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Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Learns how

Acclaimed journalist Anne Montgomery weaves her latest mystery/suspense novel around one of the most enduring cold case crimes in Arizona history.

Following in-depth research into the deadly 1995 cold-case derailment of an Amtrak train in the wilds of the Arizona desert, novelist Anne Montgomery penned the story of Jason Ramm, a broken former Special Forces sniper, and Kelly, the lonely pregnant teen who appears to be his salvation in the 2018 suspenseful mystery A Light in the Desert releasing November 6, 2018 from Treehouse Publishing Group.

Set in Hyder, Arizona, Montgomery’s A Light in the Desert details the crumbling world of a former soldier whose crimes assault his conscience and an isolated child who, in the guise of love, falls victim to abuse. Is Ramm her savior or something more insidious? Montgomery suffuses the tale with heartbreaking melancholy, both from the point of view of a rejected child who understands little of the outside world and the assassin who’s descending into the grips of an odd mental illness, the Jerusalem Syndrome, that threatens to replace who he is with something else.

A former ESPN sportscaster, Montgomery, a foster mom to three sons, works in Arizona as a football referee and high school teacher at a Title I school where many of her students live in poverty, some are abused, and others are relegated to foster care. On why she wrote the book, Montgomery says, “I have seen the suffering of neglected and abused children first-hand. Often, their voices go unheard. I believe child abuse needs to be a topic we address with ardent regularity, loudly and often, so that someday, perhaps, this cruelty can be relegated to the past.”

This novel is a definite must read!

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil as local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters arrive on the scene. As the search for the saboteurs heats up and the authorities question members of the cult, they uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY NOW from MIDPOINT BOOK SALES

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

An outstanding new Romantic Suspense from the incomparable Nancy Kay that is a definite must read!

Book One is a stand alone story that lays the groundwork for the next two books. The characters are well rounded and natural. The romance is terrific and the suspense is gripping. Yes, this is the book to curl up with on a fall night.

A dead body…
A female suspect…
A detective on vacation.

Can he separate duty from desire? Can she trust his mind-blowing kisses? Or will her unknown past end their future together?

When homicide detective Nick McGraw encounters upscale spa owner Cassi Burke standing over a dead body gripping a bloody knife, Nick’s much-needed vacation slams to a halt. Instincts tell the seasoned officer she didn’t kill the man at her feet, but he’s duty bound to deliver her to local police never suspecting Cassi’s brief moment of fame will make her a target.

Cassi denies involvement with the murder, and Nick strives to distance himself from the case, but sizzling attraction between the detective and the suspect escalates, putting their feeling for one another, the ongoing investigation, and the threat to Cassi’s life on a collision course.

EXCERPT
Enter: Nick McGraw: Vacationing police detective.

Perspiration trickled down Nick’s spine, and a steady breeze molded his tee shirt to his damp skin. Swirling up from the bog were smells he’d almost forgotten.

Moisture laden peat, thick as plush carpet, and an underlying hint of decay.

Then the wind shifted, and an all too familiar stench permeated the air around him. The hair on the back of Nick’s neck rose and out of habit, he reached for his Walther PPK.

Enter: Cassandra Burke: An innocent bystander, maybe….
She swiped a hand across her eyes, crouched low, and peered into the surrounding shadows.

What is that smell?

Rufus lurched away, disappearing into the gloom.

“That’s it.” She scrambled after him. As she pushed through dense foliage, the swampy ground gave beneath her feet and seeped between her toes. Finally, frustrated and spitting mad, she caught sight of the retriever’s golden coat.

“Rufus, come here.”

He spared her the flick of one ear. He’d heard her, but he made no move to obey. Instead, he crept forward, heading straight for a pile of sticks, leaves, and God knows what else. Something reeked to high heaven, and the hum of insects droned in her ears.

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Nancy Kay resides near Lake Erie in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, a former member of the Marines and the Pennsylvania State Police Department who provides valuable insight for her stories. Nancy is a long time member of Romance Writers of America. Her stories are set in small towns and inland communities scattered along the shores of the Great Lakes. They focus on romance, intertwined with the love of hearth, home, and family. Yet, they are sprinkled with suspense, danger, and intrigue. Learn more about Nancy on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Released March 5 from

Chris Pavesic,

the author of Starter Zone: The Revelation Chronicles, the first book in a new steampunk mystery series. Looks like another best seller for this fine author. But you be the judge.

When the Temples north of Chiaroscuro are burned and followers of the Sun Goddess are murdered, Catherine, a bard of the Ealdoth Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed.

So saddle up your clockwork mount, buckle on your electro-dagger, and join Catherine as she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead.

In Chiaroscuro it’s important to keep the faith.

EXCERPT
Services were scheduled to commence in an hour, and Ernest needed to be ready. He struck a match and lit the first gaslight, watching the flame take hold and flare up. The light pushed back the shadows so parishioners were able to find their way to the pews without stumbling. He would extinguish the artificial lights right before the service so the effect of the sunlight illuminating the darkness hit with maximum impact as it flooded through the skylights.

The parishioners would marvel at how the Temple filled with the Goddess’s Holy Light just in time for the service. Ernest would marvel at the fact that none of them were smart enough to realize he flipped a switch on back of the altar to swing open mechanical shutters.

There was a religious stirring in Grand Marsh more powerful than anything Ernest had experienced in his ten years as a Sacerd. The services at dawn, noon, and sundown were packed. Few of the farmers went out to the fields. They worked in town on community projects or sat drinking at the tavern. Their wives remained in the town square, full of chatter, instead of staying on their farmsteads. Their thin voices filled the air. The youngest children were kept close while the teens clustered in protective packs far enough away to keep their discussions out of reach of their parents’ ears. But close enough to be in sight at all times. None of them wandered off.

Three times a day they filled the Temple, ready to hear his words. Faces tilted up to him. Man and woman, young and old. And none of his parishioners would confess why they were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they were neglecting their farms. They were afraid of speaking blasphemy. But he knew the reason, and it caused a lift in his heart that was not due to religious inspiration. They were scared, plain and simple, and it gave him hope.

Since being assigned to the far parish almost five years ago, a posting he saw as an end to the upward progress of his career in the Temple, he struggled daily to swallow his disappointment. It wouldn’t leave, and it was bitter. Bitter.

In this remote village, far from the bustle and industry of Chiaroscuro, the quality of his life, the texture of his life, changed. He longed for life in the city. The world seemed to have shifted into two zones. The pace of life for the city dwellers increased while people living in the countryside were being left behind.

Time’s arrow struck fastest through the densest populations. Sacerds assigned to any of the major cities made more connections and accumulated more power in a single week than he did in a year. Exerting influence was impossible when the spheres of power were spinning outside of his reach, moving too fast for him to see, let alone have an impact.

The wound to his pride stung the most. The elders had hurt his feelings. To be dismissed so easily, passed along so casually—it was like the swatting of an annoying insect. The Temple elders did not treat him as if he mattered, as if his family ties were consequential. True he was a third son, but of a noble line. And they assigned him to a rustic Temple to attend to common folk far below his station.

Very little was required of him here. Or, more precisely, very little of what he did here interested him. He burned to return to the central Temple and to be part of the intrigues and power shifts. This attracted him more than caring for the simple souls of farmers and shopkeepers. Power was why he joined the Temple, and what he was now denied.

But not for long. The thought clanged in his mind with undeniable rightness. Not righteousness. It was an important distinction. Would the Goddess sanction his actions? Probably not, but he was past caring about her approval. During all of the ceremonies, all of the prayer and introspection, he had never felt any divine presence. He had never witnessed any miracles, and doubted their existence.

But power, oh he had seen the existence of power. Political. Social. Religious. Whatever you called it really didn’t matter. Get enough people to follow you. Enough people to believe in what you were selling. This was the belief that could move the world.

There was only one woman in his life he needed to please now, and she held no divinity. Merci had offered him a way out of this rural purgatory, and he had accepted. Truth be told, he had grabbed at it like a castaway might grab at a line from a passing airship. If the price were the damnation of his soul, so be it.

He glanced out the window at the transport coming down the lane. A high quality clockwork carriage with the Temple’s Crest stamped on the doors rattled over the boards strewn across the irrigation ditch and stopped, parking in the speckled light cast by the ornament trees planted along the lane. The carriage blocked traffic, but the driver did not seem to care. Elder members of the clergy, Hlytere, and above, felt they had the right of way. Others had to go around.

A pale, dark-haired woman emerged and stood for a moment looking around. She pulled the hood of her dark cloak over her hair and walked through the yard toward the Temple. Ernest’s gaze followed her, trying to imagine who this stranger was.

Her footsteps sounded in the aisle and, when he turned from window, she was almost upon him. Her speed startled him. When he saw her face to face he realized she was younger than he had supposed. Too young to be a Hlytere, but her use of the carriage meant she was favored by the Temple elders. The seed of jealousy radiated through him. He felt it in his chest and the pit of his stomach. He struggled to keep the emotion off his face.

“Greetings.” He shook her hand with a firm grasp. Her hands were small and smooth and white. “Will you come in for a moment?” He led her to the small reception room off the main area that contained a round table and several wooden chairs. He lit a cheroot, offered her one, which she declined, and they sat down.

“Please forgive me for calling on you so close to mid-day Services, Sacerd Ernest.” She paused. “You are Sacerd Ernest, correct? It’s not like me to presume.”

“Of course. I’m glad you came. I watched you drive up, you know, and I wondered who you were. We don’t get many visitors from the Temple here.”

“I’m surprised you don’t recognize me, cousin. Of course, I didn’t recognize you. So perhaps it’s not so surprising.”

“I’m sorry. I …”

“I’m from the cadet line of our family tree. My father is the elder son of the younger son of our line.”

His brow creased in thought. “Grace?”

“Yes,” she said with a smile, reaching out to touch his hand. Her fingers rested there for a moment too long. Lingered. And then she leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs, which were slim and bare beneath her robe.

Sacerd Ernest regarded his guest, wondering that her physical presence should suddenly dawn upon him so. She was more beautiful than he had thought at first. Her skin was clear and lovely, and her eyes and mouth were made up carefully and well.

What’s her game? He licked at the perspiration that appeared upon his upper lip.

“I would like your help in a small matter. And of course I wanted to meet you.”

“You did?”

“Our sponsor has spoken of you with such affection.”

“Our superior?” He used the wrong word to see if she would correct him.

“Technically, I suppose, she may be yours. I’ve never thought much of the rules of hierarchy in the Temple.” She cocked her head, listening to noises from the other room. Some of his parishioners had started to file in for the service. “It’s such a mercy, isn’t it?’

Ah, code words.

She must think she’s being clever, although he had no idea who could possibly overhear their conversation. It was only just dawning on him why she must be here. In his town. In his Temple. But he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was get out of Grand Marsh. Get back to Chiaroscuro. It didn’t bother him that people, his parishioners, may die, or suffer a fate worse than death. He just wanted to get out.

It’s not my fault if I’m following orders.

But that was a poor excuse, wasn’t it? Guilt flared, hot and strong.

Do you want to stay in Grand Marsh forever? Ministering to the townsfolk? Do you?

No … but he didn’t want to hurt people. Those conflicting thoughts pulled at him. There was the question of right and wrong. What was right for him might go wrong for others. But that was the way it had to be.

Thus he banished the guilt. When something inside of him tried to protest again, tried to tell him to think before he did this, he smothered it.

“When?” He didn’t have any time for nonsense. The quicker it occurred, the quicker he resumed his rightful place.

“In two days. I have some items in my transport that need to be set up in the Temple, but kept out of view.” She smiled and spoke a little louder so that the earliest arrivals overheard her. “I wish I could stay to help with the Mass, but I am needed back in Chiaroscuro.” She lowered her voice. “Officially I never left the city.”

“Of course.” He guessed that she had no desire to partake in the service. “I will help you with whatever you need.” Whatever may come of it, he had gone too far to stop now.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A new release by Chris Pavesic that is a Steampunk/Mystery/Dark Fantasy. Available in Print and E-Book. Be sure to get your copy today!

Blogcatherine

Unquiet Dead

Chris Pavesic

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 7.55.36 PM

About the Unquiet Dead:

In Chiaroscuro it’s important to keep the faith.

When the Temples north of Chiaroscuro are burned and followers of the Sun Goddess are murdered, Catherine, a bard of the Ealdoth Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed.

So saddle up your clockwork mount, buckle on your electro-dagger, and join Catherine as she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogues members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead.

Add to Your Shelf on Goodreads

Purchase Your Copy from Amazon

Learn More on Facebook

Excerpt

Services were scheduled to commence in an hour, and Ernest needed to be ready. He struck a match and lit the first gaslight, watching the flame take hold and flare up. The light pushed back the shadows so parishioners were able to find their way to the pews without stumbling. He would extinguish the artificial lights right before the service so the effect of the sunlight illuminating the darkness hit with maximum impact as it flooded through the skylights.

The parishioners would marvel at how the Temple filled with the Goddess’s Holy Light just in time for the service. Ernest would marvel at the fact that none of them were smart enough to realize he flipped a switch on back of the altar to swing open mechanical shutters.

There was a religious stirring in Grand Marsh more powerful than anything Ernest had experienced in his ten years as a Sacerd. The services at dawn, noon, and sundown were packed. Few of the farmers went out to the fields. They worked in town on community projects or sat drinking at the tavern. Their wives remained in the town square, full of chatter, instead of staying on their farmsteads. Their thin voices filled the air. The youngest children were kept close while the teens clustered in protective packs far enough away to keep their discussions out of reach of their parents’ ears. But close enough to be in sight at all times. None of them wandered off.

Three times a day they filled the Temple, ready to hear his words. Faces tilted up to him. Man and woman, young and old. And none of his parishioners would confess why they were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they were neglecting their farms. They were afraid of speaking blasphemy. But he knew the reason, and it caused a lift in his heart that was not due to religious inspiration. They were scared, plain and simple, and it gave him hope.

Since being assigned to the far parish almost five years ago, a posting he saw as an end to the upward progress of his career in the Temple, he struggled daily to swallow his disappointment. It wouldn’t leave, and it was bitter. Bitter.

In this remote village, far from the bustle and industry of Chiaroscuro, the quality of his life, the texture of his life, changed. He longed for life in the city. The world seemed to have shifted into two zones. The pace of life for the city dwellers increased while people living in the countryside were being left behind.

Time’s arrow struck fastest through the densest populations. Sacerds assigned to any of the major cities made more connections and accumulated more power in a single week than he did in a year. Exerting influence was impossible when the spheres of power were spinning outside of his reach, moving too fast for him to see, let alone have an impact.

The wound to his pride stung the most. The elders had hurt his feelings. To be dismissed so easily, passed along so casually—it was like the swatting of an annoying insect. The Temple elders did not treat him as if he mattered, as if his family ties were consequential. True he was a third son, but of a noble line. And they assigned him to a rustic Temple to attend to common folk far below his station.

Very little was required of him here. Or, more precisely, very little of what he did here interested him. He burned to return to the central Temple and to be part of the intrigues and power shifts. This attracted him more than caring for the simple souls of farmers and shopkeepers. Power was why he joined the Temple, and what he was now denied.

But not for long. The thought clanged in his mind with undeniable rightness. Not righteousness. It was an important distinction. Would the Goddess sanction his actions? Probably not, but he was past caring about her approval. During all of the ceremonies, all of the prayer and introspection, he had never felt any divine presence. He had never witnessed any miracles, and doubted their existence.

But power, oh he had seen the existence of power. Political. Social. Religious. Whatever you called it really didn’t matter. Get enough people to follow you. Enough people to believe in what you were selling. This was the belief that could move the world.

There was only one woman in his life he needed to please now, and she held no divinity. Merci had offered him a way out of this rural purgatory, and he had accepted. Truth be told, he had grabbed at it like a castaway might grab at a line from a passing airship. If the price were the damnation of his soul, so be it.

He glanced out the window at the transport coming down the lane. A high quality clockwork carriage with the Temple’s Crest stamped on the doors rattled over the boards strewn across the irrigation ditch and stopped, parking in the speckled light cast by the ornament trees planted along the lane. The carriage blocked traffic, but the driver did not seem to care. Elder members of the clergy, Hlytere, and above, felt they had the right of way. Others had to go around.

A pale, dark-haired woman emerged and stood for a moment looking around. She pulled the hood of her dark cloak over her hair and walked through the yard toward the Temple. Ernest’s gaze followed her, trying to imagine who this stranger was.

Her footsteps sounded in the aisle and, when he turned from window, she was almost upon him. Her speed startled him. When he saw her face to face he realized she was younger than he had supposed. Too young to be a Hlytere, but her use of the carriage meant she was favored by the Temple elders. The seed of jealousy radiated through him. He felt it in his chest and the pit of his stomach. He struggled to keep the emotion off his face.

“Greetings.” He shook her hand with a firm grasp. Her hands were small and smooth and white. “Will you come in for a moment?” He led her to the small reception room off the main area that contained a round table and several wooden chairs. He lit a cheroot, offered her one, which she declined, and they sat down.

“Please forgive me for calling on you so close to mid-day Services, Sacerd Ernest.” She paused. “You are Sacerd Ernest, correct? It’s not like me to presume.”

“Of course. I’m glad you came. I watched you drive up, you know, and I wondered who you were. We don’t get many visitors from the Temple here.”

“I’m surprised you don’t recognize me, cousin. Of course, I didn’t recognize you. So perhaps it’s not so surprising.”

“I’m sorry. I …”

“I’m from the cadet line of our family tree. My father is the elder son of the younger son of our line.”

His brow creased in thought. “Grace?”

“Yes,” she said with a smile, reaching out to touch his hand. Her fingers rested there for a moment too long. Lingered. And then she leaned back in the chair and crossed her legs, which were slim and bare beneath her robe.

Sacerd Ernest regarded his guest, wondering that her physical presence should suddenly dawn upon him so. She was more beautiful than he had thought at first. Her skin was clear and lovely, and her eyes and mouth were made up carefully and well.

What’s her game? He licked at the perspiration that appeared upon his upper lip.

“I would like your help in a small matter. And of course I wanted to meet you.”

“You did?”

“Our sponsor has spoken of you with such affection.”

“Our superior?” He used the wrong word to see if she would correct him.

“Technically, I suppose, she may be yours. I’ve never thought much of the rules of hierarchy in the Temple.” She cocked her head, listening to noises from the other room. Some of his parishioners had started to file in for the service. “It’s such a mercy, isn’t it?’

Ah, code words.

She must think she’s being clever, although he had no idea who could possibly overhear their conversation. It was only just dawning on him why she must be here. In his town. In his Temple. But he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was get out of Grand Marsh. Get back to Chiaroscuro. It didn’t bother him that people, his parishioners, may die, or suffer a fate worse than death. He just wanted to get out.

It’s not my fault if I’m following orders.

But that was a poor excuse, wasn’t it? Guilt flared, hot and strong.

Do you want to stay in Grand Marsh forever? Ministering to the townsfolk? Do you?

No … but he didn’t want to hurt people. Those conflicting thoughts pulled at him. There was the question of right and wrong. What was right for him might go wrong for others. But that was the way it had to be.

Thus he banished the guilt. When something inside of him tried to protest again, tried to tell him to think before he did this, he smothered it.

“When?” He didn’t have any time for nonsense. The quicker it occurred, the quicker he resumed his rightful place.

“In two days. I have some items in my transport that need to be set up in the Temple, but kept out of view.” She smiled and spoke a little louder so that the earliest arrivals overheard her. “I wish I could stay to help with the Mass, but I am needed back in Chiaroscuro.” She lowered her voice. “Officially I never left the city.”

“Of course.” He guessed that she had no desire to partake in the service. “I will help you with whatever you need.” Whatever may come of it, he had gone too far to stop now.

IMG_0886

Meet the Author:

Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.
Find Chris Pavesic Online:

Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

Tweets @chrispavesic

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

HL Carpenter

Our ladies are back with flair and a whole lot of pizzazz as they break out and embrace a new writing challenge in a new genre – Cozy Mystery. A Cause for Murder

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.

Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

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Friday Features

Welcomes

C. T. Collier

Unexpected Discoveries

Although I love the Internet and enjoy spending hours in a library doing research, there’s no substitute for traveling to a location when the goal is to learn about the values, the land, and the sights and sounds of someone’s home country. I couldn’t write a hero into my book without understanding where he came from, how his thinking differed from mine, what he saw outside his window and on his journey, and why he loved his homeland.

The Penningtons Investigate, my new mystery series, features a sleuthing couple: a luxury-loving Brit, Kyle Pennington, who owns an estate on the north coast of Cornwall and his bride, economics professor Lyssa. To better understand Kyle, I made a trip to Cornwall and the south west of England just before writing the series. My time in Cornwall convinced me Kyle would never make his home permanently anywhere but Cornwall, no matter whom he married.

Ironically, Kyle fell in love with a penny-pinching college professor, Lyssa, who lived in a sweet little frame house in a tree-lined neighborhood in Tompkins Falls, NY. The only upside to that predicament is Lyssa’s three-year contract. She’s a Visiting Professor, not on a tenure track. Neither Kyle nor Lyssa foresees that her six semesters are just enough time for them to tussle with 6 tricky mysteries. When the couple decides to reside in Lyssa’s small home during the nine months of the academic year and spend their summers in Cornwall at Kyle’s estate, the trouble begins.

The difficulty is not just about the intrusion of murder in their lives, though. I knew from my travels that Kyle would have a hard time with the seasonal rhythms of the Finger Lakes. On any fine weekend in Cornwall, in any season, walking is popular and public paths are abundant along the rocky coast, beside rivers, through woods filled with wildlife and flora, and from town to town, or pub to pub.

01-rockycoast

02-coastpathNot so the Finger Lakes, where a foot of snow makes walking a challenge.

03-snowyburden

Hardest of all for Kyle is the long transition from winter to spring in Tompkins Falls. March and April can be gray for weeks, punctuated with the occasional sighting of a single tiny flower or a brave robin.04-tinyiris-copy

 

In contrast, March and April in Cornwall are bursting with camellias and rhododendrons, and gardens are readying their grounds for an influx of visitors.05-rhodo

06-wisteria

Fortunately, one area that poses less difficulty for Kyle is his emotional response to the little house Lyssa loves, where they make their home in the Finger Lakes. The south west of England, after all, has no shortage of charming small homes, each with its own quirks and workarounds.07-cottage

Their house in Tompkins Falls has a new master suite, after all, and a state-of-the-art kitchen leading to a sunny brick patio and a backyard rose garden. If only Lyssa’s little house weren’t the scene of murder. . .

NOTE FROM DONALD: I’ve read this book and you will keep turning the pages to find out what is going to happen next. The Pennington’s remind me of the old TV series “The Thin Man” where you were never sure who committed the murder. One small change is that Professor Lyssa Pennington is the detective and her husband Kyle is the on who plays the helper.

BOOK BLURB:

It’s Monday of spring break when Professor Lyssa Pennington’s backyard garden project unearths a loaded revolver. With no record of violence at their address and no related cold case, the Tompkins Falls police have no interest. But the Penningtons and a friend with the State Police believe there’s a body somewhere. Whose? Where? And who pulled the trigger?

Planted is book one in the mystery series, The Penningtons Investigate.20161021-planted-book-cover

BUY LINK: http://tinyurl.com/h2f2xeh

 

AUTHOR BIO:20161021-ct-collier-author

C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting, Tompkins Falls, is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY. Entirely fictional, Tompkins College is no college and every college.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website: https://drkatecollier.wordpress.com/

Facebook: kate.collier.315

Twitter: @TompkinsFalls

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Friday Features

Welcomes

Rachel Sharpe

 

Today we have with us author Rachel Sharpe the writer of the Jordan James, PI Series. She is sharing some interesting highlights about the cinema that relates to her newest book Bitter Retribution.

However before she does I (Donald) want to take a moment to talk about this newest book of the series. Having read Bitter Retribution, the third book in the Jordon James PI series, I can say that the story fully reveals Jordon’s feelings about her boyfriend Rick, and investigative partner Jon. These are characters you can love to follow because they are believable in their faults and uncertainties. Just be sure to not start reading the book without enough time to finish before bed time. LOL You will not be able to put it down.

Now I’ll turn the post over to Rachel.

THE SEDUCTION OF CINEMA

Many people are drawn to the Hollywood lifestyle. Everything about southern California, from its glamorous attractions to outdoor activities, cause people to flock there. Many do so with the hopes of making it big – to become a star. While very few achieve this goal, it’s still a dream many are willing to take a chance on.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason for Hollywood’s allure, but the closest conclusion I’ve come to is fantasy. In Hollywood, anything goes. Tinsel town is filled with fame and fortune, all there for the taking. Reality rarely makes an appearance when one can live in a multi-million dollar mansion, eat at five star restaurants daily, shop on Rodeo Drive, and get paid to perform.

I’ve visited California a few times and am fortunate enough to know some people who work in the movie industry. When you’re in Hollywood getting an insider’s view, it’s hard not to become swept up in the fantasy. When you live the life of a famous actor, it’s easy to become detached from the “real world.” And what better place to solve a crime than in a land where make believe is reality?

BITTER RETRIBUTION BLURB20151023 BitterRetribution400

“What started out as a star-studded vacation has turned into a sensational avalanche...

When private investigator Jordan James decided to join her best friend on the set of her hit television series in the Rocky Mountains, she had no idea she would become a key player in a murder mystery more suited for the big screen than the slopes. With one actor dead and a killer on the loose, can Jordan uncover the culprit before another victim makes headlines on Hollywood Minute?

“BITTER RETRIBUTION” Available Now on Amazon!!! http://www.amzn.com/B015YS0O94

 

Also Available in the Jordan James, PI Series COLD AMBITION and LOST DISTINCTION!!!

BITTER RETRIBUTION EXCERPT

“Don’t let your tears flow,” she insisted passionately from the screen. I glanced up and saw Roch and Nikole embracing while the KGB closed in on them. Slowly, a crescendo of brass arose as Roch and Nikole fought gallantly to their deaths. The credits began and I glanced at the clock. It was ten.

“What garbage,” I laughed aloud, grinning at the thought of meeting Roch Turner the next afternoon. I turned off the television and stretched. Yawning, I walked into my bedroom. After doing one more double-check, I was satisfied I had not forgotten anything. I got ready for bed before climbing beneath my heavy, down comforter and closing my eyes. Sighing contentedly, I thought with excitement about seeing Heather for the first time in six months, skiing in the Rockies, and watching a hit sitcom being filmed. This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever, I thought happily. pushing images of Rick from my mind.

As I succumbed to the tranquility of slumber, eagerly awaiting a much-needed vacation, I had no idea of the depth and complexity of the situation in which I would soon be enmeshed. I had no idea of the sheer magnitude of the vendetta in which I would find myself, a senseless dispute which began years before my own birth. If I had, I would have ripped my flight itinerary up into a million tiny pieces and stayed in the warm haven of my bed.

COLD AMBITIONCold Ambition

“It was my life-long dream to become a private eye. Little did I know that with my very first case, that dream would become a life-threatening nightmare…” When Jordan James decided to embark on a career as a private investigator, she never could have imagined that a chance encounter would lead to her staring down the barrel of a gun on the roof’s edge of a high-rise building. As she begins to investigate her first case, the puzzling murder of a prominent businessman that has left Boston’s finest mystified for more than two decades, she finds herself suddenly immersed in a treacherous underworld brimming with betrayal, raw greed, and political subterfuge of international proportions. In the midst of this, she discovers she is falling for her mysterious client despite the hints of his dark past. Can this feisty Southern girl with a penchant for trouble solve this baffling case or is she doomed to become another tragic chapter in an international conspiracy? “COLD AMBITION” Available Now on Amazon! http://www.amzn.com/B00L2OLQPG/

LOST DISTINCTION20141031 Lost Distinction 400

“It all started with a favor…” When private investigator Jordan James agreed to search for the missing son of a U.S. Ambassador, she didn’t realize she was walking into a case one hundred years in the making. The deeper she delves into this unusual assignment, the more shocking, and the more dangerous, it becomes. With time running out and lives at stake, Jordan must race to identify the culprit of an elaborate plot while also uncovering a far more personal truth too intimate to ignore… “LOST DISTINCTION” Available Now on Amazon! http://www.amzn.com/B00Q5OGCS4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Sharpe is the author of the Jordan James, PI series. Although born and raised in the South, “Yankee” relatives first led Rachel to historic New England, which she has come to consider her second home and is the setting for the series.20141031 Rachle Sharpe headshot

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English, Rachel began dedicating her free time to her childhood passion, writing, and in the fall of 2013, she signed with Soul Mate Publishing. An active member of Sisters In Crime, Rachel currently resides with her husband in the Greater New Orleans area.

Check Out Rachel’s Sites to Keep Up with Jordan James!!!

Website: http://www.rachelsharpe.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorrachelsharpe

Twitter: www.twitter.com/RachelCSharpe

 

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Friday Feature

Shares

Maternal Threads

By

Frances Susanne Brown

Today we are hosting Frances Susanne Brown. She is sharing with us how her memoir is a romance and a mystery. So tells us Frances, how is that possible?

Thank you, C.D. Hersh, for hosting me on Friday Feature today!

I’m celebrating the recent release of my memoir, Maternal Threads, from High Hill Press. That’s right, it’s a memoir.

Not a romance, you ask? Not a mystery? Well, yes, it’s a little bit of both. But as nonfiction, it falls into the category of memoir, since the story told is essentially factual, as least as far as my memory would allow.

Mysteries are great—how could we imagine life without Stephen King, Linda Howard, or Preston and Child? We couldn’t. Everyone loves an intriguing, unanswered question, whether it’s a spine-chilling murder tale or one that takes us into another dimension, another world entirely.

But what if that mystery, that unanswered question, turns out to be a little more personal than fiction? Beyond the realm of the imaginary? Like, in your own family tree?

I reached the age of fifty-two before I realized there was something missing from my life. And trust me, I had no right to make such a claim. I’d been one of the lucky ones—blessed with good health, landing my happily-ever-after husband 30 odd years ago, raising three successful, happy children, and achieving a sort of “status” in my chosen career field of scientific research.

So, I had it all, right? What on earth could be missing?

I’d reached this, what should have been the settled stage of mid-life and realized one terrifying fact: I didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t relate to other women in any of the arenas of my life’s facets comfortably. I was still going to school—still a student!—at an age when I should have been satisfied with what I’d achieved earlier in life. Hell, I couldn’t even go shopping for a holiday party outfit without feeling as lost as a kitten behind a garbage pail. An ill-dressed one at that.

I was half a tree. Although I had a firm grasp on my heritage on my dad’s side, I had no clue about my maternal heritage. On my mother’s side, I’d had Mom and Aunt Charlotte, my mother’s “half-sister.” Charlotte was seventeen when my mother was born.

Trouble was, by the time I decided to explore my maternal side, everyone who could have answered my questions had passed. If they even would have been willing to provide answers.

And then, there was my daughter. My only daughter, who was about as different from me, and from my mother, as sugar from vinegar. Yet as she matured into an independent, difficult, free-spirited woman before my eyes, there was something disconcertingly familiar about her . . .

She reminded me an awful lot of Aunt Charlotte, who grew up embracing the cocky attitude of the flappers in 1920s New York.

Maternal Threads describes my journey through my own history in an effort to stabilize my otherwise unbalanced sense of identity. It took me back to the Flapper Era, 1920s Greenwich Village, when the Gibson girl cut her hair, bound her breasts, and shunned the until-then classic visage of femininity. It led me to the disconcerting discovery that the town where my mother was born no longer even appeared on a map.

Memoirs are not just about one person’s life. On the contrary, a memoir can unearth a plethora of commonalities we all share. Idiosyncrasies, uncertainties, and fears we all can relate to. And learn from.

Maternal Threads is a mystery, and it’s about history, but a very special kind. It’s about ancestry—a very personal and precious history that each and every one of us owns.

 

Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1GfAInO

Maternal Threads-cover

Buy Links:

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/1QOZZbu

Barnes & Noble link: http://bit.ly/1ENq9TH

 

Where to find Frances:20150619 IMG_0745

Website: http://www.francessusannebrown.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frances.brown.56863

Twitter: https://twitter.com/francessbrown

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Friday Features

Welcomes

Ryan Jo Summers

Author of

WHEN CLOUDS GATHER

 

Today we are featuring Ryan Jo Summers. She has consented to indulge us and answer a few questions. So, Ryan, let’s get started.

Ryan would you please tell our readers about the book you have brought us today, “When Clouds Gather.”

I would be glad to. ‘When Clouds Gather’ is a romantic suspense. It tells the story of Darby Adams, who runs a successful Bed and Breakfast Inn along with raising her teenage son, Matt, in the coastal town of Driftwood Shores. Life is busy but satisfying, until a dead guest is discovered in one of the rooms. Suddenly Darby is the number one suspect. Suddenly her world is spinning rapidly out of control

The family wants full prosecution, so they hire new-in-town Private Investigator Sam Golden to prove her guilt. Sam begins his new case in the dual role as both investigator and as Darby’s new friend.

His rebellious daughter becomes friends with Matt, which helps bring Darby and Sam together. And strange things start happening at the Bed and Breakfast. And Sam and Darby begin to develop feelings for each other. A promising future looks bright for them, until Sam has to tell Darby what he was actually hired to do—send her to prison. Betrayed, they fight, their fledgling relationship as dead as the murdered guest.

Then both children are kidnapped and Darby knows she has no choice but to trust Sam one more time in order to save the kids. But she isn’t so sure she can trust him again with her heart.

Wow, that sound like an exciting book. How did you come up with the concept for this book?

I had developed a new interest in suspense romances at the time, growing older and enlarging my reading tastes. I liked the suspense they had. I had recently moved and missed being on the water, so Driftwood Shores was a mythological happy place I could travel to. It seemed like a good setting for a huge Victorian B & B and a murder.

We like the name Driftwood Shores and it definitely sounds like a place that would have a Victorian B&B. So do you have a release date yet?

‘When Clouds Gather’ has a released date of November 2014, that is all I know so far.

Boy we understand those nebulous release dates and sometimes they just sneak up on you. We always start working on something else to pass the time. What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on something which is totally new for me. I envision it to be broad in scope and most likely labeled women’s lit with a splash of quantum fiction. Briefly it is the story of a military widow, raising her young son, who discovers one day her dead husband is very much alive. Except he has no memories of her, himself or their lives together. Suffering amnesia from a TBI, he only knows he has some unique abilities that are combat in design, and that she triggers strong emotions deep within him. Their young son will be at risk and his quantum skills will be tested, even if the memories are buried. In the meantime, they work on finding mutual ground in their relationship. Or something like that. So far, I’m about 15,000 words into it and still trying it figure out where I want it to go.

Trying to figure out where you want to go with the story brings up that standard question of do you plot everything out or just go where your muse lead?

I tend to plot out the rough bones of the story—the setting, the main characters, the basic premise down to a few lines and any secondary characters. By then I have snippets of conversation already rattling around my head. So I start to build my three-ring binder. Research is done. It gets a working title and slowly it fleshes out as I work it. But from that point, it’s largely fly by my pants as it all comes to life. Most daily writing is just tapping into a vein and drawing from it. The exception to this of course is ‘September’s Song’, the WIP I described above. It will surely be a literary masterpiece for all the confounding and defiance it is giving me. The inspiration was a photo and since then, it has been constant rebellion to fit any rule or mold. “Clouds “was actually fun to write, with the murder, the mayhem and the first taste of …gruesomeness. “Clouds” showed me I had a dark side. ‘September’s Song’ is showing me how it feels to be pressed under a rolling pin.

Tapping a vein, pressed under a rolling pin? Oh my, your writing sounds like it is very painful. We’re smiling because we understand and you should try it when there are two of you deciding what is going to happen. We both remember when we just wrote by ourselves. Speaking of which when did you first start writing?

I first started writing at age ten. I’d been reading every animal story I could find and one day decided I could take a situation that had happened within the family and write it down. I even drew the illustrations, designed a cover and stapled it all together into a neat little book. A snapshot of our family at that time. I had no notion that action was called ‘writing a book’. I was just putting down what had happened and how I felt about it.

Do you still have that first effort? We both have some of our early attempts.

Sadly, that little story is long lost, probably for the better. After that, I wrote more stories, actual fiction stuff I’d day dream of. As I grew up and entered tween years, I obtained a manual typewriter, converted part of my closet and decided to join the eclectic and elusive “writer’s” I’d come to hear about.

What medium do you use now to write? Paper and pencil, or computer?

I can’t tell you how many notebooks, pens, typewriters, and word processors I have gone through, endless ribbons and reams of paper, correction fluid and all that stuff before the advent of computers.

You mentioned you started in your closet. What is your writing space now? Please describe it.

My writing space now is the extra bedroom in the east side of the house, with a large window facing the east. Plants fill it. My desk is in the corner so I can turn either out the window or to the doorway. The top of the desk is filled with current things I must do—lately it has been notes and files for all my house hunting endeavors. Any number of the cats will be lounging about on my papers and files. The keyboard rolls underneath for safe storage.

I should be closing on my first house by the end of the month. I’ve owned houses and property before when I was married, but never as a single person. So this is my first ‘only me’ house.  It’s small, but enough for me and the fur-kids. It’s a gift from God to move me from one blessing years ago that I have outgrown onto something new. I can’t wait to settle in, paint the walls and get to writing. I can bring at least one fish aquarium from the living room into the office. My bird, Taz, will have his cage in the office and when I am working, he is either peacefully playing on top of the cage or hanging out with me on the desk if he chased the cats away.

Sounds like you have a tough bird or just weak cats. What’s on your reading pile?

Right now I am reading ‘Runner’ by Patrick Lee. I read a review of it in the local paper and was intrigued by the suspenseful premise so I bought a copy. I am nearly done and have been hooked from the beginning. It was a new genre for me to try. Next up in my TBR pile is ‘Shane’ by Jack Schaefer, a classic Western I read many years ago and wish to revisit. I have very diverse reading tastes from animal stories (dog, cat, horse, wildlife) which I never outgrew as a kid, to traditional romance and now romance with twisted genres. I also appreciate clean Westerns, YA/ NA and many forms of Inspirational, both fiction and non-fiction. I also like non-fiction dealing with medicine. One of the things that drew my attention for ‘September’s Song’ was my interest in amnesia and TBI. I am also interested in quantum theories. So—quite a hodgepodge of interests in both reading and writing.

We have eclectic tastes as well. Over the past couple of years we’ve finally found the time to explore those by going to the movies almost weekly. Do you have any favorite movies?

There are a few movies I would love to watch over and over. It’s a Wonderful Life, the Christmas classic with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. To me the message is timeless and worthy of being viewed year round. Ghost with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze is one I could not watch without crying every time. I love Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve, filmed on Mackinac Island, a place very dear to my heart. There is also Perfect Storm and Dances with Wolves. More recently, I loved the movie War Horse. There are a couple Westerns I’d always be up to see again, Last of the Dogmen and Hang ‘Em High. And of course the all-time favorites like Black Beauty and all the Lassie movies, which never get old to me.

You have touched on some of our favorite movies. Getting back to your current book, it seems like it could have some mystery to it.

I have not really written too many mysteries, but I have a clear idea of who the bad guys are. At least by half point if not before. I like the plotting of where to plant clues and how deep.

Do you have a favorite part in your book?

My favorite part, at least with ‘When Clouds Gather’ was indulging the dark side I was introduced to. I could alternate between happy scenes, eerie scenes, loving scenes and take-you-breath-away scenes, all in the same book! It seemed like there no limits.

Have you read many mysteries or watched them on TV? Donald’s favorite is Sherlock Holmes and we both like the current TV show Castle.

I haven’t really read many mystery books, though I plan to branch into some medical suspense soon, probably twisted with some Christian foundation. I do love the mishmashes. But years ago I liked the TV show The X Files. The relational tension between Scully and Mulder mixed with the constant mystery they faced was intriguing.

Anything mysterious or interesting happen while you were writing your book?

One neat thing about ‘When Clouds Gather’ is while the book was pretty much written, I stopped to have lunch with a friend. She had recently returned from a trip back home and she was showing me photos. In a collage frame was one that really made me pause. It was the Grafton Inn in Worchester County, Massachusetts. The Inn hails back at least to the 1880’s and is designed in the Federal style of that era. Today it is an Inn, restaurant and bar. What got me was the cupola on top. Immediately I envisioned my hero, Sam, up there on the slate roof, during the rain, on a cloudy night, having a shoot-out with a bad guy. The Cupola would serve as an integral part of gun fight. So I went home and wrote the scene into the book.

Any final words of inspiration before we move on to shamelessly plugging your book with the blurb, excerpt, and cover?

I have enjoyed my visit here today, thank you so much for having me and allowing me to chatter on about my books. One thing I realized lately –this past August really—is this little quote I now keep handy: “Sometimes we need to celebrate the courage it cost us more than the result it achieved us”.

That was born out of several unexpected events happening this summer and my realization that sometimes the courage to open our hands to let go and move toward something different should be celebrated and appreciated just as much or more so then what we gain by our efforts.

20141121 WCG Large (1)

Now the Blurb for ‘When Clouds Gather’:

Darby Adams has a satisfying life. She operates a successful Bed and Breakfast Inn in the coastal town of Driftwood Shores. Her teen-age son, Matt, and she have a wonderful relationship. And she is caretaker for local dogs and cats waiting to be adopted. Then the body of a guest is discovered in one of her rooms. Suddenly she is the number one suspect for murder. With her world suddenly spinning out of control, Darby desperately needs a friend.

The surviving family wants answers so they hire new-in-town Private Investigator Sam Golden to implicate Darby. Overwhelmed with his own rebellious teen-age daughter, he still takes the case. He begins in the guise of that much needed friend for Darby, while searching for the evidence to put her away.

As the days pass, strange things start to happen at the B & B Inn and it’s all Darby can do just to survive one calamity to another. Feelings develop between her and Sam and she begins to wonder if there is a brighter future somewhere ahead for them, if they can stay alive long enough to find it. Amid mysterious prowlers and attacks, tensions run high, both sensual and survival.

Until the fateful day comes that Sam confesses to Darby what he had been hired to do. Shattered, she can never trust Sam again. Until their children are kidnapped. She knows she has to trust his police instincts for their sake, but she isn’t sure she can ever give her heart to him again.

Excerpt for ‘When Clouds Gather’:

“So, that’s twice today you’ve come to my rescue,” Darby said minutes later, passing over a steaming cup of herbal tea. “Are you trying for a knight in shining armor nomination?”

Sam shook his head, inhaling deeply from the cup. “No. Just your lucky day today I guess.” Ordinarily he would have refused the tea. Until today. Today the spicy aromas escaping from the steaming brew welcomed him. Today…well today was out of the ordinary. Why not try hot tea too? He took a tentative sip, aware of her quiet study and the welcoming slam of hot liquid hitting the back of his throat, sliding down and splashing his stomach. Not bad. Almost as good as a belt of burning whiskey. Today, that would have been sorely welcomed.

“That was good. Thank you,” Sam whispered. He would tell by her crooked smile that she’d be wanting answers. This was, by far, the worse professional screw up he had ever made.

“The tea or the rescue?” she asked, arms crossed and eyes narrowed.

“The tea.” He slid her another smile, meant to be charming. “Apparently the rescue was unnecessary.”

She softened just a fraction. “Only the second rescue. The first was well and truly needed and appreciated.” She picked up her cup for another sip, slowly sliding her gaze over him, thinking.

He saw the suspicions flickering in her blue eyes, more green now, but pretended not to notice. Instead he let his gaze travel slowly around her porch. It was a pretty, relaxing and wholly inviting place.

All decked out in white wicker chairs, rockers, sofas and coffee tables, each loaded with thick cushions and pillows. Trailing plants, stacked books, and colorful potted flowers filled every nook and cranny. A trio of wind chimes sparkled and tinkled gently in the sea breeze. In the distance Sam could hear the ever present, rhythmic pounding surf and smell the pungent salty air. Darby had managed to create a tiny bit of Heaven right here on her porch.

“So what’s the deal with the dogs?” he finally asked. “How did you get wrestled into being the town pound?” Darby sighed again, a soft, wistful sound that hurt his ears. A shadow of forgotten memories crossed over her face like the noonday sun crossing a tree. He wondered if she was going to answer or not.

“I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. First as a little girl bringing home strays. Then folks started bringing them to me.” Another sigh escaped her. “Now I’m sort of a combination drop off point, holding yard and adoption center.”

Sam chuckled, picturing her story, seeing a little girl in pigtails dragging a bedraggled mutt up these same steps, begging her folks to let her keep it, and the dozen or so to follow over the years.

Darby took another sip of her tea, giving Sam a thoughtful look over the rim. “So tell me, why didn’t you go back to town?”

He shrugged. “I was going to.” His eyes swept her porch again, looking for possible excuses. “It had been my intention when I left here.” In the distance he saw the beacon from the lighthouse majestically rising up into the clouds. “I stopped at the lighthouse to enjoy the view.”

“Uh-huh.”

Whether she completely believed him or not, he kind of doubted it. Well, it was the best he could do on the spot. Actually, he thought it sounded fairly credible.

“So why did you come back?”

I heard the screams and panicked. “Because I was thinking about you.” The words tumbled from his lips before he could think or reclaim them. Suddenly uncertain, he picked up his cup and cradled it between his palms, staring at the remaining liquid.

Darby leveled another long look at him, weighing his words. A tiny stain of heat crept into her cheeks and she looked away.

“Hey, you have cats too.”

Darby followed his gaze to where a large white Persian cat had quietly stole up to the porch and now sat staring, unblinking at them.

“That’s Fluffy. She’s one of five I am currently feeding.”

“Just like the dogs?” Sam asked, captivated by the look in Darby’s eyes. When she looked at the cat, they turned so soft and tender, like a woman who looked at the man she loved. Sam caught himself wondering if Darby had ever looked at a man with that soft, tender expression. She had been married. She bore some man a son. Sure it ended badly, he knew, but had that tender, loving look once existed between them? Something knifed through him, hot and quick and painful, stealing his breath away.

Darby swung her gaze from Fluffy back to Sam. “Yeah, just like the dogs,” she whispered.

The corners of his eyes crinkled a little. “Aren’t you taking this whole ‘Love me, love my dog’ thing just a little too far?”

Darby looked back at the cat, unable to meet him. “No, not at all. I am not asking anyone to love me. Just maybe to love one homeless animal.”

That angry mule kicked him in the chest again, leaving him struggling for air. “That has got to be the saddest thing I have ever heard,” he said once he could, wanting so badly to reach out and pull her close. He wanted to erase some of that pain she tried, and failed, to hide. “I mean, everybody has to be loved.”

Darby glanced at him, then looked away, shaking her head. “But not all the time. Sometimes…sometimes love hurts. Sometimes love lies. It doesn’t last.” Her words came as hardly more than a whisper. “Sometimes people are better off without love.”

Like you? The thought popped into his mind before he could stop it.

“Did you ever love someone, Sam? Someone you loved so much it actually still hurts later?”

“Yes I did.” He wasn’t sure he liked where this conversation was going. “I guess you could say another love of mine ended up killing her.”

She blinked, clearly startled by his confession. “You had an affair on your wife?”

“Not like you’re thinking. I was married to a wonderful woman. And I was married to my career. They eventually reached a point where they could no longer compete for me.” Sam looked away, blinking back the hot tears. Six months and it was as fresh as yesterday. Maggie, I am so sorry. So very sorry. “So one finally went away.” Forever.

Darby thought about that, head down, concentrating. Finally, she returned to meet his dark eyes, seeing the shadows. “I’m sorry,” she said simply.

“So am I.”

Bio for Ryan Jo Summers:20141121 bio pic burgendy - Copy

Ryan Jo is a North Carolina writer who enjoys time with her pets and friends, though not necessarily at the same time. She writes romance novels with a twist, combining the basic elements of a love story threaded with any mixture of Christian, time travel, suspense, shape shifting and mystery. She also writes short stories, poetry and free-lance pieces.

When not writing, she likes to cook and bake, paint various media forms and create full sized carousels from spring horses. She relaxes by working word find puzzles and best by enjoying the mountain vistas around her home.

‘When Clouds Gather’ is her third published novel. She can be reached at her website, blog, Facebook page, Amazon Author Page or Goodreads

 

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Thursday Threads

Cold Ambition

(Jordan James, PI series)

by

Rachel Sharpe

20140626 ColdAmbition400

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Heat Level: Sweet

Buy Link: http://www.amzn.com/B00L2OLQPG/

 

Donald said that Cold Ambition is a book that has you wishing from the first page you could read faster. The story is written in first person as many detective stories are but the characters’ interactions and conversations are so well interwoven with the heroine’s that you don’t notice. These characters talk to each other which is refreshing to read. Rachel Sharpe has created in her heroine Jordon James a character that has depth.

Blurb:

“It was my life-long dream to become a private eye. Little did I know that with my very first case, that dream would become a life-threatening nightmare…”

When Jordan James decided to embark on a career as a private investigator, she never could have imagined that a chance encounter would lead to her staring down the barrel of a gun on the roof’s edge of a high-rise building. As she begins to investigate her first case, the puzzling murder of a prominent businessman that has left Boston’s finest mystified for more than two decades, she finds herself suddenly immersed in a treacherous underworld brimming with betrayal, raw greed, and political subterfuge of international proportions. In the midst of this, she discovers she is falling for her mysterious client despite the hints of his dark past. Can this feisty Southern girl with a penchant for trouble solve this baffling case or is she doomed to become another tragic chapter in an international conspiracy?

 

Excerpt:

We sat there in silence and heard Ace stumble towards the door and fumble with the lock.

“Yeah?”

“Is Jordan James here?” a muffled voice inquired. I strained to hear, but the distance between the rooms and the closed door made it nearly impossible.

“Who?” Ace laughed. Suddenly, there was a strange sound. It sounded like a firecracker had gone off. This sound was followed by a loud thud which echoed through the apartment. In an instant, Rick and I were on our feet. Rick turned off the light and grabbed the tape from the VCR. I searched the room vainly for a place to hide. Outside the room, I heard shoes echoing on the floor and the sound of doors being opened. Before I had another moment to think, Rick grabbed me and practically carried me to the far corner of the room by the soundboard. Next to the soundboard was a thin wall covered in soundproof foam. Three of the walls had this soundproof foam but the wall contiguous with the door did not. It appeared Ace was still installing it. He pulled it back to reveal a small closet- sized room.

He brought me inside and replaced the wall, closing us in. We huddled together in the corner. Looking around I realized that this was the room in which Ace occasionally recorded. Suddenly, faintly, I heard the door to the media room open. I heard footsteps making their way around the room. After what seemed like an eternity, the intruder spoke.

“She’s not here,” the muffled voice stated. “Yes, she came into the building with Michaels’ kid. No, they can’t be far. Don’t worry. We know where their car is parked.

If not before, we’ll get them when they go back for it.”

Links:

http://www.rachelsharpe.com/

www.facebook.com/authorrachelsharpe

www.twitter.com/RachelCSharpe

 

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