Showcase & Giveaway: ONE NIGHT GONE by Tara Laskowski

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As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s post showcases One Night Gone, a new suspense-filled mystery by Tara Laskowski.

Description

one-night-gone-by-tara-laskowski-coverIt was the perfect place to disappear…

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

“A heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel of betrayal and revenge. Stunning!” —Carol Goodman, award-winning author of The Night Visitors

“Featuring a brilliantly executed dual timeline with two unforgettable narrators, One Night Gone is a timely and timeless mystery that will keep you obsessively reading well past your bedtime.” —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to read an excerpt.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway,  hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Harlequin and Tara Laskowski, for your chance to win a print copy of One Night Gone (U.S. and Canada addresses only).

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

About the Author

Tara LaskowskiTARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a best book of 2017 by Jennifer Egan in The Guardian. She has had stories published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, among others. Her Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine story, “States of Matter,” was selected by Amy Hempel for the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, and her short story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” is a finalist for the 2019 Agatha Award. Tara was the winner of the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project’s Literary Awards Prize, has been the editor of the popular online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010, and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia. One Night Gone is her first novel.

Visit Tara at:
TaraLaskowski.com, Goodreads, BookBub, @TaraLWrites, Instagram, & Facebook!

Read an excerpt:

Opal Beach was about a two-hour drive without traffic from downtown Philadelphia. It was somewhere halfway between Ocean City and Atlantic City and way less touristy. The beach always reminded me of vacations as a kid, running barefoot on hot sand, creating lopsided sand castles with plastic buckets, breaking crab legs and sucking out the meat. But there was also a sense of slowing down, of taking it all in, and I needed that now. I could feel the air change, the way it clung, coated, opened everything up.

Through the car windows, the Oc¬tober air was shockingly cold but also reviving. The salty air had always bothered my mother and sister, who complained it was too humid and their tongues felt strange, but I loved the way it worked its fingers into my hair and curled around the tendrils. It made me feel a little wild, a little different. Untamed. Like anything could happen.

Was I really doing this? Was I really pressing on this pedal, steering, guiding these four wheels to a stranger’s beach house, where I would live for the next three months alone? It had all happened so fast. A blur, really. Annie’s friend Sharon, with that same nurse-like efficiency that Annie had, set it all up so quickly that I’d barely had time to adjust to the idea before it was actually happening.

But I was used to life messing with me now, used to tripping over a curb or forgetting to eat breakfast or chipping a nail, waking up only to discover that everything I’d known to be true was suddenly different. So in some ways this journey, the picking up and leaving behind, felt like an emerging. Like Rockefeller, the hermit crab I’d bought on our family vacation one year at a boardwalk shack, I was crawling out of a dingy shell and moving into a shinier, larger home. (Unlike Rockefeller, though, I hoped I wouldn’t die from the soap residue that was left inside the new shell when someone tried to clean it too vigorously before setting him inside the cage.)

I drove down a two-lane road just off the ocean, the main drag for all the beachfront houses. I could imagine that on a weekend in July it looked like a parking lot as families navigated in or out of town, canoes and coolers tied up on their roof racks. But now it was eerily vacant, and I had the sense I was the last woman on earth, that in my quiet drive alone the rest of humanity had vanished. I was trying to decide if that was a good thing or not when a giant orange Hummer zoomed into view behind me and passed without slowing down. “Well, so much for that. Asshole,” I said.

The houses were dramatically large and looming, blocking what otherwise would’ve been a magnificent view. You could tell which ones were just rentals—the monstrosities with thirteen bedrooms and a six-car garage that five families could rent out at once. But further down the road, the houses had more style and character. The kind of places—lots of windows, big porches, nice landscaping—that would make your mouth water even without the lush ocean backdrop as icing on the cake.

I slowed as my GPS indicated I was getting close, but even so I almost missed the tiny driveway and its faded, weather-beaten road sign declaring my new mailing address: Piper Sand Road.

I had made it.

The long gravel drive split off halfway up, with one side leading to the Worthington house and the other side to their neighbor’s. When I’d first met the Worthingtons for my “job interview” just a few weeks before, I’d been so nervous about the whole thing that I’d taken the wrong driveway and parked in the neighbor’s lot and stared at it for a good minute before realizing the house number was wrong.

But now, pulling into the correct driveway slowly, it felt like an adventure movie soundtrack should be swelling. And our heroine finds her destiny.

I could imagine Annie’s reaction when she finally saw the house in person. It was stunning. The surrounding homes were propped up on beams, like old ladies hitching up their skirts so they wouldn’t get wet in the surf, but that just gave the Worthingtons’ house an understated effect. It stood confident and modest between them, a beach gingerbread house right out of a fairy tale, with light blue curtains and sweeping eaves.

I parked right at the porch steps and got out, wrapping my cardigan around me to stave off the whipping wind. The front porch was small but quaint, with two wooden rocking chairs and a small white table with flaking paint. I ran my palm along the back of one of the tall chairs, and it creaked from my touch. The chairs seemed to be more for decoration than sitting.

Dolores, Sharon’s sister who lived in town, was supposed to be meeting me to hand over the keys. Yet it seemed I’d arrived first. I’d had to come one week sooner than planned, as Patty and John had been whisked away to her mysterious assignment in Eastern Europe a little earlier than expected. Patty had called me from the airport with the news. I’d pictured her in her white visor and tennis sneakers rushing through the terminals, bags bouncing off her lower back as she breathlessly gave me instructions.

Still, I half expected Patty to appear in the window as I squatted down and peered inside the house. It was hard to see with the bright sun glaring at my back, but I could make out the shadowy silhouette of the large island counter in the middle of the kitchen. Beyond that room, I remembered, was the living room, with doors and stairs leading to all the many nooks of the house.

All empty now, waiting for me. A shiver curled from my spine up to my neck, unwinding inside me. Calm down, you idiot, I told myself. Not everything is a trap. Think positively, and positive things will come…

Excerpt from One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski.

Follow the tour at Partners in Crime for reviews, guest posts and more.

Cover Reveal: HANNAH AND TAMAR MYSTERIES by Christa Nardi and Cassidy Salem

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Christa Nardi and I  are happy to announce the re-release of this family-friendly mystery series for teens, tweens, and mystery lovers of all ages – updated and upgraded with lovely new covers.

There are currently four books in this series, with a fifth title slated for release later this fall.  All titles are available in paperback and digital editions, and with Kindle Unlimited.

THE MYSTERIOUS PACKAGE

hannahmysteryebook1Two sisters, strangers on a train, and a mystery to solve.

Hannah and Tamar are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving break with their grandparents. On the long ride to Vermont, the sisters are quick to offer assistance when a fellow passenger – a girl in her late teens – is hassled by a rough-looking young man. Grateful as she may be for their help, Gwen is in no hurry to make friends, not even as she thrusts a mysterious package into Tamar’s hand and disappears in the Rutland train station. Puzzled by her behavior, Hannah and Tamar set out to locate Gwen and unravel the secret of the mysterious package.

Now available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M1XPEZH

MRS. TEDESCO’S MISSING COOKBOOK

A simple request opens up a savory mystery. 

hannahmysteryebook2Hannah never imagined her high school service project with the elderly would draw her into another mystery. Mrs. Tedesco, a lonely widow who loves to bake, has just one request — that the teen retrieve her cookbook from her old house. Easier said than done. The house has been ransacked and the coveted cookbook is nowhere to be found. Eager to help the woman, Hannah and her sister, Tamar, are driven to locate the cookbook and uncover its secrets. But the teens aren’t the only ones seeking the cookbook’s hidden treasures, and the other side is playing for keeps.

Now available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XZDR15K

THE MISPLACED DOG

hannahmysteryebook3A gorgeous addition places Playful Paws and its staff at the center of a mystery.

It’s love at first sight when Tamar meets Rusty – the newest resident at the local shelter where she volunteers. However, the arrival of the well-trained and affectionate dog coincides with the onset of suspicious and dangerous incidents involving the shelter and its staff. Is it a coincidence or could the dog be the key to solving a major crime?

Now available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074FGN9XM

MALICIOUS MISCHIEF

Social media, smoke bombs, and a secret society.

hannahmysteryebook4When a popular jock senses something’s up with his younger sister, he turns to local teen sleuths, Hannah and Tamar, for help. At the same time, a rash of smoke bombs attacks across Rosedale has the community on edge. Are these events connected and could someone at Rosedale High be involved?

Join Hannah and Tamar as they uncover malicious mischief and forge new friendships in this mystery for teens and young adults.

Now available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07C9SVJDJ

About the Authors

Christa Nardi and Cassidy Salem are both accomplished mystery writers — and sisters in real life. The Hannah and Tamar Mysteries were inspired by their shared love of Nancy Drew.

Christa Nardi has penned the successful Cold Creek Mysteries, the Sheridan Hendey Mysteries, and the Stacie Maroni Mysteries. Cassidy Salem is the author of the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth series.

You can follow the Hannah and Tamar series on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HannahTamar/.

You’ll find Christa on Amazon, Goodreads, and Twitter, or on her blog at Christa Reads and Writes (www.christanardi.blogspot.com).

You can follow Cassidy on Amazon, Goodreads, and Twitter, or visit Cassidy’s Bookshelves (https://cassidysalem.wordpress.com/).

Spotlight: SILICONE VALLEY MYSTERIES by Marc Jedel

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As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on the Silicone Valley Mysteries – a humorous cozy mystery series by Marc Jedel.

About Uncles and Ants (A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 1)

Mysterious attacks. Mischievous nieces. Can a clueless uncle catch a tech-savvy killer … and be home before bedtime?

Uncle and Ants cover final_375x600When a freak accident hospitalizes Marty Golden’s sister and condemns him to babysitter duty, he thinks it’s just another case of hardwired bad luck in Silicon Valley. Until a suspicious murder suggests the mishap was no mere coincidence. Something must be done.

Too bad this quirky, fashion-backward uncle isn’t exactly hero material.
Convinced his sister is in mortal danger, this amateur sleuth follows clues to an oddball array of suspects. Armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion, Marty tangles with gangsters, a cantankerous school secretary, and a perplexing woman he can’t help but fall for. Glitches in his investigation seem like a piece of cake compared to dinner-prep and bedtime stories with his two precocious, pre-teen nieces.

Can Marty catch the culprit, save his sister, and get his life back in order before he gets unplugged?

Uncle and Ants is the first novel in a refreshingly modern mystery series set in Silicon Valley. If you like clever humor, sassy side characters, and average Joes facing extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this twisty mystery.
Buy Uncle and Ants to login to a fresh, funny mystery today!

About Chutes and Ladder (A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 2)

When a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck putting out the fire …
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When a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck putting out the fire …

Marty Golden enjoys time with his nieces, but he wanted to spend the weekend with his new girlfriend — not chaperone a Girl Scout camping trip. Once he stumbles upon the corpse of a friend in the woods, the outdoors adventure becomes an open-air disaster. When the police label it an accidental death, the meticulous Marty vows to investigate the murder. After all, it’s poor manners to let your friend’s death go unsolved.

On the hunt for clues the cops ignored, Marty uncovers a disturbing connection to himself. And as he digs deeper, a misbehaving pup, a kooky cousin, and a maniacal ninja put his survival skills to the test.

Will Marty unravel the mystery before the killer, or his imagination, gets to him?

Chutes and Ladder is the side-splitting second novel in the Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like quirky sleuths, wacky side characters, and laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll love this offbeat whodunit.

Buy Chutes and Ladder to decode a great mystery today! 

Giveaway

Enter a KingSumo giveaway for your chance to win a signed copy of Chutes and Ladder from Marc Jedel.

About the Author

Marc Jedel_267x400Marc Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. In his high-tech marketing roles, he’s also written fiction. These are just called emails, ads, and marketing collateral.

In his family, Marc was born first — a fact his sister never lets him forget, no matter what milestone age she hits. For most of Marc’s life, he’s been inventing stories. Some, especially when he was young, involved his sister as the villain. As his sister’s brother for her entire life, he feels highly qualified to tell tales of the evolving, quirky sibling relationship in the Silicon Valley Mystery series.

Family and friends would tell you that the protagonist in his stories, Marty Golden, isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for Marc, but he proudly resembles that remark.

Like Marty, Marc lives in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, where he writes within earshot of the doppler effect of the local ice cream truck. Unlike Marty, Marc has a wonderful wife and a neurotic but sweet, small dog, who much prefers the walks resulting from writer’s block than his writing.

Visit his website, marcjedel.com, for free chapters of upcoming novels, news and more.uncle and ants teaser

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Review & Giveaway: THE ORNERY GENE by Warren C. Embree

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As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours,  this city girl vicariously ventured into the world of ranching and rodeos by reading The Ornery Gene by Warren C. Embree.

About the Book

cover-embree-ornery-gene-SQWhen itinerant ranch hand Buck Ellison took a job with Sarah Watkins at her ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska, he thought he had found the place where he could park his pickup, leave the past behind, and never move again.

On a rainy July night, a dead body at the south end of Sarah’s ranch forces him to become a reluctant detective, digging into the business of cattle breeding for rodeos and digging up events from his past that are linked to the circumstances surrounding the murder of Sam Danielson.

Working with his boss Sarah, her nephew Travis Martin, and the cook Diane Gibbons, Buck unmasks the murderer, but at the cost of learning the reality of past events that he chooses to keep to himself.

Scroll down to the end of this post to read an excerpt!

My Review

This well written mystery is set against the backdrop of rural Nebraska and the world of cattle ranching and rodeos.

As the story progresses the personalities of the different characters emerge as events from the past are brought into focus.  Kind of like peeling off the skin of an onion – layer by layer.  This was particularly true with regard to Buck; each new twist in the story brought with it new information about his past.

I enjoyed the glimpse into life on a ranch. The descriptions of the region and the way of life were detailed enough to be vivid yet seamlessly woven into the story, without slowing the down the overall pace.  The mystery itself was unusual and, although not jam-packed with suspense,  the identify of the culprit came as a surprise.  I liked it.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book as part of  this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Warren-EmbreeWarren Embree and his wife grew up in the Sandhills of Nebraska. He did both farm work and ranch work during those years, and he still keeps track of what goes on in the hills. After leaving the area, he pursued an academic career in English, Classical Languages, and Divinity. He lectured at a couple of institutions and preached at a few churches, and he now works in Lincoln as a data analyst for the University of Nebraska. His knowledge and love of the unique culture of the Sandhills, his education in languages and literature, and his analytical skills contribute to his story telling. He and his wife currently live in Nebraska and have 3 grown children.

Catch Up With Warren Embree On:  warrenembree.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
Wednesday, 9:15 p.m.

Sam Danielson slowed his pickup to a stop beside an old cattle chute, switched off the engine, rolled the window all the way down, and listened. He absentmindedly counted the cricket chirps for ten seconds, added forty to the number of chirps and calculated it to be about sixty-five degrees or so outside. A trick his dad had taught him. It was a little chilly for July in this part of the hills, but he had heard the low rumbling of thunder on the drive out. It smelled like rain; there was a storm moving from the northeast that was cooling things down. There could even be some ice in it. He checked his watch: nine-fifteen. Just past twilight. He opened the pickup door and took a deep breath. He reached over, grabbed the flashlight from the glove box, and slid out of the driver’s seat onto the soft sand.

Off in the distance, he heard a mama cow lowing. This was the life he had chosen, and he had never looked back. It hadn’t been easy working for, and then with, his dad. They had gone back and forth on the best way to select the bulls and broncos they supplied for “rough stock” events at the rodeos in the Sandhills of western Nebraska. There was only one way for Dad. “You don’t have the feel for how much the bull don’t want rode,” his dad would say. But Sam had gone to school and studied twentieth-century methods of livestock rearing. For his dad it was a way of life; for Sam it was a business. Sam liked the numbers. He liked to narrow the odds by more than just a feeling. He had tried to show his dad the value in breeding techniques and genetic tracking in estimating the probability that a particular bull would do well in the arena. His dad would just laugh it off. “Show me the ornery gene,” his dad would laugh. “I’ll have five bulls picked before you decide on one.” But Sam knew his would be a better one than the five. He could prove the temperament of a bull before anyone tried to ride it. He had never convinced his dad. The ornery gene had been elusive, but not the genetic makeup of the ornery bulls. He had been right, and he had a genetically identifiable line of stock to prove it.

During his travels from his ranch outside of Laramie, Wyoming, Sam had been made aware of a genetic curiosity in one of the cattle he purchased in Colorado in the spring. Being off in the records would end up being off in the genetic makeup of the calves. There never was just one gene that made the difference. It was a matter of multiple generations. He had traced the lines that looked the most promising, and closely followed the leaders in the industry. Discovering that curiosity had led him into this part of the Sandhills of Nebraska. Talking about it at the bar had got him into an argument with the old cowboy, and listening to the old man had brought him to this particular spot.

“You’ll find what you’re looking for out there,” the old cowboy had said. “Then you’ll know I was telling you the truth.” Danielson switched the flashlight on and scanned the area around the cattle chute. He had let himself be convinced that the old man knew a thing or two about cattle breeding. What had surprised Danielson most was that the old man had known about the science behind modern breeding at all. The old cowboy looked more like he’d been “rode hard and put up wet” as his dad would have said: a man who had spent a hard life out in the sun and the rain and the snow. Danielson expected someone like that to know less about biogenetics and more about old school solutions. Like his dad.

The excitement the old cowboy had shown assured Danielson it would be worth his time to find out if he was headed in the right direction. But as he looked around the area, all he saw was a dump site for old batteries, tires, cook stoves, windmill parts, cans, bed springs, and used up corral panels. He saw nothing that would explain the old cowboy’s intensity. Now he was more curious to find out how the old cowboy would explain the genetic anomaly that he was so passionate about. It was one of those things his dad would say shouldn’t make a whole lot of difference in his deciding on a bull. It probably wasn’t all that important to breeders either. But he was curious, and keeping careful records was important to the integrity of breeding livestock.

It was a necessary component in the breeding business and his business. He was hoping he could find some answers out here as he tried to piece together the puzzle. He was determined to take some time to track it down to the source and maybe be able to verify when and where the mistake was made.

He had tried to be low-key when he was asking questions, but the speed at which the old cowboy had raised his hackles this afternoon showed Danielson just how hard that was going to be. He had touched the wrong nerve on the first try. He wasn’t sure whether he had asked the wrong question or his question had been taken the wrong way. It took a couple of beers and a good bit of time getting the old man calmed down. When it finally got friendly again, the old cowboy had told him about the spot out here in the hills. He gave directions and said he’d meet him out there around nine that evening.

As he waited for the old cowboy to show up, Danielson kicked at a broken pitman, picked it up, and used it to move around some cans at the edge of the dump site. He wasn’t terribly interested in getting bitten by a rattlesnake or a rat. It was a half-hearted effort. He sniffed the air again and caught the scent of pine and cedar trees this time. The hills hadn’t changed much from when he was a kid except the cedar trees. They were becoming a weed out in the hills. He shoved a wooden box with the pitman, then threw the stick of wood back into the pile. It was altogether possible that the old cowboy had sent him out on a snipe hunt. It just as well be. There was nothing he’d seen so far that was tied to the cattle breeding. If it were here, it wasn’t something obvious. What galled him was that he could be looking right at it and still not see it. For that matter, there could be nothing to it.

A loud clap of thunder caused Danielson to look up at the sky. In the southwest the clouds were fast turning to an ugly black. He saw the lightning streak across the sky and started counting. He reached fifty-two and he heard the thunder again. The storm was only about ten miles away. He didn’t want to get caught in the storm, and he hadn’t found anything yet. It wouldn’t be the first time he had gone on a wild goose chase.

He walked over to the rear of the pickup, pulled out a can of chewing tobacco from his back pocket, and stuffed a pinch in the back of his cheek. He put the can back in his pocket and picked up an old spur that was in the pickup box. He turned it over in his hand as he walked over to the chute—just an old spur. The old cowboy had given it to him, along with some old rodeo flyers, claiming he’d known Danielson’s dad and had got it from him. His dad had never been a bull rider, so the spur didn’t belong to him. He didn’t know whether someone had given it to his dad or his dad had simply found it tearing down after one of the rodeos they had supplied the bulls and broncs for. It reminded him that he needed to go through his dad’s things, a clutter of boxes, something he’d put off for ten years after his dad died. He tossed the spur toward the pickup box but hit the fender instead, bouncing the spur at an odd angle forward of the pickup. He walked over toward the cattle chute and battery and pointed his flashlight in the direction the spur had bounced.

Danielson caught the flash of lightning in the corner of his eye, heard a pop from behind him, then felt a sledgehammer hit him in the middle of the back. The strength drained out of his legs. He felt a sharp pain spring out from where the hammer had hit that seemed to rush through his torso. His legs gave out and he hit the ground, knees first, and then fell on his face. The pain was now a hot, burning sensation from the place where the hammer had hit and his back felt wet. He thought he had been struck with lightning, cursing himself for miscalculating the distance of the storm. He tried to use his arms to push himself up, but he couldn’t gather the strength. He dropped back down. He could feel that his back was soaked, but it hadn’t started raining yet.

From off to his right, he heard something moving cans around. It wasn’t the wind. It was deliberate. No animal would do that either. A few moments later, he felt someone kick his side. He grunted involuntarily, and then tried to roll over. His legs were a dead weight. He twisted his face away from the pickup, but couldn’t see anything. “He shot me,” he whispered. He tried to raise himself with his arms, but was light-headed now. I can’t believe he shot me. A few moments later rain poured from the clouds, diluting the blood from his back and mingling it with the sand.

Excerpt from The Ornery Gene. All rights reserved.

Spotlight & Recipe: RISKY BISCUITS by Mary Lee Ashford

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As part of a blog tour  organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Risky Biscuits, A Sugar and Spice Mystery, the first book in a new culinary cozy series by Mary Lee Ashford.

About the Book

Risky-Biscuits-HighResFormer magazine editor “Sugar” Calloway’s life has taken a delicious twist since she launched a community cookbook publishing business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer. Now these amateur sleuths must solve a small-town murder—without getting burned . .

Sugar and Spice Cookbooks’ newest project is a fundraiser organized by the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club, famous for their all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy events. But when a group member is found dead, Sugar and Spice’s priorities change from raising dough to figuring out who put murder on the menu.

The return of former badboy Nick Marchant has stirred the town’s gossips too. Add a few grudges and some old-fashioned greed over a land deal into the mix, and it’s a recipe for mayhem. And when someone serves up a second helping of murder, Sugar and Spice need to sift the guilty from the blameless, or their next breakfast may be their last . . .

* Includes delicious recipes! *

Scroll down for a recipe for Biscuits and Gravy from Mary Lee Ashford

About the Author

Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar & Spice mystery series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.

Mary-Lee-Ashford-PhotoPrior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a current board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.

Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics at workshops, conferences, and writers’ groups.

In her day job, Mary Lee is a Deputy Chief Information Officer. She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym. Her delights are reading and enjoying her family and especially her six grandchildren.

Author Links

Purchase Links:  Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Kobo    iBooks

Biscuits and Gravy Recipe from Mary Lee Ashford

 

“Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.” – a saying from Sugar’s Aunt Crickett

Making your own made-from-scratch biscuits are so easy. Some people prefer drop biscuits, especially if they are going to be covered with tasty gravy. A few ingredients stirred together, drop them by the spoonful and pop them in the oven. Here’s a very simple recipe with basic ingredients you may already have in your kitchen.

Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup whole milk

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture either with a pastry cutter or a knife. You can also use a cheese shredder to get small pieces.
Add the milk and stir until the ingredients are combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.
If you’re going to cut the biscuits, transfer your dough to a well-floured surface and fold the dough over several times. Use more flour, if you need to, in order to keep the dough from being sticky. And then flatten to about one-inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter.
If you’d prefer to drop the biscuits, use a spoon to drop the biscuits onto the parchment paper. You may have to add a little more milk to keep the dough the right consistency for dropping, but don’t add too much.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Gravy

Ingredients:
1 lb. pork sausage
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk

Instructions:
Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook thoroughly, stirring frequently.
Stir in flour.
Gradually add milk.
Cook until the mixture bubbles and thickens, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Reduce heat and simmer a couple of minutes.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Spoon over biscuits and eat.

For more biscuit recipes, check out the Risky Biscuits section on Mary Lee Ashford’s Pinterest page.  https://www.pinterest.com/maryleeashford/risky-biscuits-book-2/

 

 

Showcase & Excerpt: SHADES OF JUSTICE (Madison Knight 9) by Carolyn Arnold

Detective Madison Knight Series Tour RABT Summer 2019 (1)

As part of a blog tour organized by RABT Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on the Detective Madison Knight series by Carolyn Arnold – and specifically the latest addition to the series – Shades of Justice.

About the Book

The line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

Shades-of-Justice-3D-HC-Tablet-Blogger-Page-186x200-2019Detective Madison Knight has risked her badge—and her life—in the pursuit of justice before, and she just might need to do so again. Two victims are found murdered and naked in the home of Steven Malone, who is the largest contributor to the Stiles PD. One victim is his wife. The other victim is a John Doe. This high-profile double homicide immediately pits Madison against her sergeant, who seems more intent on protecting the Malones’ reputation and retaining a benefactor than catching a killer.

Madison will need to pull on her tenacity and courage if she’s going to follow the evidence without prejudice. In the process, it becomes clear that finding justice isn’t always black and white, and often the shades in between tell the fullest story—and it’s not something she will forget anytime soon.

Scroll down to the end of this post to read an excerpt!

Retailer links:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Apple iBooks   Kobo   Google Play   Goodreads

About the Series

What to expect from the Detective Madison Knight series:

Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.

This is the perfect book series for fans of James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and JD Robb to name a few. This series is also bound to entertain those who enjoy Law & OrderCSIBlue BloodsRizzoli & IslesWomen’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.

Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning.

Detective-Madison-Knight-series-Ad-3-7-19-669x350

About the Author

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

author-carolyn-arnold-photo-3Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and beagles and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD online:

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Excerpt

Excerpt from chapter 3 of Shades of Justice (Detective Madison Knight series)

They say someone’s always having a worse day than you are. Who the heck are “they,” and how would they know, anyway? Madison was pretty sure days couldn’t get much worse than the one Kimberly Olson-Malone was having. Madison couldn’t imagine finding her own mother dead—and naked with another man, no less. As much as she felt for Kimberly, she couldn’t let it cloud her judgment. Kimberly had been the one to find them and that alone made her the first suspect.

Terry pointed to the next street as they drove. “Turn right there.”

Even though Terry knew where they were going, Madison was the one driving.

She took the corner, and he pointed at a two-story, gray-brick mansion. With the exception of the forensics van and a police cruiser parked in the three-car driveway, the house had terrific curb appeal with its large front windows and double-door entry.

Madison parked out front on the street.

“Before we go in, I’m going to give you a warning,” Terry said.

She glanced over at him, her hand letting go of the door handle. Was he going to tell her it was a messy scene? There wasn’t much else that turned her stomach as did the sight and stench of a lot of blood. She gulped. The victims had been shot.

“Okay,” she said with trepidation.

“Cynthia’s on the warpath,” Terry said. “She makes your bad moods look like—”

“Be careful of your next words.”

“Or what?” He wriggled his fingers as if to say, Bring it on.

Terry really was the brother she never had. “Why’s she in a bad mood?” Madison asked but could think of at least one off the top of her head: her wedding was mere days away, and a case like this would take a lot of time for evidence collection and processing. That thought led to another. “Oh, no.”

“What?”

“We had plans for a final dress fitting tonight. We might have to push that off.”

Terry arched his brows. “I’m not a wedding planner, but shouldn’t dress fittings have been done ages ago?”

It wasn’t for the lack of trying, but it turned out that when dresses were ordered from different shops, they could be made from different dye lots. With Cynthia’s sister and bridesmaid, Tammy, living in Alabama, she’d gotten hers there while Madison ordered hers in Stiles. With take two, they returned their initial dresses and arranged to get new ones from the same bridal shop in Stiles. “It’s a long story,” was all she said.

“Okay.” Terry dragged out the word, but quickly moved on. “Well, she’s pissed because the firemen who responded to the nine-one-one call pulled the bodies out of the pool.”

“Oh,” Madison said slowly, appreciating that her friend would be livid about contamination of the crime scene. Cynthia wouldn’t care that the firemen were wired to save lives until—or unless—they could confirm death.

The two of them got out of the car, and at the front door, Madison looked up. The place had looked big from the curb, but standing next to it only impressed just how successful the Malones were.

Officer Tendum was stationed at door. He was younger, a little wet behind the ears, and he and Madison had butted heads more than once. Then again, it was his stupidity that had resulted in her former training officer, Reggie Higgins, being shot during a murder investigation about a year ago. At least Higgins had been fortunate enough to recover and return to work.

Tendum stepped to the side to allow Madison and Terry to enter the house.

Inside, they were greeted by a grand entry with two sweeping staircases that hugged the curves of two walls. A large, teardrop-crystal chandelier punctuated the center of the space. Abstract paintings adorned the walls with lighting mounted over them. Madison didn’t know much about art, but flea-market finds didn’t typically wind up in fine frames with specialty lighting.

The smell of chlorine hung in the air, and she started following her nose—and Terry—toward the back of the home.

They passed an expansive living space that could have served as a lobby for a fine hotel. A bottle of red wine sat on a coffee table as did two wineglasses, each with some wine in them. The kitchen off to the right gleamed with high-end stainless steel appliances, and a breakfast bar lined the wall.

“All this for two people,” Madison said, thinking about the imbalances of wealth distribution.

“Yep, all eight thousand square feet,” Terry responded.

He opened the door to an atrium with a million-dollar view of the Bradshaw River that ran through Stiles. The rectangular pool, surrounded by a tiled patio dotted with lounge chairs and tables, took center stage. A hot tub, large enough for six, was to the right end of the pool, and in the corner of the room, there was a sauna. Blood spatter was to the immediate edge of the pool, to the left of the pool ladder, along with the two bodies.

Matching bullet holes marked both their foreheads, but the water had cleaned the wounds. For a shooting, there was minimal mess.

 

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: GUILTY AS CHARRED by Devon Delaney

GUILTY-AS-CHARRED-BANNER-184As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post shines a spotlight on Guilty as Charred, A Cook-Off Mystery, by Devon Delaney.

About the Book

GUILTY-AS-CHARREDSherry Oliveri has attained celebrity status after winning the America’s Good Taste Recipe Contest with her delectable New England Crab Cake Sliders. But now that she’s back home in Connecticut, she’s got to deal with something else fishy . . .

Sherry’s making a guest appearance on a local radio show when the news comes in: Poppy Robinson has been found dead in the town’s community garden. Sherry was supposed to be taking questions about her win in the national cooking competition, but instead the callers start dishing dirt.

Poppy and Sherry were both involved in the vegetable garden, and while Poppy may have been a bit priggish, it wasn’t anything that called for a shovel to the back of the head. There was already trouble brewing, with the owner of the land threatening to renege on their agreement, and this murder has taken tensions to a new level. Now while Sherry’s organizing a Fourth of July cook-off event, she’s also got a murder investigation on her plate . . .

Includes Recipes from Sherry’s Kitchen!

Scroll to the bottom of this post to read an excerpt.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of three print copies of Guilty as Charred.

About the Author

devon-delaneyDevon Delaney is a wife, mother of three, accomplished cooking contester, recent empty nester, and lifelong resident of the Northeast. She has been handsomely rewarded for her recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years, including a full kitchen of major appliances, top cash prizes, and four trips to Disney World. She has also won the Grand Prize in a national writing contest for her “foodie” poem “Ode to Pork Passion.”

Check out Devon’s website at: www.devonpdelaney.com and find her on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/devonpdelaney/

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

Follow the tour here for reviews, recipes, guest posts and more.

Read an excerpt:

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1

“Ma’am, sorry to wake you, but a fellow passenger would like a pillow from the overhead compartment and your trophy is resting on it. Would you mind if I pull the statue down from its comfy spot so I can get the pillow for her?”

Sherry’s eyes opened to the sight of a stewardess hovering over her. Before Sherry could respond to the question, the woman in the blue and gold uniform removed her hand from the storage bin and waved the shiny replica of the United States map mounted on a pedestal.

“Sure,” Sherry answered as she blinked the sleep haze from her eyes.

A man seated across the aisle exclaimed, “Now that’s what I call a trophy.”

Sherry delivered a smile his way. Blushing, he elbowed the woman sporting a navel-orange-size knot of hair on the crown of her head seated beside him.

The woman gasped. “I recognize that trophy. You must be Sherry Oliveri. My husband and I were in the audience at the America’s Good Taste Cook-off and Sherry Oliveri was the name they called to receive that winning trophy. Such a fun name. I must say, even though you were sitting right there, I wouldn’t have known it was you. You don’t look familiar without your cooking apron on. Your hair looks different too. Not as stylishly coiffed as you wore it onstage.”

Sherry reached up to locate the direction her bedhead locks might have oriented themselves during her nap.

“We were so excited when our state won. And excited for you, too, of course. Can I get a picture with you? Herb, get up and take our picture, will you, please?” The woman jabbed Herb’s shoulder repeatedly with the tips of her fingers as if she were poking an avocado to test for ripeness. After Herb hauled himself out of his seat, the woman followed her husband out to the plane’s narrow aisle.

“Me too. I’d like a picture with the winner,” exclaimed a female voice in the neighboring row. She waved her hand frantically.

A man beside the waving woman catapulted out of his seat. The headphones he wore took flight and landed on one of the stewardess’s black flats. He scrambled to collect them and cozied up behind Herb in the increasing queue.

In the midst of shaking off her abbreviated nap hangover, Sherry was helped to her feet by the stewardess, who had taken the liberty of unfastening the seat belt that was the last line of defense against the gathering crowd. Sherry was handed her trophy and guided into the aisle, where she squeezed herself in amongst the bodies. She fidgeted with a snarl of hair that tumbled across her forehead, in hopes of detangling the mess, but gave up the effort when her fingers became ensnared.

She crouched down toward the line leader, whose arm stretched skyward to reach around Sherry’s shoulders.

With Sherry’s back wedged painfully against the edge of another passenger’s seat, Herb clicked his phone’s camera. He pumped his arms in triumph.

“Perfect picture. Thank you so much. My wife had us fly all the way down to Florida to watch the cook-off, and we were so tickled one of our fellow Augustinians took home the grand prize. We’ve been following your cooking career for years. Herb McDonald’s the name, and the woman clutching you like you were the sole remaining slice of bacon at the hotel’s continental breakfast is my wife, Bea. Guess I should learn to be a better cook and she’d hold me that tight more often.”

“Herb, that’s enough. Sit down so Sherry can give her other fans a chance for a picture.”

Excerpt from Guilty as Charred.  

Guest Post: GRANNY BRICKS A BANDIT by Julie Seedorf

GRANNY BRICKS A BANDIT 184

Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to host Julie Seedorf as she celebrates the recent release of  Granny Bricks a Bandit and share her thoughts on the power of words.


Words are Powerful by Julie Seedorf

I am happy to be a guest on this blog. Thank you for having me.

Words are powerful. How we use them is powerful. We also need to be mindful that what we write might influence another’s life whether it be on a blog or in a book.

Do you remember the hurtful things said to you in your life? Or do you remember the positive affirmations more?

IMG_1793.JPGWould you read a book dedicated to making a reader feel worse about themselves, or would you read a book that makes you feel better about yourself?

I would guess you remember the hurtful things more than the positive. I would guess you read a book that makes you feel better not worse. Those are a little at the opposite ends of reason. We read books that make us feel good but we read over in our mind the words from others which make us feel bad.

As a writer, I have to gauge what I want my readers to take away from what I write. Do I want them to walk away feeling as if they have escaped reality for a short time, or do I want to bring them deep into reality?

I choose silliness, making people laugh and writing about fictional communities and characters that are so far off our radar, we can’t imagine we could ever live in the community or be that character. Yet, there are some of my characters I would love to step inside of their bodies and be them for a day, a week or forever.

When my Fuchsia Series first started my readers saw a forgetful, over-the-top Granny whose friends were off-the-wall. That was what I wanted to portray so over the series I could add characteristics we could all identify with. What made Granny the way she is? What makes her hurt? What make her mad? What and who shaped her life?

There is a theme besides the mystery and the silliness I want my readers to get, and that is the theme of friendship. No matter what, no matter why someone acts out, Granny’s group of friends is there for each other. They might not always understand each other or why they do what they do, but their friendship lasts through the trials. It is a given in these books that the trials might be wacky, but there is fun in friendship unconditionally.

If you choose to read this series or my Brilliant, MN Series, take time to find the underlying tone. It is there. I may choose to make light of memory loss but it is out of experience with people in my family that have had Alzheimer’s, and humor was the only way to cope.  I address that in Granny Pins A Pilferer. In Granny Bricks A Bandit, there is a bond of family and friendship.

Words matter and my characters words and banter may not always seem kind, but there is a love speak we don’t always understand. I used to know a couple who were in their 70s and they were constantly harping at one another, but I loved to visit them because you could see the love in those exchanges. To an outsider they might have seemed rough, but the words were never hurtful and that is the way Silas and Granny are. Old woman and old man to them are not derogatory but words of love.

Words matter and beneath the words are emotion which might not match the words. Look for it and it might change your perspective when you interact with another person. Things might not always be fine when you ask. Look underneath the words to find the true emotion and it might change your life.

GrannyforkindleAbout the Book

Granny and her cohorts are at it again! When Granny and her neighbor Mavis, go water-skiing and discover a dead body, Granny’s sleuthing instincts take over! She is determined to identify the corpse and find the killer. But wait! No sooner are Granny and her cohorts on the murderer’s trail, then Mavis’ husband George suddenly disappears! Could he be the killer’s next victim? Or could he be the killer? When the gals take a side trip to the Mall of America, they find a man fell to his death on a climbing wall––and Mavis is certain she spots George nearby! What does it all mean? Will Granny get to the bottom of it, with the help of her entourage of buddies and pets?

About the Author

As human beings, we are always a work in progress. From birth to death we live, hurt, laugh, cry, feel, and with all of those emotions we grow as people, as family members, and as friends. I am a dreamer and feel blessed to have the opportunity in my writing to pass those dreams on to others. I believe you are never too old to dream and to turn those dreams into a creative endeavor. I live in rural Minnesota and I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I have worn many hats throughout my life such as working as a waitress, nursing home activities person, office manager and finally a computer repair person eventually owning my own computer sales and repair business. I never forgot my love of writing and quit my computer business in 2012 after signing a contract with Cozy Cat Press for Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in my Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.  Adding four more books to the Fuchsia Series, adding a new Brilliant, Minnesota Series and writing a column for local newspapers feeds my writing creativity.

I also dabble a bit in watercolor painting and hope to eventually add pictures to my children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble. Oh, and did I tell you I like to be a little bit silly.

Author Links

Purchase Links

  • Amazon Kobo
  • Other Formats – Nook, BarnesandNoble.com, Ibooks, Overdrive

Spotlight: SUMMER SNOOPS UNLEASHED

SummerSnoops2019

They are at it again. Another great collection of cozy mysteries – Summer Snoops Unleashed: 14 Furr-ocious Mysteries and Cozy Crimes – with all of the preorder income going to a great cause – our fine furry friends.

Description

Summertime Murders are RUFF

ALL BRAND NEW STORIES!

Looking for cool cozies for hot summer days? Then you’ll love this purr-fectly paw-some cozy mystery boxed set from fourteen USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon best-selling authors.

We’ve pulled out all the stops with Summer Snoops Unleashed! Enjoy hours of fun sniffing out clues on sandy beaches, shimmering waterways, and at small-town celebrations in these brand-new stories full of wily sleuths, cagey plots, and un-fur-gettable tails!

Fetch your copy now to get these furr-ocious new cozy mysteries and woof it up with us!

They’re howlingly good reads!

All preorders support best lives for pets!

  • Here’s a sampling of stories…
    WSJ and USA Best Selling Author Judith Lucci – The Most Glittery Crime of the Year: The Jewel Heist – An Artzy Chicks Mystery
  • WSJ and USA Today Best Selling Author Anna Celeste Burke ¬- Radical Regatta! Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #4
  • WSJ & USA Today Best Selling Author Colleen Mooney – Fireworks, Forensics & Felonies
  • USA Today Best Selling Author Fiona Quinn – YOURS. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
  • Amazon Best Selling Author Maria Grazia Swan – Pies, Lies and a Last Goodbye
  • USA Today Best Selling Author Kelly Hashway – You Can’t Judge a Crime by its Aura
  • WSJ & USA Today Best Selling Author Kim Hunt Harris – Yankee Doodle Deadly: A Trailer Park Princess Novella
  • WSJ & USA Today Best Selling Author Susan Boles – Death in Mercy
  • Best Selling Author Amazon Lisa B. Thomas – Sharpe Pain: A Corpse in the Cabin
  • Amazon Best Selling Author Emily Selby – Death and Taxes on a Cloud
  • Amazon Best Selling Author Joanna Campbell Slan – Ruff Justice: Second Chance Adventure #5
  • WSJ and USA Today Best Selling Author Ava Mallory – High Heel Homicide: A Holly Woods Mystery Novella
  • white-dog-3d-box-setAmazon Best Selling Author Chelsea Thomas – A Knead to Kill
  • WSJ and USA Today Best Selling Author Sam Cheever – Spunky Bumpkin

You can order your copy from AMAZON, KOBOAPPLE , or NOOK , or at https://www.summersnoops.com/

Book Blast & Giveaway: TIL DEATH DO US PART by K.S. David

TourBanner_Til Death Do Us Part copy USE THIS ONEAs part of a blog tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, today’s post shines the spotlight on a romantic suspense novel from K.S. David – Til Death Do Us Part.

Description

BookCover_Till Death Do Us PartQuinn McGuire is settling into her new life just fine. She’s moving beyond the trauma of her past. She’s fallen in love with her best friend, Jack Lassiter, and slowly rebuilding the career she’d once abandoned. Then her old nemesis is arrested for murdering her husband. To the surprise of everyone, Glenda Penderherst wants Quinn to represent her as legal counsel. Quinn doesn’t do criminal defense anymore. Nope, she’s focusing on areas a little more refined – less drama.

Naomi Banker, the resident vibrational therapist, asks Quinn to look into an intellectual property rights claim. The request seems innocent enough – but boring. Things soon spice up when Quinn discovers that Naomi was romantically linked to Glenda’s murdered husband. Soon, more body’s start to surface and like it or not, Quinn finds herself caught in a whirlwind of broken hearts and private alliances, all while trying to manage a few special secrets of her own. She’s convinced of Naomi’s innocence and starts to dig for answers. But if she’s not careful, she’ll end up being added to the body count.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to read an excerpt.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for chance to win $20 Amazon/B&N gift card.

About the Author

K. S. David lives in the Mid-Atlantic with her husband, their three children
and a menagerie of pets. New storylines are constantly running through her head. She keeps notebooks tucked in pockets of the car, the nightstand and makes voice recordings just about all day long. She’s addicted to true life mysteries and crime shows, both of which marry well with a great romance. Some of her favorite things are long walks, reading in bed, baking and of course, writing her next novel.

Follow her on:

Amazon   ♦   Goodreads ♦   Twitter   ♦   Facebook

Read an Excerpt

Like before, the woods seemed to grow quiet and I got the feeling that we were being watched.

Jack stopped. He turned around himself, studying the woods around us. “What am I going to find if I keep walking, Quinn?”

Images from my earlier trek fired in my head. “It’s hard to explain. You have to see it for yourself.”

He pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. With everything going on, Jack had little time to waste tripping through the woods with me. He had reporters camped out at the station, a contingent of council members who were growing increasingly angry and unsupportive about the murder, and now I’d roped him into hunting down Naomi’s spook.

“You smell that?” Jack asked.

“It gets worse,” I said. “I may not be able to go all the way in with you.” I gave my belly a little pat. “Strong smells set me off.”

A few more feet and Jack let go of my hand so he could retrieve a kerchief from his pocket. “Saints alive!” he huffed. “It’s damned funky back here.” He offered the kerchief to me. “Use this,” he instructed, then tucked his face into the collar of his shirt. “What in the hell is that smell?”

Suddenly, the tents came into view. Jack signaled me to stop. He pulled me close and whispered in my ear. “Is this it? Is that what you wanted to show me?”

“Yeah.” My voice matched the caution of his tone. “I think someone’s been living here.” I pointed to the big tent. “There’s all kinds of stuff in there.”

“Stay here.” Jack unfastened the release on his sidearm but didn’t move. He stood stock still, his eyes registering everything around us. “Don’t move,” he warned again.

But, instead of heeding his warning, I stepped forward. “I’m going with you.”

He swung around nearly colliding with me. Anger flashed in his eyes. “Don’t challenge me on this, Quinn.

Just give me some distance. If something goes wrong – you run.” Jack didn’t like the scene any more than I had.

Pausing at the edge of the clearing, he stood behind a large tangle of branches where he had a view of the entire site. Anyone looking toward the trees would have difficulty seeing him. I waited as Jack moved with catlike steps, cautiously picking up one foot and setting it down again as he moved forward. He slipped his gun out of the holster and eased tenuously toward the edge of the largest tarp. I heard the safety on his gun disengage and watched Jack fold his hands over the handle.

“Police! Anybody inside?”

Nothing.

Pain shot through the palm of my hand. I’d been pressing my fingernails into my own flesh worriedly anticipating the worse.

“Hey, anybody in there! Hayden County Police.”

Jack’s voice echoed through the clearing, bouncing off the trees and shifted back to me. Blood thundered in my ears as my heartbeat quickened. I watched him step closer. He threw back the tarp on the larger tent. Quickly, he dropped to a low crouch and swiveled his gun from side to side before plucking his flashlight off his hip and inching closer.

He stepped back and repeated the call at the smaller tent.

“Now, do you see what I mean, Jack? It’s a mess back here.”

He twisted around, locking angry, narrow eyes on me. “I thought I said for you to stay put!” he
snapped.

“That’s not exactly what you said. You told me not to follow you and to run if there was a problem.”

He rolled his eyes but pushed his gun back into his holster. “Does Naomi ever walk out her back door? God! It smells like a dump site.”