Book Showcase: AN IMPOSSIBLE PROMISE by Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets

Harlequin Trade Publishing Fall 2021 Women's Fiction Blog Tours Banner, HTP Books, Stories Worth Reading, featuring book covers for AN IMPOSSIBLE PROMISE by Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets and more

An Impossible Promise, Providence Falls Book 2, by Jude Deveraux with Tara Sheets
ISBN: 9780778312123 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778332084 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780369703071 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488212482 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781665104043 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08QZ29VZ5 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B08YP7WPVM (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Publisher: MIRA Books
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Time Travel Romance | Women’s Fiction

 
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They can’t be together, but they can’t stay apart…

Liam O’Connor has one purpose in this life—to push the woman he loves into the arms of another man. The Irish rogue unknowingly changed the course of destiny when he fell in love with Cora McLeod over a century ago. Their passion was intense, brief and tragic. And the angels have been trying to restore the balance of fate ever since.

Now police officers in Providence Falls, North Carolina, Liam and Cora are partners on a murder investigation. The intensity of the case has drawn them closer together—exactly what Liam is supposed to avoid. The angels have made it clear Cora must be with Finley Walsh. But headstrong Cora makes her own decisions and she’s starting to have feelings for Liam—the only thing he’s ever really wanted.

Liam knows this is the last chance to save his soul. But does he love Cora enough to let her go?

 

Read an excerpt:

 

PROLOGUE

THE CELESTIAL CHAMBER OF JUDGMENT WAS not cozy by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the time it appeared to be nothing more than white roiling walls of mist, which the angel Agon found downright dreary. But his associate Samael deemed it necessary, believing that human souls facing judgment were better off with no distractions. This was probably why Samael’s face was now scrunched in open disapproval—an expression Agon had grown used to over the centuries.

“What,” Samael demanded, pointing an elegant finger at the object against the chamber wall, “is that?” With his blond ringlets and cherub cheeks, he looked like a Renaissance painting of a frazzled choir boy.

It made Agon want to smile, but he refrained. For an angel as old as himself, he’d learned a thing or two. Instead, he drew up to his full height, impressive even by angelic standards, and stretched his snowy wings wide. “It’s called a recliner,” he said cheerfully. “For sitting and resting. Very comforting to humans, from what I gather.”

Samael looked incredulous. “I’ve told you before, this is no place of solace. Human souls are summoned here to face judgment, and not all of them are headed to a comfortable destination.”

“True.” Agon sat on the edge of the overstuffed chair, swiveling left, then right. “But I see no harm in offering them a place to rest while we review their lives. If nothing else, it will provide an alternative to their usual pacing and wringing of hands and stumbling about in distress. It is pitiable when they do that, you must admit.”

Samael sighed, shook his head and turned toward the wall of mist. A good sign, Agon decided. For now, it seemed the new chair could stay. Perhaps later he could bring in a few other earthly things to liven up the place, but what was that human expression? Ah, yes. Baby steps.

“We haven’t time for your antics,” Samael muttered, waving a hand at the wall of mist. “Our wayward rogue is about to learn a valuable lesson.”

The mist cleared, revealing a city street at night. A swarthy stranger in a black leather jacket and designer jeans pulled his motorcycle to a stop outside a sports bar.

Agon rose from the chair and went to stand beside Samael as they watched the scene unfold. “You’re sure this man is just like Liam O’Connor?”

“He has all the same traits as the rogue,” Samael said. “The arrogance, the selfish motives, the questionable morals. He wasn’t originally scheduled to cross paths with Liam, but it was easy enough to arrange.”

Agon tilted his dark head, studying the man who was now sauntering toward the entrance of the bar. A neon sign that read ROOKIES blinked above the door. “And you’re certain introducing this man to Liam will serve a useful purpose?”

Samael crossed his arms. “It will be good for Liam to see his own personality traits reflected in someone else. Perhaps then, through serious introspection, the rogue will realize his many faults and be at peace with the task we’ve given him.”

“Perhaps,” Agon said, though he wasn’t so sure. Liam O’Connor and peace did not seem to mix. The man was hell-bent on winning Cora McLeod for himself, no matter how much he assured the angels he was trying to help Cora achieve her true destiny by marrying Finley Walsh. Agon knew what desperation looked like in a man’s eyes, and paired with determination, it could be a dangerous combination. Liam had both in abundance. “I hope it works. He only has two months left to achieve his task.”

Samael let out a huff. “It has to work. We can’t interfere with his free will, and this is the last thing I could think of to help steer him in the right direction. We’ve already agreed to some of the ‘boosts’ he’s asked for. Rudimentary computer knowledge. Fair warning when we plan to visit. We’ve even made it so he’d no longer feel pain whenever he and Cora touch.” He gave Agon a stern look. “That last one was only because you advocated so strongly on his behalf.”

“I think we can trust him to make the right decisions,” Agon said. “I know he seems like a lost cause, but let us have faith that he will prevail.”

“Mmm, faith,” Samael said as they watched the tall man disappear into the bar. “In a rogue. What could possibly go wrong?”

 

Excerpt from An Impossible Promise by Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets.
Copyright © 2021 by Deveraux Inc. Published by MIRA Books. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Authors

Portrait of Jude Deveraux, 2018

Jude Deveraux is the author of forty-three New York Times bestsellers, including For All Time, Moonlight in the Morning, and A Knight in Shining Armor. She was honored with a Romantic Times Pioneer Award in 2013 for her distinguished career. To date, there are more than sixty million copies of her books in print worldwide. Jude lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Connect with the author via:  Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

 

Author - Tara Sheets

Tara Sheets is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her work has earned first place recognition in literary contests nationwide, and her debut novel, Don’t Call Me Cupcake, won the 2016 Golden Heart® award sponsored by Romance Writers of America. Tara lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Connect with the author via: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Website

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by MIRA Books

Book Showcase: THE INHERITANCE by JoAnn Ross

The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross
ISBN: 9781335503190 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781335418562 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488077968 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488211485 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781665069540 (audiobook – CD)
ASIN: B08NGMVRL3 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B0931R1B56 (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Romance | World War II

CoverThe Inheritance_Ross
 

With a dramatic WWII love story woven throughout, JoAnn Ross’s women’s fiction debut is a generational saga full of sisterly affection and rivalry, perfect for fans of Susan Wiggs, Mary Alice Monroe and Lisa Wingate.

When conflict photographer Jackson Swann dies, he leaves behind a conflict of his own making when his three daughters, each born to a different mother, discover that they’re now responsible for the family’s Oregon vineyard—and for a family they didn’t ask for.

After a successful career as a child TV star, Tess is, for the first time in her life, suffering from a serious identity crisis, and renewed resentment around losing her father all over again.

Charlotte, brought up to be a proper Southern wife, gave up her own career to support her husband’s political ambitions. On the worst day of her life, she discovers her beloved father has died, she has two sisters she never knew about, and her husband has fallen in love with another woman.

Natalie, daughter of Jack’s longtime mistress, has always known about her half sisters. And she can’t help feeling that when Tess and Charlotte find out, they’ll resent her for being the daughter their father kept.

As the sisters reluctantly gather at the Maison de Madeleine to deal with their father’s final wishes, they become enchanted by the legacy they’ve inherited, and by their grandmother’s rich stories of life in WWII France and the wounded American soldier who would ultimately influence all their lives.

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Aberdeen, Oregon

Conflict photographer Jackson Swann had traveled to dark and deadly places in the world most people would never see. Nor want to. Along with dodging bullets and mortars, he’d survived a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, gotten shot mere inches from his heart in Niger and been stung by a death-stalker scorpion while embedded with the French Foreign Legion in Mali.
Some of those who’d worked with him over the decades had called him reckless. Rash. Dangerous. Over late-night beers or whatever else passed as liquor in whatever country they’d all swarmed to, other photographers and foreign journalists would argue about whether that bastard Jackson Swann had a death wish or merely considered himself invincible.

He did, after all, rush into high-octane situations no sane person would ever consider, and even when the shit hit the fan, somehow, he’d come out alive and be on the move again. Chasing the next war or crisis like a drug addict chased a high. The truth was that Jack had never believed himself to be immortal. Still, as he looked out over the peaceful view of rolling hills, the cherry trees wearing their spring profusion of pink blossoms, and acres of vineyards, he found it ironic that after having evaded the Grim Reaper so many times over so many decades, it was an aggressive and rapidly spreading lung cancer that was going to kill him.

Which was why he was here, sitting on the terraced patio of Chateau de Madeleine, the towering gray stone house that his father, Robert Swann, had built for his beloved war bride, Madeleine, to ease her homesickness. Oregon’s Willamette Valley was a beautiful place. But it was not Madeleine’s child-hood home in France’s Burgundy region where much of her family still lived.

Family. Jack understood that to many, the American dream featured a cookie-cutter suburban house, a green lawn you had to mow every weekend, a white picket fence, happy, well-fed kids and a mutt who’d greet him with unrestrained canine glee whenever he returned home from work. It wasn’t a bad dream. But it wasn’t, and never would be, his dream.

How could it be with the survivor’s guilt that shadowed him like a tribe of moaning ghosts? Although he’d never been all that introspective, Jack realized that the moral dilemma he’d experienced every time he’d had to force himself to re-main emotionally removed from the bloody scenes of chaos and death he was viewing through the lens of his camera had left him too broken to feel, or even behave like a normal human being.

Ten years ago, after his strong, robust father died of a sudden heart attack while fly-fishing, Jack had inherited the winery with his mother, who’d professed no interest in the day-to-day running of the family business. After signing over control of the winery to him, and declaring the rambling house too large for one woman, Madeleine Swann had moved into the guesthouse next to the garden she’d begun her first year in Oregon. A garden that supplied the vegetables and herbs she used for cooking many of the French meals she’d grown up with.

His father’s death had left Jack in charge of two hundred and sixty acres of vineyards and twenty acres of orchards. Not wanting, nor able, to give up his wanderlust ways to settle down and become a farmer of grapes and cherries, Jack had hired Gideon Byrne, a recent widower with a five-year-old daughter, away from a Napa winery to serve as both manager and vintner.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to call them?” Gideon, walking toward him, carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses, asked not for the first time over the past weeks.

“The only reason that Tess would want to see me would be to wave me off to hell.” In the same way he’d never softened the impact of his photos, Jack never minced words nor romanticized his life. There would be no dramatic scenes with his three daughters—all now grown women with lives of their own—hovering over his deathbed.

“Have you considered that she might want to have an opportunity to talk with you? If for no other reason to ask—”

“Why I deserted her before her second birthday and never looked back? I’m sure her mother’s told her own version of the story, and the truth is that the answers are too damn complicated and the time too long past for that discussion.” It was also too late for redemption.

Jack doubted his eldest daughter would give a damn even if he could’ve tried to explain. She’d have no way of knowing that he’d kept track of her all these years, blaming himself when she’d spiraled out of control so publicly during her late teens and early twenties. Perhaps, if she’d had a father who came home every night for dinner, she would have had a more normal, stable life than the Hollywood hurricane her mother had thrown her into before her third birthday.

Bygones, he reminded himself. Anything he might say to his firstborn would be too little, too late. Tess had no reason to travel to Oregon for his sake, but hopefully, once he was gone, curiosity would get the better of her. His girls should know each other. It was long past time.

“Charlotte, then,” Gideon pressed. “You and Blanche are still technically married.”

Technically being the operative word.” The decades-long separation from his Southern socialite wife had always suited them both just fine. According to their prenuptial agreement, Blanche would continue to live her privileged life in Charleston, without being saddled with a full-time live-in husband, who’d seldom be around at any rate. Divorce, she’d informed him, was not an option. And if she had discreet affairs from time to time, who would blame her? Certainly not him.

“That’s no reason not to give Charlotte an opportunity to say goodbye. How many times have you seen her since she went to college? Maybe twice a year?”

“You’re pushing again,” Jack shot back. Hell, you’d think a guy would be allowed to die in peace without Jiminy Cricket sitting on his shoulder. Though of the three of them, Charlotte will probably be the most hurt,” he allowed.

His middle daughter had always been a sweet girl, running into his arms, hair flying behind her like a bright gold flag to give her daddy some “sugar”—big wet kisses on those rare occasions he’d wind his way back to Charleston. Or drop by Savannah to take her out to dinner while she’d been attending The Savannah School of Art and Design.

“The girl doesn’t possess Blanche’s steel magnolia strength.”

Having grown up with a mother who could find fault in the smallest of things, Charlotte was a people pleaser, and that part of her personality would kick into high gear whenever he rolled into the city. “And, call me a coward, but I’d just as soon not be around when her pretty, delusional world comes crashing down around her.” He suspected there were those in his daughter’s rarified social circle who knew the secret that the Charleston PI he’d kept on retainer hadn’t had any trouble uncovering.

“How about Natalie?” Gideon continued to press. “She doesn’t have any reason to be pissed at you. But I’ll bet she will be if you die without a word of warning. Especially after losing her mother last year.”

“Which is exactly why I don’t want to put her through this.”

He’d met Josette Seurat, the ebony-haired, dark-eyed French Jamaican mother of his youngest daughter, when she’d been singing in a club in the spirited Oberkampf district of Paris’s eleventh arrondissement. He’d fallen instantly, and by the next morning Jack knew that not only was the woman he’d spent the night having hot sex with his first true love, she was also the only woman he’d ever love. Although they’d never married, they’d become a couple, while still allowing space for each other to maintain their own individual lives, for twenty-six years. And for all those years, despite temptation from beautiful women all over the globe, Jack had remained faithful. He’d never had a single doubt that Josette had, as well.

With Josette having been so full of life, her sudden death from a brain embolism had hit hard. Although Jack had immediately flown to Paris from Syria to attend the funeral at a church built during the reign of Napoleon III, he’d been too deep in his own grief, and suffering fatigue—which, rather than jet lag, as he’d assumed, had turned out to be cancer—to provide the emotional support and comfort his third daughter had deserved.

“Josette’s death is the main reason I’m not going to drag Natalie here to watch me die. And you might as well quit playing all the guilt cards because I’m as sure of my decision as I was yesterday. And the day before that. And every other time over the past weeks you’ve brought it up. Bad enough you coerced me into making those damn videos. Like I’m some documentary maker.”

To Jack’s mind, documentary filmmakers were storytellers who hadn’t bothered to learn to edit. How hard was it to spend anywhere from two to ten hours telling a story he could capture in one single, perfectly timed photograph?

“The total length of all three of them is only twenty minutes,” Gideon said equably.

There were times when Jack considered that the man had the patience of a saint. Which was probably necessary when you’d chosen to spend your life watching grapes grow, then waiting years before the wine you’d made from those grapes was ready to drink. Without Gideon Byrne to run this place, Jack probably would have sold it off to one of the neighboring vineyards years ago, with the caveat that his mother would be free to keep the guesthouse, along with the larger, showier one that carried her name. Had he done that he would have ended up regretting not having a thriving legacy to pass on to his daughters.

“The total time works out to less than ten minutes a daughter. Which doesn’t exactly come close to a Ken Burns series,” Gideon pointed out.

“I liked Burns’s baseball one,” Jack admitted reluctantly. “And the one on country music. But hell, it should’ve been good, given that he took eight years to make it.”

Jack’s first Pulitzer had admittedly been a stroke of luck, being in the right place at the right time. More care had gone into achieving the perfect photos for other awards, but while he admired Burns’s work, he’d never have the patience to spend that much time on a project. His French mother had claimed he’d been born a pierre roulante—rolling stone—always needing to be on the move. Which wasn’t conducive to family life, which is why both his first and second marriages had failed. Because he could never be the husband either of his very different wives had expected.

“Do you believe in life after death?” he asked.

Gideon took his time to answer, looking out over the vineyards. “I like to think so. Having lost Becky too soon, it’d be nice to believe we’ll connect again, somewhere, somehow.” He shrugged. “On the other hand, there are days that I think this might be our only shot.”

“Josette came again last night.”

“You must have enjoyed that.”

“I always do.”

Excerpt from The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross.
Copyright © 2021 by JoAnn Ross. Published by Harlequin Books S.A. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

JoAnn Ross Author photo

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author JoAnn Ross has been published in twenty-seven countries. The author of over 100 novels, JoAnn lives with her husband and many rescue pets — who pretty much rule the house — in the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with the author via: 

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This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by Harlequin Books

Book Showcase: THE MATCHMAKER’S LONELY HEART by Nancy Campbell Allen

THE MATCHMAKER'S LONELY HEART Blog Tour banner featuring the book cover on the right, book cover features a Victorian female in a jacketed suit, wearing a hat and using a parasol as a walking stick and a Victorian male in a three-piece suit, wearing a bowler hat and carrying a walking stick; both are facing forward and the cover appears to be a spoof of a Victorian newspaper, the words THE MATCHMAKER'S LONELY HEART appears between the female and male in decorative lettering, underneath the title is the name of the author, Nancy Campbell Allan.

The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen
ISBN: 9781629729275 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781649330284 (ebook)
ASIN: B09FCF33R7 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B094YR2Z2X (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance | Historical Mystery | Inspirational Fiction

The Matchmakers Lonley Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen 2021

London, 1885

Amelie Hampton is a hopeless romantic, which makes her the perfect columnist to answer lonely heart letters in The Marriage Gazette. When Amelie plays matchmaker with two anonymous lonely hearts, she also decides to secretly observe the couple’s blind date. To her surprise, the man who appears for the rendezvous is Harold Radcliffe―a grieving widower and a member of Amelie’s book club.

Police detective Michael Baker has been struggling ever since his best friend and brother-in-law died in the line of fire. Because he knows the dangers of his job, he has vowed never to marry and subject a wife and family to the uncertainty of his profession. But when he meets Miss Hampton, he is captured by her innocence, beauty, and her quick mind.

When a woman’s body is pulled from the river, Michael suspects the woman’s husband―Harold Radcliffe―of foul play. Amelie refuses to believe that Harold is capable of such violence but agrees to help, imagining it will be like one of her favorite mystery novels. Her social connections and clever observations prove an asset to the case, and Amelie is determined to prove Mr. Radcliffe’s innocence. But the more time Amelie and Michael spend together, the more they trust each other, and the more they realize they are a good team, maybe the perfect match.

They also realize that Mr. Radcliffe is hiding more than one secret, and when his attention turns toward Amelie, Michael knows he must put an end to this case before the woman he loves comes to harm.

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3: pp. 11-14

 

Michael leaned against his desk as he fastened his cuffs. He looked at the empty desk and hoped he would do his friend proud, that he would reach the end of his life knowing he had carried Stanley’s responsibilities to the very last.

Stanley had been the lighter of the two of them, the hap-pier. He’d always teased Michael for being too serious, and he’d been one of the few who made him truly laugh. Michael’s serious nature had settled in with a vengeance after Stanley died, and while he was aware of it, he was at a loss about how to fix it. He wasn’t sure he wanted it to be fixed. If he kept the lightness at bay, the darkness wasn’t nearly so noticeable when it descended.

As he straightened and shrugged into his jacket, he looked at the open file on his desk with Nathaniel Winston’s sketch inside. After hours of work, Michael believed the victim’s name was Marie Verite Radcliffe; her husband had reported her missing the day before. When Winston arrived, the two of them would go to the address provided and speak with Mr. Radcliffe. They would show him a photograph of the deceased woman that had been taken earlier at the morgue and then quickly developed. He would watch the man’s reaction and gauge the showing of shock and grief. He hoped it would be genuine. Everyone grieved differently, but sometimes . . . sometimes it rang false, and Michael simply knew.

He heard Winston’s chuckle in the outer room and glanced up to see him through the glass in the door. Michael had been irrationally resentful when Winston transferred from another division to fill the vacancy left by Stanley’s death. But, while the bond with Winston would never be the same as the one he’d had with Stanley, they got on well, and Winston had been wise enough to ease his way into the department with subtlety.

Winston entered the office and nodded. “Quite the crowd out there today.”

“Indeed. Not so strange for a Friday, however.”

Winston started to shrug out of his greatcoat but paused, motioning toward the paperwork on Michael’s desk. “The new victim’s file?”

“Yes. Not much in it, but I believe we might have a name. Have you time for a visit?”

“Absolutely.” He settled his greatcoat back on his shoulders with a smile. “Have we received word from the coroner’s office?”

“Just the photo of the deceased taken this morning. I believe Neville is beginning his examination. Which gives us time to call on”—Michael consulted the file with the husband’s in-formation—”Mr. Harold Radcliffe, solicitor.” He donned his coat and hat and gathered the slim file in one hand.

As they crossed through the common area, he glanced over at the division director’s office. John Ellis was a shrewd and exacting man in his mid-thirties. He was also the youngest Investigative Director of record and had proven himself worthy of the job, despite the naysayers who’d suggested his position was only because of the far-reaching influence of his titled and prominent father. Behind the glass in his door, Director Ellis was playing host to a pair of minor dignities from Paris.

Winston gave Michael a grin as they passed. “Third consecutive day the director has performed the duties of a diplomat. I see the commissioner has delegated his responsibilities beautifully.”

“They arrived for their appointment thirty minutes early.” Michael pushed the door open, and they stepped out into a drizzly rain. “We’re sure to hear the details later.”

“I certainly hope so. I’ve an aunt who writes romantic novels, and she is ever looking for fresh anecdotes regarding the prestigious and well-to-do.”

They hurried through the rain to a CID carriage, which was different than customary cabs only in the discreet lettering on the side of its otherwise bland appearance. Michael gave the driver the address, and he and Winston settled in for the short ride.

“Bloomsbury, is it?” Winston said. “Respectable, upper middle class—one might think such folk are immune to disasters such as this.”

“We both know disasters do not favor one over another. Our work might be a sight simpler if death restricted itself to one class.”

They rode in silence for a time until Winston spoke again. “I must ask, and hope I do not irritate you with it, but some of the lads at the Yard mentioned your undercover assignment last year. From what I could gather, you played the part of a tailor very well.” Winston’s lips twitched. “A noble enough profession, to be sure, but I’d have thought a cover as a pugilist, perhaps, might have been more readily convincing.”

Michael smiled. “Perhaps my secret personae shall be written in future policing manuals and held up as a shining example.” He sighed. “The long and short of it is my mother was a seamstress and my father was a constable. He died when I was young, and although my mother was accomplished, she was often behind on orders and needed help. I learned quickly.”

Excerpt from The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen. Copyright © 2021 by Nancy Campbell Allen. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Advance Praise

“Allen pairs a matchmaker and a detective in this charming Victorian romance. Allen expertly combines mystery and romance into a fast-paced tale complete with plenty of surprises and a central relationship founded on mutual admiration and respect. Readers are sure to appreciate the strong, well-shaded heroine and twisty plot.” —Publishers Weekly

 

“Allen’s chaste tale of Victorian romantic suspense will also appeal to historical mystery readers, and it would be great for mother-and-daughter reads. This has great appeal for teens who like historical fiction laced with mystery and romance.” —Booklist

 

“I was immediately drawn into the characters’ lives and enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery and the development of the romance.” —Mystery and Suspense Magazine

Meet the Author

Nancy Campbell Allen is the author of fifteen published novels and numerous novellas, which span genres from contemporary romantic suspense to historical fiction. In 2005, her work won the Utah Best of State award, and she received a Whitney Award for My Fair Gentleman. She has presented at numerous writing conferences and events since her first book was released in 1999. Nancy received a BS in Elementary Education from Weber State University. She loves to read, write, travel, and research and enjoys spending time laughing with family and friends. She is married and the mother of three children.

Connect with the author at:
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Virtual Book Tour

Join the virtual book tour of The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart, Nancy Campbell Allen’s highly acclaimed historical novel, September 6-19, 2021. Thirty popular online influencers specializing in historical romance, mystery/suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.

TOUR SCHEDULE

Sept 06 Timeless Novels (Review)

Sept 07 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)

Sept 07 Wishful Endings (Review)

Sept 08 Robin Loves Reading (Review)

Sept 08 A Darn Good Read (Review)

Sept 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight)

Sept 08 Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Sept 09 Bookfoolery (Review)

Sept 09 The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

Sept 10 The Bluestocking (Review)

Sept 10 Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Sept 10 The Silver Petticoat Review (Review)

Sept 11 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Sept 11 My Bookish Bliss (Review)

Sept 11 Nurse Bookie (Review)

Sept 12 The Bibliophile Files (Review)

Sept 12 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)

Sept 13 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)

Sept 13 Reading with Emily (Review)

Sept 13 Our Book Confessions (Review)

Sept 14 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)

Sept 14 Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Sept 14 Beauty in the Binding (Spotlight)

Sept 15 All-of-a-Kind Mom (Review)

Sept 15 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

Sept 15 Life of Literature (Review)

Sept 16 From Pemberley to Milton  (Review)

Sept 16 Probably at the Library (Spotlight)

Sept 17 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)

Sept 17 Relz Reviewz (Review)

Sept 18 Novel Kicks (Review)

Sept 19 Historical Fiction with Spirit (Excerpt)

 

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by AustenProse

Book Showcase: THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE by Sarah M. Eden

THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE by Sarah M. Eden Blog Tour Banner, A Proper Romance, August 16-29, 2021; "Readers who enjoy chaste romances and a good mystery will enjoy the Dread Penny Society exploits and look forward to what comes next." Booklist

The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden
ISBN: 9781629728513 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629739991 (ebook)
ASIN: B098TVLLM7 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B0921TS4TF (Audible audiobook)
Series: Book 3 in the Dread Penny Society
Release Date: August 17, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance | Historical Mystery/Suspense | Inspirational Fiction

London, 1865

Vera Sorokina loves reading the Penny Dreadfuls and immersing herself in tales of adventure, mystery, and romance. Her own days are filled with the often-mundane work of running the book and print shop she owns with her father. The shop offers her the freedom and income to employ and protect the poverty-stricken Londoners she’s come to care about, and it gives her father something to do other than long for their hometown of St. Petersburg. She is grateful for the stability in their lives, but she often feels lonely.

Brogan Donnelly was born and raised in Ireland, but has lived in London for several years, where he’s built a career as a Penny Dreadful writer. He has dedicated himself to the plight of the poor with the help of his sister. His membership in the secretive Dread Penny Society allows him to feel he isn’t entirely wasting his life, yet he feels dissatisfied. With no one to share his life with but his sister, he fears London will never truly feel like home.

Brogan and Vera’s paths cross, and the attraction is both immediate and ill-advised. Vera knows from experience that writers are never to be trusted, and Brogan has reason to suspect not everything at her print shop is aboveboard. When the growing criminal enterprise run by the elusive and violent Mastiff begins targeting their area of London, Brogan and Vera must work together to protect the community they’ve both grown to love. But that means they’ll need to learn to trust each other with dangerous secrets that have followed both of them from their home countries.

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 4

 

Vera’s customers were quick to realize Ganor O’Donnell knew everything about the penny dreadfuls. He was in the shop on his second day of working there, having spent the morning unpacking the latest arrivals and helping get the displays in order. He’d even taken up the job of arranging window displays, something she’d not yet had the time to do that day. All respectable print shops had eye-catching displays. Having that part of the business sorted would bring in more print jobs, and Ganor’s easy and personable discussions of the serials would bring in more penny dreadful customers.

Hiring him had proven a stroke of genius. And yet she couldn’t shake a nagging sense of uncertainty. His knuckles bore the heavy scarring of one who’d seen more than his share of brawls. He was a fighter, though likely not a professional pugilist. She was not unacquainted with men who swung fists as a matter of course, but it still made her a touch nervous having one working in the shop.

Ganor worked hard, but there was an air of distraction about him. Sometimes his mind wandered enough that he didn’t respond when she called out to him. His eyes would take on the strangest look when someone mentioned a penny dreadful author—didn’t seem to matter which one. And he asked a lot of questions.

Still, having him there to lug and deliver things made everything run better. It also allowed her a few more unguarded moments where she could read the penny dreadfuls she loved, despite her feelings of lingering guilt. The stories Papa resented having in the shop gave her a sense of friendship and adventure. She wasn’t certain she could entirely give them up, even for him.

She was rereading the first installment in Mr. King’s latest offering, searching for the clues that he always managed to sprinkle in his writing. Vera took pride in being able to sort out the mystery a little ahead of the story.

“Enjoying it?” Ganor plopped onto the chair beside hers, the both of them sitting at the table near the back of the shop where print orders were taken.

“I always like Mr. King’s stories,” she said. “The mystery and romanticalness.” She stopped a minute. “I’m not certain that’s a word.”

He tossed back one of his heart-fluttering smiles. “Seems to me it ought to be.”

“You have a nice way with the customers,” she said.

“Talking with ’em about the penny dreadfuls and helping ’em sort out which ones they’d like best.”

“Are Mr. King’s the ones you like best?” He motioned to the story she still held in her hands.

“I like most all of them.”

“So do I.” They were having a rare quiet moment in the shop, a lull between waves of customers. “Seems odd to me, though; you selling stories when your da is so opposed to ’em.”

She glanced toward the back doorway, wanting to make certain her papa wasn’t near enough to overhear. “The shop weren’t doing well. We sell a good amount of parchment and pens and such things. But, without enough print orders coming in, we needed something else. I knew the penny dreadfuls were popular, and I’d read plenty enough of them to know how to go about selling them. He was spitting fire over it when I first brought ’em here. He still ain’t happy about the whole thing. But it’s kept us afloat.”

Ganor leaned his arms on the table, appearing to settle in for a cozy chat. How long had it been since that had happened with anyone at all? Papa was sometimes talkative over their evening meals, but outside of him she didn’t have a lot of gabs.

“Why is it your da, a man who despises books and tales and the written word, plies his trade as a printer? Seems a contradiction to me.”

“He was a printer in Russia. It’s the trade he knows and the skills he has.” She shrugged, her hands held out to her side. “He never prints any books or stories or bits of fiction. He limits himself to documents and advertisements and pamphlets.”

“Pamphlets are written by writers,” Ganor pointed out.

“I know it’s a contradiction, but I don’t press him on it. If he limited his jobs even more, we’d be in the suds for sure and certain.”

“Money remains tight, does it?”

“Always.”

His ginger brow pulled as he focused more closely on her. “You’re certain you’ve the funds for paying me? Don’t misunderstand, it’s grateful I am for the income as I’d not care to live with m’sister for the rest of m’life. But I don’t want to be the reason your shop sinks beneath the waves.”

“With how many penny dreadfuls you sold today alone, I’d wager you’ll more than pay for yourself.”

He grinned broadly. The man had a shockingly beautiful smile. “I’ve a fondness for the tales.”

“I twigged that.”

Still looking as amused as ever, he asked, “You ‘twigged’ it?”

“Sorted it out,” she explained. “South London shows up in my words still.”

He nodded. “Ireland wriggles its way into mine now and then.”

She snorted. “‘Now and then.'”

“What is it you’re trying to say, lass?” he asked, eyes twinkling with laughter.

“That I’m not sure you know what the phrase ‘now and then’ means, that’s what I’m saying.” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d smiled so much chatting with someone. “It’d be like me saying I crave hot roasted chestnuts ‘now and then.'”

“Fond of roasted chestnuts, are you?”

“Desperately fond.”

Excerpt from The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden. Copyright © 2021 by Sarah M. Eden. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Sarah M Eden headshot
Sarah M. Eden

 

Sarah M. Eden is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning Proper Romance series novels including The Lady and the Highwayman and Ashes on the Moor. Combining her passion for history and an affinity for love stories, Sarah crafts smart, witty characters and heartfelt romances. She happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library and dreams of one day traveling to all the places she reads about.

Connect with the author at:
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website

Virtual Book Tour

Join the virtual book tour of The Merchant and the Rogue, Sarah M. Eden’s highly acclaimed historical romance, August 16-29, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical romance, mystery/suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.

TOUR SCHEDULE

Aug 16 Among the Reads (Review)
Aug 16 Austenprose (Review)
Aug 16 Reading is My Superpower (Review)
Aug 17 Literary Time Out (Review)
Aug 17 Getting Your Read On (Review)
Aug 17 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 17 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Aug 18 Our Book Confessions (Review)
Aug 18 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Aug 19 Fire & Ice (Review)
Aug 19 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
Aug 20 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Aug 20 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Aug 20 Storeybook Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 21 Bookish Rantings (Review)
Aug 21 The Calico Critic (Review)
Aug 22 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)
Aug 22 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 23 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Aug 23 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review)
Aug 23 Reading with Emily (Review)
Aug 24 Wishful Endings (Review)
Aug 24 Relz Reviewz (Review)
Aug 24 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 25 Bookfoolery (Review)
Aug 25 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)
Aug 26 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Aug 26 Nurse Bookie (Review)
Aug 27 So Little Time… (Excerpt)
Aug 27 Probably at the Library (Review)
Aug 27 Bringing Up Books (Review)
Aug 28 Books and Socks Rock (Review)
Aug 28 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
Aug 29 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
Aug 29 A Darn Good Read (Review)

The excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by AustenProse

Book Showcase: ABDI’S WORLD by Abdi Abdirahman

SOULstice Publishing Virtual Book Tour, ABDI'S WORLD: THE BLACK CACTUS ON LIFE, RUNNING, AND FUN by Abdi Abdirahman with Myles Schrag and foreword by Mo Farah, photo of Abdi Abdirahmah in white Nike track uniform, with Abdirahman name tag pinned to front of shirt, holding an American flag up in his arms behind him in victory.

Abdi’s World: The Black Cactus on Life, Running, and Fun by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag with a foreword by Mo Farah
ISBN-10: 1733188789 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781733188784 (paperback)
Release Date: August 16, 2021
Publisher: Soulstice Publishing, LLC
Genre: Nonfiction | Memoir | Sports Biographies | Running & Jogging

 
ABDI'S WORLD by Abdi Abdirahman

Abdi’s World is a quirky place where the only American distance athlete to qualify for five Olympics shares the stories that shaped his enduring love of running and his laid-back approach to life. Abdi Abdirahman arrived in Tucson, Arizona, as a teenager when his family escaped civil war in their home country of Somalia. How the “Black Cactus,” as he is affectionately known, stumbled upon a career as one of the world’s most durable and beloved track and road racers of the 21st century is a story of resilience, commitment, and respect for friends and competitors alike—told here in a guide that is part life lessons, part training tips, part autobiography, and all Abdi. He has traveled the globe and shared his joie de vivre at every stop, showing a magician’s ability to balance work and play that anyone young or old, in or out of running, could learn from to live a more meaningful life. Enter Abdi’s World to join him on his insightful journey—and see what happens when you meet his stride.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | BookDepository.com

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3
Representing America . . . Second Time’s a Charm

 

Have you ever been to Seville, Spain?

Neither have I.

I had plans to be there in August 1999, but I didn’t get to go—and I had only myself to blame.

So much was happening to me so fast that year. I was finishing my second year of classes at the University of Arizona and my final year of collegiate eligibility on the track. On the heels of the NCAAs came the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. I was running the 10,000m there in my first post-collegiate race. Though my fitness was still good, I had no idea what to expect in terms of my performance or how a big meet like this would be conducted.

Among those who would be competing—the very best professional distance runners in the country—I recognized plenty of names from the Pac-10 Conference. The top three in each event would qualify for the IAAF World Track and Field Championships, which would be held in Seville. Representing the United States at the Worlds and the Olympics was the best opportunity for these guys to make their money. They weren’t going to show me any mercy.

I felt strong and played it smart in my event. From the start, I and the rest of the field deferred to Alan Culpepper, the favorite. He took charge and we let him. But I hung close and managed to take third place in 28:28.26, six seconds behind Culpepper and four seconds behind runner-up Brad Hauser, one of the Stanford twins I had run against many times over the past two years. In an instant I had achieved something I didn’t think possible—competing at a world-class competition as an American.

Soon, reality replaced my excitement. Paperwork, man. Take care of the details. That’s my hard-earned advice. When you make a national team, the USA Track & Field officials spring into action. Seville was less than two months away even as we crossed the finish line. USATF makes sure you have everything in order so you can make the international trip—passport, visa, fingerprints, shots, a lot of stuff I had never given any thought to. When they said to send them my passport so they could process my application for the trip, I sent them the only document I had: my green card. I didn’t think anything more about it until they called me a few days later and said, “Abdi, we need your passport.” A green card shows you’re in the United States legally, but it doesn’t make you a citizen.

I hadn’t been out of the United States since I arrived in 1993 through a program for Somali refugees. I’d been running and going to school for the past six years. My parents had always taken care of life’s details. They gained citizenship while I was in college, so I assumed that meant I was a U.S. citizen too. What I discovered was that my two brothers and four sisters, all under age 18, received automatic citizenship when my parents did. But I was an adult by then; I had to apply on my own. The clock to Seville was ticking down, and time wasn’t in my favor. I tried to fast-track citizenship, and there are mechanisms for doing that. But I couldn’t get it done soon enough.

When Culpepper and Hauser were running around the track at Seville’s Estadio Olímpico, I was watching it on TV in Tucson. While I was frustrated with myself and understood how I had made the mistake, I also felt like I had let down Meb Keflezighi, my UCLA friend who placed fourth at nationals and would have earned the third spot had I not been there. Meb didn’t have a qualifying time that met the standard required to go to Worlds. By the time I got this all sorted out, he didn’t have time to run a race that might have gotten him a qualifying mark. I’m a laid-back guy and don’t mind making fun of myself. I let things go pretty quickly . . . grudges, regrets, mistakes. But more than 20 years later, this is still a little embarrassing because it wasn’t fair to Meb.

Surely I’m the only athlete who has missed being on a national team because he didn’t know he wasn’t a citizen. Since then, I’ve been proud to represent the United States at the Olympics and the World Championships in track and cross country 13 times. But I can’t count this one.

If anything, this incident reminds me how naïve I was back then. I didn’t have big ambitions of being a runner; I had no big plans at all. Not getting the opportunity to be on the track in Seville in 1999 was an eye-opener. It made me realize I needed to take care of the details if I wanted to run at this level. The Olympic Trials were less than a year away, and I really wanted to wear a USA jersey. I barely remembered Somalia, but in America I had found a place where I could feel at home.

It was time to make it official.

***

As it turns out, if you allow enough time, the process of becoming an American isn’t so difficult. After passing the citizenship interview and exam, I was ready. I became a U.S. citizen on January 28, 2000, just under a month after I “officially” turned 23 years old. Like many refugees who arrive at a border without proof of birth, I was assigned a January 1 birthdate by immigration officials when I entered the United States. My actual birthdate is March 21, 1977, according to my mom, but you won’t see that anywhere else but here.

In just a few weeks, I would compete for a spot on the U.S. team that would go to the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. My family had moved to Seattle, Washington, while I was in college, so Coach Murray joined me for a simple naturalization ceremony at the Pima County Courthouse in Tucson.

When you become naturalized as an American citizen, you stand in a strange sort of limbo. You are asked to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States against its enemies. You give up allegiance to any other nation. I had no problem committing to that and taking the oath of allegiance. Also on that day, the emcee names each of the former countries of the new citizens. When I heard “Somalia,” I stood up to acknowledge that was my old country. It’s a funny place to stand. I felt like I had been practicing becoming an American for the past six-plus years. Because of my incredibly rewarding college experience—which was still happening, since I would be taking a few more classes to complete my degree—I was comfortable saying I wanted to be a permanent part of American society. I felt American.

It was humbling and thrilling—I could feel a transition happening in real time. But as with my early days at U of A, where I felt increasingly accepted and open to all that was going on around me, it didn’t change how I saw others. I didn’t feel better than non–U.S. citizens I knew, just like I didn’t feel better than other students at Arizona. I didn’t feel like I was turning my back on Somalia, either. I was just stepping into who I wanted to be: an American. Likewise, I didn’t feel better about myself when I beat other guys in races during my college career, and I didn’t feel worse about myself when I lost to them. In all these situations, if you compare yourself to others and try to take on their journeys, you lose sight of where you want to go.

Excerpt from Abdi’s World by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag. Copyright 2021 © by Abdi Abdirahman and Myles Schrag. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Abdi is an American long-distance runner and a five-time Olympian competing for the United States in the marathon in the upcoming Summer Olympics (July).

Born in Hargeisa, Somalia, Abdirahman graduated from Tucson High School in 1995 and attended Pima Community College before transferring to the University of Arizona for his junior and senior years. At Arizona, Abdirahman was named the 1998 Pacific-10 Conference Cross Country Male
Athlete of the Year. He finished second at the 1998 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

He launched his Olympic career when he competed in the 10,000 meters at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Abdirahman has competed in three Summer Olympics since and is the first American distance runner ever to make five Olympic teams.

At the 2020 United States Olympic Trials in Atlanta, Abdi finished 3rd in the marathon with a time of 2:10:03, securing his place on a fifth Olympic team, and, at 43, becoming the oldest American runner ever to make the Olympic team.

Connect with the Abdi via: Instagram | Twitter

 

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by PR By The Book

Book Showcase: SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY by Katharine Schellman

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman Banner

Silence in the Library

by Katharine Schellman

July 12 – August 6, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman

Regency widow Lily Adler didn’t expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it’s up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions…More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal, starred review

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1643857045 (ISBN13: 9781643857046)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #2 | The Lily Adler series are stand alone mysteries but even more fabulous if read in sequence
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookShop | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Given the way she hadn’t hesitated to interfere in the Wyatt family’s affairs, Lily expected Lady Wyatt to politely rescind her invitation to ride the next morning. But she had insisted, saying her arm was sure to be better by morning. So after breakfast, Lily instructed Anna to lay out her riding habit.

Though she had forgone her usual routine of breakfasting in her own room and instructed Mrs. Carstairs to lay breakfast in the parlor, Lily hadn’t seen any sign of her father. She didn’t mind. If she couldn’t be cozy while she dined, she was at least happy to be alone. And it gave her the opportunity to go over the week’s menus with her housekeeper and offer several suggestions for managing her father’s requests while he was with them.

“And do you know how long might that be, Mrs. Adler?” Mrs. Carstairs asked carefully. “Mr. Branson was unable to say when I spoke to him last night.”

Lily pursed her lips. “For as long as he needs, Mrs. Carstairs. Or as long as I can bear his company. My record on that score is fifteen years, however, so let us hope it will not come to that.”

The housekeeper wisely didn’t say anything else.

Lily’s pleasant solitude lasted until she was making her way back upstairs to change, when she found her path blocked by her father’s belligerent frame. Unwell he might be, but George Pierce was still a solid, imposing man, and Lily had to remind herself to square her shoulders and meet his scowl with a smile as he did his best to tower over her from the step above.

“Good morning, Father.”

He didn’t return the greeting. “I am going to breakfast,” he announced, eyebrows raised.

Lily waited for a moment and then, when no more information was forthcoming, nodded. “I hope you enjoy it. Mrs. Carstairs is an excellent cook.”

He sniffed. “And I assume your excessively early rising is an attempt to avoid my company?”

“It is past nine o’clock, father,” Lily said. “Hardly excessive. And I have an appointment this morning, so if you will excuse me—”

“What is your appointment?”

He couldn’t curtail or dictate what she did with her time, Lily reminded herself. Even if having him in her home left her feeling as if her independence were being slowly stripped away once more, in practical terms he had no say in her life anymore. Answering his question was only polite. “An engagement with a friend—”

“That sailor again, I assume?”

Lily took a deep breath. “Captain Hartley was also invited, but no, the engagement is to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Which I assume you would approve of?” Seeing that she had momentarily surprised him into silence, she took the opportunity to push past her father. “You would like her, I think. She is charming and elegant.”

“And her husband’s a fool for marrying again,” Mr. Pierce grumbled, but Lily was already heading down the hall and didn’t answer.

Jack was coming just before ten to escort her to the Wyatts’ house, and Lily was in a hurry to dress and escape her father once again. Her room was empty when she walked in, but Anna had laid out her riding habit on the bed, pressed and ready, its military-style buttons glinting in the morning light amid folds of emerald-green fabric.

Lily stared at it without moving. She had forgotten that her habit wasn’t suitable to wear when she was in mourning.

She was still staring when Anna returned, the freshly brushed riding hat in her hands. When she saw Lily’s posture, Anna paused.

“You don’t have another, I’m afraid,” she said gently.

Lily nodded, unable to speak. One hand reached out to brush the heavy fabric of the habit; the other clenched a fold of the gray dress she wore. She had stopped wearing colors even before Freddy died—in those last months of his illness, she had traded all her pretty dresses for drab gowns more suited to nursing an invalid who would never recover. And even after full mourning was complete, she had lingered in the muted shades of half mourning long past when anyone would have required it of her, even Freddy’s own family. Laying aside the visual reminders of her grief felt too much like leaving behind her marriage.

But that had meant more than two years of sorrow. And in the last few months, since she had come to London and taken control of her life once more, something had shifted inside her.

“Yes, thank you, Anna,” Lily said quietly, her voice catching a little. She cleared her throat and said, more firmly, “I will wear this one.”

***

She managed to leave the house without encountering her father again. When her butler, Carstairs, sent word that Captain Hartley was waiting in the front hall, Lily felt a pang of anxiety. Jack had loved Freddy like a brother. And he had never given any indication that he thought her mourning had gone on long enough.

Jack was in the middle of removing his hat, and his hand stilled at the brim as he caught sight of her. Even Carstairs fell still as they watched her come down the stairs, the heavy folds of her green skirts buttoned up on one side to allow her to walk freely and a single dyed- green feather curling over the brim of her hat and flirting with her brown curls.

Lily felt exposed as she descended the final few steps, though she was bolstered by the approval that softened Carstairs’s smile. She had never considered herself a shy person, but she could barely meet Jack’s eyes as she crossed the hall to give him her hand.

For a moment neither of them spoke, and when she raised her gaze at last, Lily thought she saw the captain blinking something from the corner of his eye. “That was Freddy’s favorite color,” he said at last, his voice catching.

Lily nodded. “I know.”

Jack’s jaw tightened for a moment as he swallowed. But he smiled. “Well done, Lily,” he said quietly. “Good for you.”

***

There was a lightness between them as they made the quick journey to Wimpole Street. As Jack waved down a hack carriage and handed her in, Lily found herself laughing at all of his quips or droll pieces of gossip, even the ones she normally would have chastised him for repeating. And Jack kept glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

“Do I look that dreadful?” Lily asked at last as he handed her down from the carriage in front of the Wyatts’ home.

“Quite the opposite,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck as he released her hand. “Did you know, you are actually quite pretty?”

“You mean you did not find me pretty before?”

“I think I had forgotten to consider it one way or another,” Jack admitted, grinning. “What a shame everyone has left London already; you would cause quite a sensation.”

Lily shook her head. “I know full well I am not handsome enough for that.”

“Surprise can cause as much of a sensation as admiration,” Jack pointed out.

“Captain!” Lily exclaimed in mock indignation. “You were supposed to argue with me!”

They continued bantering as they mounted the steps to Sir Charles’s townhouse, only to fall silent and exchange a puzzled glance as they realized that the door was half-open, the sounds of raised voices echoing from within.

Lily glanced at Jack, an uneasy sensation beginning to curl in the pit of her stomach. “Should we knock?”

He shrugged and did so, rapping firmly on the wood of the door. There was no response, but it swung open a little more. After hesitating a moment, Lily bit her lip and said, “Well, we ought to at least make sure Lady Wyatt knows we’ve come. If it is no longer convenient to ride, she can certainly tell us to leave.”

“And you were already happy to interfere yesterday,” Jack pointed out, though she could hear the unease lurking beneath his playful tone. “We might as well do it again.”

“Very true.” Lily pushed the door the rest of the way open and strode in, Jack following close behind.

The front hall was empty, but they could still hear voices not far away, now low and urgent, and the sound of quiet crying from somewhere just out of sight. The uneasy feeling began to spread through Lily’s chest and arms, and she reached out her hand in blind anxiety. She was relieved to feel Jack take it and press it reassuringly into the crook of his arm.

She had just decided that they should leave after all when quick steps echoed down the stairs. A moment later Frank Wyatt came rushing down, checking himself at the bottom as he stared at them in surprise.

His face was pale and his eyes red as he gaped at them, his easy manner vanished. “Lily? And Captain . . . I’ve quite forgot your name. You must excuse . . . what are you doing here?”

“The door was open, and no one answered our knock,” Lily said, feeling a little ashamed of their hastiness in entering. “I apologize, Frank; we did not mean to intrude, but we had an appointment to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Is everyone well?”

“Is everyone . . . No. No.” Frank gripped the banister with one hand, his knuckles white. “I am afraid that Lady Wyatt will not be able to ride today. My father . . .” He swallowed. “My father has died.”

Lily stared at him, unable to make sense of his words. They had seen Sir Charles just the day before. If he had seemed a little older and weaker than she remembered, he had still been utterly vital and alive. “Died? But . . . how?”

“In point of fact,” a new voice said quietly from behind them. “It seems Sir Charles Wyatt has been killed.”

***

Excerpt from Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman. Copyright 2021 by Katharine Schellman. Reproduced with permission from Katharine Schellman. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Find her online:
katharineschellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatharineSchellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman

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Book Showcase: PRODIGY QUEST by Verlin Darrow

Virtual Book Tour Banner PRODIGY QUEST - The YA Novel, YA Speculative 2021; tour dates: July 13-16th all on a starry greyish-purple background; Book cover features a boy standing on a road with his back to the camera, road has trees and shrubs along the sides, on the road at the boy's back is an illuminated book (book that is glowing from within), cloud filled sky above the road and boy features the words PRODIGY QUEST, below the boy and book on the road is the author's name, Verlin Darrow.

PRODIGY QUEST - VDarrowProdigy Quest by Verlin Darrow
ISBN: 9781509236909 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781509236916 (ebook)
ASIN: B093XTTWYC (Kindle edition)
Release Date: June 23, 2021
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Fiction | Young Adult | Speculative

 
 A flood of two-hundred-year-old memories from a past life knocks boy-genius Tris right off his stool at the TV quiz show he was winning. Then a letter arrives from a fifty-year-old time capsule that sends him on a quest to find a book of wisdom his karmic ancestors have been compiling for centuries.

Really? Sure, he’s smarter than all the adults around him, but how’s he supposed to navigate an interstate scavenger hunt and elude a group of fanatic lowlifes?

Tris has to grow into someone beyond his years to get the job done. He learns the hard way that the smartest boy in the world…isn’t..

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | Kobo eBook

 

Read an excerpt:

A minute later, I spied Chat and Marc sprinting toward me. Chet sported an oversized pistol in his hand, while Marc held a bundle of white fur—Mildred, I presumed. Just before they got to the car, a burly man in overalls emerged from the building behind them and fired a handgun into the air. Sitting up now, I jumped in my seat, adrenaline surging through me.

“Stop!” he shouted. “Stop in the name of the law!”

Chet and Marc piled in the car, and if it hadn’t been an elderly Prius, we would’ve screamed away from the curb, leaving rubber in our wake. As it was, we could only hope our head start would keep us safe.

My heart pounded the hardest it ever had, and energy shot down my limbs. It was hard to sit still, so I didn’t. I swiveled to watch the gunman sprint away from us toward a black van. Then I rocked back and forth, wishing there was something I could do to influence how the next few minutes would turn out.

“That was a police officer?” I asked after we turned the first corner.

“Hell, no,” Chet said. “That’s just what he wants us to believe. How’s Mildred doing?”

Marc replied, “Not great. I think her canine epilepsy kicked in.”

I turned around to face the front seat, where Marc cradled her gently in his arms as Chet built up a head of steam. Hot air rushed through the open windows, along with the tang of barbecue.

“Hell, she’s better off if she doesn’t have to be here for a car chase,” our driver replied. He veered onto a side street, almost going up on two wheels. We passed a sad-looking cemetery with no visible grass or landscaping, a strip mall with a gaudily decorated massage parlor and a chain convenience store, and then turned again down a long alley between a row of board and batten homes.

I watched through the rear window again and didn’t see anyone following us, which made it easier to calm down, even as adrenaline continued to flood my system. “At least we’re likely to be getting better gas mileage than our pursuer,” I pointed out.

Chet laughed out loud. “You’ve got balls, Tris. You’re all right. You don’t see anyone chasing us, do you? I don’t.”

“No, I don’t either.”

Marc turned and glanced at me. “Humor in the midst of crisis, Tris. Good for you.”

We never saw whomever we’d escaped from. On the way back to Chet’s house, Mildred regained awareness, and Marc passed her back to me. Then he filled me in on what had happened back at the synagogue while I stroked her incredibly soft, white fur. I liked her right away, and I think she liked me too. My parents kept me away from animals. They said animals had diseases.

Excerpt from Prodigy Quest by Verlin Darrow. Copyright © by Verlin Darrow. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet The Author

Author - Verlin DarrowVerlin Darrow is currently a psychotherapist who lives with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near the Monterey Bay in northern California. They diagnose each other as necessary. Verlin is a former professional volleyball player, country-western singer/songwriter, import store owner, and assistant guru in a small, benign cult, from which he graduated everyone when he left.

Before bowing to the need for higher education, a much younger Verlin ran a punch press in a sheet-metal factory, drove a taxi, worked as a night janitor, shoveled asphalt on a road crew, and installed wood floors. He barely missed being blown up by Mt. St. Helens, survived the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, and (so far) he’s successfully weathered his own internal disasters.

Verlin is the author of a psycho-spiritual mystery – Blood and Wisdom, as well as a fantasy thriller – Coattail Karma.

He encourages readers to visit his website or email him to find out more: verlindarrow.com or verlindarrow@gmail.com.

Connect with the Author:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

 

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by PR By The Book

Book Showcase: PUG ACTUALLY by Matt Dunn

Red rectangular background with three white hearts of varying sizes in the middle, JUNE in a small green rectangle beside the cover of PUG ACTUALLY by Matt Dunn (pug wearing heart-shaped sunglasses and red necklace is seated on grass in front of the feet of a female and male).

PUG ACTUALLY - MDunnPug Actually by Matt Dunn
ISBN: 9780778311232 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780369703392 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488211621 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08PDTLYWC (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08FYN55YJ (Kindle edition)
Publisher: MIRA Books
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Romantic-Comedy

PUG ACTUALLY Library Journal Starred Review
 Not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear collars.

A Dog’s Purpose meets The Happy Ever After Playlist in this charming, pitch-perfect take on relationships as seen through the eyes of a wise pug named Doug, who is determined to play cupid to fix his owner’s love life with his own four paws.

Doug wants his rescuer, Julie, to be happy. He is loyal and loves her unconditionally—two things that can’t be said about Julie’s married boss and lover, Luke. Yet Julie is reluctant to break up, afraid to end up like her eccentric cat-owning neighbor. It’s a prospect that horrifies Doug, too.

Newly divorced Tom, on the other hand, is perfect for Julie. Everyone can see it—except for Julie and Tom. Doug is confident that with his help they will get over their initial animosity toward each other.

As Doug humorously navigates the quirks of human relationships, he knows he can’t give up on Julie—after all, being a “rescue” works both ways.

 

Read an excerpt:

According to Luke, he’s “about to leave the office.”

Despite what he just said to whoever is on the receiving end of the furtive cell phone call he’s making, Luke’s actually sitting in his car right outside the house I share with my best friend Julie. Which proves he’s lying. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Julie hasn’t heard his latest lie, of course. Her hearing isn’t as good as mine. She has heard the car pull up, waved to him, acknowledged his “on the phone” mime through the window, and left her front door ajar so she can return to the particularly gripping part of EastEnders we’ve been watching, where a mean-looking bald gentleman has just instructed the pasty-looking character he’s been threatening to beat up that he “ain’t worth it.” An appraisal that—if it referred to Luke—Julie and I would have wildly differing opinions about.

I take the opportunity to sneak out through the open door, trot along the path, and sit just the other side of the garden gate, where I can eavesdrop on what’s sure to be the latest twist in a saga way more complicated than the television shenanigans in Albert Square.

“Sure,” Luke says, after a moment, “Chinese or pizza?” which makes my mouth water, especially when he adds, “Chinese and pizza it is.” Then I’m brought sharply back to reality, because at his, “Love you, too, sweetie,” I realize he’s talking to his wife, and remember that not only is he a liar, but he’s a philanderer as well.

Luke finishes the call and checks his hair in that reflective device stuck to the car windscreen that Julie only ever uses to help her apply her makeup when she’s driving, smells his breath in his cupped hand and peers up and down the street as if looking for someone. Then he climbs out of his car, walks a pace or two away from the curb, and swivels around quickly to click the vehicle shut with the remote, as if he’s firing a gun in the opening credits of a James Bond film.

With a frown, he walks back up to the driver’s door and wipes a barely-visible smudge from the paintwork, then he takes a step backward and admires the vehicle—one of those sporty-looking coupes that, mechanically, is the same as the “family” model. Style over substance, as Julie’s dad would no doubt point out. Therefore pretty much the kind of car you’d expect Luke to drive.

With a last check of his cell phone, he switches it off, slips it into his pocket, and strides confidently toward Julie’s gate, hesitating when he spots me waiting for him in the garden.

“Doug,” he says.

It’s an observation rather than a greeting, so I give him a look, reluctantly step to one side so he can get past, then tail him back toward the house, nipping in through the front door before him, just in case he tries to shut me outside.

“Sweetie?” he shouts, as he regards me warily, and it occurs to me I rarely hear him call her “Julie”—a sensible tactic if you’re seeing multiple women, I imagine.

“In here,” replies Julie, from the living room, and Luke strides along the hall, peering around the house like a potential burglar, though if I know him, there’s only one thing he’s interested in getting his hands on.

I follow him into where Julie’s sitting expectantly on the sofa, taking up a defensive position at her feet as she switches off the TV. This is worrying: EastEnders isn’t over yet, and under normal circumstances, even if the house were falling down, she’d probably try and hang around, dodging falling masonry, until the end credits were rolling. Then again, as Luke’s all-too-regular off-hours presence here often reminds me, he and Julie aren’t exactly “normal” circumstances.

“This is a pleasant surprise!”

“Couldn’t stay away.” Luke collapse-sits onto the sofa next to her, then hoists his feet up onto the coffee table as if he owns the place. “You know me.”

I exhale loudly as I take up a guard position beneath his legs: If she really knew Luke, I doubt she’d let him in the house, let alone on the sofa. It took me long enough before I was allowed to sit there.

“Can I get you anything?”

“Just this,” says Luke, leaning across to plant a wet one (as Julie’s dad describes the way I do it whenever anyone raises me to face level) on Julie’s lips, and I have to look away. I don’t know why, but I find this “kissing” thing Luke and Julie insist on doing unsettling—possibly because of the weird hum of pleasure he makes every time. “I was just passing. Realized how much I missed you.”

“Passing?” says Julie, dejectedly, then she does a double take, and a look flashes across Luke’s face, and Julie’s expression mirrors it. Then I realize why he’s come round, and it shocks me so much it’s all I can do not to let out a disgusted bark. From what I can work out given his earlier phone call, he’s going to have a “quickie” with Julie, then calmly pick up takeout and bring it home to his wife.

“Yeah.” Luke licks his lips, an action which makes me shudder. “I’m not interrupting any plans, am I?” he asks, though I’m pretty sure he already knows the answer to that question. Julie rarely has any plans. Mainly because—given Luke’s situation—she can’t make any.

“No, just…” Julie nods at the TV. “Priya’s going to be here in a bit. Game of Thrones is on.”

“Oh yes. The Dragon Lady.” He rolls his eyes, and I’m not sure whether he’s referring to a character from the program or Priya. Luke’s not her biggest fan. And the feeling is definitely mutual.

“I can call her,” says Julie, already reaching for her phone. “Tell her to come later. We can watch it on DVR.”

“Don’t worry. I can’t stay.”

“Oh.” The disappointment in Julie’s voice is so obvious, Luke can’t help but give a little victory smile.

“For long,” he adds, looking pointedly at his watch.

“Oh,” says Julie, again, followed by another, but this time, an I-get-it one, which makes me suspect she’s “up for it,” as I’m sure Luke would probably describe her. It’s at that moment I decide I can’t just stand idly by and let him get away with this. So as Julie shimmies across the sofa to straddle him, and Luke reaches up and starts unbuttoning her blouse, I squeeze myself out from underneath his still-outstretched legs, leap up onto the sofa, and force my way between the two of them.

“Doug!” Julie gives me a stern look. “Down!”

I’m wishing I could say the same thing to Luke, but before I can decide what my next move’s going to be, he picks me up—rather ungently, it has to be said—and sets me back on the floor.

“Yes Doug, down!” Luke sniffs his fingers, makes a face, then surreptitiously wipes his hands on a cushion, which irks me even more, particularly since I’ve already had my bath this month. “Now, where were we?” he says, reaching for Julie’s buttons a second time.

As he busies himself with the contents of her blouse, he simultaneously blocks my route back up onto the sofa with his legs, and I fear I might be stymied, until I remember a tactic that Eddie, the Jack Russell star of the reruns of Frasier Julie and I love watching, often uses. I dart under the coffee table, leap up onto the armchair opposite the sofa, position myself in Luke’s direct eye line, and fix him with my most disapproving stare. After a moment my strategy works, because he opens his eyes midkiss (which is even creepier than the noises he makes), catches sight of me over Julie’s shoulder, and breaks away from her.

“Something the matter?” asks Julie.

Luke glares back at me. “It’s Doug.”

“What about him?”

“He’s staring at me.”

“What?” Julie turns to look at me, so I hurriedly put on my best, most irresistible pug eyes, wrinkle my forehead to the maximum, then angle my head for good measure.

“He’s not staring. He’s a pug. That’s just how it appears.”

“It’s disconcerting.”

“Well, just shut your eyes.”

Julie leans down to kiss him again, and Luke does as instructed. But sure enough, a few seconds later, he half opens one of them, to find I’ve resumed my visual assault.

“He’s doing it again.”

Luke…”

Luke wriggles out from underneath her, sits upright, and places a cushion in his lap. “I’m sorry. I just can’t. Not with him…”

Julie sighs, then she gets up from the sofa, picks me up and carries me through to the kitchen.

“Sorry, Doug,” she says, depositing me on the floor by my bowl, before tipping some food into it, hurrying back into the living room, and shutting the door behind her.

“Now, where were we?” I hear her say, perhaps a little impatiently, then everything goes quiet, so I pad over toward the door. It’s one of those opaque-paneled ones, so all I can see is the outline of the two of them cavorting.

I sit down and fix my gaze on my best guess of where Luke’s face is, and stare as hard as I can at him through the frosted glass. And it seems to work, as it’s only around thirty seconds before Julie says, “What now?”

“He’s still doing it.”

“Pardon?”

“Doug. Staring at me. Through the kitchen door.”

“What, with his X-ray vision?”

“You know what I mean.”

Julie sighs in a way that demonstrates that it’s evident she doesn’t. “What do you want me to do. Put him outside?”

“Would you?”

I whimper at the prospect so plaintively that it’s only a matter of seconds before Julie opens the kitchen door, picks me up, and carries me over to the armchair. Though my victory is fleeting, as she heads straight back to the sofa, and resumes her straddling of a somewhat disgruntled-looking Luke.

“Tell you what.” Julie walks her fingertips suggestively along the arm of the sofa. “Why don’t we take this into the bedroom?”

Luke frowns, perhaps wondering whether Julie’s suggesting some light furniture removal, then the penny evidently drops. “Good idea,” he says.

“Right. I’ll just nip into the bathroom, and you…” Julie nods in the general direction of the bedroom.

I sit there innocently as she jumps up from the sofa and heads off along the hall. But the moment she shuts the bathroom door behind her, I leap down from the chair, sprint out of the living room, and—almost losing it on the sharp corner thanks to the combination of my short legs and Julie’s polished wooden laminate flooring—get to the bedroom ahead of him. And I’m already sitting defiantly on Julie’s bed by the time Luke appears in the doorway.

“For fu…!”

He narrows his eyes at me, then glances at his watch again, perhaps working out just how late he can get away with arriving home by blaming it on the length of the wait for the takeout. Then—and admittedly it’s the one flaw in my plan—he raises both eyebrows in a gotcha way, and shuts the bedroom door, trapping me inside.

Hurriedly, I jump back down from the bed, run to the door, and place an ear against it. From what I can work out, Julie’s finished in the bathroom, and I hear Luke tell her that, actually, the sofa’s just fine with him. There’s a giggle (Julie), then the sound of a belt being undone, then silence, followed by some sounds that I’d rather not report. Aware that I’ve run out of options—and I’m not proud of myself—I begin to whine. And whine. Then I start to bark insistently, upping the volume every third-or-so bark, until finally there’s a frustrated-sounding “For crying out loud!” from Luke, quickly followed by footsteps, and a slightly-flushed-looking Julie opening the door.

“What’s the matter, Doug?” she says, as she picks me up and carries me back into the living room. “How did you get yourself shut in there?”

I glance pointedly over to where Luke is sitting on the sofa, adjusting his clothes while giving me what I believe is known as “the evil eye,” but Julie misses the inference.

Luke sighs resignedly, in the manner of someone who’s realized he’s not going to get what he wants. “Right. Well…” He glances at his watch a third time, then hauls himself reluctantly up from the sofa. “I ought to…”

“Don’t go.” Julie sets me gently back down on the floor, then takes a pace toward him. “We haven’t even…”

“Yes. Well. Whose fault is that?” huffs Luke.

He’s meant that it’s mine, but judging by the look on her face, Julie appears to have taken his last comment personally. “Sorry. No. You’re right,” she says, sulkily. “You get off home to your wife like a good boy!”

As Luke swallows loudly, I snort as incredulously as I can. There’s only one good boy here, and (spoiler alert) it’s me.

“Sweetie, don’t be like…”

Julie shrugs off his attempt at a hug, and I brace myself for the inevitable. They’ve had this conversation—or rather, argument—several times before, and each time Luke tells Julie he just can’t leave his wife yet, I sense a little something die inside her.

True to form, she’s got tears in her eyes, and though I’d like to rush over and comfort her, I stop myself. She needs to feel bad about Luke, and sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

“Don’t ‘sweetie’ me!” she snaps. “You promised!”

“And I will.” Luke perches on the arm of the sofa. “I told you, now’s not the right time. I just need to get all my ducks in a row, and…” He fires off finger pistols in rapid succession, and I can’t help but snort again. “But I understand,” he continues. “If you can’t wait, then perhaps we ought to…”

“No, I didn’t mean…” Hurriedly, Julie takes his hand, as if she’s the one who should be apologizing. “I get that this is hard for you. Really, I do. But you can’t blame me for wanting us to be together?”

She smiles down at him, a pleading expression on her face, and Luke kisses the back of her hand, as if bestowing some kind of papal blessing. Then he stands up and sighs dramatically as he takes her in his arms. “It’s what I want too,” he says. “But try and look at things from my point of view. I just want to do right by everyone, you know? You, me, and Sarah…”

At the sound of Luke’s wife’s name, Julie winces, then she nods, though if you ask me, the only person Luke has ever intended to do right by is himself.

“Okay,” she says, reluctantly. “So I’ll see you on Monday?”

Luke looks shocked for a moment, as if there’s some important date he’s forgotten, then he lets out a short laugh. “You mean at work?”

Julie nods again, and Luke grins like someone who knows he’s still in the driving seat—and not just of the showy coupe parked outside. “Right,” he says, patting his pockets to locate his car keys, his mind probably already on which pizza topping he’s going to choose. “Well, say hi to Priya for me.”

“Sure,” says Julie, though all three of us know she won’t, unless she wants a lecture.

“I’ll see myself out,” Luke says, and even though that’s probably directed at me, I still make sure to escort him off the premises. I wouldn’t want him to take anything. Especially advantage of Julie.

Though my fear is, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Excerpt from Pug Actually by Matt Dunn. Copyright © 2021 by Matt Dunn. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet The Author

Author - Matt Dunn

Matt Dunn’s romantic comedy novels include The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook (shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award and the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance), A Day at the Office (an Amazon #1 bestseller across several categories), Thirteen Dates (shortlisted for the Romantic Comedy of the Year Award), and Kindle #1 Bestseller At The Wedding. He’s also written about life and love for The Times, Guardian, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Company, Elle, and The Sun.

Connect with the Author:

Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Author Website

 

 

This excerpt brought to you by MIRA Books

Book Showcase: PRIMORDIAL by David L. Sobel

PRIMORDIAL Virtual Book Tour Banner, Red background with white torn paper listing all of the virtual book tour stops between June 14 through June 18; book cover, white background, with blood droplets beside the tips of opened surgical forceps, PRIMORDIAL is in large red letters across the forceps, David L. Sobel, MD, JD is also in red below the forceps.

Primordial by David Sobel
ISBN: 9781736303504 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781736303511 (ebook)
ASIN: B08Q7Z9MZF (Kindle edition)
Release Date: December 7, 2020
Genre: Fiction | Thriller | Medical Thriller

Primordial by David Sobel, is a Crichton-like thriller that centers on the plights of two scientists separated by decades and borders but united in their obsessive quest for the physical location of the soul. Jonas, a hospital attorney, begins to suspect that someone is targeting patients in his NYC hospital. With the help of two residents, his search for answers will bring him face to face with a killer.

Thought-provoking, both scientifically and ethically, Primordial is a story that spans decades of medical and legal mystery, history and suspense. It will transport readers to a Nazi medical laboratory in World War II, then back to present day New York City where an unlikely trio, Jonas the experienced hospital lawyer, “Early” the quirky urology resident, and Rachel, the wickedly smart neurosurgery resident, struggle to piece together a series of unexplained killings. Debut author Dr. Sobel weaves his medical expertise and extensive historical research in a twisted tangle of secrets that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Read an excerpt:

Rudolph “Rudy” Walla was sweating.

He stood, perfectly still, within the one-meter square sentry post that was positioned just inside the back gate of the Seelentor concentration camp. The post was a tiny glass and wood structure with a small external cut-out that housed a potbelly stove. The stove, on this bitter February night, poured molten heat into the structure. Rudy’s breath, exhaled in the long drawl of the bored and tired, condensed on the front pane of glass, obscuring his view. He was just able to discern the shadowy outline of the SS-Schutze—the private—who had occupied the post before Rudy came looking for a reprieve from the cold. He smiled at the thought of a sentry post with a frosted view and of the private, hunched and angry, pacing in the cold. Not much to see anyway, he thought to himself, returning to his slow, metered breathing. Rudy was in a corner of Poland—forgotten, miserable, stoic, and sweating. God, was he sweating.

Rudy’s wool uniform, the severe black of the SS, was plastered to his body. Each movement was a sticky uncomfortableness. The commander of the camp had called the sentry post the Aufrechten Sarg—the “upright coffin.” And, as horrible as the coffin was, it beat the blistering cold that was just on the other side of the glass. It was early morning. Dawn was approaching and the sun was just tickling the sky, turning the black into a bruised dark blue. The earth felt as if every ounce of heat had been stolen away. A brittle and broken, icicle-white wasteland. His sanctuary was a stifling coffin. Rudy thought of Ishmael and the white whale. And, not uncommon on a lonely, sleepless night, he thought of the hand of fate that had steered him all the way from his childhood in Berlin to this tiny box in this foreign land.

Excerpt from Primordial by David Sobel. Copyright © by David Sobel. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet The Author

Author - David Sobel MD JD

David Sobel, M.D./J.D. is a board-certified practicing urologist who specializes in sexual medicine and is a faculty member at the University of Colorado. He has over 21 years of experience and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Prior to becoming a physician, he was a corporate lawyer with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in NYC. Dr. Sobel is also a founder of Emmi Solutions, a company that creates education modules that assist patients with their medical care. He lives in Denver with his wife and two children.

Connect with the Author:

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

 

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by PR By The Book

Book Showcase: DEAD TREE TALES by Rush Leaming

DEAD TREE TALES by Rush Leaming Tour Banner courtesy of Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours: book cover features an old live oak tree in the background with the words DEAD TREE TALES in the foreground on upper 75% of cover, lower 25% of book cover has a single bullet beside "By Rush Leaming"; Quote: "Fast-paced, full of action and intrigue" by Lorraine Cobcroft, Reader's Favorites.

Dead Tree Tales

by Rush Leaming

June 7 – July 2, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Set in Charleston, SC, and the surrounding islands, police are called to investigate the poisoning of a much-loved 1000-year-old tree, only to find evidence of a more brutal crime. From there, the story explodes into a fast-paced, multi-character thriller unlike any you’ve ever read. Not for the faint of heart…

Dead Tree Tales by Rush Leaming is about a lot more than a dead tree. It’s a mystery. It’s a crime story. It’s a thriller. It’s a powerful comment on today’s society and politics… fast-paced, full of action and intrigue… It’s a real page-turner and just a fantastic read.” – Lorraine Cobcroft, Reader’s Favorite

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Bridgewood
Publication Date: June 8th 2021
Number of Pages: 488
ISBN: 0999745654 (ISBN13: 9780999745656)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

It was known simply as The Tree; that is what the locals on Johns Island, South Carolina, called it. A Southern live oak born a thousand years ago (some even said fifteen hundred), its gargantuan limbs swirled and stretched as much as two hundred feet in all directions. The lower arms, heavy with age, sometimes sank into the earth only to reemerge. Other branches flailed recklessly in the sky, like some sort of once-screaming kraken turned to wood by an ancient curse.

Generation after generation had protected it. Rising from the center of a former indigo plantation, and now officially known as Addison’s Oak, The Tree had long been a source of pride, even fear, in the surrounding community, as well as James Island, Wadmalaw Island, and the nearby city of Charleston.

But now, The Tree was dying. It was not from natural causes either, not from time, nor gravity, nor the weather.

Someone had killed it.

“Is that a thing?” Detective Charlie Harper asked as he turned his head to look at his partner, Detective Elena Vasquez.

“I think so.” Elena squinted her eyes toward the top of the canopy, the leafy summit shadowed and backlit by the noon sun.

“Arborcide? That’s a thing?” Charlie asked again.

An Asian-American man in his mid-twenties wearing wraparound sunglasses stood next to the two detectives. “Yep. You remember that incident a few years ago in Auburn? Toomer’s Corner. Crazy Alabama fan poisoned the tree there.”

“Yeah,” Charlie said. “But I mean legally. Is it legally a crime to do this?”

“Cops were involved there,” the man said. “The guy went to jail. Has to be something. Why don’t you call them? See what they did.” He pulled a pack of spearmint gum from the front pocket of his jeans and stuffed five pieces in his mouth, noticing Charlie watching him. “Quitting smoking. Nicotine gum makes me dizzy.”

Charlie nodded. “Been there.” Six feet tall, with a closely trimmed beard under bright-blue eyes, he walked around the perimeter of the field.

Salt air swirled around him—they were only a couple of miles from the beach—and Charlie realized it was the first time he had been away from the city and out on the islands in months, maybe even over a year.

Elena Vasquez, an athletic five-ten with shoulder-length black hair bobby-pinned over her ears, stood in front of the young man and opened a new page in the Notes app on her iPhone. “So, you’re the one who called about this?”

“Yes. It took some digging to figure out who to contact. I didn’t know there weren’t any police stations out here.”

“That’s correct.” She typed the date 5/19/2015 at the top of the page. “Closest station is the Island Sheriff’s Patrol on James Island, but they don’t handle things like this. That’s why you got us from the city. And who are you again?”

“Daniel Lee.”

She looked up from her iPhone. “Daniel is a nice name. It’s my son’s name, though we call him Danny. Where are you from, Mr. Lee?”

“I’m originally from Maryland—Chesapeake Bay area—but now I live in Charleston. West Ashley. I’m a Ph.D. candidate at the college.”

“College of Charleston?” Elena asked and continued typing.

“Yes. Environmental science. Teach a couple of undergrad classes as well. And I’m president of the local Sierra Club chapter. Our service project for this year has been public park maintenance and cleanup. I came here a week ago and saw that broken limb—”

“This one?” Charlie pointed at a fat twisted branch about the length of a Greyhound bus lying near the base of the tree.

“Yes.”

“Well . . .” Charlie said. “How do you know it wasn’t lightning or something?”

Daniel went over to Charlie and squatted next to the fallen limb. “There are no burn marks. Lightning would leave those.”

“Maybe it’s just old age. Isn’t this thing like a thousand years old or something?”

“Possibly more. It is rotting,” Daniel said. “But not from old age. See this discoloration? The rust-colored saturation of the stump where it broke?”

Charlie leaned in a little closer. “Yes.”

“That’s from poison, from a lot of poison. And you can see spots like this forming and spreading all around the trunk and on other branches.”

Elena stood beneath The Tree, placing her hand on a dark-orange splotch on the trunk. The gray bark surrounding the stain felt tough and firm, but inside the color spot, it was soft and crumbling. “I see it.”

“It’s like cancer,” Daniel said. “The Tree is not dead yet, but it will be soon. I had the soil tested as well as samples from the broken limb. They came back positive for massive levels of DS190.”

“And that is?” Charlie said.

“A variant of tebuthiuron. A very powerful herbicide. Similar to what was used at Toomer’s Corner. Somebody has been injecting the tree as well as dumping it into the ground. Probably for a few months to reach these levels.”

“Injecting the tree?” Elena said.

Daniel pulled them over to the base of the trunk where a ring of jagged holes stretched just above the ground. “Yes. See these gashes? Somebody has been boring into the trunk, then filling it with DS190.”

Charlie took out a pair of latex gloves and put them on before touching the holes in the trunk. “You’re sure this is intentional?”

“Has to be. This stuff doesn’t just appear on its own. It’s man-made. Someone has been doing this.”

“But why?” Charlie asked.

Daniel held out a hand, palm up. “Thus, the reason the two of you are here.”

Charlie shook his head. “I don’t know about this. We usually work homicide.”

Daniel gestured towards the gashes in the trunk. “You have a murder victim. Or soon will. Right in front of you.”

“But it’s a tree!” Charlie said.

Elena looked up from her phone. “Okay, Mr. Harper. Easy.”

Daniel motioned for them to follow as he walked to the backside of the trunk. “There’s something else.” He came to a stop in a patch of grass ringed with dandelion sprouts and pointed to dark-red streaks spread across the blades. “That’s blood, isn’t it?”

Charlie bent down and touched his gloved hand to one of the blades. “Maybe.” He took out a plastic bag and a Leatherman multitool from his jacket. He pulled apart the hinged scissors, then clipped away about a dozen pieces of grass and dropped them into the bag.

“And another thing,” Daniel said and led Elena to a spot about ten feet away. He pointed to a white card lying in the grass. “I didn’t touch any of this, by the way. I didn’t want to disturb the crime scene . . . I watch a lot of cop shows. I know how that goes.”

“Doesn’t everyone.” Elena squatted down, taking a plastic bag from her jacket. She used tweezers to pick up the card, muddy and frayed at the edges and turned it over to reveal a yellow cat emoji, just the head, whiskers, and a faint smile, printed on the opposite side. There were no words, just the image.

A strong breeze moved through the leaves of the great tree, a sound like rain showers mixed with groaning as the heavy limbs bent in the wind.

Charlie Harper removed his glove and rubbed the edge of his dark-brown beard. Looking at the massive branches, which did seem like the arms of giants, he began to understand why The Tree was such a big deal. “Have to say, it is beautiful here. Can’t believe I’ve been in Charleston four years and never been here. I should bring Amy. She’d love it.”

Daniel looked at Elena for an explanation.

“His daughter,” she said, then turned to Charlie. “You should. My dad brought me here a few times when I was a kid.”

“Well, you better hurry,” Daniel said.

“There’s nothing to stop it?” Elena asked.

“Probably not. I contacted a team of forestry researchers I know from Virginia Tech. They are going to send a team down to look at it, see if anything can be done. I sent a request to the Parks Department to pay for it. If they don’t, Sierra Club will hold a fundraiser.”

Charlie sighed. “Okay. While we decide what to do about this, I’ll call and have some signs and barriers put up to keep the tourists away.”

Elena turned to Daniel. “Thank you for meeting us here. Could you come to our station in the city today or tomorrow to give a formal statement?”

“Sure.”

“Bring copies of the lab work. We gonna find anything when we do a background check on you?”

Daniel shook his head. “No. Just some parking tickets . . . a lot of tickets actually. Parking at the college is a bitch.”

“That it is,” Elena said. “Here is my card if you think of anything else.”

“Thanks,” Daniel said. He stopped a moment as if to say something, then continued toward a white Chevy Volt parked near the road.

Elena looked at Charlie and raised her eyebrows. “So, Mr. Harper, what do you think?”

“Ehh . . . I mean I understand it’s old and rare and special and all that, but it’s a fucking tree. I don’t know anything about trees, do you?”

“No, but . . .”

“But what?”

“I don’t know,” Elena said and looked around the field. “My Spidey-sense tells me there’s more to it than just some weird vandalism.” She took a step forward and winced.

“Back acting up?” Charlie asked.

“A bit,” she said.

“Lunchtime anyway. Let’s take a break. I’m starving. June and I got into it again this morning. Skipped breakfast.”

“Sorry to hear that.” Elena swept a strand of black hair behind her ear. She pointed with her chin down a two-lane road to a crooked sign with a faded image of a pagoda: The Formosa Grill. “Chinese?”

“Sure,” Charlie said.

The two of them began to walk toward their gray Ford Explorer when Charlie saw a flash of white out of the corner of his eye. He stopped and knelt in the grass. He used his Leatherman tool to again pry away several blades.

“What is it?” Elena asked.

Charlie’s head bolted upright, his blue eyes narrowing. “Mr. Lee!” he shouted. He pulled another latex glove from his pocket.

In the parking lot, Daniel climbed out of his car and made his way back to the field. “Yes?”

“Mr. Lee, when was the last time you were here before meeting us today?”

“Yesterday morning,” Daniel said.

Elena knelt next to Charlie, looked into the grass, and let a low whistle escape her lips. She used her phone to take a photo.

Charlie used tweezers to pick up a severed finger. Sliced just below the knuckle, the stump crusted in blood, the flesh covered with red ants, it ended with a sharp green fingernail. He looked at Daniel. “Did you happen to notice this?”

Daniel swallowed hard, turning his face to the side. “No. I did not.”

Charlie put the finger in a plastic bag.

Elena looked at him, her wide brown eyes giving him a knowing shimmer. “You interested in this case now, Mr. Harper?”

Charlie didn’t flinch. He stared at The Tree.

***

Excerpt from Dead Tree Tales by Rush Leaming. Copyright 2021 by Rush Leaming. Reproduced with permission from Rush Leaming. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Author - Rush LeamingRUSH LEAMING has done many things including spending 15+ years in film/video production working on such projects as The Lord of the Rings films. His first novel, Don’t Go, Ramanya, a political thriller set in Thailand, was self-published in the fall of 2016 and reached number one on Amazon. His equally successful second novel, entitled The Whole of the Moon, a coming-of-age tale set in the Congo at the end of the Cold War, was published in 2018. His short stories have appeared in Notations, 67 Press, Lightwave, Green Apple, 5k Fiction, and The Electric Eclectic. He has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Zaire, Thailand, Spain, Greece, England, and Kenya. He currently lives in South Carolina.

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