Book Showcase: DEAREST DAVID by Glen Ebisch

Dearest David by Glen Ebisch
ISBN: 9781625267450 (paperback)
ASIN: B079TBQ55Z (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Summer Solstice Publishing
Release Date: February 14, 2018

When seventeen-year-old Abigail Taylor turns down the proposal of her suitor, Tom Dawkins, her family feels that she must go out and make her own way in the world. So a position as a servant is secured for her in the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Dearest David is the story of the few months in the year 1841 during which Abigail experiences life in the Emerson household at the peak of both its intellectual and emotional intensity. She falls in love with the free spirited but emotionally cool Henry David Thoreau. She discovers the power of the prophetic and frightening Lidian Emerson. She meets the charismatic and radical Margaret Fuller. And she learns to respect but also to recognize the limitations of Emerson himself. 

Abigail is eventually forced to leave her employment in the Emerson household under circumstances that are both surprising and disturbing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Dearest David tells the story of a young woman, Abigail Taylor, who leaves her family farm outside of Concord, Massachusetts, to work as a servant in the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson. What was your inspiration for Abigail’s story?

The inspiration came when I was thinking about how a young woman of humble means but with a good education for her class in society would respond to the rarified atmosphere of the Emerson household, where talk was often considered the equivalent of action. I thought it would be interesting to contrast her sensible, but intelligent approach to things with the sometimes less than practical musings of Emerson and his friends. I also thought it would be valuable to have a woman’s insight into what was largely a man’s world, while at the same time contrasting her with the very different figures of Lidian Emerson and Margaret Fuller.   

2. In Dearest David, Abigail falls in love with essayist Henry David Thoreau, who is a frequent house-guest at the Emersons. How would you describe their relationship?

For Abigail, she falls in love with Thoreau partly as a man and partly as a representative of an intellectual life that she finds exciting. She longs to be someone such as Margaret Fuller, but knows that her position in society limits her to a life of physical labor. Thoreau sees her as a friend, as someone who is fiercely independent like himself. That’s why he finds the idea of their having a romantic relationship so unthinkable. He believes, perhaps rightly, that she has no more need for anyone to share her life than he does. 

3. Emerson’s reclusive wife, Lidian, and the children’s governess, Ms. Ford, are also interested in Thoreau. How does Abigail handle the conflict brought on by this three-way romantic triangle? 

She is out of her depth. Abigail thinks that her youthful enthusiasm and affection will win Thoreau away from Lidian, not realizing that his innocent attentions to a married woman are the only sort of relationship that he feels completely safe with having. She also doesn’t fully understand that Lidian’s need for Thoreau, although not romantic, is as equally strong as her own. Although Abigail does outmaneuver Ms. Ford, it is only at the expense of her conscience and leaves her with a strong sense of guilt. 

4. During her time at the Emersons, Abigail meets the charismatic, feminist writer Margaret Fuller, who provides counsel and insight on women and their role in society. What made you decide to pursue these thematic issues in this novel? 

The two themes in this novel are the role of Transcendentalist philosophy at this point in time, and the status of women in the early nineteenth century. Margaret Fuller did visit Emerson often, and their relationship was close and complex. Lidian was definitely jealous of her, and Emerson often did little to allay that fear. I wanted Fuller in the novel as someone who could give some intellectual form to the feelings that Abigail was having. Since the novel is written in the form of recollections from twenty years in the future, I thought it would give the older Abigail a chance to reflect on what she had learned since.

5. Abigail also forms an intellectual friendship with Emerson during her time in his household. How do his transcendentalist views on life influence her?

His doctrine of self-reliance, the idea that everyone should develop their own ideas and not rely on established authority, is the main notion I wanted Abigail to take away from her time in this household. As the end of the story suggests, she lives an exciting life after leaving Emerson, and I think much of it is due to his intellectual influence. In some ways, she lives a life of courage that Emerson only talked about.

6. After publishing over 30 mystery novels, you wrote Dearest David, your first historical romance. What did you learn while doing research for this novel and do you plan to continue writing historicals? 

When I visited the Emerson house in Concord, Massachusetts and sat in Emerson’s study I really felt as if I had entered into the fictional world of my book. This is a feeling I had never experienced before when writing pure fiction, and it made the story particularly intense for me. Another thing I learned is that, although we often think of the people in the Transcendentalist circle as being emotionally cool, they were extremely passionate not only about ideas but in many cases in their feelings for each other. 

At some point in the future, I would like to write another historical carrying Abigail’s story on to the next stage.

7. Are you working on a new novel and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

I am currently working on the second in my series of mysteries featuring Charles Bentley, a retired professor of English, who seems to have the bad luck of stumbling across dead bodies. By turns humorous and serious, it shows some of the challenges age brings to solving crimes and forming relationships. 

Meet the Author

Glen Ebisch was born in Passaic, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Clifton. He received his B.A. in political science from Rutgers University, an M.A. in government from Cornell University and, after a tour of duty with the United States Army in Vietnam, he attended Columbia University where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy. He taught philosophy at the university level for over thirty years, and during the same period wrote over thirty novels, first for young people, then for adults.  Glen is a long-time member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and an associate member of Sisters in Crime. He lives with his wife in western Massachusetts.

Connect with the author at his website or Twitter.

Enter to win one (1) ebook copy (MOBI format) of Dearest David by Glen Ebisch. This giveaway is open internationally. All entries must be made using the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, April 5th and the winner will be announced on Friday, April 6th. The ebook is being supplied by the author. Void where prohibited.

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2018 Book 122: THE OTHER MOTHER by Carol Goodman

The Other Mother by Carol Goodman
ISBN: 9780062562647 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780062562654 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062842466 (audiobook)
ASIN: B0727TNDFM (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 27, 2018

“An atmospheric and harrowing tale, richly literary in complexity but ripe with all the crazed undertones, confusions, and forebodings inherent in the gothic genre. Recommend this riveting, du Maurier–like novel to fans of Jennifer McMahon.” — Booklist (starred review)

From the author of the internationally bestselling The Lake of Dead Languages comes a gripping novel about madness, motherhood, love, and trust.

When Daphne Marist and her infant daughter, Chloe, pull up the gravel drive to the home of Daphne’s new employer, it feels like they’ve entered a whole new world. Tucked in the Catskills, the stone mansion looks like something out of a fairy tale, its lush landscaping hiding the view of the mental asylum just beyond its border. Daphne secured the live-in position using an assumed name and fake credentials, telling no one that she’s on the run from a controlling husband who has threatened to take her daughter away.

Daphne’s new life is a far cry from the one she had in Westchester where, just months before, she and her husband welcomed little Chloe. From the start, Daphne tries to be a good mother, but she’s plagued by dark moods and intrusive thoughts that convince her she’s capable of harming her own daughter. When Daphne is diagnosed with Post Partum Mood Disorder, her downward spiral feels unstoppable—until she meets Laurel Hobbes.

Laurel, who also has a daughter named Chloë, is everything Daphne isn’t: charismatic, sophisticated, fearless. They immediately form an intense friendship, revealing secrets to one another they thought they’d never share. Soon, they start to look alike, dress alike, and talk alike, their lives mirroring one another in strange and disturbing ways. But Daphne realizes only too late that being friends with Laurel will come at a very shocking price—one that will ultimately lead her to that towering mansion in the Catskills where terrifying, long-hidden truths will finally be revealed… 

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Daphne Marist and Laurel Hobbes have a lot in common: both are new first-time mothers, married to older men, live in Westchester, and studied library sciences in college. Both women named their daughters Chloe, although Laurel spells her daughter’s name Chloë. Both Daphne and Laurel lost their parents at a young age and both women are even suffering from postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder or postpartum OCD. The differences are the Daphne comes across as a bit meek and self-effacing and Laurel seems to be bold and self-assured. As Daphne and Laurel’s friendship grows, and Laurel molds Daphne into a Laurel-mini-me, Daphne begins to see cracks in Laurel’s facade. Stories that Daphne told to Laurel, Laurel then retells from a first-person point-of-view. Then Laurel’s husband reveals that Daphne has a history of mental health problems and was actually diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder when she was younger and had several hospitalizations while she was in college. 

As Daphne gets better, Laurel seems to get worse. Wanting to help her friend, Daphne tries to talk Laurel into getting a job outside the home. When that doesn’t help and Daphne’s marriage seems to be foundering, Daphne decides to take her baby and “Laurel’s” job and identity and leave town. As Laurel, Daphne begins to work for her favorite author archiving the author’s private papers along with her father’s papers. The author’s father served as a physician and director of a local psychiatric hospital for decades and the author’s home abuts the hospital’s grounds. Daphne feels that this is the perfect opportunity to start anew. When she is given even more responsibilities and reviews hospital records, ostensibly for the author’s memoirs, she is confronted by the current director of the hospital, her husband, and Laurel’s husband and told that she isn’t really Daphne but Laurel pretending to be Daphne pretending to be Laurel. Could this possibly be true? If so, wouldn’t she know? If it isn’t true, why would they lie?

The Other Mother is a taut psychological suspense read. I began reading it early on Wednesday morning but only got to read for about 45 minutes before I had to head out for the day. When I returned home, I promptly grabbed my copy of the book and was hooked within a few pages. I found The Other Mother to be a fast-paced and captivating read. Ms. Goodman throws quite a number of twists and turns in this story (no I won’t tell you what they are, read the book!). Just when I thought I knew what was happening, I was off in a completely different direction. This is much more than a story about motherhood, although that is the primary focus of much of the story. This is also a story about friendship, mental illness, betrayal, greed, family, loss, love, and more. There are quite a number of bad guys and an equal number of good guys. I enjoyed all of the characters, the action, and the settings. The mental health aspects of the story were quite gripping simply because mental health is such a hot-button topic and there never seems to be enough funding for treatment or facilities to properly treat the mentally ill, whether it is a temporary issue or a long-term healthcare concern. This may be a sensitive subject matter for some readers as it does discuss suicide attempts and suicide. I, for one, enjoyed the story and will be recommending it to my fiction book groups. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Goodman in the future and can heartily recommend The Other Mother to anyone that enjoys reading psychological suspense.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+, as well as a free print review copy from the publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Meet the author

Photo by Franco Vogt

Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz.

Find out more about Carol on her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours.

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The Other Mother: A Novel

The Other Mother: A Novel

The Other Mother





 The Other Mother

The Other Mother : A Novel

Book Showcase: THE SILENT GAMES by Alex Gray

The Silent Games

by Alex Gray

on Tour March 12 – April 14, 2018


The Silent Games by Alex Gray

Alex Gray’s stunning new Lorimer novel, set against the backdrop of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, brings the vibrant city to life in a race to stop the greatest threat the city has ever known.

2014: The Commonwealth Games are coming to Glasgow and security is extra tight, particularly after a mysterious bomb explodes in nearby rural Stirlingshire. As the opening ceremony for the Games draws ever closer, the police desperately seek the culprits. But Detective Superintendent Lorimer has other concerns on his mind. One is a beautiful red-haired woman from his past whose husband dies suddenly on his watch. Then there is the body of a young woman found dumped in countryside just south of the city who is proving impossible to identify.

Elsewhere in Glasgow people prepare for the events in their own way, whether for financial gain or to welcome home visitors from overseas. And, hiding behind false identities, are those who pose a terrible threat not just to the Games but to the very fabric of society.

Critical Praise:

“An excellent procedural in which Gray … does for Glasgow what Ian Rankin did for Edinburgh in the annals of crime fiction.”  — Kirkus Reviews on The Silent Games

“Gray has no equal when it comes to unmasking killers and she has excelled herself here . . . Gray is the new master of Scottish crime writing.” — Scottish Daily Express

“Brings Glasgow to life in the same way Ian Rankin evokes Edinburgh.” — Daily Mail (UK)

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: March 13th 2018
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780062659262
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #11 (Stand Alone)

Get Your Copy of The Silent Games from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & HarperCollins.

Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads!!

Read an excerpt:

From Chapter 2

It was worse than he could ever have imagined.

Even from the roadside, where a line of police cars was parked, Lorimer could see the devastation. Plumes of smoke and flames still rose from the heaps of broken trees, and as he emerged from the Lexus, his skin was immediately touched by flakes of ash drifting in the air. The smell of burning wood was overpowering, and he could hear the occasional crackle and hiss of fire beneath the whooshing sound from the firemen’s hoses as arcs of water were trained into the heart of the inferno. His eyes took in the gap in the hedge where the fire engines had broken through to reach the narrow walkers’ path, and the tyre marks on the verge. It would be replanted, no doubt, but the burning trees would leave a scar that would take far longer to heal.

‘Detective Superintendent Lorimer? Martin Pinder.’ The uniformed chief inspector was suddenly at his side, hand outstretched. Lorimer took it, feeling the firm once up and down as the officer motioned them to turn away from the direction of the cinders. ‘Sorry to call you out, but as I said, we needed someone to front this. And your name came up.’

‘But isn’t this a local matter?’ Lorimer asked. ‘We’re in the district of Stirling, surely?’

Pinder shook his head. ‘It’s bigger than you might imagine,’ he began. Walking Lorimer a few paces away from the line of cars, he dropped his voice. ‘And there is intelligence to suggest that it may have a much wider remit.’

‘Oh?’ Lorimer was suddenly curious. The telephone call had mentioned an explosion, the immediate need for a senior officer from Police Scotland and a request to keep the lid on things, but nothing more.

‘You said intelligence.’ He frowned. ‘You mean Special Branch?’

Pinder nodded. ‘I’ve been charged with giving you this information, sir. And doubtless your counter terrorism unit will already be involved.’ He licked his lips, hesitating, and Lorimer could see the anxiety in the man’s grey eyes.

‘We are given to believe that this is just a trial run.’ Pinder motioned to the fire behind them.

‘A trial run,’ Lorimer said slowly. ‘A trial run for what?’

Pinder gave a sigh and raised his eyebrows.

‘The Glasgow Commonwealth Games.’

Lorimer looked at the man in disbelief, but Pinder’s face was all seriousness.

‘That’s almost a year away. Why do they think. . .?’

‘Haven’t been told that. Someone further up the chain of command will know.’ Pinder shrugged. Perhaps you’ll be told once you liaise with Counter Terrorism.’

Lorimer turned to take in the scene of the explosion once more, seeing for the first time the enormous area of burning countryside and trying to transfer it in his mind’s eye to the newly built village and arenas in Glasgow’s East End. He blinked suddenly at the very notion of carnage on such a vast scale.

‘We can’t let it happen,’ Pinder said quietly, watching the tall man’s face.

Lorimer gazed across the fields to the line of rounded hills that were the Campsies. Glasgow lay beyond, snug in the Clyde valley; on this Sunday morning its citizens remained oblivious to the danger posed by whatever fanatic had ruined this bit of tranquil landscape. He had asked why the local cops hadn’t taken this one on, and now he understood: the threat to next year’s Commonwealth Games was something too big for that. And since the various police forces in Scotland had merged into one national force, Detective Superintendent William Lorimer might be called to any part of the country.

‘The press will want statements,’ Pinder said, breaking into Lorimer’s thoughts. ‘It’s still an ongoing investigation. Don’t we just love that phrase!’ He gave a short, hard laugh. ‘And there is no loss of life, so we can try for a positive slant on that, at least.’

‘They’ll speculate,’ Lorimer told him. ‘You know that’s what they do.’

Pinder touched the detective superintendent’s arm, nodding towards the figures milling around on the fringes of the fire. ‘Apart from you and me, there is not a single person here who has been told about the background to this event. So unless the press leap to that conclusion by dint of their own imagination, any leak can only come from us.’

When Lorimer turned to face him, the uniformed officer was struck by the taller man’s penetrating blue gaze. Fora long moment they stared at one another, until Pinder looked away, feeling a sense of discomfort mixed with the certainty that he would follow this man wherever he might lead.

Wouldn’t like to be across the table from him in an interview room, he was to tell his wife later that day. But there on that lonely stretch of country road, Martin Pinder had an inkling why it was that the powers on high had called on Detective Superintendent William Lorimer to oversee this particular incident.


Excerpt from The Silent Games by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2018 by Alex Gray. Reprinted by permission of Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English. Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Catch Up With Alex Gray On, Goodreads, & Twitter!

Tour Participants:

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


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winners of one (1) Print copy of Alex Gray’s The Swedish Girl. The giveaway begins on March 12, 2018, and runs through April 15, 2018.

Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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2018 Book 93: THE LONGEST SILENCE by Debra Webb

The Longest Silence (Shades of Death #4) by Debra Webb
ISBN: 9780778330752 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488023545 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488204159 (audiobook)
ASIN: B072582J4F (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: March 6, 2018

“The twists and turns in this dark, taut drama make it both creepy and compelling.” –New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry

A killer stole her voice. Now she’s ready to take it back. Don’t miss the chilling Shades of Death series from USA TODAY bestselling author Debra Webb. Joanna Guthrie was free. She had been for eighteen years–or so she needed everyone to believe. What really happened during the longest fourteen days of her life, when she and two other women were held captive by a dangerous serial killer, wasn’t something she could talk about. Not after what they had to do to survive. But when more women go missing in an eerily similar manner, Jo knows her prolonged silence will only seal their fates. She’s finally ready to talk; she just needs someone to listen. FBI special agent Tony LeDoux can’t deny he finds Jo compelling–he’s just not sure he believes her story. But with the clock ticking, Jo will do anything to convince him, even if it means unearthing long-buried secrets that will land them squarely in the crosshairs of the killer…

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Joanna Guthrie has been living her life on the run for the past eighteen years. But you can never truly run from your past and that’s what she has been trying to do. Now that the only other person that knew what had happened all those years ago has died and it appears circumstances might be repeating themselves with another abduction, Joanna knows she has to confront the past once and for all. It is upon her return to Georgia that Joanna connects with former FBI agent Tony LeDoux. Tony is in town because his niece, a college student, is missing and initially no one takes her absence seriously. Tony’s sister knows that her daughter wouldn’t disappear without her cellphone, purse, or any clothes, but the local authorities aren’t so sure until another student goes missing. It is now a case of beat the clock because Joanna knows that although two girls have been reported missing, there are actually three girls that have been abducted and only two will walk away. The good thing about Joanna’s return to Georgia is that she is beginning to remember things from those days in captivity. The bad thing about Joanna’s return is that she has recognized several key players in her abduction and they just might be willing to do anything to ensure her silence. Can Joanna recall enough to save Tony’s niece and the others before it is too late?

I’ve had the pleasure of reading several books in the Shades of Death series in the past, so I was already familiar with and enjoyed Ms. Webb’s ability to pull me into a story as a reader. She has repeated that ability with The Longest Silence. I sat down and began reading this book and with the exception of a brief break to take migraine pain medication (another weather-induced migraine), I did not stop. I liked Joanna and Tony and sincerely hope there will be more from these two in the future (hint, hint). Joanna’s captivity backstory from eighteen years ago is nicely interwoven with the current abductees story. Ms. Webb provides hints of romance and undertones of horror in this taut suspense-thriller. There were also several surprise twists thrown in towards the end but it all worked quite nicely towards the end (no, I won’t tell you what the surprises where or how it ends, read the book!). If you’ve read anything by Ms. Webb, then I probably don’t have to tell you to read The Longest Silence (but I will just in case). If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Webb and enjoy suspense thrillers, then grab yourself a copy of The Longest Silence to read. If you’re not sure about suspense thrillers but are looking for something a bit different to read, then grab a copy of The Longest Silence to read. I hope to read more from Ms. Webb and the Shades of Death series in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Meet the Author

DEBRA WEBB is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama.

Connect with Debra:     Website    |    Facebook    |    Twitter 

This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours 

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The Longest Silence

The Longest Silence

The Longest Silence






The Longest Silence

Book Showcase: WE OWN THE SKY by Luke Allnutt

We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt
ISBN: 9780778314738 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488078712 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488204289 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07257295R (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: April 3, 2018

“We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.” 

Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness. 

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

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Read an excerpt (follow the excerpt tour to read more):



She read up a storm before she left. In her favorite hard-backed chair; in bed, propped up on a mound of pillows. The books spilled over from the bedside table, piling up on the floor. She preferred foreign detective novels and she plowed through them, her lips chastely pursed, her face rigid, unmoving.

Sometimes I would wake in the night and see the lamp was still on: Anna, a harsh, unmoving silhouette, sat with a straight back, just how she was always taught. She did not acknowledge that I had woken, even though I turned toward her, but stared down into her book, flicking through the pages as if she was cramming for a test.

At first, it was just the usual suspects from Scandinavia—Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson—but then she moved on: German noir from the 1940s, a Thai series set in 1960s Phuket. The covers were familiar at first—recognizable fonts and designs from major publishers—but soon they became more esoteric, with foreign typesetting and different bindings.

And then, one day, she was gone. I don’t know where those books are now. I have looked for them since, to see if a few of them have snuck onto my shelves, but I have never found any. I imagine she took them all with her, packed them up in one of her color-coded trash bags.

The days after she left are a haze. A memory of anesthetic. Drawn curtains and neat vodka. An unsettling quietness, like the birds going silent before an eclipse. I remember sitting in the living room and staring at a crystal tumbler and wondering whether fingers of vodka were horizontal or vertical.

There was a draft that blew through the house. Under the doors, through the cracks in the walls. I think I knew where it was coming from. But I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t go upstairs. Because it wasn’t our house anymore. Those rooms did not exist, as if adults with secrets had declared them out of bounds. So I just sat downstairs, in that old, dead house, the cold wind chilling my neck. They had gone, and the silence bled into everything.


Oh, I’m sure she’d love to see me now, tucked into this gloomy alcove in a grubby little pub—just me, a flickering TV, some guy pretending to be deaf selling Disney key rings that glow in the dark. The front door of the pub has a hole in it, as if someone has tried to kick it down, and through the flapping clear plastic I can see some kids hanging around in the car park, smoking and doing tricks on an old BMX.

“I told you so.” She wouldn’t say it out loud—she had too much class for that—but it would be there on her face, the almost imperceptible raising of an eyebrow, the foreshadowing of a smile.

Anna always thought I was a bit rough, could never quite shake off the housing project. I remember what she said when I told her my dad used to spend his Saturday afternoons in the bookie. Polite bemusement, that smug little smile. Because no one in her family even went to pubs. Not even at Christmas? I asked once. No, she said. They might have a glass of sherry after lunch, but that would be it, nothing more. They went bell-ringing instead.

It is dark now, and I cannot remember the sun going down. A car revs outside, and headlights sweep around the pub like a prison searchlight. I go back to the bar and order another pint. Heads turn toward me but I don’t make eye contact, avoiding the stares, the inscrutable nods.

A burly fisherman is perched on a stool, facing toward the door as if the pub is his audience. He is telling a racist joke about a woman having an affair and the plucking of a lone pube, and I remember hearing it once after school, in an East London alleyway where people dumped porn mags and empty cans of Coke. The regulars laugh at the punch line, but the barmaid is silent, turns away from them. On the wall behind her, there are pinups of topless models and framed newspapers from the day after 9/11.

“Four pound 10, darling,” the barmaid says, putting the beer down. My hands are shaking and I fumble around in my wallet, spilling my change out onto the bar.

“Sorry,” I say, “cold hands.”

“I know,” she says, “it’s freezing out. Here, let me.” She picks up the coins from the bar and then, as if I am a frail pensioner, counts out the rest of the money from my open hand.

“There you go,” she says. “Four pound 10.”

“Thank you,” I say, a little ashamed, and she smiles. She has a kind face, the type you don’t often see in places like this.

As she bends down to unpack the dishwasher, I take a long swig of vodka from my hip flask. It is easier than ordering a shot with every pint. It marks you as a drinker, and they keep their eyes on you then.

I go back to my table and I notice a young woman sitting at the far end of the bar. Before, she was sitting with one of the men, one of the fisherman’s friends, but now he has gone, screeched away in a souped-up hatchback. She looks like she is dressed for a night out, in a short skirt, a skimpy, glittery top, her eyelashes spiky and dark.

I watch the barmaid, checking I cannot be seen, and then take another swig of vodka and I can feel that familiar buzz, that sad, little bliss. I look at the woman sitting at the bar. She is doing shots now, shouting at the barmaid, who I think is her friend. As she laughs, she nearly topples off her stool, only just catching her balance, her breath.

I will go over to her soon. Just a couple more drinks.

Excerpt From We Own The Sky by Luke Allnutt, to be released

on April 3, 2018, by Park Row Books. 
Copyright © 2018 by Luke Allnutt.

Meet the Author

Luke Allnutt grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.

Connect with Luke
Website  | Twitter

This excerpt and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours 

Book Giveaway: THE CHILD by Fiona Barton

Good morning my bookish peeps. There have been a lot of great books released so far this year and today we’re going to celebrate the paperback release on The Child by Fiona Barton. Some of you might recall, I reviewed this book last year upon its hardcover release and it was a recommended read. How are we going to celebrate the paperback release of this recommended read? With a book giveaway courtesy of the publisher, Berkley – Penguin Random House.

The Child by Fiona Barton 

An NPR Best Book of the YearA Bustle Best Thriller Novel of the Year 

The Child is a perfect blend of beach read and book club selection. It’s a fascinating and fitting follow-up to [Barton’s] best-selling debut novel, The Widow. . . .[A] page-turning whodunit…A novel that is both fast-paced and thought-provoking, it keeps the reader guessing right to the end.”–USA Today

“Fiona Barton brings back reporter Kate Waters from the best-selling The Widow and delivers another winner with The Child….A truly engaging tale. Those who enjoyed The Widow will discover that Barton has only gotten better.”–The Associated Press

“An engrossing, irresistible story about the coming to light of a long-buried secret and an absolutely fabulous read–I loved it!”–Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

“Tense, tantalizing, and ultimately very satisfying…definitely one of the year’s must-reads.”–Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense, now in paperback.

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers human remains, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but she’s at a loss for answers. As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier. A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn–house by house–into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. She soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women–and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

The author:

Fiona Barton, the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow and The Child, trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Visit her online at and on Twitter @figbarton. Join the conversation using #TheChild.


To enter this giveaway, use the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends on Friday, March 16, 2018, at 11:59 PM ET and the winner will be announced on Saturday, March 17, 2018, by 10:00 AM ET. Please note that this giveaway is limited to US residents only, all non-US entrants will be disqualified. The book will be shipped to the winner by the publisher, Berkley.

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2018 Book 76: SPEAK NO EVIL by Uzodinma Iweala

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
ISBN: 9780061284922 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062199096 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062798961 (audiobook)
ASIN: B071YRW88J (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 6, 2018 
Publisher: Harper Books

In the long-anticipated novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

In the tradition of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Speak No Evil explores what it means to be different in a fundamentally conformist society and how that difference plays out in our inner and outer struggles. It is a novel about the power of words and self-identification, about who gets to speak and who has the power to speak for other people. As heart-wrenching and timely as his breakout debut, Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala’s new novel cuts to the core of our humanity and leaves us reeling in its wake.

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Being a teenager is difficult enough without being the child of immigrant parents with high expectations, being one of the few minorities in an exclusive school, following behind a popular and over-achieving sibling, and being gay. These are exactly the circumstances that Niru finds himself in and he’s unsure of how to handle it all. Niru is introverted whereas his older brother was extroverted and quite popular. Niru is a better athlete, but his brother was captain of his team. Niru has received an early acceptance to Harvard University so his post-high school academic career is set. The only problems are that Niru is attracted to boys and that is taboo in Nigerian culture. When his parents learn of his so-called aberrant predilections, his father beats him, takes him to church for counseling, then takes him back to Nigerian for intensive prayer. Niru knows that he’s a disappointment to his family, so he tries really hard to be what they want when he returns to the US, but it just doesn’t feel right. The only friend he had, Meredith, he pushed away and he’s struggling to find where he belongs. Just when it seems like all hope is lost for Niru, he rekindles his friendship with Meredith. And then tragedy strikes. Meredith is the only true witness to what happened in that alley that horrible night, but will she be allowed to tell the truth? Will it make a difference if she does?

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala is an amazing read and one that I finished in just a few short hours. The author pulled me into the story after only a few pages and I refused to get up until I finished the story. Although I read this story a few days ago, it took me awhile to sit down and write this review. Not because this wasn’t a good story, but because it was an amazing story and one that packed a powerful punch. It’s been many, many years since I was a teenager, but I empathized with Niru and Meredith’s pain and angst of being a teen. Niru had to deal with impossible cultural standards to live up to and Meredith had to deal with being an only child that was left to her own devices by her parents all too often. The first half of the book is told from the teenage Niru’s perspective and the second half is told from Meredith’s adult perspective. Both stories are emotionally powerful. Speak No Evil touches on current topics that seem to never have any resolution such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. There are a lot of things happening in this story and if I touched on them all, I’d be revealing too much. What I can say is that this is a phenomenal story and one that I strongly encourage everyone to read. It isn’t often that a book takes my breath away and leaves me speechless, but Speak No Evil is definitely in that category, so I once again simply say read this book.

Read an excerpt from Speak No Evil here.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Blast: BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES by Yvonne Ventresca

Black Flowers, White Lies

by Yvonne Ventresca

March 6, 2018 Book Blast


Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca

“I raced through Black Flowers, White Lies in a single sitting. What a twisty thrill-ride!”

~April Henry, New York Times-bestselling author of Girl, Stolen


 Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a connection that transcends the grave. Since her mother disapproves, she keeps her visits to the cemetery where he’s buried secret. But when Ella learns that her mother may have lied about how Dad died sixteen years ago, it’s clear she’s not the only one with secrets. New facts point to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not a car accident as Mom always claimed.
When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger, as he did once before, or if someone’s playing unsettling tricks on her. But as the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, she finds herself terrified about who—or what—might harm her.
Soon the evidence points to someone new: Ella herself. What if, like Dad, she’s suffering from a mental breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers—no matter how disturbing the truth might be.


Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca is a 2017 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Winner!

Book Details:

Genre: Young Adult Thriller

Published by: Sky Pony Press

Publication Date: Paperback March 6, 2018 (Hardcover Oct 2016)

Number of Pages: 280

ISBN: 1510725962 (ISBN13: 9781510725966)

Grab Your copy of Black Flowers, White Lies on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, & Add it to your Goodreads list!

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One, Beautiful Boy:


I approach Dad’s tombstone with trepidation, then breathe a sigh of relief. No mysterious flowers wilt at his grave as I had feared. Last August, someone left fresh orange lilies for him throughout the month. I never figured out who. Then, in September, the flowers stopped appearing as suddenly as they started. I always wondered, with an odd mixture of anxiety and hope, if I would run into the other mourner— someone else who honored my father. But I never did.

 Usually, the ritual of navigating the same cemetery rows, visiting Thomas Darren Benton, and putting a small rock on his headstone calms me. Now, the heat is relentless and sweat trickles down my back as I search for the perfect pebble. It needs to be a nice, roundish one. Despite the lilies left last summer, Dad wasn’t a bouquet kind of guy.

 I know this even though I never met him. He died before I was born, so I have no memories of him, only stories from Mom that I’ve heard so many times it feels like I was actually there. I see him beam during his graduation from veterinary school and feel his hand pat Mom’s pregnant belly. I hear him pick my name from the baby book: Ariella, meaning lion, although Mom insists they nickname me Ella. I smell the damp on his clothes from the night he rescued Oscar the kitten from a storm drain and brought him home to stay. These recollections have been cobbled together into my own version of Dad for the last fifteen years.

 Today the sky is gray and foreboding, but the occasional burst of wind does nothing to cool me. I finally find just the right rock nestled in a patch of grass and rub off the dirt with my fingers. My friend Jana taught me the tradition of leaving a stone as a way to mark my visits with something more permanent, more enduring than flowers.

 I’m the only person who comes to his grave somewhat regularly, other than last summer’s unknown mourner. I don’t think Mom’s been here since her engagement to Stanley, a non-reading, self-absorbed, stubby man. With the wedding only days away, Stanley’s settled into our apartment, but each awkward conversation we have leaves me yearning for the father who painted my room a cheerful yellow, who created a mini-library of animal books to read to his future daughter.

 I hesitate before Beloved Husband and Father, rolling the pebble between my fingers, then place it in line with the last one, making it the eighth in a row. I let my hand linger against the cool granite. Next week is Dad’s birthday, August 8. That number has been lucky for me since I was eight years old, when I could have died, but because of Dad’s warning, I didn’t.

The air gusts, whipping strands of hair across my face and scattering the pebbles to the ground. My skin prickles at the eerie timing before I realize that the wind has been stormy on and off throughout the day. Still, it spooks me because nothing has disturbed my markers in months. Until now. It’s almost like Dad is giving me another sign.

The cemetery turns out to be more peaceful than home. I’m lounging across my bed checking my phone with Oscar purring beside me when—bang—Mom pounds on the adjacent wall. Oscar scampers to the top of my bookcase, his favorite spot in times of trouble.

The room next to mine serves as Mom’s office, and since my soon-to-be-stepbrother is expected to arrive later tonight, she’s fixing it up. Loudly.

I give up on coaxing Oscar down and move to the doorway. “What are you doing?”

“Look.” She points with the hammer at two new pictures of the Manhattan skyline where a framed print of The Cat in the Hat used to be. Besides changing the wall decorations, she also cleared out the closet and moved her many piles of papers from the desk. “Do you think Blake will like it?”

I have no idea what Blake will like. The only photo I’ve even seen of him is one that Stanley keeps on his nightstand. It’s a faded picture of a young blond boy at the beach, smiling up at him.

“The room looks nice,” I say. “But it’s not like he’s living here forever.” Blake would only be staying with us for a few weeks until he moved into his dorm at NYU.

“I know. But I want this to feel like home for him.”

She certainly cares a lot about this guy we’ve never met. The filing cabinet, the now-spotless desk, and the fax machine are the sole remnants of her office.

“After we find your dress today, I need to buy some blue sheets and maybe some towels, too,” she says. “Are you ready to go?”

“Sure.” I sigh quietly.

Our apartment building is directly across from the Hoboken PATH station. After a short train ride to the Newport Mall, I remember for the hundredth time why I hate shopping with Mom. Every dress she pulls off the rack is revolting. But the wedding is only days away. We need to find something suitable that won’t forever embarrass me when I see the photos in years to come.

“How about this?” Mom holds up a mauve paisley thing with puffy sleeves, her eyes shiny with hope. “This color will look so flattering on you.”

“Maybe.” I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so I purposely drift away to shop on my own. And then I see it: a pale yellow dress, strapless, with a flouncy skirt and sequins around the middle. The dress sparkles when I hold it against me. I can’t wait to try it on.

Mom will hate it. She’ll want me to look conservative for the small group of friends and family at her wedding. My strategy is to show her other dresses she’ll hate even more. I find a black mini she’ll say isn’t long enough and a floral sundress she’ll think is too casual.

When I get to the dressing room, Mom and three hideous pink dresses await.

I try on the minidress first, which she predictably declares too short. Luckily, the mauve one bunches at my waist. She likes the sundress, but not for the wedding.

I put on a blush-colored one.

“It’s not bad,” she says. “What do you think?”

“Too much lace. It’s like wearing a tablecloth.”

She nods in agreement.

Finally, I try on the yellow one and giggle with delight. I come out, posture perfect, feeling like a princess. “Isn’t it beautiful?”


Mom frowns. “Strapless? You’d need something over it.”

I twirl. “I have that silver sweater at home.”

“Let’s see the rose-colored one.”


In the dressing room, I breathe deeply as I put on the last dress.

Her face lights up when I step out. “Ella! It’s so pretty! It brings a glow to your cheeks. And it’s perfect with your coloring.”

She calls it my coloring because I inherited Dad’s brown hair and brown eyes instead of her fairness.

“The rose is all right,” I say. “But don’t you think the ruffles look too childish for a sophomore?”

“Honey. It’s perfect for an almost-sophomore. And it’s appropriate. The yellow one might be nice for a dance, but for the wedding . . .”

I close the curtain and put on my shorts and favorite T-shirt, the one with the tabby cat that says Rescued is my favorite breed. It’s her wedding, I remind myself. She should get to choose. I should be mature.

I walk out and hand her the ruffled dress.

“Thank you. It means a lot to me,” Mom says. “I’ll pay for this and go to the bedding department. Want to meet at the food court in an hour?”


I shake off my annoyance and detour into the accessories section, where my friend Grace had seen a cute wallet with kittens on it that she thought I’d like. I’m sifting through the clearance items when this guy approaches me, holding a bunch of ties. Whoa. He’s tall and blond, and his white polo shirt shows off his tan.

“Excuse me,” Beautiful Boy says. “I’m trying to decide between these?” His voice lilts into a question. His smile is friendly, his eyes deep brown and intense. “I suck at this kind of thing.” He somehow manages to look model-perfect and sheepish at the same time. “Would you mind helping me pick one?”

I blink for a minute, staring at his face instead of the ties. My delayed response verges on awkward. “Okay,” I say. “What are you wearing it with?”

“A gray suit.”

I’m conscious of his eyes on me as I study the ones he’s chosen. It makes it hard to think. None of the ties have any yellow, my favorite color. Maybe it’s the dress shopping with Mom, but I point to the gray one with rose-colored diamond shapes. “I like this.”


I wish I could prolong our interaction somehow so that I can learn more about him. He lingers a too-short moment, then gives me another smile before he turns away.

I can’t help feeling like something momentous has transpired. I’m a believer in karma and fate and the mysterious workings of the universe. As I watch Beautiful Boy walk away, I hope that meeting him again is meant to be.


Excerpt from Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca.  Copyright © 2018 by Yvonne Ventresca. Reproduced with permission from Sky Pony Press. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Yvonne Ventresca

Whether the topic is psychological manipulation, ghostly encounters, or surviving a deadly outbreak, Yvonne Ventresca enjoys the thrill of writing about frightening situations. BuzzFeed listed her latest novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES at the top of their YA “must read” list for fall 2016, and this psychological thriller received an IPPY Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction in 2017.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Yvonne’s other credits include several short stories selected for anthologies, as well as two nonfiction books. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, SCBWI, The Authors Guild, and International Thriller Writers.

Besides writing, she loves a good ghost story, and as a third-degree black belt, she studies Isshinryu karate in a haunted dojo. You can learn more about Yvonne and her books at, where she also features helpful resources for teen writers.

Catch Up With Ms Ventresca on, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

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


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Yvonne Ventresca. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift card. The giveaway begins on March 6, 2018, and runs through March 13, 2018. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: A WOLF IN THE WOODS by Nancy Allen

A Wolf in the Woods

by Nancy Allen

on Tour March 1-31, 2018


A Wolf in the Woods by Nancy Allen

McCown County assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold is prepping an assault case when a girl is found beaten and bloodied at a roadside no-tell motel. Elsie tries to convince the teen to reveal who attacked her, but Mandy is too scared—and stubborn—to cooperate… and then she disappears. Elsie’s positive a predator is targeting the Ozark hills, yet the authorities refuse to believe their small town could be plagued by sex trafficking.

Then middle school student Desiree Wickham goes missing, but only Elsie suspects it could be connected to Mandy’s assault. As she digs deeper into the events leading up to Desiree’s disappearance, she stumbles upon an alarming discovery: local girls are falling prey to a dubious online modeling agency, and never seen again. Elsie shares her concerns with Detective Ashlock and the FBI, but they shut her out.

She takes matters into her own hands and lands an interview with the head of the modeling agency. But when she meets him face-to-face, she discovers the fate of Desiree and Mandy… and becomes his newest captive. Elsie’s desperate to free the girls—and save herself—before the unspeakable happens. And she’s in for the fight of her life.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: February 20, 2018
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0062438786 (ISBN13: 9780062438782)
Series: Ozarks Mysteries #4 | Each is a Stand Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | HarperCollins

Read an excerpt:


A dark haired man lounged behind a battered desk in a second floor room at an EconoMo motel that sat on the highway in flyover country, Missouri. He pulled up Skype on his laptop and studied his own image on the computer screen, rubbing the tattoo that covered his neck. Behind him, the unmade bed was visible on the screen. A thin cotton sheet covered the form of a young girl.

He adjusted the angle to cut her from the shot. The bed disappeared, replaced by beige curtains at the window, hanging askew on the rod.

The place was a dump. He could afford better accommodations, without a doubt. It was business, and business was booming. His greatest challenge was procuring sufficient supply to meet the constant demand.

On the desktop, bottles were scattered near the computer. Alprazolam. Oxycodone. Rohypnol. Diazepam. Three value packs of Benadryl: cherry flavored. A plastic bottle of Aristocrat vodka sat beside a jumbo container of Hawaiian Punch.

As he pushed them aside, the bottle of roofies rolled off the desktop and onto the dirty carpet. He caught it just before it rolled under the dresser.

A ding notified him: his Skype appointment was ready. Right on time. He liked the girls to be punctual.

He hit the button on the mouse and fixed a smile on his face. “Lola! How you doing, baby!”

A giggling girl with a mane of curly blonde hair greeted him onscreen. “Tony, you’re so funny. I’m not Lola, I’ve told you a zillion times.”

“But you look like a Lola. If you want to make it in the modeling trade, you’ll have to project glamour. Drama.” He stretched his arms over his head, displaying muscled biceps covered in ink, and locked his hands behind his neck.

“Cool.” Her eyes shone.

“Leave that country girl persona behind in Podunk. Where are you from again?”

“Barton. Barton, Missouri. Where’s Podunk?”

He laughed, running his hand over his thick hair. “Podunk is where you’re sitting right now. What you’re itching to ditch. How’s life?”

Desiree shrugged, pulling a face.

“They still giving you shit at school, baby?”

She rolled her head back onto her neck. “All. The. Time.”

“And how’s living at home?”


“Wish you could leave it all behind?”


The girl turned her head; he heard a whisper from someone off-screen. Sharply, he asked: “Are you alone?”

A second head appeared over Lola’s shoulder. He saw a mixed race girl. She was taller than Lola, but he pegged her at the same age: an adolescent, around fourteen.

And she was a diamond in the rough—a black diamond. Unblemished skin, full lips, high cheekbones. Lola said, “You asked if I had any friends who wanted to meet you.”

He smiled, tapping his hand on the counter. “Who’s this?”

The tall girl looked at her friend, then into the computer. “I’m Taylor Johnson.”

“And you’re interested in modeling?”

She blinked. A nervous twitch. He shot a grin, to reassure her. “You’ve got the bone structure for it.”

The tall girl pinched her lips together. “Maybe. I think so.”

“We’ll need to conduct some auditions by video, maybe an interview, before you can qualify for a live shoot at the agency.”

She looked skittish. He wouldn’t get anything from her today.

“Let’s just get acquainted, okay?” He was about to launch into his patter: find out her story, gain her trust.

But a moan sounded from the bed behind him. The girl was coming around. He glanced over, fearful that she might raise a ruckus that could scare off his new prospects.

Tony picked up his phone. “Aw shit. Call’s coming in from one of our clients. I gotta take it.” He winked and shut off Skype just in time.

In a weak voice, she said, “Tony. Help me. Please, take off the cuffs.”

He sighed. Picking up a dirty plastic cup, he poured a measure of vodka and Benadryl, and topped it off with the red punch.

The girl spoke again, in a pleading tone. “Don’t make me do it, Tony. It hurts.”

He stirred the drink with his finger and walked toward the bed. “Mandy, Mandy. You look like you could use a magic drink, baby. This will fix you right up.”

The girl tried to sit up as he extended the red plastic cup. Tony stared down at her, shaking his head. “What’s that saying? ‘The customer is always right.’ You know what you got to do.”

The girl began to thrash against the mattress. But she was handcuffed to the metal bed frame.


Excerpt from A Wolf in the Woods by Nancy Allen.  Copyright © 2018 by Nancy Allen. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. 
All rights reserved.

Nancy Allen

Author Bio:

Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks.

She tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University.

Catch Up With Ms. Allen On:
Goodreads – Nancy Allen
Twitter – @TheNancyAllen
& Facebook – NancyAllenAuthor

Tour Participants:

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