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Condition Black

by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington

April 26 – May 21, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Condition Black by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington

EVAN WEYLAND, a brilliant research scientist tasked with developing new technologies to fight cancer, sees the world differently through the lens of Autism Spectrum Disorder. His guiding light is his wife, Marie—a globally recognized war correspondent. When she returns home from Syria deathly ill with an unknown disease, Evan believes his research may be the key to unlocking the cure. However, when his superiors refuse his request for help, Evan’s single-minded love for Marie drives him to take matters into his own hands—a decision with far greater consequences than he could possibly fathom.

BILLY VICK, a Captain in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, is a combat veteran unable to leave the horrors of war behind. Only the love of his family and a sense of absolute justice keeps him grounded. When Billy’s unit becomes aware of a US-sanctioned airstrike on a civilian settlement in Syria and an eye-witness reporter comatose with an unknown illness, he fears the worst. An unethical military project thought mothballed has resurfaced, and a civilian, Evan Weyland, may be about to inadvertently unleash it upon the world. It’s a mistake that could cost the lives of millions.

Pitted against each other in a game of chess-like deception and intrigue, with time running out, both men must come to terms with the magnitude of what’s at stake—and what each is willing to sacrifice to win.

Praise for Condition Black:

“This solid sci-fi thriller [is] a well-balanced thrill ride. Well-shaded characters keep the pages turning. Fans of high-tech medical and military thrillers should check this out.” ~ Publishers Weekly.

Like Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, this book is revolutionary. Incredible.” ~ Jonas Saul, author of the best-selling Sarah Roberts series.

Condition Black provides such an exceptional read. It’s highly recommended for fans of technothrillers who want a firm marriage between psychological depth and unpredictable action, all grounded by ethical concerns that challenge each character to reach beyond his skill set and comfort zone.” ~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller / Medical Thriller
Published by: Dropship Publishing
Publication Date: 27 April 2021
Number of Pages: 334
ISBN: 9781954386006
Series: Condition Black is a stand alone thriller.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Through the lens of her SLR, Marie Wayland couldn’t pry her gaze from the morbid scene as it unfolded some two hundred feet away. Another twist of the objective and the image in her ultralight mirrorless camera became crystal clear, even in the fading evening light of the Syrian sun: a man, his hands bound secure with coarse rope, sucking with erratic breaths at the cloth bag over his head. The fabric molded to the shape of his quivering lips and stuck there for an instant before being blown out again. He cried out as two masked assailants forced him to his knees. A whimper emerged from beneath his hood, followed by a muffled plea for mercy. Unwavering, the men stood in a line behind the captive, their AK-47 rifles pointed to the sky. Above them all, a black flag, inset with white Arabic script, fluttered like a pirate banner in the desert wind.

A young man carrying a beat-up camcorder scurried onto the scene and set up his tripod. He fiddled with his equipment, then gave a thumbs up. One of the soldiers stepped forward and pulled a curved blade from his belt. He called out and pointed to the camera, stabbing the air with the long knife. For a moment, he seemed to look right at Marie. Her heart faltered and the hot prickle of perspiration dampened her forehead.

Marie lowered her camera and eased further into a small depression in the side of the hill, perfect for both observation and concealment. “Don’t be tree cancer,” she whispered to herself. A strange phrase, but one that had proved invaluable during her long and storied career as a war correspondent. A Marine Corps scout sniper had offered her this golden nugget of advice during a stint in Afghanistan. Master of short-range reconnaissance, he’d spotted her crouched in a ball, peering out from behind a twisted stone pine tree. After approaching undetected, he’d whispered in her ear: Don’t be tree cancer. Marie had nearly jumped out of her skin. She later discovered the phrase referred to an observer drawing attention to themselves by standing out from the world around them.

The voice of the knife-wielding man rose in pitch. Marie shuffled for a better view and raised her camera once again.

The knifeman jerked the hood from the captive’s head.

A chill crawled down Marie’s spine.

Glen Bertrum, the American relief worker kidnapped three months ago from the outskirts of Aleppo, shifted on his knees. With a brutal shove from his captors, the terrified relief worker flopped to his side, squirming. The knifeman descended on Glen, then sawed at his relief worker’s neck with the blade. Blood sprayed against the sand. Glen screamed for what seemed an eternity, the sound morphing into a horrible sucking wheeze.

His gore-drenched knife dripping, the murderer yanked Glen’s head free and held it aloft.

The men shouted in victory, thrusting their weapons into the air.

“Shit,” Marie said, lowering the camera.

The cruelty and barbarism of humankind knew no end, and these zealots had a way of making it even uglier, spreading their jihad across the globe like a pestilence. Without raising the SLR again, she watched the terrorists conclude the recording and march away, leaving Glen’s decapitated body to rot.

Marie’s stomach knotted, and she tried to swallow away the tingle of nausea in her throat. This isn’t why you’re here, she thought. A beheaded aid worker wasn’t news, even if she had met the man before. Such things hadn’t been news for a long time. The war had escalated, far beyond Syria and the Middle East, beyond single hostages and beheadings. Terrorist cells were now a pandemic, spread across the globe, and embedded in every country. There was no central faction anymore. No IS or al-Qaeda, or Allah’s Blade. The war against the west was now an idea, a disease infesting the world. Anyone, anywhere could be an enemy—the core vision metastasizing, traveling to every corner of the Earth and there propagating.

Major cities now operated under war-time policy; curfews and rationing to prevent too many people congregating in any one place, such as a supermarket or a major sporting event. Aerial surveillance and street-level military patrols did their best to keep people safe, but a cage was a cage. In some ways, Marie felt free out in the world, even if it was in the enemy’s backyard. Yet while hate for terrorists was justified, as in all wars the enemy wasn’t the only one capable of terrible things. So too were the allied forces—the people who stood against terror and extremism—and that was why she was in Syria.

The little jaunt Marie had undertaken was unofficial. Her boss would kill her if he knew she’d conducted this op. After flying into Istanbul and crossing the border south of Daruca, she’d spent the better part of the past three days moving from checkpoint to checkpoint, working her way along Highway 7 through northeastern Syria. With dark features and perfect Arabic, Marie hid with ease among the local population.

Marie pulled a tablet from her backpack and keyed up the map she’d gotten from her contact. The coordinates were correct. A tiny civilian village in Northeastern Syria. This ramshackle settlement was little more than a speck on the map, and from what she was told by her contact, this place was of zero military significance. No base, no known weapons caches, no landing strips. The small cell of terrorists she’d just found was likely that: a small cell. Little more than a coincidence, and by no means justification for this village to be firebombed back to the stone age.

Unless they’d found something of significance.

***

Excerpt from Condition Black by Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. Copyright 2021 by Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. Reproduced with permission from Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bios:

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in Endocrinology, an executive MBA, is Board Certified in Medical Affairs, and currently works for the Pharmaceutical industry educating the World’s doctors on new cancer therapies.

Gareth Worthington is an authority in ancient history, has hand-tagged sharks in California, and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and 2FIGHT Switzerland.

He is an award-winning author and member of the International Thriller Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the British Science Fiction Association.

Born in England, Gareth has lived around the world from Asia, to Europe to the USA. Wherever he goes, he endeavors to continue his philanthropic work with various charities.

Gareth is represented by Renee Fountain and Italia Gandolfo at Gandolfo Helin Fountain Literary, New York.

Catch Up With Gareth Worthington:
GarethWorthington.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @GarethWorthington
Instagram – @garethworthington
Twitter – @DrGWorthington
Facebook – @garethworthingtonauthor

 

Stu Jones

Stu Jones

Stu Jones. SWAT Sniper. Adventurer. Award-Winning Author of Epic Genre-Bending Fiction.

A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu has served as a beat cop, narcotics, criminal investigations, as an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and as a team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. He is trained and qualified as a law enforcement SWAT sniper, as well as in hostage rescue and high-risk entry tactics. Recently, Stu served for three years with a U.S. Marshal’s Regional Fugitive Task Force – hunting the worst of the worst.

He is the author of multiple sci-fi/action/thriller novels, including the multi-award-winning It Takes Death To Reach A Star duology, written with co-author Gareth Worthington (Children of the Fifth Sun).

Known for his character-driven stories and blistering action sequences, Stu strives to create thought-provoking reading experiences that challenge the status quo. When he’s not chasing bad guys or writing epic stories, he can be found planning his next adventure to some remote or exotic place.

Stu is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo-Helin-Fountain literary

Catch Up With Stu Jones:
Goodreads
BookBub – @stujonesfiction
Instagram – @stujonesfiction
Facebook – @stujonesfiction

 

 

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 Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington. There will be two (2) winners who will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 26, 2021 and ends on May 22, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

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Condition Black

by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington

April 26 – May 21, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Condition Black by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington

EVAN WEYLAND, a brilliant research scientist tasked with developing new technologies to fight cancer, sees the world differently through the lens of Autism Spectrum Disorder. His guiding light is his wife, Marie—a globally recognized war correspondent. When she returns home from Syria deathly ill with an unknown disease, Evan believes his research may be the key to unlocking the cure. However, when his superiors refuse his request for help, Evan’s single-minded love for Marie drives him to take matters into his own hands—a decision with far greater consequences than he could possibly fathom.

BILLY VICK, a Captain in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, is a combat veteran unable to leave the horrors of war behind. Only the love of his family and a sense of absolute justice keeps him grounded. When Billy’s unit becomes aware of a US-sanctioned airstrike on a civilian settlement in Syria and an eye-witness reporter comatose with an unknown illness, he fears the worst. An unethical military project thought mothballed has resurfaced, and a civilian, Evan Weyland, may be about to inadvertently unleash it upon the world. It’s a mistake that could cost the lives of millions.

Pitted against each other in a game of chess-like deception and intrigue, with time running out, both men must come to terms with the magnitude of what’s at stake—and what each is willing to sacrifice to win.

Praise for Condition Black:

“This solid sci-fi thriller [is] a well-balanced thrill ride. Well-shaded characters keep the pages turning. Fans of high-tech medical and military thrillers should check this out.” ~ Publishers Weekly.

Like Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, this book is revolutionary. Incredible.” ~ Jonas Saul, author of the best-selling Sarah Roberts series.

Condition Black provides such an exceptional read. It’s highly recommended for fans of technothrillers who want a firm marriage between psychological depth and unpredictable action, all grounded by ethical concerns that challenge each character to reach beyond his skill set and comfort zone.” ~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller / Medical Thriller
Published by: Dropship Publishing
Publication Date: 27 April 2021
Number of Pages: 334
ISBN: 9781954386006
Series: Condition Black is a stand alone thriller.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Through the lens of her SLR, Marie Wayland couldn’t pry her gaze from the morbid scene as it unfolded some two hundred feet away. Another twist of the objective and the image in her ultralight mirrorless camera became crystal clear, even in the fading evening light of the Syrian sun: a man, his hands bound secure with coarse rope, sucking with erratic breaths at the cloth bag over his head. The fabric molded to the shape of his quivering lips and stuck there for an instant before being blown out again. He cried out as two masked assailants forced him to his knees. A whimper emerged from beneath his hood, followed by a muffled plea for mercy. Unwavering, the men stood in a line behind the captive, their AK-47 rifles pointed to the sky. Above them all, a black flag, inset with white Arabic script, fluttered like a pirate banner in the desert wind.

A young man carrying a beat-up camcorder scurried onto the scene and set up his tripod. He fiddled with his equipment, then gave a thumbs up. One of the soldiers stepped forward and pulled a curved blade from his belt. He called out and pointed to the camera, stabbing the air with the long knife. For a moment, he seemed to look right at Marie. Her heart faltered and the hot prickle of perspiration dampened her forehead.

Marie lowered her camera and eased further into a small depression in the side of the hill, perfect for both observation and concealment. “Don’t be tree cancer,” she whispered to herself. A strange phrase, but one that had proved invaluable during her long and storied career as a war correspondent. A Marine Corps scout sniper had offered her this golden nugget of advice during a stint in Afghanistan. Master of short-range reconnaissance, he’d spotted her crouched in a ball, peering out from behind a twisted stone pine tree. After approaching undetected, he’d whispered in her ear: Don’t be tree cancer. Marie had nearly jumped out of her skin. She later discovered the phrase referred to an observer drawing attention to themselves by standing out from the world around them.

The voice of the knife-wielding man rose in pitch. Marie shuffled for a better view and raised her camera once again.

The knifeman jerked the hood from the captive’s head.

A chill crawled down Marie’s spine.

Glen Bertrum, the American relief worker kidnapped three months ago from the outskirts of Aleppo, shifted on his knees. With a brutal shove from his captors, the terrified relief worker flopped to his side, squirming. The knifeman descended on Glen, then sawed at his relief worker’s neck with the blade. Blood sprayed against the sand. Glen screamed for what seemed an eternity, the sound morphing into a horrible sucking wheeze.

His gore-drenched knife dripping, the murderer yanked Glen’s head free and held it aloft.

The men shouted in victory, thrusting their weapons into the air.

“Shit,” Marie said, lowering the camera.

The cruelty and barbarism of humankind knew no end, and these zealots had a way of making it even uglier, spreading their jihad across the globe like a pestilence. Without raising the SLR again, she watched the terrorists conclude the recording and march away, leaving Glen’s decapitated body to rot.

Marie’s stomach knotted, and she tried to swallow away the tingle of nausea in her throat. This isn’t why you’re here, she thought. A beheaded aid worker wasn’t news, even if she had met the man before. Such things hadn’t been news for a long time. The war had escalated, far beyond Syria and the Middle East, beyond single hostages and beheadings. Terrorist cells were now a pandemic, spread across the globe, and embedded in every country. There was no central faction anymore. No IS or al-Qaeda, or Allah’s Blade. The war against the west was now an idea, a disease infesting the world. Anyone, anywhere could be an enemy—the core vision metastasizing, traveling to every corner of the Earth and there propagating.

Major cities now operated under war-time policy; curfews and rationing to prevent too many people congregating in any one place, such as a supermarket or a major sporting event. Aerial surveillance and street-level military patrols did their best to keep people safe, but a cage was a cage. In some ways, Marie felt free out in the world, even if it was in the enemy’s backyard. Yet while hate for terrorists was justified, as in all wars the enemy wasn’t the only one capable of terrible things. So too were the allied forces—the people who stood against terror and extremism—and that was why she was in Syria.

The little jaunt Marie had undertaken was unofficial. Her boss would kill her if he knew she’d conducted this op. After flying into Istanbul and crossing the border south of Daruca, she’d spent the better part of the past three days moving from checkpoint to checkpoint, working her way along Highway 7 through northeastern Syria. With dark features and perfect Arabic, Marie hid with ease among the local population.

Marie pulled a tablet from her backpack and keyed up the map she’d gotten from her contact. The coordinates were correct. A tiny civilian village in Northeastern Syria. This ramshackle settlement was little more than a speck on the map, and from what she was told by her contact, this place was of zero military significance. No base, no known weapons caches, no landing strips. The small cell of terrorists she’d just found was likely that: a small cell. Little more than a coincidence, and by no means justification for this village to be firebombed back to the stone age.

Unless they’d found something of significance.

***

Excerpt from Condition Black by Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. Copyright 2021 by Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. Reproduced with permission from Gareth Worthington & Stu Jones. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bios:

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in Endocrinology, an executive MBA, is Board Certified in Medical Affairs, and currently works for the Pharmaceutical industry educating the World’s doctors on new cancer therapies.

Gareth Worthington is an authority in ancient history, has hand-tagged sharks in California, and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and 2FIGHT Switzerland.

He is an award-winning author and member of the International Thriller Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the British Science Fiction Association.

Born in England, Gareth has lived around the world from Asia, to Europe to the USA. Wherever he goes, he endeavors to continue his philanthropic work with various charities.

Gareth is represented by Renee Fountain and Italia Gandolfo at Gandolfo Helin Fountain Literary, New York.

Catch Up With Gareth Worthington:
GarethWorthington.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @GarethWorthington
Instagram – @garethworthington
Twitter – @DrGWorthington
Facebook – @garethworthingtonauthor

 

Stu Jones

Stu Jones

Stu Jones. SWAT Sniper. Adventurer. Award-Winning Author of Epic Genre-Bending Fiction.

A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu has served as a beat cop, narcotics, criminal investigations, as an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and as a team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. He is trained and qualified as a law enforcement SWAT sniper, as well as in hostage rescue and high-risk entry tactics. Recently, Stu served for three years with a U.S. Marshal’s Regional Fugitive Task Force – hunting the worst of the worst.

He is the author of multiple sci-fi/action/thriller novels, including the multi-award-winning It Takes Death To Reach A Star duology, written with co-author Gareth Worthington (Children of the Fifth Sun).

Known for his character-driven stories and blistering action sequences, Stu strives to create thought-provoking reading experiences that challenge the status quo. When he’s not chasing bad guys or writing epic stories, he can be found planning his next adventure to some remote or exotic place.

Stu is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo-Helin-Fountain literary

Catch Up With Stu Jones:
Goodreads
BookBub – @stujonesfiction
Instagram – @stujonesfiction
Facebook – @stujonesfiction

 

 

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 Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington. There will be two (2) winners who will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 26, 2021 and ends on May 22, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Coldwater Revenge

Mystery

Date Published: 4/27/2021

Publisher: Level Best Books (S&S)

COLDWATER REVENGE is the story of two brothers involved with the same woman, and the ensuing crisis when one brother begins to suspect the other of helping her cover up a murder.

Excerpt

The tiny voice that sometimes appears when you’re about to do something stupid, hissed at Tom to be thankful, sit still and keep his mouth shut. Instead, he braced himself on the underwater rock, gathered breath and shouted.

Yo!” His throat was raw and his lungs shredded, but he continued to bellow. “Eat shit and die, asshole!” Tom struggled to his feet and staggered noisily through the shin-deep shallows. The spotlight from the patrol boat leapt toward the sound. As the boat drew nearer, he dropped and rolled to his back, as if he were afloat in deep water. The twin Sea Witch outboards roared and the thirty-foot cruiser leapt through a cone of halogen light. Tom lifted his one good arm and waved. The battered cruiser hydroplaned erratically through the water like a wounded shark. The bow-mounted spotlight bounced above and around its target, losing and then finding it again. Tom could see the man’s face in the halo of light—cadaverous and grim. He could see his eyes, mad and murderous. The little voice screamed at Tom to be quiet and lie still. He crouched in the shallow water, extended his arm and raised a finger.

About The Author


James A. Ross has at various times been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a CBS News Producer in the Congo, a Congressional Staffer and a Wall Street Lawyer. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications and his short story, Aux Secours, was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Purchase Links

Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RABT Book Tours & PR

Dating The Intern

Dating the Intern
by Natalina Reis
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Chick-Lit
Who would have thought that pretending to be in love could feel so real?
Ivory Tower is the successful owner and CEO of an online dating service who prides herself in matching her clients with their true love. Everyone except herself. When a TV studio wants to spotlight her company live on air, Ivory runs into a problem; she can’t produce the boyfriend she needs so she doesn’t look like a fraud.
When Li Qiang, her ten-years younger and toe-curling handsome intern, offers to pose as her boyfriend, Ivory thinks her problem has been solved, but it’s going to take more than the perfect algorithm to get out of this situation. Li Qiang is too easy to love and too hard to forget, and the question remains; does he really love her or is he only playing his role?
Dating the Intern is an age-gap romantic comedy that will make you smile, break your heart, and then make you believe in love all over again.
**On Sale for only $2.99 for a limited time!**
Natalina wrote her first romance at the age of thirteen. Since then she has published eleven romances that defy the boundaries of her genre. She enjoys writing all kinds of rebels and outcasts into her stories and she always roots for the underdog.
Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
$20 Amazon

Fred Gets Dressed

 

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the FRED GETS
DRESSED by Peter Brown Blog Tour hosted by 
Rockstar Book Tours.
Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About
The Book:

Title: FRED GETS DRESSED

Author: Peter Brown

Pub.
Date:
 May 4, 2021

Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young
Readers

Pages: 48

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook

Find
it:
Goodreads,
Amazon, Kindle, AudibleB&NiBooksKobo,
TBD, Bookshop.org

From
New York Times bestselling author and Caldecott-honor
winning artist comes an exuberant illustrated story about playing dress up,
having fun, and feeling free.

The boy loves to be naked. He romps around his house naked and wild and free.
Until he romps into his parents’ closet and is inspired to get dressed. First
he tries on his dad’s clothes, but they don’t fit well. Then he tries on his
mom’s clothes, and wow! The boy looks great. He looks through his mom’s jewelry
and makeup and tries that on, too. When he’s discovered by his mother and
father, the whole family (including the dog!) get in on the fun, and they all
get dressed together.

This charming and humorous story was inspired by bestselling and award-winning
author Peter Brown’s own childhood, and highlights nontraditional gender roles
and self-expression.

 


INSERT
YOUR REVIEW OR POST HERE!

 

About Peter:

Peter Brown is the author and illustrator of many
bestselling children’s books, including Children Make Terrible Pets,
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild,
 and The Curious Garden. He is also
the author of the bestselling middle-grade duology The Wild Robot and The
Wild Robot Escapes
. He is the recipient of a Caldecott Honor for Creepy
Carrots!
, two E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, a New York Times Best
Illustrated Children’s Book award, and a Children’s Choice Award for
Illustrator of the Year. Peter’s website is www.peterbrownstudio.com.


Website | Twitter |Facebook |
Instagram |
Goodreads | Amazon

 



Giveaway Details:

3
winners will receive a finished copy of FRED GETS DRESSED, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour
Schedule:

Week
One:

4/26/2021

BookHounds
YA

Excerpt

4/26/2021

BookHounds

Instagram Stop

4/27/2021

Little Red
Reads

Review

4/27/2021

Little
Red Reads

Instagram Stop

4/28/2021

For the
Love of KidLit

Excerpt

4/28/2021

Twirling
Book Princess

Excerpt

4/29/2021

Celiamcmahonreads

Review

4/29/2021

Celiamcmahonreads

Instagram Stop

4/30/2021

The
Momma Spot

Review

4/30/2021

future_bookworms

Instagram Stop

Week
Two:

5/3/2021

Nighttime
Reading Center

Review

5/3/2021

hickeylindsay

Instagram Stop

5/4/2021

michellemengsbookblog

Review

5/4/2021

Two
Chicks on Books

Excerpt

5/5/2021

Lady
Hawkeye

Excerpt

5/5/2021

kellyatx

Instagram Stop

5/6/2021

bookshelfmomma

Review/Instagram Stop

5/6/2021

Geauxgetlit

Excerpt

5/6/2021

Geauxgetlit

Instagram Stop

5/7/2021

Jazzy
Book Reviews

Review

5/7/2021

two points
of interest

Review

Secrets Mothers Keep Blitz

————————–

 

Domestic Suspense, Psychological Thriller

Release Date: May 6, 2021

On Friday night in the clay fields of Bethel Creek, seventeen-year-old Daniel Reyes is found brutally attacked and left for dead. On Saturday morning, Cora Maxwell finds her teenage son’s clothes covered in blood. A small town torn apart by a horrific hate crime. An investigative reporter hell bent on finding the truth. A mother’s worst nightmare.

A small town torn apart by a horrific hate crime.

An investigative reporter hell bent on finding the truth.

A mother’s worst nightmare.

What really happened to the Reyes boy?

In the heart-stopping and timely suspense novel, Secrets Mothers Keep, widow and mother Cora Maxwell faces the hardest decision of her life. In a world where there are few second chances, do you grant one to your child? And if so… what is the cost?


About the Author


Anya Mora lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Her novels, while leaning toward the dark, ultimately reflect light, courage, and her innate belief that love rewards the brave.

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Instagram

BookBub

Promo Link

Purchase Link

Amazon

RABT Book Tours & PR

Almondine Grows Up Blitz

———————

 

The challenge of freedom

Children’s Book, Children’s Fantasy

Published: January 2021

Publisher: GZ Books

Our teeny-weeny Almondine has grown up and is eager to enjoy her freedom. But a silly mistake leads her far from her foster mother, Alma, and the safety of her home. Alongside quirky characters, she endures a dangerous and complicated journey to find her way back. And, as the days go by, Almondine is undergoing an irreversible transformation. One she has to learn to accept.

A charming story for young readers, enriched with elegant illustrations on nearly every page, Almondine Grows Up is the second title of the trilogy in which we closely follow the teeny-weeny girl’s dangerous and exhilarating adventures in her wild micro world.

The Almondine Book Series follows the life and adventures of a teeny-weeny girl born from an almond tree. Illustrated on nearly every page, the story’s overarching themes of friendship, family relationships and adventure aim to engage mostly with primary school readers. www.almondine.club

About the Almondine Series:

Almondine is a three part book series following the life and adventures of a teeny-weeny girl born from an almond tree. She is discovered by 8-year-old Alma, who takes care of her as a baby and young girl, and with whom she shares many unexpected experiences. Almondine is a very special little girl indeed, with a crazy story to tell and an explosive surprise in store for her dear foster mother and friend Alma.

Illustrated on nearly every page, the story’s overarching themes of friendship, family relationships and adventure aim to engage mostly with primary school readers.

Books in the Almondine Series:

Almondine: The girl from the almond tree

Almondine Grows Up: The challenge of freedom

Almondine’s Babies: Alma’s mission

Amazon


About The Author


Gabriele Zucchelli is an animation director, whose work includes cartoon characters, realistic animals and fantastical creatures. He has contributed to several hand-drawn productions and blockbuster CGI movies including Harry Potter, Disney’s latest Lion King and the Oscar-winning Jungle Book. The Almondine trilogy is his first series of children’s novels.

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Return to Palm Court Book Blitz

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Book 2 in the Isle of Palms Suspense series

Romantic Suspense

Date Published:05-04-2021

Brittany Nelson returns to the South Carolina Lowcountry to help her sister, Blake, run the family bed and breakfast and care for her three-year-old niece. Soon after, strange occurrences begin taking place. Brittany can’t shake the feeling that the ghosts of her family’s past haven’t been laid to rest, after all.

As she works to unravel how this is possible, she finds herself in the center of unfathomable events. But if the Nelson sisters know anything, life at Isle of Palms isn’t always a day at the beach.

About the Author


Stephanie Edwards has been writing professionally since she landed her first newspaper column at the age of 13. Her love for the Lowcountry, the Atlantic Ocean and a good ghost story inspired her to write her first book, The Haunting on Palm Court: An Isle of Palms Suspense. A stay at a beach cottage with a spooky backyard, filled with old oak trees, inspired the novel.

Stephanie lives in Tennessee with her husband, Ron, and their adorable dog, Shadow. Be sure to keep up with Stephanie’s publishing news at stephedwardswrites.com.

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Call Me Elizabeth Lark

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

REVIEW

20 years after the disappearance and suspected murder of Myra’s 8 year old daughter…in walks in to your B&B, a woman and child that is a mirror imagine of what her daughter would have looked like if she was now 28! She even possessed a necklace that was engraved with her daughters initials and Myra just knew it was her long lost daughter!

Everyone is astounding and shocked, because miracles like this doesn’t happen everyday. But really who is Elizabeth Lark and is she Myra’s daughter?

If you like a book with a serious unexpected twist look no further, this one is for you! It was almost a little bit too unbelievable, otherwise I would have given it five stars.

Call Me Elizabeth Lark

by Melissa Colasanti

May 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

Your daughter went missing twenty years ago. Now, she’s finally back. You thought she had returned a few times in the past, and your husband tells you she’s not the one, but you feel it in your bones.

Now, what will you do to keep her home?

Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.

Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.

Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Suspense
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: March 9th 2021
Number of Pages:
ISBN: 1643856820 (ISBN13: 9781643856827)
Series: Call Me Elizabeth Lark is not a part of a series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

MYRA

Herb says Myra has drowned herself with Charlotte, where the beach is rocky and the tide tinged gray-yellow, its crest effervescent. At the inn, wind batters the wooden shingles like the ocean thrumming the shore at high tide. The squall sends sand whipping through the air. The pier empties of people, except for the lone fishermen who wear rubber boots and heavy yellow raincoats, casting their lines in turbid water. Myra and Herb are ensconced in the inn, wrapped in sweaters and crocheted afghan blankets. Occasional guests trickle in, but not often. People visit the Oregon coast during summer.

Myra doesn’t take vacations during the off season, no matter how many empty winters pass. Charlotte knows her mother is waiting. She lived for the scent of the ocean, for the lacquer of salt on her skin. The crabs hidden under mounds of sand and the starfish in the tide pools enchanted Myra’s youngest child. Myra supposes this is why Charlotte was so attracted to the mystery of the deep, dark sea. The waves sweep away an entire pool of living things, but with the next tide, they begin again.

And so Myra is not particularly surprised when her dead daughter walks in the door.

***

Myra studies the sawdust-covered floor of the musty inn, thinking they should sweep it and install shiny new wood. She spends her free time leafing through the glossy pages of decorating magazines, considering all the possibilities for the place. It should be more modern, like the bigger hotels in Rocky Shores. There are bed and breakfasts with assorted coffees and fresh baked goods; there are vacation rental homes and cabins, some of which come equipped with pools and fitness centers. And the Barkley Inn is an entire mile from the open shore.

When Myra’s parents were alive, people shuffled in wearing flip-flops and shorts in the summer, eager for slabs of marbled steak served for cheap on Fridays. Peanut shells and loose sand scattered the floor. Back then, poets read their work on Saturday afternoons. Musicians strummed their guitars and sang with their husky, melodic voices on Saturday nights. Candle-filled Mason jars adorned the tables. Ripples of lavender incense hung sweet and thick in the air.

They have personal touches that have gone back decades—luxurious bath towels, chocolates on the pillows, chilled champagne in the honeymoon suite. But the curtains are a drab shade of olive-green, and antique topaz candelabras cast dim light over the lobby. In the sixties, they were eclectic; now they’re just creepy. Perhaps Myra could get one of those latte machines people like nowadays.

On this particular afternoon, Herb hovers behind her as she considers the flooring. She pretends not to notice his wry smile, how he watches her. Age spots dot his thin skin; his eyes are set beneath deep wrinkles, but they glow with a tenderness that has never changed. He will always be her Herb.

“Whatcha up to, honey?”

“Do you think we should get rid of the sawdust? I’m thinking deep mahogany floors.”

He says with a playful smile, “Does it really matter what I want?”

Myra rolls her eyes. “I’m just thinking of ideas to spruce the place up—”

A vehicle brakes hard, its screech penetrating the thick storm windows.

Herb cringes. “Good lord. Someone needs a brake job.”

Myra peers around the curtains. Headlights dip and rise over bumps in the gravel. Rain has streaked the windows, leaving tracks through the winter grime.

“A guest?” she says, thinking: no one has stopped by in weeks. Who wants to go to the bayside town and get drenched? Perhaps someone is traveling through. Maybe they need directions.

A rusty pickup truck with Washington state plates jerks into a spot.

“Great,” mutters Herb. “Here comes trouble.”

A stranger with inky hair climbs out of the car. It falls in thick, unkempt chunks around her face. “This one’s gonna have a fake ID,” she tells Herb. “A really fake one.” Myra isn’t one to turn away a guest. Everyone has a story—and if they’ve got information about Charlotte, they might not be exactly on the right side of the law. They don’t give every guest a room. But they’ve got a reputation for turning a blind eye to a fake ID, for accepting cash without a credit card as collateral. The dyed hair, the ancient truck. This is a woman running from a man. Myra has seen it before. She could never turn a woman out on the street because she doesn’t have a credit card, or she’s changed her name. Besides, it’s a bed and breakfast—rich folks with good credit tend to stay at five-star resorts. They can’t be overly picky.

Herb says, “Shoulda dumped that vehicle a thousand miles ago.”

“Maybe she couldn’t,” Myra says, watching.

The stranger ushers a little boy out of the backseat. She begins to trudge toward them, a duffel bag tossed over her shoulder, clutching the child’s hand. The woman stops sharply and turns back to the vehicle. She swipes the underside of the wheel with her palm.

Herb fixes his gaze on Myra. “Don’t go soft on me, honey. That girl’s running from something, and it’s probably trouble.”

“Can’t be too experienced.” She nods to the truck. The girl won’t find a tracking device stuck in a wheel well. It’s on the damn GPS.

Herb shakes his head, placing his thick knuckled hand on hers. She shoves it away, breath caught in her throat. Hanging his head, he shuffles toward the office. Myra knows what he is thinking. She could climb inside Herb’s chest and feel the rhythm of his heart. As much as anyone can know another person, Myra knows Herb.

As the sound of his footsteps recedes, she looks back to the window. The girl is too far away for Myra to make out her features. She slips into her vinyl chair and waits for their nebulous figures to sharpen. Leaning on her elbows, Myra breathes slowly, listening to the rain drum on the roof, run down the metal storm drain, and trickle onto the ground. The damp inn is cozy compared to the biting Pacific Northwest rain.

The bells on the door jingle as the woman pushes it open, water dripping from her clothing. The noxious scent of her fresh dye job wafts inside. She leans over the boy and whispers in his ear. He shoves his thumb in his mouth and looks back at his mother questioningly, and she nudges him toward the front desk. “It’s okay,” she says. “Let’s go up to the nice lady.”

The woman’s voice is eerily familiar. Myra can’t quite place it. Has she come through town before?

Myra glances at the stranger’s face as inconspicuously as possible, but she notices how this woman moves, the tilt of her chin, the cadence of her voice as she speaks to the boy—it is so familiar that a guttural pain shoots through her bones, her gut, every last piece of her. The hair may be black, but the eyes are the same. Her breath quickens; the room spins. She leans against the counter, reeling. “My god.” The words swirl off her tongue before she can catch them.

“Yes?” says the woman, who is not exactly a stranger, yet somehow strange. She backs toward the door. “I’m sorry. I guess you’re full—”

“No,” says Myra. “You look like a girl I once knew, that’s all.”

“We need a room. But if you’re full, we can keep driving.” She pulls the boy closer.

Myra realizes how bizarre she must sound. She ducks beneath the counter. The woman looks just like Charlotte. Those eyes.

Is she Charlotte?

No. Not again.

Herb is already convinced she’s insane. He’s probably right in his assessment.

She emerges from beneath the desk and tosses a hand towel to the woman. “You’re soaked to the bone. So is your son.”

“I’m sorry if I sounded stressed. I’m traveling alone with Theo.” The stranger’s voice wavers. Rain beads on the boy’s apple-shaped cheeks like teardrops. His threadbare pants graze his ankles.

“What’s your name?”

The woman hesitates, dropping her driver’s license on the counter. “Elizabeth Lark.”

“That’s a beautiful name,” she murmurs. Myra likes it when people choose lovely, poetic false identities for themselves. The lark is such a lyrical bird. Sometimes people come in with names like Moonstone or Pippin. Too much, she thinks. Unique is not what you’re going for when you are on the run.

Myra studies the driver’s license as she boots up the computer. It’s well done as far as fake IDs go. The little wheel on the computer whirls to the beat of her heart. “I’m sorry. It’s thinking.”

Elizabeth pulls her wet jacket around her thin frame, shivering. Her skin is a milky-gray color, and her lips, pale blue.

“You are about the same age as our daughter.” Her voice grows husky. She clears her throat and types the information into the computer. “We lost her years ago.”

Elizabeth avoids Myra’s eyes. The girl already knows. Maybe she has come to see about Charlotte’s ghost. Myra’s chest is raw and tender. A snake coils in her stomach, lithe and threatening to escape.

“Anyway, it’s done thinking.”

Elizabeth purses her lips and reaches for her driver’s license, knocking over Myra’s glass of water. The contents of her purse tumble behind the desk.

“Dammit, I’m sorry.” Elizabeth rushes toward the counter, stuffing papers and cards and cash back into the tattered bag.

That’s when Myra sees it.

A strand of silver is coiled against the green carpet. It could have been any silver necklace, really. But Myra would recognize the cracked edges of the half heart anywhere. Best Friends Forever. It was a gift from Charlotte to her sister, Gwen, the year before she disappeared. Myra picks up the necklace, locking eyes with the stranger, who holds the boy’s hand so hard her bony knuckles turn white. Myra turns it over and traces the initials with her finger.

CB. Charlotte Barkley.

“Where did you get this?” She steadies her voice.

The woman pulls herself to her feet, eyes wide. She takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. “It’s mine.”

Myra’s heart flutters. The snake is ready to pounce. Elizabeth Lark is not leaving, not until she explains the necklace. “Yours?”

“From long ago, yes.”

The world slows. Myra catches Elizabeth’s eyes. They are sapphire-blue, and the closer she looks, she more she is certain. They are Charlotte’s. Her little girl face has gone, and it is replaced by sharp cheekbones and an angular jaw. Elizabeth looks similar to Myra’s oldest daughter, Gwen. Her limbs go numb. The necklace slips from Myra’s fingers, landing in a soft pile on the floor.

“My daughter.” The word sticks to her tongue. “Charlotte.” Charlotte does not move. She is stuck in a different time. At this moment, Herb pads back into the lobby.

“What’s going on out here? Are you checking in?” He lifts his chin toward Charlotte.

“I don’t have any idea what she’s talking about.” The stranger’s face flushes.

Myra closes her eyes. Toddler Charlotte lays on her chest, knees curled up like a prawn, the light sweat from her cheek dewy and warm. Charlotte’s squeals as she races her wooden fire truck along the windowsills. Both of her girls would trample in and out, dripping sand and water all over the floor, covered in sticky treats from the ice-cream truck.

“Don’t track that water in the house, girls. Stop bringing that sticky stuff inside. Wash your hands!” She hears her own words and wishes she could swallow them. Take them back.

Twenty summers missed. Twenty summers of eclipsed sunshine, of icy heat. These guests wander in with nothing but their fake identities to cover secrets they cannot face, to investigate rumors of a haunted inn. Twenty years of drifters washed up from the frothy shores, looking for a room, dirty and chafed by the combination of sand and rain and heartbreak.

“My god, I have loved you. I have been here, waiting. I never stopped waiting.”

Charlotte grips Theo’s hand.

Herb takes Myra’s shoulders, meets her eyes. He whispers, “This is not Charlotte.”

Of course he says this. This has happened before. But this time it’s true.

“Look at her, Herb. She looks just like Gwen.”

Charlotte stares at them. “I have no idea what to say.”

Herb releases her shoulders. He knows when to recede. Myra and Herb dance like this, intricate and poised. They know when to dip forward, when to swing sideways. He knows where he can touch her and what is too tender. And they move gently because their breakable parts have shifted throughout the years, like plates of the earth, scraping against one another deep beneath the surface.

She presses the necklace in Herb’s palm. “Look at the initials, honey.”

Herb clenches his jaw. His eyes glisten. The jowls on his neck shiver. “Where did you get this?” His voice thickens with emotion.

The wind howls and bristles the door; the tick of the clock over the fireplace throbs in her mind. Warmth spreads through Myra’s chest. It relaxes in her stomach, heavy but silent.

“Charlotte’s home. This time she really is.”

Myra has a million questions. What has happened to her daughter? Who has had her all these years? And how did she find her way home?

Charlotte was only eight. Just a baby, really. And now, she stands before her mother, tears catching in her sunken cheeks.

Sweat beads on Myra’s forehead. Tentacles grip her neck. She is drowning, deep in the ocean, where they said Charlotte died. Except Charlotte is here, right in front of them.

Herb steps closer to their daughter, scanning her from head to toe. He turns back to Myra, breathless.

Charlotte is alive. Wondrously, exquisitely alive.

CHAPTER TWO

ELIZABETH

Washington State—One Week Ago

The necklace slips through Elizabeth’s fingers and lands in her palm. She inspects the cracked edges of the half heart and turns it over, focusing on the initials carved into the metal. She drops it into her purse.

The cabin reeks of dank mold. Elizabeth peeks out the window, hoping no one will see her, though there is no logical reason for her fear. The cabin is situated in a thicket of deep wood, where lime-green lichen weeps from the trees like gnome hats. Tufts of moss unfurl through the walls where the wood has rotted, while the foundation crumbles precariously beneath their feet. It is as tiny as a dollhouse dropped amid the lush, expansive forest, surrounded by frozen creeks and giant boulders. The moonlight seeps through a lattice of soft fir branches, and the cabin casts a shadow onto the snow. It is swallowed by the forest ahead. On each side of the shadow, crystals of snow glitter like a smattering of diamonds.

No one could find this cabin. No one away from the forest knows they are alive.

“Elizabeth?” Her husband’s gravelly voice startles her.

She turns back to her son, who snuggles with his blue blanket and stuffed giraffe on the couch, fast asleep. Elizabeth smiles at Theo and clicks off the television. She slides to the boy’s level and perches on the balls of her feet, tucking the blanket under his chin. The cold mountain air seeps into the poorly insulated cabin. His hair tumbles over his eyes, but she won’t cut it. A memory of Peter shaving her son’s luscious ringlets churns inside her. Elizabeth pushes her fist into her stomach and twirls Theo’s stray hair.

“Are you coming, or what?” Peter yells.

She steels herself for the next few moments.

“Coming.” She speaks just loud enough for him to hear her. This is the last time her voice will be low. She squeezes her hands into tight fists.

“Honey, my back is aching. Can you bring me a drink and my pills?”

This is the moment she has waited for. The man doesn’t pay the heating bill while he’s out of town. And now he wants to be taken care of.

Elizabeth can arrange this.

She swings open the hollow-core door softly, taking care not to let it bang against the wall. He lays in bed, quiet and vulnerable, covered with the only heavy comforter in the house. The curtains are drawn tight. “I’ll have your drink and pills in a second. You want food?”

“No. Just the pills. Please, honey.”

She hates the word, so thick and sweet off his tongue. She shudders, remembering the tang of his hot breath against her neck.

“I’m sorry about yesterday.” He groans in pain. “I can’t believe how slippery that ice is. It’s like someone dumped water all over the porch.”

Her lips curl into a smile. She pours three fingers of Jack Daniels into a tumbler—funny they can afford this, and his Vicodin, when she and Theo haven’t been to the doctor, not ever. They haven’t left this cabin in years, except to exchange pleasantries with the homesteaders who have cleared trees and built little farms that sprawl down the mountain. They have their own peculiarities, she thinks, because they aren’t alarmed that Elizabeth lives in this falling down shack with a five-year-old.

Still, Peter says to be friendly.

“But don’t get too close. I’m watching you.”

The threat hides beneath his words, like a rat scratching in a dark cabinet.

She drops a pill into the amber liquor, watching it billow into a thick, hazy cloud. And another. It is hypnotic. Venom fills her blood, lurid and dangerous. She swirls it with a teaspoon, and it clinks against the glass like the tick of a clock. She is numb, devoid of emotion, but she depends on this emptiness to survive. Pure instinct drives her down the crumbling hall. Holding her posture straight, she enters the bedroom.

“Here you go, babe.” Elizabeth helps him to a seated position. His warm body is sticky with sweat.

“Ahh, thank you. You are a goddess,” he says with a light smile.

Don’t believe him, don’t believe him. He will turn this on you and eventually kill you with his lies.

The whisky sloshes in the glass as she hands it to him. “Drink up.” She feigns cheer, but her voice shakes.

“Please don’t be afraid of me. I’m your husband. I’m sorry.” His eyes are pleading. And pathetic. “Is your arm okay?” Her flesh is mottled with purple finger marks.

She nods with a smile.

“I just don’t want to lose you.”

She and Theo have been trying to escape. And Peter’s relentless surveillance prevented them from contacting the nearby homesteaders without his looming presence. However, on one of his work trips, she and Theo walked a mile or so from the log cabin, until they came upon a farm. She got more than fresh eggs and a free-range chicken at the Hart’s place.

Mrs. Hart let her use the internet.

Theo played with the Hart woman’s children as she typed “domestic violence help” in the search engine. Alice Johnson’s name popped up first. She’d apparently been helping abuse victims for decades. Elizabeth sent her an e-mail, wrote down her phone number. But before Alice could respond, Peter rang the doorbell. She heard his voice booming from the front room and slammed the laptop shut. Trembling, she ushered Theo toward the foyer. He put his arm around her, patted Theo’s head, and said a sickeningly sweet goodbye to Mrs. Hart. “I was in the area,” he said. “I thought you’d appreciate a ride home.”

Once they got outside, he transformed back to the Peter she knew. With a sneer, he’d grabbed her by her thin shirt, digging his knuckles into her clavicle. He said, in cool, measured tone, “Mrs. Hart seems nice.”

It took month for Elizabeth to get another cell phone and make the call. And for weeks after that, they meticulously plotted their escape.

Peter cuts the water supply when he will be gone for more than forty-eight hours. She and Alice planned to wait for the faucet to shudder and spout, till only copper silt would vomit into the stained sink. But he’s become even less predictable. His back injury is an opportunity, perhaps the only one. They can’t wait for an out-of-town trip. One might never happen. She cannot predict what electrical line will short circuit within her husband next. There is nothing she can do right when it comes

to Peter, because what is right one moment is wrong the next. Every breath she takes is so cold it’s hot.

They have one shot.

I’m not the one who should be afraid. Not anymore, darling.

He slings back the drink with another pill. “Damn, that’s some strong shit.”

“You’ll feel better soon. Get some sleep.”

Peter leans back on the pillow, his eyes fluttering shut. How lovely it must be to be safe.

Safety is merely an illusion, a trick of the mind. It is never guaranteed.

She rushes back to her son and shoves the last six years of her life into a single duffel bag. Before waking Theo, she creeps back to the bedroom to make sure Peter is knocked out. He’s asleep, for sure. But his face is pasty. His olive complexion has turned yellowish, especially around his eyes. His lips are a bluish-gray color. Did she give him too much?

She tiptoes quietly toward him, afraid he’ll sit up in bed and pounce on her. He looks really bad. Elizabeth needed to immobilize him for an hour or two, not kill the man. Peter’s chest rises, ever so slightly. His neck rolls to the side with a labored breath.

Holy shit. Elizabeth runs to the living room, tears springing to her eyes. She shakes Theo awake.

He looks at her, drowsy and confused.

“We’re taking our adventure today, remember? I packed our things. Daddy isn’t coming.”

“Are you sure?” He chews his fingernail.

She pats his head and smiles. “He’s not coming.”

Theo glances toward the bedroom door.

“Don’t worry.” Elizabeth takes his cheeks in her palms. “He’s sleeping. We are going on an adventure together, just you and me.” She forces herself to smile, heart beating wildly in her chest. “Okay?”

A dubious look crawls across Theo’s face.

“He’s sleeping. I promise. But we must go now.”

“What if he wakes up?” Theo whispers.

“He won’t,” she replies.

“What if he finds us?”

“He won’t. Not this time. Let’s go.”

“Did you pack my card games, my checkers?”

“Yes. I wouldn’t forget those. Come on, now.”

“Are you sure he won’t wake up?”

“Pretty sure.” She taps his shoulder. “Enough questions.” Peter might never wake up again. She shoves her hand under the couch cushions, looking for his phone, but he keeps it hidden from her. Maybe she should go back in the bedroom and make sure he’s okay. She isn’t a murderer. Lord, what has she done?

Maybe Theo won’t remember this moment. He is five years old. Maybe he won’t remember Peter at all. Peter will wake up, confused as hell, once they are gone, she hopes. He can’t possibly be dead. She covers her face with her hands, trying not to cry. Theo has watched Peter hit her, has watched television shows where people aren’t typically living in a cabin without heat, and with little food. He’s five, and his understanding of the world is expanding, ballooning within their captivity. It’s getting harder to hide the truth from him. He asks questions; he’s curious about life outside the forest. And she finds herself snapping at him because she can’t give him what he needs.

They need to get down this mountain.

Although, deep within the folds of her brain, she realizes that Peter will never let them go. As long as he lives, she is beholden to him. Even once they escape, change their identities, and move far, far away, Peter will be somewhere.

Safety is merely an illusion, a trick of the mind. He will hunt them till his last breath. Maybe it’s best he take his last breath now. But still . . . She takes a tentative step toward the bedroom. Oh, shit. Should she check on him again? He could be dying. Should she call someone? They’d help her; they would save Peter.

No, she decides, it is not safe for her child here. There was no other choice but to incapacitate him. Right?

Fuck. They head for the door.

Elizabeth ushers Theo to the truck, dragging the duffel bag behind her. “Hurry,” she urges. “But don’t slip.” The frigid air whips against her skin. Gripping his hand tightly, she instructs Theo to dig the heels of his boots into the ice as he walks. The ground is slick; jagged rocks shine in the moonlight. She clicks the seatbelt over her son’s waist, hands trembling, and tosses the bag in the back. Her own seat is awkward.

It has been years since she has driven a vehicle.

She turns the key in the ignition, hits the gas. They slide on the ice, over thick tree roots, into swathes of evergreen trees. The metal truck scrapes against branches, and she hits every gear wrong. But she gathers her bearings. They travel down the mountain, past the Harts’, past more pockets of homesteaders with chickens and goats, and away from their captor—her husband, his father. She squirts the windshield with fluid and wipes away a layer of dried mud.

Elizabeth inhales deeply when they hit the main mountain road.

When Peter wakes, they will be long gone. She conjures images of all the possible states Alice might take her to. Someplace sunny, like California. Or a tiny Midwestern town with a big yard for Theo.

What if Peter doesn’t wake up? She remembers the odd angle of his neck, his shallow breaths. Is she running from Peter—or the police? Could she be charged with murder?

The thought speeds her own heartbeat up. Blood rushes through her capillaries like a broken dam.

Her son looks out the window, enthralled with the road ahead of them. The sunrise spreads over the mountain, clear and wide. Theo points out the window. “Beautiful,” he says.

“Beautiful,” she agrees.

“Where are we going?”

“We’re stopping at a friend’s house.” She has no cell phone, no GPS to direct her. Only this rusted old truck. She will ditch it when they arrive at Alice’s, get on a bus. Elizabeth laughs, deep and throaty. They turn off the main road, crunching through gravel, and up a windy hill to a little blue house.

Her chest bursts with excitement. “C’mon Theo. Let’s go meet Alice.”

She drags him a little too quickly, and the boy’s feet slip on the ice. “Whoops.” He giggles as she catches him by the back of his threadbare coat.

Alice is a stout woman, with copper-colored skin and gray-streaked hair. Her smile is empathetic and kind. Several women linger around the breakfast table, holding mugs of steaming hot coffee, the rich scent wafting through the air. A couple of children play in the living room. The space is tight, but it exudes warmth and compassion. A pang of sadness hits her in the chest. She and Theo cannot stay here. It is too dangerous. He could find her among these women. The house is too close to the cabin. Does Peter have friends? He must. What if someone she doesn’t recognize tries to find them? He could trail them, set a trap. Theo and Elizabeth must disappear.

And if she’s killed him—oh god, she hopes she hasn’t killed him—that’s murder, right? She didn’t technically need that dosage to knock him into oblivion. Her brain spins.

“All right girl, come in the back.” Alice turns to Theo. “Why don’t you play Legos with the other kids?”

He crouches around the box of red and blue and green blocks. A blonde-haired girl helps him stack them into a little building. She takes a deep breath, hope blossoming through her body.

Elizabeth follows Alice down a dark, narrow hallway and into a tiny room with a neatly made twin-sized bed. She rests on the soft blue bedspread as Alice rifles through the closet.

“All right. Here’s the plan. You’re gonna leave the truck and take one of mine.”

Elizabeth opens her mouth to protest. Alice holds a hand up. “Look, girl. You can’t take off in the man’s truck. They’ll find you. And even if you tell the cops what’s happened, Peter will kill you and Theo before they can prosecute him. I’ve seen it before.”

Elizabeth decides not to mention that Peter’s body might be turning cold as they speak. “But what about you? He’ll find the truck—”

Someone will find the truck anyway.

“I’m gonna get in the truck and ditch it twenty miles from here. But don’t you worry about that. You take my vehicle.” She tosses a key ring onto the bed.

“Alice, I can’t take a car from you.” She sighs, rubbing her aching forehead.

“You can pay me back someday. Till then, your life is at stake. Don’t think about the cheap-ass car I’m about to give you. It’s not registered in my name or anything.” She rolls her eyes. “Still, you need to ditch it once you cross into Oregon. You’ll be conspicuous with out-of-state plates.”

“Whose car is it, then?”

“Never mind that. Doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the cops can’t trace it to you or me. Just don’t get pulled over.”

Elizabeth is bone-tired. “All I care about is getting away from here.”

Alice plops on the bed beside Elizabeth. Her eyes are dark brown, and her lipstick reminds Elizabeth of a ripe plum. Alice takes her hands and squeezes them tightly. Teardrops drip down Elizabeth’s nose.

“It’s going to be okay,” she says.

“Promise?” says Elizabeth, feeling very young.

Alice smiles warmly. “I can’t promise anything. But you’re gonna do your best. I have a good feeling about you.”

She clears her throat. Back to business. Alice shuffles through a box of cards, takes a few, and tosses them on the bed. “I made these with the pictures you sent me from the Hart woman’s computer. You did what I told you about, wiping your search history, right? And you cleared the photos from the webcam?” “Yes. But you said a computer can never be fully wiped. That all the information is stored on the hard drive.” What if the police discover she contacted Alice on the internet? Her hands begin to shake. If he’s looking for her, the first place he’ll go is the Hart place.

“Oh sweetheart. All we want is to keep the Hart woman from snooping around. Do you really think Peter is going to report you missing? Let the cops search that dump he’s been keeping you in?”

Elizabeth nods. The log cabin is essentially a prison.

It is a prison.

“Where do you think you’ll go, Liza? As far as anyone is concerned, you don’t exist,” Peter had said, with a nonchalant shrug.

Elizabeth’s conviction grows. She will leave; she will take her boy far away, where he will never find them.

Unless she’s killed him. Then the police will search everywhere, including the Hart’s computer. Dammit! Why did she give him all those pills?

“All right. We’ve got three IDs here. One Oregon State driver’s license. One Social Security card, which is essentially worthless for applying for credit or a job. It’s just for show if someone doesn’t buy the driver’s license. Same with the passports,” she says, laughing. “That ain’t gonna get you out of the country if you plan to return. And I hear Tijuana isn’t a fun place to live.”

Elizabeth shoves the cards in her purse, beside the necklace.

“You’ve gotta be careful with fake IDs. Lots of people think giving a person a new first name is safest. To my mind, it’s risky. You’ve been called Elizabeth your entire life. You could not respond to a strange first name. Hell, I’ve heard of a woman who started to sign the wrong name on a job application. How do you turn back from that? ‘Sorry, it seems I’ve signed the wrong name?’ Nah.”

“Technically, I’ve been called Liza. A nickname my mom gave me because she loved Liza Minnelli . . . but I get a new last name?”

“Yup. You are no longer Elizabeth Briggs. Now, you are Elizabeth Lark.”

“I love it,” she says, smiling.

“Don’t get too attached. My work isn’t that authentic. We may have to change it again, if he comes after you, or someone else finds out.” Alice purses her lips, thinking. “For now, aim for jobs at small companies. Family owned. It’s not so much the name, as the Social Security number, which is completely fabricated. Make sure you avoid companies that are gonna do a damn background check.” She shakes her head. “That, we do not need.”

Elizabeth considers this. “Isn’t it strange that this pile of false IDs is no more fake than I am?”

Alice ignores the existential musing. “Next is the hair.” Alice reaches into a chest of drawers filled with boxes of hair dye, combs, and scissors. She points to the adjacent bathroom. “Welcome to my spa.”

Elizabeth settles into the chair, inspecting her gaunt face in the mirror. Alice works methodically, chopping her long, sand-colored hair to her shoulders. Elizabeth watches it land in chunks on the ceramic tile.

“I’m not trained in this,” she says. “But I have a lot of practice. My handiwork will have to do.” Alice puts her hands on her hips, squinting a little. “I think we need to go darker.”

They turn the chair and Elizabeth leans her head back, letting her hair tumble into the sink. Her neck digs into the cold ceramic. Alice pours a pitcher of warm water over her hair, greasy from lack of a decent shampoo. She massages Elizabeth’s temples and scalp with a dollop of Suave.

“You normally wait to wash the hair after applying the dye, but you really needed the wash first.” Alice squeezes out the excess water with a towel.

Alice rubs the dye through her hair. The smell of ammonia settles heavily in the stuffy bathroom, stinging Elizabeth’s nose. She is woozy from the cocktail of chemicals. Alice peels her rubber gloves off and cracks the window. A shiver runs down her neck. It’s funny to think how a whole new life begins with her hair.

“So, how did you end up there?” She tucks cotton around Elizabeth’s scalp and behind her ears, then covers her head with a plastic cap.

“Stupidity. Pure stupidity.”

Alice perches on the fluffy pink toilet seat. “Tell me about it. Out of all the stories I’ve heard—”

Elizabeth shakes her head. Alice cannot know. No one can.

Thirty minutes later, her hair is the color of a moonless night. Alice packs her bag with burner phones and rushes them out the door.

“Be careful now.” She takes Elizabeth’s cheeks into her palms, looking at her with intense, shiny eyes. “You get across the border, into Oregon, and stop for the night. Go someplace that takes cash. Then call me. I’ll arrange a bus ticket in my name to your next destination. Keep your head down. Try to be unmemorable.”

Elizabeth takes a shaky breath and waves before they pile into the truck. They drive down the forested road in silence, leaving Washington for good.

“Where are we going, Mommy?”

Elizabeth cracks the window and lets some of the noxious smell from her damp hair out of the truck. She takes a deep breath.

“I’m not sure, baby.”

But the road takes her toward the seashore, almost against her will, and definitely against her better judgment.

She is going home.

CHAPTER THREE

ELIZABETH

Charlotte Barkley is a legend throughout the country, but for the residents of the small town on the Oregon Coast, she is everyone’s daughter. The Barkley Inn is nestled across the highway from a tiny, hidden pier outside of Tillamook County. The marina is weathered gray, with a few boats that seem perpetually docked there. There is a surf shop with an ocean mural painted on its door, an old-fashioned candy store needing a coat of paint, and a fish-and-chips restaurant. Rocky Shores is so sleepy it is swallowed by the lush, endless forest.

Rocky Shores was never a well-known town, not until Charlotte’s disappearance. Now, the tourists stop by the bayside for a piece of a secret. Elizabeth wonders what the Barkleys think about this—how they feel about the influx of business their private tragedy has brought. Some of the kids at school whispered that the Barkleys knew what happened to the little girl. Others said that Myra Barkley’s obsession bordered on insane, that she would wait at that inn for Charlotte till the end of time.

She kisses Theo on the forehead and tucks a blanket around him. It is the thickest blanket he’s ever had. His lips turn up in his sleep, and she wonders what he dreams of.

Myra Barkley doesn’t strike Elizabeth as all that odd. She would wait for Theo too.

Elizabeth redirects her thoughts to the plan she must adhere to if they want to escape. She unzips her duffel bag and rifles through it, retrieving the three burner phones Alice purchased from different Walmarts, and the stack of different identification cards.

Don’t fuck this up, she thinks.

She holds the phone in her palm. Should she call Alice yet?

No, not until she is sure they are safe. She knows one thing— they can’t stay here.

Elizabeth runs her fingers along the silver necklace and squeezes her eyes shut. How will she get out of this one?

Her breath quickens. Elizabeth poisoned the man. She could be guilty of murder. Or maybe it would be considered self-defense. Elizabeth is no lawyer. She’s got no experience with cops, and there’s no one she can think of to ask without sounding suspicious as hell.

Elizabeth cannot spend one more day incarcerated.

As soon as Myra and Herb retreat to the house, she will gather Theo and sneak out to the truck. Her eyelids are heavy; sleep threatens to overtake her. Even her muscles have gone soft from the hot bath Myra had drawn for her that afternoon. She decides to lie down, just for a few minutes. It is better to wait till deep in the night. She cannot head to the police with Herb and Myra in the morning. Run. That’s what she is supposed to do. What she was told to do. Everyone from Rocky Shores is haunted by Charlotte Barkley. The old case will resurface. When the truth comes out, Elizabeth and her son will be filleted by the media. Imposter takes advantage of grieving mother. Her chest aches as she lies beside Theo.

Elizabeth Lark is no one’s daughter.

***

Excerpt from Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti. Copyright 2021 by Melissa Colasanti. Reproduced with permission from Melissa Colasanti. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Melissa Colasanti

Melissa Colasanti is a mother and an author. She has a BFA in fiction from Boise State University. Her writing has appeared in Lithub, Memoir Magazine, The Coffin Bell Journal and others. She is the Stephen R. Kustra scholar in creative writing for 2019, and was awarded the Glenn Balch Award for fiction in 2020.

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Mystery

Date Published: 4/27/2021

Publisher: Level Best Books (S&S)

COLDWATER REVENGE is the story of two brothers involved with the same woman, and the ensuing crisis when one brother begins to suspect the other of helping her cover up a murder.

Excerpt

The tiny voice that sometimes appears when you’re about to do something stupid, hissed at Tom to be thankful, sit still and keep his mouth shut. Instead, he braced himself on the underwater rock, gathered breath and shouted.

Yo!” His throat was raw and his lungs shredded, but he continued to bellow. “Eat shit and die, asshole!” Tom struggled to his feet and staggered noisily through the shin-deep shallows. The spotlight from the patrol boat leapt toward the sound. As the boat drew nearer, he dropped and rolled to his back, as if he were afloat in deep water. The twin Sea Witch outboards roared and the thirty-foot cruiser leapt through a cone of halogen light. Tom lifted his one good arm and waved. The battered cruiser hydroplaned erratically through the water like a wounded shark. The bow-mounted spotlight bounced above and around its target, losing and then finding it again. Tom could see the man’s face in the halo of light—cadaverous and grim. He could see his eyes, mad and murderous. The little voice screamed at Tom to be quiet and lie still. He crouched in the shallow water, extended his arm and raised a finger.

About The Author

James A. Ross has at various times been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a CBS News Producer in the Congo, a Congressional Staffer and a Wall Street Lawyer. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications and his short story, Aux Secours, was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.

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Dead In The Water

by Jeannette de Beauvoir

April 27, 2021 Book Blast

Dead In The Water by Jeannette de Beauvoir

 

Book Details:

Family Can Be Murder

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Read an excerpt from Dead In The Water:

Chapter One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know,” I acknowledged.

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

“I know,” I replied.

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

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

We know about whales.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What does that mean, two o’clock?”

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I took the bait.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just breathe, Riley. Just breathe.

***

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

 

 

Author Bio:

Jeannette de Beauvoir

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

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

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Instagram: @jeannettedebeauvoir
Twitter: @JeannetteDeB
Facebook: @JeannettedeBeauvoir

 

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jeannette de Beauvoir. There will be two (2) winners who will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 27, 2021 and ends on May 5, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Three Missing Days

BOOK REVIEW

In the 3rd and last book of the Pelican Harbor trilogy, the Jane Hardy, the sheriff, her 15 year old son was arrested for killing his stepmom who had abandoned him. Someone is setting him up Jane and Reed are sure of it. Will they find who did it before he is convicted?

Plus Jane has to reunite with her mother due to the demands of an individual stating Janes mom has his “stuff”.

That stuff happens to be an explosive. How does this connect with the setup to Janes son?

Will Jane and Reed get their happy ending?

This is a good crime fiction clean mystery series. Having survived being in a cult during her childhood, Jane became the local sheriff of Pelican Harbor, a tiny community that had a New Orleans flare.

There was a lot of filler and I thought the story could have wrapped up in 2 books.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫. Overall I would recommend!

Three Missing Days

by Colleen Coble

April 5 – 30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble

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

A chilling murder.

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

Her son’s arrest.

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

Her stolen memories.

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

Book Details:

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

Read an excerpt:

“I know what you did.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He could get a burner phone.”

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

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

“Do you have any idea what it means?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fire. The house was on fire.

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

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

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

 

 

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Giveaway!:

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

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Cover Reveal Banner

I am so excited to reveal the cover for Charlie Laidlaw’s upcoming novel, Everyday Magic! Read on for more info!

Everyday Magic Front cover FINAL

Everyday Magic

Expected Publication Date: May 26th, 2021

Genre: Literary fiction/ Contemporary Fiction/ Humour

Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it. She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind. She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her. She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.

Coming Soon!

About the Author

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Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook | Twitter

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