2019 Book 384: HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden



Husband Material  by Emily Belden 
ISBN: 9781525805981 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488028571 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488206955 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07S38J7LP (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07KN7MJ42 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 30, 2019 
Publisher: Graydon House


Sometimes love is unpredictable…

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.




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


Charlotte Rosen comes across as a strong, successful, and confident woman. A successful career woman proud of her accomplishments in the growing field of social media analytics. A woman who knows what she wants from life. These are all partial truths. Charlotte is successful in her career but she isn’t overly confident with her job or social life. She comes across as aloof when she’s actually somewhat of an introvert and closes herself off to protect her emotions. She has a roommate, but she doesn’t really share all that much with her. She has a “bestie” at work, but only shares work-related materials with her. Charlotte is looking for love and marriage and has created an app to help her determine the compatibility of any “match” she receives from online dating services. She’s confident in the app’s predictability but has yet to meet someone that fulfills her requirements. Well, she had met someone years ago. She had actually married that someone, but sadly, he had died after only one year of marriage. Charlotte has been a widow for five years and the only people that know are those from before she started a new life and job, her former in-laws, and her parents. Then a bombshell is dropped on Charlotte, figuratively speaking. She unexpectedly receives the urn containing her deceased husband’s cremains due to a fire at the cemetery. Charlotte’s emotions are in a serious state of flux. Her roommate is shocked to learn of Charlotte’s prior marriage. Charlotte’s mother-in-law wants to “repossess” the urn, and her employer has given her a forced two-week break as a result of her emotional state. The only good thing to come from this disastrous situation is that Charlotte has reconnected with an old friend, actually her deceased husband’s best friend, Dr. Brian Jackson. The friendship quickly develops into something a bit more and just when Charlotte thinks her life is getting back on track, she is thrown by several huge secrets. 

Husband Material is actually the first book I’ve read by Emily Belden (trust me, it won’t be the last), and one that I enjoyed from beginning to end. If anything, this was one story that I didn’t want to end simply because I enjoyed the interactions between Charlotte and her roommate Casey, Charlotte and Brian, and even the interactions between Charlotte and her former mother-in-law. I found the characters, action, and settings to be highly realistic and plausible. Charlotte isn’t a self-absorbed person, just someone afraid of being hurt and emotionally closed-off due to the untimely death of her husband. Yes, she wants to move on, but she has relegated everything in the present to an if this-then that scenario. She’s comfortable coding and has made every attempt to live her life by that binary code without thought about the limitations or repercussions toward herself or others. The primary lesson learned is the life and love can be unpredictable, unmanageable, and wholly unexpected. Although Husband Material is a romance, there are quite a lot of things going on in this story such as self-awareness, self-growth, grief management, and more. Although Husband Material deals with some heavy themes, this isn’t a dark and dour read. Okay, it’s not a light and fluffy read either, but it is an intriguing look at grief, recovery, and starting anew with a decidedly romantic bent. There are parts of the story that made me smile, parts that made me laugh, and parts that made me empathize with the sadness of the main character. If you’re looking for something a little different to read to wrap up your yearly reading or to begin the new year, I encourage you to grab a copy of Husband Material by Emily Belden. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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

Book Spotlight: SOUTHERN HARM by Caroline Fardig


Southern Harm: A Southern B&B Mystery

by Caroline Fardig


About Southern Harm



Southern Harm: A Southern B&B Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Alibi (November 12, 2019)
Print Length: 263 pages
Digital ASIN: B07KDVCCZH
Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N   Kobo



A little Southern charm never killed anybody—until now—in an enchanting cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Southern Discomfort and the Java Jive novels.



After solving a murder at a local restaurant, Quinn Bellandini just wants to get back to her comfortable life running her grandfather’s B&B in Savannah, Georgia, with her sister, Delilah. But those plans get buried when Quinn and her new boyfriend, Tucker Heyward, dig up an old skeleton while doing some landscaping in his aunt Lela’s backyard. Before long, Lela becomes the prime suspect in the thirty-three-year-old unsolved murder of a high school homecoming queen.



Tucker is devastated. But Quinn’s conscience won’t let her risk an elderly woman spending her twilight years in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. And Delilah, bored by the quiet B&B biz, has been itching to do some more investigating of her own.



Soon they’re questioning a growing list of suspects, from nosy neighbors and snooty Savannah socialites to mild-mannered teachers and old high-school friends of the victim—including Quinn and Delilah’s own parents. But no one is safe from a killer who’s totally old school.



About the Author

CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA Today bestselling author of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s Bad Medicine was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.


Social Media


Website:  www.carolinefardig.com
Blog:  http://www.carolinefardig.com/blog/
Twitter:  @carolinefardig
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/carolinefardigbooks

Don’t miss Caroline Fardig’s thrilling Java Jive mysteries, which can be read together or separately:


DEATH BEFORE DECAF | MUG SHOT | A WHOLE LATTE MURDER | BREW OR DIE | MURDER OVER MOCHAS


Giveaway

Enter to win one (1) of two (2) digital copies of Southern Harm by Caroline Fardig via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Void where prohibited by law. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.


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Book Showcase: THE LOST POWER by Avanti Centrae

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae Banner

VanOps: The Lost Power

by Avanti Centrae

on Tour November 4, 2019 – January 10, 2020



Synopsis:

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae



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

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

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

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

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

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



Critical Praise for VanOps: The Lost Power



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


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


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


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



Book Details:


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



Read an excerpt:




CHAPTER 1



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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER 2



8:57 a.m.

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

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

“Where did that question come from?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER 3


9:02 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER 4



9:05 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ve both been working too hard.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tell me,” he demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER 5



9:15 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A low whistle pierced his ear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER 6



9:20 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***


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



Author Bio:


Avanti Centrae

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


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


Catch Up With Avanti Centrae:



avanticentrae.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!



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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Avanti Centrae. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on November 4, 2019, and runs through January 13, 2020. Void where prohibited.


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

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


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

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

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

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






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




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

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


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

2019 Book 317: GLASS SLIPPERS, EVER AFTER, AND ME by Julie Wright



Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me by Julie Wright 
ISBN: 9781629726076 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629737942 (ebook)
ASIN: B07WC3XMKT  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 21, 2019 
Publisher: Shadow Mountain


Can the fairy tale bring Charlotte the happiness she’s looking for, or was he always there to begin with?
 

A modern, reimagined Cinderella story.

 

When aspiring author Charlotte Kingsley finally gets published, she thinks all her dreams have come true. But the trouble begins when her publicity firm reinvents her quirky online presence into a perfectly curated dream life. Gone are the days of sweatpant posts and ice cream binges with her best friend, Anders, replaced instead with beautiful clothes, orchestrated selfies, and no boyfriend. Only, that carefully curated fairy tale life is ruining her self-esteem and making her feel like a fraud.

When a bestselling author takes Charlotte under her wing—almost like a fairy godmother—she helps Charlotte see the beautiful person she already is and the worth of being authentic. But is it too late to save her relationship with Anders? The clock is quickly ticking towards midnight, and Charlotte must decide between her fairy tale life and the man she loves, before he’s gone forever. 





Purchase Links (#CommissionsEarned)  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Kobo eBook  


Praise/Endorsements:

“This sweet, heartfelt tale of authentic characters facing intriguing challenges is at once very romantic and charmingly chaste.” –Booklist, starred review

“Wright spins a modern-day and very meta Cinderella tale. This fast-paced, lighthearted romance also carries a moral lesson about falsehoods getting in the way of the quest for true happiness.” –Publishers Weekly
 “Aspiring author Charlotte ‘Lettie’ Kingsley writes fairy tales and hopes to be published. When she gets one more rejection, her feelings of pique lead her to an inspired idea: She’ll write a self-help book called The Cinderella Fiction that will encourage readers to live their best lives. Lettie’s agent has big plans for the book and has created a team to make it a bestseller, including a PR firm that demands a complete makeover for Lettie. From wardrobe to apartment to a new nickname, ‘Char,’ every detail is changed to create an image that inspires admiration and a legion of followers. However, it also means that her real-life relationships are affected, and the new Char is so different from the old Lettie that she’ll have to sift through what she wanted, and what she’s gained, so she can live her own best life, authentically. Wright updates ‘Cinderella’ with a modern twist and smart, satisfying details.” -Kirkus




Charlotte ‘Lettie” Kingsley has always dreamed that she might be able to make it as an author. She’s written eight novels and received over 160 rejections. She truly believed her last novel would be “the one” to get accepted by her dream agent and she’d be on her way to becoming a published author. Her hopes and dreams are dashed when she, once again, receives a rejection letter. After pitching a fit, drowning her sorrows in ice cream and Thai food, Lettie decides to write the anti-novel. She takes three weeks off from her job and writes a nonfiction self-help book entitled The Cinderella Fiction. This isn’t the usual self-help book, but it does focus on being true to oneself, no matter what, and fighting for what you want. This book not only gets accepted by her dream agent, but she also gets a massive contract from a publishing company for the book in mere weeks after she’s submitted it. Lettie’s life is turned upside down because she now has to become the personification of a self-help guru. She hires a PR agent, meets her favorite author who becomes her mentor, and completely reorganizes her life. This wouldn’t ordinarily be a problem since she doesn’t really like her job, her furniture is mostly thrift-store finds, and she’s always been frugal when it comes to buying clothes, etc. Now her social media persona has to match her self-help author persona. She has a boyfriend that she isn’t able to acknowledge publicly, even though that is one of the few relationships in her life that seems to be doing well. She’s also dealing with family issues, namely, her mother doesn’t seem to understand or appreciate what she’s doing or her goals, her stepsister or “sister of the heart” is also struggling with her relationship with Lettie’s mother and wants to move in with Lettie. Most people would think a mega publishing contract for a first-time author, best-selling author as a mentor, and a boyfriend that’s actually a best friend would make for a fairy tale existence, but looks can be deceiving. Lettie has to decide who she is so she can be true to that person whether it’s Lettie or the new “Char” created by the PR firm. Can she be true to her boyfriend Anders, her sister Kat, and her former friends, with all of the changes being asked of her or is this new person a fictional creation no one can live up to? Will Lettie make the right choices about her new dream life versus reality before she possibly loses the love of her life?

I read Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me by Julie Wright in just one afternoon. This was one of those stories that once I started reading, I simply couldn’t stop until the end because I didn’t want to put it down. I enjoyed the characters, especially Lettie, her sister Kat, her boyfriend – Anders, the best-selling author aka fairy godmother – Lillian, and more. There aren’t any bad guys in this story, just people with good intentions gone astray, including Lettie’s mother. The main character is faced with a dilemma that we all must deal with in terms of being authentic in a time when social media doesn’t want to face imperfections. One of the many things I enjoyed about this story, other than the Cinderella retelling, was the family drama, the romance, and the dream-nightmare scenario Lettie faces by having everything she ever wanted coming true. But one of the things I think I enjoyed the most, were the “quotes” from the fake book, The Cinderella Fiction written by the main character. I’ve got to say, I really want to read this fictitious nonfiction book! Ms. Wright has crafted a story that is sweet, wholly realistic, beyond witty, and, yes, romantic. I could go on about this book, but let me just say that if you enjoy well-written contemporary romance with smart and witty dialogue, and realistic scenarios then I highly recommend you grab a copy of Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me to read. If you’re not sure about the romance element, but enjoy reading contemporary stories dealing with family issues, then again, I encourage you to grab a copy of Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me to read. This was a highly enjoyable read for me and I’ll be handing my print copy over to my 84-y.o. mother to read (she read the back cover and has decided it’s her next read). I look forward to reading more from this author in the future and maybe even rereading Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me.



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




Meet the author


Julie Wright is the author of more than twenty novels, including the Proper Romance® novels Lies Jane Austen Told Me and Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She is a Whitney Award winner and a Crown Heart recipient. She is represented by agent Sara Crowe. She loves reading and writing, playing on the beach or hiking with her husband and kids, and watching her husband make dinner.


Connect with the author via Twitter or her website.




This review and blog tour brought to you via Shadow Mountain Publishing

2019 Book 307: SECRETS OF THE CHOCOLATE HOUSE by Paula Brackston

Secrets of the Chocolate House, Found Things #2, by Paula Brackston 
ISBN: 9781250072443 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781466884113 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250242143 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07PHV8NMD (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07PBP38Q7 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 22, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


The second novel in a bewitching series “brimming with charm and charisma” that will make “fans of Outlander rejoice!” (Woman’s World Magazine)

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s The Little Shop of Found Things was called “a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House.

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she’ll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed? 





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



Xanthe Westlake and her mother, Flora, moved to Marlborough to open their antique shop in Marlborough in The Little Shop of Found Things. Readers discovered that Xanthe has the uncanny ability to hear objects “sing” to her and then travel through time. In the first book, she traveled back to the seventeenth century at the behest of a ghost and a chatelaine to protect the life of an unknown girl. Whilst there, she met and fell in love with a local builder/architect, Samuel Appleby. Samuel helped her to prove the girl’s innocence and thus gain her freedom, but Xanthe knew that they were two people out of step with one another. She had obligations in her time and couldn’t stay in the seventeenth century and Samuel had his own obligations and couldn’t travel through time with her. There was nothing for her to do but leave him behind. Now, Xanthe has discovered a hoard of chocolate pots and one pot in particular is singing to her and the song seems tied to her beloved. The only thing Xanthe knows is that she must once again travel back in time and do whatever she can to help Samuel, but this time is not quite like the first. This time she meets other time spinners and one is willing to do whatever takes to learn just how Xanthe manages to control walking back-and-forth through time. Unfortunately, this time spinner also holds the fate of Samuel’s life in his hands. Can Xanthe free her beloved from this tyrannical time spinner without damaging his reputation and livelihood? Can she provide the answers this time spinner seeks without violating the time spinner code? Can she do all of this while keeping her mother safe and unaware of her time traveling? And if that’s not enough to deal with, can she handle all of this drama and deal with the reemergence of her former boyfriend and drug dealer, Marcus in her new hometown or will he finally accept “not interested” and “get lost” as her final answers?

Obviously, I had to take time to read The Little Shop of Found Things before reading Secrets of the Chocolate House. Glad I did because it provides the backstory for Xanthe and her mother. By the way, did I forget to mention that Xanthe’s mother, Flora, is suffering from debilitating arthritis and going through a somewhat acrimonious divorce from Xanthe’s father? Also, Xanthe served a few months in prison on drug charges because of her former boyfriend and his drug dealing and he refused to step up out of fear he might go to prison (what a guy!). There’s a lot going on in both The Little Shop of Found Things and Secrets of the Chocolate House but for those of you that enjoy time travel stories with hints of romance, then I strongly encourage you to read these books! (Might I suggest drinking plenty of hot chocolate whilst reading Secrets of the Chocolate House, seems appropriate doesn’t it?) I thoroughly enjoyed all of the drama from the contemporary and historical timelines. I liked all of the characters, except for Marcus and the tyrannical time spinner, Benedict Fairfax. There are bad guys in these stories and horrible guys in these stories. Some get their comeuppance and others seem to walk away (you’ll need to read the books to learn which does what). I rather enjoyed the fact that Xanthe doesn’t really know what she should do and constantly struggles to find the answers. She’s a bit quirky but she has pluck and perseverance. Secrets of the Chocolate House has plenty of returning characters and it was nice to get to know them a bit better, such as Gerri the tea and pastry shop owner, Harley the publican, and Liam the mechanic. It was also nice to revisit Samuel in the seventeenth century and get to know some new characters, such as Mistress Flyte – the owner of the chocolate shop and an experienced but retired time spinner, and Edmund – the worker at the chocolate shop. I’ve enjoyed reading previous books by Ms. Brackston and can’t wait for the next book in the Found Things series. For now, I’ll be content with rereading The Little Shop of Found Things and Secrets of the Chocolate House while I wait. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed Secrets of the Chocolate House and am eager to see what happens next for Xanthe and friends.



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

2019 Book 275: THE LIES WE TELL by Debra Webb

The Lies We Tell, The Undertaker’s Daughter #2, by Debra Webb 
ISBN: 9780778308317 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488085802 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781974966417 (audiobook)
ISBN: 9781974966424 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B07L6YKZHG (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 17, 2019 
Publisher: MIRA Books


Nothing hurts like the truth.

Doctor Rowan Dupont knows a serial killer is coming for her. Julian Addington has been waiting. Watching. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes. But what Julian doesn’t know is that Rowan is ready for him. And more than anything she wants answers. How well did the depraved killer actually know her mother? And how many lies have been spun in the years since she took her own life?

Working alongside her childhood friend Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan is determined to get to the bottom of her mother’s puzzling suicide once and for all—even if it means exposing an unsettling past. It certainly seems like her family’s Victorian funeral home has borne witness to more than one dark secret, but when a recent double homicide leads to an even grislier discovery, separating the truth from the lies might be the last thing Rowan does. 






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


Rowan Dupont’s life has been turned upside down several times in her life. Her twin sister drowns, her mother commits suicide, and then Rowan attempts suicide. Rowan’s mentor, Dr. Julian Addington, was instrumental in getting her life back on track and on her studies in psychiatry. Little did Rowan know, but Julian Addington had been a fixture in her life well before her suicide attempts. Addington apparently knew Rowan’s mother, and his own daughter was killed in the same area where Rowan’s twin drowned. Now Addington is the prime suspect in Rowan’s father’s murder as well as the murder of her coworker in Nashville. Rowan resigns from the Nashville Police Department and returns to Winchester, Tennessee to reluctantly take over her family’s funeral home. But her home isn’t the safe place she presumed as a previous mortuary assistant and one of her father’s best friends has been arrested for dealing in body parts. Although the Dupont Funeral Home wasn’t investigated, the scandal still taints the funeral home. And Rowan still has a serial killer after her. The only thing left for Rowan to do is to use her knowledge of Addington along with her years of psychiatric experience to help her childhood best friend and Winchester chief of Police, Billy Brannigan, snare Addington. Just when it seems like Rowan is uncovering answers to the questions she has about her mother and Addington, more unanswered questions arise and then a body is taken from the mortuary. What possible link could this recently deceased man have with Rowan’s mother since she’s been dead for years? Can Rowan and Billy find the answers to all of Rowan’s questions and protect her life before Addington strikes again?

The Lies We Tell is the second book in the Undertaker’s Daughter series (third if you count the prequel novella). Rowan Dupont isn’t a wilting Southern Belle out to be saved from the bad guy. She’s the type to grab her weapon and go out looking for the bad guy before he can find her. Given the fact she isn’t a law enforcement officer, I enjoyed this facet of her personality. I also enjoyed the kindling romantic attraction between Rowan and Billy. This attraction or romance isn’t the main component of the story, but it does spice things up just a bit. There’s quite a bit happening in The Lies We Tell including murder, theft of a body, discovery of a cache of dead bodies (read the book to learn more about this fascinating bit of the story), and more. This story provides quite a bit of mystery and intrigue, a bit of mayhem and mischief, a few murders, and a little bit of romance…something for everyone. I’ve previously read and reviewed The Secrets We Bury, the first book in this series, so I was excited when I received the opportunity to read and review The Lies We Tell. Something tells me I’ll be reading both books again, along with the prequel novella The Undertaker’s Daughter before the third book in this series is released next year, The Darkness We Hide. If you’re into mystery thrillers with a hint of romance, then I encourage you to grab a copy of The Secrets We Bury and The Lies We Tell for your next long weekend. (Can you tell I enjoyed reading The Lies We Tell?)


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

2019 Book 270: ICE COLD HEART by P. J. Tracy

Ice Cold Heart, Monkeewrench #10, by P. J. Tracy 
ISBN: 9781643851327 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781643851334 (ebook)
ASIN: B07NTX8TGH (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 10, 2019 
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books


On a bitterly cold winter night, Kelly Ramage leaves her suburban home, telling her husband she’s going to meet a friend.

She never comes back.

When her body is discovered, murdered in what seems to be a sex game gone horribly wrong, Detectives Gino and Magozzi take the case, expecting to find a flirtatious trail leading straight to the killer.

However, Kelly’s sinister lover has done a disturbingly good job of hiding his identity. This isn’t his first victim – and that she won’t be the last…





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


Grace MacBride and Leo Magozzi are enjoying a quiet winter with their lovely five-month-old daughter, Elizabeth. The Monkeewrench gang are also having a blast spoiling the daughter, aka princess, of their friend as well, especially Annie Belinsky and Harley Davidson. Roadrunner, yes that’s his legal name, enjoys the baby, but isn’t quite sure what to do with her just yet. The Monkeewrench team is working on a cryptocurrency theft, while Magozzi and his police partner, Gino Rolseth, are delighting in a homicide-free break. Of course, as soon as Magozzi says he’s enjoying the homicide-free break, a homicide occurs and it does so right after a so-called psychic comes into the station to forwarn him and Gino of an impending murder. The victim was apparently exploring a BDSM relationship outside the boundaries of her marriage and was found handcuffed to a bed, tortured, and her head wrapped in duct tape. The strange thing was that there were no signs of an apparent sexual component. When Magozzi and Gino discover that there was a similar crime over a thousand miles away and it appeared to be linked to an art show that their victim attended they begin to wonder if this is one coincidence too many. Just when it seems like there are too many coincidences and random occurrences happening with this case, Roadrunner saves the life of one of his neighbors who just happens to be a friend of the psychic who just happens to be the next murder victim. What does this all have to do with the strange and twisted art of one seriously introverted artist? What, if anything, ties all of this to a sadistic war criminal in the former Czech Republic? What does cryptocurrency have to do with any of this? Will Magozzi, Gino, and the Monkeewrench crew be able to figure things out before someone else dies or is this criminal too smart and too fast to be caught?

Grace, Annie, Harley, and Roadrunner have come a long way since the first book in the Monkeewrench series. They are all a bit more trusting of law enforcement and willing to work with agencies across the United States by offering free software to help these agencies stop and capture criminals. Grace is in a stable, romantic relationship and has softened quite a bit since the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth. She still carries a firearm with her at all times, but she’s down to one gun instead of two (massive improvement). Annie and Harley are still at the bickering push-pull stage of their relationship and it is questionable if it will ever develop into anything beyond that. Roadrunner has remained an enigma throughout these books and remains so, but Ice Cold Heart reveals a bit more about his background and softens him quite a bit with his attraction to his neighbor, Petra. Magozzi and Gino are the perfect cop partnership in that they complement one another in almost every way, know each other’s weaknesses, and have one another’s backs when necessary. Ice Cold Heart is the tenth book in the Monkeewrench series and the characters now seem like old friends. I enjoyed the international component to this story with the vicious and sadistic Czech war criminal, the incorporation of the cryptocurrency theft, and of course the ever popular murder, mayhem, mischief, and mystery. For those of you that have read and enjoyed the previous books in the Monkeewrench series, I encourage you to grab a copy of Ice Cold Heart to read. For those of you that have never read the Monkeewrench series but enjoy reading topical mystery thrillers that incorporate a bit of high-tech to spice things up, then I encourage you to add all of the books in this series to your TBR list. I hope there will be more to read in the Monkeewrench series in the future. You know how much I love to reread books, so yes you guessed it, I’ll have to comfort myself by re-reading the entire series from book 1, Monkeewrench through to book 10, Ice Cold Heart while I wait. I only hope you enjoy this series as much as I do. Happy Reading, y’all!

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

Book Showcase: THE SEA OF JAPAN by Keita Nagano

The Sea of Japan by Keita Nagano
ISBN: 9781684630127 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781684630134  (ebook)
ASIN: B07L96R7HG (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  Spark Press
Release Date: September 3, 2019


After fleeing a disastrous teaching job (and a bad gambling habit) in Boston, Lindsey starts teaching English in Hime, a small fishing town in Japan. One morning, while trying to snap the perfect ocean sunrise photo for her mother, she slips off a rock at the edge of Toyama Bay, hits her head, and plunges into the sea—and in doing so, sets off an unexpected chain of events.

When Lindsey comes to in the hospital, she learns that she owes her life to a young man named Ichiro—a local fisherman who also happens to be the older brother of one of her students. She begins to spend time with her lifesaver, and in the ensuing months, she becomes increasingly enmeshed in her new life: when she is not busy teaching, she splits her time between an apprenticeship with the local master sushi chef and going out fishing with Ichiro. As she and Ichiro grow closer, however, she also learns that not all is well in Hime, and she is drawn into a war to stop the town next door from overfishing their shared bay. Soon, she, Ichiro, and her pastrami-obsessed best friend, Judy—the person who talked Lindsey into coming to Japan in the first place—are spending all their free time working together to rescue the town. But when their efforts backfire, Hime gets closer to falling apart—putting Lindsey’s friends, her budding relationship with Ichiro, and her career in jeopardy. To save Hime, Lindsey realizes, she’ll have to become a true American fisherwoman and fight for her new home with everything she has.






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Praise:

“Love, survival, conflict…Lindsey runs wild in The Sea of Japan. When her loved ones are attacked, her American spirit stands tall. When her friends are in danger, her Japanese fans get united. The Hollywood-like climax where Lindsey competes in a fishing duel will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat.” — Tetsu Fujimura, Executive producer of Ghost in the Shell (Starring Scarlett Johansson)


“Keita Nagano has created a fascinating tale blending the best of two literary worlds, the American and the Japanese. It is a story of friendship, transformation, and journey for the meaning of life. What’s really marvelous about this novel is the unique style with its apparent simplicity and deep meaning. A true Japanese delight.” — Elvira Baryakina, author of Russian Treasures series

“Win or lose. Sports are loved by Americans because they’re tough and challenging, just like this story. At the climax of the book, the readers are on Lindsey’s fishing competition boat with her, watching her struggle to save the people she loves and get justice for her adopted town. Imagine you are standing on the 10-meter high diving board. The tension is just that, on the beautiful Sea of Japan.” — Thomas Gompf, 1964 Tokyo Olympic Medalist & Former President of United States Aquatic Sports.




Read an excerpt:


#1

The mountains were also still covered with white-silver snow, reflecting on the Sea of Japan.

It was still half-dark and chilly. I brought whiskey to keep me warm while I waited for the sunrise. It worked perfectly. I gently played some smooth jazz from my iPhone and sipped whiskey.

Finally, the tip of the sun appeared on the horizon, illuminating the dark sky. The orange light even illuminated the white snow on top of the Tateyama Mountains beyond the dark ocean. It was the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen.

This was going to be the best scenery picture for Mom. I stood up and got the camera ready. But the rock was slippery, and as I stood, I lost my footing. I fell off the rock, hitting my head hard. I was thrown into the sea.

The last thing I saw before I lost consciousness was the water rising over my head.


Excerpt from The Sea of Japan by Keita Nagano. Copyright © 2019 by Keita Nagano. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.




Meet the author

Keita Nagano is an award-winning Japanese author who has lived almost equally in Nevada and Tokyo—more than twenty years in each place—and reflects the difference of the two cultures in his novels. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Keio University in Japan, as well as an MBA in global business and Ph.D. in management from Walden University in Minnesota. 

The pursuit of the authentic American experience is his hobby: he has been to all fifty states, all thirty major league ballparks, and the top sixty big cities in America. He has published seventeen business nonfiction and eight fiction books in Japan. In 2013, he received a Nikkei (Japanese Wall Street Journal) Award for Contemporary Novel for his missing-child thriller, Kamikakushi. He is also an official weekly columnist for Forbes Japan

Nagano lives in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife and Welsh corgi, and their teenage daughter is currently studying in Tennessee. 



Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and his website



This excerpt and blog tour brought to you by PR by the Book

2019 Book 258: VENDETTA IN DEATH by J. D. Robb

Vendetta In Death, In Death #49, by J. D. Robb 
ISBN: 9781250207173 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250207180 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250231031 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07NCVVCQK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 3, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Lieutenant Eve Dallas must keep the predator from becoming the prey in Vendetta in Death, the newest thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author J.D. Robb.

She calls herself Lady Justice. And once she has chosen a man as her target, she turns herself into a tall blonde or a curvaceous redhead, makes herself as alluring and seductive as possible to them. Once they are in her grasp, they are powerless.

The first victim is wealthy businessman Nigel McEnroy. His company’s human resources department has already paid out settlements to a couple of his young victims—but they don’t know that his crimes go far beyond workplace harassment. Lady Justice knows. And in one shocking night of brutality, she makes him pay a much steeper price.

Now Eve Dallas and her husband, Roarke, are combing through the evidence of McEnroy’s secret life. His compulsive need to record his misdeeds provides them with a wide range of suspects, but the true identity of Lady Justice remains elusive. It’s a challenging case, made even more difficult by McEnroy’s widow, who reacts to the investigation with fury, denial, and threats. Meanwhile, Lady Justice’s criminal crusade is escalating rapidly, and if Eve can’t stop this vigilante, there’s no telling how much blood may be spilled…





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Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody are Homicide detectives on the New York City Police and Security Department in the near future. These women, and their colleagues in various departments across the police force have tried to solve cases and gain justice for the murdered victims, even if the victim was…let’s just say not a nice person. In the spring of 2061, Dallas and Peabody are called in on the murder of one Nigel McEnroy. The victim was obviously bound, tortured, and mutilated before his murder. A “poem” attached to his body indicates his death was at the hands of “Lady Justice” for his crime perpetrated against women, namely drugging and raping them. Although Mr. McEnroy was married and had children, he obviously continued to find sexual gratification outside of his marriage and this was usually done by unwittingly drugging the woman, raping her, videotaping the rape, drugging her again and then sending her home. The next day, another male murder victim is found with another poem attached to his mutilated body. Dallas begins to wonder if this is another vigilante women’s group at work or the work of one person out to settle a score? Will she and Peabody be able to find and stop this person before more men wind up dead? 

For those of you that follow me on social media or on Goodreads, you probably know that I reread the “In Death” series from book 1 to the latest book at least once every other year. Sadly, I didn’t have time to do that this year before reading Vendetta In Death, the 49th book in this series. Yes, you read that right…49 books in one series. There are some series that feel played out after only a few books and some that continue to feel fresh no matter how many books there are in the series. For me, the “In Death” series definitely falls into the latter category. Yes, you know there’s going to be a murder. Yes, you know that Dallas, Peabody, and friends are going to be on the case, but you don’t know what twists and turns the case is going to take or just how Dallas or Peabody are going to arrive at the conclusion of the case with an arrest after identifying the bad guy (or gal) and that’s the fun part of these reads for me. Vendetta In Death has all of our old friends, okay all of Eve Dallas’s old friends and coworkers, from previous books including her multi-billionaire husband Roarke; Eve’s BFF – Mavis; Mavis’s husband and clothing designer extraordinaire Leonardo; Mavis and Leonardo’s daughter – Bella (come on, she’s adorable!); Roarke’s majordomo and the bane of Eve’s life – Summerset; Eve’s police partner – Delia Peabody; Delia’s significant other and EDD police officer – Ian McNab; head forensic pathologist and friend to all – Dr. Morris; head of the Electronic Detective Division and former police partner to Eve – Captain Feeney; forensic and clinical psychiatrist and surrogate mother figure to Eve – Dr. Charlotte Mira; criminial investigative reporter and author, as well as friend – Nadine Furst; police and homicide regulars: Jenkinson, Reineke, Baxter, and Trueheart; and more. The interesting thing about this storyline is that it is twisted yet simple. Men who did women wrong are dying horrible deaths. Are these deaths justice, vengeance, or just a sick twisted mind at work out on a vendetta cloaked in the guise of justice? Even though Eve Dallas reveals the bad guy (these books are a “whydunnit” at heart), the problem is finding how and why and then proving it. That is another part of these stories that I enjoy, although the continuing romance between Eve and Roarke doesn’t hurt. Yes, these are romantic-suspense stories, but they are light on the romance and could just as easily be categorized as suspense thrillers because there’s lots of suspense and quite a few thrills along the way. I could tell you more about the story, but if I started I probably wouldn’t stop and then you wouldn’t need to read the book (psst…read the book!) I thoroughly enjoyed Vendetta In Death by J.D. Robb and am looking forward to book 50, Golden In Death scheduled to be released in early 2020. Between now and then, I’ll be re-re-re-re-re-reading the entire series to prepare. I’m hoping you’re as big a fan of the “In Death” series as I am, and if so, go grab yourself a copy of Vendetta In Death if you haven’t already placed a preorder. Happy Reading y’all! 


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