Book Spotlight: FIRE, FOG, AND WATER by Mike Martin

Fire, Fog and Water (Sgt. Windflower Mysteries)

by Mike Martin


About Fire, Fog and Water



Fire, Fog and Water (Sgt. Windflower Mysteries)
Mystery
8th in Series
Ottawa Press and Publishing (October 8, 2019)
Print Length: 280 pages
Print ISBN: 9781988437286
Kindle ASIN: B07YWHZ675

Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  !ndigo


Sergeant Winston Windflower and his trusty crew at the Grand Bank detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have more than a few mysteries on their hands. Windflower suspects that the three cases—a homicide, a near-homicide and a fire on Coronation Street—are somehow connected, but how is proving difficult to determine, especially now that he must battle his unusually cranky mood, the never-ending winter that has gripped the coastal region of Newfoundland and his new, power-hungry boss.

In Fire, Fog and Water, award-winning author Mike Martin is true to form, retaining the light crime genre for which he is known while delving into the most perplexing social issues of our time, including mental health, addictions and workplace harassment. Windflower must not only solve the drug-and-death crimes that threaten the otherwise tranquil lives of Grand Bank’s residents, he must resolve his own internal conflicts before they consume him as surely as the blaze that engulfed the house on Coronation Street



About Mike Martin




Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland, Canada. He is the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. Fire, Fog and Water is the 8th book in the series. A Long Ways from Home, was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year and Darkest Before the Dawn won for the 2018 Bony Blithe Award. Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.



Author Links

Website www.sgtwindflowermysteries.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore

Twitter @mike54martin



Giveaway

Enter to win one (1) of three (3) print copies of Fire, Fog, and Water (A Sgt. Windflower Mystery) by Mike Martin via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. This giveaway is open to US residents only, non-US residents will be disqualified. Void where prohibited by law. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below.


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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 25 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 25 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

November 26 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 28 – THANKSGIVING – OFF

November 29 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, GUEST POST

December 2 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, GUEST POST

December 3 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

December 3 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 4 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST


December 5 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

December 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Book Showcase: THE COST OF HONOR by Diana Munoz Stewart

The Cost of Honor, Black Ops Confidential #3, by Diana Muñoz Stewart
ISBN: 9781492674221 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492662457 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781977372475 (audiobook)
ASIN: B081FX1H5F (Audible audibook)
ASIN: B07T91DZFD (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: November 26, 2019


He gave up everything to escape his family

The only male to be adopted into the notorious Parish family, Tony Parish always did right by his vigilante sisters. But when an attempt to protect one of them went horribly wrong, he had to fake his own death to escape his fanatical family. Tony set sail and ended up in Dominica—face to face with the woman of his dreams…

Now he must give up Honor to save her

After the death of her mother, Honor Silva moved to Dominica, where her family could help her heal and move on. But her activist mother left her more than money, she left her proof that could take down one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.

Tony gave up everything he thought he knew when he fled his family. But when a threat too dangerous for Tony and Honor to fight on their own closes in, he has no choice but to go to them for help. Problem is, they’ll demand something in return—something that could cost Tony not just Honor, but also the love that changed him forever.






Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audiobooks  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook



Read an Excerpt

#1


Rain assaulted the thin, deserted strip of beach along Roseau, Dominica. Though rarely cold on the island, the lack of sun combined with the wild weather created a deep, nagging chill.

Tightening the straps on her jacket, drawing the slick red hood into an outline around her rain-drenched face, Honor pushed through the last brutal gusts of the retreating tropical storm.

Seaweed littered the sand. Stacked lounge chairs clacked, and striped cabanas snapped in the tempest.

It seemed the sky and heaven cried with her, tears of sadness and fury. Honor ducked her head and made her determined way around a large puddle on the sand. The indents from her sneakers created smaller puddles as she walked.

Had it really been two years today? Two years since she’d lost Mom and had run here looking for a new start, a life without the ache of missing her.

Hadn’t worked. Mom’s death had been so sudden that the punch of that wound, straight through her heart, still gaped wide open. There wasn’t a day when she didn’t feel bereft.

But today especially, the anniversary of her death. The media, reminded of her famous mother’s passing, had reached out through phone, email, and texts for quotes.

Unable to deal with them, she’d come to the beach looking for a distraction.

She’d found one.

A kiteboarder, rash and daring with a bright-yellow sail, glided across the rough ocean water. His dark hair flew back as his agile body, covered in a wetsuit, maneuvered with and against wind and waves. 

A gust and the kiteboarder flew up and up. Her heart rose with him. Too high. He had too far to fall.

He slammed back down to the surf, angled his athletic body and skimmed the waves. He’d done it. She resisted the urge to clap. Mom would’ve loved watching him, another confident, courageous soul.

Unlike Honor.

Mom had stomped through puddles.

Honor hung back, worried about consequences.

Mom had gone boldly after love, spoken her desires aloud, and given her heart away again and again.

Honor secreted away her heart and her true desires. Mom had been like the kiteboarder. Sure and strong. 

A thrill gripped her as the man launched skyward. A moment later, he hit the waves, leaned his body almost flat against the roaring ocean as the sail jerked his arms straight.

He rode the waves steadily for a beat, and then the wind turned, snapped his kite, and yanked him backward.

Honor froze. The wind tossed him up, then beat him down against a black outcrop of rock. His strong body, suddenly flimsy and fragile, slipped from the rocks and under the waves.

Faster than thought, she broke from stillness and raced toward the ocean. She flung off her shoes, ripped her rain slicker over her head. Knee-deep in water, she stopped. Where was he? The sail bobbled against the waves, but where was he? Where?

There.

His body, facedown. A wave rose up and crashed over him. He disappeared. She took two leaping steps and dove. Using muscles conditioned by years of swimming, she plunged under the beating waves and fought her way to him.

Salt water stung her nose, esophagus. Again and again, she felt the push, the ocean’s insistent, “Turn around.”

She kept going. Surfacing, she bobbed in the water, got her bearings. This was where she’d seen him go under.

Diving with her eyes open, she scanned. Green and gray, a surreal muted picture. Something dark, darker than the rest of the ocean. Him? Lungs burning, desperate for air, she swam closer and deeper.

No more death today. Please. Her ears muffled with pressure, she reached out and grasped the collar of his wetsuit, capturing a fistful of his hair in the process.

She pulled, arms straining. He came even with her, and she grasped under his armpits and kicked up. Her head angled as high as she could get it. Air. She needed to breathe.

The weight of him slowed her.

Let him go or die?

She couldn’t let go.

Wouldn’t.

The edges of her vision began to dim. Too far. Not going to make it. She kicked harder. The glassy ceiling drew nearer. Please. So close.

She broke the surface. The kiteboarder was silent against her, his head bobbing in the surf. Legs as insubstantial as seaweed, she rolled onto her back and kicked toward the shore.

When her butt hit the beach, she gave an exhausted cry. Sweeping her feet under her, she crouch-pulled the kiteboarder onto the sand. Waves rolled into them, pushing. He was heavy.

“Let me help,” someone said.

Gratefully, she looked up to find an older, bald man. Together, they dragged the kiteboarder out of the waves and dropped him onto the rain-soaked sand. She started CPR.

The bystander, hovering beside her, said he’d called emergency services and apologized for the inadequacy of his lungs. Asthma.

No air to respond, she pushed on the kiteboarder’s chest. Drops of water slid across his handsome, too-pale face, but not one muscle twitched.

Please, please, please, she silently begged. Her knees ground in the wet sand as she pinched his nose, put her mouth over his, and forced air through her aching throat into his lifeless body. Crying now, begging God for intervention, she pushed again on his chest.

He convulsed once, hard enough to look like he’d been hit with electric paddles, coughed, and spat out water.

She helped him onto his side. He spat out more water. After another moment, he rolled onto his back, eyes closed, breathing heavily.

Breathing.

The bystander ran up the beach, waving to the EMT.

She’d done it. She’d saved a man’s life. His eyes stayed closed, and she brushed the sand from his neatly trimmed goatee, cheekbones, and lips. Her fingers lingered against those full lips. The most perfect shape, perfect feel.

He was beyond handsome with a muscular build that filled out his wetsuit like a superhero. Her mother would’ve declared him “good enough to eat.”

Lord. What was wrong with her?

His eyes popped open, blinked. Caught. She went still as a stone.

Excerpt from The Cost of Honor by Diana Muñoz Stewart.  Copyright © 2019 by Diana Muñoz Stewart. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


Meet the author

Armed with a razor-sharp wit and a rolled-up MFA in Creative Writing, Diana Muñoz Stewart cartwheel-kicked her way into publishing with her fiery Black Ops Confidential series. Washington Independent Review of Books called the series’ award-winning debut, “original, impressive” a “rollicking good ride” and “high-octane.”

Muñoz Stewart’s work has been a BookPage Top 15 Romance of 2018, a Night Owl Top Pick, A BookPage Top Pick, and an Amazon Book of the Month. A 2014 Pages From The Heart Winner, 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist, 2016 Daphne du Maurier Finalist, and a 2016 Gateway to the Best Winner, Diana Muñoz Stewart is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.

Diana lives in an often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can hold husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two. A believer in the power of words to heal, connect, and distract from chores, Diana blogs regularly on topics near and dear to her heart, including spotlight pieces on strong women from around the world. When not writing, Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it sounds–attempting yoga on her deck, or hiking with the man who’s had her heart since they were teens.



Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, Instagram,  and Goodreads



Giveaway

Enter to win a print copy of The Cost of Honor by Diana Muñoz Stewart courtesy of TLC Book Tours. This giveaway is limited to US residents only and runs from 12:01 AM ET on 11/27/2019 through 11:59 PM ET on 12/03/2019. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on 12/04/2019. All non-US entrants will be automatically disqualified. Void where prohibed by law. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below.


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Blog Tour Participants

Monday, November 11th: Hallie Reads

Tuesday, November 12th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Wednesday, November 13th: @thisbibliolife

Thursday, November 14th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, November 15th: @girlandherbooks

Monday, November 18th: The Book Disciple – excerpt

Monday, November 18th: @thebookdisciple

Tuesday, November 19th: Booked on a Feeling

Tuesday, November 19th: Mystery Suspense Reviews – excerpt

Wednesday, November 20th: @barr_bookworms

Thursday, November 21st: Why Girls are Weird

Friday, November 22nd: @_ebl_inc_

Monday, November 25th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, November 26th: Bewitched Bookworms – review & excerpt

Wednesday, November 27th: The Book Diva’s Reads – excerpt

Monday, December 2nd: Living My Best Book Life – excerpt

Monday, December 2nd: @livingmybestbooklife

Tuesday, December 3rd: Becky on Books

Wednesday, December 4th: Stranded in Chaos

Friday, December 6th: Book Nerd



This showcase, excerpt, blog tour, and giveaway brought to you by TLC Book Tours

Book Showcase: DEATH AND CONSPIRACY by Seeley James

Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James Banner


Death and Conspiracy

by Seeley James

on Tour November 11 – December 6, 2019


Synopsis:


Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James

Is Jacob Stearne a terrorist or a hero?



After fabled Ranger Jacob Stearne kills two terrorists before they can shoot hundreds of worshippers, he’s sent undercover to disrupt their neo-Nazi group’s plans for a global religious war. But the CIA agent who sends him on his mission may not be who he claims.

In his search for the dangerous terrorists, Jacob finds himself manipulated by international agencies, used gods, potential lovers, and racists alike. Everyone wants him to believe something he doesn’t. While infiltrating a neo-Nazi gathering, he must handle both warring factions and authorities who believe he’s the real terrorist.

Death & Conspiracy poses the question: Could you befriend white supremacists to stop mass-shootings?



Book Details:


Genre: Action/Adventure
Published by: Machined Media
Publication Date: September 24th 2019
Number of Pages: 303
ISBN: 9781732238886
Series:Sabel Security Book 7
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads




Read an excerpt:



SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH MY girlfriend.

I trudged along the stone-paved streets at dawn wearing my blue jeans and black leather jacket over a t-shirt that read, “That which does not kill me—should run.” I was thinking things over. There were no real indicators I could put my finger on, but when I said we should step out for coffee, she offered to join me “later.” Something in her tone of voice. Something in her distant gaze.

What happened? Last night we were thirsty for each other. I did my Julius Caesar impression, Vini, Vidi, Vici. She channeled the Whore of Babylon. Laughter and romping ensued.

This morning, she was different.

A shop lady dragged a stand filled with bouquets onto the sidewalk in front of her store. Figuring flowers might perk Jenny up, I picked one. The lady took one look at my face, smiled, and told me they were free for lovers. At least, I think that’s what she said. I studied Arabic and Pashto to get me through my eight tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. French never came up. I thanked her, sniffed the bouquet, and kept strolling.

We’d had a whirlwind romance, the kind you read about in books. If you read that kind of book. Which I don’t. So, I guess it was how I imagined a storybook romance goes. I’d saved her mother’s life, which led to Jenny getting a pardon. As soon as she got out of prison, she came to my house to say thank you in person. Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like a storybook romance at all. Anyway. One thing led to another. Two weeks later, I invited her for a getaway weekend. I was thinking something like a bed-and-breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley. Cozy and affordable and nearby.

Then I made the mistake of telling my boss, Pia Sabel, about my plans. She thought Jenny Jenkins would prefer Paris. After all, Jenny’s the daughter of Bobby Jenkins, the billionaire drug lord—I mean, founder of Jenkins Pharmaceuticals. Since no one can say no to Ms. Sabel, especially when she insists on paying and providing a private jet, the next thing I knew we were in Paris, staying in the Hotel Lutetia on the Left Bank.

It turned out Jenny had been to Paris so many times it was like going to Walgreens. Her dad rented out Napoleon’s Tomb for her ninth birthday. For my ninth, Dad filled a barn bin with dried soybeans so we could jump in them. Things are different for farm boys in Iowa.

There was an upside. Instead of going to see the fire damage at Notre Dame or visiting the Louvre, she wanted to spend the entire trip in bed. I was fine with that.

Then this morning happened.

My brain came back to the street in front of me. Two men hauled tables and chairs out of a café and placed them on the sidewalk. I put my flowers on a table and dropped into a wicker chair. One of the men said something about not being open yet, but the other guy pulled him away.

I said, What did I do wrong? I made sure she was satisfied several times over. Wait. She wasn’t faking it, was she?

Mercury, winged messenger of the Roman gods, pulled up a chair next to me. If she be faking an orgasm when you’re going downtown like a Detroit rapper, who is she cheating?

Sometimes it’s nice to have a god you can chat with. Most of them are invisible and mute. I enjoy our little chats. Sometimes. But every now and then, the diagnosis of my Army psychiatrists rolls through my head like a thunderstorm. “PTSD-induced schizophrenia,” they said. Yeah. Well. What do they know? The guys who served with me in combat considered me divinely inspired.

Mercury first came to my aid in a battle where a company of Iraqi Republican Guards had pinned down a Marine platoon. I’d been separated from my Army Ranger unit and snuck through the combat zone lost, scared, and confused. With Mercury whispering in my ear, telling me where to aim, I took out half the Iraqis attacking the Marines and scattered the rest. The Marines loved me. I got medals. From then on, my heavenly powers on the battlefield made me the soldier’s soldier. Everybody wanted to transfer to my platoon.

All Mercury wanted was a return to his former glory. Just kick Christianity to the curb and reinstate the whole Roman pantheon. No problem. After fifteen hundred years, he and his buddies were done with living on food stamps and desperate for a reunion tour.

I said, Is it me? Too much of a socio-economic divide?

Mercury leaned in. You want a woman like that, brutha? Really want a woman like that? Then you gotta think like a Caesar.

I said, I’m her master and commander in the bedroom.

Sheeyit, dawg. Mercury rolled his eyes and leaned back. (Did I mention he’s black? He cites the Judeo-Christian Bible, where it says God made man in His image. Mercury points out that the Great Leap Forward happened in Southern Africa. There were no white people in Southern Africa in the days of Adam and Eve. Therefore, all gods are black. Yeah, took me a while too.) I’m talking real Caesar, not just another white dude whipping out some cheap leather gear in a hotel room. I’m talking invading nations, burning villages, raping, pillaging…

And that’s where I tune him out. Certain aspects of civilized behavior have changed a good deal since he whispered in the ears of the rich and powerful. I texted Jenny that I was waiting for her at the Café de la Mairie. She didn’t reply.

Ever listen to some old guy go on about winning the state championship back in high school? Try spending an hour listening to a used god talk about the good ol’ days when Julius Caesar defeated the official Roman Army under Pompey—not because he should but because he could.

Mercury said, And that’s how Julius Caesar became emperor. The lesson here is: Kill everyone who defies you.

I said, How’d that work out for ol’ Julius in the end?

The streets began to fill with enough vehicles to start the rhythmic honking cycles peculiar to big cities. It sounded a lot like that Broadway tune by George Gershwin. What was it called? “An American in …” somewhere.

There were no texts from Jenny on my phone when I checked for the three hundredth time. I sent her a picture of the menu and asked if she wanted me to order for her. No response.

Mercury said, There they go again. Those two clowns been circling the block all morning, dressed like Siberians.

I had a croissant with jam and a coffee. Alone.

Are you listening to me, homie?

Mercury’s supposed to be the god of eloquence, but tutoring William Shakespeare five hundred years ago didn’t work out for his resurrection, so he tried channeling inner-city kids. He thinks he sounds like Dr. Dre, but he comes off more like Eminem will in forty years. Desperately dated.

I’m telling you, Mercury said, those two are your ticket to fame. You kill them, and the press will love you. Glory will be ours!

Having lost track of which two people he wanted me to kill, I said, Jenny doesn’t care about glory.

The sun rose higher in the sky. The waiter brought more coffee. People going places began to fill the sidewalk. Singles, couples, families. It was Sunday, and many of them were filing into one big-ass church across the street.

Mercury said, What’s the big deal about this here girl has you so distracted, brutha?

I said, Remember when I rescued her mom from the assassins? Before her mom was VP, she was an admiral. And brass tends to expect a concierge rescue. But not Admiral Wilkes. She fought and ran and knocked out bad guys like a superhero. That woman was determined to get out of there. I was impressed. When Jenny showed up, I realized the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. She was just as determined and driven as her mom. A woman like that, you can build a life together. A real partnership. The two of us working out family, friends, and careers together. We could grow old without the flame dying out.

Mercury said, Determined? Driven? You really want a woman like that, dude? Nothing but trouble if you ask me. In my day, women didn’t read, they didn’t vote, they didn’t talk back. We had a good thing going and y’all messed it up.

My phone’s screen was blank. Still no word from Jenny.

I said, Maybe she needs something more than just sex?

Mercury said, What else is there?

I dunno, I said. Like therapy or something. She had a traumatic year. Maybe she needs help with her mental health.

Mercury said, What would you know about mental health?

The waiter brought a vase for my bouquet. It was wilting. I gave him a nod. “Merci.”

Pretty much the extent of my French vocabulary.

I was stuck. If I went back now, I’d look insecure, worried. If I kept my cool, acted unconcerned, maybe she’d come around. Maybe she’d text me back.

I hate playing games like that. Unless I win.

See here now, bro. You need to take down those terrorists with the two coats. Mercury nodded at the men he’d pointed out earlier. You can be a hero again.

I said, What makes you think they’re terrorists?

Mercury said, They radiate hate.

Across the lane was a large, open plaza. In the center stood a massive chunk of marble with statues of ancient Frenchmen in niches surrounded by water splashing from a central fountain. The Frenchmen were probably important at some point in the history of the area, but now they were just a backdrop for selfies.

Two guys stood next to the fountain. They stole glances at the cathedral doors. They had jet black hair and beards. One had a swarthy, Mediterranean look. The other looked distinctly American. They kept their heads down, their hands shoved in their coat pockets. Their overcoats were heavy enough for winter, but it was a sunny spring day.

Maybe Jenny was worried about the paparazzi. We’d been swarmed outside the hotel. Again later when we went out to dinner. Neither of us is a celebrity, but her divorced parents are minor tabloid material. Jenkins Pharma sold a questionable number of opiates, and her mom is the Vice President of the United States. Which is why there’d been plenty of controversy over Jenny’s pardon.

The paparazzi couldn’t be it. I’d shared Ms. Sabel’s advice for dealing with tabloid photographers with Jenny. Ms. Sabel told me to smile for the cameras because (a) they hate that, and (b) they’ll print it anyway so you may as well look good. Jenny still hated them.

I thought about going to church. I checked the name of the one across the street. Église Saint-Sulpice. I invited Jenny in a text. We hadn’t discussed religion, and she didn’t seem the type, but if she was mad at me, where better to work things out? She was the kind of woman worth working things out for. The kind worth having an intimate relationship with. Someone you could tell all your secrets to. Or is it, someone to whom you could tell all your secrets? I never get that stuff right. Maybe she didn’t like my grammar.

Mercury grabbed my hair and pulled my head up out of my phone. He pointed at the two guys. Quit thinking about getting laid and ask yourself the million-dollar question: why two coats?

Shoplifters wear overcoats. It gives them room for all their stolen merchandise. So do mass shooters. Coats cover weapons.

The shorter guy fiddled with a string of beads. Sweat dripped from his forehead. He mumbled to himself. The American looked calmer, yet significantly more agitated than your average churchgoer. My military training included a good deal about recognizing terrorists. They often say prayers. They’re often quite nervous. They often sulk to avoid notice.

Either these two were sinners in desperate need of redemption … or they were terrorists.

I found myself crossing the street, heading for the fountain. At the same time, the two men headed for the church. As he pushed off, the short guy tossed his beads into the water.

It was a wide plaza, and they had a shorter distance. I changed course to intercept them. Being unarmed put me at a disadvantage. But they had the terrorist’s tunnel vision. Their eyes remained glued to the entrance. Nothing around them mattered anymore.

A few people in nice clothes funneled up the steps and filed through the massive front door, each taking a bulletin from the greeters. None of them wore more than a light sport coat.

The overcoat guys slowed and hung back. When the funnel cleared, the greeters at the door waited. The overcoat guys trotted up the steps and entered without taking the offered bulletin. Without a bulletin, they would have no idea which hymns to sing. Definitely terrorists.

I bounded up the steps, full throttle.

***


Excerpt from Death and Conspiracy by Seeley James.  Copyright 2019 by Seeley James. Reproduced with permission from Machined Media. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:


Seeley James

His near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.

Seeley’s love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.

His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.


Catch Up With Seeley James On:


SeeleyJames.com, Goodreads, BookBub, &; Facebook!





Tour Participants:


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Enter To Win!:



This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Seeley James. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on November 11, 2019, and runs through December 5, 2019. Void where prohibited.


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2019 Book 344: THE RISE OF MAGICKS by Nora Roberts

The Rise of Magicks, Chronicles of the One #3,  by Nora Roberts 
ISBN: 9781250123039 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250123060 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781531834630 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07L2QR5WD (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 26, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


After the sickness known as the Doom destroyed civilization, magick has become commonplace, and Fallon Swift has spent her young years learning its ways. Fallon cannot live in peace until she frees those who have been preyed upon by the government or the fanatical Purity Warriors, endlessly hunted or locked up in laboratories, brutalized for years on end. She is determined to save even those who have been complicit with this evil out of fear or weakness—if, indeed, they can be saved. 

Strengthened by the bond she shares with her fellow warrior, Duncan, Fallon has already succeeded in rescuing countless shifters and elves and ordinary humans. Now she must help them heal—and rediscover the light and faith within themselves. For although from the time of her birth, she has been The One, she is still only one. And as she faces down an old nemesis, sets her sights on the enemy’s stronghold, and pursues her destiny—to finally restore the mystical shield that once protected them all—she will need an army behind her…





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo eBook


Book one of The Chronicles of the One, Year One, introduced the Doom and the apocalypse that caused a catastrophic change in humanity and reintroduced magick, both light and dark, to the world. The virus known as “the Doom” wiped out over 80% of the population in just months and caused at least half of the remaining population to manifest various magickal properties, either faerie, elfin, witch, shifter, etc. Most could handle this change and became aligned with light or white magick but many couldn’t handle the change and lost their grip with reality or became overwhelmed with their powers and became aligned with dark magick. Many unaffected by the virus became aligned with a group known as the “Purity Warriors” that blamed the “magickal” folk for the “Doom” and wanted to kill or enslave them all. 

Max Fallon, an acclaimed author, and Lana Bingham, a chef, were both witches before the apocalypse with mild powers. Afterwards, their powers blossomed and they both became much stronger and along with numerous others, they survived and made it safely to begin a new life in New Haven. Max died protecting Lana and their unborn child in an epic battle against his brother and dark magick and Lana safely escaped from those seeking to do her unborn child harm. In the second book, Of Blood and Bone, 13 years have passed and Lana has made a new life for herself with a new husband and more children. Her eldest child and only daughter, Fallon aka “the Chosen One,” is preparing to go off with a magickal warrior to be taught what she needs to prepare for the ultimate battle between good and evil. Fast forward a few years and Fallon has returned to her family and is ready to not only do battle but take back Washington D.C. and New York from dark magicians and the “purity warriors” but also retrieve magickal beings that have been incarcerated, experimented upon, and taken as slaves. Fallon, her family, and those at New Haven are prepared for the worst and hoping for the best in book three, The Rise of Magicks.

The Rise of Magicks was a fast-paced read and much like both the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, a story of young people, with the help of their elders, fighting to overcome evil and overthrow a corrupt regime. This series is definitely post-apocalyptic and dystopian in nature and the second and third books have all the hallmarks of being YA or NA in nature, with the The Rise of Magicks adding some romance to the equation. I’ve read and enjoyed almost every Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb book out there, but I’m somewhat torn about this series. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, Year One which set everything up and heavy on the surviving the apocalypse. The second book, Of Blood and Bone was a bit heavier on the magick and describing the post-apocalyptic world but still enjoyable. The Rise of Magicks had to have the epic battle of good versus evil but there was just something about it that felt a bit off for this reader. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy reading it and liked the conclusion well enough but it felt a bit contrived or forced. I felt I knew what was going to happen well before I read about it and therefore wasn’t very surprised with too much of the action. Was it a good read? Yes, it was still a good read and it nicely tied up the loose ends from the previous books. I enjoyed getting to read about the characters we were introduced to in the previous books, especially Arlys, Fred, Rachel, Jonah, Katie, etc. Perhaps I expected a little too much from this final book, although I enjoyed reading it I was just expecting to be blown away by the conclusion and I wasn’t. That didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment, but it didn’t rank as high as I had hoped. If you’ve read the first two books in this series, then I recommend you read The Rise of Magicks so you’ll know how things end. If you’re a Nora Roberts fan and enjoy reading her paranormal writings, then you’ll definitely want to add this trilogy to your TBR list. I’m happy I read all three books. Who knows, I may reread this trilogy in a few months and be pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy all three books. 


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy 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.”

Book Spotlight: A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK by Nancy J. Cohen

A Bad Hair Day Cookbook:

Recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s Cozy Mystery Series
by Nancy J. Cohen

About the Book



A Bad Hair Day Cookbook: Recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s Cozy Mystery Series
Cozy Cookbook
Orange Grove Press (November 19, 2019)
Paperback: 324 pages
ISBN-10: 099979325X
ISBN-13: 978-0999793251
Digital ASIN: B07XSH6C7B


Purchase Links –  Amazon Kindle   Amazon Print   Apple Books    Nook    Kobo    Books2Read    BookBub   Goodreads

Are you having a bad hair day? Whip out your whisk, snatch up your spoon, and prepare your palate. Inside the pages of this cookbook are recipes that will bring you good cheer.


Enjoy 160+ tasty recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s popular Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Included in this cookbook are excerpts, cooking tips, and anecdotes written by hairstylist and savvy sleuth Marla Vail. From appetizers to desserts, Marla offers cooking tips and tricks along with commentary about the dishes she prepares for her family. Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will unravel the mystery of cooking. Put on your apron and plan to make some killer recipes. Bonuses Include:


•Meet the Sleuth•Introduction by Marla Vail•Cooking Tips•Excerpts from Series Titles•Themed Menu Suggestions•”A Sabbath Dinner” by Nancy’s Mother


For Home Cooks, Food Lovers, Mystery Fans and Cookbook Collectors
Recipes are listed in these categories:
APPETIZERSBEVERAGESBREADSSAUCESSOUPSENTREES – BEEFENTREES – LAMBENTREES – POULTRYENTREES – FISHENTREES – VEGETARIANSIDE DISHESDESSERTS


“Reading through this cookbook has revived my interest in getting back in the kitchen.” Rhonda Gilliland, Author and Editor of the Cooked to Death Series

“Designed for busy cooks who may not be out solving crimes, but whose time is equally challenged.” Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“Mysteries and cookbooks belong side by side on readers’ shelves. A Bad Hair Day Cookbook serves up both food and justice.” Christine A. Jackson, Ph.D., Author of Myth and Ritual in Women’s Detective Fiction



About Nancy J. Cohen

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy’s instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award and won a gold medal at the President’s Book Awards from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.


Author Links

Website: https://nancyjcohen.com

Blog: https://nancyjcohen.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nancyjcohen

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyjcohen

Instagram: https://instagram.com/nancyjcohen

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/njcohen/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/nancy-j-cohen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nancyjcohen


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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

November 20 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – GUEST POST

November 20 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 22 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

November 22 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

November 22 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 23 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

November 23 – Ruff Drafts – RECIPE, SPOTLIGHT

November 24 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

November 24 – Nadaness In Motion – SPOTLIGHT

November 25 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

November 25 – This Is My Truth Now – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 26 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW, RECIPE

November 26 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

November 26 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

November 27 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 27 – eBook addicts – REVIEW

November 27 – Diary of a Book Fiend – REVIEW

November 28 – THANKSGIVING – OFF

November 29 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, RECIPE

November 29 – Celticlady’s Reviews – REVIEW

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November 30 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT




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Book Spotlight: THE FEVER CABINET by Frankie Bow

The Fever Cabinet (Professor Molly Mysteries)

by Frankie Bow


About The Fever Cabinet





The Fever Cabinet (Professor Molly Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Hawaiian Heritage Press (August 20, 2019)
(November 20, 2019, all formats)
Print Length: 209 pages
ASIN: B07VFD3D26


Purchase Links – AmazonAppleB&NKobo

An abandoned hospital, an antique contrivance, and a very modern murder . . .

All Professor Molly wanted to do was teach literature. Instead, she’s just been named chair of her department at Mahina State University, and her department has been relocated to a run-down former asylum. She’s buried in paperwork and her dean has assigned her to mentor the department’s new “star”, the prickly Fiona Spencer.

Fiona Spencer had her own reasons for relocating from Oxford to join the faculty at remote Mahina State University. She is willing to put up with the broken air conditioning and constant construction noise in the College of Commerce building (formerly the Territorial Inebriates’ Asylum). She can even tolerate her annoying department head, Molly Barda. But when she finds a body in her office, clamped into an antique medical device, it’s all a bit much. Especially when she becomes a murder suspect.

Now Fiona and Molly have to work together to find a solution. And the answer won’t be found in the back of the textbook.


About Frankie Bow




Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.


Author Links

Twitter https://twitter.com/Frankie_Bow

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7809288.Frankie_Bow

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/frankie_bow/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frankie.bow.1

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/frankiebow/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/frankie_bow/


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November 20


StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT


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November 21

Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT




November 22








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Book Spotlight: THE WIPEOUT AFFAIR by Rachel Neuburger Reynolds


The Wipeout Affair (Red Frog Beach Mystery)

by Rachel Neuburger Reynolds


About The Wipeout Affair




The Wipeout Affair (Red Frog Beach Mystery)
Cozy Mystery/ Chick-Lit
2nd in Series
Jeepers Way Press (October 17, 2019)
Number of Pages: ~300
ASIN: B07TBGQFN4


There’s trouble in paradise, in the hilarious second book of the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series.



Ready to go back to the beach?



Lexie Milano left her heart in Bocas del Toro, and the new and improved New Yorker makes the big choice to move to the laid-back Caribbean island permanently. Piña coladas, white sand beaches, and a little cabin of her own on the edge of the rainforest complete her picture of the perfect tropical future awaiting her. But if it looks too good to be true, it usually is. . . .



When the body of a beautiful wealthy local is found at an isolated surf camp, the owner calls on Lexie to help him figure out who did it in this delicious whodunit. Reluctant sleuth Lexie first turns to the police, but her sudden access to a treasure-trove of island secrets convinces her it’s time to solve another murder on her own.



Favorite characters from Drowning Lessons return to grace the pages of this comedic mystery, including Migs, the handsome photographer; Lloyd, the genius with the cryptic past; and Lexie’s new best friend, Detective LaGuardia. Between old friends, new associates, and the added potential of shark attacks, The Wipeout Affair will leave you laughing and guessing until the very end.



This is the second in the series but can be read as a stand-alone novel.


Purchase Links

Amazon – Kindle
——

Praise for Drowning Lessons, Book One in the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series:

This series is one that I will be watching.~Baroness’ Book Trove

This story is much more than a cozy mystery. It is a dramedy where literally everything that can go wrong does. Twists, turns, craziness, and good old mayhem fill these pages all on an idyllic chain of islands . . . This was a fun book to read and a great start for this series.~Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

Drowning Lessons is filled with humor from beginning to end, not to mention several twists along the way. It’s the perfect beach read.~Socrates’ Book Reviews

Great debut for this new series: a compelling plot, a spectacular setting, and bizarre characters, nothing is missing.~LibriAmoriMiei



About Rachel Neuburger Reynolds




Rachel Neuburger Reynolds is the author of the Red Frog Beach Mystery Series. Book 1, Drowning Lessons, was released on May 21, 2019, and the second in the series, The Wipeout Affair, was released on October 17, 2019. She’s also working on a separate series, The Evelyn Bay Murder Mystery series, and has written book one The Death Of A Classic. If all goes as planned you’ll be reading this in 2020. This is the first book of seven in the series. Two of her plays have been produced in recent years. The Silencer, a cautionary tale about the perils of online dating, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by a run in New York. Nepenthe, a one-woman show about the 1960’s Hollywood-fication of the Holocaust had its premiere in London, and she is currently in talks about a film adaptation in 2021. Previous to her life of putting pen to paper, she produced theatre in New York City for fifteen years. Though she bounces back and forth between London in New York my headquarters is in Crowhurst on the South Coast of the UK. Please check out more at RachelNeuburger.com


Author Links

Webpage and blog: RachelNeuburger.com

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelneuburgercreative

Twitter: @rainyday11

Instagram: @rainydaywrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18992082.Rachel_Neuburger_Reynolds

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/rainyday11/


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November 14 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

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November 15 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, GUEST POST

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November 17 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 18 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 19 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 20 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

November 21 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

November 23 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT


November 25 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

November 26 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 

November 27 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW




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Book Showcase: THE LOST POWER by Avanti Centrae

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae Banner

VanOps: The Lost Power

by Avanti Centrae

on Tour November 4, 2019 – January 10, 2020



Synopsis:

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae



Da Vinci Code meets Tomb Raider in this award-winning thriller that #1 NYT’s author James Rollins called, “Full of action and suspense.”

Spain 1057: During a thunderous battle, the first King of Aragon wrestles Alexander the Great’s priceless Egyptian weapon from the Moors, but finds it holds a terrifying and mysterious power.

A thousand years later, on a hushed, fog-shrouded, Napa morning, gunshots and the sound of breaking glass rip through the silence. Maddy Marshall, an app designer and aikido instructor, and her twin brother, Will Argones, an engineer, quickly run toward the sound. Horrified, they discover a sniper’s bullet has found its human target.

Before the pool of blood on the living room floor is dry, the twins are sent on an arcane quest to recover Alexander’s ancient weapon. Joined by a VanOps covert agent, they soon discover the rifle’s sights are now set on them. No place is safe, a wrong move means death, and even a simple phone call is off limits if they are to survive.

From a medieval Spanish castle, they follow a time-worn trail, starting at a secret warren under the streets of Jerusalem. But if the killer finds the weapon first, it will be used to cripple the United States’ eye-in-the-sky early warning systems, allowing the Russians to swoop in and prey on the vulnerable nation.

Can Maddy learn to wield the power of the dangerous weapon in time to stop the Russian scheme? Failure means the fragile world peace will be forever shattered…



Critical Praise for VanOps: The Lost Power



“Avanti Centrae’s VanOps: The Lost Power opens a tantalizing new series that combines historical mystery and cutting-edge science into a masterwork of international intrigue—with the promise of more to follow. Written with a dynamic, cinematic style and full of action and suspense, here’s a book that defines page-turner. Don’t miss this riveting debut!”
~ James Rollins, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crucible


“Just a good ole’ fashioned rip-roaring adventure from start to finish. Enjoy the ride.”
~ Steve Berry, New York Times best-selling author


“A high-stakes, daring adventure charged with suspense and mystery!”
~ Ann Charles, USA TODAY bestselling author of the Deadwood Mystery Series


“The writing is superb. Easy to read and captivating. There is a mixture of mystery and action that keeps me turning pages. Readers who like Indiana Jones, or the books by James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn, will enjoy Centrae’s first installment in her VanOps series.”
~ John Bernstein, Professional Reviewer



Book Details:


Genre: Thriller
Published by: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: November 9th 2019
Number of Pages: 308
ISBN: 1644371960 (ISBN13: 9781644371961)
Series: VanOps #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads



Read an excerpt:




CHAPTER 1



Napa Valley, California, June 25, 8:56 a.m., Present Day

Through the crosshairs of his long-barreled sweetheart, Ivan scanned the wood-casement window of the vineyard’s stone-walled residence, and waited for his intended target to walk into view. His movements were slow and meticulous.

Lying in the loft of an old barn, he calculated range, altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, and humidity. His skin was irritated by the coarse hay that surrounded him, but he ignored the sensation and focused on his calculations. Click. He made a minor adjustment on his rifle to account for the drop of the round due to air density. And another for windage.

Although misty rivers of fog swirled into gray whirlpools around the winery, the computer-enhanced scope of his Springfield EBR allowed him to visually lock onto the home’s large bank of windows. Human movement flickered behind the glass.

He didn’t want to pull the trigger. Nevertheless, Ivan waited for the perfect moment, the perfect shot.


CHAPTER 2



8:57 a.m.

As she headed toward her father’s vineyard, Maddy drove as fast as she dared down a familiar tree-lined Napa country lane. Today, she didn’t recognize the road. It looked eerie and unnatural. The area was draped in sheets of fog from yesterday’s unseasonable rain, and the silver half-light gave the trees an ethereal patina.

“Sensei, would you kill someone if you had to?” AJ asked. Surprised, Maddy frowned. “I’m not a sensei yet, remember?” She paused for a moment before she replied to his query.

“Where did that question come from?”

“We were talking about it in the locker room at the dojo after class. We know aikido is about non-violence, but what if you don’t have a choice?” His voice dropped to a dramatic whisper. “What if it was kill or be killed?”

Maddy shook her head. The things children thought about. “I would always look for another way.”

She glanced over at AJ, glad she’d brought him along today. His ears stuck out and his face was dotted with freckles. She found him adorable.

“Okay. Can martial arts masters light paper on fire with just their hands?”

Maddy halted the car at a stop sign and peered through the swirling patchy-dense fog, trying to get her bearings while she figured out how to answer this question. The mist distorted everything. She turned right.

Without warning, a smothering mass of black rustling feathers flew toward the car. She flinched in her seat and slammed on the car brakes. Her heart pounded. She stopped breathing and scanned the road ahead of her. After a long moment, she realized with chagrin that she had just scared a bunch of ugly, red-faced black turkey vultures into flight by turning onto a new road after a stop sign.

She took a deep breath. It wasn’t like her to be so jumpy. She was, after all, shodan, a first-dan black belt. But the sudden movement of wings, obscured through the morning’s foggy haze, had pulled her off balance. Maddy gave the car some gas and it inched forward down the road.

Maddy looked over at AJ. “Are you okay?” AJ laughed. “I’m okay. But that scared you!”

“Did not!” Maddy replied, twisting her ponytail.

“Did too—I saw you jump! And you smashed on the brakes.”

Maddy grinned for a moment at the childish banter and AJ’s creative language. It could be a happy day, in spite of everything. She loved AJ, she and Vincent had even talked about adopting him. Vincent, her former fiancé. Of course, that was before the breakup. Since then, she’d been feeling brittle, and the nightmare last night didn’t help. The dream was gut-wrenching. Although the sensation had faded in the dim light of morning, much of it lingered like a bad relationship. That dream was probably why she was on edge and had jumped at the thrashing wings.

She looked at the dash clock—only a few minutes late. Heart still beating faster than normal, she turned down the long shadowy driveway of the once-proud vineyard.


CHAPTER 3


9:02 a.m.

Up in the old barn, Ivan was close to the target, only seventy meters from the glass curtain that separated him from his quarry. Although the misty morning limited his visibility, he felt confident in his ability to execute the task Baron Sokolov had assigned to him.

Ivan recalled much longer-range kills. Two months ago, from a nearby skyscraper, he’d eliminated a traitorous spy during a French soccer match, piercing the man’s forehead as directed. His record was just under two thousand meters, one hundred fifty meters shy of the longest recorded sniper kill in history. But he reminded himself to stay vigilant and cautious, traits that had earned him medals as one of Russia’s most accurate shooters.

Being watchful was his nature. It was the silver lining of his disorder, congenital analgesia, which made him insensitive to pain. My gift from Mother, he thought.

Ivan wondered where on his body he would mark this job. His left arm was covered in sets of hash marks—scars, where he had marked his kills. He started scarring himself in school to impress the other children, and in time it had become a blood ritual after a task to remind himself to be careful, that he too could die. After this morning, it would be time to add another scar. At one hundred and fifty-five confirmed kills, he had scars on both thighs, both arms, and was running out of room for the marks.

Soon he would catch up to the kills his grandmother had recorded during World War II. After Germany had invaded, she had volunteered for the military and had one hundred and seventy-nine confirmed kills to her credit. Impressive. He remembered how she had taught him to shoot when he was young. She had a fondness for killing rabbits and he could still picture their crimson blood sprayed on the bright Siberian snow. However, patience was her favorite lesson and it had served him well.

A puff of wind tugged at a windmill in the distance, and the melancholy creak of metal scratching metal disturbed the morning silence. He held his breath and listened for any sound to indicate he’d been discovered. There was nothing further, only an unnatural, muted quiet.

Focused on his breathing and the window, he continued to wait for a clean shot.

He was tired of killing, but he had to do his job. This last job. Or his son would die.


CHAPTER 4



9:05 a.m.

Maddy’s car hit a pothole on the vineyard’s long gravel driveway. It annoyed her that Dad hadn’t said what was so urgent, and she’d been too distracted with the breakup to call him back.

As she drew closer to the house, she was irritated to see Will was playing fog-fetch with the dog in the front yard. What is he doing here? Did dad call all the siblings? Bella, too? Will waved, walked toward an obnoxious sky-blue convertible that must be a rental, and opened the trunk.

Maddy parked by Will’s car, near the house. She wished Dad would get the place painted. It was overdue and made the house look dilapidated in the gloom. Barking, her dad’s middle-aged golden retriever ran up to the car.

“A dog! Can I play with the dog?” AJ asked, true excitement in his voice.

“Sure, just don’t head too far into the vineyard,” Maddy replied. “His name is Squirrel.”

AJ bounded from the car and ran off, chasing the dog through the murky, fog-bound yard.

Will closed the trunk of the Mustang, moved around to the side of the car, and watched AJ and the dog playing. Dressed in his usual style, he wore tan cargo shorts, leather sandals, and a dark-blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt. Ever prepared for disaster, he had a small flashlight hanging from the front of his shorts, and she figured he had a knife in his pocket. He was holding two small travel bags and managed to cradle a book in his hand. Without a doubt, a geeky physics book.

Maddy had avoided prolonged contact with Will since their senior year in high school when he had pulled that awful prank. She had turned her back on him then, and her face flushed with the memory. As she opened her car door, she stood and swung her hair out of her face. Then she shut the door and walked over to him. It was so foggy and quiet, she didn’t even hear songbirds.

Maddy tried to keep the annoyance out of her voice. “Hello, Will.”

After they’d spent time apart, she was always surprised at the strength of their emotional bond. She couldn’t believe he was happy to see her—he had no shame! She had felt some connection to her boyfriends, Vincent included—I hate you right now, Vincent—and sometimes to her students at the dojo. But the connection was always strongest with Will, her twin, like it or not. He felt content now. She had almost missed his charm.

Will flashed his irksome, boyish, lopsided grin. “Hey, Maddy, it’s good to see you! Did you have a safe drive?”

To meet her, he walked around toward the front of the car. She noted his dark curly hair looked ruffled and a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him. His green eyes looked pinched, as if he were worried about something.

Dad sometimes teased that they all had Spanish olives for eyes, but she enjoyed sharing the feature. She just wished she’d been blessed with Will’s long eyelashes, instead of having to create them every day with mascara.

Maddy studied Will’s face. She noticed that the scar on his chin was almost hidden by a fashionable new beard that he’d grown since she’d seen him last year at Christmas dinner. The scar was always a painful reminder of the childhood accident that killed their mother.

As he put down the bags, he scratched the beard, casually leaned back against the hood of the Mustang, and crossed his long lanky legs.

She knew protocol called for a hug, and considered it. Rejecting the idea, she also ignored his worrywart question about the safe drive. “Did you leave Maria in Brazil?”

Maddy could tell from his eyes that Will didn’t understand her cold shoulder, and she didn’t care. He had never made amends for that thoughtless stunt back in high school and she wasn’t going to let him off the hook.

“No, I brought her with me,” he replied.

Remembering her nightmare, Maddy’s gut clenched. She tried to ignore it.

“We’ve both been working too hard.”

Instead, she lashed out, her voice rising more than she intended. “Was that wise? Bringing her? Do you even know what Dad wants?”

Will took a deep breath. “Gee, sis, simmer down. I thought I was the worrier of the family.” He met her gaze. “Maria was up for a change of scenery so we planned a romantic wine-country vacation. You know, the train, mud baths, that sort of thing? We might even stop by Safari West. Besides, you brought company.” He nodded toward AJ. “Who’s the little guy?”

“His name is AJ. He’s a foster kid from the dojo and it’s his birthday.” She watched AJ and the dog play a spontaneous game of tag. “Is that all Dad wants with us? A vacation? He sounded concerned on the message he left me. And didn’t mention you’d be here, or Bella. Is she coming? He didn’t even say why he wanted me to come, which just seems odd. Did you talk with him?”

“Bella is on her way, but no, we didn’t talk before I came up. I hope nothing is wrong. We just got here and haven’t had a chance to visit much, but he did mention he had some disconcerting news.” He paused. “You feel upset. What are you not telling me? What’s the big deal?”

On days like today, Maddy hated that the emotional bond between them worked both ways. She didn’t feel like telling him anything, especially about the dream. Irritated, she looked around for a way out of the conversation but didn’t see one. The sun was hidden, the vineyard foggy and subdued, like it was holding its breath.

She clenched her teeth and took a deep breath of her own. “I had a dream last night.”

Now his tone sharpened a notch. “What kind of dream?”

“A bad one. Maria was in it. I woke up early and it’s stuck with me since.”

“Tell me,” he demanded.

“I don’t know…there was blood on her face.”

She remembered another dream she had when they were six. The night before their mom died. She knew by the look on his face that he was remembering that dream, too.

“Blood on Maria’s face—” he frowned, thinking, questioning.

“Yes, it was horrible. Splattered like a Pollock painting. I don’t remember much else. But the feeling is still with me.” Her mood picked up a little, having gotten it off her chest. “It’s probably nothing. I just wish you hadn’t brought her.”

“Interesting,” he said. “You haven’t had one of those dreams in a while, have you? A real one?”

“No,” she said. “It’s been a few years and the last was about a boyfriend cheating on me. The dream ended that relationship.”

Will put his hands on his hips. “How is Vincent?” She grimaced.

Irritated, Maddy turned and headed up the sidewalk toward the house. Will grabbed the bags and his book, and followed her, his feet padding on the concrete.

As they walked, she remembered the lush landscaping that had been here once. It had provided a jumbled, colorful contrast to the acres and acres of straight green vines in the fields. Her father’s landscapers, back when he could afford them, had done well in this entry area. She couldn’t see it, but she inhaled the light scent of gardenia, and she recognized remnants of some sort of native grass, night-blooming jasmine, pansies, and roses. Vincent had brought her roses only three weeks ago. Bastard.

“I see,” Will said. “So…maybe this dream was a reaction to whatever is going on there?”

“Maybe—” she said. “I hope so.” Then she added, “Let’s go see what Dad wants.”


CHAPTER 5



9:15 a.m.

Ivan tugged on the two-stage trigger, testing it. He was used to his Soviet bolt-action SV-98, but in the interest of time and ease of entry into the country, he had purchased a black-market rifle in the  States.  He was pleased with his choice, and glad it had come with a suppressor. The Enhanced Battle Rifle was decent—he tested it out yesterday in an isolated vineyard he found for the purpose. The rifle was a little heavy, but he liked the trigger-shoe modification the prior owner had done, as it gave the pull a more natural feel.

He drew his attention back to the wood-casement window and twice glimpsed the oblivious inhabitant, dancing his way to death. A minute ago, the sound of car tires on gravel had come to him through the fog, so his partner, on lookout, should be reporting in.

On cue, a voice in his head broke the morning stillness, “Green Prius has parked at the front of the house.” The sniper appreciated that he could hear his partner’s Russian voice clearly through the high-tech device, as he was old enough to remember missions without such advanced technology.

“Driver?” he subvocalized the question, also in Russian, into the tiny molar microphone that had been custom formed to fit his teeth.

“She’s female, young, maybe thirty. Slim, with an olive complexion. Has sexy long dark hair in a ponytail, and is tall. Pretty tall for a woman. Rape-bait if you ask me. Dressed in jeans and a snug purple T-shirt,” his partner said.

On this job, his partner was here as much to keep an eye on him as to help, Ivan knew. The man’s simple mind and cruel nature were evident every time they worked together. The idiot had caused them to run late this morning. This part of the job should have been over an hour ago. Now it was getting complicated.

“That’s not what we’re here for,” Ivan hissed.

“Maybe. If so, you need to take your shot.” A few beats later his partner continued, “She was talking to the tall man next to the blue sports car. They look alike. Now they’re headed to the front door.”

There was a long pause. The sniper adjusted his hold on the rifle, concentrating. He’d read the dossiers on Maddy Marshall and her twin brother, Will Argones. Argones was an engineer, no real threat. But the Marshall woman. A world-class athlete and national ski champion who had been a favorite for Olympic gold, she’d used her lightning-fast reflexes to become a warrior in an unusual martial art. And she was gifted with a keen intelligence. A dangerous combination. In another time and place, he’d have been interested in her as a mate.

He swore. Based on his orders, their arrival meant he had run out of time.

A low whistle pierced his ear.

“Ivan, she’s got long legs. You know I like long legs, right? Why don’t we stick around and have some fun?”

“You’re a pig and the baron was clear in our instructions,” the sniper replied, with heat in his tone.

“You’re a bore. Oh, she had a kid with her in the car.”

“A kid? What kid?” The dossier didn’t mention a child! That wasn’t part of the deal. I may go down in flames if the baron makes me shoot a kid. This target is one thing but

“How do I know what kid? He looks like he’s eight or nine. Red hair, big ears. He’s playing with the dog in the vineyard.” Ivan hoped the kid and dog were off in a different direction. At home, Ivan’s son might be playing with his own dog. But that thought was dangerous. “Just make sure they don’t come this way.”

His attention back on the window, Ivan finally got a complete look at one of the other inhabitants: a short, dark-skinned woman. She wore a pale pink blouse above a blue skirt and Ivan prayed she would get out of the way. He didn’t like killing women. However, he knew that, whether he liked it or not, the latter part of the baron’s plan already called for its share of female bloodshed.

The older man, near a black sofa, came into Ivan’s sights for a brief moment. It appeared that he and the younger woman were moving into the room with all the windows. Ivan knew it was time.

Ivan was glad now they’d chosen a fast getaway car. “I must focus—go get the car ready.”

The older man came completely into view. He was tall, clean-shaven, tan-skinned, with owlish glasses. His receding black hair was streaked with gray, and he wore slacks and a white button-down shirt. Yes, finally.

But the woman was directly behind the target! Move, he willed to her. Please.

This was the best shot he had. Time had run out! He had no choice but to urge her to move at the last minute.

He took a slow, steady breath and tugged again on the two-stage trigger. Only this time, it wasn’t a test.


CHAPTER 6



9:20 a.m.

AJ and Squirrel, done with the chase and on to a game of fetch, ran around the side yard, enjoying the grass and the feel of morning in the dense, wet fog. AJ loved all things nature.

Feeling happy today made him miss his parents. He had vague memories of joyful times when they took him to his grandparent’s Ukrainian dairy farm. When the Russians came and killed his grandparents, his parents and he had fled to San Francisco. Then, one day, his mom and dad had been caught in the crossfire of a convenience store holdup while stopping for milk. That’s what he’d gathered, no one had told him.

Since his parents’ death he’d been in foster care, because all of his family back in Ukraine were dead, too. He didn’t like his foster family because they ignored him, but he loved Maddy and did whatever his foster creeps asked so that he could go to the dojo. Maddy treated him the way his mom used to, warm and caring.

Today, he was full of pleasure—hanging out with Maddy, getting to chase a dog outside. More than anything, he wanted a real family again. And a dog, just maybe not one named Squirrel. Someday, he’d get a big dog to protect him and name it Rufus, or Damien.

AJ threw a stick and tried out the new name, “Damien, fetch!”

After several minutes of chasing the stick in the side yard, AJ decided they should play a new game in the rows of vines.

“C’mon, Damien,” he called as he ran into the shadows, followed by the panting dog.

The morning was blissfully perfect as they ran up and down the rows. Then a loud crack sounded from the direction of the barns, like a tree branch breaking. He called his new canine friend and they headed off to investigate.

***


Excerpt from VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae.  Copyright © 2019 by Avanti Centrae. Reproduced with permission from Avanti Centrae. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:


Avanti Centrae

International award-winning author who blends intrigue, history, science, and mystery into nonstop thrillers.


Avanti Centrae is the author of the international award-winning VanOps thriller series. An avid world traveler, she’s studied aikido, been a river raft guide, and thrives on adventure. Her book, The Lost Power, took home a genre grand prize blue ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival. She resides in Northern California with her family and German Shepherds.


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2019 Book 325: THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club, Bromance Book Club #1, by Lyssa Kay Adams 
ISBN: 9781984806093 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984806109 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593151235 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07NKMZVCT  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 5, 2019 
Publisher: Berkley Publishing


The first rule of this book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major-league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner-hero and win back the trust of his wife. 






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Gavin and Thea Scott met in college, had a whirlwind romance, got pregnant, and married in less than three months after meeting. They love one another and their twin daughters, but their marriage is floundering and has been for some time. It doesn’t help that Gavin was recruited to play professional baseball early in their marriage and was absent during Thea’s delivery of the twins, during most of the twin’s early development, etc. Now that Gavin has learned that Thea has been “faking” her orgasms for most of their marriage, he does what most red-blooded, alpha-males do, he gets upset with her and leaves the marital bed. When Thea has had enough, she asks for a divorce and for him to leave their home. It is only then that Gavin realizes he’s done something monumentally stupid and he’s not quite sure how, or even if, he can fix things. Enter his good friends and a few of his teammates, aka the “bromance book club.” Their advice to him is read romance fiction and they start him off with a regency romance. Why this particular book? Primarily because the male character is also having difficulties in his marriage and made a monumentally stupid mistake. Gavin must learn how to court his wife, how to flirt with her, how to romance her, and more importantly, what is important to her, how to listen to her, talk to her, and, if necessary, allow her the space she may need and crave. Can Gavin learn the lessons he needs from romantic fiction in time to save his marriage, especially since Thea has only given him six weeks to do so? Can either of them trust their emotions with one another or will they fall back into their bad habits?

Let me start by saying this one thing, grab yourself a copy of The Bromance Book Club ASAP! I loved this book. I read it in one afternoon and only got up when I received a tornado alert on my phone and had to remove some chairs from my mother’s front porch (darn you high winds for interfering with my reading!!). I enjoyed the friendship between Gavin and his teammates, not to mention the somewhat antagonistic relationship he has with the “Russian” and Mack (fellow members of the Bromance Book Club). Thea has an important backstory that is gradually revealed throughout the book and no, I’m not going to tell you what it is, read the book. Then there’s the antagonistic, mean girl atmosphere between Thea and some of the other team wives. Thea and Gavin have some serious issues and it was interesting to read about how they worked on overcoming them. They are a young couple with small children and seemingly insurmountable problems caused by a lack of communication. Gavin doesn’t want to talk about his problems with his male friends or even with Thea. Thea doesn’t want to talk about their problems with her sister or with Gavin. They are both receiving kindly advice from friends and family but none of these peole are fully aware of the situation between Thea and Gavin or Thea’s backstory. I truly wondered if this couple was ever going to be able to achieve their HEA. If you enjoy reading smart, sassy, steamy romances with a bit of humor and lots of drama then I highly recommend you get a copy of The Bromance Book Club. If you’ve never read a romance written from the perspective of the male suitor, then again I encourage you to grab a copy of The Bromance Book Club. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series as well as much more from this author 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.”.