26 July, 2021

#CoverReveal:: Twilight's Temptation by Shilpa Suraj - @shilpaauthor #Contemporary #Romance #DianaAndManav

 





The ace photographer and the supermodel, they should have been a match made in heaven. Instead, they fought like the demons of hell. 

Complicated, surly, and sexy, Manav Apte was probably the only photographer who resented his muse. From the day he’d seen her, there had been no other. Unfortunately, she was the one woman he could never have. 

Passionate, talented, and gorgeous, Diana Severes refused to give the temperamental ass behind the camera the satisfaction of knowing he got under her skin. It was, however, impossible not to notice him or his glowering disapproval that trailed her everywhere she went. 

Their dislike and distrust of each other is legendary in the fashion industry and yet, the sparks that fly when they come together for work are enough to light the sets on fire. 

Will the Golden Girl of India’s fashion scene be able to see beyond his hatred to the love he’s desperately trying to mask? And will the country’s most talented photographer realise that his true talent lies not in what he views through his lens but what he sees through the filter of his heart?


About the Author:




Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.






Contact the Author:
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24 July, 2021

#BookSpotlight :: Don’t Forget To Breathe by Cathrina Constantine - @XpressoTours @cathconstantine #Mystery #YoungAdult

 

Don’t Forget To Breathe
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: September 1st 2021
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult

Leocadia arrives home from school to find her mom’s body. Unaware that the killer still lingers, she rushes to her mother’s side, only to be grabbed from behind. And everything fades to black.

Leo has been battling personal demons after a year of retrograde amnesia. She’s been having vivid dreams of that day. And her dreams are getting worse—she’s starting to remember. Two more bodies are discovered and they are oddly linked to her mom’s unsolved homicide.

Leo befriends her new neighbor. He’s eager to visit Star Hallow’s notorious haunted mansion. It’s located on a deserted cul-de-sac where she once lived and where her mom was murdered. But it’s the Lucien Estate, the mansion next door to her old home, where they happen upon misty ghosts, ghosts that just might help to unravel the homicides.

Will Leo’s memories send her reeling into a relapse, or will she be able to overcome her demons to find her mother’s killer – only to become the next victim?

Add to Goodreads


Author Bio:

I am blessed with a loving family and forever friends. My world revolves around them.

I grew up in the small village of Lancaster, NY, where I married my sweetheart. I'm devoted to raising 5 cherished children, and now my grandchildren.

I love to immerse myself in great books of every kind of genre, which helps me to write purely for entertainment, and hopefully to inspire readers. When not stationed at my computer you can find me in the woods taking long walks with my dog.

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Read an #Excerpt from Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman - #Historical #Mystery @partnerscr1me @katharinewrites

 

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Silence in the Library

by Katharine Schellman

July 12 - August 6, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman

Regency widow Lily Adler didn't expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it's up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn't long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London's upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles's family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man's death seems to have an alibi... until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts' maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn't trust or respect her to help catch his friend's killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions…More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal, starred review

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1643857045 (ISBN13: 9781643857046)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #2 | The Lily Adler series are stand alone mysteries but even more fabulous if read in sequence
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Given the way she hadn’t hesitated to interfere in the Wyatt family’s affairs, Lily expected Lady Wyatt to politely rescind her invitation to ride the next morning. But she had insisted, saying her arm was sure to be better by morning. So after breakfast, Lily instructed Anna to lay out her riding habit.

Though she had forgone her usual routine of breakfasting in her own room and instructed Mrs. Carstairs to lay breakfast in the parlor, Lily hadn’t seen any sign of her father. She didn’t mind. If she couldn’t be cozy while she dined, she was at least happy to be alone. And it gave her the opportunity to go over the week’s menus with her housekeeper and offer several suggestions for managing her father’s requests while he was with them.

“And do you know how long might that be, Mrs. Adler?” Mrs. Carstairs asked carefully. “Mr. Branson was unable to say when I spoke to him last night.”

Lily pursed her lips. “For as long as he needs, Mrs. Carstairs. Or as long as I can bear his company. My record on that score is fifteen years, however, so let us hope it will not come to that.”

The housekeeper wisely didn’t say anything else.

Lily’s pleasant solitude lasted until she was making her way back upstairs to change, when she found her path blocked by her father’s belligerent frame. Unwell he might be, but George Pierce was still a solid, imposing man, and Lily had to remind herself to square her shoulders and meet his scowl with a smile as he did his best to tower over her from the step above.

“Good morning, Father.”

He didn’t return the greeting. “I am going to breakfast,” he announced, eyebrows raised.

Lily waited for a moment and then, when no more information was forthcoming, nodded. “I hope you enjoy it. Mrs. Carstairs is an excellent cook.”

He sniffed. “And I assume your excessively early rising is an attempt to avoid my company?”

“It is past nine o’clock, father,” Lily said. “Hardly excessive. And I have an appointment this morning, so if you will excuse me—”

“What is your appointment?”

He couldn’t curtail or dictate what she did with her time, Lily reminded herself. Even if having him in her home left her feeling as if her independence were being slowly stripped away once more, in practical terms he had no say in her life anymore. Answering his question was only polite. “An engagement with a friend—”

“That sailor again, I assume?”

Lily took a deep breath. “Captain Hartley was also invited, but no, the engagement is to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Which I assume you would approve of?” Seeing that she had momentarily surprised him into silence, she took the opportunity to push past her father. “You would like her, I think. She is charming and elegant.”

“And her husband’s a fool for marrying again,” Mr. Pierce grumbled, but Lily was already heading down the hall and didn’t answer.

Jack was coming just before ten to escort her to the Wyatts’ house, and Lily was in a hurry to dress and escape her father once again. Her room was empty when she walked in, but Anna had laid out her riding habit on the bed, pressed and ready, its military-style buttons glinting in the morning light amid folds of emerald-green fabric.

Lily stared at it without moving. She had forgotten that her habit wasn’t suitable to wear when she was in mourning.

She was still staring when Anna returned, the freshly brushed riding hat in her hands. When she saw Lily’s posture, Anna paused.

“You don’t have another, I’m afraid,” she said gently.

Lily nodded, unable to speak. One hand reached out to brush the heavy fabric of the habit; the other clenched a fold of the gray dress she wore. She had stopped wearing colors even before Freddy died—in those last months of his illness, she had traded all her pretty dresses for drab gowns more suited to nursing an invalid who would never recover. And even after full mourning was complete, she had lingered in the muted shades of half mourning long past when anyone would have required it of her, even Freddy’s own family. Laying aside the visual reminders of her grief felt too much like leaving behind her marriage.

But that had meant more than two years of sorrow. And in the last few months, since she had come to London and taken control of her life once more, something had shifted inside her.

“Yes, thank you, Anna,” Lily said quietly, her voice catching a little. She cleared her throat and said, more firmly, “I will wear this one.”

***

She managed to leave the house without encountering her father again. When her butler, Carstairs, sent word that Captain Hartley was waiting in the front hall, Lily felt a pang of anxiety. Jack had loved Freddy like a brother. And he had never given any indication that he thought her mourning had gone on long enough.

Jack was in the middle of removing his hat, and his hand stilled at the brim as he caught sight of her. Even Carstairs fell still as they watched her come down the stairs, the heavy folds of her green skirts buttoned up on one side to allow her to walk freely and a single dyed- green feather curling over the brim of her hat and flirting with her brown curls.

Lily felt exposed as she descended the final few steps, though she was bolstered by the approval that softened Carstairs’s smile. She had never considered herself a shy person, but she could barely meet Jack’s eyes as she crossed the hall to give him her hand.

For a moment neither of them spoke, and when she raised her gaze at last, Lily thought she saw the captain blinking something from the corner of his eye. “That was Freddy’s favorite color,” he said at last, his voice catching.

Lily nodded. “I know.”

Jack’s jaw tightened for a moment as he swallowed. But he smiled. “Well done, Lily,” he said quietly. “Good for you.”

***

There was a lightness between them as they made the quick journey to Wimpole Street. As Jack waved down a hack carriage and handed her in, Lily found herself laughing at all of his quips or droll pieces of gossip, even the ones she normally would have chastised him for repeating. And Jack kept glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

“Do I look that dreadful?” Lily asked at last as he handed her down from the carriage in front of the Wyatts’ home.

“Quite the opposite,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck as he released her hand. “Did you know, you are actually quite pretty?”

“You mean you did not find me pretty before?”

“I think I had forgotten to consider it one way or another,” Jack admitted, grinning. “What a shame everyone has left London already; you would cause quite a sensation.”

Lily shook her head. “I know full well I am not handsome enough for that.”

“Surprise can cause as much of a sensation as admiration,” Jack pointed out.

“Captain!” Lily exclaimed in mock indignation. “You were supposed to argue with me!”

They continued bantering as they mounted the steps to Sir Charles’s townhouse, only to fall silent and exchange a puzzled glance as they realized that the door was half-open, the sounds of raised voices echoing from within.

Lily glanced at Jack, an uneasy sensation beginning to curl in the pit of her stomach. “Should we knock?”

He shrugged and did so, rapping firmly on the wood of the door. There was no response, but it swung open a little more. After hesitating a moment, Lily bit her lip and said, “Well, we ought to at least make sure Lady Wyatt knows we’ve come. If it is no longer convenient to ride, she can certainly tell us to leave.”

“And you were already happy to interfere yesterday,” Jack pointed out, though she could hear the unease lurking beneath his playful tone. “We might as well do it again.”

“Very true.” Lily pushed the door the rest of the way open and strode in, Jack following close behind.

The front hall was empty, but they could still hear voices not far away, now low and urgent, and the sound of quiet crying from somewhere just out of sight. The uneasy feeling began to spread through Lily’s chest and arms, and she reached out her hand in blind anxiety. She was relieved to feel Jack take it and press it reassuringly into the crook of his arm.

She had just decided that they should leave after all when quick steps echoed down the stairs. A moment later Frank Wyatt came rushing down, checking himself at the bottom as he stared at them in surprise.

His face was pale and his eyes red as he gaped at them, his easy manner vanished. “Lily? And Captain . . . I’ve quite forgot your name. You must excuse . . . what are you doing here?”

“The door was open, and no one answered our knock,” Lily said, feeling a little ashamed of their hastiness in entering. “I apologize, Frank; we did not mean to intrude, but we had an appointment to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Is everyone well?”

“Is everyone . . . No. No.” Frank gripped the banister with one hand, his knuckles white. “I am afraid that Lady Wyatt will not be able to ride today. My father . . .” He swallowed. “My father has died.”

Lily stared at him, unable to make sense of his words. They had seen Sir Charles just the day before. If he had seemed a little older and weaker than she remembered, he had still been utterly vital and alive. “Died? But . . . how?”

“In point of fact,” a new voice said quietly from behind them. “It seems Sir Charles Wyatt has been killed.”

***

Excerpt from Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman. Copyright 2021 by Katharine Schellman. Reproduced with permission from Katharine Schellman. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Find her online:
katharineschellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @KatharineSchellman
Instagram - @katharinewrites
Twitter - @katharinewrites
Facebook - @katharineschellman

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

 

 

Don't Miss Your Chance to Enter the Giveaway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Heather Redmond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) BookShop.org Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 12 through August 8, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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23 July, 2021

A Barren Heart by @shilpaauthor - #Contemporary #Romance #Free On Kindle on 23rd July!



An affluent, educated couple, Aman and Rhea have it all – a happy home, successful careers and most importantly, each other. Their marriage is what dreams are made of. Until the day Rhea miscarries…
When their baby journey starts to take a severe toll on them and their marriage, Aman isn’t sure if having a child will complete them or destroy them. While he wants their life to go back to what it was, Rhea can’t see the way back to their previously blissful lives.
Suddenly, Rhea and Aman find the fabric of their stable marriage fraying beneath the strain of their failed conceptions and each other’s warring expectations. Will their love for each win over their opposing dreams? Will their marriage survive society’s expectations or will they succumb to it, losing each other in the process?

Free to Buy on 23rd July!

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16 July, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Pretty Savage by T.A. Kunz - #LGBTQ+ #Thriller #YoungAdult @XpressoTours @Authortakunz1

 

Pretty Savage
T.A. Kunz
Publication date: July 13th 2021
Genres: LGBTQ+, Thriller, Young Adult

“An intriguing mystery, Pretty Savage is a tension packed, wild journey with engrossing characters. A true page turner.” – #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

Bad things never happen in the picturesque town of Haddon Falls … until now.

It all starts with a killer party.

It will end with a savage crime spree.

Seniors Donovan Walsh and Drea Sullivan attend a high school party for very different reasons. But after discovering the body of one of their classmates, they find themselves thrust into the same waking nightmare. From that moment, their lives become intertwined in a search for answers to questions they never should have asked.

As bodies pile high, the unlikely pair dig into Haddon Falls’ past and uncover secrets someone would kill to keep hidden. In a small town where every face is friendly and every door unlocked, Donovan and Drea must unravel who is an ally … and who is willing to bury them-and the truth-six feet under.

“Pretty Savage is a gripping, fast-paced YA thriller featuring a savvy gay male protagonist and his kick-ass female counterpart! Readers who love hints of horror with a blood spatter of romance mixed with page-turning mystery will be left gasping by this wicked masterpiece by T.A. Kunz.” -Bestselling and award winning author Raine Thomas

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Donavon

There he is.

Mr. Filthy Chai Tea Latte.

I mean, that’s obviously not his real name. It’s his usual drink order. Chai tea, steamed milk, and two shots of espresso. A rebel’s drink for sure. And since I haven’t gotten up the guts to ask him his name yet, he remains Mr. Filthy Chai Tea Latte.

It’s at times like this I wish we were like most coffee shops and requested a name for each order rather than just the to-gos. But the owner refuses to switch from the ever reliable—his words—order number system. Today, Mr. Filthy is number twenty-one.

My lucky number. Kismet?

At least once a week he meets here at The Pour Over with a group of similarly aged teens and they chat for hours. About what? Beats me. I’ve contemplated lingering by their table, performing menial tasks like restocking the oat milk at the drink prep area or wiping down nearby tables, in order to eavesdrop. But every time, I chicken out.

“A large filthy chai tea latte?” I ask before he has a chance to utter a word.

His eyebrow—pierced by the way—quirks up, and I realize I must’ve sounded like a major creeper for committing his order to memory.

A hint of a smile breaks the corner of his mouth. “Yeah. Thanks, Donovan.”

I die.

I die.

I die.

My name rolls off his tongue like caramel sauce dripping down the side of a hot latte. I’ve clearly been working here too long if I’m making coffee metaphors already … and it’s only my second month.

Wait, he knows my name. How does he know my name? Has he asked about me?

I glance down at my apron and see my name tag resting there. The bright white letters radiate against the dark background. You could probably see it from space. Makes sense.

He pays with his phone and then, just like clockwork, drops a folded five-dollar bill into the tip jar. He’s so intriguing, paying for his drink electronically but also having cash on hand. And when I’m at the register, he leaves five dollars. Every. Single. Time. He might do the same for everyone else, but I enjoy living in the fantasy that I’m his chosen recipient. I imagine them as little love notes he leaves behind for my eyes only.

Okay. Pull it together, man. Composure.

I take in the show as he strolls off to join his group at a table near the back of the café. His tall, dark, and mysterious routine never fails to work on me. I sigh internally, but I’m not convinced a little didn’t seep out by accident.

“Smooth.”

My co-worker Marcus stands there grinning like a fool. A ridiculously gorgeous fool, but a fool nonetheless. His slicked-back chestnut brown hair is perfectly shaped to accentuate his chiseled features. The solitary dimple on his left cheek adds an extra kick to the impish grin he sends my way.

I laugh. “Yeah, definitely not my best work.”

“Nah, you did great. A real pro,” he teases. “Hey, why don’t you go talk to him? We’re slow right now and someone does have to bring him his drink, you know.”

He wriggles his brows at me. I roll my eyes.

Marcus is no stranger to affection. Unlike me, he probably hasn’t been rejected by anyone. He exudes confidence, which comes in handy when he dons a dress and a wig to perform in drag on the weekends at the one and only gay bar in Haddon Falls, Mae’s Lounge. Marcus becomes Miz Markie Marc. And yes, he does have a slight unhealthy obsession with Mark Wahlberg. Hence, the drag name. And he loves to refer to me as Donnie for the same reason.

“I don’t even know if he’s into guys like that,” I say. “Besides, he’s sort of out of my league. I mean, will you just look at that jawline?”

“With the perfect amount of scruff too,” adds Marcus.

“Exactly. And he has at least four or five inches on me in the height department.”

“What a shame, Donnie.”

“Huh?”

“Oh, nothing.”

I know that’s not all he wants to say. He has more. Marcus loves to give input … and constructive criticism.

“It’s just….”

And there it is.

Author Bio:

T.A. Kunz is the pen name for Adam Kunz, who lives in Orlando, Florida. And unfortunately a lot of the rumors you've heard about his state are true. When he's not writing, Adam spends his time reading, playing video games, watching anime and Korean dramas, and spending time with his partner while cuddling with their two dogs, Nicky and Rusty. Since childhood, he's had a great fondness for reading and writing. His fiction genres of choice are eclectic, but mainly are in the YA, MG, and NA categories. So, it was no surprise when he decided to write his own books that he'd be a grab bag kind of author in terms of story ideas. And he just loves mashing up genres. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Adam advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. He may or may not have a coffee addiction, the jury's still out on that one. And his hands-down favorite holiday is Halloween, which holds a very special place in Adam's heart.

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11 July, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Nefarious by Mary Ann Marlowe - #Adult #Contemporary @XpressoTours @maryannmarlowe

 

Nefarious
Mary Ann Marlowe
Publication date: July 13th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary

Warning: What you’re about to read is not a romance . . .

Diabolical Wall Street traders, Dane Russ and Val Montgomery, vaulted into fame and fortune as the power duo of financial technology. But after they lost the internet trading company they built from the ground up to ruthless Geraldo Valencia, they had to tuck tail and run to a Midwestern firm. Dane deals with the boredom by leaning into his playboy ways. Meanwhile Val plays the role of a scrupulous mentor, while secretly playing mind games with everyone at the office.

When Geraldo’s daughter shows up as an intern in Val’s summer training program, Val sees the perfect opportunity for her longed-for revenge—she’ll teach the girl nefarious business practices and send her home ethically compromised. But Dane’s not interested because he’s stumbled across his own opportunity for vengeance—a chance to seduce Noelle, the new CEO, and the woman who spurned him years ago.

As Val and Dane play cat-and-mouse with everyone else, their long-simmering history of unresolved romantic injuries with one another begins to burn beyond their control. While Dane doesn’t notice that a jealous Val has set him on a path to ruin Noelle, Val’s blind to the traps Dane has laid to bring her down. Although they’re adept at using everyone around them like chess pieces, their interpersonal game has no rules and can only end with their mutual destruction. If they don’t agree to a cease fire, Val’s reputation will be destroyed and Dane will lose his heart before he even realizes he’s risked it.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Val scanned the other interns, chess pieces on her board, sizing up their value to her. So far, the only one with the chutzpah to approach her sat at the far corner of the table. Anthony. He stood out in the way he sat. Leaning back in his chair, one foot crossed on his knee. Val raised an eyebrow at him, and he straightened up and put his forearms on the table. Now they were all a neat row of matching pawns.

The door swung open, and Dane waltzed in. Fifteen intern heads swiveled away from Val and gawked at him. Anthony vacated his chair with alacrity, as though he feared someone else might beat him to it. He gestured for Dane to sit, but Dane’s lip curled up on one side in disdain, and he simply leaned against the back wall, languidly pushing a stir stick around his Styrofoam coffee cup. Dane never sat at meetings. These kids will learn.

Anthony sheepishly pulled his chair back and returned to his place at the table.

As Val waited for order to return, she let her gaze linger on Dane, draped against the wall in all his languorous beauty. She knew he’d spent a fortune to look like he did, but knowing it didn’t make her appreciate it less. Of course, she’d seen him before he’d learned to groom himself so handsomely. She’d taught him after all. But he’d been born with those dark sultry eyes and that decadent luscious mouth. Fully aware she was drinking in her fill, he puckered his lips like he might blow her a kiss.

She inhaled, searching for a hint of his scent. If it wouldn’t be considered unseemly, she might be tempted to cross the room and take him up on his implied offer.

Instead she turned her attention to the interns, now waiting for her lead.

“This company,” she continued, “was founded by Martin Fleetwood in 1957 with a specialization in mortgage trading.” Val clicked through the slides, expanding on the historical events that nobody wanted or needed to know. The subject of the slides moved on to the current state of the company. “Have any of you researched the company’s stock position?”

Anthony raised his hand. “Yes, ma’am. Stocks are trading at thirty-eight as of this morning.”

Val glanced at Dane. “Are we up or down?”

Anthony opened his mouth, but Dane’s voice commanded the room’s attention. “The market’s hot, and our stock is rising.”

Val controlled her expression, but the corner of her mouth rose slightly. “What do you make of our throughput?”

Dane lifted his shoulders from the wall, engaged now. “I like our position with regard to market penetration.”

The interns had stopped taking notes, and their heads followed the volley as though they were spectators at a tennis match.

Val set up the shot. “And the projected yield?”

“Coming together.” Dane crumpled the Styrofoam and tossed it into the trash bin.

Val exhaled. “Our stockholders will be very satisfied.”

Dane reached in his pocket and produced a single cigarette. He toyed with it for a heartbeat before walking out the door.

Val bit the end of her pen. My most valuable chess piece moves in every direction.

Except into her bed.

No, she wouldn’t cede that game until she knew how they could both win.

With all the eyes back on Val, she proceeded to lecture them on expectations of ethics and compliance, chuckling to herself as they diligently took notes.

Author Bio:

Some Kind of Magic is Mary Ann Marlowe's first novel. When not writing, she works by day as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms, plus she has a second-degree black belt. She has lived in twelve states and three countries and loves to travel. She now lives in central Virginia where she is hard at work on her second novel. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.maryannmarlowe.com, on Facebook, www.facebook.com/marlowemaryann/, and at twitter.com/maryannmarlowe.

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08 July, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Kill Shot by Blair Denholm - #Thriller @partnersincr1me @blairdenholm

 

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Kill Shot

by Blair Denholm

July 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Kill Shot by Blair Denholm

Violent crimes. Missing people. Dark secrets. Only one driven detective can unearth the truth.

Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon travelled halfway round the world to escape his troubled past. Mutilated bodies were never part of the plan.

A body found in the mangroves at first appears to be evidence of a frenzied crocodile attack. But it soon becomes obvious this is a horrific murder.

And when a popular MMA fighter disappears, police now face a possible double homicide. The list of suspects grows longer, but no one in the closed fighting community is talking.

Can hard-nosed ex-boxer Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon solve the mystery before the panicked town of Yorkville goes into total meltdown?

Join DS Lisbon and his partner Detective Claudia Taylor on a heart-thumping ride through the steamy tropics of Northern Australia as they hunt for a killer out of control.

Justice served with a side order of vengeance.

 

What readers are saying about Kill Shot:

"Head spinning twists and gritty crisp dialogue make Kill Shot a must read for the gruff mystery thriller crowd out there!"
- Goodreads reviewer

"I would overwhelmingly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good crime fiction, thriller, who-done-it or the like."
- Booksprout reviewer

"Denholm is a masterful story teller with realistic facts and hardcore action scenes throughout! Readers looking for a real page-turner have found it here!"
- Goodreads reviewer

"The story is so well written and full of action, that it is impossible to put down."
- Voracious Readers reviewer

"With the heat, crocodiles, press speculation, and lack of progress, the pressure is on for a fast resolution. A cracking police procedural and a highly enjoyable read. I look forward to the subsequent adventures of the promising crime fighting duo."
- Booksprout reviewer

"There are some surprising twists and turns along the way, one which I couldn't even imagine which made this read a sheer delight. I struggled to keep this book down. I look forward to reading more of Denholm's work."
- Goodreads reviewer

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 9th 2020
Number of Pages: 212
ISBN: 979-8733882802
Series: The Fighting Detective, Book 1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from Kill Shot:

Chapter 1

The searing heat prickled, nipped and stung. Beads of moisture dribbled from his forehead, infiltrated clenched eyelids and lashes. Fluids in his aching body were heating up. Humidity crushed like a ton of lead. Take shallow breaths; stay still to keep the core temperature down.

Bright tropical sunlight bore through the window, combined with the ambient swelter to turn Detective Sergeant Jack Lisbon’s bedroom into a torture chamber. Remember to close the venetian blinds next time, moron. And get the air conditioner serviced. Lying in bed now unbearable, he stood, wobbled a fraction. In his semi-delirium, he determined to take a cold shower before the Good Lord claimed him.

Lisbon tottered towards the bathroom. He rubbed his eyes softly as he went, wondered how red they’d be after last night’s binge. He’d stayed more or less sober for three years with the odd gentle tumble off the wagon. Last night’s call with his ex-wife had a bigger impact on him than he could have imagined. After he’d hung up the phone on Sarah, he cracked a bottle of Bundaberg Rum, intended as a gift for a colleague. He’d demolished half of it in an under an hour and headed off into the balmy night to continue the party.

At least that’s how he remembered it.

Bathroom reached, he turned the cold tap on full blast, splashed water on his face and neck, over his chest and under the armpits. The shock of the cold water took his breath away. He repeated the process two times. He must have looked like a tired elephant dousing itself.

Thoughts again turned to Sarah.

Why wouldn’t she let me speak to Skye?

His daughter was seven now, she needed contact with her father. Jack loved and missed her achingly. He’d turned his life around full circle. From alcoholic bent cop to paragon of virtue. Kept his ugly busted nose clean and earned rapid promotion, in a foreign country if you please.

What was the point of Sarah’s bloody-minded recalcitrance? She and the kid were a million miles away from him, far from his destructive influence, safely tucked away in their council flat in Peckham, South London. What harm would there have been in chatting with his daughter, for heaven’s sake? He was at his wit’s end with the situation and had no idea how to get Sarah to see reason. Constantly contacting her on the phone or Internet could be deemed stalking if she made a complaint. The last thing he needed was trouble with the job. It took four years to settle into life in Australia, now at last he was starting to feel at home. Don’t jeopardise it, Lisbon.

He pulled aside the mould-flecked plastic shower curtain, stepped over raised tiles into the small cubicle and reached for the cold tap. Relief would be like an orgasm.

Make that a delayed orgasm.

The mobile phone on his bedside table burst into life. The ring tone was The Clash’s driving punk anthem “London Calling”. A reminder of the life he left behind, his beloved job, a copper with the world famous London Metropolitan Police. He retraced his steps to the bedroom, snatched at the mobile. Sweat beaded on his brow like condensation on a bottle. ‘Yeah, wot?’

‘Is that how a senior officer with the Queensland Police answers the phone? How long have you been in Yorkville?’ Constable Ben Wilson’s poorly disguised voice was chirpy as ever. Jack usually appreciated the cheeky geniality, this morning it merely aggravated his hangover.

‘Long enough to know it’s you on the other end, Wilson.’ Jack scratched an armpit, scrabbled in his coat jacket for nicotine lozenges. He popped one into his dry mouth and started sucking like a hungry baby. Headed back to the cool refuge of the bathroom. ‘And watch the familiar tone, sunshine.’

‘Sorry, sir.’

‘Apology accepted. Bear with me one moment, will you?’

Headache worsening, Jack sat the phone down and spat the lozenge into a tissue. He fussed about in the bathroom drawers, flung little cardboard boxes, disposable razors and condoms about to reach their use-by date out of the way until he found what he needed. He picked up the phone, cradled it between neck and chin as he tore aspirin from its foil packaging, dropped two white disks into a glass of water.

‘Go ahead, Wilson. Why the hell are you disturbing me? I’m not rostered on until this afternoon.’

A cough on the other end of the line followed by a gulping sound. ‘Just so you know, sir, you’re on loud speaker. Detective Constable Taylor’s listening.’

‘Understood. Now answer my question. What’s going on?’

‘A car’s been found abandoned.’

‘Where?’

‘Connors Road, edge of the industrial estate near the mangroves. Five clicks heading west, just after the point where it turns into a gravel track.’

‘An abandoned vehicle heading bush is no reason to get excited. Probably joy riders got sick of it and dumped the car when it ran out of fuel.’

‘Not likely. The keys were left dangling from the ignition, engine running, radio on and no one within cooee. Also, what the caller thought might be blood stains on one of the seats. Suspicious as all get out.’

Jack took a deep breath, pinched the bridge of his nose. ‘Right. Anything else?’

‘No, sir. DC Taylor and I are en route to the scene. The tip off came via the hotline.’

‘Has forensics been despatched?’

‘No.’ It was the voice of Detective Constable Claudia Taylor, sultry to match the weather. ‘We haven’t established a crime’s been committed. Could be an innocent explanation for it.’

‘Then why does it take three of us to check it out? Two’s plenty for preliminary work.’

‘I’m bringing Wilson along for the experience. He’s been stuck on desk duty for weeks and things are a bit quiet in the old town. Besides, I think he could become a good detective later in his career.’

‘Should I care?’ A short uncomfortable silence after his sarcastic remark. Make amends, Lisbon. ‘Sorry, I’m not feeling a hundred percent today. It’s great the lad wants to better himself. Most laudable.’

There’d been no baffling crimes in Yorkville for a while. The chance to investigate something unusual could be an interesting diversion. Even with the annoying Constable Wilson tagging along. ‘I’ll get there as soon as I can.’

‘Better hurry,’ said Taylor above the soft crackle of the two-way. ‘There’s a thunderstorm forecast.’

‘If a cool change comes with it, I don’t care if it’s a bloody cyclone.’ The cruel weather in the far north enervated the body like nothing Jack had ever experienced. Three years pounding the pavement as a uniformed cop in sub-tropical Brisbane was bad enough. Then he got the promotion he’d worked like a dog for in the capital: plain clothes detective. Only trade off, it was up here in the sweltering furnace of hell. The humidity was a killer, but he was gradually acclimatising. At least the fishing was good.

‘You know how to get here, sir?’ said Wilson.

‘Ever hear of GPS?’

‘Of course. See you soon.’

The ritual morning home gym work out and run would have to wait. Lifting weights and punching the bag would have been painful anyway, so the early call out was an excuse to skip it, at least until the afternoon.

He guzzled a can of icy diet cola to accelerate the effect of the aspirin. On went a lightweight cotton suit. Locked doors. In the car. Gone.

‘Nice change you joining us in the pub last night, Jack. It was a huge surprise seeing you lumber through the door half an hour from closing.’ Lisbon’s partner DI Claudia Taylor, crossed the road with a carboard tray containing two cups.

It was a surprise to Jack too. He didn’t remember meeting colleagues at the pub. Fuck. ‘Ah, yeah…’

‘Don’t worry. You didn’t do anything you’d regret.’

Thank God. Reputation intact.

‘You don’t look anywhere near as jovial as you did last night.’ She handed Jack a coffee. ‘Get this into you.’

‘Are you kidding? It’s too hot for coffee.’ He grunted and waved it away.

‘Come on. Don’t be ungrateful. It’ll put a spring back in your step.’

Jack took a sip, spat it straight out. ‘Jesus, I understand you have to sweeten service station coffee to make it drinkable, but seriously, how much effing sugar did you put in it?’ He handed her back the cup. ‘I’d be a diabetic by the time I finished that.’ The only spring caffeine induced in Jack was the desire to spark up a match and light a cigarette. The lozenges he consumed and the patches he wore under the suit helped; no tobacco for three weeks. He sucked in his guts, patted firming stomach muscles under his shirt. Don’t go back to your bad habits, son.

‘Whatever.’ She frowned as she tossed the contents of the second cup on the grassy verge, replaced the empty cup in the tray. ‘Here, you can’t refuse these.’ She handed him a pair of sky-blue surgical gloves and donned a pair herself.

‘Who called it in?’ Jack tugged on the gloves, wiped sweat from his forehead with a shirt cuff.

‘A truckie heading north to fetch a load of bananas.’ Constable Ben Wilson appeared from behind the abandoned vehicle. ‘Called the info line.’

‘Did he leave his name?’

‘Yeah. Don Hawthorne. Gave us some basic info. Got his number if you want to follow up.’

Jack nodded, scuffed black leather shoes in the dirt. He looked up. Dark cumulonimbus clouds were gathering in the east, the promised storm was building nicely. They’d have to work the scene fast. ‘Probably won’t be needing him further. Let’s have a closer look at the vehicle. You,’ he pointed at Wilson. ‘Check the immediate area for anything odd.’

‘Such as?’

‘Use your initiative, Constable. You want to be a detective, don’t you?’

Wilson trudged off in a huff.

‘He’s keen,’ said Taylor. ‘Give him a chance.’

‘Whatever. He was rude to me on the phone this morning.’

‘I’m sure he didn’t mean it.’

The statement hung in the air without comment as Jack opened the driver side door of the late model maroon Mazda 6 sedan.

The first thing to catch his eye was a dark stain on the passenger seat. ‘What do you reckon?’ he called over his shoulder. ‘Blood?’

Taylor peered inside the car. ‘Could be. Want me to get forensics down here? The whole scene looks dodgy.’

Jack shook his head. ‘Spidey senses tingling, are they Taylor? No, I’d like to know who the owner is first before we run at this like a bull at a gate. Have you called in the registration and VIN number?’

‘Not yet.’ Jack sensed a trace of annoyance in her reply, but she could suck it up. ‘I was busy getting the coffee you didn’t want.’

‘Do it now.’ Jack had learned to give commands like they were polite requests. If you stick the Australian rising inflection on any statement you can turn it into a kind of question. ‘I’ll have a shoofty through the interior.’

‘Can you pull the lever so I can find the VIN, please?’ Taylor’s tone was now brusque and businesslike.

Jack’s answer was the sound of the bonnet popping.

‘Thanks.’ She said something else Jack didn’t catch. With her head under the hood, Taylor sounded like she was underwater.

The first thing Jack examined was the dashboard, littered with receipts, dockets and assorted papers. He pressed a button to open the glove box, more papers fluttered out like falling leaves. He scanned a few but nothing grabbed his attention. It’d take hours to go through them all thoroughly; he’d leave them to the forensics team if he and Taylor decided it was worth calling them in. What else? On the floor, take-away wrappers, most from a famous fried chicken outlet, grease-stained white paper bags you get hot chips in. Maybe the mark on the seat was old tomato ketchup?

‘Got the number, Jack.’ Taylor dropped the bonnet with a thunk, walked around to the wound-down driver window and peered in over the top of a pair of designer glasses. ‘Just calling in now with the rego and VIN.’

‘It’s a wonder the officer who took the call didn’t ask the truckie for the number plate. We could have had the details before we even got here. Might have even spared us a trip.’ And I’d be lying on the couch watching classic title fights on YouTube.

‘Apparently the truck driver was already back on the road when he rang it in.’ Taylor ran fine fingers through her hair. ‘Didn’t bother to take note of the plates. Said he didn’t have time to hang around ‘cos his boss was riding his arse about deadlines. He’d seen the driver door wide open and no one inside or near the vehicle, so he stopped to check no one was sick or whatever.’

‘Haven’t there been attacks on women in this area lately?’ Jack asked.

‘You’re right. Maybe the truckie knew that too and it spurred him to do his civic duty.’

‘Maybe.’ Jack looked up from the debris. ‘Or he was seeing if there was anything in the car worth stealing.’

‘You’re a bloody cynical bastard.’

‘I grew up in South London, luv. Shaped my outlook somewhat.’

‘I’ve got a little more faith in people. According to the call transcript, the guy discovered keys hanging from the ignition and the engine idling. Had a quick look about, saw nothing else suspicious and thought the driver had headed into the scrub to ah…, how can I put it, evacuate their bowels.’

A laugh escaped Jack’s lips. ‘For God’s sake, Claudia. Can’t you just say take a shit?’

Taylor mumbled something.

‘Pardon?’ A receipt lay among the junk food debris. Jack held it up and squinted to read the faded ink. A generic cash purchase, unknown vendor, not paid for by credit or debit card. Not helpful.

‘I said no need to be crude.’

‘You think that’s crude? You should hear me when I lose money on a boxing match. I lose my fucking rag.’ Jack wrinkled his nose as he came up for air. The floor of the car gave off a mouldy smell to match the rubbish.

She ignored his remark. ‘Anyway, once the truckie was on the road again, he had second thoughts, wondered if the stain on the seat might be blood, and called it in. Hang on, I’m about to get the name of the vehicle’s owner.’

‘I’ll keep digging in this mess.’ Jack knew from long experience nine times out of ten a car left on the side of the road wasn’t a big issue. Usually it’s been nicked and the thieves scarper when the petrol runs out or they get bored. A sticker gets slapped on the windscreen and the owners are notified to come and pick it up. After a specified amount of time if no one collects, it’s towed away, sold at auction if it’s in good condition or crushed at the wreckers if it’s unroadworthy. Something felt wrong about this car, though.

Jack grabbed the lever under the driver seat and tugged, slid the seat back and peered underneath. More rubbish. A rummage in the front and rear passenger seats and floor spaces rendered nothing but more detritus. He stepped out of the car, popped the boot. Inside, a broad blobby stain on a piece of old carpet that looked like a Rorschach test. Could be blood.

‘Got a name.’ Taylor ended the call. ‘Terrence Bartlett.’

‘Say again?’ Jack’s inner voice told him he’d heard that name before.

‘Bartlett. Terrence Brian Bartlett.’

Yes. Jack did remember the name.

***

Excerpt from Kill Shot by Blair Denholm. Copyright 2020 by Blair Denholm. Reproduced with permission from Blair Denholm. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Blair Denholm

BLAIR DENHOLM is an Australian fiction writer and translator who has lived and worked in New York, Moscow, Munich, Abu Dhabi and Australia. He once voted in a foreign election despite having no eligibility to do so, was almost lost at sea on a Russian fishing boat, and was detained by machine-gun toting soldiers in the Middle East. Denholm's new series, The Fighting Detective, starring ex-boxer Jack Lisbon, is now up and flying with the first two installments, Kill Shot and Shot Clock. The series is set in tropical North Queensland, Australia, and features heavy doses of noir crime with a vigilante justice twist. Expect at least six novels with Detective Lisbon, his fellow cops and a host of intriguing characters.

Denholm's debut crime novel, SOLD, is the first in a thrilling noir trilogy, featuring the detestable yet lovable one-man wrecking ball Gary Braswell. The second exciting book in the series, SOLD to the Devil, was released in June 2020. The final episode, Sold Dirt Cheap, will see the light of day in 2022.

Finally, Denholm is working on a crime series set in Moscow just prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Captain Viktor Voloshin is a hard-boiled investigator who has to fight the establishment in order for justice to be served, in his own special way. The first in this series, Revolution Day, will be published in October 2021.

Blair currently resides in Hobart, Tasmania with his partner, Sandra, and two crazy canines, Max and Bruno.

Catch Up With Blair Denholm:
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06 July, 2021

Read an #excerpt from Catwalk by Nicole Gabor - @XpressoTours @nngabor #ComingOfAge #YoungAdult

 

Catwalk
Nicole Gabor
Publication date: July 6th 2021
Genres: Coming of Age, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old, shy, suburban aspiring model Cat Watson suddenly has it all as the New York fashion world’s new “It” girl and she thinks she has everything she ever dreamed of—until she realizes be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Leaving her good-girl image behind, Cat quickly learns things aren’t always what they seem on the catwalk, and she’s faced with a decision that will change her life forever.

WILMINGTON, Delaware, May 12, 2021

When 18-year-old Catherine Watson disobeys her parents and ditches her Ivy-league acceptance to start fresh as an aspiring model in New York City, a chance encounter with fashion world bigwigs gives her a world-class agent plus a boyfriend she only dreamed about. But as she navigates the fickle world of modeling, she realizes that to get ahead, she’ll have to leave herself behind—but is it worth it? Catwalk is an expertly written tale of first love, coming of age, and high-fashion, from award-winning author and editor Nicole Gabor, inspired by her own experiences as a runway model.

In her suburban hometown, Catherine had what most would consider a charmed life: a 4.0 GPA, a good-guy boyfriend who had his whole life planned out down to the two kids, two dogs, two-car garage—and it scared her to death. She wasn’t ready to follow a traditional path to a paint-by-numbers existence. She longed for adventure, for a life less…ordinary. When Catherine moves away to pursue her modeling dream in New York City and moves in with Jon-Michelle “Jonnie” who tackles the newly-named “Cat” as “her next project,” she revels in her newfound career, thinking “this is what it’s like to be young and beautiful in the greatest city in the world.”

“At that moment, it hit me. I was a mere mortal in a room full of demigods: actors, actresses, bygone legends of the stage and screen; men and women who had traipsed down red carpets all of their lives, whom the rest of the country, no, the world, had pined for, had paid to know the secrets of. Here I was standing among them, cavorting with twenty-first century royals.”

Cat meets Seth, a beautiful and kind but troubled New York scenester, the son of a ‘70s fashion model icon who fatally overdosed during her prime, and she feels strangely protective. She wants to save him like he saved her on her first night out on the town in New York City’s gritty yet swanky meatpacking district club scene.

When Cat is “discovered” by the one and only Philippe Borghetta, the hottest fashion designer in the pages of Vogue magazine, she thinks she has it all. Her life is thrust into an alternate universe, where star-studded cocktail parties, casting calls, go-sees, and nightclub openings revolve around her like constellations. She tries to play the part. Her former self, “Catherine,” was now a shadow of who she was and what she was becoming.

Cat thinks she’s finally gotten what she wanted all along—a chance to start over, a redo, a refresh. But as the lines blur between who she once was and who she wants to be, she’s reminded of her mother’s words, “Sometimes the things that are most worth fighting for are the things you already have.” Cat finds she has to make a decision that will change her life—and possibly the modeling world—forever.

Drawing on her own experiences in the fast-paced fashion model industry, former model and author of more than twenty children’s books, Nicole Gabor masterfully weaves a timeless story of self-discovery, coming of age, and the heartache of first loves. Catwalk is her debut young adult/new adult novel, available July 2021 wherever books are sold.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

My parents stared at me from across the kitchen table, stunned. They looked as though I’d just told them that our 12-year-old lab, Holly, had died.

I watched the wrinkles on my mother’s forehead get deeper and darker, and it seemed like she was aging right before my eyes. Was her hair turning gray? I once heard that former First Lady Barbara Bush’s hair turned gray overnight from the shock and grief of losing her baby daughter.

But I was not dead, or even dying. I was alive, and in the flesh. And I had just told my parents that I, Catherine Watson, their only daughter — the one with the 4.0 grade point average who my stay-at-home mother hoped would become a successful career woman, and my father secretly wished would follow in his footsteps as a lawyer — was not going to college after all.

I was, in fact, moving to New York City. To be a fashion model.

As I spoke, my letter of decline to the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Sciences was signed, sealed, and on its way to the admissions office. My mother cried and said that I was breaking her heart. My father yelled and said that I was ruining my life. Part of me feared they were right. To be honest, I couldn’t believe I’d actually gotten up the nerve to send that letter. I’d always listened to my parents, did the “right” thing. Never cut class. Been teacher’s pet. Made curfew. But I was sick of following the rules.

With my high school graduation just behind me, the idea of more school — only to be followed by an office job that would imprison me within four gray walls — was something that I couldn’t succumb to yet, if ever.

I was ready for adventure, for excitement, for a life less … ordinary. And I had a hunch that plenty of people stuck to the safe roads, so maybe, just maybe, I could make it on a path where everyone else wasn’t taking up so much space.

Of course, it did seem an odd choice. I’d always been so ashamed of the attributes that could, quite possibly, make me a model. Lanky and lean at 6 feet tall, I had a way of sticking out in the hallways, towering over most of the female (and many of the male) teachers. Growing up, I’d tried everything I could to blend in, to bulk up, to deny my stature: I drank milkshakes. Dressed in layers. Only wore flats. Avoided stretching in gym glass. Never stood next to the short boys in line.

But then, one day, something happened. My mother took me to Victoria’s Secret in Philadelphia to pick out my first fancy grown-up bra for my birthday. I was eying the “extreme lift” padded pushups (which I was sure would jumpstart my love life), when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to be a model. Just like that.

“She just turned 14,” my mother said, looking a bit puzzled and slightly irritated. “I think she’s a little young, don’t you?”

“She’s perfect,” said the older woman, who was in her sixties and dressed far more fashionably than my 45-year-old mother.

She couldn’t possibly be talking about me, I thought. Is this some sort of practical joke? A sick, twisted joke? I looked around expecting to see some mean girls from school, but the place was virtually empty. I turned back around, feeling my face flush.

“You … you think I could model?” I stammered.

“I think you’re wasting your talent if you don’t,” she said. “Here’s my card. Call me when your mother changes her mind.”

But she never did. And neither did my father. Despite all my begging and pleading. My parents said that high school was more important, that getting into college was more important. That anything was more important than “aspiring toward such a frivolous pursuit.”

So I did what any girl in my situation would do. I stomped up the stairs, slammed the door, and screamed and cried into my pillow. But for the first time in my life, I felt like something special. Someone special. And my parents were not going to take that away from me.

Author Bio:

Nicole is a published author of more than 20 children's picture books and an award-winning health writer and editor. Her debut young adult/new adult fiction novel Catwalk is inspired by her experiences living and working in New York City as a model. She's also a freelance writer at Highlights for Children and a senior editor at KidsHealth.org, the web's most-visited site for children's health. She lives in Delaware with her husband, three children, and their Goldendoodle named Ginger. Learn more at www.nicolegabor.com

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04 July, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Loving You (Destination Weddings #6) by Andaleeb Wajid - @andaleebwajid #Contemporary #Romance

 

 


Hamza Ali is ready to get married, fall in love and live happily ever after. The only problem is, he's about to marry one woman but falls in love with another... So how will he find his happily ever after?



After watching his brother's disastrous love marriage fall to pieces, Hamza decides that the only marriage for him is an arranged one. In Mahrukh, his family finds him the perfect bride. But while Mahrukh may be the perfect bride, it's her divorced aunt Noorain who is the perfect woman for him.
Noorain Alam has never loved or been loved. Until the day her niece gets engaged to a man who is completely out of her reach and yet, he's everything she never knew she wanted.
Blindsided by the strength of emotion they feel for each other, Noorain and Hamza find themselves in a battle for their happiness. But will love win? Or will family and duty stand in its way?




Book Links:
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Read an Excerpt from Loving You


Ghazal turned to her husband who was driving the car and she smiled at him. ‘I’ve never done this before,’ she said. She’d never had the opportunity to go and ‘see’ a girl, a potential bride and this was a novelty for her.

Hamdaan smiled at her indulgently. ‘You seem more excited than Hamza,’ he remarked. From the back seat, Ammi tittered. 

‘We’re all excited,’ she said. 

‘But why? I’m just baffled,’ Hamdaan said, shrugging. Ghazal caught her mother-in-law’s gaze in the rear-view mirror and smiled. 

‘Well, it’s the start of something new, right?’ she asked Hamdaan. ‘And we all want to see Hamza Bhai happy.’

Hamdaan merely shook his head as he navigated his way through the traffic. Ghazal glanced at him again and felt that deep feeling of contentment whenever she saw him. He looked at her too and smiled again. The special smile that was reserved for her and her heart felt like it was expanding in her chest. 

I love you, she thought softly. And she would never tire of telling him or hearing him declare it to her. She wanted this same happiness for Hamza Bhai as well. No one would take the place of Khalil Bhai for her but Hamza came quite close, in the past six months since she and Hamdaan had got married. 

‘So what happens once you see this girl?’ Hamdaan asked, looking at his mother in the rear-view mirror. 

‘The usual, beta. Engagement and then wedding if we like her,’ Ammi said. 

Hamdaan rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything. Ammi sighed. 

‘All mothers want to see their children happy,’ she said. ‘But sometimes, you children should also think about making us happy, shouldn’t you?’

‘But what do you want me to do?’ Hamdaan asked, frowning. Ghazal looked down at her lap. Surely her mother-in-law wasn’t asking them to have children so soon. She and Hamdaan were just figuring out things with each other and she wanted some more time for them to be on their own. But thankfully, Ammi wasn’t thinking of grandchildren yet. 

‘Nothing. I’m just saying that Hamza is making me very happy by agreeing to this. That’s all.’

‘But he’s not even getting to see the girl,’ Hamdaan commented. 

‘We’ll show her photo to him,’ Ammi said. 

‘And that’s it?’ Hamdaan asked. 

Ghazal looked at her husband and shook her head. ‘If Hamza Bhai wants to meet her…’ she started. After all, she and Hamdaan had met before they got married too and it had been on Hamdaan’s insistence. 

‘Well, he should,’ Hamdaan said. 

‘Let’s just see the girl first,’ Ammi replied. Hamdaan nodded and drove on and finally, when they reached the apartment building, the security guard let them inside. Hamdaan parked the car in the basement, surprised that the security was letting visitors park their cars inside. 

‘But it’s their own apartment building,’ Ghazal reminded him. The girl’s family owned the apartment building and lived there with some of their relatives and tenants.  

‘Oh right,’ Hamdaan said as they got out of the car. Before they had reached the stairs, there was a welcoming committee for them already – a group of women who were dressed as though for a wedding. 

Ghazal looked down at her own clothes and suddenly felt a little self-conscious that she was dressed down. But so was Ammi. They both had worn sober but classy outfits with minimum jewellery. The girl’s family however seemed to think that more the bling, the better it was. 

‘They all look like Christmas trees,’ Hamdaan muttered and Ghazal almost giggled. The girl’s father was waiting for Hamdaan and he met him like they were old friends, with a huge enveloping hug and led him away from there. The women, bedecked and perfumed generously, led Ghazal and Ammi towards the lift. 

‘Come, come,’ a woman said. Ghazal wondered if she was the bride’s mother. She looked quite young herself, but she had the sort of deportment that indicated that she was someone important in the family. 

Ghazal thought back to her own family, her parents as well as Khalil Bhai and Kimmy Bhabhi. None of them were as formal as these smiling women, she thought. And neither were they as formidable. 

Silks rustled and gleamed as they got inside the lift and one of the women leaned forward and pressed the button for the penthouse. She looked at Ghazal critically and Ghazal tried hard not to be affected by all the stares that were directed to them. Ammi was smiling and talking softly to one of the women and she marvelled at how easily everyone seemed to make small talk. She could never do that for some reason. 

The lift stopped and the doors opened into a luxurious carpeted apartment. The women stepped out and Ghazal followed them as they led her to one of the inner rooms and had them sit down on the sofa. She wondered if Hamdaan would be coming up here as well. 

‘So that’s the groom’s twin brother?’ the earlier woman asked her, a bright smile on her face. 

‘Yes,’ Ghazal replied, blushing slightly. ‘My husband.’

‘And the groom looks just like him?’

Ghazal nodded. She wanted to say that the similarities were only physical and that there was simply no one like her husband but she obviously couldn’t say all that. 

‘Ah, he’s so handsome,’ one of the women said with a giggle. 

That he is, Ghazal thought privately, fighting the smile on her face. Ammi looked around the room where they were seated and spoke. 

‘We would like to see the bride,’ she said firmly. 

‘Of course, of course. But first some refreshments. I’m the bride’s mother, Haniya,’ the woman said. Ghazal had been correct in her assessment. Something in her stomach churned when she realised that what they had before them was a huge responsibility. She and her mother in law were going to select a girl for Hamza Bhai, someone who would come and live in their house, become a part of their family. And the only criteria they had to select her was that she should be pretty? What if Hamza Bhai didn’t get along with her at all? 

But that was a risk they had to take, she thought as other women started filing in. She wondered just how many people stayed here, and maybe the thought was apparent on her face. 

‘These are my cousins and relatives,’ Haniya said. ‘They’ve come because it’s a huge day for us obviously.’

Ghazal nodded as some of the women started bringing in trays and snacks and refreshments for them. Her phone beeped and she pulled it out from her bag and looked at it unobtrusively. 

It was a message from Hamza. 

‘So? You saw her?’

‘Not yet’ She typed back and put her phone away. She wondered how pretty Mahrukh was and whether people would start comparing the two of them, once she got married to Hamza Bhai. 


About the Author:


Andaleeb Wajid is the author of 27 published novels and she writes across different genres such as romance, YA and horror. Her horror novel It Waits was shortlisted at Mami Word to Screen 2017 and her Young Adult series, The Tamanna Trilogy has been optioned for screen by a reputed production house. Andaleeb's novel When She Went Away was shortlisted for The Hindu Young World Prize in 2017. Andaleeb is a hybrid author who has self-published more than 10 novels in the past two years.

Andaleeb on the Web:
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01 July, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr - #Contemporary #RomCom #ChickLit @partnersincr1me @AuthorDMBarr

 

The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr Banner

The Queen of Second Chances

by D.M. Barr

July 1-31, 2021 Tour
 

Synopsis:

The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr
Carra’s memoir-writing class teaches seniors to resolve the regrets of their past. But to win over elder attorney Jay, will she follow her own advice? Carraway (Carra) Quinn is a free-spirited English major confronting an unreceptive job market. Desperate for cash, she reluctantly agrees to her realtor stepmother’s marketing scheme: infiltrate a local senior center as a recreational aide, ingratiate herself with the members, and convince them to sell their homes. Jay Prentiss is a straitlaced, overprotective elder attorney whose beloved but mentally fragile Nana attends that center. More creative than mercenary, Carra convinces Jay to finance innovations to the Center’s antiquated programming. Her ingenuity injects new enthusiasm among the seniors, inspiring them to confront and reverse the regrets of their past. An unlikely romance develops. But when Carra’s memoir-writing class prompts Jay’s Nana to skip town in search of a lost love, the two take off on a cross-country, soul-searching chase that will either deepen their relationship or tear them apart forever.

Reviews:

Charming, funny, and heartwarming, The Queen of Second Chances is not just a love story where two people discover each other, it is a story of self-discovery. Like all good romances, this one starts with the two main characters loathing each other before slowly realizing that they are perfect together. But before either Jay or Carra can come to that realization, they have to work through their personal shortcomings. Carra feels like a failure and is unable to get past her mother's desertion of her as a child. Jay, while his helping people who desperately need rescuing demonstrates his fundamental goodness, puts a little too much emphasis on wealth and status. Helping a group of seniors find fulfillment is the catalyst that allows both the main characters to embrace changing their own lives and then ultimately embrace each other. A joy to read, The Queen of Second Chances is the perfect mood lifter in these stressful times.
- S. Lee Manning, author of the critically acclaimed thriller, Trojan Horse
FIVE STARS!
The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr is a beautifully written story of two lost souls brought together by fate. Carra was such a wonderful character, her warmth and kindness towards others were admirable. She also put others' needs before her own safety and this was highlighted during the car scene outside the Garrison house. She was perfectly matched to Jay. Although he seemed to enjoy a materialistic lifestyle, I feel he had a really good heart and when he met Carra, he found the missing piece in his life. My absolute favorite character was Helen; she was extremely insightful and wise even though she was suffering from the onset of dementia. Her words of wisdom throughout were poignant and powerful, especially her views on looking back in life: "It's more important to heed the present because that's what it is, a gift. Nothing lasts long in this life, which is why every moment matters. You can't take anything or anyone for granted." I found the relationship between Jay and Carra developed gradually and the dialogue exchanges between them were very realistic. I loved the twist towards the end concerning Jay's background and the nail-biting ending was brilliant. I feel there are so many underlying messages throughout too. For example, live for the moment, never be afraid to chase your dreams, and forgive yourself for mistakes you have made in your past. I highly recommend this novel.
- Lesley Jones, for Readers' Favorite
FIVE STARS!
The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr is a lovely, deftly written romantic comedy that fans of the genre will love.
- Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
 

Book Details

Genre: Contemporary Sweet Romance, Romcom, Chicklit
Published by: Champagne Book Group
Publication Date: June 7th 2021
Number of Pages: 204
ISBN: 2940165375545 (ASIN B094GFWG3K)
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads
 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One I couldn’t take my eyes off the man. He came barreling into the recreational center at SALAD—Seniors Awaiting Lunch and Dinner, Rock Canyon’s answer to Meals on Wheels—as I sat in the outer office, awaiting my job interview. He was tall, but not too tall. His expensive suit barely concealed an athletic physique that fell just shy of a slavish devotion to muscle mass. Early thirties, I estimated, and monied. Honey-blond curly hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones, chiseled features, gold-rimmed glasses, and of course, dimples. Why did there always have to be dimples? They were my kryptonite, rendering me powerless to resist. I nicknamed him Adonis, Donny for short, lest anyone accuse me of being pretentious. He was the stuff of every girl’s dreams, especially if that girl was as masochistic as yours truly. Men like that didn’t fall for ordinary girls like me, gals more Cocoa Puff than Coco Chanel, more likely to run their pantyhose than strut the runway. I leaned back on the leather couch, laid down my half-completed application, and prepared to enjoy the view. Then he opened his mouth, and the attraction withered like a popped balloon. “I want to speak to Judith. Now. Is she here?” The sharpness of his voice put Ginsu knives to shame. It was jagged enough to slash open memories of my mother’s own barely contained temper when refereeing sibling disputes between Nikki and me. Well, at least until she prematurely retired her whistle and skipped town for good. The attendant working the main desk looked fresh out of nursing school and had obviously missed the lecture on dealing with difficult clients. She sputtered, held up both hands in surrender, and retreated into the administration office, reemerging with an older woman whose guff-be-gone demeanor softened as she got closer. Her name tag read, “Judith Ferester,” the woman scheduled to conduct my interview. She took one look at Donny, sighed as if to say, Here we go again, and plastered on her requisite customer service smile. “Mr. Prentiss, to what do we owe the honor of this visit?” she asked in a tone sweet enough to make my teeth hurt. “Judith, I thought we had this discussion before. I trust you to take care of my nana, but day after day, I discover goings-on that are utterly unacceptable. Maybe we shouldn’t have added the senior center, just limited SALAD to meal delivery. Last week you served chips and a roll at lunch? That’s too many carbs. This week, I find someone is duping her out of her pocket change. No one is going to take advantage of her good nature, not under my watch.” I half-expected him to spit on the ground. Was such venom contagious? I didn’t want my prospective employer in a foul mood when she reviewed my application. I really, really needed this job. “Mr. Prentiss,” Judith answered, her patronizing smile frozen in place, “I assure you that your championing of our senior center was well founded. The reason your nana isn’t complaining is that she receives the utmost care. She is one of our dearest visitors. Everyone loves her.” “Tell me then, what is this?” Donny—scratch that, Mr. Prentiss—drew a scrap of paper from his pocket and flung it onto the counter. I leaned forward to make out the object of his disdain. Then, thinking better of it, I relaxed and watched as this melodrama played itself out. Judith glanced down at the paper. “This? It’s a scoresheet. They play gin for ten cents a hand. We monitor everything that goes on here; your grandmother is not being conned out of her life savings. You have my word.” Prentiss shook his head so vigorously his gold-rimmed glasses worked their way down to the tip of his perfect nose. He pushed them back with obvious annoyance. Even when he was acting like a jerk, his dimples were captivating. Would they be even more alluring if he smiled? Did he smile…like, ever? “It’s not the amount that worries me. It’s the act itself. Many seniors here are memory impaired. How can you condone gambling between people who aren’t coherent? Could you please keep a closer eye on things? Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll have to take my nana—and my support—to the center I’ve heard about across the river.” Without waiting for Judith’s response, Prentiss departed as brusquely as he’d arrived. Ah, the entitlement of the rich. Walk over everyone, then storm off. He never even noticed my presence. Just as well, considering my purpose for being there. Even if I wasn’t sorry to see the back end of his temper, his rear end was pleasant enough to watch as he exited, I noted with a guilty shudder. Judith shook her head, rolled her eyes, and let out a huff. Then she noticed me. “I’m so sorry you had to overhear that. I’m the director here. How can I help you?” “I’m Carraway Quinn. Everyone calls me Carra. I have an appointment for the recreational aide position.” Judith typed a few keystrokes into the main desk’s computer. “Ah yes, Ms. Quinn. Carraway, like the seed?” “Something like that,” I said with a smile. They always guessed, but no one got it right. Some man would, one day. That’s what my mother said a million years ago, when she still lived within earshot. One man would figure it out, and that’s how I’d know he was the one for me. Not that it mattered right now. I had bigger problems than finding a new boyfriend. “Tell me, would I have to deal with people like that all day?” I tilted my head in the direction of Prentiss’s contrail. “What can I say? He loves his nana.” Judith shrugged, staring at the door. “Though I’ve never seen him lash out like that before. He’s usually so calm.” She quickly shifted into public relations mode. “Jay Prentiss is one of our biggest contributors. It’s only because of his generosity that we have this senior center and can afford to hire a recreational aide.” She beckoned me into the inner office. “Shall we proceed?” I followed, but I had my doubts. I belonged in the editorial office of a magazine or on a book tour for my perennially unfinished novel, not at a senior center. This job was my stepmother’s idea, not mine. Calling it an idea was being generous; it was more like a scheme, and the elderly deserved better than someone sent here to deceive them. I was the embodiment of what Jay Prentiss worried about most. The interview lasted less than ten minutes, as if Judith was going through the formalities but had already decided to hire me. I was to start my orientation the following day. I shook her hand and thanked her, all the while wishing I were anywhere else. Afterward, I wandered into the recreation area, where I’d be spending most of my time. The room was dingy, teeming with doleful seniors watching television, playing cards, or staring off into space. A few complained among themselves about a jigsaw puzzle they were unable to finish because the last pieces were missing. I wondered how many had lost their spouses and came to the center out of loneliness, their children too busy with their own lives to visit. It was a heartbreaking thought. Jay Prentiss was complaining about carbs and gambling when he should have been concentrating on ennui. The seniors’ dismal expressions told me they were visiting SALAD more out of desperation than opportunity. It was clear they needed an injection of enthusiasm, not some aide looking to unsettle their lives. It came down to my conscience. Could it triumph against my stepmother’s directives and my plummeting bank account? --- Excerpt from The Queen of Second Chances by D.M. Barr. Copyright © 2021 by D.M. Barr. Reproduced with permission from D.M. Barr. All rights reserved.
 

Author Bio:

D.M. Barr By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire. My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they're off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won't friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy. The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I've never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic. And I haven't run away from home in fear that my husband was planning to off me. But that's not to say that I haven't wanted to…

Find Our Author Online:

DMBarr.com
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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for D.M. Barr. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 1, 2021 through August 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.
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