Book Blast: AN EYRE OF MYSTERY by G. Leeson


An Eyre of Mystery
by G. Leeson



About An Eyre of Mystery

An Eyre of Mystery

Genre: Fantasy Portal/Mystery
Publisher: Grace Abraham Publishing
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Print length: ‎ 177 pages
ISBN13: 9781737300939 (paperback)
ASIN: ‎ B09ZDLM7B7 (Kindle edition)

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Books2Read | |

Classic literature is at risk of disappearing from the world…

When Gia accepts a job as a library archivist at a manor house in North Carolina, she has no idea what she’s in for. On day one, she finds herself outside her comfort zone when she accidentally travels through a magical portal to the world of Jane Eyre. She finds Edward Rochester imprisoned as he awaits his death sentence for killing his wife. But Gia has read the book, and she knows Edward is innocent of murder.

Soon, she realizes that there are sinister mystical forces working to rewrite the narrative, hoping to destroy the manuscript altogether. To restore order and reset the book to its original state, Gia must discover who actually killed Bertha Rochester and framed her husband for the crime.

But few of the people she meets are who they claim to be and they all have secrets…including Edward.

About G. Leeson

Gayle [G. Leeson, for this book] has taken a real leap of faith with An Eyre of Mystery and the world of Literatia. She decided to explore what would happen if a reader–or in this case, an archivist–actually got lost in a great book. But when she travels through the portal into the world of Jane Eyre, she finds it to be a topsy-turvy mess. Edward Rochester is facing a death sentence, and Gia has been tasked with finding out who really killed his wife so that Edward can go free, the book will reset to its original form, and Gia may return home. If you’d like to get a sample of the book, please check out this extended sneak peek (first five chapters) at

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Guest Post: Mary Alford – AMONG THE INNOCENT

Happy Monday, my bookish divas and divos. Happy Independence Day to those of you celebrating here in the US. Every writer seems to have a strange and somewhat circuitous path to becoming a published author. It’s rare that an author receives a contract with their first submission (it does happen, but it is very rare). Most published authors participate in writing and critique groups, and attend writing conferences, they write and rewrite with each submission and rejection until finally, acceptance and publication happens. Thankfully, these talented folks don’t give up and we readers ultimately reap the benefits of their diligence and persistence. I’m pleased to welcome Mary Alford, author of Among the Innocent. Ms. Alford will be sharing with us part of her journey to becoming a published author. Please sit back, grab a beverage or snack, and let’s hear what Ms. Alford has to say about her best day (psst, might I suggest you put Among the Innocent on your TBR list). Thank you, Ms. Alford, for taking the time to join us today; the blog is now all yours.

When My Strangest Day Became My Best Day!
by Mary Alford


Okay, I know what you’re thinking—how does that happen? Quite unexpectedly actually.

When I first started taking my dream of becoming a published author seriously, I tried lots of different genres and unfortunately failed.

But I didn’t give up. Through all the rejections, one piece of advice I’d received kept popping into my head. Write what you like to read.

So that’s what I did.

I’m a huge fan of the romantic suspense genre, specifically Christian romantic suspense. If you’ve ever perused the genre, there are some wonderful authors who write Christian romantic suspense and I read all of them. I submitted several story ideas and got some positive feedback, but still no contract. I kept trying, though it was frustrating at times.

Then in 2012, I entered an online contest and was selected to pitch a story to an editor. I was thrilled. . .until I remembered we were going to be in the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado without internet service.

Lost Valley

I admit for about half a minute, I thought about giving up, but I’d fought so hard to get there.

My husband and I decided to drive to the closest town, which was Pagosa Springs, Colorado where we found internet service in front of the Ace Hardware store. I remember I sat inside our car and typed my pitch. I still can’t tell you today what I wrote because my fingers were shaking so badly. Whatever it was, the editor liked it because she requested a synopsis, then 3 chapters, and then the full. Through each request, I kept telling myself not to get my hopes up. Several months went by and then in December of 2012, I got the call that I’d sold my first book! I was going to become a published author. That was many books ago, but I still remember the strange day that I sat in my car and did the pitch that would change my life.

Woman typing on a laptop in a car

And then, 2 years ago, I submitted a partial to Revell and once more tried not to get my hopes up. A few months later, I had a contract for Among the Innocent.

It’s been such an amazing journey. Sometimes, I wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t entered that contest. If I’d given up and not done the pitch. Would I still be struggling to become a published author? Who knows? But I do know everything happens for a reason and I was supposed to be at the Ace Hardware Store in Pagosa Springs, Colorado in 2012 to make that pitch. And boy am I glad I did.

All the best. . . ♦

Among the Innocent

by Mary Alford

July 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Among the Innocent by Mary Alford

When Leah Miller’s entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family’s deaths.

As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can’t help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah–and Dalton–when the full truth comes to light?

USA Today bestselling author Mary Alford keeps you guessing as two determined souls plumb the dark depths of the past in order to forge a brighter future–together.

Among the Innocent is no buggy ride BUT A RACE TO STOP A KILLER”
– DiAnn Mills, bestselling and award-winning author

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Fleming H. Revell Company
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Number of Pages: 297
ISBN10: 0800740262 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9780800740269 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781705064719 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09LWN9DXD (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B09Z7C3G57 (Audible audiobook)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | | Barnes & Noble | B&N Nook Book | | | | Downpour Audiobook | | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Mary Alford

Mary Alford is a USA Today bestselling author who loves giving her readers the unexpected, combining unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots that result in stories the reader can’t put down. Her titles have been finalists for several awards, including the Daphne Du Maurier, the Beverly, the Maggie, and the Selah. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two cats and one dog.

Catch Up With Mary Alford:
BookBub – @MaryAlford
Twitter – @maryalford13
Facebook – @MaryAlfordAuthor

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Guest Post: Michael Bradley – NONE WITHOUT SIN

Hello, my bookish peeps. Setting can be a crucial part of any story we read, whether the author has crafted a fictional city/country/planet or set the story in a well-known city. Can you imagine a story set in a pre-9/11 New York City that doesn’t mention the World Trade Centers, Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, or Times Square? Or a story set in San Francisco that ignores the Golden State Bridge? Yes, this might be nitpicking on my part, but the setting is important. If an author places his story in a known environment, then I want references to known features in that city. Of course, authors may and will take a certain amount of creative license with the settings in their stories, but real locations need to be recognizable (at least they do for this reader). Please help me welcome Michael Bradley, author of None Without Sin as he discusses settings and world-building. Thank you, Mr. Bradley, for joining us today. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on world-building as it relates to None Without Sin.

Welcome to Newark:
Building the World of None Without Sin
by Michael Bradley

Welcome to Newark, Delaware, home to approximately 34,000 people. If you were to pull up the city on Google Maps, you’d see that there isn’t much to the city; only a little over 9 square miles in size. Newark’s most notable feature is probably the campus of the University of Delaware, which is interspersed throughout the western part of downtown. Its quaint one-way Main Street is lined with shops and restaurants, which draw residents of all ages, races, and ethnicities.

Newark—the Newark of None Without Sin—is also home to the Newark Observer, a twice-weekly newspaper run by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Brian Wilder. The Newark of the book, in many ways, resembles Newark in real life. Many of the street names are the same, as well as the major landmarks, like state parks and historical sites. There is an old church on the corner of Main and South Chapel Streets which plays a prominent role in the book, although it has been renamed in the book. If you walk along Main Street, you’ll find a building clad in faded yellow brick that serves as the fictional home of the Newark Observer newspaper.

Why set my mystery novel None Without Sin in a real city? I could easily have created a fictional city with fictional streets and landmarks. But I’ve always been the kind of writer that likes to incorporate a bit of realism into my stories. The world that I see around me is far better than any world that I could create out of my imagination. Using the real city of Newark as a blueprint for my fictional one grounds the story in reality. It acts as a foundation onto which I can overlay my story with all its plot twists, characters, and dialogue.

I’ve used real settings in my previous books as well, so this practice isn’t new for None Without Sin. Two of the books were set in and around the Philadelphia area. A few readers have even expressed their excitement at the mention of a street or location with which they’re familiar. They spoke of the memories the book invoked as they relived their own experiences within the limits of the city. And that is what I’m trying to do with my stories, invoke feelings. That extra bit of realism can sometimes be just enough to heighten a reader’s pleasure while reading the book.

So, I say again, welcome to Newark. I hope you enjoy your stay. ♦

None Without Sin

by Michael Bradley

July 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


None Without Sin by Michael Bradley

Be sure your sin won’t find you out.

When a Delaware real estate mogul is murdered, newspaper journalist Brian Wilder wants the scoop on the killing, including the meaning behind the mysterious loaf of bread left with the corpse. Reverend Candice Miller, called to minister to the grieving family, quickly realizes that the killer has adopted the symbolism of sin eating, a Victorian-era religious ritual, as a calling card. Is it the work of a religious fanatic set to punish people for their missteps, or something even more sinister?

As more victims fall, Brian and Candice follow a trail of deceit and blackmail, hoping to discover the identity of the killer—and praying that their own sins won’t catch the killer’s attention.

“Loaded with twists, Bradley’s vibrant and gripping thriller will make readers eager for more.”
—August Norman, author of Sins of the Mother

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN10: 0744305950 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9780744305951 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780744305517 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780744305982 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B09RJNQLS3 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B09WG5PB85 (Audible Audiobook)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | B&N Nook Book | | | | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley is an award-winning author from Delaware. He spent eight years as a radio DJ “on the air” before realizing he needed a real job and turned to IT. Never one to waste an experience, he used his familiarity with life on the radio for many of his suspense novels. His third novel, Dead Air (2020), won the Foreword INDIES Award as well as the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award.

Catch Up With Michael Bradley:
BookBub – @mjbradley88
Instagram – @mjbradley88
Twitter – @mjbradley88
Facebook – @mjbradley88

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Guest Post: James L’Etoile – DEAD DROP

Good day, book people and welcome to July. Like many of you, I’m somewhat obsessed with books, hey book diva here. I wonder about the crafting of each story, why this particular setting, why this number of characters, how do authors keep track of all of the characters, how did the author come up with character names and occupations, etc. I don’t sit and ponder these in-depth while reading, but these questions do pop up. Apparently, I’m not alone in thinking about the hows and whys. I’m pleased to welcome James L’Etoile, author of Dead Drop, back to the blog. Mr. L’Etoile will be discussing the all-important “whys” of his characters with us today. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say and add Dead Drop to your summer TBR list. Thank you, Mr. L’Etoile, for your return visit, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Thanks for inviting me to come and guest post with you again here on The Book Diva’s Reads. I’m really excited about the release of Dead Drop in a little more than a week. It’s the first in a new series, so I could do one thing I enjoy most, creating new characters to play with.

Every author’s writing process is unique and uniquely their own. It takes a little time and practice to find the methods and routines that work best for you. After five novels (and two more out on submission), I’m settling into my process—the one that works for me, now.

As part of that process, I spend a considerable amount of time developing the characters who’ll inhabit my pages long before I type the first words. Some authors depend on archetype labels to define their characters. Definitions like the Mentor, the Hero, the Villain, and the Ally, for example. While these may identify their roles in the story, I find the labels don’t help me establish character. Characteristics perhaps, but not a deeper dive into character.

For me, it’s about the “why.” Why do the characters act and respond the way they do? What does my character want, and how far will they be willing to go to get it?

In Dead Drop, our two main characters are opposites of one another. Detective Nathan Parker and a desert scavenger, Billie Carson, are about as far apart as you would imagine. Until circumstances bring them together to solve a series of murders and fight for their own survival.

In the opening chapters, Billie is out “scrapping” trying to eek a living from the recycled goods and discarded junk along the highway. Right away, we learn there’s more to Billie than she admits. She blames herself for harm done to others. So, what does Billie want? Why has she adopted this off-the-grid lifestyle? And what has she done in the past?

Billie has secrets. Secrets worth killing for. She’s motivated by a sense of justice, a search for redemption from a deadly past, and a need to conceal her old life.

Nathan Parker is a cop who struggles with his sense of justice after a coyote bringing migrants over the border murders his partner. Nathan doesn’t blame the undocumented. There are darker forces using people who are trying to find a better life as a commodity in a deadly game.

He’s never given up his search for the man responsible for his partner’s death. Motivated by a sense of survivor’s guilt, a longing for justice, revenge, and yet he’s drawn to those who need him in a need to protect others.

When Nathan and Billie come together over a series of recent deaths, their “whys,”—their motivations—collide. The investigation of the murders of undocumented men lures them over the border. Parker finds his path shifts from his partner’s death and must rely on the very people he once pursued to save his life and a band of undocumented migrants crossing the border. He lives less in the past and looks to the future. Nathan searches for justice for the living.

Billie must put aside years of hiding and sacrifice to help Nathan. She’s tougher and more resilient than people give her credit for. She knows more about the murder of Nathan’s partner but has kept that concealed for years. Revealing it now threatens her relationship with Nathan, but withholding it may put more people in danger, including her.

The “whys” of Dead Drop drive the actions and decisions of Nathan and Billie over the course of the book. They reveal more about their character. I find it helpful to map out these characters before I dive into the plot of the novel. With a better understanding of Nathan and Billie, I know how they will react and exactly how far they will go to get what they are searching for.

Writing a novel means you’ll be living with these characters for months. That relationship works much more smoothly if you take the time and get to know them before you write. ♦

Dead Drop

by James L’Etoile

June 27 – July 22, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Dead Drop by James L'Etoile


Hundreds go missing each year making the dangerous crossing over the border. What if you were one of them?

While investigating the deaths of undocumented migrants in the Arizona desert, Detective Nathan Parker finds a connection to the unsolved murder of his partner on a human smuggling run. The new evidence lures Parker over the border in search of the truth, only to trap him in a strange and dangerous land. If he’s to survive, Parker must place his life in the hands of the very people he once pursued.

Border violence, border politics, and who is caught in between. The forces behind it might surprise you.

Praise for Dead Drop:

“James L’Etoile’s DEAD DROP hooked me from the opening sentences to the very last page. A truly twisted plot, gifted storytelling, and dead-on characterization combine to make this tense, timely, and heart-breaking thriller a truly memorable read. I loved it!”
~ Karen Dionne, author of the #1 international bestseller THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER and THE WICKED SISTER

“An incredible story that grabs you by the throat and tosses you across the room. L’Etoile is a gem.”
~ J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of HER DARK LIES

James L’Etoile is such a talented and terrific storyteller! His real-life experience in the criminal justice system gives his compelling, high-stakes thrillers an authenticity that only a savvy insider can provide. You’ll be turning the pages as fast as you can!
~ Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today Bestselling Author of HER PERFECT LIFE

A suspenseful and utterly gripping novel that doesn’t shy away from the terror of drug cartels and border violence, James L’Etoile’s DEAD DROP is a well-researched, expertly written police procedural with twists that will leave you breathless. This one is not to be missed.
~ Jennifer Hillier, bestselling author of LITTLE SECRETS and THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK

“Borders are blurred, lines are crossed. Nathan Parker navigates an intensely personal case, uncontrolled emotions threatening his good judgment. Brilliant prose, crisp pacing, and well-developed characters make L’Etoile a must-read for every thriller enthusiast. An unforgettable story.”
~ K.J. Howe, international bestselling author of SKYJACK

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781685121143
ISBN: 9781685121150 (eBook)
ASIN: B09WVWZ4BG (Kindle edition)
Series: The Detective Nathan Parker Series, Book 1
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon Kindle | B&N Nook Book | Kobo eBook

Author Bio:

James L'Etoile

James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, facility captain, and director of California’s state parole system. He is a nationally recognized expert witness on prison and jail operations. He has been nominated for the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural Mystery, and The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His published novels include Black Label, At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River. Look for Dead Drop in the summer of 2022.

You can find out more at:
BookBub – @crimewriter
Instagram – @authorjamesletoile
Twitter – @jamesletoile
Facebook – @AuthorJamesLetoile

Tour Participants:

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This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for James L’Etoile. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: I LET YOU FALL by Sara Downing

I LET YOU FALL by Sara Downing book coverI Let You Fall by Sara Downing
ISBN: 9781631611858 (paperback)
ASIN: B09YYW65T5 (Kindle edition)
Release Date: June 20, 2022
Publisher: Quilla Books
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Romantic Drama

A contemporary tale of tragedy, selflessness, love, and renewal.

On a summer night in London, art teacher Eve Chapman finds herself in a hospital emergency room. She watches surgeons desperately operate on a young woman with a terrible head injury. But when the bandages are removed, Eve is horrified to find her own body on the operating table.

Trapped in a coma, Eve struggles to cope with the fact that no matter how hard she tries, her family and friends cannot see or hear her. But then she meets Luca Diaz, a handsome and comatose lawyer who can see her. He takes Eve under his wing and teaches her how to use her new abilities to help the living.

As the weeks pass, Eve struggles to find a way back to her body and to Nathan, the man she loves. But the more time she spends with Luca, the more she wonders if her old life is worth going back to at all.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | |

Read an excerpt:

Eve and Nathan had drunk a lot of wine the night before the accident—way too much for a school night—and then she’d slept badly, as she often did after a boozy evening. When her alarm went off and she’d hit the snooze button a second time, she finally dragged herself out of bed.

As she stood under the shower, even the warm cascade couldn’t blast away the strange sensation she had woken up with. She couldn’t remember having any dreams, but she woke up unnerved, as though she’d had one which had felt a little too real.

Taking a towel from the rail, she’d rubbed at her hair, dressing and returning quickly to the bathroom to put on her makeup. As she picked up her mascara wand and widened her eyes in the mirror, a sudden movement in the corner of the room caught her attention. The wand slipped and stabbed her in the eye.

‘Damn,’ she said, putting one hand over her eye, which began to leak black tears in protest.

She spun round to see what it was, but other than her own reflection, she was alone in the bathroom. Shrugging, she turned back to the mirror and grabbed a wipe to remove the smudges from her cheek. Her eye was so sore that she couldn’t possibly reapply it now.

Deciding to take the mascara with her for later, she reached to put it into her back pocket. As she did, she felt something brush her arm. It was the most delicate of touches, but it made the hairs on the back of her neck prickle. She rubbed her arm furiously, believing it to be some kind of winged insect that must have come in through the open bathroom window. Eve didn’t much care for small, fluttery things, particularly moths. She couldn’t bear the rustling of tiny wings and the panic these creatures endured when they knew they were trapped. She reached for the catch and snapped the window quickly shut.

‘Eve, don’t go.’

The man’s voice was crystal clear, as though it had come from inside the room. She spun round, dropping her mascara, which rolled away beneath the vanity unit.

‘Nathan?’ she called, as she knelt down and grappled on the floor for the tube. Hearing footsteps in the bedroom, she pulled herself up and followed in, one eye still closed. ‘Did you say something, love?’

The bedroom was empty. Eve jolted to a halt.

‘Nathan?’ she called again, louder this time.

‘Yep, down here,’ came the voice from the kitchen. ‘What’s up?’

‘Oh, nothing,’ she called. ‘It’s fine. Must be Buster up to his usual tricks.’

A shiver ran down Eve’s spine as she examined her eye in the bedroom mirror, grimacing when she saw how red it still was. Choosing some earrings from her jewellery box, she wandered across to the bedroom window as she fixed them into place. Buster was sitting on the fence of her tiny garden, one back foot in the air, his toes pointed like a furry ballet dancer while he carried out his morning ablutions.

‘You daft cat,’ she said. ‘One of these days you’ll fall off that fence.’

As Eve reached for the window catch to pull it closed, a long white feather, as light as gossamer, fluttered to the floor and landed beside her foot. Buster had recently become quite the hunter; she often found stray feathers around the house. But this one was different, far more exquisite. She picked it up and turned it over in the palm of her hand before throwing it into the bin and heading downstairs.

Eve pulled out a chair and sat down beside Nathan, pushing his pile of papers to one side.

‘You OK?’ he asked.

‘Yeah,’ said Eve, frowning. ‘Bad night’s sleep.’

While Nathan crossed his legs and swiped onto the next news article on his iPad, she drank a gulp of the coffee he had poured for her. She thought better of mentioning the voice she had heard and the strange feeling that overcame her in the bathroom. It was probably nothing. She must have still been half-asleep.

‘More coffee?’ said Nathan, returning to the news.

‘No, I’m fine thanks. I’d better get going,’ she said, putting her mug into the dishwasher and planting a kiss on Nathan’s lips. He seemed to be making no move to pack up his papers and follow suit. ‘You coming? I can wait a minute or two if you want to walk to the Tube with me?’

‘No, I’m not quite ready yet,’ he said. ‘Just need to read this lot for later. I’ll be another half-hour or so.’

‘Oh,’ said Eve flatly.

‘Sorry, love, I should have said earlier.’ He pushed back his chair to look up at her. ‘Your eye looks a bit sore.’

‘Yeah, I nearly poked it out with my mascara just now. Looks awful, doesn’t it?’

‘You look beautiful to me,’ said Nathan, putting his arm around her waist and pulling her close. ‘You always do. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine by tonight. You excited?’

‘I can’t wait.’

‘It’s going to be great. And you’ll look gorgeous in that new dress. But hey, don’t go getting on the Tube in it. Book a cab. I can put it on expenses. Now go, or you’ll be late for school.’

He slapped her on the bottom as she left the kitchen, and she let out a little squeal.

‘Bye, then,’ Eve called as she opened the front door, half hoping he would change his mind and come with her.

‘Love you,’ he called back.

And then she heard the voice again.

‘Eve, don’t go,’ it said, quite clearly. A sudden chill made her spine tingle. She sensed someone’s closeness, an intrusion on her personal space, but again she was completely alone.

‘What did you say?’ she called out, all the while knowing the voice hadn’t come from Nathan. By now he was wholly engrossed in his meeting notes.

‘I said I love you, babe,’,’ he replied.

‘Love you, too,’ said Eve.. ‘See you later.’

Just as unexpectedly as it had arrived, the strange feeling was gone, and Eve closed the front door behind her. Her shoes clicked on the cobbled path to the little garden gate, which squeaked in protest as she opened it. But no more voices spoke to her.

Eve was still a bit flustered as she walked to the Tube station, hurrying even though she was only a few minutes later than normal. She could feel the sun’s early heat prickling her bare arms.

In all the confusion she had forgotten to make her lunch, so she popped into a café beside the station and ordered a sandwich and her usual skinny latte with an extra shot, regretting having turned down Nathan’s earlier offer of a top-up. Sipping it on the way into the station she felt herself beginning to regain some of her normal calm.

It was just your imagination, she said to herself again as she waited on the platform.

The train pulled in and Eve hopped on. She sat down, putting her laptop bag on her knees. Rummaging inside, she realised she had left her Kindle on the kitchen counter. Now with nothing to read, she glanced up at the advertising boards over the heads of the passengers across from her. As she did, she caught the eye of the man sitting opposite her and he smiled—a rare event in London, so she smiled back, tucking her hair behind one ear.

Eve could tell that the man was trying not to be caught staring at her, though he wasn’t doing a very good job. She didn’t really mind; it was flattering, and he was far from unpleasant to look at, with blond hair which was slightly too long and piercing blue eyes. She was surprised to find herself a little disappointed when the carriage doors opened at the next stop and standing passengers blocked her view.

When the crowds parted again a few moments later, he was nowhere to be found.

Excerpt from I Let You Fall by Sara Downing.
Copyright © 2022 by Claudia Gray. Published by Quilla Books, A Division of TCK Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Author Sara Downing headshot photo

Sara Downing is the author of the popular Head Over Heels contemporary romance series, plus a further romance, Stage Fright, and a historical novel, Urban Venus.

In 2016, Sara published The Lost Boy, her first foray into the world of the supernatural. Her latest novel, I Let You Fall, was released on June 20, 2022.

Sara lives in rural Worcestershire with her husband, three almost grown-up children, a Labrador, and a cat. Before children she was a Chartered Accountant, but always knew her dream career lay elsewhere. She started writing in 2009 and hasn’t since yearned to return to the world of accountancy.

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Guest Post: Victoria Weisfeld – ARCHITECT OF COURAGE

Good day, book people. It never seems to fail, but in almost every author interview I’ve seen, heard, or read, the author gets asked a question that is basically “where do you get the ideas for your stories.” I’m pleased to welcome Victoria Weisfeld, author of Architect of Courage, to the blog. Ms. Weisfeld is joining us today to discuss the perennial question: “where do stories come from?” I hope you’ll add Architect of Courage to your summer reading list, I did. For now, please help me welcome Victoria Weisfeld. Thank you, Ms. Weisfeld, for taking the time to join us and share your thoughts on where stories come from. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Where Stories Come From
by Victoria Weisfeld


Writers are often asked where their stories come from, and for me, the proper answer is—everywhere! The newspaper, the rich fictional lives other writers have shared, the people I know, my own experiences, and my personal worldview. I’ve been lucky enough to have some thirty of my short stories published, but writing a novel is a totally different project, and it’s surprising really how many disparate pieces eventually come together in unexpected ways.

The murder mystery Architect of Courage is my first novel, and I feel like an archaeologist when I try to unearth its origins. Let’s dig around together for a while.

Yes, the main character is an architect. I wanted someone successful, on top of his professional world, as it were, who would confront serious situations that he was totally unprepared for. He’s not a man accustomed to being in over his head! I didn’t want to make him a lawyer or a doctor, because many writers trained in those professions write thrillers and have the background for it.

At the same time, I’ve always been interested in architecture. My parents were big fans of Frank Lloyd Wright, and my dad designed our house on Wrightean principles. In college, I hung around with the architecture students and was fascinated by the building models they created (dollhouses for boys). And I’ve subscribed to and read a leading architecture and design magazine for more than thirty years.

Rather than my having a detailed knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession, I believe I understand how architects think. (I’m delighted to say that a leading architect who read an advance review copy agreed.) As an example, they are accustomed to working in teams, alongside people with different expertise. Unlike the go-it-alone heroes of some thrillers, my architect, Archer Landis, is quite willing to get help when he needs it, in order to work his way through the baffling challenges that confront him.

Another thread came from the news media. At the time I started writing Architect of Courage, I was troubled by the broad-brush anti-Muslim rhetoric I kept hearing, which seemed to assume all Muslims were terrorists. Arch believes he’s fallen in love with a Spanish woman named Julia who is one of his assistants, but when she’s murdered, the police discover she’s really an American and a Muslim. They immediately assume terrorist, that she’s finagled a job with his firm to find targets for bombs. Arch disagrees and sets out to prove them wrong. Not until recently did I recognize how many examples of the corrosive nature of prejudice are in the book, though it is almost never discussed overtly, and the word “prejudice” never appears.

It’s predictable that the police react as they do because the book is set in summer 2011, in the months leading up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11. There were lots of rumors about impending catastrophes going around in official circles right then. So that part of the book—the timing—was based on a real-life situation. Living so close to Manhattan as I do, and having friends with personal tragedies connected to those events, it’s an indelible part of my life. Not as much for people elsewhere in the country, perhaps.

Arch’s lady-love, Julia, grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, now home to the largest Arab American community in the country. It’s the company town for the Ford Motor Company (where my dad and all my uncles worked). I grew up there too, some years before Julia (!). I worked into the story what I know about the town now: the billboards in Arabic on Michigan Avenue, the Lebanese restaurants, the Arab American National Museum (well worth a visit), along with Julia’s brothers’ career ambitions at Ford’s, as locals refer to the company.

Manhattan is a fun setting for a novel because of the great diversity of people who can inspire various characters. Arch came from a middle-class background, but his wife was from Connecticut’s upper crust. His receptionist is Black. His two principal associates are from the Midwest and South Carolina. His lawyer is Irish, and the man who helps him with technical stuff (guns, flashbangs, and such) is Latino.

Arch’s own history includes a stint in the Army near the end of the Vietnam war, an experience he doesn’t talk about. These weren’t conscious decisions, but, looking back at the text now, I see that every time he’s in the most peril (and only then), his war experiences come back to him. Some of the superb books written about that conflict have apparently made their mark on me, and I’ve taken on board some of their insights.

In just these examples, you can glimpse the many threads that come together to weave a novel: personal history and experiences, current events, social attitudes, and stories I’ve read. I think readers will find their own touchpoints in this story. Although I’ve assembled the pieces, many of the pieces themselves, these and others, relate to real-life experiences in our shared consciousness. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did the writing! ♦

Architect of Courage

by Victoria Weisfeld

June 20 – July 15, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Architect of Courage by Victoria Weisfeld

Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Situation

In June 2011, September was weeks away, and the full dread of the approaching anniversary hadn’t yet settled on New York City’s residents. But from One Police Plaza to the FBI’s grim headquarters in Washington, D.C., the top brass harbor a rumbling in the gut. Each person who works for them down the line shares their unease, from every rookie cop walking the beat to the lowliest surveillance specialist. And Archer Landis is about to get caught up in their fixation.

Landis is not one of his city’s guardians, and a different sort of electricity runs under his skin on this warm Thursday evening. A highly successful Manhattan architect—a man you’d say has his life totally, enviably, in order—Landis works the room at a Midtown reception, shaking hands, being seen, accompanying his cheerful greetings with the convivial clinking of ice in an untouched glass of scotch.

When the noisy crowd becomes sufficiently dense and everyone present can say they’ve seen him, he will slip away. Out on Fifth Avenue, he will grab a cab for the run south to Julia’s Chelsea apartment. It’s a trip that will hurtle him into deadly danger. Everyone and everything he cares about most will be threatened, and he will have to discover whether he has the courage to fight his way clear.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime / Murder Mystery
Published by: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: June 4, 2022
Number of Pages: 350
ISBN10: 1953434819 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781953434814 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781953434821 (eBook)
ASIN: B0B3R5TLN4 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | B&N Nook Book | | | !ndigo eBook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Victoria Weisfeld

Vicki Weisfeld’s short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Magazine, Sherlock Holmes MM, and Black Cat MM, among others, as well as in a number of highly competitive crime anthologies, including: Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat, Seascapes: Best New England Crime Stories, Passport to Murder (Bouchercon), The Best Laid Plans, Quoth the Raven, and Sherlock Holmes in the Realms of Edgar Allan Poe. Her stories have won awards from the Short Mystery Fiction Society and the Public Safety Writers Association. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and other crime fiction organizations. For the past decade, she’s blogged several times a week at She is a frequent book reviewer for the UK website,

Catch Up With Victoria:
Twitter – @vsk8s

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Guest Post: Haris Orkin – GOLDHAMMER

Good day, my fellow book lovers. I hope you’re all having a good week and staying cool and dry. Have you ever given any thought to the psychological issues some of our beloved characters reveal but also deny? For example, Scarlett O’Hara uses denial as a massive coping mechanism throughout her life, but occasionally she uses it as a weapon or tool to get what she wants. Gone With the Wind just wouldn’t be the same if Scarlett were as sweet and kind as her “friend” and rival, Melanie. Authors intend for some characters to be more flamboyant and over-the-top because it makes for a more interesting story, as well as making for a memorable character. I’m pleased to welcome Haris Orkin, author of Goldhammer to the blog today. Mr. Orkin is an acclaimed author and he’ll be talking to us about Bond, James Bond. Thank you, Mr. Orkin, for joining us today. I look forward to learning your thoughts on James Bond and now turn the blog over to you.

By Haris Orkin


Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie was finally released after a long delay and right now, there is no new Bond film on the horizon. Ladbrokes, the storied British betting and gambling concern, publishes odds every day as to who the next James Bond might be. People can lay bets on it. The top contenders at the moment are Tom Hardy, Henry Cavill, Richard Madden from Game of Thrones, Aiden Turner, Idris Elba, and Rege-Jean Page of Bridgerton fame. Whoever Barbara Broccoli chooses to be the new Bond will take this sixty-year-old blockbuster franchise into the future. Currently, it’s the fifth highest-grossing movie franchise of all time.

When Goldfinger first came out I couldn’t wait to see it, but my parents thought I was too young. They thought it was too violent, too sexy, and too grownup for a fourth-grader. (The movie poster featured a nude woman painted entirely in gold.) They finally gave in to my nagging the following year when Thunderball came out.

In the pre-title sequence, Bond punched out a guy dressed as a lady and then escaped by donning a jetpack and taking off into the sky. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. One week later there was a promotion in the parking lot of our local mall. In 1965, Randhurst was the largest shopping center under one roof in the world. I lived in suburban Chicago and it was one mile from our house. A man donned that same (or similar) James Bond jetpack and took to the sky with an earsplitting whoosh. I was thrilled and inspired and right then and there I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

James Bond.

Who wouldn’t? He traveled all over the world and drove super cool cars with built in-machine guns and ejector seats. He sky-dived and scuba-dived and gambled in casinos on the French Riviera. Every woman he met shamelessly threw herself at him. Bond had no fear of anyone or anything. He was confident in every situation and comfortable in his own skin. I think that was the biggest fantasy of all for an awkward pre-teen from the suburbs of Chicago.

Two years later I saw You Only Live Twice. Two years after that, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I owned a James Bond toy camera that turned into a pistol and a toy radio that turned into a sniper rifle. That was also the era of The Wild, Wild West, The Man From Uncle, I Spy, and The Avengers. (The one with Emma Peel and John Steed, not the one with Iron Man, Spiderman, and Thor.) But Bond was the original. The first. The best.

It was also the era of Get Smart and that was the first hint to me that there was something vaguely ridiculous about Bond. When Roger Moore replaced Sean Connery, the Bond films turned slightly more comedic. I missed Connery’s cool edge and I didn’t think Moore exuded the same sense of danger. I wanted to believe in Bond. I wanted to buy into the whole ethos of a lone secret agent who could save the world.

Gradually, over time, as much as I loved Bond, I was beginning to see the absurdity behind what he did and how he did it. Bond always accused the supervillains he confronted as being barking mad. But in truth, he was no less crazy. I began to understand that only someone completely crackers could do what James Bond did.

I started reading the books as well and Fleming’s Bond wasn’t as over the top as the movie Bond. He was more grounded and a bit more realistic. The villains weren’t quite as insane as the ones in the movies, but they were definitely crazier than Bond. Over time, however, the books became as fantastic as the films. Even as a twelve-year-old kid I could see that Bond was probably a few egg rolls short of a pu pu platter.

Who in their right mind would cross a river by jumping over the backs of a bunch of crocodiles? Or leap out of a plane without a parachute? Or bungee jump off a thousand-foot-high dam? These are things only a person with a death wish would do. Or someone so insanely confident that they didn’t believe death or serious injury was even a possibility. Of all the nutty things Bond did in those early films, the craziest to me was when he decided to go undercover as a Japanese fisherman in You Only Live Twice. As a six-foot-two Caucasian with a Scottish accent and bangs, Bond didn’t seem convincingly Japanese to me. Hell, he didn’t even speak Japanese. For Bond to believe that anyone would actually believe he was Japanese didn’t just strain credulity, it was batshit crazy.

Still, I continued to love James Bond. I still do. He continues to be the ultimate escapist male empowerment fantasy. He also reminded me of another famous literary hero who made it his mission to right wrongs, save damsels in distress and slay dragons. This hero was also famously delusional.

Don Quixote.

A few years back it crossed my mind that today’s equivalent of a knight errant would be a secret agent. A contemporary Don Quixote would likely imagine himself to be a super spy like James Bond.

That’s how James Flynn came to be.

Oscar Levant, the virtuoso pianist and world-class wit, once said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.”

The same could be said for the line between bravery and batshit crazy.


by Haris Orkin

June 6 – July 1, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Goldhammer by Haris Orkin

A James Flynn Escapade

A young actress, involuntarily committed to City of Roses Psychiatric Hospital, plunges James Flynn into a dangerous new adventure when she claims one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood is trying to kill her.

Still convinced he’s a secret agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Flynn springs into action, helps her escape and finds himself embroiled in a battle with a dangerous sociopath worth billions. In the process, he uncovers a high-tech conspiracy to control the mind of every human being on Earth.

With the help of his reluctant sidekick, Sancho, and a forgotten Hollywood sex symbol from the 1960s, Flynn faces off with Goldhammer and his private army in a desperate attempt to save the young actress…and save the world…once again.

Praise for Goldhammer:

“One of those books that has you laughing and turning pages well into the night.” —Len Boswell, Bestselling author of The Simon Grave Mysteries

“A riotous comic novel that’s also a legit page turner. A deftly plotted, swiftly paced thriller.” —R. Lee Procter, Author of The Million Dollar Sticky Note and Sugarball

“A fast-paced quixotic thriller that would make Miguel de Cervantes and Ian Fleming proud. The third James Flynn novel is a powerful cocktail of suspense, adrenaline and a whole lot of laughs. Orkin has the remarkable ability to keep the reader straddled between a genuine spy thriller and an off-the-wall comedy” —Joe Barret, Award-winning author of Managed Care

Book Details:

Genre: Comedy Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2022
Number of Pages: 240
ISBN: 1684339677
ISBN-13: 9781684339679
Series: The James Flynn Escapades, Book 3 | Each is a stand-alone thriller
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Author Bio:

Haris Orkin

Haris Orkin is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and game writer. His play, Dada was produced at The American Stage and the La Jolla Playhouse. Sex, Impotence, and International Terrorism was chosen as a critic’s choice by the L.A. Weekly and sold as a film script to MGM/UA. Save the Dog was produced as a Disney Sunday Night movie. His original screenplay, A Saintly Switch, was directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starred David Alan Grier and Vivica A. Fox. He is a WGA Award and BAFTA Award nominated game writer and narrative designer known for Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Mafia 3, and Dying Light.

Catch Up With Haris Orkin:
BookBub – @HarisOrkin
Instagram – @HarisOrkin
Twitter – @HarisOrkin
Facebook – @AuthorHarisOrkin

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Book Showcase: BOTTLED LIGHTNING by L.M. Weeks

BOTTLED LIGHTNING by LM Weeks book coverBottled Lightning by L. M. Weeks
ISBN: 9798985588019 (paperback)
ISBN: 9798985588002 (hardcover)
ASIN: B09ZWQT54Y (Kindle edition)
Publisher: South Fork Publishers
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Thriller


Top global technology lawyer Tornait “Torn” Sagara knows he shouldn’t get involved with his beautiful client, Saya Brooks, whose revolutionary lightning-on-demand invention will solve climate change and render all other energy sources obsolete. But their shared connection as hafu (half Japanese, half American) draws them irresistibly together.

Saya’s technology could save the world, but what’s good for the planet is bad news for those who profit from the status quo. Now, someone wants to stop Saya from commercializing her invention and will go to any lengths—even murder—to do so. When Torn takes Saya for a spin on his motorcycle, they are viciously attacked. That death-defying battle on a crowded Tokyo expressway is only the start of Torn’s wild ride.

As the violence escalates, Torn discovers that everything he values—his reputation, his family, and even his life—is on the line. Racing from the boardrooms of Tokyo to the wilds of Russia in a desperate search for the truth, Torn is forced to face his own flaws and discover what really matters most.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Amazon | Amazon Kindle |

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter One

Saya startled Torn when she tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Wow, that’s quite the bike. It looks like something Batman would drive.”

He was surprised again when he turned around, but this time by her piercing green eyes, which he never grew tired of seeing. Sometimes he wondered whether they were real or contacts, but he’d never seen her eyes any other color. She had let her dark hair down and wore a navy-blue leather jacket, dark blue jeans and black boots with relatively flat heels.

He tried not to stare at her. She was a client, after all. And not just any client, but perhaps the most intriguing client he’d ever had. “That’s quite a departure from what you were wearing a few minutes ago,” he said, his voice echoing slightly in the underground parking garage.

She looked at him for a moment, trying to decide again whether his mixed-race features were more Japanese or Western. “Is it appropriate for motorcycle riding?”

“It’ll work, and the boots with flat heels are a great idea. All motorcyclists, at least the men, dread women dragging their high heels across the seat when they mount the bike.”

“Did you say mount?”

He grinned. “Sorry, I mean when they get on their steed. Is that better?” He was struggling to avoid being too jocular with his beautiful client.

“I get the point. Don’t worry, my high heels are in this bag with the rest of my clothes for the dinner.”

“What about your potential investors? Shouldn’t you be schmoozing with them in the car?”

She cocked her head and smiled. “The technology does all the schmoozing necessary, don’t you think? It’s like showing someone lightning in a bottle.”

“Well, I was impressed with the demonstration even though I’ve seen it before,” he said with genuine enthusiasm. He thought for a moment and added, “I like the imagery of selling little bottles of lightning at combini,” convenience stores.

Saya added, “Besides, I told them I needed a few minutes to discuss an IP matter with my lawyer before I meet them at the hotel. So…” She paused playfully. “Do I get a ride or not?”

“Sure, but how did you know I’d have an extra helmet?”

Still smiling, she said, “Oh, Torn, I know you’re prepared for every eventuality.”

He smiled. “But the ride’s not that interesting. It’s mostly straight expressway.”

“Not a problem. Just go fast! It’s a beautiful bike and I want to see what it can do.” Saya ran her index finger along one of the hard rubber fins protruding from chrome sheaths attached to the side of the fairing. “Hey, what’re these for?”

“Those protect the rider, engine, and fairing if the bike gets dropped.”

“They’re cool. They make the bike look even more aerodynamic, but please don’t drop it.”

Torn swelled with pride about his BMW K 1200 LT. Nothing pumped up a biker, particularly someone who took his riding as seriously as he did, more than compliments about his ride.

“Here’s your helmet.” He took her bag and placed it in the top case where he kept the extra full-face helmet.

After closing his face covering and securing his chin strap, Torn helped Saya with hers. “By the way, we’ve gotta exit the expressway when we get into the city because tandem riding’s illegal past Hatsudai.”

She could hear Torn’s low voice through the helmet’s speakers located near her ears. It made her feel like an astronaut.

“That’s strange. Why’s that?” she asked through the mic in her helmet.

“Short story long, Japan banned tandem motorcycle riding on expressways for decades, starting in the seventies, because motorcycle bosozoku used to attack cars on the expressway with chains back in the sixties and early seventies.”

“What’re bosozoku?”

He looked at her through his helmet visor. “You’ve really lived a sheltered life, haven’t you? They are car and motorcycle gangs. Anyway, when the ban was finally lifted for most expressways in Japan, it was maintained for central Tokyo, ostensibly for safety reasons. Those crowded, narrow and winding expressways in the city center were deemed too dangerous for tandem riding. I think it’s because of the number of deadly motorcycle accidents from late night racing on the Circuit. But it’s not as if the narrow local streets choked with cars, motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians are any safer.”

She watched him get on the bike. “Well, it seems silly to me. They should crack down on the illegal racing, not riding with a passenger.”

“You’re preaching to the choir. Are you ready?”


Torn put the retractable passenger foot pegs down and explained how to get on.

Light on her feet, Saya mounted the bike successfully the first try without scraping the seat or kicking the top case behind her or Torn in front. She was surprised at how stable and comfortable the large well-padded seat and backrest felt. She grabbed handles built into the side cases because she felt like she should hold on to something even though she didn’t need them for balance.

Torn checked his phone one last time and saw that Mayumi had called and Kiwako had texted. He stored it in the small compartment in front of his seat and exited the garage onto a street lined with cherry trees.

On their right flowed a mountain stream strewn with moss-covered boulders. The bike’s windshield and Torn’s body protected her from the wind, but she could still smell the cherry blossoms. They glided along the winding road past rice farms and orchards. The entire scene was bathed in gold from the setting sun. She could not believe how completely secure she felt. It was not a feeling that would last.

“Shall I turn on some music?” He almost didn’t suggest it because he knew he should focus on driving given that he had a passenger, a client no less.

Despite the noise of the engine and the rushing wind, she could hear Torn’s relaxed unrushed voice clearly through the speakers in her helmet. “Definitely.”

Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis poured from the speakers in their helmets, two speakers imbedded in the fairing in front, and two on the sides of the passenger backrest. Saya felt the subtle vibration of the outside speakers on the sides of her backrest.

Torn selected his music based on whether it worked with the acoustics of the bike. Some music was more bike-appropriate than others. One of his favorite things about listening to music on this bike was that the volume automatically increased as the bike accelerated, to compensate for the louder engine noise.

As Torn accelerated the bike out of a turn, Saya’s excitement changed to euphoria. She released the handles and wrapped her arms around Torn’s broad chest.

Once on the expressway, Torn accelerated to ninety kilometers an hour as they drove down the on-ramp to merge into Tokyo-bound traffic.

“Go faster!”

Giving in to the fun, he laughed. “No need to yell. I can hear you just fine!” He throttled up to 120 and seamlessly moved from the left lane through the middle lane to the outside passing lane.

“Can you go faster?”

He accelerated to 140, taking advantage of any openings in the three lanes to pass slower traffic in the other lanes.

Saya found the frequent weaving in and out of traffic exhilarating—like a motorcycle in the movie Tron—and didn’t want Torn to slow down. She giggled. “Can you go faster?”

He turned off the music, raised the adjustable windshield to its maximum height and accelerated to 180. The aerodynamically shaped fairing and the bike’s weight kept the rubber side down. Even this speed didn’t feel too fast, because of the bike’s stability and the wind protection provided by the windshield. However, the louder engine and much faster rate at which they passed the guardrail posts were proof of their significantly greater speed.

“Oh my God,” she squealed as she wrapped her arms more tightly around Torn and put her helmeted head on his shoulder.

Torn smiled. It was intoxicating when the bike had the desired effect of lowering a woman’s inhibitions. “No need for the death grip.”

“Oh, sorry.” She tried to comply, but she liked holding onto him tightly.

Torn sensed her interest in him was more than just as her lawyer. For the first time in his career, his resolve never to become romantically involved with a client began to waver.

Traffic reappeared as they got closer to Hachioji.

“Don’t slow down!”

Ignoring her, he throttled down, knowing there were tollbooths ahead. He weaved in and out of the cars, again using all three lanes to keep progressing faster than the flow of traffic until they had reached the toll plaza.

Just enough traffic remained after the tollbooths to make things fun. He pulled into the left-hand lane and toggled to Imagine Dragons. Demon played from the bike’s speakers. Saya squeezed her arms more tightly around Torn’s waist and closed her eyes. “This is more fun than I ever dreamed.”

Torn felt warm all over.

A few minutes later a big black Mercedes pulled up behind them, its front bumper almost touching the bike’s license plate. Torn sped up but the car continued to tailgate.

Saya, eyes closed and lost in the music, didn’t notice the car right behind her.
Then it sped up, passing them closely on the left. Torn swerved into the middle lane to avoid a collision. He turned off the music, causing Saya to open her eyes. The Mercedes pulled in front of them and slowed down, forcing Torn to decelerate and swerve back into the left lane. It had no rear license plate, rare and illegal in Japan.

“What’s that guy doing?”

“I don’t know.”

The big Mercedes changed lanes, slowing down in the middle lane until it was parallel with them. The tinted passenger window opened. Before Torn could react, a man stuck a gun out of the window and fired. The bullet passed through the soft padding under Saya, exiting the other side of her seat.

With well-practiced fluidity, Torn squeezed the left handle bar lever to open the clutch and shifted down to fourth gear with his left foot, then throttled up with his right hand while releasing the clutch lever with his left hand. The Beemer raced away from the Mercedes. He shifted back up to fifth gear as the RPMs shot up.

“Oh my God!”

“Are you hit?” he asked as calmly as he could while breaking into a cold sweat.

“I don’t think so.”

Things were moving in slow motion for Torn. He thought, No one has a gun in Japan except yaks. All at once he was relieved neither one of them had been hit, scared shitless about being chased by yakuza types, and pissed off at the damage to his motorcycle.

The big car again appeared next to them in the center lane.

Torn slammed on the brakes with his right hand and foot, letting the Mercedes fly by. He shifted down two gears to third and throttled up, accelerating to 120 so fast he almost popped a wheelie. He flew by the driver’s side of the car, the high RPMs making the bike’s engine scream. Shifting up to fourth gear, he rocketed to 160.

The powerful car caught him quickly. He sped up to 180 but the big Mercedes stayed on them. They approached more traffic, forcing both vehicles to slow down. As they reached the Mitaka Highway Bus Turnout, the three lanes of traffic became two, creating a traffic jam.


Torn threaded between the two lanes of stalled traffic. Their pursuer briefly flanked them on the left shoulder until being thwarted by a soundproofing wall built to protect the surrounding homes from expressway noise.

They were safe, but only for a moment. He heard a motorcycle engine being revved until the ugly sound was deafening. It was the sound of a bike with its muffler illegally removed. At the same time he saw the blinding light of a single high beam behind him and heard loud death metal music. His heart sank.

“Motherfucking Yankee,” he muttered, momentarily forgetting his mic was still on.

“What’s a Yankee?”

“The scourge of the roadways. Over-the-hill punk motorcycle gang members who belonged to bosozoku gangs in their teens and early twenties.”

He doubted this was a coincidence. He wasn’t even sure if it was a real Yankee. He had encountered them many times, and while always obnoxiously loud, they’d never hassled him before.

The Yankee motorcycle veered left onto the narrow shoulder and flanked them, barely squeaking by between cars in the left lane and the five-meter-high soundproofing wall.

Torn saw that the hot-pink bike indeed had the Yankee trademark Norton Commando-like fairing with the headlight recessed into a bubble in the fairing’s front and a heavily padded extra-long sissy bar attached to the back of the unoccupied passenger seat. The rider wore a silver Nazi helmet and black mask. Torn saw what looked like a long PVC pipe attached to the side of the bike.

Another screamingly loud bike with its high beam on appeared immediately behind them, revving its engine. It pulled into the right lane and flanked him on the narrow shoulder between the cars and the center guardrail separating the two lanes of inbound traffic from the two lanes of outbound traffic.

Torn accelerated to get ahead of them, then swerved slightly to the right and left in front of cars in each lane. As expected, the cars moved towards the outside of their lanes, leaving no room for the pursuing bikes to proceed between the cars in the left lane and the wall on the left and the cars in the right lane and the central guardrail on the right. Still, this slowed the Yankees down for only a moment and they soon caught up to Torn and Saya yet again.

With the Yankees continuing to flank them on both sides, they approached the Eifukucho Exit, a connector between the Chuo Expressway coming into the city center from the west and the inner-city Metropolitan Expressway.

“Why didn’t you exit?” she screamed.

The fear in her voice made Torn’s heart beat even faster. He took a deep breath and responded, without emotion, “They would catch us at the first light. They’re smaller and more maneuverable.”

The matter-of-fact nature of his response worked. She lowered her voice. “We could find a cop.”

“Not before those guys would be on us. And don’t squeeze so tightly. I can barely breathe. Try to squeeze the bike with your knees and move with the bike. Don’t fight it.”

Saya loosened her death hug.

On the other side of the Eifukucho Tollbooth, traffic thinned for a moment as more cars exited. But traffic would soon increase again, and it would be difficult to lane split with the big BMW because the lanes were narrower on the much older inner city expressway than on the newer feeder expressways entering the city.

The Yankee bikes pulled up next to them. The driver on the left pulled from a sheath a long lead pipe with a chain and spiked ball.

“Is that a mace on the end? He has a mace!” she screamed.

It’s actually a flail, he thought to himself, but this was no time to be a stickler for ancient weapon accuracy. “Yes, I see it. No need to shout. I have speakers next to my ears too.” He regretted correcting her almost before the words had left his mouth.

Torn decided to go on the offensive with his much larger bike, which was surprisingly nimble for its size. He swerved the BMW at the biker wielding the homemade weapon.

“Are you crazy?! What’re you doing?!”

His move had the desired effect. The smaller bike swerved away. Torn accelerated like a rocket, pulling away from both Yankee bikes, but he soon heard them gaining on him. He could not outrun them in the afternoon traffic. They again pulled up on either side of him with their ridiculous—but lethal— weapons in hand. Torn slammed on both the hand and foot brakes so hard he thought he might pop a back wheelie, but the Beemer only skidded slightly before the antilock brakes did their job. The Yankee bikes flew by, then quickly slowed down.

Now Torn needed to pass them. He aimed for the left side of the bike on his left. He calculated that, because the biker held the threatening pipe in his right hand, placing himself and Saya on the left would make it difficult for the assailant to swing at them across his own chest.

Torn forced his way between the Yankee and the wall. Despite the maneuver, Torn had underestimated the biker’s resolve and dexterity; he was able to swing at them across his body and shatter the BMW’s windshield, spraying safety glass on Torn and grazing his right arm. Torn grimaced when the flail’s spikes tore through his jacket and into his right triceps, while his body shielded Saya from harm.

Torn knew he couldn’t avoid them much longer. The Yankees would get them sooner rather than later.

“I’m going to crash into them. Watch your legs,” he warned.

“Can’t you outrun them?!” her voice now a high-pitched scream.

The other biker approached on their left, swinging his flail with his right hand. Torn shifted down and countersteered the left handle bar hard, instantly flicking the BMW left into the other bike. The Yankee tried to avoid the big bike but it was too late. The motorcycles collided with a hard fiberglass-on-metal crunching sound. The smaller bike, already headed towards the soundproofing wall as the driver tried to avoid Torn’s bike, slammed into the wall with a loud crash followed by the clanging of metal scattering across the road. The rider bounced off the wall and cartwheeled across the expressway at an angle before hitting the center guardrail. The BMW’s fairing and front left fin had protected Torn and Saya as it hit the other bike, leaving them unhurt.

One to go.

Traffic increased again as rush-hour cars merged onto the expressway from the local roads.

“Look at that sign. Aren’t we supposed to get off?!”

Torn saw the sign showing a bright red circle-backslash symbol over two figures on a motorcycle. He saw another sign directing tandem riders to exit at Hatsudai.

“Driving tandem may save us if we stay on.”

“I feel much better now,” she said, totally deadpan.

“Your sarcasm’s not helping,” he replied without emotion.

She hugged him tighter.

They passed Hatsudai on the right. Torn could see the remaining Yankee gaining on them in his sideview mirrors. When they reached the Shinjuku on-ramp, traffic slowed to a crawl as more cars merged onto the two narrow curved expressway lanes. The moment of truth.

He maneuvered the bike to the centerline.

“You can’t be serious! There’s not enough room!”

“Who needs mirrors? Keep your legs in tight.”

He sped up. The right mirror was the first to go, then the left, followed by angry honking from the cars his mirrors hit as he threaded the needle between the narrow lanes. The bike remained upright because the big mirrors were designed to pop off on impact.

Torn saw the Yankee’s high beam in the side-view mirrors of the cars between which he drove, and heard the bike’s screaming engine.

“He’s right behind us!”

No shit, thought Torn.

Traffic thinned out right before the Yoyogi Rest Area. Torn accelerated. Please be there.

As he passed the on-ramp from the Yoyogi Rest Area, he heard a siren.
Yes! And there’s our savior.

The patrol car pulled up next to them.

“What’s he doing?” Torn asked, his eyes trained on the road.

“He’s waving you over!”

Then they heard the loud speaker command. “You there, on the blue motorcycle. Safely pull over at the next exit.”

Torn exited at Gaienmae. He stopped at the bottom of the off-ramp and told Saya to get off.

The police car pulled up behind them, lights flashing.

Torn stood while straddling the bike as he pressed a button to lower the electric center stand. The bike lifted slightly as the electric motor whined and then dropped back down when the center stand locked into place. He dismounted and removed his helmet.

The Yankee bike followed them off the expressway and passed by. Torn couldn’t see the driver’s face, his head covered by a helmet and his face with a bandana. There was no license plate.

Torn wished he had a gun. He made eye contact and flipped the guy off as he passed.

Turning to Saya, “Are you alright?”

She was shooting the Yankee with her phone as he drove by.


“Great idea. Please AirDrop those to my phone.”

Saya hugged Torn as hard as she could, burying her head into his chest for what felt like an eternity. She was shaking.

He wondered if he was shaking too.

Saya looked up and kissed him on the cheek. “You’re amazing, and here I thought you were just a lawyer.” She kissed him again, but this time on the lips.

Torn didn’t know what to say. His heart pounded, his pulse raced, and his arm started to ache. His skin felt clammy and he felt sick to his stomach. “Don’t barf now,” he told himself.

Two uniformed police officers, one visibly much younger than his partner, approached.

Releasing Saya, Torn turned and said emphatically to the police officers, “That guy on the Yankee bike tried to kill us!”

The young officer, looking like a deer caught in the headlights, stopped for a moment and then said, a bit shakily, “You’re under arrest.”

Excerpt from Bottled Lightning by L.M. Weeks.
Copyright © 2022 by L.M. Weeks
All Rights Reserved.


Meet The Author

Author LM Weeks headshot photo

L. M. (“Mark”) Weeks is uniquely qualified to write this international legal thriller. Like Torn, (the protagonist in Bottled Lightning) Mark was born in Alaska and for many years has practiced law in Tokyo, representing technology companies from all over the world in connection with their fundraising, intellectual property matters, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, and related disputes. For more than10 years, Mark was the Managing Partner of the Tokyo office of the global law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. He speaks, reads, and writes fluent Japanese, was an International Rotary Club scholar to Japan during high school, and graduated from International Christian University, a Japanese liberal arts college. Mark attended Fordham University School of Law in New York City, where he practiced law for almost sixteen years before relocating to Orrick’s Tokyo office in 2004. During his formative years in Japan, Mark earned a black belt in aikido. Also like Torn, he is an avid motorcyclist, and his adult son is biracial and bilingual and lives in Tokyo. In addition to riding motorcycles and writing, Mark’s other passion is saltwater fly fishing.

Connect with the Author:  Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website
This excerpt brought to you by PR By The Book

Guest Post: Shelly Frome – SHADOW OF THE GYPSY

Good day, my bookish peeps. Books, especially memorable books, are made up of much more than just the plot. These stories usually have memorable characters and are set in unusual settings. Would To Kill a Mockingbird be as memorable without Atticus, Scout, Gem, Dil, and Boo Radley? Can you imagine the Harry Potter series without Hogwarts, Hermione, Ron Weasley, Dumbledore, or Snape? It doesn’t matter if it’s the main character or not, the more unusual they are generally relates to their being remembered. I’m honored to host a return visit from Shelly Frome, author of the recently released Shadow of the Gypsy. Mr. Frome will be discussing characters with us today. Please help me welcome back, Shelly Frome. Thank you, Mr. Frome, for returning to my blog and sharing with us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Those Freewheeling Characters
by Shelly Frome

In his first detective novel The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe was changeable: by turns wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical, and rebellious. Moreover, there was the sense that Marlowe was keenly aware that pain hurt, life really mattered, and you never knew what you were going to run into. He found himself taken with his client the General, a dying millionaire with “only a few locks of dry white hair clinging to his scalp,” a man who spoke slowly, “carefully using whatever strength he had left.” It seems that one of the General’s unpredictable and troublesome daughters was being blackmailed. Soon enough, there were intimations of kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder as a number of characters, working at cross-purposes, sent the action winging in different directions.

Arguably, the prototype in detective fiction at least is Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. In this edgy tale, there’s always a subtext beneath the surface. As Sam Spade endeavors to catch the person who killed his partner Miles Archer during a stakeout, Spade runs into a trio of colorful characters like Brigid O’Shaughnessy who is so deceitful, she seems to be lying even when she may be telling the truth and leaves Spade perplexed to the point of even falling in love with her.

Years later, and by extension, the playwright Edward Albee confided to a handful of us graduate students that he’d had a problem with his play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The circumstances centered on a jaded couple he called George and Martha, stuck on a small New England college campus, who’d invited a newly arrived younger couple over for fun and games. However, the results were flat and predictable. Soon enough, George and Martha imaginatively came to him and threatened to quit if he didn’t back off. In truth, the pair of them claimed, they were not only unpredictable, they had deep dark secrets percolating underneath and all hell would burst loose if, and only if, Albee would let go of his outline and set them free. Albee complied and the fresh and compelling results can be seen in the movie version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

On a personal note, I once attended a book fair in New York and, at the same time, was having trouble with my crime novel Murder Run. A story that centered on a laconic handyman named Jed who’d been falsely accused of the untimely death of a woman he’d been working for. Jed had reason to believe the real culprit was a mobster who drove down the night in question and then took off back to the mean streets. And so there I was, sauntering around the Little Italy section of Manhattan on a bright spring morning when I ran into a stocky character who called himself Johnny Diamonds and announced, “This is my territory, man.” A twelve-year-old scamp named Angie came along and said, “If you’re lost, mister, I can show you around for a little coin.” In my mind, this tough little girl became Jed’s sidekick and guide, a figure like Johnny Diamonds became the key to the world of the local Mafia, and anything could happen.

As one writer once noted, “No surprising characters, no liveliness in the story.”

Perhaps the novelist E.L. Doctorow put it best when he said that writing fiction was like driving at night with only the headlight beams to guide you. You know more or less where you’re headed but have no idea of the turns you’ll make, who you’ll meet along the way, and what influence they’ll have on your journey. ♦

Shadow of the Gypsy

by Shelly Frome

June 6 – July 1, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Shadow of the Gypsy by Shelly Frome

A nemesis out of the past suddenly returns, ​forcing Josh Bartlett to come to terms with his true identity.

Josh Bartlet had figured all the angles, changed his name, holed up as a small town features writer in the Blue Ridge. He’d just give it a few weeks more and then begin anew, return to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut and Molly (if she’d have him) and, at long last, live a normal life. After all, it was a matter of record that Zharko had been deported well over a year ago. The shadowy form Josh had glimpsed yesterday at the lake was only that—a hazy, shadow under the eaves. It stood to reason his old nemesis was still ensconced in Bucharest or thereabouts. No matter what, he simply wouldn’t travel over eight hundred miles to track Josh down, hook into his life, put him under the gun and ruin everything. Surely not now, not after all this.

“Sharp writing, and a keen pace keep this story rolling.”
– Lee A. Jacobus, author of Crown Island and Hawaiian Tales

“Shadow of the Gypsy is intriguing, complicated, and mysterious. . . “
– Tina M. Zion, award-winning author and international teacher of intuition

“By turns charming and chilling, Shadow of the Gypsy is that rarest of gems, a crime novel that curdles the blood, even as it tugs on the heartstrings. . . “
– Jaden Terrell, author of A Taste of Blood and Ashes, River of Glass, A Cup Full of Midnight, and Racing the Devil

“Once you start, you won’t want to stop reading. . .”
– Jana Zinser, author of The Children’s Train: Escape on the Kindertransport and Fly Like a Bird

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction
Published by: BQB Publishing
Publication Date: May 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 330
ISBN:     1952782570 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781952782572 (paperback)
ASIN:     B09HST8WP5 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | | | Goodreads

Shadow of the Gypsy Book Trailer:

Author Bio:

Shelly Frome

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at UConn, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He also is a features writer for Gannett Publications. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, Moon Games, The Secluded Village Murders, and Miranda and the D-Day Caper. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio: A History and a guide to playwriting and one on screenwriting, Shadow of the Gypsy is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Catch Up With Shelly:
BookBub – @ShellyFrome
Instagram – @AuthorShellyFrome
Twitter – @ShellyFrome
Facebook – @ShellyFrome

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Book Spotlight: THE LIFE WE ALMOST HAD by Amelia Henley

THE LIFE WE ALMOST HAD by Amelia Henley book coverThe Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley
ISBN: 9781538754818 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781538754825 (eBook)
ASIN: B09HQMQ7LN (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Read Forever
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Romance

From the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author comes an emotional romance that is “beautifully written and plotted” (Candis).

This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story.

Anna wasn’t looking for love when Adam swept her off her feet, but there was no denying their connection, and she believed they would be together forever.

Years later, cracks have appeared in their relationship. Anna is questioning whether their love can really be eternal when a cruel twist of fate delivers a crushing blow, and Anna and Adam are completely lost to one another. Now, Anna needs Adam more than ever, but the way back to him has life-changing consequences.

Is a second chance at first love really worth the sacrifice? Anna needs to decide, and time is running out…

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | | | | !ndigo | Kobo eBook

Meet The Author

Author Amelia Henley headshotAmelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories.

Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jensen. As Louise Jensen, she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise’s books have been nominated for multiple awards.

Connect with the Author: Amazon | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website 



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