Book Blast: CONCRETE SMILE by Bernard Maestas


Concrete Smile


by Bernard Maestas


Book Blast December 13, 2016


on Tour February 1-28, 2017





Synopsis:


Concrete Smile by Bernard Maestas

A crooked conglomerate makes a move on fictional Newport City by first attempting to incite a war between its existing criminal organizations before taking over with its own “in-house” group. Hired by a major gang leader to avert the war, freelance information broker Kevin recruits his ex-enforcer, ex-con brother Chance, and Kaity, a reporter with a vendetta, to uncover the conspiracy.




Book Details:


Genre: Crime, Thriller
Published by: Rebel ePublishers
Publication Date: December 15, 2016
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: pending
Series: Internet Tough Guys, #3
Purchase Links : Coming Soon!


Read an excerpt:

(Profanity alert!)

CHAPTER ONE

BUSINESS HOURS

Lost somewhere in Newport City’s densely crowded, late-night skyline, six bulky bodies packed into some unimportant restaurant’s musty storeroom. 

Bulging with prison muscles and bulletproof vests, their dark skin branded with black tattoos broadcasting their gang affiliation, the men were silent. They crowded around a single rickety card table, the room’s only furniture, and toiled under the dim glow of a single yellow bulb dangling from the ceiling. A masonry bucket full of glittering brass ammunition sat centered between them. None spoke. The rhythmic clicking of guns and bullets was the only soundtrack accompanying the tension.

Aside from their silence and the grim, practiced precision with which they pressed the unstamped cartridges into their magazines, they each had one other detail in common: Each man, whether dangling from a pocket, knotted around a wrist, or cinched across his brow, displayed a deep crimson bandana. That bandana, the gang flag of The Reds or Red Nation – the umbrella under which all the African-American gangs in Newport City fell – was the most crucial accessory.

Durel Rivers, better known as Bones, set aside his last loaded magazine and grabbed his weapon. Exceedingly illegal, the fully automatic Tec-9 machine pistol, with its taped grip and folding stock, actually had a Federal law banning it by name. A loud slap cut the stifling air as he locked a magazine into the receiver and jacked the first round into the chamber.

Bones covered his body armor with a baggy sweatshirt, loose enough to conceal the illicit firearm beneath it, its papoose pocket stuffed with the ready reloads he’d prepared. Behind him, the rest of his crew wrapped up their own loading tasks, donned jackets and hoodies of their own and then followed him out of the storeroom.

The creaky storeroom door swung open into the deep gloom of a deserted kitchen. The restaurant’s legitimate business hours long over, the white-coated cooks and staffers long gone, Bones and his crew had special access. He led them past the stainless steel appliances and shelves to and then through the back door.

Windows down, keys in the ignitions, a pair of black SUVs waited in the greasy shadows of the narrow alley behind the restaurant. Bones climbed into the shotgun seat of the leading truck while the rest of the crew split up between them, wordlessly sliding into their plush leather seats.

Bones gave a simple and wordless nod to the man who took the driver’s seat beside him. Engines came to life with deep rumbles but the music that came on in the cabins was low. They were on a mission and there would be no distractions.

As one, the pair of SUVs rolled out of the alley and onto the darkened Newport City streets. While the bustling city of nearly five million had plenty of nightlife, Bones’ crew stuck to the quiet streets of closed businesses, darkened storefronts, and slumbering apartment dwellers. It was late, or more precisely, early in the morning, and only the creatures of the night were out haunting the streets. Moving patiently, always five miles per hour over the speed limit – no more, no less – they rolled to their first stop at the fringe of a housing project complex, a U-shaped cluster of old tenement towers.

Silent and pensive, Bones scanned every inch of the block around them, scrutinizing each of the people who made up the sparse nighttime populace. A pair of teenagers with Reds’ flags on display occupied one corner while a homeless man wandered the block further down.

No police, no “jackers,” Bones was as certain as he could be of that. He twisted in his seat and said it all to the gangster in the back with another wordless nod.

The back door popped, as did that of the trailing SUV, two men emerging into the street and crossing, their hands beneath their shirts and gripping the handles of their guns. As they disappeared into one of the building lobbies, Bones let his attention slip for just a moment. He plucked a cigarette from his pack, set it between his lips, bringing it to life with the click of his lighter, and blew the fumes from his nose.

He had only taken two deep drags when the gangbangers emerged. The one from the trailing truck led the way, alert and ready. The man behind had a small gym bag slung over his shoulder. Bones turned to look as the man climbed back aboard the SUV.

“All there,” he said simply, ripping open the zipper to give Bones a look inside at the bricklike bundles of cash.

Bones straightened in his seat, his cigarette hand pushing out through the open window and waving the trailing SUV forward. Together, they pulled away from the curb and rolled off into the city.

It was after three when they finally pulled away from their last pickup in East Charity, a sleepy neighborhood on the southeastern side of the City’s eastern borough. Bones lit up a third cigarette and then threw a glance into the backseat. Aside from the burly gangster riding with them, more of those bulging bags of cash now packed the seat to shoulder height. Over the last hour and change, they had stopped everywhere from drug dens to basement casinos, collecting the week’s deposits.

With the trucks laden with money, the first half of the job, in some ways the easy half, was done.

Alert, mind focused, Bones allowed himself to relax just a little, let the flood of nicotine calm his blood slightly. From here on, it was a straight drive to their final destination where they would turn over the money to be cleaned. No more stops, no more tense minutes of waiting on the street like sitting ducks. That said, he also knew that the best time to hit the convoy would be now, when it was flush and the crew had backed off the razor’s edge of their nerves.

The bold glow of their headlights swung down a street heavy with shadows, most of the streetlights out except for some pale yellow ones at the far end. Bones’ hackles came up and he was just about to order them off the street when shrieking tires sang their discordant chorus into the night as something flashed out of the driveway ahead. No headlights had offered any warning.

“Shit!” Bones’ driver seethed as he stood on the brakes, grinding them to a hard halt.

In the glare of their SUV’s headlights, Bones now made out the form of the battered minivan that had darted across their path and stopped. He was already pulling his Tec-9 from beneath his shirt when the van’s sliding door scraped aside with a raspy grind of worn metal.

Crouched tightly in the back of the van, shoulder-to-shoulder, a pair of masked men took aim and opened up torrents of fully automatic gunfire.

The driver beside Bones jerked and flopped violently, his body riddled with relentless fire. Bones himself managed to duck down below the dash, behind the protection of the engine block, the only part of a normal car that would actually stop a bullet. Jagged pebbles of shattered glass rained down on the back of his neck.

Behind Bones, the back door kicked open and the armed gangster ducked out as he sprayed the van with his own vicious rake of fire.
Without rising from behind the dash, Bones reached out, shoving open the driver’s door and rolling the bloody, shredded corpse of the driver into the street. He was halfway over the center console when he saw his doom.

From behind the row of parallel-parked cars lining the far side of the street, cloaked in the heavy shadows, more gunmen popped up, bracing and steadying their rifles on the hoods, trunks or roofs of the parked cars. Bones threw his machine pistol into line but it was too late.

The last thing Bones ever saw was the hellish strobes of the muzzle flashes popping in the darkness as they poured another withering hailstorm of copper-jacketed death into the street.

***

 Don’t shit where you eat. Words to live by in Kevin Wyatt’s book. So, even at three in the morning, making the drive across the Admiralty Bridge into the peninsular eastern borough was just smart business. Polished black paint gleaming, throaty engine growling melodically, Kevin’s ’67 Mustang fastback made short work of the trip, weaving only occasionally around slower moving traffic.

An oasis in the night of closed businesses on an otherwise nondescript street in East Charity, a brightly lit parking lot snipped off the corner of the block. It wrapped around two sides of a large diner that, despite its size and popularity with the late-night crowd that knew of its existence, still looked like a greasy hole in the wall.
Kevin had grown fond of the place, though. Referring to it as his office, he conducted those meetings there that required a certain degree of public exposure mixed with only a modicum of privacy.

He’d chosen the spot for the food initially and had quickly adopted it as a regular haunt. Despite this, no one greeted him by name as he entered and left the biting air of the early November chill in the parking lot.

The diner was warm inside, full of the aroma of food frying in grease. At least a half-dozen parties of three or four twentysomethings in nightclub attire were scattered among the booths and tables. His regular booth, the one at the far back corner, just on the fringe of the last overhead bulb’s halo of light, was unclaimed, he noted with a smile.

Kevin took another moment to scan the diner’s patrons and confirm that his clients hadn’t arrived yet. He pivoted and swung down the row of booths running along the diner’s storefront of greasy picture windows. As he went, he sloughed his black leather jacket, a dark T-shirt with a stylish designer logo beneath.

Though he could have melded into one of the packs of club goers in the diner with his age and good looks, he wasn’t here to socialize. He had a narrow face of mildly chiseled features decorated with a light dusting of freckles that went appropriately with the rusty copper color of his short hair. He was above average height at just under six feet, but his fit and trim frame was not particularly remarkable.

A waitress, mopping the countertop with a rag, glanced up as he passed her. She made contact with his bright hazel gaze and a faint smile of passing recognition turned up the corners of her mouth. “The usual?” she asked, getting a nod and a smile in reply.

Kevin dropped into his booth’s far side, his back to the wall, his face to the door, and slid into the corner. It was a good spot, behind the wall and out of the frame of the big window while still giving him an excellent line of sight into the parking lot and the establishment.

Kevin scanned with intent while taking care to seem oblivious, just another late night customer out for a midnight snack. A nondescript sedan, gray, neither old nor new enough to be noteworthy, coasted to a halt outside. Three young men, cautious and patiently panning their gazes over every angle of surrounding night, sat in the car for a few long moments before dismounting and approaching the diner door.

The waitress returned and slid Kevin’s order in front of him just as the trio filed through the front door. She turned and left the table while he raised an arm, brushed with a sleeve of freckles, and waved them over.

In a moment’s pause of prudent appraisal, they sized Kevin up from the door before sliding down the row. They were dressed to slip under notice, plain jeans and plainer hooded sweatshirts, but that didn’t fool Kevin for a second.

“You the guy?” the first, a deeply tanned Hispanic in his late twenties, asked with no discernable accent.

“I am,” Kevin confirmed with a nod. “Have a seat.”

“How’d you know it was us?” asked the second, a black man of the same age as the first, as the whole trio – rounded out with a smaller and younger Asian man for diversity – took the opposite side of the booth.

“Lucky guess,” Kevin replied plainly. He lifted his steaming cup of black coffee and nursed a sip, careful to keep his eyes above the rim to watch the three of them. “You have something for me?” He set the cup beside the plate holding his so far untouched “Heartstopper” sandwich.

The trio exchanged glances before the leader threw one back over his shoulder at the rest of the diner. Kevin didn’t have to look so obviously to know no one was paying them any mind. Satisfied, the leader nodded at the Asian at the end of the booth. He slipped an envelope from the papoose pocket of his sweatshirt, laid it on the table and slid it across.

Kevin took the envelope and peeled it open in his lap, leafing through its stack of crisp twenty-dollar bills. He kept his poker face firmly in place as he did, lifting his head to nod to his clients in approval. He reached across the booth, stuffing the envelope into the inner pocket of his jacket and slipping out a coin-sized SD card. He slid it across the table the same way he’d received his payment.

The Asian man took it, plugging it into a small tablet and scanning through it.

“As promised,” Kevin said, his focus on the leader. “Truck routes, communications protocols and duty rosters for Allied Armored Couriers. Good until the end of the month.”

The leader looked from Kevin as he finished, to the Asian, who had completed his scan and nodded. Kevin scooped up his mug and took another sip of his coffee, watching as the leader turned back to him. “How’d you get this?”

Kevin smiled a thin smile that didn’t reach his eyes as he lowered the mug. He offered his hand across the table for a shake. “A pleasure doing business with you.”

The leader’s eyes narrowed, but he clasped Kevin’s hand in a brief squeeze before he and his crew exited the booth. He watched them leave, as did the waitress, who glanced over at him and met his eyes. This time, his smile was a little warmer as he offered her a shrug and dropped his attention to his plate.

***

The Heartstopper was an egg sandwich, in simplest terms. To be more exact, however, it was a heaping serving of scrambled whole eggs capped with a slice of full-fat American cheese and enclosed in two slices of grilled and buttery bread. It was decadently delicious and so worth the bloated feeling in Kevin’s gut as he left his booth, leaving cash, including a generous tip, on the table top and exited the diner.

He mounted up the Mustang, kicking it to grumbling life, and swung out of the parking lot, aiming for home. Business for the night finished, it was late and, crucially, he had a very early and very important errand awaiting him in the morning.

Blue and red strobes blazed through the Mustang’s rear windshield as the howl of a siren drowned out even the healthy rumble of his powerful engine. Kevin’s heart nearly stopped as his eyes flicked to the rearview mirror framing the police sedan rushing up on his bumper.

“Fuck me,” he breathed, hands tightening around the wheel. For half a second, he considered running. Lean fingers coiled around the shifter, his dress boots settled over the pedals, and Kevin sketched out a plan for his flight for freedom. It started with a downshift and a ferocious bellow of acceleration but he had no idea where it went from there. Instead, he reminded himself he wasn’t carrying anything illegal, nor did he have any warrants out for him. At least, as far as he knew. Easing toward the first gap in the row of cars lining the curb, Kevin blinked as the patrol car blew past him.

Before he had a chance to relax, crack a smile of relief, three more cops in roaring sedans, their emergency lights screaming their urgency, sirens wailing, blasted down the road. They were moving fast, fast enough that their passing rocked Kevin’s heavy car as they went.

Kevin stared after them as they faded into the distance before whipping around the corner at the end of the next block. His hands squeezed the wheel tightly and his mind reached, pondering the possibilities. Slowly, his thin lips spread in a smile.
Something big had happened. He had a pleasant influx of new business to look forward to.

From CONCRETE SMILE, A novel, By BERNARD MAESTAS© BERNARD MAESTAS



Bernard Maestas

Author Bio:

Bernard Maestas lives in paradise.  A police officer patrolling the mean streets of Hawaii, he has a background in contract security and military and civilian law enforcement.  When not saving the world, one speeding ticket at a time, and not distracted by video games or the internet, he is usually hard at work on his next book.



Catch Up With Bernard Maestas on 


His Website, Twitter, or Facebook!







Book Blast Participants:







Tour Participants:

In February 2017 Bernard will be touring with his book Concrete Smile at these stops and more! Visit for reviews, interviews, guest posts, & more great giveaways!





Don’t Miss This Snazzy Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Bernard Maestas. There will be 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Concrete Smile by Bernard Maestas. The giveaway begins on December 11th and runs through December 18th, 2016.


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Book Blast: BAD ROAD TO NOWHERE by Linda Ladd

Bad Road to Nowhere

by Linda Ladd

December 8, 2016 Book Blast



Synopsis:

Bad Road to Nowhere by Linda Ladd

Bad Memories

Not many people know their way through the bayous well enough to find Will Novak’s crumbling mansion outside New Orleans. Not that Novak wants to talk to anyone. He keeps his guns close and his guard always up.

Bad Sister

Mariah Murray is one selfish, reckless, manipulative woman, the kind Novak would never want to get tangled up with. But he can’t say no to his dead’s wife sister.

Bad Vibes

When Mariah tells him she wants to rescue a childhood friend, another Aussie girl gone conveniently missing in north Georgia, Novak can’t turn her down. She’s hiding something. But the pretty little town she’s targeted screams trouble, too. Novak knows there’s a trap waiting. But until he springs it, there’s no telling who to trust…



Book Details:


Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: Lyrical Underground
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781601838568
Series: A Will Novak Novel, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 


Read an excerpt:

Will Novak swung a leg over the starboard gunwale of his sailboat, got a good firm grip on the railing, and then stretched down far enough to reach the layer of salt and brine crusted at the waterline. Novak was a big guy with big fists and big shoulders and an intimidating look to him. People usually gave him a wide berth if they didn’t know him well, and that’s the way he liked it. It was a beautiful afternoon, late September in South Louisiana, and still hot as hell.

Unseasonably so. He was shirtless, muscles straining with effort, sweat shining on his torso. His body was in peak physical condition, banded with thick, powerful muscles that he knew how to use and that he wasn’t slow to put to good use if anybody messed with him. He followed the rigid daily workout he had mastered a long time ago while in the military, and still adhered to it almost every day. He wasn’t quite as fit as when he ran special ops missions with the SEALs, but he wasn’t too far off. He liked that kind of order and rigidity and purpose in his life, especially now when little else he had meant a damn thing to him.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379 on which he labored was a sleek and powerful craft, practically new and spotless after an entire day spent scrubbing her after over a week spent at sea. She was a forty-footer that he’d had for almost three months, new out of the factory and built to his own specifications. He’d made sure that the boat was perfectly suited to him. Everything was somewhat oversized, enough to comfortably accommodate his six-feet-six-inch frame. He’d sailed her from South Carolina on the Intracoastal Waterway to his home deep in the bayous of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes. He’d worked hard all day making her look like new again. Everything was spotless, inside and out, his gear clean and orderly and stowed in the proper places. That kind of thing was important to him.

On the eve of September 11, he had steered his gleaming boat down the wide Bayou Bonne that edged the back side of his property and eventually sailed her out into the deep royal blue waters of the vast Gulf of Mexico. He’d spent ten full days out there, completely alone, as was his habit every year on the anniversary of that day of infamy for all Americans. He had stayed out on the rolling waves, working through the most catastrophic event in his life, a trauma that he had fought to accept daily for so many years that he no longer kept count. It didn’t matter how long it had been. Not if he lived to be a hundred. He wasn’t going to get over it. He had accepted that now. He just forced himself to live with it. Endless day after endless day.

Out there, though, completely by himself in the dark, quiet, everswaying, ever-restless sea, under untold billions of glittering stars spangled across ink-black skies, he had suffered alone and wept fresh tears for his dead family while he fished for bonito and sea bass and flounder and mourned to the depths of his soul and studiously drank himself into oblivion every single night. But that’s the way he liked it during his own personal, self-inflicted hell week, far away from every other living being on earth, alone and buffeted by ocean winds and rocking waves and the merciless sun, and most of all, the silent solitude where he could work through the grief that never left him, not for one hour, one minute, one second of conscious thought.

But now, on this sunny day, Novak was back at home, ready to live his miserable existence once more, an empty, futile objective that he never really accomplished. But that’s the way it was. Swiping his sponge a few more times down the wide blue stripe painted along the length of the white hull, he took a few extra minutes to scrub the giant silver letters naming his boat. He had called her Sweet Sarah, in memory of his dead wife. Another way to keep Sarah close when she wasn’t close and never would be again.

Once Novak was satisfied with his efforts, he hoisted himself back up and straddled the rail. He raised his face, shut his eyes, and felt the fire of the sun burn hot into his bare skin. He was already sunburned from his time out on the drink, his skin burnished a deep, warm bronze. After a few minutes, he shifted his gaze down onto the slow, rippling bayou current. It was good to be back home, good to be sober, good to be able to think clearly. He had wrestled his demons back under control, at least for the moment. He left his perch, stooped down, and pulled a cold bottle of Dixie beer from the cooler.

He twisted off the cap and took a deep draft, thirsty and tired from a full day of hard physical labor. That’s when he first heard the sound of a vehicle, coming closer, turning off the old bayou road and heading down through the swampy woods to his place.

Grimacing, annoyed as hell, not pleased about uninvited guests showing up, he lowered the beer bottle, shielded his eyes with his forearm, and peered up the long grassy field that stretched between the bayou and the ancient plantation house he’d inherited from his mother on the day he was born. He had not been expecting company today. Or any other day. He did not like company. He did not like people coming around his place, and that was putting it mildly. He was a serious loner. He liked to be invisible. Anonymous. He liked his privacy. And he was willing to protect it.

The sun broiled down, the temperature probably close to ninety, humidity hugging the bayou like a wool blanket, thick and wet and heavy. Drops of perspiration rolled down his forehead and burned into his eyes. Novak grabbed a towel and mopped the sweat off his face and chest. Then he took another long drink of the icy beer. But he kept his attention focused on the spot where his road emerged from the dense grove of giant live oaks and cypress trees and magnolias.

The sugar plantation was ancient and now defunct, but it was a huge property, none of which had ever been sold out of his family. It took a lot of his effort to keep the place even in modest repair. The mansion on the knoll above him had stood in the same spot for over two hundred years. And it looked like it, too, with most of the white paint peeled off and weathered to gray years ago.

Once upon a time, his wealthy Creole ancestors, the St. Pierre family, had sold their sugar at top price and flourished for a century and a half on the bayou plantation they’d named Bonne Terre. They had been quite the elite in Napoleonic New Orleans, he had been told. They still were quite the elite, but mostly in France now. The magnificence with which they’d endowed the place was long gone and the house in need of serious renovation. Someday, maybe. Right now, he preferred to live on his boat where it was cooler and more to his liking.

Minutes passed, and then the car appeared and proceeded slowly around the circular driveway leading to his front gallery. It was a late model Taurus, apple-red and shiny clean and glinting like a fine ruby under the blinding sunlight. Probably a New Orleans rental. He’d never seen the car before. That meant a stranger, which in Novak’s experience usually meant trouble. Few visitors found their way this far down into the bayou. Ever. That’s why he lived there.

Claire Morgan was the exception and one of the few people who knew where he lived, but he trusted her. She was a former homicide detective who’d hired him on as a partner in her new private investigation agency. But it wasn’t Claire who’d come to call today. She was still on her honeymoon with Nicholas Black, out in the Hawaiian Islands, living it up on some big estate on the island of Kauai. They’d been gone around eight weeks now, and that had given Novak plenty of time to do his own thing. Especially after what had happened on their wedding day. The three of them and a couple of other guys had gotten into a particularly hellish mess and had been lucky to make it out alive. Novak’s shoulder wound had healed up well enough, but all of them deserved some R & R. Other than Claire, though, only a handful of people knew where to find him. He didn’t give out his address, and that had served him well.

Novak wiped his sweaty palms on his faded khaki shorts and kept his gaze focused on the Taurus. Behind him, the bayou drifted along in its slow, swirling currents, rippling and splashing south toward the Gulf of Mexico. As soon as the car left his field of vision, he headed down the hatch steps into the dim, cool quarters belowdecks. At the bottom, he stretched up and reached back into the highest shelf. He pulled out his .45 caliber service weapon. A nice little Kimber 1911. Fully loaded and ready to go. The heft of it felt damn good. Back where it belonged. He checked the mag, racked a round into the chamber, and then wedged the gun down inside his back waistband. He grabbed a clean white T-shirt and pulled it over his head as he climbed back up to the stern deck. Picking up a pair of high-powered binoculars, he scanned the back gallery of his house and the wide grassy yard surrounding it.

Nothing moved. He walked down the gangplank and stepped off into the shade thrown by the covered dock. He moved past the boatlift berths but he kept his attention riveted up on the house. The long fields he’d mowed the day before stretched about a hundred yards up from the bayou. The big mansion sat at the far edge, shaded by a dozen ancient live oaks, all draped almost to the ground with long and wispy tendrils of the gray Spanish moss so prevalent in the bayou. The wide gallery encircled the first floor, on all four sides, twelve feet wide, with a twelve-feet-high ceiling. No wind now, all vestiges of the breeze gone, everything still, everything quiet. He could see the east side of the house. It was deserted. The guy in the car could be anywhere by now. He could be anybody. He could be good. He could be bad. He could be there to kill Novak. That was the most likely scenario. Novak sure as hell had plenty of enemies who wanted him dead, all over the world. Right up the highway in New Orleans, in fact. Whoever was in that Taurus, whatever they wanted, Novak wanted them inside his gun sights first before they spotted him.

Taking off toward the house, he jogged down the bank and up onto a narrow dirt path hidden by a long fencerow. Then he headed up the gradual rise, staying well behind the fence covered with climbing ivy and flowering azalea bushes. He kept his weapon out in front using both hands, finger alongside the trigger. Guys who were after him usually just wanted to put a bullet in Novak’s skull. Some had even tried their luck, but nobody had tried it on his home turf. He didn’t like that. Wasn’t too savvy on their part, either.

When he reached the backyard, he pulled up under the branches of a huge mimosa tree. He crouched down there and waited, listening. No thud of running feet. No whispered orders to spread out and find him. No nothing, except some stupid bird chirping its head off somewhere high above him. He searched the trees and found a mockingbird sitting on the carved balustrade on the second-floor gallery. Novak waited a couple more minutes. Then he ran lightly across the grass and took the wide back steps three at a time. He crossed the gallery quickly and pressed his back against the wall. He listened again and heard nothing, so he inched his way around the corner onto the west gallery and then up the side of the house to the front corner. That’s when he heard the loud clang of his century-old iron door knocker. He froze in his tracks.

Directly in front of him, a long white wicker swing swayed in a sudden gust of wind. He darted a quick look around the corner of the house. Three yards down the gallery from him, a woman stood at his front door, her right side turned to him. She was alone. She was unarmed, considering how skin-tight her skimpy outfit molded to her slim body. While he watched, she lifted the heavy door knocker and let it clang down again. Hard. Impatient. Annoyed. She was tall, maybe five feet eight or nine inches. Long black hair curled down around her shoulders. She was slender and her body was fit, all shown to advantage in her tight white Daisy Dukes and a black-and- white chevron crop top. She turned slightly, and Novak glimpsed her impressively toned and suntanned midriff and the lower curve of her breasts. She was not wearing a bra, and her legs were naked, too, shapely and also darkly tanned. White sandals with silver buckles. She looked sexy as hell but harmless.

On the other hand, Novak had known a woman or two who’d also looked sexy and harmless, but who had assassinated more men than Novak had ever thought about gunning down. Keeping his weapon down alongside his right thigh but ready, he stepped out where she could see him but also where he’d have a good shot at her, if all was not as it seemed. The woman apparently had a highly cultivated sense of awareness because she immediately spun toward him. That’s when Novak’s knees almost buckled. He went weak all over, his muscles just going slack. His heart faltered mid-beat. He stared at her, so completely stunned he could not move or speak.

Then his dead wife, the only woman he had ever loved, his beautiful Sarah, smiled at him and said in her familiar Australian accent, “How ya goin’, Will. Long time no see.”


Author Bio:



Linda Ladd is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels. Head to Head marked her exciting return to publishing with a debut thriller after almost a decade’s hiatus. Linda makes her home in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where she is at work on her next novel. Bad Road to Nowhere is the first in a new series featuring Will Novak.


Catch Up with Linda Ladd on her Website  & on Facebook !





Tour Participants:






Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Ladd and Kensington Publishing Corp. There will be 5 US/CANADA winners of one (1) eBook copy of Bad Road to Nowhere by Linda Ladd. The giveaway begins on December 7th and runs through December 14th, 2016.


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Book Blast: CAT IN THE FLOCK by Lisa Brunette


Cat in the Flock


by Lisa Brunette


December 6, 2016 Book Blast


& on Tour March 1-30, 2017





Synopsis:


Cat in the Flock by Lisa Brunette

A sexy murder-mystery with a spiritual edge.


For most people, dreams are a way to escape reality. But for Cat McCormick, they’re a way to get closer to the truth. Cat can ‘slip’ into other people’s dreams.

After graduating college with a degree in criminal justice but little in the way of real-life experience, Cat moves from the Midwest to Seattle to apprentice with her Granny Grace, who shares the ability. Granny uses dreamslipping as a private investigator, and Cat plans to follow in her footsteps.

But forced to take work as a security guard, Cat discovers a mother and daughter on the run. Following the clues, she goes undercover in a Midwestern megachurch, where she finds redemption and goodwill amidst repression, hypocrisy, and murder.


Praise:



“A fascinating tale of mystery, romance, and what one woman’s dreams are made of. Brunette will keep you awake far into the night.” — Mary Daheim, bestselling author of the Bed-and-Breakfast and Emma Lord/Alpine mysteries

“Already hooked, this reader intends further sojourns in Cat’s dreamslipping world. Highly recommended.” — Frances Carden, Readers Lane

“Gripping, sexy and profound, CAT IN THE FLOCK is an excellent first novel. Lisa Brunette is an author to enjoy now and watch for the future.” — Jon Talton, author of the David Mapstone Mysteries, the Cincinnati Casebooks and the thriller Deadline Man

“A little Sue Grafton and a dose of Janet Evanovich… is just the right recipe for a promising new series.” — Rev. Eric O’del

“The launch of an intriguing female detective series… A mystery with an unusual twist and quirky settings; an enjoyable surprise for fans of the genre.” — Kirkus Reviews





Book Details:


Genre: Mystery
Published by: Sky Harbor Press
Publication Date: December 27th 2014
Number of Pages: 197
ISBN: 0986237701 (ISBN13: 9780986237706)
Series: Dreamslippers #1

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Purchase Cat in the Flock at Amazon , at Barnes & Noble , & Add it To Your List on Goodreads !




Read an excerpt:

Prologue


Sherrie marched into her daughter’s bedroom and dragged a child-sized roller bag suitcase out of the closet. The girl stood in the middle of the room, still in her pajamas. Milk from breakfast had dried around the edges of her lips.

“Ruthie,” the mother said. “I need you to get dressed. We’re going to take a…trip.” Sherrie tried to make her voice sound cheery, but the desperation she felt came through in her tone.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?”

Sherrie set the suitcase on the bed. The bubble-gum pink had once seemed innocent but now looked fleshy and indecent. She glanced at the clock over the bed. He’d been golfing for a good fifteen minutes by now, long enough for her to make sure he didn’t come back for a favorite club or the right gloves. She wanted to be on that morning flight by the time he got home and discovered them gone.

She flung open the chest of drawers and grabbed all of the girl’s socks and underwear, a pair of corduroy pants, black cotton tights, a sweater the color of a Midwestern sky. Nothing pink. Only warm things. Seattle in her memory was cold and wet. It was a grey city; grey clouds over grey buildings. Even the water was grey.

One doll would fit. Made of cloth, it could be folded in on itself and slid down the backside of the suitcase.

“Can I bring the ballerina skirt?”

Any other day, she would have corrected her daughter, who needed to learn the precise names of things. Tutu. There it was in the closet, hanging because it took up too much room in the drawer. She yanked it free, sending the hanger to the floor. Ordinarily, she would pick that up; her house was so clean it hurt her eyes with its spareness—as if theirs were a showroom house, not lived in. She left the hanger there, aware of the thrill this fraction of disobedience gave her. She shoved everything into the little pink case, but with the fluffy tulle taking up so much space, the zipper would not close. The choice was clear. The doll would be a comfort to Ruthie in Seattle, but the tutu would not.

“We’ll come back for this later,” she said, tossing the tutu onto the bed. The zipper closed, the sound of it satisfying.

“No, Mommy!” Ruthie stomped her foot. “I want it now!”

“Then you’re going to have to wear it. Now get dressed while I pack my clothes.” But she felt a pang of guilt for her reprimanding tone, and for having to leave the tutu. Bending down, she used her thumb to wipe some of the milk crust from her daughter’s face. “I’ll let you wear anything you want on this trip, okay, sweetheart? And clean your face with the cloth in the bathroom, like Mommy showed you.”

The girl nodded, as if sensing this was not the time for a tantrum.

Sherrie’s own packing, she did with even less consideration. Under things, shirts. A fleece hoodie. Warm socks. She remembered she needed layers in Seattle. Sometimes it could seem warm even though it rained and the sun had not come out for weeks. Her keepsakes in their tiny, locked chest would not fit. They were the only things she had to remind herself of her life before this, but she would have to leave them behind.

Sherrie kept watch on the clock and glanced out the window twice to make sure his car wasn’t out front even though she knew he wouldn’t be home for another hour. The sun had risen blood-red over the cornfields in the distance, lighting them as if on fire. She’d miss that. And she thought of thunderstorms, which seemed never to occur in Seattle. She’d miss those, too.

Ruthie appeared in the doorway. Her face was clean, but none of her clothes matched. She was wearing pink high-tops that seemed wrong for the city they were going to, the situation, and everything else, but she had apparently decided not to wear the tutu.

“Time to leave.” She took the girl’s hand, promising to herself she’d never let go.





Author Bio:



Lisa Brunette

Lisa was born in Santa Rosa, California, but that was only home for a year. A so-called “military brat,” she lived in nine different houses and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. She read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother’s books by Daphne DuMaurier and Taylor Caldwell.

A widely published author, game writer, and journalist, Lisa has interviewed homeless women, the designer of the Batmobile, and a sex expert, to name just a few colorful characters. This experience, not to mention her own large, quirky family, led her to create some truly memorable characters in her Dreamslippers Series and other works, whether books or games.

Always a vivid dreamer, not to mention a wannabe psychic, Lisa feels perfectly at home slipping into suspects’ dreams, at least in her imagination. Her husband isn’t so sure she can’t pick up his dreams in real life, though.

With a hefty list of awards and publications to her name, Lisa now lives in a small town in Washington State, but who knows how long that will last…


Lisa publishes a bimonthly newsletter. Sign up and receive a free book!


You can also visit Lisa on her Website , on Twitter , & at Facebook .


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Plus Join Us In March 2017:

We’ll be touring Cat in the Flock by Lisa Brunette with great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and MORE GIVEAWAYS!




Enter For Your Chance to WIN!:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lisa Brunette. There will be 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Cat in the Flock by Lisa Brunette. The giveaway begins on December 5th and runs through December 13th, 2016.


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Book Blast: FOR DUTY AND HONOR by Leo J. Maloney


For Duty and Honor


by Leo J. Maloney


November 22, 2016 Book Blast





Synopsis:


For Duty and Honor by Leo J. Maloney

In this action-packed novella, Black Ops veteran Leo J. Maloney delivers a heart-pounding tale as fast, cold, and sleek as a 9mm bullet…


For Duty And Honor

The unthinkable has happened to operative Dan Morgan. Captured by the Russians. Imprisoned in the Gulag. Tortured by his cruelest, most sadistic enemy. But Morgan knows that every prisoner has a past—and every rival can be used. With the most unlikely of allies, Morgan hatches a plan. To save what’s important, he must risk everything. And that’s when the stakes go sky-high. Dan Morgan’s got to keep fighting. For duty. And honor. And even certain death…




Book Details:


Genre: Thriller, Political Thriller
Published by: Kensington Books/Lyrical Underground
Publication Date: November 22nd 2016
Number of Pages: 96
ISBN: 1616509813 (ISBN13: 9781616509811)
Series: Dan Morgan #5.5

Purchase For Duty and Honor at Amazon 🔗, Barnes & Noble 🔗, & add it to your Goodreads 🔗 List!





Read an excerpt:


The prisoner’s body was a brick of exhaustion and pain.

Steel cuffs chafed against his raw wrists and ankles, the rough uniform scraping the burns and cuts that lined his arms and legs and pocked his torso. Even under the blackness of his hood, the prisoner smelled stale sweat mingled with his own breath: iron from the blood, acetone from the starvation. He could barely hold himself up against the jolting ride. All that was keeping him upright were the two thick guards at his sides boxing him in. At the outset, hours ago at the landing strip, the guards were in high spirits, joking and jesting in Russian, which the prisoner could not follow. Whenever he couldn’t hold himself up anymore and leaned into one of them or into the front seat, they would box the prisoner’s head and laugh, forcing him to sit upright again.

But as they drew nearer to their destination, and the car’s heating lost ground against the cold, the guards grew quiet, like there was something grim about the place even to them.

The prisoner swung forward as the jeep came to an abrupt stop, tires on gravel. The doors opened and the spaces on his sides cleared as the men got out, leaving him exposed to the frigid Siberian air. Against this cold, the canvas uniform felt like nothing at all.

The guards unlocked the cuffs and yanked the prisoner out. Too tired to offer any resistance, he walked along, bare feet on the freezing stony ground. Someone pulled off his cowl. He was struck by a hurricane of light that made him so dizzy that he would have vomited, if there were anything in his stomach. It took a moment for the image to stop swimming and resolve itself into the barren landscape of rock and creeping brush lit by a sun low in the sky.

The Siberian tundra.

They prodded him forward. He trudged toward the Brutalist conglomeration of buildings surrounded by tall mesh fences and barbed wire. Prison camp. Gulag. The prisoner’s trembling knee collapsed and he fell on the stony ground. A guard gave him a kick with a heavy, polished leather boot and pulled him to his feet.

They reached the top and entered the vakhta, the guardhouse. He passed through the first gate and was searched, rough hands prodding and poking at him. They then opened the second, leading him through, outside, into the yard. His gaze kept down, he saw guards’ boots, and massive furry Caucasian shepherds, each taller than a full-grown man’s waist. He didn’t look up to see the bare concrete guard towers that overlooked the terrain for miles around or at the sharpshooters that occupied them.

He was pulled inside the nearest boxy building, walls painted with chipping murals of old Soviet propaganda, apple-cheeked youngsters over fields of grain and brave soldiers of the Red Army standing against the octopus of international capitalism. On the second floor, they knocked on a wooden door.

“Postupat’.”

The guards opened the door, revealing an office with a vintage aristocratic desk. They pushed him onto the bare hardwood.

A man stood up with a creak of his chair. The prisoner watched as he approached, seeing from his vantage point only the wingtip oxfords and the hem of his pinstriped gabardine pants, walking around his desk, footsteps echoing in the concrete office.

“Amerikanskiy?”

“Da,” a guard answered.

The man crouched, studying the prisoner’s face. “You are one of General Suvorov’s, are you not?” His voice was deep and filled with gravel and a heavy Russian accent.

The prisoner didn’t respond—not that he needed to.

“You are tough, if he did not break you.” He stood, brushing off unseen dust from his suit jacket. “And if he had broken you, you would be dead already. I am Nevsky, the warden. Welcome to my prison.”




Leo J. MaloneyAuthor Bio:

Leo J. Maloney is a proud supporter of Mission K9 Rescue, http://www.missionk9rescue.org, which is dedicated to the service of retiring and retired military dogs and contract dogs and other dogs who serve. Mission K9 rescues, reunites, re-homes, rehabilitates, and repairs these hero dogs. Leo donates a portion of the proceeds from his writing to this organization. To find out more about Mission K9 Rescue, or to make your own donation, please visit www.missionk9rescue.org or go to www.k9gala.org


Catch Up with Mr. Maloney on his Author’s Website 🔗, on Author’s Twitter 🔗, and on Author’s Facebook 🔗!


** (Photo Credit Carolle Photography)



Tour Participants:

Stop by the participants of this tour for more great features!






Giveaway:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Leo J. Maloney. There will be 1 winners of one (1) eBook copy of For Duty and Honor by Leo J. Maloney. This giveaway is limited to US & Canadian residents only. The giveaway begins on November 19th and runs through November 26th, 2016.


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Book Blast: THE BEST OF FAMILIES by Harry Groome



Contemporary Fiction

Date Published:  May 2016


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The Best of Families is the revelatory midlife memoir of a Philadelphia socialite, Francis Hopkinson Delafield. Uncomfortable with the mores of one of the city’s oldest families, Fran begins his story the summer after he graduates from prep school, when he dutifully marries his pregnant French Canadian girlfriend only to have her disappear within months of their marriage. Disillusioned and angry at the whole world, Fran quits college and enlists in the army. He is badly wounded in a war that no one seems to know or care about, and upon returning home from Vietnam, he is confronted with navigating the roiled waters of a second marriage while both his parents and his wives hold secrets that alter his life forever.

Praise for The Best of Families:

“With wit and compassion, The Best of Families captures perfectly the floundering of WASP society at mid-20th century. Trapped in the empty rituals of an upper crust that is well past its sell-by date, young Fran Delafield struggles to free himself from family and tradition. Love, the war in Vietnam and fatherhood turn out to be his path to an authentic life, and his salvation. Harry Groome interweaves romance and tragedy in this lively, evocative novel.” — Rebecca Pepper Sinkler, former Editor of the New York Times Book Review

“…a heartfelt, captivating read, packed with familial politics and strife.” — Kirkus Reviews

 “A wonderful, fascinating, tragic and ultimately redemptive story that begs to be told.” — Ellen Lesser, author of The Shoplifter’s Apprentice

“Not only is The Best of Families a page-turner, but the story truly moved me, and haunts me still.” — Chase Twichell, author of Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New & Selected Poems

 “…a great read that makes a convincing and timeless case for the power of the individual—the power to build your own happiness out of the unwieldy materials you’ve been handed.” — David Ebenbach, author of Into the Wilderness

“One of the great pleasures of life is a good book that tells a story so compelling that when you put the book down, you can’t wait to pick it up again. For me, The Best of Families is such a book…(it) blew me away with its believable razor-sharp dialogue and compelling plot…” — Len Lear, editor, the Chestnut Hill Local

Excerpt


My Family; Our Story

Mark Twain once wrote, “In Boston they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?”

As a Philadelphian I’ll answer that provocative question this way: My name is Francis Hopkinson Delafield Jr.—Fran to most everyone—and I was born into one of the city’s oldest families, a family of Social Register–registered blue bloods who were born on third base but thought we’d gotten there by hitting a triple. Without a doubt, we Delafields are a nest of good old-fashioned WASPs: unimaginative, out-of-touch, sporting Bermuda shorts, bow ties, and Capezios…well, the list goes on and on, but I think old Mr. Twain would get the picture. And, although it goes well beyond what he asked, of course we’re all products of private school educations. Every entitled one of us.

What’s more, having learned how my connection with my parents—I don’t know the proper term for it: biological, cultural, spiritual, genetic?—has shaped my life, I understand why my sister, Heather, always says that everything that takes place in our parents’ circle of friends is tribal. And over time I’ve gotten a better grip on why it’s easier for them to stay rooted in the past than to face the changes the future might bring, certainly the kind of changes that I’ve forced my parents to accept.

Heather also was the person who thought it would be a good idea for me to confront my past rather than sweep it under the rug the way I do most things. Write it all down, is what she said—hence this midlife memoir, or whatever you might choose to call it. She thought it might help me understand, maybe even help me forgive, a lot of what’s happened in our family, and from this I guess you can tell that, as uncomfortable as parts of this will be for me to tell, Heather thought it might heal some old family wounds, maybe even help me learn some things I needed to know.

So to begin, a little bit of background.

In 1941, just before my father went off to the war, we moved to 1212 Poor Richard’s Lane in Chestnut Hill, to a cinderblock-and-glass house that Dad had designed and which Mom and he have ever since referred to as “Twelve-Twelve,” as if it were a Newport mansion or a building of similar historical significance. With the 23 trolley clanking up and down its cobblestone main street, Chestnut Hill, both fashionable and unhurried in its pace, could easily have been a Hollywood set, even a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover. It was there that Mom saw our family as members of the “impoverished aristocracy” and viewed herself as one of Philadelphia’s grandes dames. And, after the war, it was where she and Dad entertained their well-heeled friends, rolling back the worn rug in the living room and drinking and smoking and dancing into the wee hours of the morning to the big bands—Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw—as though they never again would have a care in the world.

But Twelve-Twelve is more than just a place where my parents entertained. It’s where Heather and I grew into our teens, doing pretty much everything that was expected of us. Maybe even a little more. Heather was a high-honor student, president of her class, and captain of the field hockey team at the nearby girls’ school. I started at the local day school for boys but, after eighth grade, went away to the Episcopal School in New Hampshire, just like my grandfather, father, and Mom’s brother, my uncle Robert Peltier, had before me.

I think that’s enough history and will begin my story in 1955. I was eighteen, had just graduated from Episcopal, and was on my way to a summer job in Quebec with my closest friend, Potter Morris. As you will see, this trip, as brief as it was, set the cornerstone for all that follows and altered my life forever. Please know that many of the revelations that I uncover here—several of which my family have jealously kept secret from the outside world—may come as a surprise to you because a number of them aren’t exactly what you’d expect of a family like mine.

Francis H. Delafield, Jr.

September 1968

About the Author
Harry Groome is the author of the novels Wing Walking and Thirty Below and the award-winning Stieg Larsson parody The Girl Who Fished with a Worm. Harry was a finalist for the William Faulkner Short Story Awards and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His short stories, poems, and articles have appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies, including Gray’s Sporting Journal, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Descant, and Detroit Magazine. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Contact Links


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Book Blitz: IN THE LINE OF DUTY by Carolyn Arnold

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itlofdBLURB

He devoted his life to seeking justice. But would she get any for him?

It was an ordinary day for police officer Barry Weir. It was the end of shift, he was tired, and he just wanted to get home to his wife and kids. But someone had other plans for him, shooting him down and forcing him to make the ultimate sacrifice.

When news of Weir’s murder reaches the department, it leaves Detective Madison Knight and every cop in the Stiles PD itching for revenge. It cuts Madison’s boyfriend, colleague, and Weir’s childhood friend, Troy Matthews, deepest of all, driving him away from everyone he loves just when they need one another the most.

With evidence pointing to a gang-related drive-by, Madison and her team investigate the town’s seedy underbelly in search of justice for their fallen brother. But the deeper they dig, the more convoluted the case becomes. Now they need to figure out if this was a random shooting as part of a gang initiation, a straight-up hate crime, or a targeted kill. But with members of the Stiles PD under attack, they have to do it fast…before more officers pay with their lives.





PURCHASE










hero


ABOUT THE DETECTIVE MADISON KNIGHT SERIES

Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli & Isles, Women’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.

Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Ties That Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Found Innocent, Just Cause, Deadly Impulse, In the Line of Duty, Life Sentence (Bonus Prequel).




Author Biocarolyn

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.




Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:

Website – http://carolynarnold.net/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold



And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Book Blast: A MIGHTY FORTRESS by S.D. Thames

A Mighty Fortress by S. D. Thames 
ASIN: B01FMWET52 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: July 1, 2016 


In Tampa, the only thing more crooked than the mob is the police…

Milo Porter leads a happy life in Tampa, Florida. The Iraq war veteran runs routine private investigations by day and coaches powerlifting at night. When Chad Scalzo, the grandson of a rumored mob boss, goes missing, Milo takes the seemingly easy case. After Chad turns up dead, Milo goes from investigator to suspect.

As he seeks to clear his own name, Milo finds himself at the crossroads of two crooked investigations — one by the mob and the other by the police. With the body count climbing, Milo discovers the key to the case in the last known person to see Chad alive.

But can Milo get to her before someone else does?

A Mighty Fortress is the first book in the Milo Porter mystery series, a set of gritty crime thrillers that will remind you of the characters from Robert B. Parker and Robert Crais. If you like gripping suspense, hardboiled crime-solvers, and heart-stopping action, then you’ll love the powerful series starter from S.D. Thames. 


Buy A Mighty Fortress to get caught up in the mystery today!


Meet the author:

S.D. Thames is the author of Foreclosure: A Novel, A Mighty Fortress, and other works of crime fiction exploring the dark side of the Sunshine State. Born in Dayton, Ohio while Jimmy Carter was president, S.D. grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati (with intermittent stints in the bayous of Louisiana and on the riverbanks of Indiana). In 1992, his family relocated to Florida’s gulf coast, about an hour north of Tampa, where he blossomed as a rock guitarist and all around miscreant. While trudging his way through school, he held various odd jobs, including, in no particular order, working as a pizza cook and deliveryman (though never concurrently), dishwasher, newspaper salesman, custodian, carpenter, bookstore clerk, guitar instructor, and manual laborer.

After meeting the love of his life in 1995, he matured five years in one semester and eventually enrolled at the University of Florida, where he majored in English and studied about everything from Chaucer to the Twentieth-Century novel, along with a healthy dose of literary theory. After graduating, he spent a school year teaching German in high school. His life would forever change when he returned to the University of Florida to attend law school, the traditional fallback for despondent English majors. After completing his J.D., he went to work as a litigation associate at a Tampa law firm.

The ensuing seven years are a bit of a blur, but suffice it to say that, unlike the protagonist of Foreclosure, S.D. made partner the first year he was eligible, and did so without having to lie, cheat or otherwise bend the professional rules of conduct. Most days he enjoys the practice of law. He’s had the pleasure of working for a diverse array of clients, including Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, real estate developers, venture capitalists, non-profit organizations, parents in Central America seeking the return of their abducted children, and death-row inmates.

He still lives in Tampa, Florida, where he’s married to the love of his life (yes, the same one he met in 1995). They have one daughter, who is 8 years old and a more prolific writer than her dad.



Connect with the author:     Website      |     Facebook      |     Twitter 








Enter for a chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Card (3 US winners chosen). Each winner will receive one $10 Amazon Gift Card. This giveaway ends on August 5, 2016, and is hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for author S.D. Thames. 


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Book Blast: DYING TO BE BEAUTIFUL series by M. Glenda Rosen



Dying To Be Beautiful is about the billion-dollar world of beauty, a mystery series that take place in “The Hamptons,” where the murdered and suspected murderers are often arrogant and obnoxious with a sense of entitlement. Private Investigator Jenna Preston and her long-time friend, Detective Troy Johnson, work together to solve these murders and other crimes. These cases lead Jenna to philosophical perspectives, danger, romance (thanks to her dog, Watson) as well as secondary stories of human behavior and life in The Hamptons. Intriguing and fascinating stories of bad behavior, they recount mistakes and misdirection because in the billion-dollar world of beauty there are those who are literally…dying to be beautiful!



Dying to Be Beautiful: Without A Head by M. Glenda Rosen 
ISBN: 9781483445304 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781483445311 (ebook)
ASIN: B01BTMZA16 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: February 1, 2016 
Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services


Saturday Morning, 6:00am

The head in the sink stared up at her. Darcy Monroe, the owner of a popular, chic hair salon was used to this. Only this time, the head was there without a body.

Chapter One: The Murder

As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.

She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons. A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.

Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish setter sitting next to her.




Read an excerpt from book 1, Dying to Be Beautiful: Without A Head

Chapter 1The Murder

Saturday, 6:10 A.M.

As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.

She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons.

A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.

Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish Setter sitting next to her.

As a well-respected private investigator in the area, she told the salon owner, “I’ll be right there, and don’t touch anything until the police arrive.”

Jenna knew they needed to secure the business as a crime scene and Coroner Doc Bishop and Head of Forensics Lara Stern had to be brought in as well.

“Troy, someone left a head, without the body, in a shampoo bowl at Darcy’s Salon. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”

“Damn it, Jenna, I nearly spilled my coffee listening to this bizarre message. I’ll be there within the half hour. Meantime, I’ll ask Lara to get over there to check the crime scene for prints and other possible evidence and for Doc to arrange to bring the head to the morgue. We’ll want to look at it there, after he’s had a chance to determine how it was cut off and anything else he might find.”

Detective Johnson hung up.

He and Jenna had worked together and known each other for a long time. They clearly trusted each other. He knew she would follow police protocol at the crime scene.

Saturday, as always was an exceptionally busy day, “in season” at Darcy’s Salon, which is why she had gotten there so early. She always wanted the salon looking perfect, ready for stylists and clients, who this day had appointments beginning at 7 am.

Located off the main avenue of this posh resort at the East End of Long Island, less than ninety miles from Manhattan, the salon was known for catering to the rich and famous, as well as some of wanna-be customers, primping for weekend parties and fundraising events.

The salon was truly beautiful with warm color tones and soft matching leather client chairs facing gold (well, fake gold), trimmed mirrors. There was a reception area with the latest issues of fashion magazines from Paris and Rome, and a few of the more popular Hampton rags, like Dan’s Papers were spread out on a marble table, next to it a coffee machine offering gourmet flavored coffee and teas.

Most of the women who came to Darcy’s Salon had plenty of money, some from their own success, although others were arm candy for much older, wealthy men. Sometimes one of them would joke (maybe not) that they were “Dying To Be Beautiful” like some of the famous models and celebrities, many of who summered in the Hamptons.

“Jenna, you’ve seen how difficult and fussy they can be, and their egos—they’re constantly seeking confirmation of how beautiful they look. They want to come to a high-end salon, expecting to be treated like royalty. And believe me, we do.”

Darcy Monroe was only too glad to charge megabucks for her services since it included a whole lot of catering to their whims and demands. Beauty could indeed be expensive in The Hamptons. The chatter amongst the clients, the eight hair stylists, three manicurists and several assistants meant gossip was a basic ingredient of conversation. The story about the body without a head, and the head found in the salon, was sure to explode through The Hamptons. It certainly had all the elements of a soap opera.

“My god, Jenna, the gossip about this mess is going to be like a volcano spilling over this town.”

***




Dying to Be Beautiful: Fashion Queen by M. Glenda Rosen
ISBN: 9781483449159 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781483449142 (ebook)
ASIN: B01G2F91WE (Kindle version)
Publication Date: April 18, 2016 
Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services

Monday, 6:45am

Kevin Larson swam in his pool nearly every morning. Going on sixty-five, he prided himself on being in good shape.

Walking toward the small pool house, off to the left of the pool, he noticed a light was on. He was certain he turned it off the night before. Strange, he thought.

Even stranger, lying in a different sort of pool—blood— was his long time friend and lover, fashion designer Andre Yellen. Yellen was stuffed into one of the gowns he had designed and a wearing a blond wig. 

The gown had been auctioned off the night before at a huge Hamptons fundraiser.

People in The Hamptons were certainly dying to be beautiful.



Read an excerpt from book 2, Dying to Be Beautiful: Fashion Queen

Chapter 1THE GOWN

Monday, 7:30 a.m.

Detective Troy Johnson was at Larson’s house when Jenna arrived. He had covered the victim with a large beach towel until the coroner and forensics arrived. Sergeant Stan Miller, who had taken the call, accompanied him and was presently attempting to hold back the media. They had heard about Yellen’s death on the police scanner, and in no time, the active crime scene was quite a wild sight.

It was 6:30 A.M. when she had received the call from Johnson that he was on his way to Kevin Larson’s house: “Jenna, there’s been a murder. Designer Andre Yellen, the Fashion Queen, was found dead this morning at the home of movie mogul Kevin Larson.” He gave her the address and exactly where it was located, “past the windmill at the edge of Southampton.”

“More like the situation was at the edge of reason,” Jenna thought.

“Jenna, they’re acting like a bunch of hungry vultures. Help! These are your people. Well, they’re reporters like you used to be. The homeowner is either in shock or just completely uncooperative except for telling me where and when he found Yellen’s body.”

Jenna sighed, “Sure, I can’t say no to such a lovely invitation.”

The death of Andre Yellen was big news.

Andre Yellen was squeezed—really, truly squeezed—into a beautiful ocean blue, sleeveless, silk gown he had designed and donated for a fundraiser the evening before. The size-8 dress was torn at all the seams. Yellen, in his early fifties, 5’9″ and clearly out of shape, was more like a size-18-plus, and stuffed into a dress way, way too small for him.

As a designer for major celebrities for nearly twenty-five years, Yellen was a man about town who loved both the ladies and the men, or so it had been gossiped around the East End of Long Island, also known as The Hamptons.

After all, this is THE HAMPTONS, and all sorts of lifestyles are accepted, where choices are supposedly not judged, and relationships are not restricted by conventional boundaries. Unfortunately, there are always those determined to exercise their own brand of severe judgment.

However, there was no evidence this murder had anything to do with narrow minds. Not yet, anyhow. In fact, it wasn’t clear at all what this murder was about—or who had committed it.

Private Investigator Jenna Preston was familiar with many celebrities who lived or vacationed on the East End. Before becoming an investigative reporter, she was entertainment and social events reporter for the local daily paper and had interviewed quite a few of the “anointed” as she had once called them. Gossip columnists covered the rest.

Jenna was regularly hired by law firms, insurance companies and businesses for corporate fraud issues. She also had an arrangement and relationship with the local police—especially when it came to murder investigations. Some of the people she had once written about also tried to hire her for personal investigations and for, what she considered, ridiculous reasons. Such complaints included some new fence being too high or people walking on the beach in front of someone’s home.

Most of these cases she didn’t accept.

“For me, it’s about justice. We all have reasons, even life experiences motivating our passions. I have mine for what I do,” Jenna told a local reporter whose paper was doing a story on crime in The Hamptons.
Jenna had a solid reputation for being smart, resourceful and most definitely charming—without an attitude—which was different from many of the people who summered in The Hamptons.

She did love nice clothes, including the red shoes or red boots she almost always wore.

“Hey,” she laughed once when Troy made fun of her red shoes, “you wear a cowboy hat most of the time, so don’t make fun of me, Tex.”

Jenna and Troy worked together professionally almost as soon as she had become a licensed private detective. It was a small police force, often stretched thin during the summer season. Because they actually had few experienced investigators, he had requested and been given approval by his captain to use a discretionary fund to hire Jenna on an as-needed basis. She was often a member of his investigative team, usually for murders.

Lately, there didn’t seem to be any shortage of them.

Slender and almost 5’5″, yet always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, sometimes pulled back in a ponytail when she was working. She also had deep blue eyes. With more than a hint of spunk and mischief about her, she was definitely considered attractive.

Jenna’s new romance, Dave, thought so!

***




Meet the author:

M. Glenda Rosen is the author of The Woman’s Business Therapist: Eliminate the MindBlocks and RoadBlocks to Success, and award-winning My Memoir Workbook. For over fifteen years, she helped numerous authors develop and market their books, and presented writing programs in New York, The Hamptons, New Mexico and Carmel, California, on “Encouraging and Supporting the Writer Within You!” She’s the founder and owner of a successful marketing and public relations agency for twenty-five years.


Connect with the author:  

Website      |     Facebook     |     Twitter     |     Goodreads




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Book Showcase and Giveaway: DECEIVED by Ashlee Mallory


Deceived


by Ashlee Mallory


Book Blast on April 18, 2016




Deceived He took everything. Now it’s her turn…

Former foster kid Olivia Michaels is finally about to have it all. She’s recently engaged, and on the cusp of earning a big promotion at a job she loves. But her perfect life is ripped apart by accusations of insider trading and fraud, and ultimately the murder of her best friend. Faced with the possibility of life in prison—or worst, death—she accepts a deal. A plea of guilty for something she didn’t do, in exchange for three years in prison.

Olivia’s lost everything. The only thing she has left now is time. Time to remember what she’s lost. Time to realize who had the most to gain. Time to plan exactly how she’s going to exact her revenge. When she leaves those prison walls, she’ll have more than just a new family of friends who’ll have her back; she’ll have a plan. And he’ll never see her coming.

Grab hold for this fast-paced, high-stakes caper that won’t let go!



Book Details:


Genre:  Thriller
Published by:   Indie
Publication Date:   April 18, 2016
Number of Pages:  299
ISBN: 9780997003505  
Series: A Final Justice Thriller, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The hammering pain in my head finally brought me into consciousness, although I couldn’t yet bring myself to open my eyes. I lay there, trying to remember what happened. Someone had struck me. But Charlotte had been next to me and the blow…

I was wet, cold, and there was a strange smell in the air, an earthier smell, like copper, like…

I opened my eyes and managed to turn my head.

Blood.

I sat up and winced as pain and nausea hit me over the sudden movement. Why was I wet? Why was there blood on my hands? My shirt? Had my head been bleeding? And where was Charlotte?

I couldn’t rise, not just yet, and came to my knees, crawling to the coffee table and my cell phone. This wasn’t right. Something was wrong.

Someone might still be here.

Where was Charlotte?

There was pounding again, only not from my head and voices called out. Police? Then there were officers swarming in.

Relieved, I sat back on the carpet, dropping my head to my hands. What had just happened? There was so much talking, someone asked me if I was okay, who I was, if anyone else was in the house. I shook my head as I tried to make sense of their questions.

“We have a body,” a female officer called out.

I turned to the officer, who was looking down at something behind the couch, already calling it in.

“What do you mean?” I stumbled to my feet, but wavered instantly. Before I could buckle back down, arms were around me.

“Olivia? Are you okay?” It was Ethan. He’d arrived and was holding me up. “Oh my God, what happened? Is that your blood? Are you bleeding?”

But I was barely listening. They’d said a body and I threw myself forward, trying to see something, anything.

Her feet were the first thing I spotted. She’d been wearing her black Jimmy Choos that we’d picked up on her birthday four months before, but one had fallen off and was next to her now bare foot.

Still, so still.

Another officer came over, stepping around the bod—around Charlotte. “I think we have a weapon.”

I’d reached the area where Charlotte was lying, her eyes glassy as they looked up, lifeless. Her pretty blonde hair streaked with fresh blood. The carpet underneath her deep crimson. Sure enough, by her side was something. The lamplight made the surface of the long scissors almost glisten—except where the dark color that could only be blood covered them.

The female officer squatted down along with the male officer to look at her, neither of them touching anything. The eggshell blouse she’d been wearing was now mostly red and it was apparent from the wound and the blood pooled underneath that she’d been stabbed in the throat.

I couldn’t stop the sob this time as I screamed her name. Over and over.

And then there was a prick in my arm and I was floating, adrift. And darkness again took me.



Author Bio:

Ashlee MalloryAshlee Mallory is a USA Today Bestselling author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Thrillers. A recovering attorney, she currently resides in Utah with her husband and two kids. She aspires to one day include running, hiking and traveling to exotic destinations in her list of things she enjoys, but currently settles for enjoying a good book and a glass of wine from the comfort of her couch.


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Book Blast: ALAS, SHE DROWNED by Monica Knightley


Alas, She Drowned by Monica Knightley
ASIN: B01E0R0ID2
Publication Date:  April 12, 2016
Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Murder. Betrayal. Duplicity.

When ex-novice nun, turned steamy romance writer, Maggie O’Flynn moves to the charming village of Stratford Upon Avondale to open a tea room she expects plenty of murder, betrayal, and duplicity. On the stages of the town’s renowned Shakespeare Festival. But when a theater critic is found murdered on the town’s riverbank and the prime suspect turns out to be the sexy bookshop owner Maggie has had her eye on, she takes matters into her own hands. Will she be able to dig through the layers of betrayal and duplicity to find the true murderer before that handsome bookseller, Nate Larimer, finds himself behind bars? With the help of her loud, brash, spitfire of a friend, Gina Mattucci, Maggie plans to do just that.

With a bit of Shakespeare, copious amounts of tea, and a faux-English setting to rival anything the real England has to offer, Alas, She Drowned is the first book in The Stratford Upon Avondale mystery series. Lovers of cozy mysteries will find a cozy home in Stratford Upon Avondale.


Read an excerpt:

As I placed the sandwich board advertising, “Authentic English Cream Teas, $7.99”, outside my twee tea room I came to a realization. In the past two weeks alone, I’d had all the murder, mayhem, scandal, and treachery I could handle.

When I’d moved from my home in Philadelphia to this small town four months earlier I had no idea it was such a hotbed of scandal. Murders were commonplace; duplicity abounded; treachery was to be expected.

And yet the place is bucolic beyond words. Nestled in a rural corner of a western state, it is surrounded by orchards and vineyards. But much of its claim to fame is the center of town which resembles a quaint English village, with every building seeming to have been lifted from Tudor or Victorian England. Mullioned windows, exposed timbers, bay windows, gables, and jettied top floors appear to be building code requirements.

But still, all that murder and duplicity.

Murder and duplicity that could be found on Stratford Upon Avondale’s two renowned stages. The five-month long Shakespeare festival is the town’s raison d’être.  

In my short time in the village I had already attended three plays—two Shakespeare and one production of Arsenic and Old Lace.

Yes, that was indeed plenty of murder and scandal, and the festival had just begun. 

“Morning, Maggie,” called out Mrs. Vachon from the souvenir shop three doors down the street, where she was meticulously sweeping the sidewalk. After a few days of clouds and rain, the morning sun felt warm and welcome, and I noticed Mrs. Vachon wasn’t the only merchant outside tidying up.

“Good morning.” I waved at the energetic, gray-haired woman who’d been running her shop for over forty years.

Maggie O’Flynn—I was the newbie in town. Most of the business owners in the town dedicated to all things Shakespeare and England,— despite being five thousand miles from English soil—had been here for years. Yet they all welcomed me with open arms when I purchased the Merry Wives Tea Room and settled into their town.



Meet the author:

Monica Knightley began creating compelling characters and stories at the age of three, when she had a plethora of imaginary friends, all with complete backstories. Today any characters that come knocking on the door of her imagination find themselves in one of her mysteries, young adult novels, or paranormal romances.

When not fueling her reading addiction or writing her next book, Monica loves to travel with her husband, with England being her favorite frequently visited destination, and perhaps France coming in a close second. She can’t live without perfectly steeped tea, a good bold red wine, and dark chocolate. Monica loves her time with family and friends and can never get enough of either.

Monica lives in Portland, Oregon where the frequent rainy weather is perfect for curling up with a good book and a cup of tea.


Connect with the author:

Website: http://www.monicaknightley.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/monicaknightleyauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/monicaknightley
Blog: http://knightleymusings.blogspot.com/ 





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