10 May, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Whisper by Tracy Bilen - @TracyBilen @XpressoTours #YA #RomanticThriller

 

Whisper
Tracy Bilen
Publication date: May 8th 2021
Genres: YA Romantic Thriller

Stop him.

After her friend Samantha is murdered, seventeen-year-old Olivia is the only one who still hears her voice.

Years ago, Jacob closed his eyes. In a park. Playing hide-and-seek. His little brother is still missing. And Jacob’s mom is the FBI agent who couldn’t find him.

Now Jacob has dreams he can’t explain. And draws faces of those about to die.

In a town terrorized by a serial killer, Jacob meets Olivia. Sparks ignite.

Until the voice in Olivia’s head echoes the warning in Jacob’s dream…

You’re next.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER 1: OLIVIA

My dad used to tell me there are people inside of marbles. They were always talking to him. Whenever I wanted to play a game, he would pick the one with marbles. Only we wouldn’t actually move the marbles. My dad would just stare at them. Finally I stopped asking to play games. But that didn’t matter. My dad would still get out the game with the marbles, and he’d put the marbles in their little resting spots and watch them. And listen.

At Samantha’s house, her three-year-old sister, Cara, is playing a marble game with one of her friends. They’re off in a corner by themselves, probably wondering why all these people are stuffed inside the house, wearing dark clothes, crying randomly, and talking in hushed voices. Cara wasn’t at Samantha’s funeral. Does she understand that her sister is never coming home?

I move away from Cara and fill a plate with cubes of cheese, triangles of salami, and round crackers. I chew, swallow, and make small talk. But mostly I just stare out the window at the pool and remember the last time I was here. Sixth grade. A pool party for Samantha’s birthday. She and I were friends then. We stopped being friends sometime in seventh grade. I think it had something to do with green slime, a ham sandwich, and a guy we both liked, though I’m not really sure anymore. It all seems pretty stupid now, which gives me a lumpy ache in my throat, and makes me feel like a fraud for being here. But the whole junior class was at the funeral, all ninety-eight of us.

Make that ninety-seven.

Plus a good part of the rest of the high school. And although not everyone made their way here after the funeral, the house is still packed, with people spilled out onto the lawn, hovering by the pool, and clutching their paper plates as if they’re life preservers.

My best friend, Julia, slides up next to me. Her chestnut brown hair is arranged in its usual French braid, except a lot of strands that she missed are poking out today. She takes a loose bit and wraps it around her finger.

“Brings back memories, huh?” she says, following my gaze to the pool. “Remember that sleepover in sixth grade?”

“Yeah, that was fun.” Except now my brain jumps right from sleepover to sweet dreams. The Sweet Dreams Strangler.

I shake my head, trying to blot out the images seared into my mind by the news media. Images of Samantha, lying in a field wearing a beautiful dress, her head on a pillow, hair neatly arranged, hands folded.

Beautiful. But dead. Strangled. I don’t know what to say, even to Julia. I look back out the window. A cardinal is perched on the feeder, picking through seeds, scattering debris on the ground.

“It sure is stuffy in here,” Julia says.

I’m about to agree when a wall of cold air hits me. “Mrs. Young must have read your mind. Wow. That feels good.”

Julia scrunches up her face. “What are you talking about?”

“The air. She turned on the air. Don’t you feel it?”

“No. Are you under a vent or something?” Julia peers up at the ceiling.

“Here, switch places with me.”

“It’s just as hot here—”

“It’s just as cold—”

We say it at the same time. “I guess it’s just your wishful thinking.” Julia pats my shoulder. “Enjoy. I’m going to get some more to drink.”

I nod and head across the room, by the TV, where hopefully it’s warmer.

Goose bumps pop up on my arms. I rub them, but it doesn’t help.

Next to me Josh Wallace tosses a cube of cheese into his mouth. Is that sweat dripping off his forehead? Why am I the only one shivering?

I spot a decorative blanket on the couch. Should I? I tap Marcus on the shoulder. “Sorry, could you lean forward? I just need to get something behind you.” I tug at the blanket and drape it over my shoulders.

Julia is back with a drink in her hand. “Why do you have a blanket wrapped around you? Are you feeling okay?”

“Not really,” I answer. “What’s that noise?”

“What noise?”

“That buzzing sound. Is that the TV? Maybe someone turned it on without switching on the cable box.” I fumble with the buttons on the TV. An image flashes across the screen, and a voice blares.

Funeral services were held today for Samantha Young, the fourth victim of the Sweet Dreams Strangler.

Mrs. Young hovers in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. All the color drains from her face.

I can’t seem to move. Julia turns off the TV. The buzzing grows louder, and then I realize that it’s voices I’m hearing, lots of them, all blending together into one big buzzing sound.

And then the buzzing fades away until I hear only one voice.

Olivia.

It’s not real. I know it’s not real.

Olivia.

It’s not real because the voice is Samantha’s, and Samantha is dead.

Olivia!

It’s not real because the voice is not coming from a person. It’s coming from a fricking figurine on the mantel. From a yellow bird with black wings and a black head. I pick up the figurine, and I hold it in my hands. This is what my dad meant when he said there were people living in marbles. And then it speaks again.

Olivia! Stop him!

Even though I’m kind of expecting it, Samantha’s voice scares me all the same. It makes me jump and my hands open up and that figurine smashes on the floor and breaks. And I’m a little glad because maybe now the voice will stop. But suddenly I’m burning up, the salami and cheese rumbles around in my stomach, and before I can sit, the room spins all around me and darkness sets in.

Author Bio:

Tracy Bilen is the author of What She Left Behind and Whisper. She is a high school French teacher in Michigan where she lives with her husband and children. Tracy studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and taught Spanish at a high school ski academy. She loves biking, traveling, and red velvet cake.

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09 May, 2021

#CharacterInterview Meet MI6 Agent Tillie Spencer from Bovine Tricks by @seeliekay #RomanticSuspense #Fantasy

 




About the Book:

Lady Annabelle Trask is missing. Unfortunately, MISix doesn’t know if they’re looking for a woman, a cow, or something in between!

Is it real or is it fantasy? That’s the question MISix Agent Mathilda Honoria Spencer struggles with on her latest assignment. Tasked with discovering the whereabouts of Lady Annabelle Trask, Tillie is thrust into the world of Hucows and other human animals. It’s a world that raises serious questions about sexual fetishes, intentional physical enhancements, and even pornography, but in the end, Tillie has only one mission—to rescue and return Lady Annabelle to the Queen. However, as she and her partner, Agent Abdul Ali, attempt to find Lady Annabelle and keep her out of the clutches of terrorists bent on destroying the monarchy, they must also wrestle with their feelings for each other. Can they draw the line between their duty to the Crown and their relationship with one another? Or must they embark on separate paths to continue to serve the Queen?


Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com * B&N * KoboXtasyBooks


Meet the lead character in Bovine Tricks, MI6 Agent Tillie Spencer


If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Crikey! I’m so bloody busy, I rarely have time for a breather. I suppose I could hop the Tube and take a trip to the eastside of London, maybe pop in on me mum. She worries so about my job, always thinks I am going to wind up dead. But if I’m being truthful, I’d love to spend the day with my love, Abdul, just chilling. Sure, we work together, but alone time is the best! (Winks.) 

If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?

That one is easy! The Queen, of course. A cuppa would be just the thing. She continually asks for me when one of her relative’s goes rogue, but we’ve never met in person. Of course, I’d probably take a tumble when attempting a curtsy, but just seeing her sweet smile, her gracious demeanor, would mean the world to me. I would be gobsmacked if she rang me and requested my presence at tea.

Tell us 3 things about yourself that the readers do not know about.

1. My favorite color is purple.
2. I am trying to master Arab cuisine. Abdul wants hummus, he wants Fattoush, he wants Mansaf. Arrrgh. Fish and chips are so much easier. He says that’s bland.
3. If I marry Abdul, I will be an Arab princess. 



About Seelie Kay:

Award-winning author Seelie Kay writes about lawyers in love, sometimes with a dash of kink.

Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in nineteen works of fiction, including the new paranormal romance series Donovan Trait, as well the erotic romance Kinky Briefs series and The Feisty Lawyers romantic suspense series. She also authored The Last Christmas, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The President’s Daughter, Seizing Hope, The White House Wedding, and participated in the romance anthology Pieces of Us.

When not spinning romantic tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently, she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine. 

Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Seelie on the Web:
Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram * Author's Amazon Page


Giveaway:
- 2 eBook Copies of Martimus (Feisty Lawyers Book 5)
- eBook Copy of Bovine Tricks (Royals Gone Rogue #1)


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08 May, 2021

Read an #Excerpt Beneath the Lies (Forgotten Trilogy #1) by Sapna Bhog - @sapnawrites @radish_fiction #RomanticSuspense #SecondChances


A saga of Forgotten Love and Second Chances

How would you feel when the man you have known and loved for the last five years is not who he said he was? That everything he ever told you was all a lie.

An accident changed our lives forever and now I have to bring him back to us because he doesn’t remember our life, our family or us. One minute, I was just a regular girl from India married to a man she loved, and the next, my life has changed completely because I’m married to an English Duke, who doesn’t remember me.

My name is Aaliya Singh Talbot and I will do whatever it takes to bring my husband back from the darkness and into the light.

I will make him remember no matter what I have to do!

I will make him remember everything - beneath all the lies!


Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com * RadishOther Platforms



Read an Excerpt from Beneath the Lies


Damien

London

The first thing that hits me when I open my eyes is that revolting hospital smell. I hate it! I’ve always hated it! The word hospital ought to come patented with that typical nausea inducing antiseptic smell.
The persistent beep of a monitor makes me turn my head to the green lines on its screen. My eyes widen as I scan my surroundings. Bloody hell! I’m on a hospital bed, connected to a heart rate monitor and dozens of other tubes and I’ve no fucking clue as to why.

“Thank God! You’re awake. You’re finally awake.” A familiar voice speaks from my side.
It’s my best friend Gabriel! He’s standing beside me, his expression worried and relieved at the same time. Dark shadows surround his eyes and his clothes are wrinkled. I try to sit up but a sharp pain in my head stops me. A loud wince escapes my lips and Gabe immediately squeezes my shoulder. 

“Don’t, Damien, please. Just lie down. I’m going to fetch a doctor.” 

I shut my eyes and hesitantly touch my head. Sure enough, most of my head is wrapped in bandages. Why am I here? What’s happened to me? I can’t for the life of me comprehend what’s going on. My mouth opens and closes but no sound comes out of my dry throat.

Gabe returns with a doctor, Dr. McKenzie from what I can read on his badge. He has a white mop of hair and a somber expression on his face. He shines some light in my eyes and checks my pressure while asking some preliminary questions. How do I feel? Does it hurt anywhere else? Can I feel my arms, my legs? Can I move them etc, etc? I give him answers with nods of my head.

After he’s done, I take a deep breath and try to speak again, but what comes out is a choked sound. The doctor hands me a glass of water. I take a sip and try again. 

“What happened to me?” I ask, my voice hoarse from un-use for God knows how long. 

Gabe is staring at me, a frown knotted on his brow. “Damien, you were in a car accident. Don’t you remember?”

An accident? When was I in an accident? Fuck! My mind is a huge empty blank.  

“I don’t recall being in a car accident,” I bark out, “and I don’t have patience for this nonsense. I need some answers, NOW!”

“Damien, you need to calm down,” Gabe says.

The doctor takes a step closer to me. “What is the last thing you remember?” he asks.

I take a moment to think back. “It was my birthday. I was at a coffee shop waiting for Gabe.”

“What year is it?” Gabe asks me.

“Gabe…” I start to say but he raises a hand to stop me. “Answer me Damien.”

“2015”

His mouth drops open and he turns a helpless look at the doctor.

“Can someone tell me what the bloody hell is going on?” I finally snap. “What is wrong with my head and why the hell am I on this Godforsaken bed with a dozen machines attached to me?”

The old doctor shakes his head at my outburst but Gabe is smiling. The angry glare that I throw his way does nothing to wipe his grin. He’s the only one I know who has always been unfazed by me. A fleeting memory pops in my mind of someone else, but I can’t catch it. It’s gone before I can exhale on my next breath. Ignoring it, I turn to the doctor waiting for a response from him.

He takes the glass from me and puts it on the table next to me before he says, “You’ve been in a severe accident that has injured the back of your brain, which means that you may have lost some part of your memory. How much, we’ll have to conduct tests to ascertain. But as of now, it seems that you’re suffering from some form of amnesia.”

I give him a fierce look. 

“That can’t be true,” I scoff. 

His lips flatten and he crosses his arms in front of him. “With due respect, Your Grace, that is true because the year is 2020 and you seem to be missing five years of your life. I’ll be back to conduct a few tests once you’re settled in with this information.”



About the Author:
Sapna Bhog is an author from India who writes contemporary and historical romance novels. As a self-proclaimed die-hard romantic, her books are filled with swoon-worthy heroes and feisty heroines who clash all the time, but do get their happy ever after. Sapna has always surrounded herself with books and when she is not writing she is reading. Originally from Dubai, she now lives in Western India with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky. Sapna gave up a successful IT career and took a foray into writing and has never looked back since. Her favourite pastimes are reading, writing, traveling and shopping—not necessarily in that order. She loves to hear from readers.

Sapna on the Web:
Twitter * Facebook * Instagram
















07 May, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Break the Stone by Cassie Swindon - @CassieSwindon @XpressoTours #Romance #Suspense #YoungAdult

 

Break the Stone
Cassie Swindon
(Golden Chains, #1)
Publication date: May 7th 2021
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

Raelyn Bell’s father forces them to flee their quaint town, severing the last connection to her dead mother. Now, desperate and alone. But she won’t give up. In a new town, Raelyn defies Pa’s wishes by investigating the truth of her mother’s death. Only the answers will help her fill the void plaguing her heart.

Meanwhile, U.S. Army Specialist Kody Walsh’s duty is to obey orders, no matter how “gray.” His questionable actions lead him straight to Raelyn. If Kody aids in Raelyn’s quest, it could mean game over for his career.

As the two cut through layers of lies, threats, ambushes, and stalkers, their bond grows stronger. But the dangers prove worse than they ever feared. Can they see this journey through without losing their lives—and each other?

Break the Stone is a suspenseful mystery, perfect for fans of fast-paced storylines and heart-pounding romance. It is the first of three books in the Golden Chains series.

Content is for age 17+ with trigger warnings of mild: PTSD, profanity, sexual content, and violence.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Kody Walsh gripped the sealed red envelope tightly while his other hand steered around a John Deere. He pulled up to an old farmhouse where lace curtains blew out from an open window. His smart watch alerted him about his increased heart rate but Kody ignored it. He parked his Jeep at a distance behind a set of oak trees, leaving it running–just in case.

Hopefully no one’s home. I’ll be quick.

Kody patted his Glock and hustled past a blue Chevy with a dented-in door. It looked so run down that it probably couldn’t even start.

Good. No one can chase me when I leave.

A tall, broad, lumberjack-looking man with a trimmed beard marched out the side door, out to a barn.

Shit!

Kody plastered himself against the side of the house, then snuck inside the open window. He scanned the study room, taking inventory of the exit options: one closed door leading to the rest of the house, the window he just came through and a chimney. His gaze darted around the room.

Desk chair—blunt force trauma, non-lethal. Award hung on the wall—one quick slice from a shard of broken glass to the neck could do the trick if needed. Darts in the corner could poke out someone’s eye.

An antique desk stood against a wall in the small room. Kody dropped the red envelope on top of the desk as instructed. Then, he started searching for the item Snyder commanded that he borrow—steal. Kody’s hands were jittery, but he kept repeating the same phrase in his head.

A soldier does anything for the team. Anything.

He sprang across the study and looked in boxes, under books, on top of the shelf, in the cabinets, and rummaged through the drawers. As he slid the bottom drawer out, the rollers got stuck and fell off the track, sending it down at an angle. A girl’s voice started singing from the other side of the door. Kody’s heart raced as he ducked below the desk.

Wait! There it is!

A white marble box was taped underneath. It had a gold compass shape engraved on the front with tiny red specs sparkling like jewels. Kody ripped it off and jammed it in his pocket.

Sacrifices must be made for the team. There’s no other option.

The voice grew louder again and the door knob turned slowly.

Author Bio:

Instead of the boring bio info, here’s some interesting tidbits about the author:

• Tackled her father for a pair of Michael Phelps’ personal goggles
• Cried when the Cubs won the World Series
• Met husband freshman year of college- a blizzard & tequila may have been involved
• Moved to Raleigh by the flip of a coin
• Mutated into a zombie when daughter was born in 2013, then again 17 months later for son
• Evacuated from a boat crash in the Atlantic during a whale watching tour
• Witnessed a wild horse pack galloping through the Rockies
• Cofounded a three-person Beanie Baby Club in the 90s, in a treehouse
• Snorkeled in The Great Barrier Reef
• Broke her foot when pretending to be a Baywatch lifeguard
• Completed her first fiction read in 1992, “The Pig Can Jig”
• Stranded in a Cancun lagoon while jet skiing
• Crunched the back of a Dodge Neon against a wall while transporting a Medieval knight to a pub
• Watched Frozen more than any other movie combined to date
• Invented a symbol language to pass notes to her best friend in high school French class
• Swung off a rope swing of pirate ship in Aruba
• Backpacked through Italy
• Stole plaques showing what swim records she broke

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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04 May, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Awakening by Poppy Williams - @mspoppy @XpressoTours #Suspense #Thriller #YoungAdult

 

Awakening
Poppy Williams
Publication date: April 28th 2021
Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Young Adult

Every Hero Has a Beginning

Raised by parents who work deep within the U.S. intelligence agency, Zoe Dixon has picked up a few skills along the way.

When her family moves to a new town, Zoe thinks it’s business as usual. But that all changes when a student turns up dead at her new school. Now, after years of keeping a low profile, Zoe has to decide whether she’ll step out of the shadows and use her skills for good.

As she digs deeper, she’ll uncover shocking truths that will change the course of her life forever.

Awakening is book one in the Zoe Dixon Saga. Fans of Marvel’s Black Widow, J.J. Abrams Alias, and Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass, will love this young adult action-packed suspense thriller.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Zoe quickly washed her face and laced up her shoes before heading down the stairs. She turned right, passing the den, and made her way towards the door underneath the stairs. It was made of solid metal. She reached out, placing her palm against the wood grain to the right side of the door. She could feel the coolness of the hidden scanner that was nestled underneath a thin layer of wood. It scanned her prints, and then a small panel slid open, revealing a keypad. Zoe’s fingers moved quickly as she typed in the eighteen-digit code from memory. The code was random, and her father changed it every three days. She heard the lock click and watched as the door slid open. She stepped in and hurried down the stairs as the door closed behind her.

At the bottom of the stairs was a short hallway that led towards the main room, where the walls and floors were covered in dark gray mats. She found Mia sitting cross-legged in the middle of the room, waiting.

“No Mom and Dad yet?” Zoe asked as she sat next to her sister.

“Still upstairs. Are you ready for this?”

“Yeah,” Zoe sighed. “I gotta admit, I was hoping we would get a break tonight.”

“Wishful thinking,” Mia said as she rocked back and forth.

“I guess you’re right. What do you think tonight’s game is going to be?”

“I don’t know but get ready to lose.”

“Yeah, right,” Zoe sneered back at her. “I think it’s going to be all about Cleveland.”

“We haven’t done that one in a while,” Mia said with a nostalgic look.

“You gonna be okay?” Zoe said with fake concern, her tone full of mocking.

Mia flung out her hand, swatting Zoe’s arm. “Ha ha. I’m more than okay.”

“We’ll see,” Zoe said.

Carl and Sofia Dixon entered the room, each carrying a set of thick metal chains. Zoe glanced at Mia as if to say, I told you so, as the girls stood.

“Zoe to the right,” their mom called out in a no-nonsense voice. Both girls moved towards the one section of wall not covered by mats. It was solid gray brick. Towards the middle of the wall embedded in the brick were several thick steel rings. Zoe sat on the floor directly underneath one of the rings, pressing her back against the icy wall.

“Hands up,” her mom said. Zoe lifted her hands and waited while her mother chained her to the wall.

Author Bio:

Poppy grew up in Cleveland Ohio, where books played an enormous role in her upbringing. She started writing when she realized she had a few stories of her own to tell. When she's not typing away at her keyboard, you'll find her playing video games, or listening to K-Pop!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / TikTok / Newsletter / Bookbub


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27 April, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Dead In The Water by Jeannette de Beauvoir - @partnersincr1me @JeannetteDeB #Mystery

 

Dead In The Water

by Jeannette de Beauvoir

April 27, 2021 Book Blast

Dead In The Water by Jeannette de Beauvoir

 

Book Details:

Family Can Be Murder

Sydney Riley's stretch of planned relaxation between festivals is doomed from the start. Her parents, ensconced at the Race Point Inn, expect her to play tour guide. Wealthy adventurer Guy Husband has reappeared, seeking to regain her friend Mirela's affections. And the body of a kidnapped businessman has been discovered under MacMillan Wharf!

Sydney is literally at sea (by far not her favorite place!) balancing these expectations with her supersized curiosity. Is the murder the work of a regional gang led by the infamous "Codfather" or the result of a feud within an influential Provincetown family? What's Guy Husband's connection, and why is it suddenly so important that her boyfriend Ali come for a visit—especially while her mother is in town?

Master of crime Jeannette de Beauvoir brings her unique blend of irony and intrigue to this humorous—and sometimes horrendous—convergence of family and fatality.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: HomePort Press
Publication Date: May 1st 2021
Number of Pages: 309
ISBN: 9781734053371
Series:Sydney Riley Series, Book #8 | Each is a stand alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from Dead In The Water:

Chapter One

It was, I told myself, all my worst nightmares come true. All at once.

I may live at Land’s End, out at the tip of Cape Cod where the land curls into itself and for centuries foghorns warned of early death and disaster; I may have, yes, been out on boats on the Atlantic waters, laughably close to shore; but no, I’d never gotten used to any of it. I like floors that don’t move under my feet. I like knowing I could conceivably make it back to land on my own steam should something go wrong. (Well the last bit is a fantasy: without a wetsuit, the cold would get me before the fatigue did. But the point still stands.)

I was having this plethora of cheerful thoughts for two reasons. I had allowed myself to be persuaded to go on a whale watch. And the person standing beside me on the deck was my mother.

Like all stories that involve me and my mother, this one started with guilt. I’d had, safe to say, a rough year. I’d broken my arm (and been nearly killed) at an extremely memorable film festival here in Provincetown in the spring, and then during Women’s Week that October had met up with another murderer—seriously, it’s as if my friend Julie Agassi, the head of the town’s police detective squad, is right, and I go looking for these things.

I don’t, but people are starting to wonder.

Meanwhile, my mother was busily beating her you-never-call-you-never-write drum and I just couldn’t face seeing her for the holidays. My life was already complicated enough, and there’s no one like my mother for complicating things further. She’s in a class by herself. Other contenders have tried valiantly to keep up, before falling, one by one, by the wayside. Not even death or divorce can complicate my life the way my mother manages to. She perseveres.

On the other hand, circumstances had over the past year given her a run for her money. My boyfriend Ali—who after several years my mother continued to refer to as that man—and I had become sudden and accidental godparents to a little girl named Lily when our friend Mirela adopted her sister’s unwanted baby. And the godparents thing—which I’d always assumed to be a sort of ceremonial role one trotted out at Christmas and birthdays—had become very real when Mirela was arrested, incarcerated, and investigated as to her parenting suitability last October, and suddenly we were in loco parentis. I took the baby to Ali’s Boston apartment and we holed up there for over a month. Mirela had joined us for the last week of it and I can honestly say I’ve never been more relieved to see anyone in my life.

I was trying, but motherhood was clearly not my gig. Maybe there’s something to that DNA thing, after all.

What with one thing and another, it was this January before I was thinking straight. I’d gone back to my life in P’town and my work—I’m the wedding and events planner for the Race Point Inn, one of the town’s nicer establishments, though I do say it myself—and really believed I was finally feeling back to what passes for normal again when my mother began her barrage of guilt-laden demands. Had I forgotten I had parents? I could travel to Boston, but not to New Hampshire?

It hadn’t helped that, because there was absolutely nothing on the inn’s events calendar for February, Ali and I decided to be the tourists for once; we’d taken off for Italy. Okay, let’s see, the short dark days of February… and a choice between snowy New Hampshire and the charms of Venice. You tell me.

Which was why I’d run out of excuses by the time my mother started taking about being on her deathbed in March. (She wasn’t.) And that my father had forgotten what I looked like in April. (He hadn’t.)

I couldn’t afford any more time off—Glenn, the inn’s owner, had already been more than generous as it was—and there was only one thing to do. I had a quick shot of Jameson’s for courage and actually called my mother, risking giving her a heart attack (the last time I’d called was roughly two administrations ago), and invited her and my father to come to Provincetown.

Which was why I now found myself on the deck of the Dolphin IV, looking for whales and listening to my mother read from the guide book. “The largest living mammal is the blue whale,” she reported.

“I know,” I acknowledged.

“The humpback whale doesn’t actually chew its food,” she said. “It filters it through baleens.”

“I know,” I replied.

She glanced at me, suspicious. “How do you know all this?”

“Ma, I live in Provincetown.” It’s just possible one or two of the year-round residents—there aren’t that many of us, the number is under three thousand—don’t know about whales, but the possibility is pretty remote. Tourism is our only real industry. Tourists stop us in the street to ask us questions.

We know about whales.

She sniffed. “You don’t have to take an attitude about it, Sydney Riley,” she said. Oh, good: we were in full complete-name reprimand mode. “You know I don’t like it when you take an attitude with me.”

“I wasn’t taking an attitude. I was stating a fact.” I could feel the slow boil of adolescent-level resentment—and attitude, yes—building. I am in my late thirties, and I can still feel about fifteen when I’m having a conversation with my mother. Breathe, Riley, I counseled myself. Just breathe. Deeply. Don’t let her get to you.

She looked around her. “Are we going to see sharks?”

I sighed. Everyone these days wants to see sharks. For a long time, the dreaded story of Jaws was just that—a story, something to watch at the drive-in movie theatre in Wellfleet (yeah, we still have one of those) and shiver deliciously at the creepy music and scream when the shark tries to eat the boat. But conservation efforts over the past eight or ten years had caused a spectacular swelling of the seal population around the Cape—we’d already seen a herd of them sunning themselves on the beach today when we’d passed Long Point—and a few years later, the Great White sharks realized where their meals had all gone, and followed suit.

That changed things rather a lot. A tourist was attacked at a Truro beach and bled out. Signs were posted everywhere. Half-eaten seal corpses washed up. The famous annual Swim for Life, which once went clear across the harbor, changed its trajectory. And everybody downloaded the Great White Shark Conservancy’s shark-location app, Sharktivity.

The reality is both scary and not-scary. We’d all been surprised to learn sharks are quite comfortable in three or four feet of water, so merely splashing in the shallows was out. But in reality sharks attack humans only when they mistake them for seals, and usually only bite once, as our taste is apparently offensive to them. People who die from a shark attack bleed out; they’re not eaten alive.

“We might,” I said to my mother now. “There are a number of kinds of sharks here—”

The naturalist’s voice came over the loudspeaker, saving me. “Ah, so the captain tells me we’ve got a female and her calf just up ahead, at about two o’clock off the bow of the boat.”

“What does that mean, two o’clock?”

He had already told us. My mother had been asking what they put in the hot dogs in the galley at the time and hadn’t stopped to listen to him. “If the front of the boat is twelve o’clock, then two o’clock is just off—there!” I exclaimed, carried away despite myself. “There! Ma, see?”

“What?”

The whale surfaced gracefully, water running off her back, bright and sparkling in the sunlight, and just as gracefully went back under. A smaller back followed suit. The denizens of the deep, here to feed for the summer, willing to show off for the boatloads of visitors who populated the whale-watch fleet every year to catch a glimpse of another life, a mysterious life echoing with otherworldly calls and harkening back to times when the oceans were filled with giants.

Before we hunted them to the brink of extinction, that is.

“This is an individual we know,” the naturalist was saying. “Her name is Perseid. Unlike some other whales, humpbacks don’t travel in pods. Instead, they exist in loose and temporary groups that shift, with individuals moving from group to group, sometimes swimming on their own. These assemblages have been referred to as fluid fission/fusion groups. The only exception to this fluidity is the cow and calf pair. This calf was born eight months ago, and while right now you’re seeing her next to Perseid, she’s going to start straying farther and farther away as the summer progresses.”

Now that my mother was quieter—even she was silent in the face of something this big, this extraordinary—I recognized the naturalist’s voice. It was Kai Bennett, who worked at the Center for Coastal Studies in town; he was a regular at the Race Point Inn’s bar scene during the winter, when we ran a trivia game and he aced all the biology questions. “And we have another one that just went right under us… haven’t yet seen who this one is,” said Kai.

The newcomer spouted right off the port side of the boat and the light wind swept a spray of fine droplets over the passengers, who exclaimed and laughed.

“I wish they’d jump more out of the water,” my mother complained. “You have to look so fast. and they blend right in.”

My mother is going to bring a list of complaints with her to give to Saint Peter when she assaults the pearly gates of heaven. I swear she is.

Kai’s voice on the loudspeaker overran my mother’s. “Ocean conservation starts with connection. We believe that, as we build personal relationships with the ocean and its wildlife, we become more invested stewards of the marine environment. Whales, as individuals, have compelling stories to tell: where will this humpback migrate this winter to give birth? Did the whale with scars from a propeller incident survive another year? What happened to the entangled whale I saw in the news?”

“Look!” yelled a passenger. “I just saw a blow over there! Look! I know I did! I’m sure of it!”

Kai continued, “For science, unique identifiable markings on a whale's flukes—that’s the tail, folks—and on the dorsal fin allow us to non-invasively track whale movements and stories over time. By focusing on whales, we bring attention to the marine ecosystem as a whole and the challenges we face as a global community.”

“He sounds like a nice young man,” my mother remarked. “He sounds American.”

Don’t take the bait, I told myself. Don’t take the bait.

I took the bait.

“Ali is American,” I said. “He was born in Boston.”

“But his parents weren’t,” she said, with something like relish. “I just wish you could find a nice—”

I cut her off. “Ali is a nice American man,” I said.

“But why would his parents even come to America?” my mother asked, for possibly the four-thousandth time. “Everyone should just stay home. Where they belong.”

Breathe, Riley. Just breathe. “I think they would have liked to stay home,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady. “There was just the minor inconvenience of a civil war. Makes it difficult to enjoy your morning coffee when there’s a bomb explosion next door. Seriously, Ma, don’t you hate it when that happens?”

“You’re taking a tone with me,” my mother said. “Don’t take a tone with me.”

Kai saved me yet again. “That’s a good question,” his voice said over the loudspeaker. “For those of you who didn’t hear, this gentleman just asked how we know these whales by name. Of course, these are just names we give to them—they have their own communication systems and ways of identifying themselves and each other! So as I said, these are whales that return to the marine sanctuary every summer. Many of them are females, who can be counted on to bring their new calves up to Stellwagen Bank because they can feast on nutritious sand lance—that’s a tiny fish humpbacks just love—and teach their offspring to hunt. Together with Allied Whale in Bar Harbor at the College of the Atlantic, the Center for Coastal Studies Humpback Whale Research Group runs a study of return rates of whales based on decades of sighting data. So, in other words, we get to see the same whales, year after year. The first one ever named was a female we called Salt.” He didn’t say what I knew: that Allied Whale and the Center for Coastal Studies didn’t always play well together. For one thing, they had totally different names for the same whales. I managed to keep that fact to myself.

“Your father will wish he came along,” my mother said.

My father, to the best of my knowledge, was sitting out by the pool at the Race Point Inn, reading a newspaper and drinking a Bloody Mary. My mother was the dogged tourist in the family: when we’d gone on family vacations together, she was the one who found all the museums and statues and sights-of-interest to visit. She practically memorized guide books. My father, bemused, went along with most of it, though his idea of vacation was more centered around doing as little as possible for as much time as possible. Retirement didn’t seem to have changed that in any significant way.

“You’re here until Sunday,” I pointed out. “You can take him out.”

She sniffed. “He doesn’t know anything about whales,” she said.

“Then that’s the point. He’ll learn.” Okay, come on, give me a little credit: I was really trying here.

“Maybe,” she said darkly. “What are those other boats out there?”

I looked. “Some of them are just private boats. And a lot of the fishing charters come out here,” I said. “And when there are whales spotted, they come and look, too. Gives the customers an extra thrill.” I knew from Kai and a couple of the other naturalists that the whale-watch people weren’t thrilled with the extra attention: the private boats in particular didn’t always maintain safe distances from the whales. Once a whale was spotted and one or two of the Dolphin Fleet stopped to look, anyone within sight followed their lead. It could get quite crowded on a summer day.

And dangerous. There had been collisions in the past—boats on boats and, once that I knew of, a boat hitting a whale. Some days it was enough to despair of the human race.

Kai was talking. “Well, folks, this is a real treat! The whale that just blew on our port side is Piano, who’s a Stellwagen regular easy to identify for some unfortunate reasons, because she has both vessel propeller strike and entanglement scars. This whale is a survivor, however, and has been a regular on Stellwagen for years!” Amazing, I thought cynically, she even gave us the time of day after all that.

“I didn’t see the scars,” said my mother.

We waited around for a little while and then felt the engines start up again and the deck vibrate. I didn’t like the feeling. I knew exactly how irrational my fear was, and knowing did nothing to alleviate it. I’d had some bad experiences out on the water in the past, and that vibration brought them all back. I’d tried getting over it by occasionally renting a small sailboat with my friend Thea, but—well, again, I always thought I’d be able to swim to shore from the sailboat if anything went wrong. Not out here.

And then there was the whole not-letting-my-mother-know side to things. If she did, she’d never let me hear the end of it.
At least when we were talking about whales we weren’t talking about her ongoing matrimonial hopes for me, the matrimonial successes of (it seemed) all her friends’ offspring, and the bitter disappointment she was feeling around my approaching middle age without a husband in tow. That seemed to be where all our conversations began… and ended.
And I wasn’t approaching middle age. Forty is the new thirty, and all that sort of thing.

“The captain says we have another pair coming up, folks, off to the port side now… I’m just checking them out… it’s a whale called Milkweed and her new calf! Mom is traveling below the surface right now, but you can see the calf rolling around here…” There was a pause and a murmur and then his voice came back. “No, that’s not abnormal. The baby’s learning everything it needs to know about buoyancy and swimming, and you can be sure Mom’s always close by. We’re going to slowly head back toward Cape Cod now…” And, a moment later, “Looks like Milkweed and the baby are staying with us! Folks, as you’re seeing here, whales can be just as curious about us as we are about them! What Milkweed is doing now—see her, on the starboard side, at three o’clock—we call it spyhopping.”

“Why on earth would they be curious about us?” wondered my mother.

“That,” I said, looking at her and knowing she’d never get the sarcasm, “is a really good question.”

Just breathe, Riley. Just breathe.

***

Excerpt from Dead In The Water by Jeannette de Beauvoir. Copyright 2021 by Jeannette de Beauvoir. Reproduced with permission from Jeannette de Beauvoir. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Jeannette de Beauvoir

Jeannette de Beauvoir didn’t set out to murder anyone—some things are just meant to be!

Her mother introduced her to the Golden Age of mystery fiction when she was far too young to be reading it, and she’s kept following those authors and many like them ever since. She wrote historical and literary fiction and poetry for years before someone asked her what she read—and she realized mystery was where her heart was. Now working on the Sydney Riley Provincetown mystery series, she bumps off a resident or visitor to her hometown on a regular basis.

Catch Up With Our Author:
JeannettedeBeauvoir.com
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BookBub: @JeannettedeBeauvoir
Instagram: @jeannettedebeauvoir
Twitter: @JeannetteDeB
Facebook: @JeannettedeBeauvoir

 

 

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22 April, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble - #Mystery #Thriller @partnersincr1me @colleencoble

 

Three Missing Days

by Colleen Coble

April 5 - 30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble

Book Three in the gripping romantic suspense series from USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble.

A chilling murder.

Chief of Police Jane Hardy plunges into the investigation of a house fire that claimed the life of a local woman as well as one of the firefighters. It’s clear the woman was murdered. But why? The unraveling of Jane’s personal life only makes the answers in the case more difficult to find.

Her son’s arrest.

Then Jane’s fifteen-year-old son is accused of a horrific crime, and she has to decide whether or not she can trust her ex, Reid, in the attempt to prove Will’s innocence—and whether she can trust Reid with her heart.

Her stolen memories.

Three days of Jane’s past are missing from her memory, and that’s not all that has been stolen from her. As she works to find the woman’s murderer and clear her son’s name, finding out what happened in those three days could change everything. It all started with one little lie. But the gripping truth is finally coming out.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 6th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785228543 (ISBN13: 9780785228547)
Series: Pelican Harbor #3 || These books are Stand Alone Mysteries but are better if read as a series!
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

“I know what you did.”

The muffled voice on her phone raised the hair on the back of Gail Briscoe’s head, and she swiped the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand. “Look, I’ve reported these calls. Don’t call me again.”

She ended the call with a hard finger punch on the screen and stepped onto her front porch. The late-May Alabama air wrapped her in a blanket of heat and humidity, and she couldn’t wait to wash it off. She should have left the light on before she went for her predawn run. The darkness pressing against her isolated home sent a shudder down her back, and she fumbled her way inside. Welcome light flooded the entry, and she locked the door and the dead bolt with a decisive click that lifted her confidence.

She stared at the number on the now-silent phone. The drugstore again. Though there weren’t many pay phones around anymore, the old soda shop and drugstore still boasted a heavy black phone installed back in the sixties. The caller always used it, and so far, no one had seen who was making the calls. The pay phone was located off an alley behind the store by a Dumpster so it was out of sight.

The guy’s accusation was getting old. Counting today, this made seven calls with the same message. Could he possibly know about the investigation? She rejected the thought before it had a chance to grow. It wasn’t public knowledge, and it would be over soon. She clenched her hands and chewed on her bottom lip. She had to be vindicated.

But who could it be, and what did he want?

Leaving a trail of sweaty yoga shorts and a tee behind her, she marched to the bathroom and turned the spray to lukewarm before she stepped into the shower. The temperature shocked her overheated skin in a pleasant way, and within moments she was cooled down. She increased the temperature a bit and let the water sluice over her hair.

As she washed, she watched several long strands of brown hair swirl down the drain as she considered the caller’s accusation. The police had promised to put a wiretap on her phone, but so far the guy hadn’t stayed on the phone long enough for a trace to work. And it was Gail’s own fault. She should have talked with him more to string out the time.

She dried off and wrapped her hair in a turban, then pulled on capris and a top. Her phone vibrated again. She snatched it up and glanced at the screen. Augusta Richards.

“I got another call, Detective. Same phone at the drugstore. Could you set up a camera there?”

“I hope I’m not calling too early, and I don’t think that’s necessary. The owner just told me that old pay phone is being removed later today. Maybe that will deter the guy. It’s the only pay phone in town. He’ll have to use something else if he calls again.”

“He could get a burner phone.”

“He might,” the detective admitted. “What did he say?”

“The same thing—‘I know what you did.’”

“Do you have any idea what it means?”

Gail flicked her gaze away to look out the window, where the first colors of the sunrise limned the trees. “Not a clue.”

“Make sure you lock your doors and windows. You’re all alone out there.”

“Already locked. Thanks, Detective.” Gail ended the call.

Ever since Nicole Pearson’s body had been found a couple of months ago, no one needed to remind Gail she lived down a dirt road with no next-door neighbors. No one wanted to buy the neighboring place after such a lurid death, so the area remained secluded other than a couple of houses about a mile away and out closer to the main road.

She stood back from the window. It was still too dark to see. Was someone out there?

Pull back the reins on your imagination. But once the shudders started, they wouldn’t stop. Her hands shaking, she left her bedroom and went to pour herself a cup of coffee with a generous splash of half-and-half from the fridge. She had a stack of lab orders to process, and she couldn’t let her nerves derail her work.

The cups rattled as she snatched one from the cupboard. The coffee sloshed over the rim when she poured it, then she took a big gulp of coffee. It burned all the way down her throat, and tears stung her eyes as she sputtered. The heat settled her though, and she checked the locks again before she headed to her home office with her coffee.

No one could see in this tiny cubicle with no window, but she rubbed the back of her neck and shivered. She’d work for an hour, then go into the lab. The familiar ranges and numbers comforted her. She sipped her coffee and began to plow through the stack of papers. Her eyes kept getting heavy. Weird. Normally she woke raring to go every morning.

Maybe she needed more coffee. She stretched out her neck and back and picked up the empty coffee cup.

Gail touched the doorknob and cried out. She stuck her first two fingers in her mouth. What on earth?

The door radiated heat. She took a step back as she tried to puzzle out what was happening, but her brain couldn’t process it at first. Then tendrils of smoke oozed from under the door in a deadly fog.

Fire. The house was on fire.

She spun back toward the desk, but there was nothing she could use to protect herself. There was no way of egress except through that door.

If she wanted to escape, she’d have to face the inferno on the other side.

She snatched a throw blanket from the chair and threw it over her head, then ran for the door before she lost her courage. When she yanked it open, a wall of flames greeted her, but she spied a pathway down the hall to her bedroom. Ducking her head, she screamed out a war cry and plowed through the flames.

In moments she was in the hall where the smoke wasn’t so thick. She pulled in a deep breath as she ran for her bedroom. She felt the cool air as soon as she stepped inside and shut the door behind her. Too late she realized the window was open, and a figure stepped from the closet.

Something hard came down on her head, and darkness descended.

***

Excerpt from Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2021 by Thomas Nelson. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub: @ColleenCoble
Instagram: @colleencoble
Twitter: @colleencoble
Facebook: @colleencoblebooks

 

 

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Giveaway!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Colleen Coble and Thomas Nelson. ONE (1) winner will receive ONE (1) physical set of the first three books in the Pelican Harbor series. (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on April 5, 2021 and runs through May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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21 April, 2021

#BookSpotlight :: Neptune’s Window, Deep Stare by L.L. Lewin - #Mystery #YoungAdult @XpressoTours

 

Neptune’s Window, Deep Stare
L.L. Lewin
(Neptune’s Window, #2)
Publication date: June 2021
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult

Caught up in the lies, illusions, and mystery of Newport Beach, teenage medium Aries Dade delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. Still unable to communicate with her mother, she relies on the aid of several spirits, discovering the identities of two of them, and how they relate to her.

As the second novel in the Neptune’s Window trilogy, Deep Stare thrusts Aries further into the scandal of Newport Beach High School, where everyone has their own secret, including the death of the school’s most popular and beloved friend. But Aries has a secret of her own. She can communicate with their dead friend.
Are you ready to take a deep stare into Neptune’s Window?

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Author Bio:

LL Lewin is the author of the Neptune's Window Trilogy. A native of Southern California, she was born in Los Angeles County and grew up in Orange County. She graduated from the University California, Irvine with a degree in psychology and social behavior. After teaching for several years and interacting with the youth almost daily, she was inspired to write a young adult mystery novel, which morphed into a little bit more. Since things happen in threes for her (her initials, triple Sagittarius, the third born) the novel turned into a trilogy and reaffirmed her belief that three's a charm.

She loves all things astrological, metaphysical, and spiritual. With her sun, moon, and rising all in the sign of Sagittarius, She's as Sagittarius as they come, optimistic, freedom-loving, and ever so tactless.

Her three passions in life are writing, traveling, and soccer. You'll either find her writing at the beach, on an island somewhere, or on a soccer field. And her three vices are chocolate, pizza, and champagne, and not necessarily in that order.

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20 April, 2021

#BookSpotlight :: Blue by L.E. DeLano - #Contemporary #YoungAdult @XpressoTours @LE_DeLano

 

BLUE
L.E. DeLano

Publication date: October 26th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Blue’s older brother was involved in a car accident that killed Maya’s father, and now Maya has returned to school determined to make Blue’s life a living hell in the aftermath. BLUE is a story about gaining perspective and checking your privilege, from L. E. DeLano, author of TRAVELER and DREAMER.

Enemies to Friends
Quirky Romance
All the Feels


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Author Bio:

L.E. DeLano comes equipped with a "useless" Theatre degree that has opened doors for her in numerous ways. Though mostly raised in New Mexico, she now lives in Pennsylvania with two adventurous kids and two ridiculous cats. When she's not writing (which is almost never), she's binge-watching Netflix and planning road trips.

Her debut novel, TRAVELER was selected as a Keystone To Reading Secondary Book Award finalist for school year 2018-19 by the Keystone State Reading Association (KSRA) and also voted one of The 20 Most Beautiful Books in the World for 2017 by MTV UK.

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15 April, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Hit Or Miss by Jeff Markowitz - #Mystery @partnersincr1me @JeffMarkowitz1

 

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Hit Or Miss

by Jeff Markowitz

April 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Hit Or Miss by Jeff Markowitz

When you’re twenty-one years old, it can be hard, under the best of circumstances, to balance the expectations of your father and the desires of your girlfriend. For Ben Miller and his girlfriend Emily Bayard, circumstances are far from perfect.

Emily’s mother has been murdered. Ben’s father, a detective in Dutch Neck, catches the case. It’s not long before evidence suggests that Emily’s father may be responsible for the death of his wife.

Set against the backdrop of the cultural and political unrest associated with the war in Viet Nam, Emily and Ben find themselves attracted by the politics and lifestyle of the counter-culture.

As Detective Miller conducts the homicide investigation and Dr. Bayard attempts to keep an affair with his secretary secret, everyone else in the town of Dutch Neck that summer of 1970 has the same question.

Who is responsible for the death of Rosalie Bayard?

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: WiDo Publishing
Publication Date: December 29, 2020
Number of Pages: 278
ISBN: 9781947966482
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Thousands of young people were on the mall, and more were streaming in by the minute. Willow, and her hippie friends staked out a spot near the Lincoln Memorial. Emily wandered the length of the National Mall, from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capital Building and back again, determined to take it all in. There was a buzz in the morning air. The President appeared unannounced on the Ellipse at dawn and chatted with a small group of demonstrators. He wished them an enjoyable stay in the nation’s capital. Everyone Emily met on the Mall claimed to have seen him. The day was hot; the Mall was dry and dusty. There were crowds of people everywhere, an uneasy mixture of antiwar protestors, soldiers and police units, newsmen and onlookers. Protestors flashed peace signs and sang the fish cheer. Young Republicans responded with middle-finger salutes.

Emily didn’t know most of the speakers at the demonstration, but she like the message. End the Cambodian incursion. End the war in Vietnam. She located a pay phone and used her spare change to call Ben.

“It’s amazing. You should be here.” She had to yell to be heard. Demonstrators continued to pour into the Mall. “Is anything happening in Dutch Neck?”

“You need to come home.”

“Don’t be like that.”

“That’s not what I mean. It’s your mother.”

“What about my mother?”

Ben didn’t answer right away. The phone line crackled with static.

A scuffle broke out on the Mall. Police moved in quickly, weapons at the ready, cutting the small group of protestors off from the larger crowd. The confrontation pulled Emily’s attention away from the phone call.

“Your mother is dead.”

Later, the news would report that there were more than one hundred thousand demonstrators on the national mall, but at that moment, amidst the pushing and shoving, Emily felt like she was alone in the world. Without more change to feed the phone, the line went dead. She dropped the pay phone and turned, nearly bumping into a cop.

“Stay back,” he ordered, his hand on his weapon.

“She’s dead,” she replied and kept walking.

He pointed the gun at Emily’s head. “Who’s dead?”

She could feel anger in the policeman, but also restraint. Days removed from Kent State, it was as if no one wanted to provoke the next shooting. The policeman holstered his weapon. Shouts of “pig” were replaced by prayers for peace. Emily breathed a sigh of relief and answered the officer’s question.

“My mother.”

“Do you have a way to get home?”

Emily told the officer about Miss Cooper and the apartment on C Street. He offered to give her a ride. If anyone saw her in the patrol car, she would tell them that she had been arrested.

No one answered when she knocked on the apartment door. The apartment manager was polite, but firm. She would have to leave.

“Do you need money for a bus ticket?” The officer reached for his wallet. “I’ll drop you off at the bus station.”

When Emily left Dutch Neck, her mother had been alive. If she got on a bus, she would be admitting that her mother was dead. She wasn’t prepared to deal with that. Not yet. So she decided to spend another night in DC. As long as she remained in DC, she told herself, she could pretend that nothing was wrong at home. And maybe, just maybe, she could help end the war.

With no place else to go, she retraced her steps.

The crowd at the National Mall was smaller. There was a chill in the air, the midday heat a distant memory. It was a tough night, out on the mall, trying not to think about her mother. Instead she thought about the American boys who were spending the night in rice paddies on the other side of the world, probably trying not to think about their mothers too, and she knew that this was a small price to pay to end the war. At four in the morning, an older man approached. He was dressed like an off-duty policeman heading out to play a round of golf.

“Are you here to end the war, miss?”

“Yes, I guess I am,” She took a closer look at the middle-aged man and jumped to her feet, “Mr. President?”

President Nixon chuckled quietly.

“But, what…”

“I couldn’t sleep. I thought some fresh air would do me good.”

“But…”

“You know, sometimes I think you young people actually believe that I like being at war.”

Emily didn’t know how to answer the Commander in Chief. “Begging your pardon sir, but it does sometimes seem that way.”

“Let me tell you something miss… by the way, we haven’t been properly introduced. My name is Richard Nixon and yours is?”

“Emily Bayard.” She started to raise her fist in protest, like Bug, during the demonstration, but couldn’t extend her arm, not while she was standing face-to-face with the President. She looked around, grateful that Willow and her friends weren’t there to see her pitiful attempt at protest.

“Well, Emily, let me tell you something. I think I hate this war more than you do. But sometimes war is the necessary thing to do.”

“But you could end the war, sir. You could end the war today.”

“General Westmoreland tells me we need two more years to achieve our goals. You wouldn’t want us to leave now, without achieving our goals. Give me two more years Emily, and I’ll end the war. You have my word on it.”

“I don’t think I can do that, sir.”

President Nixon shook his head in sadness. “You young people can be so impatient.”

“In a few weeks, I’ll be graduating from college.”

“Congratulations. And then?”

“I don’t know. But I have classmates… friends… They’ve been called up. In two years’ time, they could be dead.”

President Nixon didn’t have an answer at the ready. “I’d best be on my way.” The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon. “Before my Secret Service detail realizes I’ve slipped out.”

President Nixon turned to leave. He took a few steps and then turned back to face Emily. “I’ve just had an idea. Are you hungry? Would you like to have breakfast with me?”

“You mean, like, in the White House?”

The President grinned. “I have the best chef. What would you like? You can have anything, anything at all. After all, I am the President.”

“This isn’t some sort of photo op, is it? You know what I mean, antiwar activist sees the error of her ways after breaking bread with the President.

“I see what you mean. It would sure look good in the papers. Lord knows I could use a good story in the papers.” The President chuckled. “No. No photos. No press release. You have my word.”

And so it came to pass, on Sunday morning, before taking a bus back to Long Island to bury her mother, Emily had breakfast with the President. Mr. Nixon had poached eggs and corned beef hash with a cup of coffee, black. Emily had blueberry blintzes and a cup of chamomile tea. And all the while, they argued about the war.

“Would you like seconds?”

But she had put it off long enough. “I’m needed at home.”

***

Excerpt from Hit Or Miss by Jeff Markowitz. Copyright 2020 by Jeff Markowitz. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Markowitz. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Jeff Markowitz

Jeff Markowitz is the author of 5 mysteries, including the award-winning dark comedy, Death and White Diamonds. His new book, Hit Or Miss, was released in December 2020. Part detective story, part historical fiction, part coming of age story, Hit Or Miss is an Amazon Hot New Release in political fiction. Jeff spent more than 40 years creating community-based programs and services for children with autism, before retiring in 2018 to devote more time to writing. Jeff is Past President of the NY chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Catch Up With Jeff Markowitz:
www.JeffMarkowitz.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @JeffMarkowitz
Twitter - @JeffMarkowitz1
Facebook

 

 

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12 April, 2021

#Spotlight :: Worn Out Places by R.H. McMahan - @XpressoTours #Contemporary #YoungAdult

Worn Out Places
R.H. McMahan
Publication date: September 1st 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

I can’t answer that question. I can’t tell him I’ve spent my whole life trying to disappear. I can’t tell him that I was born a drug addict. Or that I’ve been in foster homes so terrible I wished I didn’t exist. And I can’t tell him that last year ended any ambition I had to make it somewhere better in this world.

Drug addict parents. The foster care system. Living on the streets of New York City.

Zoie Cruz is used to an unflinching world that takes without giving back. But at seventeen she isn’t used to Northern Michigan, a family that wants her to succeed, and sobriety.

Everything changed on Christmas morning last year. Her social worker calls it a tragedy and her weekly Narcotics Anonymous meeting wants her to open up. All Zoie wants is to be left alone to get high.

When she meets local golden boy Dean, he’s determined to pull Zoie out of her darkness. And she’s determined to keep her walls sealed shut.

In a whirlwind struggle to stay clean, Zoie’s secrets can only stay hidden for so long.

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Author Bio:

R.H. McMahan a.k.a. Mickie is a Puerto Rican and Irish YA/NA author. She was born and raised in Chicago - and yes she thinks it's important that you know that. In June of 2020, she graduated with a BA in English Lit and Creative Writing and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing.

Mickie dreamt of becoming an author since she started telling stories on the playground in first grade. Ever since then it is rare to find her without a notebook and a pen. Her book baby, Worn Out Places, debuts on September 1st and she cannot wait to share it with the world.

If she's not writing she's doing other creative things like singing, dancing, and drawing.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram


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09 April, 2021

Read an #Excerpt from Bovine Tricks (Royals Gone Rogue #1) by Seelie Kay - #RomanticSuspense #NewRelease @seeliekay

 

 


About the Book:

Lady Annabelle Trask is missing. Unfortunately, MISix doesn’t know if they’re looking for a woman, a cow, or something in between!

Is it real or is it fantasy? That’s the question MISix Agent Mathilda Honoria Spencer struggles with on her latest assignment. Tasked with discovering the whereabouts of Lady Annabelle Trask, Tillie is thrust into the world of Hucows and other human animals. It’s a world that raises serious questions about sexual fetishes, intentional physical enhancements, and even pornography, but in the end, Tillie has only one mission—to rescue and return Lady Annabelle to the Queen. However, as she and her partner, Agent Abdul Ali, attempt to find Lady Annabelle and keep her out of the clutches of terrorists bent on destroying the monarchy, they must also wrestle with their feelings for each other. Can they draw the line between their duty to the Crown and their relationship with one another? Or must they embark on separate paths to continue to serve the Queen?


Book Links:
Goodreads * XtasyBooks


Read an Excerpt from Bovine Tricks

They won the auction for Lady Annabelle, barely. 


Anders turned off his phone and frowned. “The number I was given to arrange for pickup has been disconnected.”


Dianna sighed. “And the auction has been expunged from the Dark Web. It appears Lady Annabelle’s owners have taken a powder, with Lady Annabelle in tow.” She gazed at Tillie. “Did they withdraw any funds from your Black Card?”

Tillie nodded. “The full amount. They got their money. Almost two million U.S. dollars. Why take a runner?”

Anders shrugged. “We had no guarantee they would deliver Lady Annabelle. Hell, they might not even have her. It could all have been a scam. It’s not like we can run to the police and report this. We’re not dealing with upstanding citizens here. They are criminals.” He nudged his wife. “At least Dianna can get your money back.”

Tillie buried her head in her hands. “What am I to tell Her Majesty?”

“Nothing, yet,” Anders said. “Let’s have some of my people check out Abernathy Farms in the U.S. Maybe we can find her and snatch her back on our own. Unfortunately, given the nature of the other bidders, I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones looking for her, and that worries me. Especially with The Mars back in the picture. We narrowly beat out their bid.”

Several years prior, The Mars, short for Marwolaeth I’r Frenhines or Death to the Monarchy, hijacked a plane with several high-profile Americans on board. They had used Chinese technology to cloak the plane, making it invisible to radar and other tracking systems. Eventually, the plane was buried in a Wisconsin cornfield, the passengers still alive and in their seats. Dianna and Anders had been among those who rescued them, shortly before The Mars blew up the plane. 

Dianna gazed at him. “I thought most of The Mars were still at Guantanamo.”

Anders shook his head. “Apparently, some of them have been released. The minor players.” He sighed. “When will we learn that with terrorists, there are no minor players. Everyone has the potential to become the next Bin Laden. What I want to know is where they got their money. We bankrupted them. They must have a new backer.”

“Which makes them dangerous, again.” Dianna shook her head sadly. “On the plus side, we know what they look like. We can pick them out in a crowd. On the negative side, they know what we look like. We won’t be of much help there. We’re better off finding Abernathy and taking it from there.” She gazed at Tillie. “But this is your case. We don’t need to be involved. It’s totally up to you.” She grabbed Ander’s hand. “I am perfectly happy heading out for my second honeymoon.”

Tillie steepled her fingers. “This is my assignment. I am authorized to do whatever it takes to bring it to a successful conclusion. However, as you can imagine, this is a rather sensitive mission. If word of this leaks out, it could have a serious impact on the Monarchy. So, the fewer people involved the better.”


About Seelie Kay:

Award-winning author Seelie Kay writes about lawyers in love, sometimes with a dash of kink.

Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in nineteen works of fiction, including the new paranormal romance series Donovan Trait, as well the erotic romance Kinky Briefs series and The Feisty Lawyers romantic suspense series. She also authored The Last Christmas, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The President’s Daughter, Seizing Hope, The White House Wedding, and participated in the romance anthology Pieces of Us.

When not spinning romantic tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently, she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine. 

Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Seelie on the Web:
Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram * Author's Amazon Page











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