provides you with a formula to discover your true purpose through uniquely explaining and defining life’s energy and how that energy directly affects one’s actions, reactions and fundamental existence.

Written in the style of a memoir telling an introspective story of vulnerable, heartbreaking, humorous and very relevant experiences, Life’s Equation shares Frank’s unique experiences and relationships he has shared with people he’s met along the way that offered great influence in his life.

Come celebrate your experiences through logically discovering your own true purpose, all while helping make the world a better place in the process. Life’s Equation represents a proven equation toward discovering full potential, accomplishing goals and making true, raw sense of one’s own purpose.

Life’s Equation had me hooked from page one.  With vulnerability and humor, [Frank] shares stories of heartbreak, pain, and confusion, but also redemption, growth, and healing. It’s impossible to read this book and not connect it to your own life and experiences; consider the impacts of the energy you surround yourself with; and examine the untapped power you hold in finding understanding and meaning in your own life. This is a beautiful, digestible, and important read!”

Excerpt

One night after work I decided to take a long drive, something I hadn’t done in six months. After an hour of driving under a star-filled sky I arrived at the beach, got out and sat on a rock and listened to the ocean. I was hoping I would have a moment of clarity that would lead me to the next phase of my life. While I sat there I began to feel a calmness wash over me and I noticed that there was now an object in front of me that appeared to have washed up on shore. Then I realized it was slowly creeping up onto the sand. It was a sea turtle and it worked its way up alongside me as I sat motionless and watched. It began to dig a hole and then it moved over the hole and went into a trance. I was looking directly into one of its eyes and that’s when I realized it was laying eggs. I watched her for a few minutes until another turtle coming out of the water further up the shore distracted me. It was then I realized there were many more all around me all moving on instinct and somehow all acting together.

Many of the people I met flashed into my mind and I could see their faces and hear their words and I could feel them because they were now a part of me. They each had lived a life, experiencing it from a single perspective, and this was my life and I was doing the same. We are all the same. My mind began to flash between two realities, one where I got up tomorrow and continued as I had today and one where I got up and lived guided by my instincts. The flashing between these two thoughts drew them closer together and at the moment they became equally real I changed my perspective and I began to believe I could create my own reality and live my life the way I thought it should be.

The next morning I got out of bed, put all of my belongings on the front lawn of my apartment and had a garage sale. I sold everything I owned for either five dollars or forty dollars and when I was done I had $385, some clothes, a can of disinfectant spray, two blankets and a wrinkled tie. I put it all in my Jeep and decided to take a drive to Colorado to find a mountain of my own to climb before it was too late.

If we continue to do the same thing as we’ve always done, our lives will slowly change allowing us to predict our future. If we choose to implement change in our life we can alter our future making it less predictable while shifting our direction. The more dramatic the change the greater the risk we take. How we perceive change is based on our understanding of the past and we call that perspective. Perspective allows us to have greater understanding of an experience and guides our choices. Having very little and no place to call home may be a difficult experience to some, while to others it is the highlight of their life. Perspective allows us freedom of choice.

About the Author

Frank Daidone is a dynamic author, business leader and speaker.  His heartening talks to audiences of all backgrounds and interests provide invaluable insight on his own experience to help to inspire others. His greatest passion lies within creating a strong foundation for exploring our strengths and passions.

Life’s Equation is an extension of this mission.

Frank is best known for bringing large organizations together, as well as transforming the mundane into something substantive and meaningful. After eight years with Chipotle, Frank left his private sector post to accent an appointment from Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock.  He served as Chief Information Officer for the City and county of Denver and during his governmental tenure, Frank transformed the culture of a public sector organization by running it like a cutting edge start up; empowering the people within to rise to their greatest potential.

Outside of his professional career, Frank devotes much of his time to nonprofit organizations. He has mentored a thirteen-year-old boy from the age of seven through Big Brother’s Big Sisters, supports the Tennyson Center for Children through their mission of supporting at-risk children, and serves as Chief Operations Officer for Nurse-Family Partnership to support the long-term success for first-time moms in poverty, their babies and society. He also is the Executive Chair of the education committee for Colorado Technology Association where he formed two mentorship program through Denver and Aurora Public Schools so that high school students may explore opportunities and interests as they begin their college and career search.

When Frank isn’t out sharing his perspective on the world, his biggest accomplishment is being a proud father two his two daughters. With them and his wife, Frank enjoys traveling and exploring, whether that’s around the world or right at home in Denver.

Visit FrankDaidone.net to purchase Life’s Equation. $1 from each sale benefits United Cerebral Palsy.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on March 29, 2017

Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery

Ballantine Group; Alibi | On Sale: March 21st, 2017 | ISBN: 9780399179051| 300 Pages | Price: $4.99

Synopsis

When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.

Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

About the Author

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

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March 20 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

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March 22 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Literary, Spotlight on March 28, 2017

Title: BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139
Author: Howard Jay Smith
Publisher: SYQ
Pages: 385
Genre: Literary Fiction/Biographical Fiction

At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past.

As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

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Excerpt

Prologue:

The Death of Beethoven

Vienna, 5:00 pm, March 26, 1827  

Outside Beethoven’s rooms at the Schwarzspanierhaus, a fresh measure of snow from a late season thunderstorm muffles the chimes of St. Stephens Cathedral as they ring out the hours for the old city.

Ein, Zwei, Drei, Vier… Funf  Uhr.  Five O’clock.

Beethoven, three months past his fifty-sixth birthday, lies in a coma, as he has now for two nights, his body bound by the betrayal of an illness whose only virtue was that it proved incurable and would, thankfully, be his last. Though his chest muscles and his lungs wrestle like giants against the approaching blackness, his breathing is so labored that the death rattle can be heard over the grumblings of the heavens throughout his apartment.

Muss es sein? Must it be? Ja, es muss sein. Beethoven is dying. From on high, the Gods vent their grief at his imminent passing and hurl a spear of lightening at Vienna.

Their jagged bolt of electricity explodes outside the frost covered windows of the Schwarzspanierhaus with a clap of thunder so violent it startles the composer to consciousness.

Beethoven’s eyes open, glassy, unfocused. He looks upward – only the Gods know what he sees, if anything. He raises his right hand, a hand that has graced a thousand sonatas, and clenches his fist for perhaps the last time. His arm trembles as if railing against the heavens. Tears flood his eyes.

His arm falls back to the bed… His eyelids close… And then he is gone …

About the Author

Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America” –  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

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Posted in romance, Spotlight, women on March 25, 2017

We are so excited to announce the tour for Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson!

 

“Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop is perhaps one of the most memorable stories I have ever read. The characters are a huge plus, but the main star was the wisdom hidden within this profound story.”

Get your copy today!

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“Engaging, heart-warming, and full of romance, this one is bound to please readers.”

As the owner of a successful florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and friends, but after being betrayed by her last love, she’s kept herself at arms’ length from romance. When dashing entertainment attorney Derek Thomas walks into her store, Khloe’s interest is piqued. What at first seems like a business relationship quickly turns into romance, and Derek slowly plucks away the petals she’s been hiding behind. Just as Khloe lets down her guard, she discovers that Derek may not be worthy of her love after all.

Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man named Walt, thinking that by sending herself flowers from him she’ll feel less out-of-place with the “mean girls” she works with. When she comes face to face with her possible prince charming and thinking she might have a happy ending, when a truth is revealed, she wonders if she’ll ever have a Cinderella story.

A recently widowed senior, Gabby Lewis, isn’t ready to give up on love—which means releasing herself from survivor’s guilt and taking a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up for an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise, she’s matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man, who quickly eases himself into her heart. Will Gabby take the leap of falling in love again, knowing it’s possible to have two loves of her life?

As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe’s shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.

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“In Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop, author Isabella Louise Anderson weaves a delightful tale that follows three women’s journey of self-discovery and finding an unexpected second chance at love.”

“Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop is a wonderful novel about finding love and happiness that will leave a smile on your face.”

Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She focuses her time on featuring other writers on her blog, Chick Lit Goddess, along with organizing Goddess Book Tours, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

She lives in Dallas with her husband, enjoys spicy Mexican food, margaritas, gin on the rocks (with a splash of lime). She loves spending time with family and friends and cheering on the Texas Rangers. Not only is Isabella an author, she’s also a Scentsy consultant and hoarder.

Isabella is the author of The Right Design and Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop. Her short story, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright. She’s currently working on another book.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight on March 18, 2017

Synopsis

900 years ago, Dogane fell at the hands of Ubinion and Ramas. That day, the people rejoiced to the heavens, which had finally removed its dark veil and given them the warmth they deserved for so long. Since then, nearly everyone had forgotten the power that almost tore Agrathias apart.

But Ubinion and Ramas had always warned of the corruption they were never able to completely rid the world of. A corruption that now allows one sorcerer the chance to rule Agrathias…forever…

Excerpt

Pivincy didn’t move.  He wasn’t going to.  This town had been his life, and this town was one he’d sworn to protect when he took the sacred oath linking his fate to Terrifor’s.  And he would fulfill the oath today.

He withdrew from his lap a heavy, black sphere.  He cupped it in his hands and pressed on it tightly.  Black and white fog swirled within, and a slight hissing sound was heard.

Give the people one last chance at a better position.

He thought of all the people he’d met in his life.  He held onto each of their smiles as he thrust the sphere down.  A shriek sliced the air, one that went high and low, and this noise would drive the Arcams even crazier than they already were.

It didn’t take long for the stream of black to flow through the town and pound up against the gates to the manor house.  Arcams used themselves as rams as flesh met iron, and Pivincy accepted a fact before it even happened: the gates wouldn’t hold out.

He stood up and placed his sword out in front of him.  He remembered the first time he held it in his hands: his first battle over two decades ago.  A tear and a chuckle came to him as he remembered in that battle Lynn’s wide eyes as she struck the Arcam Pivincy failed to see rushing at him.  He hoped she was still alive somewhere in this town, and if she wasn’t, that she’d been able to die with friends rather than alone like him.

As the gate buckled in and crashed to the side, Pivincy drew in his last, long breath.  He was going to miss Terrifor; he was going to miss this life.  But before he died, by everything on this Earth, he was going to show what defending a home really looked like.

About the Author

I’m a graduate of The University of Notre Dame with a BA in Chemical Engineering.  I just really like writing on the side.  This book was started in middle school, and it was interesting seeing how the writing style and plot changed as I got older (although I made sure to keep the general story the same since that’s what I wanted in the first place).  I’m currently writing my second book, but now I’m just trying to get this first book out for anyone to read.

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Posted in coming of age, excerpt, Literary, Spotlight on March 17, 2017

Synopsis

All families have secrets. Most go untold…

In the summer of  ‘96, Benjamin Hackett has come of age, technically. And in the midst of the celebratory hangover, his world is whipped out from under his feet. His parents have finally shared their lifelong secret with him; he’s adopted.

At the age of 18, the boy still has some growing up to do, and with the help of JJ, his loquacious consigliore and bodyguard, he embarks on an adventure that’ll put to bed a lifetime of lies.

Over the course of five days, they find themselves caught up in the darker side of Cork. But when they sweep through the misfits blocking their way and finally discover the truth of it…now that’s the greatest shock of all.

The Origins of Benjamin Hackett is a tender tale of heartache and displacement told through a wry and courageous voice. Set in Ireland, it’s a timely reminder that the world hasn’t moved on just as fast as we fancy. Now, in this emotionally charged story, Gerald M. O’Connor explores conditioned guilt and its consequences in a country still hiding from the sins of its past.

Excerpt

Life was lived in the quiet moments; all the rest was pure bluster. I was paraphrasing of course. I hadn’t the foggiest who’d said those words, or whether they were ever uttered out of the mouth of anyone at all, and if by happenstance they had it probably was more succinct. But the thought cropped up in my head then, watching my dad visibly stutter less than the width of a jab away from me.

“There’s no way in hell I’m adopted,” I said.

“You are a bit.”

“You can’t be a bit adopted.”

Dad seemed to consider this for a moment, before shrugging and smiling wanly. “No…I suppose you can’t.”

“This is a pile of unadulterated nonsense. You’re both having a laugh, right? Some twisted revenge for me not applying to college?”

Dad reached inside his shirt pocket, pulled out a manila envelope and laid it on the table. “This,” he said, tapping it twice with his index finger, “contains your adoption certificate. We decided to keep calling you by your birth name, Benjamin. Seemed the correct thing to do at the time.”

“Did it?”

He held up his hand to hush me. “It’s the original document we received the day Father Brogan brought you here and made it all official.” He slid it over to me. “It’s yours now.”

I picked up the envelope and tore it open, unfurling the paper inside and laying it flat on the table. My eyes skimmed over the document, flitting from word to word—adoption, adoptees, dates, signatures and the official diocesan insignia on the envelope. They were all there, all the bureaucratic paraphernalia of the state and church.

I held his stare, neither of us flinching. “Am I really adopted?”

“Yes.”

My throat turned to dust. Call it the formality of the letter, or the way the word cut short on his breath. I thought of Mam’s delicate frame and barley-blonde hair. We looked nothing alike. But Dad? He was meant to be the exception. We both towered over her. We both had lanky frames. Hell, we even shared that same terrible torture of walking on long, flat feet that no shoe, no matter the cut or cobbler, could fit comfortably.

Reams of memories of years gone by played on a loop in my head. “Sure, isn’t Benjamin the spit of his old man,” they’d said. “Dug from the same field, no doubt about it. Oh, he’s a Hackett all right, this fella.” And my parents had lapped it up. Like the time in Hay Street, in the bustle of market day, when they nodded in tacit agreement at some hunched-over old coot as she tousled my hair and told them how my curls were the carbon copy of Dad’s.

“But we look alike?” I said.

“Do we?”

“You know we do.”

He leaned in closer, dropped his voice to a whisper. “Truth is, we’ve been secretly dying your hair since you arrived. You’re actually ginger.”

I shoved the table into him and threw my hands up. “Jokes? You think now is the time for messing about? For having a bit of a laugh?”

“Sorry, sorry,” he said, showing his palms in surrender. “It just snuck out…but seriously, you’re not going to make a big deal of this, are you?”

“And why shouldn’t I?”

“Because it’s not what Hackett men do.”

“Well, I’m clearly not one of them, now am I?”

My comment flushed crimson high in his cheeks. He balled his hands twice and relaxed them flat on the table. “You’ve been long enough on the farm,” he said, quieter now. “Long enough to know that animals of all sorts adopt strays and nurture them as their own. And there’s not a blind bit of difference in them when they mature. Attitude is more in the rearing than the genes. You’re my son and a Hackett. Adopted or not.”

“So you’re calling me a stray animal now? Christ, Dad, you’re some piece of work.”

Copyright © 2017 by Gerald M. O’Connor.

Reprinted with permission of Down & Out Books.

About the Author

GERALD M. O’CONNOR is a native Corkonian, currently living in Dublin with his long-term partner, Rosemarie, along with their three children. He writes character-driven novels of various genres by night and is a dentist by day. When he isn’t glued to the keyboard, he enjoys sci-fi films, spending time with his family and being anywhere in sight of the sea. He is currently working on his second novel, The Tanist.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on March 15, 2017

Pekoe Most Poison (A Tea Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
18th in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (March 7, 2017)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425281680
Kindle – ASIN: B01KGZVXTK

Synopsis

In the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs, Theodosia Browning attends a “Rat Tea,” where the mice will play…at murder.

When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.

But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.

The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse…

INCLUDES RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS

About the Author

laura-childsLaura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

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Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

March 6 – Michelle’s Romantic Tangle – REVIEW

March 6 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

March 7 – MysteriesEtc – REVIEW

March 7 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

March 8 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 8 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

March 9 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

March 9 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

March 10 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

March 11 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

March 11 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

March 12 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 12 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 13 – Queen of All She Reads –  SPOTLIGHT

March 13 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

March 14 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

March 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

March 15 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

March 16 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – INTERVIEW

March 17 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 17 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – The Editing Pen – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

March 18 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

March 19 – 3  Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW

March 19 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

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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