Thursday, December 3, 2020

Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning Tour & #Giveaway

Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning Banner

 

 

Shadow Ridge

by M.E. Browning

December 1-31, 2020 Tour

Synopsis:

Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning

Death is one click away when a string of murders rocks a small Colorado town in the first mesmerizing novel in M. E. Browning’s A Jo Wyatt Mystery series.

Echo Valley, Colorado, is a place where the natural beauty of a stunning river valley meets a budding hipster urbanity. But when an internet stalker is revealed to be a cold-blooded killer in real life the peaceful community is rocked to its core.

It should have been an open-and-shut case: the suicide of Tye Horton, the designer of a cutting-edge video game. But Detective Jo Wyatt is immediately suspicious of Quinn Kirkwood, who reported the death. When Quinn reveals an internet stalker is terrorizing her, Jo is skeptical. Doubts aside, she delves into the claim and uncovers a link that ties Quinn to a small group of beta-testers who had worked with Horton. When a second member of the group dies in a car accident, Jo’s investigation leads her to the father of a young man who had killed himself a year earlier. But there’s more to this case than a suicide, and as Jo unearths the layers, a more sinister pattern begins to emerge–one driven by desperation, shame, and a single-minded drive for revenge.

As Jo closes in, she edges ever closer to the shattering truth–and a deadly showdown that will put her to the ultimate test.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (Police Procedural)
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 6th 2020
Number of Pages: 296
ISBN: 1643855352 (ISBN13: 9781643855356)
Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Penguin Random House | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Detective Jo Wyatt stood at the edge of the doorway of the converted garage and scanned the scene for threats. She’d have the chance to absorb the details later, but even at a glance, it was obvious the occupant of the chair in front of the flickering television wouldn’t benefit from her first-aid training. The stains on the ceiling from the gun blast confirmed that.

Officer Cameron Finch stood on the other side of the sorry concrete slab that served as an entrance. “Ready?”

The only place hidden from view was the bathroom, and the chance of someone hiding there was infinitesimal, but someone always won the lottery. Today wasn’t the day to test the odds. Not when she was dressed for court and without her vest.

She pushed the door open wider. Her eyes and handgun moved in tandem as she swept the room.

A mattress on the floor served as a bed. Stacks of clothes took the place of a real closet. A dorm-sized fridge with a hot plate on top of it made up the kitchen.

Jo avoided the well-worn paths in the carpet and silently approached the bathroom. Its door stood slightly ajar, creating enough space for her to peer through the crack. Never lowering her gun, she used her foot to widen the gap.

No intruder. Just a water-spotted shower stall and a stained toilet with the seat up. A stick propped open the narrow ventilation window above the shower. Too small for even the tiniest child, but an open invitation to heat-seeking raccoons.

“Bathroom’s clear.” She holstered her gun. The cut of her wool blazer fell forward and did its best to hide the bulge of her Glock, but an observant person could tell she was armed. One of the drawbacks of having a waist.

She picked her way across the main room, staying close to the walls to avoid trampling any evidence. A flame licked the edges of the television screen—one of those mood DVDs of a fireplace but devoid of sound. It filled the space with an eerie flicker that did little to lighten the gathering dusk.

Sidestepping a cat bowl filled with water, she stopped in front of the body and pulled a set of latex gloves from her trouser pocket.

“Really?” Cameron asked.

Jo snapped them into place, then pressed two fingers against the victim’s neck in a futile search for a pulse—a completely unnecessary act that became an issue only if a defense attorney wanted to make an officer look like an idiot on the stand for not checking.

The dead man reclined in a high-backed gray chair that appeared to have built-in speakers. In the vee of his legs, a Remington 870 shotgun rested against his right thigh, the stock’s butt buried in the dirty shag carpet. On the far side, a toppled bottle of whiskey and a tumbler sat on a metal TV tray next to a long-stemmed pipe.

“Who called it in?” Jo asked.

“Quinn Kirkwood. I told her to stay in her car until we figured out what was going on.”

Jo retraced her steps to the threshold, seeking a respite from the stench of death.

A petite woman stood at the edge of the driveway, pointedly looking away from the door. “Is he okay?”

So much for staying in the car. “Let’s talk over here.” Not giving the other woman the opportunity to resist, Jo grabbed her elbow and guided her to the illuminated porch of the main house, where the overhang would protect them from the softly falling snow.

“He’s inside, isn’t he?” Quinn pulled the drawstring of her sweat shirt until the hood puckered around her neck. “He’s dead.” It should have been a question, but wasn’t. Jo’s radar pinged.

“I’m sorry.” Jo brushed errant flakes from a dilapidated wicker chair and moved it forward for her. “Is there someone I can call for you?”

She shook her head.

“How well did you know—”

“Tye. His name is—was—Tye Horton.” Quinn played with the tab of her hood string, picking at the plastic that kept the ends from fraying.

Jo remained quiet, digesting the younger woman’s unease. She was all angles: sharp shoulders, high cheekbones, blunt-cut dark hair, and canted eyes that looked blue in the open but faded to grey here in the shadows.

A pile of snow slid from a bowed cottonwood branch and landed with a dull plop. The silence broken, Quinn continued to fill it. “We have a couple classes together up at the college. He missed class. I came over to see why.”

“Does he often cut class?”

“He didn’t cut class,” she said sharply. “He missed it.” She pulled out her cellphone. “The project was due today. I should tell the others.”

What would she tell them? She hadn’t asked any questions. The pinging in Jo's head grew louder. “Did you go inside before the officer got here?” She looked at the woman’s shoes. Converse high-tops. Distinctive tread.

Quinn launched out of her seat, sending it crashing into the porch rail. “I called you guys, remember?”

“It’s a simple yes or no.”

The smaller woman advanced and Jo fought the impulse to shove her back. “No, Officer—”

“Detective Wyatt.”

The top of Quinn’s head barely reached Jo’s chin. “Tye and I were classmates with a project due, Detective. I called him, he didn’t answer. I texted him, he didn’t respond. He didn’t show up for the game last night, which meant something was wrong. He never missed a game.”

Football. Last night Jo had pulled on her uniform and worked an overtime shift at the Sunday night game. Despite the plunging temperatures, the small college stadium had been filled to capacity.

“Did you check on him afterward?” Jo asked.

“No.” Color brightened Quinn’s pale cheeks. “By the time the game ended, it was too late. After he missed class today, I came straight over. Called the police. Here we are. Now, can I go?”

“Was Tye having any problems lately?”

“Problems?”

“With school? Friends?”

“I shared a class with him.”

Another dodge. “You knew he wasn’t at the game.”

“I figured he was finishing up his end of the project. Are we done? I’ve got class tonight.”

“I need to see your identification before you leave.”

“Un-fucking-believable.” Quinn jammed her hand into her jacket pocket and removed an old-fashioned leather coin purse. Pinching the top, she drew out her driver’s license and practically threw it at Jo.

“I’m sure you understand. Whenever there is a death, we have to treat it as a crime until we determine otherwise.”

The air left Quinn in a huff of frost. “I’m sorry. I’m just…” She dipped her face but not before Jo saw the glint of tears. “I’m just going to miss him. He was nice. I don’t have a lot of friends in Echo Valley.”

“Were the two of you dating?”

The sharpness returned to her features. “Not my type.”

“Do you know if he was in a relationship?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Would you know?”

Cameron joined the women on the porch and extended his hand to Quinn. “I’m Sergeant Finch.”

Jo sucked in her breath, and covered it with a cough. The promotional memo hadn’t been posted even a day yet.

“I’m sorry about your friend,” Cameron added.

Quinn crossed her arms, whether for warmth or for comfort, Jo couldn’t tell. “Your badge says Officer. Aren’t sergeants supposed to have stripes or something?”

“It’s official next week.”

“So. Really just an officer.”

Jo bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. Served him right for acting like an ass.

“I wouldn’t say just.” Cameron hooked his thumb in his gun belt.

“Of course you wouldn’t.” Quinn drew a deep breath and let it out as if she feared it might be her last. “What happened?” she finally asked.

Jo spoke before Cameron could answer. “That’s what we’re here to find out.” She opened her notebook.

Quinn sized up the two officers like a child trying to decide which parent to ask, and settled on Cameron. “Will you get me the laptop that’s inside? It’s got our school project on it.”

“I’m sorry,” Jo answered. “But until we process the scene, everything needs to stay put.”

Quinn sought confirmation from Cameron. “Really?”

Jo shot him a look she hoped conveyed the slow torturous death he’d suffer if he contradicted her and compromised the scene.

Cameron placed his hand on Quinn’s forearm. “I’m certain it won’t take long and I’ll personally deliver it to you as soon as I can.”

“Thanks.” She shook off his hand and addressed Jo. “Am I free to go?”

Prickly thing. Jo handed Quinn’s license back to her. “I’m truly sorry about your friend. May I call you later if I have any questions?”

Cameron stepped closer, all earnestness and concern. “It would be very helpful to the investigation when she realizes she forgot to ask you something.”

The coin purse snapped shut. “Sure. Whatever.”

“Thank you,” Jo said, then added, “Be careful.”

Quinn jerked. “What?”

The wind had picked up, and waves of snow blew across the walkway. Jo pointed toward the street. “The temperature drops any lower and it’ll start to ice up. Be careful. The roads are going to be slick.”

Quinn bobbed her head. Hunched against the cold, she climbed into her bright yellow Mini Cooper.

Snow had collected on the bumper and Jo noted the plate. She’d seen the car around town, its brilliant color and tiny chassis a contrast to the trucks and four-wheel-drive SUVs most locals drove.

The car crunched down the driveway. Jo returned to the task at hand, ignoring Cameron as he followed her.

Two buildings—the main residence and the converted garage—stood at the center of the property. The driveway dumped out onto an alley and the hum of downtown carried across the crisp air. Dogs barked. Cars slowed and accelerated at the nearby stop sign, their engines straining and tires chewing into the slushed snow. A sagging chain-link fence ringed the property, pushed and pulled by a scraggly hedge.

Built in the days when a garage housed only a car and not the detritus of life, the building was barely larger than a tack room. A small walkway separated the dwellings. She followed the path around the exterior of the garage.

Eaves kept snow off the paint-glued windowsill on the far side of the outbuilding. Rambling rosebushes in need of pruning stretched skeletal fingers along the wall. Jo swept the bony branches aside. A thorn snagged the shoulder of her blazer.

She studied the ground. Snow both helped and hindered officers. In foot pursuits, it revealed a suspect’s path. But the more time separated an incident from its investigation, the more it hid tracks. Destroyed clues. This latest snow had started in the early hours of the morning, gently erasing the valley’s grime and secrets and creating a clean slate. Tye could have been dead for hours. The snow told her nothing.

As she stood again at the door, not even the cold at her back could erase the smell of blood. The last of the evening’s light battled its way through the dirty window, failing to brighten the dark scene in front of her.

She tried not to let the body distract her from cataloging the room. Echo Valley didn’t have violent deaths often. In her twelve years on the department, she’d investigated only two homicides, one as an officer, the second as a detective. Fatal crashes, hunting accidents, Darwin Award-worthy stupidity, sure, but murder? That was the leap year of crimes and only happened once every four years or so.

Cameron joined her on the threshold and they stood shoulder to shoulder. He had a shock of thick brown hair that begged to be touched, and eyes that said he’d let you. “Why so quiet, Jo-elle?”

The use of her nickname surprised her. Only two people had ever called her that and Cameron hadn’t used it in a long time. “I don’t want to miss anything.”

“What’s to miss? Guy blew his brains out.”

“It’s rarely that simple.”

“Not everything needs to be complicated.” He laughed. The boyishness of it had always charmed her with its enthusiasm. Now it simply sounded dismissive. Perhaps it always had been, but she’d been too in love to notice. “Hey, you got plans tonight?” He tried to sound innocent. She had learned that voice.

“Other than this? I don’t see as that’s any of your business.”

“Of course it’s my business. You’re still my wife.” He stared into the distance as he said it. A splinter of sun pierced the dark clouds and bled across his unguarded expression.

Yearning.

Jo stood as if on ice, afraid to move lest she lose her balance.

He seemed to wake up, and after a deep breath, he surveyed the room. “The landlord is going to be looking for a new tenant. You should give him your name. It’s got to be better than living with your old man.”

Fissures formed beneath her and it took her two blinks before she recovered her footing.

“I need to get my camera. I’ll be right back.”

She left him at the door. The December chill wormed through her wool dress slacks as she trudged the half block to her car. She drew breath after breath of the searing chill deep into her lungs to replace the hurt, the anger, the self-recriminations that burned her. She sat in the passenger seat and picked up the radio mic. She wasn’t ready to face Cameron. Not yet.

To buy herself some time, she ran a local warrant check on Quinn. Something wasn’t quite right about the woman. A warrant might explain things.

Dispatch confirmed Quinn’s address, but had nothing to add.

Jo grabbed her camera bag and crime scene kit and schlepped back to the scene, prioritizing her actions as she went. She’d need to snag another detective. Interrupt a judge’s dinner to get a search warrant. Swab the victim’s hands for gunshot residue. Try to confirm his identification. Hopefully, the person in the front house would return soon so Jo could start collecting background on the deceased. Take overview photos of the exterior first. Inside there’d be lights. Then evidence. Identify it. Bag it. Book it.

She reached the door before she ticked through all the tasks. Cameron was circling the chair.

Jo stopped on the threshold, stunned.

“No wonder they didn’t promote you.” Cameron peered into the exposed cranium. “If you can’t tell this is a suicide, you got no business being a cop—let alone a detective.”

“Get out.”

“We’re not home, sweetie. You can’t order me out here.”

“Actually, I can. Detective, remember? This is my scene and you’re contaminating it.”

He laughed. “Sergeant outranks detective.”

“I think it’s already been established that you’re not sporting stripes.”

“Yet. Couple more days.”

Three. Three days until he started wearing the stripes that should have been hers. Three days until he outranked her. Three. Damn. Days. “And until then, Officer Finch.” With exaggerated care, she took out her notebook and started writing.

“What are you doing?”

“Making a note of the path you’ve taken. Try to retrace your steps. I’d hate to have to say how badly you mucked things up.” She paused for effect. “You getting promoted and all.”

“You’re such a bitch.”

“Is that how you talk to your wife?”

He picked up the overturned bottle on the TV tray. “Johnnie Walker Gold.” He sniffed the premium Scotch whisky. “And here I would have pegged him for a Jack fan, at best.” Cameron tipped the bottle back into place and retraced his steps.

The latex gloves did nothing to warm her fingers, and Jo shoved her hands in her pockets. Had he changed or had she? “When did you become such an ass?”

“When’d we get married?” He shouldered past her, swinging his keys around his finger. Outside, the streetlamps flickered to life. “I’ll leave you to it. Even you can see it’s a slam dunk.”

She didn’t want to agree with him. “It’s only a suicide when the coroner says so.”

“Oh, Jo-elle.”

There was that laugh again, and she hated herself for warming to him.

“You’ve got to learn to choose your battles.”

***

Excerpt from Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning. Copyright 2020 by M.E. Browning. Reproduced with permission from M.E. Browning. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

M.E. Browning

M.E. BROWNING served twenty-two years in law enforcement and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime fiction. Writing as Micki Browning, she penned the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo mysteries, and her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in anthologies, mystery and diving magazines, and textbooks. As M.E. Browning, she recently began a new series of Jo Wyatt mysteries with Shadow Ridge (October 2020).

Micki is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime—where she served as a former president of the Guppy Chapter. A professional divemaster, she resides in Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research.”

Catch Up With M.E. Browning On:
MEBrowning.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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

 

 

Enter To Win!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for M.E. Browning. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and there will be 2 winners of one (1) physical copy of Shadow Ridge by M.E. Browning (US and Canada ONLY). The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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The Madness of Mercury by Connie DiMarco Tour & #Giveaway

The Madness Of Mercury by Connie di Marco Banner

 

 

The Madness of Mercury

by Connie di Marco

December 1-31, 2020 Tour

Synopsis:

The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti’s life is turned upside down when she becomes a target of the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The Reverend, a recently-arrived cult preacher, is determined to drive sin from the city, but his gospel of love and compassion doesn’t extend to those he considers an “abomination unto the Lord.” Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, has put her at the top of the Reverend’s list. While the powerful Mercury-ruled preacher woos local dignitaries, his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence not just Julia, but anyone who stands in his way.

Driven out of her apartment in the midst of a disastrous Mercury retrograde period, she takes shelter with a client who’s caring for two elderly aunts. One aunt appears stricken with dementia and the other has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. To add to the confusion, a young man claiming to be a long-lost nephew arrives. The longer he stays, the more dangerous things become. One aunt slides deeper into psychosis while the other disappears. Is this young man truly a member of the family? Can astrology confirm that? Julia’s not sure, but one thing she does know is that Mercury wasn’t merely the messenger of the gods – he was a trickster and a liar as well.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Suspense Publishing
Publication Date: October 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 268
ISBN: 0578752654 (ISBN13: 9780578752655)
Series: Zodiac Mystery #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

“Thank God you’re there.” Gale sounded very shaky.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m at the Mystic Eye. Something very strange just happened. I heard a knock at the back door. I thought it might be you.”

“Are you alone?”

“Yes. I closed up and sent Cheryl home. When I opened the door . . . oh God, Julia. Someone left a dead cat on the doorstep.”

I cringed. “I’ll be right there.”

“I’m sorry. You don’t need to come. I wrapped it up and put it in plastic in the dumpster. It looked like its neck had been broken.”

“Don’t argue. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Less than that.”

I drove the length of California Street as fast as I could, slowing at each red light. Once I was sure no other cars were crossing I ran through several intersections. When I reached the Eye the shop was closed but the display lights were on in the front windows. I pulled down the alleyway and parked next to Gale’s car. I tapped on the door. “Gale, it’s me.” She opened the door immediately. The storeroom was dark. A stack of empty boxes and packing materials stood against the wall. Inside, the only light was a small desk lamp in the office.

Gale is tall and self-assured with a regal bearing. Tonight she was completely shaken. She hugged her arms, more from fright than from cold. “I feel bad now that I’ve called you. I was just so freaked out. I recognized the cat, it was the little gray one that hangs out behind the apartment building next door. I think it’s a stray. Everyone around here feeds it, even the restaurant people, and it’s such a friendly little thing. Some sick bastard probably gave it some food and then snapped its neck. God, I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Shouldn’t you call the cops?”

“And tell them what? I found a dead cat? Please. Like they’d listen. Even if they thought someone had killed it, what could they do?”

“It shows a pattern of harassment. Might be worth making a report.”

She sighed. “Yeah. You’re probably right. I just wasn’t thinking straight. I was so upset.” She collapsed in the chair behind her desk.

I shrugged out of my coat. “Why are you here so late?”

“We just got a huge shipment of books and supplies in. Cheryl’s been working late every night so I sent her home. I had just finished stacking the boxes in the storeroom.” Gale shivered involuntarily. “Look, let’s get out of here. Have you eaten? Why don’t we go up the block and grab some food? Actually a drink sounds even better.”

“Okay.”

“Get your coat. We can leave the cars here and walk. I’ll just get my purse.”

I headed to the front door and checked that the locks were all in place. The drapes separating the display windows from the shop were drawn for privacy. Gale left the desk lamp on in the office and walked out to the front counter. As she reached under the counter for her purse, we heard glass breaking. Then I saw a flash of flame through the doorway to the back storeroom. I screamed. The empty boxes and packing materials had caught fire in an explosive flash. The smoke alarm started to ring, filling the shop with earsplitting sound. Using my coat like a blanket, I dropped it over the center of the flaming pile. It wasn’t going to be enough, but I had to do something before the entire storeroom went up, if not the building.

***

Excerpt from The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco. Copyright 2020 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Connie di Marco:
ConniediMarco.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Connie di Marco. There will be two (2) winners each receiving one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A Wedding in Twinkle Falls by Freda Ann Blitz and #Giveaway

A Wedding in Twinkle Falls
Freda Ann
(A Twinkle Falls Novel, #2)
Publication date: December 2nd 2020
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Holiday, Romance

The couple you fell in love with in book 1 (Christmas in Twinkle Falls) are on their way to a HEA…or are they.

In this sweet, clean Hallmark style love story, you’ll get plenty more of the characters you fell in love with in the first book, to include Shelby the smart rescue dog!

After swoony Air Force Sergeant, Liam James, proposes to the love of his life, preparations for a wedding in two short months begin. But no wedding goes off without a hitch.

As Sophie starts planning, her son Cam, on the autism spectrum, experiences events that threaten the black and white world he lives in. Trying to maintain a peaceful existence for her family, Sophie’s world is rocked to the core once again when her fiancĂ© leaves town.

Will she muster the strength to bring her future family back together so they can have their forever happiness?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

After a longer than planned visit, Mitch’s widow and I hug goodbye. Watching Rochelle’s car fade in the distance, I realize I have to talk to Pastor Morgan before things go any further.

Why am I such a mess? This is what I want. It’s all I thought about on base, and while driving home. What will mom and dad think?

I sigh and pull in the church driveway. Pastor Morgon texted me before I left the house. He said to meet him behind the church at the picnic table. What will he think about my plan? I guess I’m about to find out.

Turning the truck off, I take a deep breath and rub my hands over my face. It’s going to be fine. I give myself a pep talk as I amble along the sidewalk to the table where he sits eyeing me.

“You look like a man with something big on his mind.” He grins. “Have a seat. I figured a hot cup of coffee might calm your nerves.” Pastor Morgan notes in his southern accent.

Plopping down, I cradle the mug between my hands staring at it. “Did I sound that bad?”

The man whose gotten to know me all too well the last year chuckles. “Lets just say I can sense when things are out of whack. And if there was any doubt before you got here, your body language was a dead giveaway.”

Shaking my head, one corner of my mouth curls up before I sip the warm liquid. “I did a lot of soul searching while I was away and I made a life-changing decision.”

“Ahh, okay, that explains a lot. So now you’re having second thoughts?”

“No…not really. While I was away I spent time with someone I hadn’t seen in over a year. It’s someone I’ve thought a lot about since taking leave from the Air Force. She uh—helped open my eyes to what kind of future I want.”

With his hands steepled, he glares over his glasses at me. “Go on.”

Downing half my coffee, I set the cup down. “Will I be hurting the people I care about with the decision I’ve made? Am I making any sense?”

“Not so much. You know there’s not much I haven’t heard before and anything you tell me stays between you, me and the man above. I think the best thing you can do is spell it out for me Liam, Just start at the beginning.”

Author Bio:

Freda was born in southern New Jersey but grew up in Florida. She has loved writing her entire life. After retiring from a career in law enforcement, she knew it was time to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a published author.

She's the author of The Hawaii Series, proudly named from her love of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. It's a three-book series with all of them written as standalone books.

Freda loves her large family, horses, dogs, cat, and close friends. She hosts monthly family dinners at her home in the country, which she shares with her husband.

She loves baking (she owned and operated a cupcake business for years), cooking, yoga, crocheting, nature and traveling with the love of her life.

What helps her write? Music makes her happy! If music doesn't give her the right motivation, she puts on a romantic movie, usually from the Hallmark Channel, which she can't get enough of!

Freda speaks her mind and pushes perfection to its limit. She strives to be her best, most positive self she can be in life. With time, determination, and practice, she believes anything is possible.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest


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Last Kiss Under the Mistletoe by Melanie A. Smith Blitz and #Giveaway

Last Kiss Under the Mistletoe
Melanie A. Smith
Publication date: December 3rd 2020
Genres: Adult, Holiday, Romance, Suspense

From award-winning and international best-selling author Melanie A. Smith comes a steamy holiday murder-mystery romance with a psychic twist.

Holidays should be filled with cheer…

CJ Roberts just wants to be a normal girl, have a normal job, normal friends, maybe even a normal boyfriend. Unfortunately, she’s about as far from normal as it gets, because she can See the future. And like two sides of a coin, her twin brother, Matt, can See the past. Sounds like a neat party trick, right? Actually, it’s frustrating and sometimes even dangerous. And if the past is any indicator, CJ can’t do much to change what she Sees.

Drew Davies lives and breathes his job as a chef at one of the hottest restaurants in San Francisco. He’s content to focus on his craft, and dating has always been on the back burner. That is, until he meets CJ. When sparks fly, things heat up quickly between them. It’s an unexpected but welcome connection as the holidays approach.

But just as hope blooms, CJ has a vision that changes everything. She doesn’t know how it will happen, but she knows Drew is going to die. Now she’s left with a decision: Does she risk exposing herself to save Drew, or does she play it safe and let fate deal its hand? Secrecy has protected her until now, but can she really do nothing when the life of the man she’s falling for hangs in the balance?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“I’m Chef Davies,” he introduces himself. His voice is just as warm as his smile, and deep enough to send chills down my spine. “And I hear you need some help picking a main course.”

I stare dumbly at him for another few moments before collecting myself. I resist the urge to slide my hand into his. As much as I want to touch him, experience has taught me that what I might See will make me even more awkward than I already am naturally.

“I’m CJ Roberts,” I reply, blushing down at his hand. “And I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t shake hands.” I’m so used to saying the words without remorse, but this time is different, and I’m worried about offending him.

“It’s nice to meet you CJ Roberts who doesn’t shake hands,” he replies, withdrawing his hand and sinking into the chair to my left. I look up to see him leaning in and smiling winningly, and if it’s possible to blush harder, I do. “Is it okay to ask what CJ stands for?”

His proximity makes my cheeks burn hotter by the second. “Catherine Jane,” I murmur, looking up into his eyes.

“Catherine Jane,” he replies slowly, as if tasting the words.

“Chef Davies,” I reply teasingly, folding my hands in my lap.

He laughs, deep and booming. “Okay, I guess you can call me Drew. Short for Andrew.” He grins, and I notice a dimple on his left cheek. “Now. Salmon versus halibut?”

I take a deep breath and nod, refocusing. It’s not easy. Being this close to him, trying to have a normal conversation, takes everything I’ve got. It would help if I weren’t so gawky to begin with, but here we are.

He gestures to the bread. “Have a bite. Then try the salmon again.”

I do as he asks. I go to lift the fork to my mouth, and he reaches to stop me. Instinctively, I pull back and look at him, wide-eyed.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” he says huskily, with a sexy smile that makes me melt under his stare. “Just … I was going to tell you to close your eyes.” Then he clears his throat, as if suddenly aware of the intimacy that’s bubbled between us.

I breathe through my nose, close my eyes, and take a bite. The subtle flavor sings under the lime dressing. I can’t help the groan that slips out of my mouth. My eyes fly open self-consciously to find Drew staring at me with an inscrutable expression.

I swallow hard. “Sorry,” I say. “It’s just so good.”

A smile tugs at his lips. “Thank you,” he replies. His eyes flick down to the bread, then back up to me. “Now, bread, then halibut. Eyes closed.”

Something about his quiet command makes me blush again, but I comply. The firm, slightly sweet fish has a mushroom sauce that complements it nicely. But I realize it doesn’t have the heartiness and the punch of the salmon. This time when I open my eyes, I know exactly what I want.

“Salmon. Hands down.” My eyes meet his. “You’re good.”

He gives a shrug. “I’ve done this a time or three,” he replies nonchalantly. Coming from anyone else it would sound arrogant. But he’s got a humility that is ridiculously endearing.

“What would you have chosen?” I ask curiously.

His answering grin is so gorgeous it practically makes me dizzy. “Life’s too short for absolutes. Salmon for lunch, halibut for dinner, I say.”

“Well, if I could cook like you, I’d probably say the same,” I admit. “Or, if I could cook at all.”

He leans forward on the table. “Well nobody’s perfect,” he replies. Our eyes meet for a moment, and I let myself stare back. The small space between us practically crackles with energy.


Author Bio:

Melanie A. Smith is the best-selling author of The Safeguarded Heart Series and other contemporary romance fiction. Originally from upstate New York, she spent most of her childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Los Angeles for college. After that, she spent almost fifteen years in the Seattle Area, and now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas with her family.

A voracious reader and lifelong writer, Melanie’s writing began at a young age with short stories and poetry. Having completed a bachelor of science in electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s in business administration at the University of Washington, her writing abilities were mainly utilized for technical documents as a lead engineer for the Boeing Company, where she worked for ten years.

After shifting careers to domestic engineering and property management in 2015, she eventually found a balance where she was able to return to writing fiction.

Melanie is also a Mensan and enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and driving with the windows down and the stereo cranked up loud.

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Link by Link: An Anthology of Haunted Holidays Blitz and #Giveaway

Link by Link: An Anthology of Haunted Holidays
Publication date: December 2nd 2020
Genres: Holiday, Paranormal, Supernatural, Young Adult

“‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. ‘I made it link by link…’”-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Link by Link is a collection of 9 stories of ghosts, spirits, and creatures unnamed, all come to teach lessons we won’t soon forget. From sweet Christmas tales to terrifying holiday hauntings, these stories take a dive into the past in the hopes of creating a better—or at least different—future.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Orange Blossoms-Love Blooms by Dalia Dupris Blitz and #Giveaway

Orange Blossoms-Love Blooms
Dalia Dupris
(California Hearts, #1)
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: October 19th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Strong-willed Elaine Hart is determined to save Hartland Ranch, her family’s California orange groves. After the recent ending of a turbulent relationship, she vows to keep her professional and personal life separate, even though she’s attracted to the man who holds her family’s fate in the palm of his hands.

Serious-minded banker, David Cole, has two goals- collecting on the delinquent ranch account and resisting his attraction to the unpredictable and beautiful Elaine Cole.

When a series of circumstances brings them together, they must decide if they will continue to suppress their emotions or succumb to passion and take a chance on a forever love.

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EXCERPT:

“If I have to wait until Monday for him to repair the car, I’ll need to find a hotel.”

“There’s one inn and one bed and breakfast in town and they’re both completely booked months in advance.” His eyes twinkle and he laughs the deep, echoing laugh that I’m starting to get use to. “I’m not making this up. You can call and check for yourself, if you don’t believe me. Strawberry Festival is a big deal and people travel from out of town to come and enjoy the festivities. You’ll have to spend the night with me.”

The last thing I need right now is to spend the night with David. With the undeniable attraction between the two of us, I know exactly what will happen. My vow to not mix work and my social life has completely gone haywire, because here I am sitting in the cozy intimacy of his car. Betsy is on the way to the mechanic’s garage and I’m stuck in a remote little town that I never knew existed until a week ago. On top of that I’m with the most magnetic man I’ve ever met, who manages to make me feel emotions that are simultaneously new, exciting and frightening.

“I’m okay with that.” He’s the kind of man that I can trust. It’s me I’m more worried about. If we are going to be in close proximity, I’m not certain that I can keep my hands to myself. “Do you have a two-bedroom apartment in Littleton?’ I try to sound nonchalant.

“No, I don’t.” He has a twinkle in his eyes. “I have a one bedroom.”

“Oh,” I sigh, resigned to the fact that this is going to be a super challenging weekend. “We’ll have to make the best of it then, won’t we?”

He throws his head back and lets out a deep, robust laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Here I am getting all sweaty, nervous and yes, even a little aroused, thinking about the possibility of sharing a bed with him and he’s laughing like its a joke.

“Okay.” He gains control of himself—finally, casting a more serious expression in my direction. “You should have seen the look on your face. As if it would be torture to have to share a bed with me.”

“That’s what’s so funny?” I glare at his remarkably even features. If only he knew that I was wondering what kind of underwear he wore, boxers, briefs or God forbid, that the man slept in the nude. “Better that you don’t try to read my mind. Although, I’m glad to see that you have a good sense of humor.”

“Of course I do.” He gives me an odd look, and his words are slightly defensive. “Who doesn’t have a sense of humor?”

“Can we stick to the subject?” I tap my fingers on my leg and l glance at him inquisitively. “So…we’ll be sharing a room, is basically what you’re saying?”


Author Bio:

I've always enjoyed reading and writing and grew up surrounded by a wide variety of books, from westerns to romance novels. I love stories--watching them, listening to them, reading them, and writing them. My contemporary novels include complex and diverse characters that grapple with family legacy, love, loss, and laughter as they face the challenges of life. When I'm not working on my next manuscript, you can find me bike riding along the beach with my husband or exploring the mysteries of the universe with my daughter. I enjoy music, dancing, meditation, and long walks.

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