Posted in 4 paws, Review, women on February 13, 2018

Title: SURVIVORS’ DAWN
Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction

Synopsis

A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice

At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.

Review

A very intense book that peeks into the life of several women that survive a sexual assault (on a college campus in this case) and what the gamut of emotions that they endure. Please note that the assault scenes are not graphic but are powerful.

Each of the three women, Lauren, Brooke, and Nikki, tell their story in their own way. All three stories intersect each other since they are on the same college campus. The women support each other against their perpetrator, Colin. They each feel guilt, remorse, and anger about the situation, and who could blame them? This story also reflects how the situation affects the parents, especially when it comes to Brooke. Her mother is very supportive, but her father blames her and perhaps it is his guilt for not being able to protect her while she is away at college.

While this is a horrible crime against the three, it does make each of them stronger in their own way. From standing up against Colin, to wanting to get more involved on campus and prevent this from happening to anyone else. This incident does not put the university in a good light, and I was angry at the Dean of Students and President for trying to sweep this under the rug just because Colin’s family is wealthy.

This story is well written and I had a hard time putting it down at times. It may be fiction but there is a lot of truth to the story and how it does happen more than we would probably like to admit on college campuses.

We give this 4 paws up

About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It’s On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors’ Dawn.

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Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS’ DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on February 13, 2018

The Dream Groom by Taylor Hart

Scar Walker, professional football player and ex Navy Seal, only wanted to focus on getting his gym built for military vets while he was in San Diego. He didn’t want to take crap from his brother, he didn’t want to deal with a lippy waitress, and he really didn’t want random people calling him on the phone.

Shayla Castle came to San Diego to finally live out her childhood dream. When she accidentally calls the mysterious phone number left on her table while waitressing, she never anticipated it would be the handsome jerkface soldier who chewed her out that morning. It confuses her even more when the same jerkface shows up the next night and saves her from an attacker.

She never would have imagined she and soldier boy would start talking every night and she really never imagined he would convince her to let him do her bucket list together. After a hike at Torrey Pines, a helicopter ride, and surfing at Oceanside…she finds she just might be falling for this soldier boy.

When things get heated, she’s left with a choice—let go of the past or lose a new dream she was just starting to discover.

A sweet, fast, love story and an Adonis hero. Yumm!

My favorite of the Titan romances so far! Who can resist the nicknames, the code words, the bucket list, or the pillow talk?

Scar is simply a hero through and through. He may be my favorite hero of all time.

Scar and Shayla were fabulous together! I loved the fireworks that sparked when they met. Scar was tough on the outside with a heart of gold. Don’t miss this fast-paced, romantic story!

 

 

“What are you doing?” His words were stilted, and his discomfort made her relax more.
“I’m arguing the merits or justification that Juliet had for killing herself when she thought Romeo was dead.”
For a beat, he didn’t answer, like he was weighing his response on his tongue. “She was stupid. Plain and simple. Life is precious. Killing herself was a huge waste.”
Shayla disagreed. “She was in love. She was heartbroken.”
He barked out a laugh. “Life is worth more than love. She was reckless. She was too young to be messing around with a thug like Romeo. He shouldn’t have married her in the middle of the night. He would have gotten his throat cut if her father had known. That’s why he did it in the cloak of darkness.”
That was a valid argument, actually. She smiled. “Cloak of darkness, really? Should I put that in my paper?”
“Hey, I won’t complain if you feel the need to quote me.” His voice had gone husky.
Intrigued, she pushed aside her laptop and leaned against the back of her bed, thinking how this was getting interesting. “Why can’t you tell me about the scar now?”
He sighed. “You have no filter, do you, Kansas?”
The way he said “Kansas” sounded so good. Feeling a bit bad, she shook her head. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. Seriously, another night. Let’s talk about your paper.”
“Sure.” She went back to the topic, even though she really wanted to know now. “Juliet had pledged her dying love to Romeo. Juliet trusted Romeo.”
“Still stupid and childish.”
“Was it? Because by Romeo’s actions we see that Romeo loved and trusted Juliet. He didn’t let it stand. She didn’t die by herself. He died too.”
He grunted. “So sacrifice for love is always worth it?”
“Always,” she said softly, feeling more convinced as she said it. “That’s why it was pretty awesome you jumped in to help me even though I don’t deserve it and you didn’t know me.”
“But I didn’t love you,” Scar pointed out. He said it so bluntly, she was thrown off balance. “I jumped in because I believe in humanity, goodness, honor, and duty.”
She found herself liking this man. A lot. “Love of country before love of self.”
“You do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I had SEAL guys who proved that to me. Over and over.”
Her respect for him went up a notch. “You’re a SEAL?”
He cleared his throat. “Was. Got shot. Discharged with honors. I had the option of being regular military but turned it down.”
“What do you do currently?”
“Play football for the Texas Titans.”
This was unreal. She wasn’t really into football, but Jason had loved the Titans. “You play professional football?”
He scoffed. “I pretty much just get throttled most of the time. I’m on the practice team.”
She considered what SEALs did, then tried to imagine what it was like on the practice team. “So you’re obviously masochistic.”
He laughed.
“What are you doing in San Diego?”
He cleared his throat. “I’m actually in San Diego for three to four weeks working on a project to design a facility for military vets. It’s a program that focuses on helping vets through sparring. There will also be counselors to help them and a coffee shop where they can hang out. No one would show up just to be psychoanalyzed, but if we can get them in for sparring and socializing, we can really help the ones who need it.”
She cleared her throat. “I have to admit I’m a bit intimidated by you.”
“No,” he said, sounding shocked. “Don’t be.”
“How old are you?” she blurted, regretting the words as soon as they tumbled out. “Sorry, the no filter thing.” She cringed, knowing she sounded like an idiot and was grateful for the distance of the telephone while talking to him.
“Ah, you’re breaking my heart already, Shayla.”
Her heart rate kicked up a notch. Was he going to answer the question?
“I’m twenty-eight,” he said. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-one.”
He sighed. “Is that okay with you?”
Feeling uncertain, she said, “Yeah, that’s fine. I mean, whatever. It’s not like we’re dating or anything.”
He chuckled, a wonderful sound. “That dispels any intentions I had.”
Butterflies rushed through her and she knew she’d be blushing. Checking the time, she saw it was almost eleven-thirty. “I gotta go. Paper is due by midnight, and I still have to finish it.”
“Okay,” he said. “Can we talk tomorrow?”
Happiness surged through her. She pushed it away, not wanting to think it meant anything. He was way too old for her. “Sure.”
“Well, then, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

 

 

Taylor Hart has always been drawn to a good love triangle, hot chocolate and long conversations with new friends. Writing has always been a passion that has consumed her dreams and forced her to sit in a trance for long hours, completely obsessed with people that don’t really exist. Taylor would have been a country star if she could have carried a tune—maybe in the next life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 3/7/18

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 Giveaway, romance on February 12, 2018

 

Giveaway

I am giving away a signed copy of Susan Mallery’s Second Chance Girl and some swag from her Girlfriend Getaway last September.  The swag will remain a mystery until the winner opens their package.

If you click on the cover you will be taken to my review of the book on Goodreads.  I gave it 5 stars

Open to US residents only due to shipping costs.

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on February 12, 2018

Synopsis

Former soap opera actress Veronica Walsh is recovering from her first holiday season in the retail world when she is pulled from retirement to star in a community production of Blithe Spirit. Delighted to play the part of a medium, Veronica must soon also assume the role of amateur sleuth when she finds the play’s director shot dead behind the theater.

Teaming with stage manager Sophie Morrissey, Veronica’s hunt for clues to the murder of Gigi Swanson leads her to a cast of colorful behind-the-scenes characters and a stunning Act Three finale. Will it be a triumph for Veronica, or will the curtain close on more than her career?

Review

Veronica Walsh is caught back up in a mystery and this time it hits close to home as the producer of the local community theater is killed.  Of course, Veronica has to investigate, that is her nature!  But at least this time she has the blessing of a local police detective to do some sleuthing and report back to her.

The mystery of this series is very well written.  In this installment, there are many likely candidates to be the murderer but it isn’t until the end when the truth is unwound that the killer is put in the spotlight.  I kept going back and forth between several characters, wanting them to be the murderer but with no real facts or evidence to support that desire.  I was a little bit surprised when the true killer was revealed, but not too much only because I had worked through most of the characters and there weren’t many characters left to be the killer.

There is an easy camaraderie between many of the main characters.  They are close friends and support each other in many ways, including doing crazy things to unearth a killer!

I have also enjoyed watching Veronica and Mark’s romantic relationship blossom.  It is very subdued in the book, but you can catch undercurrents of their appreciation for each other.

We give this book 5 paws up and eagerly await the next book!

About the Author

Jeanne Quigley grew up reading mysteries, watching soap operas, and vacationing in the Adirondacks, never imagining these pleasures would inspire the Veronica Walsh cozy mystery series. Jeanne’s love of characters—real and fictional—led her to study Sociology and English at the University of Notre Dame. Jeanne has never been a soap star, but she has worked in the music industry and for an education publisher. She resides in Rockland County, New York and is a member of the Sisters in Crime.

Website * Facebook * Goodreads

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on February 12, 2018

 

 

Before the Leap by Liz Isaacson

The ranch foreman, a fiery new designer, and an old flame that could burn them both…

Jace Lovell only has one thing left after his fiancé abandons him at the altar: his job at Horseshoe Home Ranch. He throws himself into becoming the best foreman the ranch has ever had—and that includes hiring an interior designer to make the ranch owner’s wife happy.

Belle Edmunds is back in Gold Valley after she lost her job at a prestigious design firm in California. She’s working for a conglomerate, but she’s desperate to build a portfolio that she can use to start her own firm in Montana. She applies for the job at Horseshoe Home, and though Jace and Belle grew up together, they’ve never seen eye to eye on much more than the sky is blue.

The spark between them now that they’re adults can’t be denied, and as Jace and Belle attempt to work together, they also fight their growing attraction to each other. But Jace isn’t anywhere near forgiving his fiancé, and he’s not sure he’s ready for a new relationship with someone as fiery and beautiful as Belle. Can she employ her patience while he figures out how to forgive so they can find their own brand of happily-ever-after?

 

Praise for Second Chance Ranch, Book 1 in the Amazon #1 bestselling Three Rivers Ranch Romance series: “Isaacson artfully combines disparate threads in her contemporary Western Christian romance.” ~BookLife, Publisher’s Weekly

“I loved that both Jace and Belle are strong people dealing with vulnerabilities. Liz’s characters are real people! I appreciate how she described Jace’s emotional struggle resulting from being jilted as well as Belle’s desire for everything to look okay on the outside.Having read all of the Three Rivers Ranch series, I enjoyed the move to Montana, following Tom Lovell’s extended family.” ~Nerkalj, Amazon Reviewer

“A captivating story of love. A wonderfully clean romance that held my attention all the way through. The characters in this story are in real everyday situations where you hurt, and you lash out, and you hurt more because you did. True to life stories are the kind I like best. They help me deal with my own failings and feelings. With all that, these stories show that with God all things are possible, that He helps us heal. I highly recommend this book!” ~Barbara W., Amazon Reviewer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three more interviews, and still Jace didn’t see something in the folders—or the applicants—he thought might fit at Horseshoe Home Ranch. Finally, only one folder remained on his desk. He didn’t bother to open it. All the designers had brought a copy of their designs for the different spaces on the ranch.

Landon opened the door and said, “Miss Belle.”

Jace snapped his head up, ice sinking through his chest, coating his lungs and internal organs in stiff blocks he’d never escape. Why hadn’t—?

“Well, look at you.” Belle strode forward, her luxurious auburn hair flowing behind her like a curtain. She’d pinned back only the very front, leaving the rest to frame her high cheekbones, her bright green eyes, and her very glossed lips.

Jace yanked his attention away from those lips, which had always intrigued him. “Look at me?” he asked, making a conscious effort not to reach up and smooth down his beard like he did when he wanted to look his best. “Look at you. What happened? Did Sacramento run out of red lipstick? You had to come all the way to Gold Valley to get stocked up?”

“Ha ha.” She swept him from head to toe. “I see you’re still wearing that ridiculous hat.”

“Everyone wears these hats,” he shot back. “We’re cowboys.”

“Yes, well, most decent men buy a replacement every few years.” She sniffed as she perched on the edge of the chair across from his desk and pulled a folder from her purse. No briefcase bag. No pretentious heels—Belle didn’t need them. She stood almost as tall as her brother, Landon.

The snake, Jace thought as he rounded the desk and took his seat. Landon should’ve told him his sister had applied. Growing up, Jace had never seen eye-to-eye with the redhead, though he did enjoy trading jabs with her when she visited from her hoity-toity job at a design firm in Sacramento.

Instead of focusing on her tight black jeans and flowing top of cobalt blue—which he thought made her hair look positively decadent—he flipped open the folder to check her address. “You moved back?”

She shrugged one shoulder, the silky blouse she wore slipping a little. “My parents are on a six-month service mission in Africa. I’m taking care of the house.”

He returned his gaze to the folder, which was safer than drinking in Belle’s curves. “Mm hm.” He’d heard that before. Pretty princess left home, and instead of admitting that the world had chewed her up, she came home “to take care of the house.”

“You must be tired.” Her tone, which someone less experienced than Jace could’ve misinterpreted to be sympathetic, caused him to abandon the folder.

“Why do you say that?” Jace knew Belle’s body didn’t actually house sympathetic bones, even though she dressed it up nice and sprayed intoxicating, lilac-scented perfume across her collarbone. His gaze dropped to that spot, and her golden skin made his blood run a little faster.

“You didn’t even make a joke about me taking care of the house.”

Jace opened his mouth to say something, but closed it when nothing came to mind. “It’s been a long day. Let’s get this over with.” With effort, he closed her folder and shoved his traitorous thoughts about Belle’s attractiveness to the back of his mind. “Did you bring your portfolio?”

 

 

Liz Isaacson is the pen name for USA Today bestselling author Elana Johnson as she writes inspirational romances. Her Three Rivers Ranch Romance series has multiple #1 bestsellers in half a dozen categories. She loves all things cowboys, and will write romance in Texas, Montana, and anywhere else she can find horses and mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 3/6/18

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 Christian, excerpt, romance on February 11, 2018

Synopsis

When a Valentine’s Day contest for Arizona’s Cutest Couple throws two romance-challenged people together, will a fake engagement help them win the prize?

All Penny Merrill wants to do is run her own sweet shop in ritzy Scottsdale, Arizona, but her money-hungry mother and conniving stepfather are making it nearly impossible to keep her dream alive. When Penny finds an advertisement for a Valentine’s Day contest for Arizona’s Cutest Couple, with the winnings being enough to enable her to hold on to her floundering business, she comes up with an idea that might just work—if she can find the right man for the job.

Commercial contractor Preston Ames is starting to develop feelings for Penny, and even though he’s been through enough heartache to know that he should avoid her at all costs, he can’t keep himself from visiting her sweet shop every day. When Penny asks him to participate in a crazy scheme so that she can overturn her stepfather’s underhanded business ploy, Preston hesitates, wanting to keep the fact that he’s a billionaire a secret. However, one look into her soulful blue eyes and he’s a goner.

Everything seems to be going well for Penny and Preston until they compete with another couple whose heartache transcends all of their misconceptions about love. When all is said and done, will they do the right thing and, in the process, discover a bond that is greater than they thought was even possible? Can just one picture turn Penny into Preston’s sweet Valentine?

Read it Free on Kindle Unlimited

Excerpt

Setting: a phone conversation between Penny and Preston, my main characters, on the morning of their scheduled interview on a televised news program

On Monday, February twelfth, Penny woke up before the sun appeared through her window. With all the excitement of a teenaged driver getting her first car, Penny hopped out of bed and showered, making her hair extra soft and smelly (in a good way) for her on-air TV interview. She couldn’t believe this day was finally here!

After showering, she stood in front of her closet with a towel wrapped around her body, debating what to wear. She had chosen and re-chosen her outfits dozens of times already. But this morning, she couldn’t afford to be wishy-washy. This was a Valentine’s Day-themed contest, so she should wear red. Right?

Or maybe pink. She owned the softest pink cashmere sweater. It would go perfectly with her pair of tight jeans and long, sleek boots. And Preston? What was he planning to wear? Eek! Why hadn’t she called him last night to ask?

She remedied that problem in no time flat. “Hiya, Penny,” he answered around a yawn on the second ring. “Everything all right? How are those new security cameras working out for you?”

This was the morning they’d been waiting for, and all he could ask her about was the security cameras? “Great, although they haven’t caught any suspicious activity since we put them up. But we caught another white mouse. Who knows how many more are scurrying around the place? And Ms. Forrester is supposed to come back any day.”

“I’ll help you do a thorough cleanup,” he offered.

“Thanks. Listen, I wanted—”

“Well, I’d better let you go so that I—”

“What are you wearing?” she blurted.

There was a pause. “Well, at the moment, since you just woke me up—”

“No, I mean today. What are you going to wear today?” Great. Now she couldn’t get the image of Preston, sitting up in bed with no shirt on, his face scruffy with new whiskers, and his hair standing out in all directions, out of her head. Oh, my!

“I’m going to wear a T-shirt and pair of jeans like I always do when I go to work.”

Work! “Preston,” she said, trying to keep the growing panic out of her voice, “don’t you realize what day this is?”

Another pause. “Monday?”

“The twelfth,” she added for emphasis.

Dead silence for at least thirty seconds. Then, “Something supposed to happen on Monday the twelfth?”

“PRESTON!”

A hearty laugh rang in her ears. Ooh! Was he going to get it—but not until after their appearance on TV. “You scared me out of my mind,” she confessed with an aggravated chuckle. “Please tell me you didn’t really forget.”

More laughter. “Nope. I just wanted to make sure you got your cardiac workout this morning since it is close to Valentine’s Day and all.”

Argh!

Just when she started thinking about the best way to get him back, he surprised her again by asking, “What are you wearing?”

Penny looked down at her towel-wrapped body. “Uh . . . “

“See? It’s not so fun to be bombarded with personal questions first thing in the morning.”

“I’ll try to remember that in the future,” she grumbled. “Now, can we get serious?”

“I am. I want to know what you’re wearing so that I can match my T-shirt to yours.”

“No. Not a T—”

His low rumble let her know she’d fallen prey to his teasing again.

“Preston Ames,” she said in a threatening tone.

“Uh-oh. In order for that to work, honey, you’ve got to know my middle name. It’s Preston Lee Ames.”

“I’m not your mother. I’m your—”

“Fiancée, I know. And that’s why we’re practicing our flirting, so we’ll be all warmed up for the show.”

Penny froze. So that’s what he was doing? What a sweet guy. Her legs turned to butter, and she practically sank onto the floor. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“You’re welcome, sweetheart. I’ll pick you up at four-fifteen.” They’d been told they would need to arrive at a quarter ‘til five so that they would have time to prepare. They’d also been told to wear minimal makeup; their crew would take care of that.

It wasn’t until after Penny hung up that she realized that she never found out what he’d be wearing that day.

About the Author

Laura L. Walker grew up in a large family in the beautiful Gila Valley of southern Arizona. From the time she was young, she spent hours drawing characters on paper and fantasizing about their adventures. Life became more serious, however, when Laura met her own hero at Northern Arizona University and they later became the parents of six children. In between spurts of grocery shopping, sewing costumes or quilts, transporting kids to practices, and making dinner, Laura still enjoys putting her imagination to good use. She is the author of four novels and three novellas.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on February 10, 2018

Clairvoyant and Present Danger (A Bay Island Psychic Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Berkley (February 6, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages

Synopsis

Whoever said that dead men tell no tales has never met Cass Donnovan…

Cass has always relied on her abilities to guide her, but after communications with a ghost land her in the middle of a murder investigation, she has to wonder if her gifts are really more a curse.

Cass knows she is meant to help track down the killer–much to the chagrin of local law enforcement–when the apparition leads her to a dead body on the beach near her psychic shop, Mystical Musings. But the police are not the only ones who wish Cass would stick to reading palms. Someone is trying to scare her off, and it will take all her powers of premonition to catch the killer before Cass herself becomes the next victim…

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Guest Post

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

By Lena Gregory

Whether or not ghosts exist is a big debate in my house. My daughter and I firmly believe in ghosts, while my husband and one of my sons do not. My youngest son, Logan, who is only seven years old, has no firm opinion yet, but he is part of the reason I believe so strongly. Of course, I had other…encounters before these, but that’s another story.

My younger brother, Chris, passed away when my son was only four months old. Chris and I shared a love of reading, especially mysteries, and I often feel his presence while I’m writing. Chris always had the best hair, thick, full, and loaded with natural highlights. And he always kept it long, at least past his shoulders, even after he became an air traffic controller.

Late one night—we don’t keep normal hours in my house—I was sitting on my bed writing.

My youngest, who was about two at the time, was lying across the bottom of the bed watching his iPad. He looked over, then past me, and frowned. “Who’s that?” he asked.

I turned around but didn’t see anything. “Who’s what?”

“That guy with the long hair?”

I jumped and spun toward the direction he indicated—because, you know, that freaked me out a little—but I still didn’t see anything.

He just shrugged and went back to watching his show as if nothing unusual had happened.

I continued writing, a little spooked but kind of comforted too. I’d always felt Chris’s presence, but Logan kind of confirmed it.

Four generations of my family lived in the same small town, and most of those who have passed on are buried in the local cemetery, so Logan and I often walk through the cemetery, and Logan collects rocks and sticks to leave on the headstones.

One day, while we were walking through the cemetery, alone, he pointed toward a small, closed, locked storage shed in the middle of the cemetery, not far from my mother-in-law’s grave. “I want to go in there,” he said.

“In where?” I asked.

“In that house where the lady just went.”

I’m not gonna lie. We left, then. Quickly. Because believing in ghosts in an odd, detached sort of way is one thing, but I can assure you, having your two-year-old point out a woman entering a locked building in a completely deserted cemetery is something else entirely.

While writing Cass’s story, I tried to keep that debate in mind. Cass sort of believes in ghosts, but she doesn’t believe she actually talks to them. She thinks she uses years of psychiatric training and her uncanny ability to interpret people’s feelings to form a logical opinion and turn it into a “reading.” Of course, her customers think otherwise.

Her friend, Stephanie, believes completely.

Bee is another story. He swears he doesn’t believe in any of that mumbo-jumbo, but he really goes out of his way to avoid anything otherworldly. So, is he a true non-believer, or is he terrified ghosts might actually be real? I’ll leave it up to you to figure it out.

So, what do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think and if you’ve had any experiences that contributed to your opinion.

About the Author

Lena lives in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.

When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.

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Giveaway

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway, romance on February 9, 2018

Title: The Last Wolf

Author: Maria Vale

Series: The Legend of All Wolves #1

Pub Date: February 6, 2018

ISBN: 9781492661870

Synopsis

For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.

If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die.

But if she stays…

Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…

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Letter from the Author

Dear (Potential) Reader,

There is so much vying for your attention, I’m grateful you’ve read even this far.

I know I’m asking a lot from you.

I’m asking you to take time with a new writer when there are so many great ones already out there.

I’m asking you to take a chance on a new direction in a well-loved genre, in which the wolf is not a vicious beast to be subjugated and feared, but rather the human form is a useful tool for protecting the wilder self.

In this reworking, werewolves fall into two categories: Pack, who must be wolves for three days out of every thirty—self-aware wolves, but not magic, any bullet can kill them. And Shifters, who don’t have to change and so remain human, the apex predator, rather than wolf, the maligned and despised outsider.

Still, like any romance, its foundation is in the growing love between two characters: the worldly half-Shifter Tiberius who hates the wolf inside him as bestial and monstrous. And the unworldly Silver, who is fully Pack and believes her wild self to be sacred.

Silver is a runt with a displaced hip when she is a wolf and in a society that determines position by fighting wild, this means she is at the bottom of the hierarchy—the last wolf.  Tiberius, however, discovers real strength in her perseverance and fierceness. For her part, Silver recognizes something about him: that by denying his wild, Tiberius has sown the roots of despair.

But this is not only a love story between two people, it’s also a love story about the Great North Pack, because, despite our fascination with lone wolves, it is the pack that really defines this most social of all animals.

I imagined the Great North as something beyond family or community, something tight-knit and loving and brave and frightened. And intensely vulnerable. I imagined, like most embattled societies, the pack would be very conservative, with a traditional culture, a history, a language that was part of its identity. I chose to base that culture loosely (very loosely) on the world of 9th century England, partly because I love the sound of the language of Beowulf. To me, it is gruff and beautiful and haunting, like a wolf’s howl. But also because 9th century England was a place of great insecurity. One never knew when Northmen might show up and destroy everything you loved.

It was the Great North’s first Alpha, Ælfrida, who forced her pack to change. With humans decimating the forests of England, she dragged her pack from the Old World to the vast forests of northern New York, she re-wrote laws in order to allow new wolves to join their bloodlines, she forced her wolves to leave their isolated territories, so that they could learn human ways and protect the Pack using human law.

What results is a society that is both human and decidedly not, both harsh and loving, severe and tender.  The way I imagined wolves fighting daily for their lives would be.

I have loved every minute of researching and writing these books. I can only hope that you will enjoy reading them.

Stay wild,

Maria

Excerpt

The day of the first waxing crescent of fall is when all of the wolves who live on the Homelands traditionally run the perimeter and make sure that our land is properly marked before the ground freezes and damaged posts become hard to replace.

The entire Pack is wild. Barking and wagging tails, they lick each other and jump around each other, their ferocious jaws open and gentle. They chase mice through windrows, their hind legs scratching leaves into a brightly colored explosion high in the air, so that the pups can twist and turn and catch them in snapping teeth as they spiral down.

Not me. I have to pull on heavy muck boots over thick socks with jeans shoved inside. And I won’t mark our territory the way wolves are supposed to. I will mark it on an iPhone 6 Plus, crammed into the big pocket of a thick orange vest. All because Ti refuses to phase and John doesn’t like it.

“He tells himself he’s human,” John says. “But if he lies to himself, what makes you think he’s not going to lie to us?”

So because I am Ti’s schildere, I have to stay in skin too. Keep an eye on him.

“I mean, what were you thinking?” I ask as Ti fits the Outlast cap over his clipped skull. “When you came to a bunch of wolves asking for protection. That you’d just keep on being a human? Was that your grand plan?”

“I didn’t have a grand plan. What I had was a hole in my stomach, a vague set of directions to my mother’s pack, and a need to survive. I changed long enough to fight; I never thought you’d be asking me to give up my humanity.”

“No one’s asking you to give up your humanity, but if you refuse to admit what you are, it is going to rise up and bite you in the ass.”

“Well, how about you?”

Me? I love changing. I—”

“I know you love changing. You do it all the time. The second Sten doesn’t need your thumbs, you evaporate, and there’s nothing left but clothes hanging from a branch. I may be a crappy wolf. But you… You’re a crappy human.”

I cringe, because he’s right. I’ve never been happy in skin, but then those stupid fire fairies burrowed into my body all those days ago, and that spark has caught fire and burns so fierce that now when I walk beside him and hear his quiet, low voice or look into those gold-flecked black eyes, my tendons strain and my muscles coil and my lungs open up and my blood beats hot and fast. The only way I know how to deal with need is to run hard and far until I collapse, unable to feel anything at all.

A brindle pup barks worriedly at my feet. All of the other wolves have disappeared, fading like a whisper in the woods.

“I know, Leelee. We’re coming.”

“She’s going with us?” Ti asks.

“We’re supposed to take her along. Help her learn the farther reaches of the Homelands.” Leelee scampers on ahead, leaping awkwardly over a huge downed log and sliding down the other side, her fur covered in the sooty brown decay.

Ti clears it in one stride and stands close, not helping me exactly, but I know if I falter, his big shoulder is there for me to grab on to. I make it by myself, but I appreciate his silent gesture.

Leelee watches, her head cocked to the side, as I take a running jump over one of the numerous small, mucky streams that crisscross our land. I slip down the other side, my foot sinking into a soft bruise in the moss. She yips and worries, waiting for me to pull my boot out with a dull sucking sound.

I lift her up and give her an open-jawed kiss on her ear, but she sees a squirrel and won’t stop squirming until I set her down.

“No farther than the Stones, Leelee.”

When we finally catch up, she’s clambering over the variously sized rocks that form rough circles around the ancient central stones. Over the years, the circle has encroached farther and farther into the forest, surrounding the trees.

Leelee marks one of the stones.

“What is this?” Ti asks.

“It’s, um…the Gemyndstow? The memory place? But we just call it the Stones.”

“Like a graveyard?”

“Graveyards are for bodies, aren’t they?”

“Yes.”

“So, no. Coyotes eat our dead. That’s why we call them wulfbyrgenna. Wolf tombs. The stones are only for wolf names and the date of their last hunt so that we can remember.”

When Ti crouches down and looks at one near the front, Leelee runs up to him and looks too, trying to figure out why it is so interesting.

As soon as he stands, she marks that one too.

An ill-advised squirrel runs across the outer rim of the Stones, and Leelee turns quickly to run after it, the wind tickling her fur and the scent in her nose. I know that feeling of taking it all in—moldering pine needles, owl pellets, borer beetle, tree sap, two-year-old porcupine den, sassafras bush—until the scent of prey hits you right in the back of the throat and everything tenses and you chase, even if your tummy’s little and full and all you really want is for the thing, whatever it is, to escape so you don’t have to eat it, but still you can’t help but hunt.

She peels off after her squirrel, looking behind to make sure we’re watching.

The squirrel chitters at her from the safety of a maple. Ti stares, his hands fisted by his sides, as Leelee scampers and bounds and falls on her back and twists her little legs in the air, her belly dotted with leaf litter. A tiny furrow cuts through his usually impassive brow, and his mouth, while still tightly closed, turns down a little at the corners. His wild—that seductive scent of crushed bone and evergreen—radiates thicker now, and when I touch his arm, he jolts as if from a waking dream and blinks down at me, looking in this moment like a lost boy.

About the Author

Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don’t really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet.

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Giveaway

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on February 9, 2018

 

 

 

Love’s Journey Home

Olivia Dalton has a reputation in the DA’s office—tough, thorough, and fierce when she’s closing a case. Those skills are essential in the courtroom, but not in the relationship department—until Mick Donovan crosses her path. Everyone thinks he’s a player, but when an unexpected situation arises, she glimpses an honorable man instead. Olivia is drawn to him, but he pushes her away, unable to shake the past that still haunts him.

Mick Donovan learned at a young age never to let anyone close because those you love never stay. Keeping people at arms-length has never been hard for him—until he meets Olivia Dalton. Mick is caught up in a case she’s prosecuting, and he can’t deny his attraction to her, but when she uncovers the past he’s kept carefully hidden, he’s sure she’ll turn away. Yet, even with all his secrets in the open, Olivia reaches out. Can he let his guard down long enough to let her in and take a chance on love?

 

“Bellon usually writes action packed international intrigues, but with Love’s Broken Road she introduces a tender romance to her readers . . . This story is a second romance between two people who have suffered hurt and loss and are uncertain whether they can risk loving again. The characters are likable and draw the reader’s sympathy from the start . . .” –Meridian Magazine

“This book was easy to fall into and felt so good around my heart. I really enjoyed it!” –Getting Your Read On

“Readers will be pleased with this gentle romance . . .” –InD’Tale Magazine

 

 

 

Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels. Her book All Fall Down won the RONE award for Best Suspense and Pocket Full of Posies won a RONE Honorable Mention for Best Suspense.

Julie loves to travel and her favorite cities she’s visited so far are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She loves to read, write, teach, watch Castle, Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 3/5/18

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 Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on February 8, 2018

A Well-Timed Murder (Agnes Luthi Mysteries)
International Mystery
2nd in Series
Minotaur Books (February 6, 2018)
Hardcover: 352 pages

Synopsis

Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.

Tracee de Hahn’s next mystery, A Well-Timed Murder, is another magnetic mystery that will engross readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.

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Guest Post

Today we welcome Tracee to StoreyBook Reviews and she shares with us what inspired this book.

A book about watches? Not exactly. Although I did start writing A Well-Timed Murder with watches on my mind. More accurately I wanted to showcase Baselworld, the amazing annual watch, jewelry and gemstone extravaganza. I strolled through the show, putting myself in the mind of a criminal, then in the mind of my protagonist, Agnes Lüthi. Theft? Murder? Both easily imaginable.

 

But A Well-Timed Murder is also about timing outside of time-keeping watches. So much in life depends on timing – we have all imagined what would have happened if we’d arrived a moment earlier at the scene of a traffic accident if we’d taken a different class in college and not met the man we married. How does timing play into love and life? How does it affect what product sells and what languishes on the shelves?

When a well-known watchmaker dies in A Well-Timed Murder, Agnes is pulled into the investigation by her friend, the aristocratic Julien Vallotton. Delving into the world of precision and luxury timepieces, time and timing take on more importance. Was it Guy Chavanon’s involvement with time that caused his death, or was it a mistake of timing?

To find Chavanon’s killer Agnes steeps herself in the roots of the watchmaking industry, all the while wondering if she is making a mistake by ignoring where he died, the seemingly innocuous boarding school his son attends. My husband’s influence can be felt in the introduction of a boarding school. He started at a Swiss boarding school when he was barely nine, a bit young in my opinion (again, timing!). I’ve enjoyed our trips to his school to visit former teachers and reunite with fellow students and always found it an amazing melting pot of sorts. The students come from all over the world bringing their respective languages and cultures together during the crucial teenage years. My fictional boarding school was another opportunity to think about timing – and while I won’t give anything away, it plays a significant role in the life of the headmistress.

Timing also plays a role in Agnes’s personal life. While she’s on the trail of the killer, her attention is pulled toward Julien Vallotton, a man who easily inhabits the world of luxury watches. They met at a significant moment in her life – a few months after the death of her husband and during her first murder case. Isn’t there a saying about relationships that start under pressure? Typically it doesn’t bode well. Agnes and Julien have a chance to test this in A Well-Timed Murder. His background and daily life are – in her mind – so far removed from hers that a relationship seems impossible. His attention plays into her insecurities and challenges her to think about the next phase of her life. A life without her husband.

Ultimately timing will play a role in Agnes’s hunt for Chavanon’s killer and in the possibility of new love. And timing will set the killer on the path of his next victim.

About the Author

Tracee de Hahn is the author of the Agnes Lüthi mysteries, which were inspired by her years living in Switzerland. Prior to writing full time she practiced architecture and was head of university alumni relations at a major west coast university. Currently, she and her Swiss-architect husband live in southwest Virginia with their Jack Russell Terriers. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.

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Giveaway

There are 2 giveaways!

This first is a hardback copy of A Well Timed Murder (open to US residents only) that I am hosting.

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The second is a tour wide giveaway and includes a copy of the book and some swag.

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