Book Showcase: GEORGANA’S SECRET by Arlem Hawks

Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks
ISBN: 9781629727929 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629739526 (ebook)
ASIN: B08RLRZ65Q (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08Q5MW1SG (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Release Date: January 12, 2021

 

A Regency romance on the high seas. Two hearts yearning to find a safe harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.

As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. While trying to adjust to a new crew, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.

Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband are quickly slipping away.

Georgana quickly loses her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care, but needing to maintain her disguise as a cabin boy, she is convinced nothing can come of her affection.

Georgana’s Secret is about two hearts yearning to find a safe harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.

 

 
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Deseret Book | Kobo eBook

 
 

Read an excerpt:

“Good, George. Good!” Dominic motioned for the lad to pause his punching. Half a dozen days of practicing had not turned George into a fighter, but he was learning quickly. The wardroom was warm and stuffy that morning, and already Dominic had lost his cravat and coat. Now he unbuttoned his waistcoat and added it to the pile. He pulled at his loose shirt, letting cooler air dry the sweat.

He didn’t know how George kept going with his jacket securely buttoned.

“Now, I don’t want you to think about hitting my hand this time.” Dominic raised his hand again. A thin layer of grease coated his palm from the lad’s fist. He’d never known a boy to worry over dry skin unless it started to crack, but young Mr. Taylor was an odd one.

The boy cocked his head.

“When you swing, I want you to try to punch the wall.” He motioned behind him with his head.

George obediently walked toward the back of the wardroom, glancing at Dominic out of the corners of his eyes. Dominic laughed, grabbing his arm to stop him. “No, stay where you are.”

“But I can’t reach the wall.”

Dominic repositioned the boy. Maybe a different explanation would work better. “Hit my hand, but instead of aiming for the surface of my hand, imagine going through it. A cannonball doesn’t stop at the hull, it pounds straight through.”

“Unless it misses.” Was that a grin on George’s face? Dominic blinked, and it was gone.

“Those are French guns.” The fleeting spark in the boy’s eyes gave him hope. “Don’t be a French cannon. Be a sound English cannon.”

George chewed the corner of his bottom lip and stared at Dominic’s hand. His fist shot forward. Dominic’s hand smarted when the boy made contact. The punch was harder than any of his previous ones.

“Much better. Again.”

A stocky form stomped through the door, and George snapped into a salute. “More practice, Peyton?” Jarvis asked. His watch clearly hadn’t cured the foul mood he woke up in. The second lieutenant didn’t wait for an answer before entering his room and slamming the door.

They wouldn’t see him for several hours, Dominic bet.

George continued hitting Dominic’s hand until it began to ache. Dominic’s chest swelled with pride. Already the timid cabin boy was showing more determination.

A cabin door opened, and this time it was the young chaplain. George paused to glance at the orange-haired clergyman, who nodded in greeting.

“Will you be attending services today, sir?” the chaplain asked, adjusting his spectacles.

Ah, right. Sunday. Dominic scooped up his discarded clothes. “Of course, Mr. Doswell. I just need to fetch my prayer book.” And dress himself properly.

Captain Woodall always wore his dress coat for services, and Dominic tried to remember to do the same. He still hadn’t managed to form a friendship with the captain, something he’d never failed to do on his previous assignments. The captain had set firm boundaries with the crew, even with his officers. As far as Dominic could tell, no one had been able to penetrate those walls.

Except George, of course. Dominic wondered at that. They were barely relations.

George followed him to the door of his cabin. Dominic threw his things onto his cot and knelt by his trunk.

“Will we practice again tomorrow?” the boy asked.

“If you want to.” Dominic glanced sideways at him. “Do you want to?”

The boy nodded, face still red from the exertion of their lesson.

“I will see you after forenoon watch.” George was enjoying it, then. That pleased Dominic. The lad was as quiet as ever, but now he regularly looked Dominic in the eye, and he had even told a joke.

Excerpt from Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks.

Copyright © 2021 by Arlem Hawks. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing.

 

 

Meet The Author

Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn’t writing, Arlem is baking her characters’ favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.

 
Author Links:
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website | Bookbub | Youtube | Goodreads | Pinterest
 
 
This excerpt and tour brought to you courtesy of AustenProse.com

Guest Post: Kelly Irvin – HER EVERY MOVE

Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope that you all got some reading in over the weekend. For those of you in the path of those dreaded winter storms, I hope you’re staying safe, warm, and have tons of reading material to keep you occupied. Over the years, one of the many popular questions for authors, I’ve learned, is “where do you get your ideas from?” and I’m sure most authors are used to hearing this question and have a ready answer available. Today’s guest, Kelly Irvin, a prolific and award-winning author including the soon-to-be released Her Every Move has a unique answer for us. I hope you’ll stay awhile and learn what she has to say, perhaps add Her Every Move to your TBR list, and follow the blog tour to read some reviews and learn more about this book and author. Thank you, Ms. Irvin for joining us today.

 

Libraries aren’t what they used to be—shattering stereotypes

By Kelly Irvin

The question most often asked of writers—at least of me—is where do my story ideas come from. I don’t have an easy answer for that. Newspaper articles, sometimes. Mostly they’re kernels plucked from the corners of my crowded, cluttered, dusty brain. In the case of Her Every Move, however, the idea sprang from my love of libraries and librarians. Now some of you may ask how does attempting to blow up a library with the librarian in it honor libraries? Good question.

Her Every Move isn’t just about a serial bomber. It’s about a librarian who’s smart, athletic, good-looking, independent, tech-savvy, and fun. Jackie Santoro breaks all the old stereotypes of librarians. And the San Antonio Central Library is not your dusty, fuddy-duddy old library. It’s a beautiful building painted a deep rich “enchilada” red and designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. Readers can access information in every format or media in this gorgeous building. At the same time they can browse fabulous artwork such as Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture “Fiesta Tower.” Libraries are more relevant than ever. They are community centers where people come to access the internet to search for jobs. They find information on social services. Librarians are called to educate the public about the opioid crisis, homelessness, domestic violence, and other societal issues.

Libraries are cool.

Then there’s Detective Avery Wick, my hero. He’s not the usual tall, dark, and handsome knight in shining armor either. He’s worn around the edges. Divorced (but friends with his smart, lawyer ex-wife), a slob, a smoker, a junk food eater who cusses. To add insult to this picture, he doesn’t like to read. But Avery is a loyal, honest, hardworking man. He goes all out for his best friend. He adopts rescue dogs. He cares about his job. He plays basketball (so does Jackie). He’s a flawed man, but he’s good-hearted. I fell in love with him from the moment he walked into a scene with Jackie.

Her Every Move was designed to break molds and shatter stereotypes while offering a suspenseful, neck-breaking ride to find the bomber before he kills everyone Jackie loves—and then her.

The book also gave me a chance to explore profiling based on ethnic and religious backgrounds. The story examines contentious issues in today’s society such as climate change, gangs, and community policing. Ultimately, though, it’s about dysfunctional families and the price we pay when we’re not honest with each other about our feelings.

I don’t know where stories ideas come from, but I’m always thrilled when they show up. I hope my readers are too!

 

Her Every Move

by Kelly Irvin

February 8 – March 5, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

 

HER EVERY MOVE -KIrvinHe’s a cop trying to stop a serial bomber. And she’ll stop at nothing to clear her own name.

When a deadly bomb goes off during a climate change debate, librarian and event coordinator Jackie Santoro becomes the prime suspect. Her motive, according to Detective Avery Wick: to avenge the suicide of her prominent father, who was accused of crimes by a city councilman attending the event.


Though Avery has doubts about Jackie’s guilt, he can’t exonerate her even after an extremist group takes responsibility for the bombing and continues to attack San Antonio’s treasured public spaces.


As Jackie tries to hold her shattered family together, she has no choice but to proceed with plans for the Caterina Ball, the library system’s biggest annual fundraiser. But she also fears the event provides the perfect opportunity for the bomber to strike again.


Despite their mistrust, Jackie and Avery join forces to unmask the truth—before the death toll mounts even higher.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0785231900 (ISBN13: 9780785231905)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Goodreads

 

 

Author Bio:

Author - Kelly Irvin

Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of 19 books, including romantic suspense and Amish romance. Publishers Weekly called Closer Than She Knows “a briskly written thriller.” The Library Journal said of her novel Tell Her No Lies, “a complex web with enough twists and turns to keep even the most savvy romantic suspense readers guessing until the end.” The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

Visit Kelly Irvin Online:
www.KellyIrvin.com
Goodreads – kellyirvin
BookBub – @KellyIrvin
Instagram – kelly_irvin
Twitter – @Kelly_S_Irvin
Facebook – Kelly.Irvin.Author

 

Tour Participants:

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

 

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Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kelly Irvin. There will be 3 winners. Each winner will receive (1) physical copy of Her Every Move by Kelly Irwin (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on February 8, 2021 and runs through March 7, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Bookish Ramblings: I Have A Problem

Good day, book people. I’m just a bit embarrassed to say this, but I have a problem. Not only am I addicted to reading, I’m addicted to book clubs. I join online book clubs and lurk with no intent to participate. There are a select few that I routinely participate in, but most of them I simply check to see what they are reading each month, add a few of the books to my TBR list, periodically check in on their social media pages, and call it a day. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’ve done this to more than a dozen online book groups. I jokingly said to a bookish friend of mine that I need a 12-step program for my book club issues. (NOTE: No slight is intended to any 12-step programs. I applaud them all for the help they provide.)

I’m being quite serious. At one point in time (three years ago actually), I was participating in five local book clubs and at least three online book clubs. I eventually left two of the local book clubs. But I felt as if something was missing from my life so I started a chapter of the Silent Book Club (I know, not quite the same thing but it has book club in the title). And then the pandemic hit. For about three-to-four months last year, none of my local clubs were meeting and then two of the three went virtual. I haven’t quite decided what to do about the local chapter of the Silent Book Club just yet. Sorry, it just seems a bit weird to sit and read silently AND be online at the same time (but maybe that’s just me). I enjoy multitasking, but not that much!

Okay, back to the online book club issue. In early December of 2020 I had decided I was going to leave two of my online book groups because I wasn’t participating even as a lurker, but then circumstances changed for at least one group. I didn’t leave either group. It was at that point that I realized I had a serious problem with blithely joining online book clubs I had no intention of ever participating in. I began to count them and ended up with 16. Yes, folks, that’s right, I belong to sixteen online book clubs. Until I counted them a few days ago, I had completely forgotten about a few of them, so that says a lot right there. Out of the 16 that I belong to, there are only about 6 that I routinely check in on or skulk around on social media. I routinely read the email newsletters, check to see what good books they might mention, add these books to my TBR list, and move on with my life. There are only three online clubs that I’m active with at the moment (not including my local clubs that are meeting virtually).

How did I get here? I have a blog and blog required reading (hey, I can’t write the reviews if I don’t read the books). I participate in blog tours and have blog tour required reading (again, if I’m reviewing the book I should probably read it first, shouldn’t I?!). I’m in local book clubs and have book club reading (not required, but strongly recommended). I routinely check out digital books from three different local library systems (hey don’t judge, book diva here). In my spare time, I’m usually “Driving Miss Daisy” or chauffering my 86-y.o. mother around town for her medical appointments, beauty salon appointments, grocery shopping (she refuses to shop online), etc. Needless to say, I don’t have time for 16 online book clubs. So why do I keep joining online book clubs?! I have NO idea!! This is the reason I feel there should be a 12-step program called Book Clubbers Anonymous, to help those of us that keep randomly joining book clubs when we know we can’t or won’t participate.

Does anyone else have this problem? Anyone?? No. Wonder if there’s a book club out there for that issue? Just kidding.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Guest Post: Jonette Blake – THE WIDOW CATCHER

THE WIDOW CATCHER Banner

 

Greetings, book people. I was thinking the other day that it is truly amazing that we readers have so many books to choose from with new books added daily. Someone has to think up the main plot, create the characters, decide on the locations, create the dialogue, etc. The fact that some authors do this year after year and book after book is beyond amazing to me. This reader is incredibly grateful to authors for taking the time to create these wonderful characters and scenes that keep me enthralled and turning the page to read more. Today I’m pleased to welcome Jonette Blake, author of The Widow Catcher. Ms. Blake is a gifted and prolific writer, and she’ll be sharing with us how she came up with the idea for crafting The Widow Catcher. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say and you’ll add The Widow Catcher to your TBR list. Thank you, Ms. Blake for joining us. The blog is now yours.

Author’s Choice

The year I worked in a bank.

When the time came for me and my husband to make the sea change from the city, we selected Batemans Bay because we’d holidayed there and loved the place. It sat right between mountains to the west and coastline to the east. We’d travelled down one weekend to look at houses and bought one that weekend, meanwhile I stayed working in my job in the city with a financial regulator, applying for jobs in my new home town, as well as sending out lots of query letters to every business. I ended up getting a job in a small bank.

I’m always up for new skills to learn, and this new job utilized my financial experience plus previous customer service experience. However, I’d come from a job in an office and I’d wanted a job in an office, not a job as a frontline worker wearing a uniform, going to lunch on a roster, and having to hold on going to the toilet until the customers left or there was someone to provide cover on the teller section. It wasn’t my favorite job in the world. But I was moving to a new town and this job allowed me to meet a lot of the local people. Never had I thought it would provide inspiration and a backdrop to my murder mystery novel.

I would like to say that exciting things happened in the bank, but that wouldn’t be true. The most exciting thing was when the little old ladies came in each week to bring us baked goods. It was boring. There were long periods of nothing to do followed by a rush of customers, many of them looking for change from the ATM that only handed out 50 dollar notes.

I learned that seventy per cent of the permanent population in Batemans Bay was retirees, and that most of our customers were elderly and they came to our bank because we helped them with their daily banking, sending money to family members, paying bills, helping them figure out the ATM. One of the most common things I heard from customers was “how can you work with all this money and not steal it?” Well, that was easy. Because bank theft came with a maximum 20 year prison sentence and $200,000 fine. Not to mention that I’d never get another job with that kind of criminal record. Besides, the small amount of cash we held wasn’t enough to live a life of luxury. But, my writer mind did kick in and plant the idea of a devious character who betrays the trust of these elderly banking customers by killing them for their money, and nobody notices because these were old people who could have died at any moment anyway.

I hadn’t published any books at this stage, I was still writing them and pitching them to publishers and agents. But I was doing more writing than ever, because one of my motivations to leave the city was to gain more time to write. At the time though, I never thought I would ever use my experience in the banking or financial industry in a book. Who would want to read about a boring bureaucrat? A lot of thrillers and mysteries were written by ex-police, ex-military, private investigators, criminologists and their characters were also from these same industries solving crimes and catching killers. Cozy mysteries typically had a meddling woman who solved crimes, but I wanted something in between – someone who wasn’t a specialist in the criminal field, and someone who didn’t think of herself as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.

That’s how the idea formed about a small town killer targeting little old ladies and all the clues led to the bank and it featured an anti-heroine character. I wrote the first draft to The Widow Catcher and set it aside. I still wasn’t sure how a bank teller as a protagonist would be taken by readers. Delia Frost didn’t wear military boots or carry a gun or do anything badass. She was a middle-aged empty-nester facing her own change of life and self-confidence dramas. Then I started reading about mysteries with modern twists to them, and the one that stuck with me was the criminal podcaster who solved a murder of someone she’d interviewed. I realized that I could make my character someone from the real world with modern day issues and murders going on around her.

So this is how the year I worked in a bank provided the perfect backdrop for The Widow Catcher. I hope you enjoy reading about Delia Frost, and I hope you can stick around for more stories because I believe Delia can still grow as a person in her mid-life years.

 

The Widow Catcher

by Jonette Blake

February 1-28, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Widow Catcher by Jonette Blake

Delia Frost loves her job at the bank. She loves her customers, most of whom are elderly. She doesn’t love the idea of quitting her job to travel around Australia in a motor home with her husband who is recovering from a heart attack. And she can’t bring herself to tell him that she doesn’t want to go.

Days before she quits her job, she is invited to a book club meeting, run by a local celebrity. This seems like a beacon of hope, one last chance to do something for herself before she leaves it all behind.

But this isn’t a random invitation.

Delia has been carefully selected by a serial killer to play her part in the murders of elderly widows.

​Finding herself caught in a web of blackmail and murder, Delia is now keen to leave this town behind. But the killer doesn’t want to let her go.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Jonette Blake
Publication Date: August 27th 2020
Number of Pages: 260
ISBN: 9798675198726
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Jonette Blake

Jonette Blake writes supernatural thrillers and suspense thrillers. She is the author of over ten books and dozens of short stories, writing as D L Richardson.

She was born in Ireland and grew up in Australia. She lived through the 80s and music is still a big part of her life. When she is not writing, she plays her piano and guitar, listens to music, reads, and enjoys the beach.

​She has held jobs in administration, sales and marketing, has worked in HR, payroll, and as a bank teller. Her latest novel The Widow Catcher is based on the coastal town she lives in and her own bank teller experience.

Her books are standalone titles.

Catch Up With Jonette On:
www.JonetteBlake.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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


https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=299526

 

 

Giveaway!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jonette Blake. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2021 and runs through March 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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2021 Book 52: THE KINDEST LIE by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
ISBN: 9780063005631 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780063005655 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780063005662 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0872K2Y82 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B086ZRRYCW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021

A promise could betray you.

Its 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Audiobooks.com | AudiobooksNow.com | BookDepository.com | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook



Read an excerpt here.

 
Ruth Tuttle Shaw is in her late twenties and living her best life in Chicago, Illinois. She has an Ivy-league education, a good job as a chemical engineer, and is married to an amazing, loving, and successful man, Xavier Shaw. They have a wonderful home, a wide circle of friends, and after four years of marriage, her husband is ready to start a family. The only problem is Ruth has never told him about the child she gave up for adoption eleven years earlier. To say that this revelation puts a strain on their marriage is somewhat of an understatement. They quickly go from a major high in celebrating the historic election of the first Black president of the United States to a secret that just might tear their relationship apart. Unsure of how to proceed with Xavier, she decides to head back to Indiana and begin the search for her biological child.

Patrick “Midnight” Boyd, is an eleven-year-old white child living in poverty in Ganton, Indiana. His mother died from preeclampsia when he was seven years old and he currently lives with his maternal grandmother. Midnight has one functional arm due to nerve damage in the other caused by some boys intentionally setting him on fire. His best friend is Corey Cunningham, a Black kid and the primary reason he was set on fire, for defending his friend of a different race. Midnight is unaware of his privilege as a White boy and only sees that Corey has more money and a better home life and family than he does. When he learns that might be sent to live with relatives in Louisiana, his fear of leaving all that he’s known and his jealousy of his friend begin to eat him up. After learning a secret about Corey, that jealousy becomes so overpowering that it just might lead to something neither he nor Corey will be able to come back from in a community that is torn behind poverty and racial animosity.

The Kindest Lie is told in alternating voices of Ruth, a twenty-something Black female and Midnight, a White tween male. The only things they appear to have in common are being raised in near poverty in the same small town. But Ruth’s maternal grandparents and Midnight’s maternal grandparents were actually good friends back in the day. Ruth and her brother were raised by their maternal grandparents and Midnight is being raised by his maternal grandmother. Ruth attempts to befriend Midnight and the two seem to be more different than the same, superficially. However, both are seeking answers to questions about family and love although they are going about in different ways. The Kindest Lie is a story about hope, love, motherhood, family, race relations, secrets, dreams, dreams deferred, as well as the lies we tell ourselves and to others. It’s also a story about what family is willing to do to make some of those dreams come true. For those of you that have read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett or Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Kindest Lie to read. If you’re interested in reading a well-written debut novel that tackles hard questions in a hopeful manner, again, you’ll want to grab a copy of The Kindest Lie to read. This book is one of my #mustread recommendations for 2021.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. 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.”

2021 Book 42: WILD RAIN by Beverly Jenkins

Wild Rain, Women Who Dare #2, by Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 9780062861719 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780063075153 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062861726 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062861733 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07ZTVKBPW (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07ZP1NLD8 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: February 9, 2021

The second novel in USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’ compelling new Women Who Dare series follows a female rancher in Wyoming after the Civil War.

A reporter has come to Wyoming to do a story on doctors for his Black newspaper back east. He thinks Colton Lee will be an interesting subject…until he meets Colton’s sister, Spring. She runs her own ranch, wears denim pants instead of dresses, and is the most fascinating woman he’s ever met.

But Spring, who has overcome a raucous and scandalous past, isn’t looking for, nor does she want, love. As their attraction grows, will their differences come between them or unite them for an everlasting love?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

 
 
Read an excerpt here.
 
 I was rather late in discovering Beverly Jenkins, but when I did I rapidly devoured every title of hers I could find. I’m a huge fan of her contemporary fiction the “Blessings” series (and it’s being developed into a television show). But I was introduced to her via her historical fiction and I reread all of them every year. (Yes, you read that correctly. I re-read all of her historical fiction titles every year!) I kicked off this year by re-reading her “Old West” series, and I’m glad I did because book three of that series introduced us to the Lees of Wyoming, Dr. Colton Lee, his sister, Spring Lee, and their cantankerous grandfather, Lee. Although it wasn’t necessary to read Tempest before reading Wild Rain, it helped to refresh my memory a bit. (Hey, you try reading 450+ books a year and see if you can remember all of the details of every book read!)

Wild Rain is the second book in the Women Who Dare series and the action takes place a few months after Tempest ended. Tempest featured Colton Lee and his relationship with his wife, Regan Carmichael Lee. Wild Rain centers on Spring Lee, her developing relationship with Garrett McCray, a reporter from the East trying to help his father’s sundown newspaper survive by bringing in stories of intriguing people of color from the US territories, namely Dr. Colton Lee. However, once Garrett McCray arrives in Wyoming territory, he finds that he is ill-prepared for riding horseback most of the day, days filled with snow, and his encounters with the unique Spring Rain Lee. Spring winds up saving Garrett on numerous occasions and introduces him to the folks in and around Paradise. Just when it seems as if Garrett is beginning to acclimate himself to life in Paradise and spending time with Spring, someone from her past makes an appearance in town and revives stories that belittle and demean her as a woman of worth. Can Garrett accept his attraction to a woman willing to stand up for herself and go against the norms of the time or will he succumb to his family wishes and return to D.C. and a life filled with constraints?

Although I had been looking forward to the next installment in the Women Who Dare series by Beverly Jenkins, I had no idea it was centered on a character from a previous book. Yes, I should have known and would have known if I had just read the synopsis. But all I saw was a new Beverly Jenkins book, historical fiction, and it was “hey, count me in!” Readers were introduced to a bit of Spring Lee’s backstory in the book Tempest, but Ms. Jenkins provides quite a bit more in Wild Rain. We’re also provided more information about Colton and Spring’s paternal grandmother, and parents. It was quite nice getting to know more about Spring and her family heritage and it helped to explain why she made the decisions made in the past and why she lives as she does in the present. To say that Spring had a bit of a harsh upbringing after her parents’ death would be a major understatement and most of that rests with her paternal grandfather, Ben. Garrett McCray was an interesting male protagonist. He was a former slave, former sailor during the Civil War, a skilled carpenter, and a reporter for a sundown newspaper (a newspaper that people worked on part-time basis after they worked their full-time jobs, usually after the sun went down). Initially, Garrett was taken aback by Spring’s lack of a male guardian, the fact that she owned and operated her own ranch, wore what he considered male clothing meaning denims, and went into saloons, but he grows to respect and love her for exactly who she is. Ms. Jenkins always provides interesting tidbits of Black American history in her fiction and her books usually feature an author’s note at the end with a list of suggested reading (just one of the many reasons I enjoy reading her books). Wild Rain is a romance so of course it has a HEA, but you’ll need to read it to find out how the couple arrives at their “Happy Ever After.” There’s plenty of drama and even trauma before they get there. If you’ve read Tempest, then you’ll definitely want to read Wild Rain. If you read Rebel, book 1 in the Women Who Dare series, then you should grab a copy of Wild Rain to read. If you enjoy reading historical romance or simply well-crafted romance, then I suggest you grab a copy of Wild Rain to read. For all you Ms. Bevy fans, I don’t have to tell you anything because I know you already have this one on your TBR list or you’ve pre-ordered it. I’ll be ordering a print copy to give to my 86-y.o. mother now that I have her hooked on reading Ms. Bevy’s books. Hope you enjoy reading this one as much as I did.
 

Happy Reading, y’all!

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.”

Book Spotlight: EGG SHOOTERS by Laura Childs

  Egg Shooters

(A Cackleberry Club Mystery)

by Laura Childs

About Egg Shooters

Egg Shooters (A Cackleberry Club Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

9th in Series

Publisher: Berkley (January 26, 2021)

Hardcover: 304 pages

ISBN-10: 0425281744

ISBN-13: 978-0425281741

Kindle ASIN: B085BVYLKY

A murder in the local hospital is raising everyone’s temperature in the latest book in the New York Times bestselling Cackleberry Club series.

Suzanne Dietz co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café is visiting her fiancée, Dr. Sam Hazelet when a masked gunman bursts into the emergency room. He shoots two people and would probably have done more damage had Suzanne not brained him with a thermos full of chili. Still, the gunman manages to escape.

Now the ladies of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he finds them.

Purchase Links: Amazon B&N Kobo Google Play IndieBound
 
 

About Laura Childs

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

Laura’s Links:
Website – http://www.laurachilds.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laura.childs.31
 
 
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Guest Post: K.D. Richards – PURSUIT OF THE TRUTH

Saturday Salutations and Greetings. I can’t believe this is the last Saturday in January of 2021! They say time flies as we get older, but this is beyond ridiculous people. I know that some of you are still trying to adjust to being homebound. Perhaps because I have no children or job and my sole responsibility is taking care of my 86-y.o. mother, I get to spend a lot of my time reading (my mom has gotten back in the habit of reading, so now we read silently together, it’s a beautiful thing). Since I’ve been doing more reading, I’m always on the lookout for new books and new-to-me authors (discovering new authors is like unwrapping a gift that keeps on giving). Having a blog means I get the opportunity to do just that, meet plenty of new-to-me authors and books. Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of those new-to-me writer, Ms. K.D. Richards, author of the recently released The Pursuit of Truth. I hope you’ll follow the blog tour to read some great reviews and to learn more about this book and author. I’ll be adding this book to my TBR list and hope you will as well. Ms. Richards will be talking to us today about her take on the foundations of writing. Thank you, Ms. Richards for taking time away from writing and your family life to join us today. The blog is now yours.

Tower of Writing

Like many of you, I’m experiencing the joys and frustrations of virtual school. Having my husband and two sons at home in the house I am used to having completely to myself for six and a half hours a day has been an adjustment.

A few weeks ago my youngest son was assigned a school project where he had to build something taller than himself using anything we had in the house. Of course we used books!

As I was helping him stack, and then restack because our base wasn’t wide enough the first time, and then re-restack because our base wasn’t wide enough the second time either, it donned on me that this project was a lot like my process for writing a book.

Our first couple of tries at building something taller than my son failed because we hadn’t built a sturdy enough foundation to hold all the books that would be piled on top. This often happens to me when I’m writing my outline (I’m a plotter) and/or first draft. The idea may be sound but the problem or goal I plan to have my character pursue might not be weighty or complex enough.

Because I write suspense and thrillers the external goals tend to be ‘stay alive’ or ‘catch the killer.’ But the best protagonists have both external and internal problems and/or goals. Yes, the character may be running from a killer but the only way to stay alive is to return to her hometown and face her family’s dark secrets. When I’ve done things really well, the external goals and internal goals complement each other. I find that for most readers, it is the internal goal that makes the character dynamic and interesting enough to keep the reader engaged.

Once I have a solid base it’s time to start stacking or, in the case of writing, building in your complications – otherwise known as creating plot twists! Twists come in many forms. Secrets, unforeseen obstacles, setbacks, and devastating revelations. Really anything that sends the characters in a direction they, and hopefully the reader, did not anticipate.

I like my twists to carry the characters into the big reveal (sorry, I don’t have a book tower reference for this one!). Some writer’s refer to this as the “Ah-ha moment.” This is the point that the who, what, when, and where all come together. The hero and heroine finally figure out what they need to do to solve the problem or achieve the external goal. They also should have sufficiently dealt with their internal problem or goal.

So after two failed attempts, my son and I finally had a tower that would last long enough for me to snap a picture and prove he had achieved his goal. In writing parlance, this is the resolution point. In a suspense or thriller, the resolution can take many forms. When I’m writing or reading a book I like to at least be left with an idea of where the main character’s life is headed. I’m not a gal that appreciates ambiguity at the end of a good novel. Tell me what happens!

If you are writing a romance, or romantic suspense, the resolution is also sometimes called “the happily ever after, or the happy for right now”. Most romance readers want the couple to end up together at the end of the book. To be honest, I do too. It’s fiction, right? One of the only places everything can always work out well for the good guys.

Whatever the genre, the end of the book must not only tie up all the threads of the plot and resolve the problem, twists, and turns that carried the reader through to the end of the book, it must give the reader the psychological payoff that is promised at the beginning. I’m sure we have all read books that were fabulous but the end was just…meh. Of course, this is easier said than done.

If you’re looking for a read full of suspense and romance, pick up Pursuit of the Truth by K.D. Richards.

About The Pursuit of the Truth

Pursuit of the Truth (West Investigations)

Romantic Suspense 1st in Series

Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue (January 26, 2021)

Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages

ISBN-10: 1335401539

ISBN-13: 978-1335401533

Digital ASIN: B08CSRDVWK

His skills can keep her safe

Her secrets could get them killed…

Security expert Ryan West’s worst fears come to life when hotel CEO Nadia Shelton is pushed in front of a taxi and nearly killed. Someone will do whatever it takes to find the brother Nadia thought was dead, and the only way Ryan can protect her as they uncover the truth is to stay strictly professional. But the sparks igniting between them are nearly impossible to ignore.

From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.

Purchase Links: AmazonKoboHarlequinB&N

About K.D. Richards

K. D. Richards is the pseudonym for Kia Dennis. Kia was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. A writer since a young age, after college she earned a law degree and worked as an attorney and legal instructor for fifteen years but never stopped writing fiction. She currently lives in the Toronto area with her husband and two sons. Sign up for her newsletter at kdrichardsbooks.com and follow her on Twitter @kiadwrites

Author Links:
Website: kdrichardsbooks.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kdrichardsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kdrichardsauthor
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3fYaI6P
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20494862.K_D_Richards

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January 26 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW

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January 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 29 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 30 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

January 31 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 1 – I Read What You Write -GUEST POST

February 2 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 3 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – REVIEW

February 4 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

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2021 Book 37: FAITHLESS IN DEATH by J.D. Robb

Faithless In Death, In Death #52, by J. D. Robb
ISBN: 9781250272744 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272751 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250787828 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250787859 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B0889FH56N (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B086ZXF6MR (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 9, 2021

In the new Eve Dallas police thriller from #1 New York Times-bestselling author J. D. Robb, what looked like a lover’s quarrel turned fatal has larger—and more terrifying—motives behind it…

The scene in the West Village studio appears to be classic crime-of-passion: two wineglasses by the bed, music playing, and a young sculptor named Ariel Byrd with the back of her head bashed in. But when Dallas tracks down the wealthy Upper East Side woman who called 911, the details don’t add up. Gwen Huffman is wealthy, elegant, comforted by her handsome fiancé as she sheds tears over the trauma of finding the body—but why did it take an hour to report it? And why is she lying about little things?

As Eve and her team look into Gwen, her past, and the people around her, they find that the lies are about more than murder. As with sculpture, they need to chip away at the layers of deception to find the shape within—and soon they’re getting the FBI involved in a case that involves a sinister, fanatical group and a stunning criminal conspiracy.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

One of the many things I look forward to at the beginning of each year are the new releases in the In Death series as well as other books by favorite authors. Faithless In Death picks up with Eve doing paperwork after the Cobbe event Shadows in Death and, of course, there’s a new murder. Her witness is a liar and also has ties to one of the patrol officers in Eve’s division. Eve and Delia quickly discern that their witness is not only a liar but someone that tries to manipulate others to get her way and the sole reason why is for monetary gain. Her parents will stipulate she must marry a Caucasian male and have a child in order to inherit her trust fund before age 35 or she’s cut off completely. The only problem with that stipulation is that she’s a lesbian and her fiance is completely clueless. One would hope that by 2061, such petty things as racial prejudice, prejudice against sexual orientation, and notions of racial superiority would have died out. But in this fictional world (and something tells me in the real world as well), these prejudices are alive and well. It begins with the murder of a multiracial, lesbian artist and the alibi by the witness leads Eve Dallas and her trusty sidekick, Delia Peabody, along with Eve’s uber-wealthy husband, Roarke, into the shadowy world of what can only be called an alt-right, ultra-conservative, white supremacists religious organization called the Natural Order. The group graciously allows people of inferior birth, i.e., lower races to join, but keeps them segregated and forces them to wear color-coded clothing to ensure they remain separated. Women are considered inferior to men and good for only one thing, childbearing and are forced to do so, if necessary. One murder uncovers a plethora of evil by this group and Eve, the New York Police and Safety Department, the FBI, Interpol, and Homeland Security and are all working diligently to shut it down as quickly as possible so that none of the leaders are able to get away without being duly charged for their crimes.

As with most of the In Death stories, there’s a lot of action going on in this story. I was happy to see a brief appearance of Mavis, Leonardo, and Bella (y’all, they bought a house!). Nadine reappears in this story although not as prominently as in the past, as does Dr. Mira. However, Feeney, McNab, are all duly noted throughout the story. As previously mentioned, Faithless In Death features a lot of action, namely murder, spousal abuse, child abuse (although not directly seen), rape is mentioned as is drug abuse and suicide, embezzlement, forced sexual re-orientation therapy, forced marriage, trafficking, cults, and more. There were definitely some dark elements to this story, but not as dark as some of the previous stories. I felt that Ms. Robb presented the story in a respectful manner yet stayed true to the themes being presented, and that is often difficult to do when dealing with stories of abuse. This story was much more about the case than it was about the people doing the investigation and perhaps that’s because we’ve become so invested in these characters, they feel like family after 50+ books. I enjoyed reading Faithless In Death and recommend it to anyone that’s read and enjoyed this series. I can’t wait to see what happens next for Eve Dallas, Roarke, Delia Peabody, Ian McNab, etc.
 

Happy Reading, y’all!

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.”

Book Showcase: WE COULD BE HEROES by Mike Chen

74-01-WE-COULD-BE-HEROES-Blog-Tour-Banner-640x247We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen
ISBN: 9780778331391 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488077111 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488210587 (audiobook)
ASIN: B08FXV2F77 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B087JJ5G5K (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA Books
Release Date: January 26, 2021

  

WE COULD BE HEROES - MChenAn emotional adventure about two misfits who have extraordinary powers, but have forgotten who they were before. The vigilante and the villain must team up to stop a mad scientist who threatens the city, while trying to figure out who they really are.

Jamie woke up two years ago in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to who he might be, and also with the power to read other people’s memories. In the meantime, he’s become the Mind Robber, holding up banks for quick cash. Similarly, Zoe is searching for her past, and using her new extraordinary abilities of speed and strength…to deliver fast food. And occasionally beat up bad guys, if she feels like it.

When the two meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize they are each other’s best chance at discovering what happened to them. The quest will take them deep into a medical conspiracy that is threatening to spill out and wreak havoc on their city, and maybe the country. As the two get past their respective barriers, they’ll realize that their friendship is the thing that gives them the greatest power.

 

 
 Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Apple Books| Audible | Audiobooks.com | AudiobooksNow.com | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | Google Books | | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3

Jamie stopped, catching himself. He’d gone too far this time. Close eyes, deep breaths, count to five, and then open eyes to see the damage.

Damn it. He’d really done it. He looked at the grout brush, then the lines between the countertop’s tiles, then back at the brush. Yes, he’d gotten the coffee stain out, but he’d also scrubbed too hard, wearing away some of the grout.

Twenty minutes ago, he’d arrived home, throwing his cash-filled backpack on the futon cushion. It landed with a thump, startling Normal out of her cat tuffet next to the window. And though he stopped to give Normal a calming pet, his instincts took over, starting with a meticulous cleaning of the litter box, then a complete vacuum of the small apartment. Then organizing his stack of library books into a preferred reading order, putting away the neatly folded clothes in the laundry basket, cleaning the pour-over coffee carafe and kettle before brewing a fresh cup. As it settled, he noticed some drips of coffee had absorbed into the grout lines adjacent to his row of ceramic mugs, thus kicking off his quest for a completely clean and reset kitchen. All of the fear and concern and guilt from the day funneled into his end-to-end cleaning spree even though it wasn’t Sunday, the day he typically reserved for getting his home in order.

But this. Flecks of dried grout stuck to the brush bristles, and Jamie squinted, examining them as if he tried to break into the memory of the synthetic fibers. He blinked when Normal mewed at him, snapping him back into the present. He had to slow down. He had to regroup. He’d gone too far this time, and though the counter looked clean, a closer examination showed a tiny degradation in the grout.

Damn it. Jamie blew out a sigh and surveyed the room.

So neat. So organized. In fact, it was nearly identical to when he’d woken up here, standing in the middle of a barely furnished apartment two years ago. On that morning, he had blinked as he came to, his eyes adjusting from blurry to focused, taking in the sun shining through the cheap tan drapes onto the futon in the middle of the living space. Once he’d realized where he was, it had dawned on him that he didn’t know who he was. He’d walked methodically through the semifurnished apartment, looking for triggers. Coffee table, bread, water, sink, bed, toothbrush. He knew what those were, their purpose, but none offered clues about himself. Even the mirror produced zero recognition; he didn’t know what history lay behind those eyes, what the story was behind the scar on his palm.

So neat. So organized. In fact, it was nearly identical to when he’d woken up here, standing in the middle of a barely furnished apartment two years ago. On that morning, he had blinked as he came to, his eyes adjusting from blurry to focused, taking in the sun shining through the cheap tan drapes onto the futon in the middle of the living space. Once he’d realized where he was, it had dawned on him that he didn’t know who he was. He’d walked methodically through the semifurnished apartment, looking for triggers. Coffee table, bread, water, sink, bed, toothbrush. He knew what those were, their purpose, but none offered clues about himself. Even the mirror produced zero recognition; he didn’t know what history lay behind those eyes, what the story was behind the scar on his palm.

And now? What he wouldn’t give for that blissful ignorance, free from knowing that the injured woman from today was all his fault.

How could he have been so stupid, so reckless?

As with each of his bank robberies, he’d taken his time, planned a strategy, even wrote out his script beforehand and memorized it. He still lacked in execution, but that was why he had checked out some acting books from the library. The whole goal, the entire focus was to get in and out as quickly, as cleanly as possible. That meant brain-stunning the people in the building in a very specific order under a very specific time frame, all while cackling like a cartoon character and reciting over-the-top lines in a not-quite-there American accent.

If he controlled the entire situation, then no one got hurt and he did his job.

Except when one of them had a medical condition.

Jamie cursed at himself, cursed his fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude, cursed the whole damn situation. Not once, not a single time had he ever considered the possibility of a medical issue.

He finally broke, forcing himself to move. A click on the remote control brought his small TV to life, flashing a news report about electrical surges throughout the city before turning to the bank heist. His fingers fumbled to hit the power button again, taking several tries before the screen thankfully went to black, leaving only the sounds of a hungry cat meowing to remind him that he hadn’t given her dinner or her nightly treat of coconut water yet. Jamie set the grout brush in the sink, and obliged the demanding cat.

Seconds later, the room filled with a content rumbling of purrs.

But even Normal’s happy noises failed to remove the trauma of the day. The sound of the woman’s head hitting the tile. The sight of the blood pooling. The desperate cries of her coworker.

Don’t think about it don’t think about it don’t think about it.

Onward. Next task: the money. He grabbed the backpack and headed to the bedroom. The backpack’s large top zipper got caught as he tugged on it, and the stress of the day gnawed at his patience, skipping past his normal mode of meticulously fixing it and jumping right to forcing it free. On the underside of the zipper, the corner of a hundred-dollar bill clung in between the metal clasps.

Jamie sighed, a sound soon mimicked by Normal yawning at his feet. “You have no idea,” he told the cat before reaching in and starting his post-robbery sorting process for cash.

A buzzing sound rattled the room, causing a handful of loose coins on the end table to dance; it broke his focus, jolting his shoulders and neck in surprise. From the hallway, he heard Normal’s claws catch in the thin carpeting before dashing off to find a hiding spot from the abrupt noise.

He picked up the phone, heart pounding that it might be someone on his trail. But a glance at his screen caused a sigh of relief. Reminder: Support Group. San Delgado East Side YMCA. Six o’clock.

Right. The weekly support group—more specifically, San Delgado Memory Loss & Dementia Support Group.

Not that Jamie cared about the giant gap in his personal life, the big cloud of nothing stemming from the moment he awoke in this apartment all the way back to, well, his birth. Something pulled him away from those thoughts whenever he even approached the matter, like staring into a bright beam of light until the intensity forced his eyes away. Every time. That avoidance happened so frequently it felt instinctive at this point, skirting whatever that was and whoever truly stood behind the impenetrable fog.

It didn’t matter. No, the support group was for learning more about memory loss in general, to guard himself from any further memories vanishing.

The irony of the Mind Robber dealing with all that didn’t escape him.

He resumed unloading the cash, first putting the stacks by denomination from left to right, then counting and rubber-banding any loose ones complete with a Post-it note with the total on each makeshift bundle. In the closet sat a safe—something that had been absolutely terrible to get into his apartment. He pulled off the blanket hiding it and turned the dial. Left with click click clicks. Then right. Then left again.

It opened up, revealing a larger version of the stacks assembled on his bed. Jamie took new bundles, two at a time, and neatly set them in the appropriate spots, making each tower of cash grow until the backpack and the bed were clear of evidence. A notebook leaned on the cash; Jamie pulled it out and opened it to the ledger he’d crafted, filling out the columns with the latest tally of earnings, anticipated expenses, safety-net cash and overall savings.

At the top of that column was a little drawing he’d made of a palm tree and a beach. Based on today’s earnings, he was nearly 80 percent to his goal. Depending on the size of each haul, a few more robberies—especially if he remembered to ask for the stacks of hundreds specifically—would provide enough financial comfort to retire on a tropical beach at a much lower cost of living. He’d read that the coffee in the Caribbean was excellent.

A comfortable permanence, as long as the Throwing Star didn’t track him down. That further complicated things, and Jamie wondered if he’d jinxed it all by invoking her during his bank performance. He gritted his teeth.

So close to a fresh start. For him and Normal, and he wouldn’t let the Throwing Star jeopardize that.

Normal gave an urgent meow, which translated in cat speak to “Where is my bed?” Jamie folded the blanket exactly and draped it over the safe, then put a small cat tuffet back on top of it. A gray-and-orange blur zipped by, and in one leap, landed on the tuffet, turning his trail of crime and/or source of income into the world’s most valuable cat bed.

Jamie exhaled, and his mattress bounced as he flopped on his back, eyes glued to the ceiling but brain refusing to shut off. One blink and he saw the woman fall again. Every time he closed his eyes, the image reappeared, except each instance seemed to intensify in its color and sound, the sheer vibrancy of his mind seemingly taunting him.

He could lift the memory out. He’d done it before as an experiment, including writing a note with steps and details as proof that he’d removed his immediate recall of the moment. It left him with what he presumed to be the same nausea that his victims experienced, and other than a few follow-up trials, he hadn’t done it for any practical purpose.

A small price to pay to be relieved of the guilt.

Jamie raised his hand, this time pointed at himself, and he closed his eyes, digging deep to flip through his own memories. Bright and fresh, full volume and movement, no haziness or missing pockets of moments. One wipe and it’d be gone.

But what would that make him? A possible murderer without a conscience? He treated his villain persona and robberies as a job, an income. Not to hurt people, not with malevolence or sociopathic apathy.

No.

This memory had to stay.

Jamie lowered his hand.

There was a knock at the door, jolting him to his feet.

He closed his eyes and stretched out with his mind, sensing the ghostly silhouette of a single form at his door.

No one ever came to his door.

“San Delgado police. Is anyone home?”

The very idea of having law enforcement at his door caused Jamie’s hands to tremble and a thin layer of sweat to form on his forehead. He could brain-stun the officer and run. He could dive into the officer’s memories, see what happened, why he was here—maybe it was just a fundraiser for the Police Athletic League.

Another knock rattled the door.

If he brain-stunned the officer, that wouldn’t exactly be inconspicuous. You couldn’t just leave gawking, unresponsive police on your doorstep. And the officer’s location was probably tracked by SDPD, which meant that lifting memories and sending him on his way would only lead to more trouble.

No, the only way out of this was through it.

Jamie took a deep breath, put on a baseball cap with a logo of the local San Delgado Barons hockey team, then marched to the door. He opened it halfway to find the very serious, very professional face of a plainclothes officer. Despite the fact that he stood shorter than Jamie, his sturdy build made him far more intimidating.

“May I help you?” Jamie held the door ajar. “Sorry,” he said, native English accent in full display, “I have a cat that tries to get out if I open the door all the way.” As if on cue, mews came from behind him and Jamie scooped up the pudgy feline. Mental note: she deserved extra coconut water tonight. “Be nice, Normal.”

The detective tilted his head at the name, then chuckled, sunlight gleaming off the light brown skin of his shaven bald dome. “No problem. Sorry to bother you this evening. Detective Patrick Chesterton. I’m the lead on the Mind Robber case.”

No reaction rippled through Jamie. Which was probably a reaction in itself. He waited, seconds stretching into vast chunks of time, and though he somehow managed to keep a polite expression on his face, the pounding in his chest might have given him away.

“We get anonymous tips all the time about the Mind Robber. Some people even claim to be him. But this one was very specific. And since we know he left on a train heading eastbound about ninety minutes ago, I thought I’d check it out.” He glanced over his shoulder, eyes tracking past the courtyard and toward the parking lot. “Traffic is going to be hell getting back to the station.”

Jamie told himself to laugh, though in a completely different way from the forced maniacal display of the Mind Robber. Calm, quiet, a little nervous—the natural kind of nervous anyone got when questioned by law enforcement. Normal must have agreed, as she continued mewing in his arms.

“Well, aren’t you a nice cat?” the detective said, his voice softening. He reached up to pet Normal’s round head, but the cat replied with a hiss. Before Jamie could stop her, she swatted at Chesterton. The cat kicked out of his arms, and Jamie turned to see a streak of pudgy fur dashing for the bedroom.

“Oh, I’m so—” Jamie stopped himself at the realization that the detective nursed a fresh scratch across the knuckles.

If they weren’t going to get him for being the Mind Robber, what about assault via cat scratch?

“I’m so, so sorry. Normal usually loves strangers.” That was a lie, or it might have been a lie. Normal never met anyone, regular or stranger, so the sample size on that remained small. “But she gets weird occasionally.” That part was true. Jamie held up his hand, palm out. “See this scar across my palm? Normal got me good one time.”

Flat-out lie: Jamie had no idea where that scar came from, though whenever he focused on it for too long, a strange mix of nausea and embarrassment would flood over him.

“It’s okay,” Chesterton said. “I had a cat growing up. They can be temperamental. I should know better than to do that. Anyway, the tip said that someone who fit the build and look of the Mind Robber was in this area. This block, actually.” He looked Jamie up and down. If Jamie decided to risk it, he probably could have poked into the detective’s memories and seen specifically what he was thinking, even the source of the tip. “Have you seen anyone who fits that profile?”

In the courtyard, Jamie caught sight of the old couple across the way trying to get their mini schnauzer puppy to obey commands. They looked over at Chesterton, then Jamie, and Jamie offered a reassuring wave. Despite being a theoretical villain, he still wanted to be a good neighbor. “I, um, actually don’t watch the news much. I find it triggering.”

“Ah, got it. He’s Caucasian. Around six feet tall. Thin build. Strong chin. That’s about it, really, though. His hood and mask obscure everything else.”

“Well,” Jamie said. A response came to mind, and he debated whether or not he was being too clever. His arms extended and a wry smile came over his face a little too easily. Maybe learning to play a villain had turned the gesture into muscle memory. “That sounds like me.” The words came out smooth, just enough of a joking lilt that they threaded the needle between bullshit and levity. It came naturally, almost uncannily so.

For a moment, nothing happened. Neither man blinked, and even Normal stayed quiet. The only noise came from squeaking brakes as a car pulled into the adjacent parking lot.

Then the detective burst out laughing. “I like you,” he said, before reaching into his back pocket. Jamie’s hand moved into position, a subtle gesture that only he could detect should he need to brain-stun. His fingers raised ever so slightly in preparation when a buzz in his back pocket caused both men to stand at attention.

“Sorry, just my reminder,” Jamie said after pulling out his phone. The device’s blinking screen gave him an idea. “My weekly support group. I, uh, need to get going.”

“Oh, of course. Good for you,” he said. “It takes a strong person to seek out help.” Jamie’s head bobbed at the compliment, and the detective finished reaching in his back pocket. He held up a business card. “Do me a favor and call if you see or hear anything that strikes you as suspicious. About him or the Throwing Star. We’re no fan of vigilantes, extraordinary or not. You can’t just run around in a suit beating up people. I don’t care if they’re good or bad. You know, if either of them just called us first and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got these abilities,’ you can bet we’d have found a job for them.” Chesterton glanced at the cat scratch on his hand before letting out a short laugh. “I heard she tripped in the Metro station and let the Mind Robber get away,” he said with a headshake. “I guess ‘extraordinary’ comes in many forms.”

All forms. That skepticism, if not admirable, at least provided some cover. “Right,” Jamie said, taking the card. “I’ll keep an eye out.”

“Even if you hear anything about weird crimes in Hartnell City. Their PD asked us about the Mind Robber. Guess they’re seeing some strange activity too.”

“Of course, Detective.”

Jamie’s exhale was nearly as loud as the slamming of the door. He’d never been that close to getting caught before.

Who could have possibly tipped the police? He’d wiped the memories of any OmegaCars driver that took him close by, and even then, he’d always walked the last few blocks, taking different routes each time. Could the Throwing Star have tracked him? Possibly, but she seemed more like the “punch in the teeth” than “call the cops” type.

Questions circled as Jamie heard the roar of the detective’s car coming to life. Through the blinds, Jamie watched a dark blue sedan pull halfway across the parking lot before pausing for a handful of seconds and then finally rolling away. Chesterton was gone for now, but if he suspected anything, the best course of action would be for Jamie to act as any normal civilian would. In this case, it meant going exactly where the detective expected him to be.

Normal meowed a farewell as Jamie grabbed a jacket—not his black hoodie—and locked the door behind him.

It was almost time for the support group. Even if he didn’t want to go.

Excerpted from We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen.
Copyright © 2021 by Mike Chen. Published by MIRA Books.

 

Meet The Author

Author - Mike Chen by Amanda ChenMike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist, Tor) and covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets. A member of SFWA and Codex Writers, Mike lives in the Bay Area, where he can be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @mikechenwriter. (Author photo by Amanda Chen)

 Author Links: Facebook: Mike Chen | Instagram: Mike Chen Writer | Twitter: Mike Chen Writer | Website: www.mikechenbooks.com
 


This excerpt brought to you courtesy of MIRA Books